Songwriters Showcase August 2007

Songwriters Showcase August 2007

The August 2007 Showcase was a night full of surprises!  As the Showcase counter flipped to #193, we found ourselves moving upstairs to one of Richbrau’s other halls while the TapHouse staff took a break for a few nights.  The new venue gave us an opportunity to configure the seating to our stage set-up and to experiment with the sounds of a new space.  We will be back in the TapHouse for September, so be sure to join us there.

Gerry Laverty provided sound for the evening and acted as MC as well.  Thanks to Gerry for the hard work!

First to the stage was John Ellis for a quick two song set to get the crowd warmed up to a night of fantastic songwriting.  John performed a ‘near studio’ version of ‘The Stranger’ with backing tracks consisting of rhythm guitar, bass, conga and drums.  This was an expanded version of the simpler version that he has been performing at recent Showcases.  John also performed ‘Gentle Persuasion’, with lyrics written by his good friend and fellow musician Jeff Cuneo.

Glenda Creamer wowed the audience in a six song set with her strong vocals and bright guitar that she used to take the listener on an emotional journey.  She put fear in our hearts with ‘I’m a Witch Today’, then put a joyful smile on our faces with ‘That’s What Country Kids Do’, gave us a touch of heart break with ‘Never Sing About the Moon’ and ‘Fortune Teller’.  She wrapped up with ‘Broken Pieces’ and one of my favorite songs ‘Moonshine Sky’.  The song ‘That’s What Country Kids Do’ always reminds me of some good times as a kid ‘...making mud pies, catching worms and bugs...’.  Glenda’s howling vocals on ‘Moonshine Sky’ adds intensity to the drama of the underlying lyrical story telling.

Gerry Laverty had a surprise in store for those in attendance as he called a long time VOCAL member from the audience to the stage.  Norman Roscher kindly accepted the invitation and treated us to three great songs. ‘You & Me & Baby’, included Norman’s own skat in the middle, ‘Dogs New Clothes’ featured an audience bark-along, and ‘Mr. Sleepy Head’ was a soothing lullaby.  Thanks to Norman for supporting his fellow songwriters and entertaining the audience with a fantastic, spontaneous performance!

After Norman’s performance, Gerry Laverty stepped to the mic and plugged in his acoustic for a Featured Performer slot that included many sensitive and thought provoking songs, all of which are thoughtfully written.  ‘Details of Catastrophe’ dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Gerry followed up with ‘84th Floor’ and ‘I am a House’.  A VOCAL favorite was performed next with Glenda Creamer adding a wonderful vocal harmony - ‘Lonesome Blue Eyes’ has been covered on stage by several VOCAL members and is one of those songs that tends to stay with you long after the performance is over.  I like this song for the beautiful melody accompanied by Gerry’s skillful finger picking, adding a great supporting guitar melody.  ‘Blues in the Night’ was described by Gerry as an insomniac’s dream.  ‘Zion Crossroads’ is another of Gerry’s classics that recalls an experience late one night (early one morning) near Charlottesville, dreaming of a beautiful lady.  The set was closed with ‘Lead me on to Paris’ and ‘This Lethal World’.  You can keep up with Gerry at

Thanks again to all performers, to Larry Cody for producing our play bills, and to those of you who come out to listen to live, original music from VOCAL songwriters.  Special thanks to Richbrau’s TapHouse for hosting the monthly Showcase!  See you next month!

Songwriters Showcase August 2007

Showcase 188 was a big improvement for VOCAL’s image, since the men were cleared from the stage and the night was opened up to the ladies of VOCAL.  Kim Gammon, Marti Hartung, Jen Smith and Stephanie Boarman entertained a crowd of enthusiastic supporters as Ladies’ Night 2007 was presented at the TapHouse Grill.

The March 19 Showcase was kicked off by Kim Gammon who produced and hosted the special event.  Kim played ‘Long Road (Going Home)’ to start the evening of great music.

The next two performers traded off songs in the popular in-the-round format.  Marti contributed ‘Sing the Blues’, ‘It was Yeah’ and ‘Sitting on a Window’ (nicknamed ‘The Cat Song’).  Demonstrating a skill for blues infused licks as well as gentle rolling melodies, Marti gave a multi-faceted performance.

Jen showed a lot of soulful insight with ‘Not By My Own Strength’, ‘Whisper’, ‘More Than a Survivor’, taking on themes from religious experiences, to empathetic humanity accompanied by passionate six-string rhythms.

Kim transitioned the evening from the first set to the featured performer with her heavenly voice on ‘My Angel’.  Accompanying Kim for the song was mandolin player Barry Lawson, who was part of Stephanie Boarman’s featured performance with husband Jeff Boarman.

