Tag Archives: John Ellis

VOCAL Showcase April 2011

An intimate and attentive crowd gathered at O’Toole’s for the April, 2011 showcase. James Lester opened the show with his fine bluesman-ship. I Like Your Love is an uptempo bluesy number – I’m usually kinda shy, but you have a way of bringing me out of my shell every time you hug me. Circus Blues is a “near-bluegrass” song – something hasn’t been right since the circus came to town – she’s been going out alone and hanging out with the clowns. Now the clown is knocking at our door – should I stay or should I go? Coatesville Blues is a drinking song searching for four-leaf clovers and other things to turn your life around. It only takes a buck and a little luck to get by in this town, but I need the doctor to give me something to take these blues away. Generation Blues is a contrast of life from yesterday and that of today – my dad told me to save for a rainy day, but I pray for a sunny day. There’s plenty of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but Jesus is nowhere to be found. Satisfried is the story of a man with a great wife who has a good job and knows how to cook. She makes me feel like a king on my throne – I’m satisfied, satisfried. Blues Sky Blue was co-written with Steve Yates. This tender love song tells how his woman makes all his blues go away – I love my odds with you, in a formation of two, you turn my blues sky blue. Why I Sing the Blues was in an alternate tuning that sounded really cool. I get so depressed watching the news – everyone’ fighting ‘cause God is on their side. Whatever happened to a positive vibe? The “addiction” song Lame Pony told us I don’t want no woman don’t know right from wrong – she tried to hold me under her ball and chain – the tears came down like pouring rain – I gave her a lot of money, but it was not enough – I’m gonna take off walkin’, the pony’s going lame. James’ next tune was an instrumental called “E Thang”. Drinking Again was a sad tale about a woman walking out on her man – the last time I saw you was when you walked out the door – you don’t love me anymore – I can’t win – here I am drinking again. It’s All About Money says there ain’t a damn thing funny about the sad situation I’m in – my congressman doesn’t care about me, so my campaign contribution is in the mail. Deva (short for deviant?) is about a bad cat that’s always trying to kill things. Why can’t you just get along – why do you have to be jealous of all the other cats? James ended his set with the country-flavored Make My Day. As I watch you pack your bags, I wonder if we could have a last lusty fling. One more roll in the hay sure would make my day!

Matt Manion then took the stage, opening with a couple of numbers reminiscent of the 70’s. Don’t Remember Thinkin’ took him back to when I don’t remember thinking of the hassles we’d been through – in my state of loneliness, things seemed to be brand new. The Crossroads travelled back to the early days of the Crossroads Coffeehouse in the basement of St. James’s Church – the wooden chairs, coffee and cookies, and guitar players. Going to the Crossroads – I wanna play, I wanna sing, just put me down for anything. Nesmith and he grew up together but apart along parallel paths – raised in the country, but off to Richmond you roamed – I’m sure glad I reached you. God’s Rhythm asks God to help me find my rhythm, find my beat, shake this clumsy body, move these wooden feet – I can feel you in the floorboards – let him work things out.

Matt then invited Valerie Rourke onto the stage, and she performed two lovely a cappella numbers. If You Should Go is reminiscent of Patsy Cline – if you should go, I won’t come after you, or try to hurt you – now you have gone, but I’ll never know why you decided to leave, and I only torture myself when I believe you still think of me. Valerie left us with Torn in Two, which tells of one who is undecided on whether to stay or leave – one side of me loves you so, the other hates you because of how you treat me. My friends all say I should leave you, because you will never change – my heart thinks different, so what am I to do?

Matt returned to the stage with two fellow Vocal-onians, John Ellis (guitar) and Norm Roscher (“sin” thesiser). The thoughtful and dreamy Old Rolling Sea was inspired by body surfing (Norm was surfing his keyboard) and told of the power, depth, and age of the sea. You can feel and taste the salt spray just thinking about it! Don’t Need to be Perfect states that I don’t need to be right, macho, or bright, I just need to be me. Man’s Man is a call for a man who’s not afraid to take me by the hand and be a loyal friend to the very end – don’t care if he’s shy, don’t care what people say – if they talk, I don’t give a damn! John Ellis joined in with his smoking electric guitar on this number. Matt ended the set with Sit Down for Standby, an all-too-familiar story about trying to get home on a standby flight. John & Norm joined in again for this tune. We’re all just travelers stuck in the same boat – if I don’t get a flight, I don’t get home.

