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!