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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!

VOCAL Showcase November 2008

It was a cold, windy night in Richmond, Virginia as the showcase stage was set up and the equipment turned on to warm up.  Our performers were ready to go to keep the pre-holiday spirits up and present some of the best original music that VOCAL has to offer.  The showcase counter flipped to 209 and the performers tuned up for a night of great music.  It was November 17, 2008.

As always, we like to take a moment to thank Richbrau’s TapHouse Grill for hosting the showcase every 3rd monday of the month.  Join us at 1212 East Cary Street in historic Shockoe Slip for great food, home brewed beverages and live entertainment from Virginia’s songwriters.

The evening’s first performer was Justin Brown.  This was Justin’s first Showcase appearance, but he is not a stranger to the stage having performed in his former band Plaid Rose.  Justin also enjoys recording his own material in his home studio.  Joining Justin on stage was a great local harmonica player from the band Barrelhouse, Tom Mayer.  Justin and Tom are both members of the River City Blues Society www.wegotblues.com where they work to ensure that the blues tradition is kept alive in Virginia.

Justin kicked off the evening with a Beatle-esque tune ‘Lead Me On’ followed up by ‘Whiskey Towne’.  The song ‘Footsteps’ was written by Justin right after graduating High School and moving out into his own home.  ‘Mississippi Railroad’ is a tune penned just six months prior to the showcase and a song with a steady, driving rhythm that reminded me of a train chugging down the line.  The next two songs were written by Tom Mayer and they were heavy on the blues!  ‘All My Wife’s Relations’ was a somewhat humorous and lyrically interesting song with the line ‘…of all my wife’s relations, I like my self the best…’.  The song ‘Blue Eyes’ was an upbeat number with a theme that things are not always as they seem.  Tom’s harmonica work filled the TapHouse with the spirit of the blues, ringing out sweet riffs just dripping with feeling and grit.  Justin and Tom closed out the set with ‘Shake the Dew’ and ‘Turn Your Damper Down’.  Thanks to Justin for getting the evening off to an inspiring, blues driven beggining!

VOCAL was pleased to welcome back a Showcase regular and a great local song writer.  Darryl Ellyson has a songwriting and performing history going back at least twenty years including performances in different local bands.  Since becoming part of VOCAL, Darryl’s songwriting has been quite impressive with the ability to turn out many catchy, well written songs of many styles sometimes completing songs in a single day.

Darryl started off his set with ‘Raindrops Fallin” and ‘Final Hour’.  The second song highlighted Darryl’s ability to convey an emotional, soulful feel.  ‘I’m Gone’ is a new song written two weeks before the showcase.  ‘Teardrops Cover my Pillow’ has a lyrical meter and melodic structure that really allows Darryl to show the power of his voice – it’s a light-hearted, blues inspired song.  The country-blues song ‘That’s Just the Way Love Goes’ uses the lower ranges of Darryl’s voice and demonstrates his songwriting talents with the line “…remember the good times, forget the bad, that’s just the way love goes…”.

Darryl continued the set with a second new song ‘It’s So Hard’ followed up by ‘I’ve Got to Walk On’ and the rocking blues number ‘Been Out Travelin”, where Darryl’s vocals were strong and powerful.  The set wrapped up with ‘Tell Me Baby’, ‘I’m Not Afraid’, ‘I Don’t Know’, ‘Broken Dreams’, and ‘When I Get Home’.

We must thank the volunteers that make the showcase happen each month.  Larry Cody provides the table tent cards to inform the audience, John Ellis provided sound services and we thank Matthew Costello for keeping the showcase information on the website.  And, of course, thanks to each performer who made the showcase a great musical affair.  And thanks to all who support the performers.  Join us again the third Monday of next month for the best in original songwriting and performing on the VOCAL Showcase!