Tag Archives: Jim Uzel

VOCAL Showcase November 2009

Showcase 220 was a new adventure for all of VOCAL as we crossed the mighty James River to bring original songwriting to a favorite Richmond spot, O’Tooles Restaurant & Pub. Jim Uzel, Gerry Laverty and Louie Millhouse christened the new location and kept a full house entertained with a fantastic selection of original material. The showcase was on November 16, 2009.

We couldn’t be more thankful at this time of year than to have a wonderful new room for the showcase.  We are now presenting our original songwriters in a wonderful room at O’Tooles Restaurant & Pub. With a tasty menu, a friendly staff, and a large, open room for the performance, VOCAL couldn’t ask for more from a host.  Join us next month at 4800 Forest Hill Avenue in Richmond for another musical, and culinary adventure!

Jim Uzel took the first performance spot and gave the enthusiastic crowd a nice sampling of his extensive songwriting catalog.  Jim has self produced a lot of material over the years as well as participating in songwriting with friends such as Gary Shaver and even produced a boxed-set a few years ago that has original art work on the cover.  Jim’s set list included ‘The Drifter’, ‘Deep in the Night’, ‘My Summer Dream’ and ‘Spirits in the Rain’.  The subject matter for his songs often touches on the spiritual and the emotional as with this set.  His nice, inspired guitar work is paced and carefully crafted to match the mood of the song.  Thanks to Jim for a great start to the evening.

Next on the bill was Gerry Laverty.  Without a doubt, Gerry has shown over the years that poetry and songwriting often go hand-in-hand, and along the way he has earned fans among his peers.  In the November Showcase, Gerry had a set list that included many of the favorites from his years of songwriting.  He kicked off the set with ‘Bad Seed’, then followed up with a classic ‘Jerusalem’, which searches for peace in the ancient city.  Gerry then showed his ability to cross genre with his wonderfully bluesy guitar work in ‘Blues in the Nite’.  The bending of the guitar string in the ‘Blues in the Nite’ riff is so sweet, it keeps your ear longing for more.  Gerry kept the mood mellow, but focused on the longing that comes when you’re separated from someone you miss so much, in the song ‘Lonesome Blue Eyes’.  This song is a favorite of many fellow songwriters and is a wonderful blend of melody, lyrical fluidity and inspired poetry.  The set closed with ‘I’ve Been Worried so Long’ and another classic Laverty composition about a mysterious woman ‘Zion Crossroads’.

 The featured performer for the evening was Louie Millhouse.  Louie brought in a great line-up of guest performers including Gary Shaver, who played piano for most of the set, and Louie’s daughter Nancy, who represented the rhythm section on bass guitar.  The set list included compositions from both Louie and Gary Shaver and the musical styles included jazz, ballads, pop and rock.  The first song, ‘Marauder’ has a very latin or Spanish feel to the guitar rhythm and is a wonderful addition to the many styles we hear on the showcase.  ‘The Stone’ is a Gary Shaver composition and a fantastic representation of Gary’s songwriting abilities.  The night was full of surprises including the song ‘And I Always Will’ where Louie performed a duet with guest singer Robyn Kim.  Robyn’s smooth, light voice was a nice counterpoint to Louie’s male lead.  After the duet, Louie brought out his flugelhorn for another Gary Shaver composition ‘Tutti’ which is a nicely done jazz instrumental. 

Louie then turned the mood to a cool, jazzy, funky thing with ‘Lonely Waters’ featuring daughter Nancy on a funky bass line, Louie on some nice jazzy electric guitar chords, and Gary Shaver on flute.  Louie’s vocals were smooth, low and smokey as the band rolled through the song.  From the jazzy to the near impossible, Louie took the crowd on a humorous, outlandish ride, with more syllables than you could believe would fit in one song titled ‘Doctor McBoogie’.  The good doc is a proctologist by day and a hot trombone player by night, whose best cure is packaged in a musical note!  You have to hear it to truly appreciate it.  The mood was taken back to an easy, mellow tone on ‘Now That We’ve Said Our Goodbyes’, by Gary Shaver.  ‘We’d Better Leave it Alone’ is a country-pop sounding song, starting with an a-cappella including Robyn Kim, the song also featured Gary on lead vocal.  Louie then gave us another glimpse of his sense of humor and revealed who has a nice looking mom, with ‘Kara’s Mom is Hot’.  This unique dedication, based loosely on a true story from a family trip, has a calypso or island rhythm and won’t let you go without singing along or at least tapping a toe.  Then Louie let us go with the beautiful imagery of Key West with his song  ‘Marathon’.

