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!