Submitted by Steve Nuckolls

VOCAL Showcase February 2011

-by Matt Manion

Collaboration between VOCAL members was on display February 21, 2011 at February’s VOCAL Showcase at O’Tooles Restaurant. Headliner Steve Nuckolls was joined on stage by fellow VOCAL members John Ellis and Larry Cody. Gary Shaver, who opened the evening, brought up Norman Roscher and friend Alan Cole, and surprised a few songwriters in attendance by performing their songs. Bill Kaffenberger, who was originally scheduled to perform, was unable to make it, but hopefully Bill will join us for a future showcase.

Gary, at his keyboard, opened his set with two of his own love songs. The first contained the refrain “my love is somewhere between her and you”. Gary’s performance caused one member of the audience to comment that Gary sounded like Floyd Cramer, the American Hall of Fame pianist who was one of the architects of the “Nashville Sound”. Gary followed it with a song about lovers who look back on their affair, the only thing left being “words on a page, yellow with age.”

The wood and brick interior of O’Tooles came alive for the next number when Gary invited Norman Roscher up to the keyboard to perform a rollicking Norman song called “Roamin’ Eye”. Gary blew alto sax as Alan Cole added tenor sax, and Norman sang in his distinctive, rich, gravely voice “…can’t put a leash on them dog-gone roamin’ eyes.”

Gary then announced that he was going to play a composition written by his friend Frank Lucas, who was in the audience. Alan added sax over Gary’s keyboards and showed how lovely and complete just two instruments can sound. Frank seemed pleased at the unexpected surprise.

Falling scales and deft fingerwork highlighted Gary’s next song, which he said sat unfinished for 10 years at the end of his piano bench. Expressing the struggle of human communications, he entoned “we’re just lost at sea, if you won’t talk to me.” And later…”let’s not sink too deep, just believe in me.”

Gary had another surprise up his sleeve. This time he honored Jim Uzel, another VOCAL member in the audience, by performing a Uzel composition. A sad, last song to a once lover, the lyrics tell the story: “…now that our love is gone, all that’s left is a sweet, sweet love song.” The song ends with a beautiful chord change.

Gary dedicated his last song, a Shaver original, to Marg, who was enjoying the music at a nearby table. A heartfelt love song, Gary sang “…and I stand amazed by your love”, and “…I thank you, my darling, for lifting me up”.

John Ellis served as MC for the evening and announced that Steve Nuckolls would be up shortly. After a brief interlude, Gary introduced Steve, who introduced his first song: Simunye.

Steve explained that the inspiration for Simunye came from a trip Steve and his wife Janice took to Africa. They had ridden an hour on horseback to a Zulu village which had no water or electricity. A reunification effort was going on at that time after a civil war, and “Simunye” can be translated as “we are one” or “we are one with this land”. John added guitar to this moving song, and member Larry Cody added harmony from the audience during the chorus.

Next was one of Steve’s newer songs, the genesis of which came this past New Year’s Eve as he was out running. “My Prayer of Thanks” is an expression of appreciation of each day, with the recognition that it could be our last. Steve dedicated his next song, “Grayson Lady”, to Ethel. It was an uptempo song with images of forests and hills.

John added guitar, and Larry plucked the bass, for Steve’s next song, “Making My Getaway”. The three musicians fell right in together and their instruments and vocals blended as if they had just come off the road after a long tour. During “When the Flag’s Half-Mast” that followed, a member of the audience commented “That Larry Cody can keep some time. He’s just got a good ear.”

Next up was “Sunrise” featuring Steve’s high, clear tenor sailing over the guitars. John’s lead was perfect, sounding almost like a banjo. A hopeful, gorgeous, song with lyrics “…you know there’s always a sunrise”.

“There’s something about your love that keeps me on the ground…” sang Steve for his next tune, followed by a song he described as a “true story told second hand”.  One audience member commented that Steve hits those high notes like Dan Fogelberg. Coincidentally, Steve joked from the stage “I think I’ll do one with my high voice.”  Steve ended his set with his “At Home on the Back Roads” and “Living Out This Love” rounding out a great set for the appreciative audience.

A fine evening of original music, made finer by the collaboration between our members and friends. Please join us for the next VOCAL showcase April 21 and watch for our newsletter for details.

VOCAL Showcase October 2010

VOCAL Showcase Review – October 18, 2010
231st consecutive showcase!