 The evening was a great success thanks to so many volunteers and performers.  Special thanks to Jim Uzel for sound services and once again to Dave Pollard for his assistance in setting up the showcase at our new location.  Larry Cody produces the table tent cards for the showcase and Matthew Costello handles web services for VOCAL.  Extra special thanks to Bud Brinkley, photographer for being on the scene to provide photography services.  See you next month!

VOCAL Showcase December 2008

VOCAL songwriters, performers and the public gathered together at Richbrau’s TapHouse to start off the holidays with live, original music.  A selection of VOCAL’s membership turned out to perform their material for a lively, attentive audience.  The showcase counter flipped to 210 as we kicked off the event on December 15, 2008.  You can find more information about the upcoming showcase at www.vocalsongwriter.org/showcase.html.

For over two years now, Richbrau’s TapHouse has hosted the VOCAL Showcase every third Monday of the month.  VOCAL’s original music is complimented by original, home crafted beverages and fine cuisine.  Join us at 1212 East Cary Street for the best in original songwriting from Virginia artists.

James Lester kicked off the night with his own style of instrumental blues.  Much of James’ music was finger-style picking on a sweet sounding, hollow body electric that rang out with a cool, jazzy feel.  The eight song set included ‘Bucky’s Blues’ as well as ‘Bernie and the D Blues’, written in honor of two cats.  James conveyed a rich, bluesy feel as he moved his hands about the fretboard, demonstrating dexterity and creativity.  We look forward to James’ return to the showcase in February 2009.

Gary Shaver and Jim Uzel joined forces for the next round of music as they took turns featuring their own material in an in-the-round format.  Gary’s songs included ‘Somewhere Between Her and You’, ‘Right Through My Mind’, ‘Calling You Back Home’, ‘Take Me Back’ and ‘I Stand Amazed’.  This sampling of Gary’s music reflected the ballads and love songs that he is known for.  ‘Calling You Back Home’ was written on Thanksgiving weekend a few years ago – the song title reminds me of someone reflecting on a loved one during the holiday season.  ‘I Stand Amazed’ is Gary’s self-described ‘happy song’, which he dedicated to a friend in the audience.

Jim Uzel’s portion of the set included songs with a seasonal theme.  Jim’s songs ‘Spirits in the Rain’, ‘Christmas Love’ and ‘Gifts of a Child’ were accompanied by his resonator acoustic guitar, which sometimes provided a haunting feel to the melody.  It was good to have Jim on stage again.

Darryl Ellyson stepped up to the microphone next with some great time tested songs as well as one song written since his November showcase performance.  ‘I’m Not Afraid’ is a favorite of mine, with a powerful, moving melody, strong vocals and intense lyrics.  The rest of the set included ‘You and Me Baby’, ‘I Don’t Know’ and Darryl’s new song ‘Pushin’ Against My Heart’.

Gerry Laverty closed out the evening with some of his most popular songs.  ‘Details of Castrophe’ started the short set, followed by the song ‘Lonesome Blue Eyes’ which is a fanatastic song that is an instant favorite with the first listening.  ‘I am a House’ was inspired by the sudden death of a friend.  ‘Zion Crossroads’ is another crowd favorite and sample of Gerry’s ablilities with creative, poetic songwriting.

Thanks to our performers for making the holiday season ever more enjoyable with their talents on the showcase stage.  The showcase event and coverage was made possible by a team of VOCAL volunteers made up of Larry Cody (tent cards), Matthew Costello (web updates), Gerry Laverty (photography) and John Ellis (sound services).  We thank all those who come out in support of live, original music and we hope that everyone can join us again next month for the longest running, original music showcase in Central Virginia!