Tag Archives: Cham Laughlin

VOCAL Showcase January 2009

The showcase counter turned to 210 as the VOCAL members prepared the stage sound for the monthly installment of live, original music in Central Virginia.  The heavy double doors of the TapHouse entrance kept the cold out as the instruments were tuned up and the house was warmed up with the sounds of VOCAL songwriters.  Performers Bill Wellons and Norman Roscher treated the audience to a night of great songwriting.  It was a great night for music, January 19, 2009.

We thank Richbrau’s TapHouse for hosting the showcase each month.  Join us every third Monday of the month for great food, home brewed beverages and the best of live original music from Virginia artists.  The location is 1212 East Cary Street in historic Shockoe Slip.

Bill Wellons took the first set and showed the audience a great time with songs ranging from the ballads to the blues, from slow and easy to upbeat boogie rhythms.  Bills voice was accompanied by fine fingerwork on the piano.  He blew the crowd away with ‘Hurricane’ a moderate tempo song with sort of a bluesy, folk lyrical content, but a light, easy, steady piano pattern.  Bill then injected a little humor into the evening with ‘In a Family Way’, a humorous look at expecting the arrival of a baby – this song had an upbeat “boogie” rhythm to my ear.  The instrumental ‘That’s How it Goes’ was a beautiful song and an interesting change from the earlier songs.  The emotional content of the music swept from tender reflection to humor and love with the next series of songs including a tribute to Bill’s father ‘When I Needed You’ and another boogie tune ‘Unlucky at Love’.

It was great to have Bill on the showcase stage and we hope to have him back soon.  Until then, you can hear some of Bills music at www.myspace.com/billwellons.

At the request of Bill Wellons and Norman Roscher, time was set aside for special tributes to Cham Laughlin, VOCAL’s founder, who passed away January 5, 2009.  Cham was a great inspiration and source of support for many songwriters and performers in Virginia.  VOCAL took time to honor Cham with a few songs.

First to pay tribute to Cham was Darryl Ellyson with his song ‘The Final Hour’ a very moving song about contemplating the end of life www.myspace.com/darrylellysonbluelightdistrict.  Next, Eddy Kitchen performed ‘This Beer’s on Me’ which is a light-hearted country style song featuring Larry Cody on lead guitar.  Eddy’s song was somewhat the reason for Cham and Eddy first working together.  Norman Roscher gave the final tribute with ‘If I Should Ever Get to Heaven’.  We thank Bill and Norman for remembering Cham by setting aside this time and thanks to each performer for taking time to honor our founder.

For the closing set of the evening, Norman Roscher took to the stage with family and friends in the formation of ‘Norman and the Clackwells’ to bring his unique, imaginative music to life.  The first song was the reminiscent, fun song ‘I Don’t Play Doctor Anymore’.  Keeping the fun alive, the act moved on to the song ‘Fat Alice’.  The Clackwell portion of the band was made up of Evan Esch on upright bass, Eliza Brill (Evan’s spouse) on backup vocals and washboard rhythms, and Norman’s daughter Deanna Lorriani on vocals.  The Clackwells rounded out Norman’s live sound nicely!  Another special guest, Charlotte Roscher joined the group with backing vocals for ‘So Long Baby Goodbye’.

So much of Norman’s music has lively rhythms and catchy words that make you want to sing along.   Norman included some of his lively material in the closing portion of the program, which included ‘Kazooka’, ‘Burn Baby Dynamo’ and ‘I Don’t Want to Grow Up’ for the Peter Pan’s in the audience.  Catch Norman on the web at www.myspace.com/normalnormannortledorfband .

I can’t give enough thanks to Norman, Bill and my cousin Kenneth Sebera for making themselves available to help out on the showcase as I recovered from a back injury.  They showed up early to make sure the showcase was ready to roll and helped me pack up as well.  It was truly a group effort this month!

VOCAL’s thanks goes to all of our performers and to the showcase crowd who supports our wonderful artists.  Thanks to Larry Cody for making the table tent cards to announce the performers, thanks to Matthew Costello for web support and John Ellis for sound services.  Until next month, be sure to support other live, original music events!

Cham – In Memory of my Best Friend

Cham was my best friend, my best man. I cannot imagine life without him there for me. He had the sweetest spirit and biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. I will miss our times together, the fun, the work, the laughter, the tears….and the long talks we had across the miles which often separated us. I love you, my brother, and will see you on the other side. Steve Roberts

Remembering Cham Laughlin

On January 5, 2009, Robert “Cham” Laughlin passed away. Cham is an important part of VOCAL history and I would like to take this opportunity to honor his memory with reflections on the place Cham held in my life and in the history of VOCAL.

In 1972 I graduated Colonial Heights High School. During those years I was aware of Cham as being a respected musician though I cannot recall the bands he played in.

I played in several bands in those years. One of my early band mates was Chuck Page, a wonderful, hard working drummer with whom I developed many an original piece of music.

Later, during my college years I got to meet Cham and his brother Tommy when Chuck introduced me at a rehearsal for their band Aaron.

The band’s lineup was Cham: guitar/vocals, Tommy: bass/vocals, Chuck on drums, and another CHHS alum, Mark Pond, filled out the lineup on Hammond organ. Aaron was actually a bit of a Supergroup from that area having merged together from several different styles and backgrounds. And they were great! The sound and music I heard that night was as good as many professional concerts I had seen.

During the next years I became a friend of Cham’s sister Susan. Actually I did not know he was her brother until after a few months of knowing her. She remains a good friend and I am sorry for her loss.

I don’t recall seeing Cham again until I attended a VOCAL meeting at Manchester High School. I believe this was 1991. Robbin Thompson was set to be a guest speaker and I was aware of VOCAL, but had never attended.

Somehow I ended up going to that meeting with Robbin. We road together and I received my first impression of VOCAL. It was a collection of excited people working with their talents and looking for a means to have their music heard and improved. Gary Shaver was the president. It was evident though; Cham was making sure a lot of the work of VOCAL got done.

I always said Cham was the “battery” of the group. It was his enthusiasm and organization that kept things going. His commitment and belief in VOCAL was astounding. He would host VOCAL events at his Studio. He gave freely of his knowledge about the music industry. He published the Newsletter every month and would distribute copies to not only the Music Stores in the Petersburg and Chester areas, but always to the stores in Richmond as well.

Like many songwriters I had been writing in a vacuum with a few people but no real understanding of what it took to get my songs “out there.” Sure, once a year or two I would buy “Songwriter’s Market” but never really understood what I was supposed to do with it.

Cham’s knowledge and desire to de-mystify the craft and business of songwriting helped me to understand so much more about the business and to respect my own vision f the craft. The value of good demos, the proper way of labeling & packaging and the way to target who you were to send to were all tasks that Cham shared his insight on. Anyone who ever had time with him would tell you he was a talented man and would bring some knowledge or inspiration to the relationship.

As I became more and more involved, Cham and Gary and I would manage a lot of things together. Cham was always there with the PA for Showcases and the TV show. The three of us would meet after events and share meals and always discuss the changes we were seeing and the next steps for VOCAL. It was an exciting time.

Cham’s contributions to VOCAL were immense. VOCAL is a proud part of his legacy. A legacy I hope many will recall when they remember Cham.

I’m sure there are many valuable contributions by Cham I have not acknowledged. It is not intentional so, please, accept my apologies.

Please, add to this post with your comments and memories. If you would like to make a main post. let us know.

Matthew Costello