Markiss Blowfish (Mark Branch) and Chuck Kerwath opened the show with a wonderful dose of blues to please the crowd. The two musicians met through VOCAL and have collaborated since then, with Chuck recording Mark’s new CD “Come Along With Me”. Chuck accompanied Mark with a cool “dobro-ish” acoustic slide guitar on their first number “Hard Times”. This song was the 2010 VOCAL Song of the Year (when your bag’s unpacked, nothing to eat, holes in your shoes, paying child support, hard times indeed!) “Betty Lou” followed with Chuck on lead acoustic guitar (she’s from the South – my kind of girl – what am I supposed to do? – she had a glow – with blue eyes). The duo followed with “Tumbleweed Rag”, an instrumental with Mark on harmonica and Chuck tickling the open strings of his guitar. This was a free-spirited number, and I could picture myself traveling down a peaceful country road with this song playing in my ear. The title track “Come Along With Me” was next, which was reminiscent of a B.B. King style – I’ll buy you diamonds and rubies, lunch and dinner with fine wine – meet me down behind the old oak tree. “Messin’ With Her” tells us he couldn’t eat or sleep all week because he’d been messin’ with her – they had been very discreet, found a place to be alone, until he came home… They finished out their set with “Honey-Do Man” with Chuck doing the honors on lead guitar again. Don’t ask me to do all these things – spend all my money, honey – don’t tell me to take my pressure pill or to turn the other cheek.

Russell Lawson then took the stage, joined by Dave Berry on fiddle and guitar. Russell treated us to some fine homespun tunes with topics ranging from prison songs to tunnel collapses (not while tunneling out of prison…). He led off with “Certain Freedom”, a “minor-key prison song” about a murderer on death row dreaming about a certain freedom once his debt is paid. “At the edge of moonlight, out past the razor wire, freedom’s like a river racing quiet through the night, far beyond the walls of tempered steel and stone around the place that murder made my home”. “Whole Lotta Gone” brings us a John Prine-ish tale of a cold-hearted former lover who turned from good to bad – “I thought that I could change you and I got what I deserved”. “Days Gone By” is a somber reflection of a loved one with a troubled life, with hope waiting in the wings, a story many of us can relate to – “get on your knees and lift your voices high, ‘cause there’s a place above where every tear is dried”. Dave swapped his fiddle for the guitar on “Swell”, a story of being overwhelmed by someone’s love, to the point that you’re fearful and cannot comprehend its power “if you would love me just a little, my heart might never touch the ground, but you pour in me like a river, so deep I feel I’m gonna drown”. Yes, you can get too much of a good thing! “Church Hill Tunnel” recounts the story of the collapse of the railroad tunnel that ran to Church Hill in Richmond, where many workers rode the rails to the end of their lives. The tunnel was sealed for safety, but the story is still alive and well. This song won 2nd place in a recent lyric contest in American Songwriter Magazine, quite an honor for Russell! Russell’s wife Katherine joined him on his last “country breakup” number, “Where are Your Tears”. As we’re on the verge of a breakup, where are the tears you said you’d shed if it ever came to this? Was your love really true, or were you faking it all these years? “I could change the wine, but I couldn’t quench your thirst”. Russell and Katherine ended the song with some beautiful a cappella harmony!

The headline performer, Bill Wellons, then took the stage, and was joined by John Ellis on guitar, Larry Cody on bass, and his son, Todd, on drums. “Long, Long Time Ago” recounts the good old days when things were more carefree and innocent (The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, the Age of Aquarius had not yet arrived). In light of today’s new stories, those good old days do seem like long, long ago. His next solo piano piece was untitled, but I felt I could be listening to a movie score or taking a helicopter ride through a pristine river valley with the feeling it conveyed. “Some Other World” brought out John Ellis on guitar, and the synthetic French horn sounds from Bill’s piano. This is an optimistic story of hope, where it would be great if “everyone cared, no one was angry, no one scared”. “Hurricane” followed with the band of John, Larry, and Todd. This is a colorful blues song about life along the river “my mom gave birth to me in this room, my daddy and granddaddy were born here too”. “Lickety-Split” was an up-tempo instrumental that I thought was reminiscent of the Allman Brothers of my yesteryear. Those familiar tones were pleasant music to my ears! Jack the hound dog was featured in “Doggone Blues”. He chewed up my sweater, peed on the petunias, doesn’t come when I call him, and even bit the FedEx man! Bad dog! John Ellis played some bad-dog electric slide guitar worthy of harmonious hound-howling on this song! John Ellis’ song “Blues # 1” was featured next, with Larry “Stanley Clark” Cody on the driving bass. I detected possibly some AC/DC influences in this song, and perhaps a dash of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”. “The Old Folks” is probably my favorite Bill Wellons song. It openly deals with the effects of war, but it is not an in-your-face protest song nor a lethal “call-to-arms” anthem. It simply tells it like it is, the “old man sitting in the old folks home, his wife got sick, now he’s all alone”. Their son Sam won a lot of medals in Viet Nam, but that damn war took their boy away. The next number, “Better Stay in Tonight”, is an all-too-familiar story about someone who feels like a prisoner within their own house – “lock the deadbolt, draw the drapes, the government just makes this worse”. I’d move out if I could – I hate this neighborhood. The finale was “Dueling No-Banjos”, another hard-driving instrumental featuring John on lead guitar, Larry on bass, and Todd on drums. Bill delivered the organ sounds of some of the early Allman Brothers tunes, and they really rocked the house with their closing number. The crowd called for more, but the group had exhausted their repertoire, so we’ll just have to wait until their next performance to satisfy our appetite!

– Steve Nuckolls

VOCAL Showcase December 2009

VOCAL’s holiday showcase was number 221 in the longest running continuous showcase in Central Virginia! It was much more than a typical showcase with 10 performers, a standing room only crowd and a festive atmosphere.  The festivities were almost brought to a halt by a surprisingly large winter snow storm two days earlier, but with passable roads, the showcase went on without a hitch!

While the music is the reason for having a showcase, the December showcase was much more than a musical exhibition.  The night came together because of the generosity of our supporters, the hard work of our performers, the spirit of our audience!

We were all glad to be back at O’Tooles restaurant at 4800 Forest Hill Avenue in Richmond for the second showcase at this great location.  It’s a wonderful venue for music, food and to celebrate a festive time of the year.  

Part of the evening’s festivities were giveaways for the audience.  CD’s were donated by The Taters, Marna Bales, Dave Pollard, Norman Roscher, Cy Taggart, Gerry Laverty and Pops Walker.  We cannot thank these folks enough for their generosity, wich added a lot to the evening’s excitement.  During short intermissions spread across the evening, drawings were held for the audience members who received boxed sets of the donated CD’s.  We also must pass along a huge thanks to Gary Shaver for bringing along the tickets for the drawing and generally helping with the giveaways.  Matt Manion was invaluable in his assistance with the giveaways for the VOCAL members in attendance.

The music was the main point of the evening, but there was so much packed into this one evening, it would be impossible to fit it all into one article.  Gary Shaver was on hand to play with fellow songwriters such as Bill Wellons and John Ellis as well as performing some of his own work.  Rose Ann Robbins did a spoken word performance of one of her poems, adding a unique touch to the evening.  Other performing songwriters included Steve Nuckolls, Norman Roscher, Matthew Costello, James Lester and Don Pinkleton with son Robbie.

The Taters wrapped the night up in a great big bow for the holidays, with a thirty minute set that included tried and true, tasty Tater tunes, as well as some cover songs including a grand jam of Feliz Navidad that included most of the performers from the night!  It was such a great time.  The night just flew by and everyone was in great spirits heading up to Christmas.

Thanks to Larry Cody for producing the evening’s flyers, to Matt Manion for his continued assistance with anything that is needed and to all the fans, listeners, members of the public and anyone within listening distance!  We’ll see you in 2010!

VOCAL Showcase September 2009

Showcase #218 was an electric night of musical variety and prime songcraft.  From solo artist to full-blown band, from classic, crisp acoustic sounds to fiery electric rock, there was a little something for each listener and a whole lot of music for everyone.  John Ellis, Steve Nuckolls, and The Taters were the musical livestock and they were corralled and put to work on the showcase stage by guest emcee and ringmaster Norman Roscher.  September 21, 2009 was a night to remember.

The showcase is produced each month at the fine location of VOCAL’s host, Richbrau’s TapHouse, every 3rd Monday.  With a seasonal list of fine micro-brew and some delightful meals masterfully prepared by the chef, the TapHouse is an ideal location for the songwriter’s showcase.  Join us each month at 1212 East Cary Street in Shockoe slip for the best in food and music.

Setting a festive mood and delivering the first musical offering of the evening was VOCAL’s own dreamweaving, creative maestro, Norman Roscher.  With a special tribute written just for the showcase, Norman immediately set an atmosphere of fun with a circus-music theme, lyrics that included the names of the evening’s performers and a salute to Richbrau’s micro-brew creations.  Thank you, Norman for getting the night off to a rousing start!

After the completion of Norman’s introduction, Norman introduced the first of two short set artists.  John Ellis had electric guitar in hand, with backing tracks queued up to deliver a 15 minute set of rock and blues-based songs.  Starting off with an instrumental number, the first song was divided into two parts, a guitar only, finger-picking prelude called ‘Chimes’ which led into the all out rockin’ ‘Groove Thaing’.  With blues inspired licks and a high energy backbeat, the song was a good excuse to jam.  John then moved into the bluesy, rock number ‘The Stranger’, which is a song about the isolation that can be felt in the realm of the search for love.  The next song was another instrumental with a heavy blues influence ‘Blues No1’ complete with backing tracks that covered bass, rhythm guitar and drums.  The song was part slow blues and part melodic rock.  The set wrapped up with one of John’s favorite closing numbers ‘In My Place’, a rocking, electric number about the frustration of a relationship where one party was only there until something else came along.

Norman then introduced the next performer of the evening, a long time VOCAL member who has written many wonderful songs that show a lot of thoughtful reflection from life experience and the ways of the world.  In addition to his participation in VOCAL, Steve Nuckolls is an active member of the Nashville Songwriters Association.  ‘Making My Getaway’ was Steve’s first song followed by the reflective and inspiring ‘When the Flag’s Half Mast’ .  A new song added to his great catalog, ‘About Your Love’ was a wonderful creation consistent with Steve’s thoughtful style.  The set closed with a favorite of mine ‘Sunrise’, which is about driving down I-95 one New Year’s day.  Thanks to Steve for a great performance that really set a nice mood for the evening.

With a quick switch of the guitars and the addition of a bass, electric lead and a drummer, the featured performance of the night was none other than Richmond’s The Taters!  In support of their upcoming release Menagerie, The Taters put on an hour long set of their amazing blend of ‘eclectic roots pop’ as they like to describe their music.  With a scaled down drum set for Buz King and the electric guitar finger work of Greg Marrs, The Taters had a full, rich sound that really adds a sonic backdrop to the wonderful vocal work of Craig Evans and T. Bradley (Brad) Tucker.  With Craig on bass and Brad on acoustic guitar the duo are formidable on their own, but it was quite a treat to hear the full band in the setting of the TapHouse.  Most of the set featured music from the new CD Menagerie, including the first song of the night ‘No I Don’t’ , which had the kind of vocal harmony that Brad and Craig are well know for.  ‘Oceans Apart’, also on the new CD, included a bit of guitar from Greg that was somewhat reminiscent of surf guitar.  Taking the audience back a few years to the CD Recess, The Taters played two songs from that release, ‘On Our Own’ and ‘The Kiss’ – the song ‘The Kiss’ has a rather dramatic sense to it with the strong emotion in Craig’s vocal.  Another song from Recess, which has been redone for the Menagerie CD is ‘That’s Me’ – an interesting rework of a familiar Tater tune!  ‘Wolfman Told Me Tonight’ is a new song which will also be featured in the film Virginia Creepers, www.virginiacreepersmovie.com – check out the website for info!  The documentary will feature highlights of 50 years of late night TV horror host shows.  The Taters played many more songs from their extensive catalog and wrapped up the night with three more from Menagerie ‘Spend a Little Time’, ‘Such a Good Day’ and the encore performance of ‘Sing a Little Sunshine Song’, written by Roger Miller.  The performance certainly builds the anticipation for the new release which will be coming out within the next few months.  Keep up with The Taters and all things Tater related at www.thetaters.com.

What a fantastic night for live, original music!!  We can’t thank John Ellis, Steve Nuckolls and the The Taters enough for performing and an extra special thanks to Tater soundman Mike Gribik for running sound.  Thanks to Larry Cody for table tent cards, to Matthew Costello for his web services and photography and our guest MC Norman Roscher.  And the biggest thanks of all to fans and the general audience members who come out to listen – it wouldn’t be a show without you.  Thank you and we’ll see you next month!

VOCAL Showcase July 2009

It was a hot summer night when we kicked off Showcase #216, but inside the TapHouse, there was a cool blast of sound waves emanating from the stage!  The crowd filled the better part of the venue, and as some of the dinner crowd left, more folks filed in to see what was cookin’ on the stage.  James Lester with special guest Tom Mayer (from Barrelhouse) gave a harmonica infused dose of sweet blues, then Matt Manion gave a great set of folk and rock.  And to keeping it all rolling along, VOCAL’s guest MC for the evening, Louis Millhouse, kicked off the music and introduced our artists.

What would great music be, without a great venue to set the atmosphere?  Join VOCAL at Richbrau’s TapHouse each month for the perfect environment to experience freshly prepared meals, fine crafted micro-brew beverages and well crafted songwriting.  You’ll find us at 1212 East Cary Street in Shockoe Slip every third Monday of the month.

Louis’s song ‘Marathon’ was a great way to begin the evening and a sampling from his showcase appearance scheduled for later this year.  With a sweet acoustic rhythm and the warm, sandy imagery of living in the Keys with a drink in hand, Louis had the crowd swinging in the breeze of his tropical rhythm.  After warming up the crowd with this tropical excursion, Louis introduced the first performer.

James Lester wasted no time getting the crowd worked up as he kicked off his set with ‘I Like Your Love’, a bluesy number that gets feet to stompin’ and heads-a-boppin’.  Alternating between his own songs and the songs of his guest, Tom Mayer, James turned the microphone over for the next song ‘Home Cooking’, a tune featuring Tom’s vocals and harmonica.  Throughout the set, Tom’s harmonica was present on each song and what a treat it was for the ears!  Whether on James’ songs such as ‘Lame Pony Blues’ and ‘Where’s My Baby’ or Tom’s songs ‘The Night is Closing In’ and ‘All My Wife’s Relations’ the duo put on quite a fine sampling of guitar based blues, spiced up with a heavy dose of hot harmonica licks.  James gave quite a performance on the fretboard alternating between strumming and finger-style playing, with each song leaving your ears begging for more.  Tom really let it rip on ‘Lame Pony Blues’ where he laid down a harmonica solo that nearly set the roof on fire!  Lyrically, the duo served some low-down blues such as ‘The Night is Closing In’ as well as some comic relief with the songs ‘All My Wife’s Relations’ and ‘Where’s My Baby’.  VOCAL thanks James and Tom for bringing their blues skills to the showcase stage.  Look out for the next showcase performance from this duo.  You can also keep up with them on the web at www.myspace.com/jameslesterblue and www.myspace.com/barrelhouserva .

When the first set was over, it seemed a shame for the music to end, but there was no reason to worry about that with the evening’s featured performer Matt Manion.  Sharing his style of acoustic music, Matt carried the audience through an evening of folk and rock songs that used many themes including the difficulties of work life and the thoughts of personal reflection, wrapped up in lyrics that were sometimes somber, sometimes humorous and sometimes poetic, but always thoughtful.  Starting off with a blend of humor and maybe horror, ‘The Royal Roach Hotel’ was Matt’s telling of a not-so-wonderful stay while working in the oil fields of Louisianna.  Keeping on the theme of rough work experiences, ‘Power Play’, had a bit of a Punk feel to the rhythm, which served the lyrics well as the song addresses the frustration that can exist in some work environments.  ‘Forget Yourself’ was a very reflective song with an easy, calming melody.

Matt had surprises in store for the audience as he called John Ellis to the stage to accompany with lead electric guitar on ‘Losin’ My Hair’, a humorous, but somewhat introspective song about one of life’s struggles.  Next Matt brought Gary Shaver to the stage on clarinet and Norman Roscher on keyboard along with John Ellis on lead guitar to add ambience to his poetic and inspiring ‘O Rolling Sea’.  Norman’s keyboard work added a nice ambience to the song, which evoked images of the ocean waves that Matt used in his recorded version.  With Gary on the clarinet, the song had more depth thanks to the wonderful tone of his instrument and the delicate, swelling runs he used to accentuate the mood of the song.  Thanks to Matt and his guest performers for providing a unique interpretation of a very unique song.

Matt finished up his set with a few more songs including one that has a 50’s Doo-Wop feel to my ears, with lyrics about strength in love ‘Man’s Man’, and a great song for any Matt Manion performance ‘Don’t Need to Be Perfect’.  Thanks to Matt for a great set of creative, original musical variety.

VOCAL would not be the great organization that it is without a great group of volunteers helping out.  Thanks to Matt Manion for providing the sound system for the evening and to John Ellis and Matthew Costello for sharing soundman duties.  Larry Cody is kind enough to provide table tent-cards for each performance to inform our listeners about the evening’s performers.  Matthew Costello also keeps our website up to date and handles most of our photography work.  But it would all be for naught, without an audience to perform for, so thanks to all who show up or otherwise support our songwriters.  We’ll see you next month! 

David Atkins VOCAL Songwriters Showcase Podcast August 2009

Give a listen to this month’s VOCAL podcast featuring upcoming Showcase Headliner David Atkins:

david_atkins_200

Coming up on August 17

  • The VOCAL Songwriters Showcase at the Richbrau Taphouse & Grill.
  • David Atkins
  • Sarah Kane
  • MC, Larry Cody
  • 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
  • Click here for directions

See you there!

VOCAL Showcase June 2009

Showcase 215  was a big night for music and an incredible display of VOCAL talent.  A fantastic crowd showed up to hear the wonderful performances by Dave Pollard with Triad and to hear the unique sounds of Bill Wellons.

Each month, VOCAL hosts at least two original artists on the showcase stage at Ricbrau’s TapHouse.  Come join us each 3rd Monday of the month at the TapHouse for the company of some fine songwriters and performers along with some of the best micro-brew and fine culinary creations.  Don’t forget to check out the VOCAL podcast each month on the blog.

The evening’s MC was John Ellis, who began the festivities with his rock-and-roll song ‘In My Place’ about the person who enters a relationship without ever giving it a chance.  After the completion of the performance, the crowd responded with a great cheer and enthusiastic applause.

After John’s performance, the evening was turned over to Bill Wellons who performed a solid set of piano based songs, some sad and mournful, and some of them upbeat and fun.  The song ‘Best Friend’ had a wonderful line ‘…I’ll get the leash…we’ll go out walkin’ just you and me…’ reminded me of one of my old friends who has passed.  ‘She’s Still My Baby’ had a great feel to it as Bill’s fingers tickled the ivories and the song said ‘…she says she’ll kill me, but she ain’t killed me yet’.  The mood then turned to reverent contemplation as Bill reflected on the stories of some elderly persons in ‘The Old Folks Home’.  Top tapping and a more joyful spirit took over as Bill played ‘Heartsick Blues’.  Bill closed out with a hot little instrumental ‘Lickity Split’ that had somewhat of a Ragtime sound to my ears.  Thanks so much to Bill for a wonderful performance.  You can learn more about Bill at his recently launched website www.billwellons.com .

Then, without much delay, our featured performer Dave Pollard took the stage with fellow performers Dale Payne and Vickie Payne as the trio Triad.  And from the first song of the set ‘Processional (Joyce’s Theme)’ to the last, Triad gave the crowd an incredible performance.  Dave is a wonderfully creative musician on the acoustic guitar, producing interesting riffs or melodies that add a lot to the song’s sound.  Combining his guitar skills with the talented accompaniment of Dale and Vickie Payne, Triad produces a full, rich sound that captures the audiences heart and imagination.  The vocal abilities of the trio were on dispaly in the second song of the set ‘Lucky’, which had some amazing vocal harmony.  ‘Rock Me in the Cradle’ from Dave’s CD Ocracoma,  was a welcome favorite for me, bringing back memories of other Dave Pollard performances.  ‘Church of the Mind’ is from the CD Perfect Poetry, and is an inspirational song about being able to believe what you believe wherever you find yourself.  ‘Leavin’ Town’ is another instrumental from Perfect Poetry, which was followed up by a Dale Payne creation ‘Dear Ann Marie’ a tender ballad that included wonderful vocal harmony by the trio.  Dave’s song ‘Reach Out Your Hand’  was written for his sister at a time when he wanted to encourage her to reach out to people for support.  Triad closed out the night with ‘Pictures of You’ and ‘Goodbye’ – one from each of Dave’s two CD releases.

Be sure to check out Dave’s website www.pollardmusic.com for appearances and contact info.

Thanks one more time to Dave Pollard and Dale Payne for running the evening’s sound stage.  We wouldn’t be what we are without volunteers, so thanks to Matt Manion for his continued assistance with showcases, Larry Cody for the table tent cards and Matthew Costello for photos, web development and the Podcast audio production.  And what would a performance be without an audience?  So thanks to all who turned out to support our performers!  We’ll see you next month!