Stephanie was in great form, captivating the audience with select cuts from her bluegrass catalogue including the more melancholy and passionate tunes such as ‘Bury Me in Kentucky’ and ‘Don’t Take My Baby Away’, as well as the light-hearted and humorous tunes such as ‘Cappucino Cowboy’ and ‘Don’t Mess With Daddy’s Little Girl’.  The set was high energy and beautifully played as the performers stayed true to the bluegrass form with one condenser mic and each member moving in or out as the song required.

Thanks goes out to all of the performers for a fantastic evening, to Kim Gammon for pulling the night together, to Jim Uzel and Gary Shaver for making the sound and MC thing happen and to Richbrau’s TapHouse for providing a great venue.

Songwriters Showcase July 2007

VOCAL Showcase #192 escaped the thunderclaps and potential summer time torrents of Richmond’s weather.  The July 16, 20007 event at Richbrau’s TapHouse Grill was another ‘come as you are’ format, where the play bill was built around the songwriters in attendance.

The team of Shaver and Uzel once again provided the sound and MC duties for the Showcase.  Gary Shaver started the evening off with his songs “Telling Me Goodbye” and “I Still Burn”.

Steve Nuckolls took to the stage to offer his songs “Making My Get Away”, “Hand Me Downs” and the newer “Sunrise”.  Steve’s “Hand Me Downs” has become one of my favorites, but all three songs are indicative of his thoughtful and well crafted songwriting.

Marti Hartung captured the feelings of the VOCAL membership on a rainy evening at Dogwood Dell, immortalized in the lyrics to “Disappointing Rain”.  “Hoover Town” was a comment on at least one Richmond audience who sucked the life out of musicians by treating the band as little more than musical wallpaper.   Marti closed out the set with “Mystery”.

Matt Manion had travel on his mind when he took the stage.  Matt gave the Showcase crowd a look back to 1978 when he worked in the oil fields of Louisiana staying at the “Royal Roach Hotel”.  And I think a lot of travelers can relate to the idea of “Sit Down for Stand By”.

Jim Uzel was in fine form when he gave the audience three unique songs to ponder.  “Winter, Summer Dreamer”, “September Rain” and “Too Many Angels” made up Jim’s set and featured Mark Branch during “September Rain”.  Gary Shaver added support to “Winter, Summer Dreamer”.  “Too Many Angels” was inspired by the events of September 11.

Mark Branch brought Marti Hartung back to the stage to perform his own song “I’ll Be Alright”.  My personal take is that this is one of Mark’s best offerings yet, with that great blues back beat, his booming baritone blues voice and that wailing harmonica blended in to one great song.

Gary Shaver was kind enough to close the evening out with two more songs, “Trading the Present for the Past” and “Somewhere Between Her and You”.  What a great way to end an evening with so much variety and great song writing.

We have had a great group of volunteers over the past year who support the Showcase.  Larry Cody produces the play bills that are distributed to all of the tables.  Our dedicated sound man Jim Uzel will be turning the duties over to John Ellis for the next year.  Thanks to Jim for all he’s done and we hope to see him at all of the Showcases.  And finally to Gary Shaver who has done MC

Songwriters Showcase June 2007

VOCAL Showcase #191 happened at Richbrau’s TapHouse Grill June 18, 2007.  It was a night of ‘come as you are’ performances, where songwriters showed up and played in no particular order as time allowed.

The Showcase also served as a warm up to the Dogwood Dell “We Write the Songs” VOCAL event on June 29, 2007.  Unfortunately that event was washed out by mother nature after only two performances, but what an accomplishment by VOCAL volunteers to organize and prepare such a monumental event for the membership!

Larry Cody warmed up the Showcase audience for the night’s festivities with his classic ‘Now I Know’.   This song is always a pleasure to hear with a gentle strum on Larry’s guitar and his mellow, raspy vocals.

Steve Effinger and Mari Hartung were two performers who were on the printed playbill, since they had signed up for the Showcase prior the show date.  Marti took the second slot of the night to deliver four great songs.  Marti’s guitar was ringing out loud and clear in perfect unison with her vocal delivery on the play list that included ‘That Kind of Music’ and ‘What’s Doin’ Here’.

As an interlude between Marti and Steve Effinger, an old friend of VOCAL, Steve Smithson, was called to the stage to re-acquaint himself with the VOCAL membership.  What a treat it was!  ‘For a Moment Young’ was a finger picking guitar style with very bold, bright strums intermingled for a great sound.  ‘Would not Last a Year’ showed quite the vocal ability with sounds that went from great howls to low roars.  Thanks to Steve for stepping up!

Steve Effinger was next to the stage and ready to entertain with a five song set that included two new songs ‘Vieux Carre’ (a Louisiana reference) and ‘Why Can’t He Love Her Tonight’.  The crowd was revved up with Steve’s light hearted and rhythmic style of ‘Sing My Song to Jesus’.  Steve also included ‘Then She’ll Cry’ and ‘The Best I Ever Had’ to round out the set.

John Ellis came to the stage with the electric guitar slung across his shoulder.  Unfortunately the single coil pickups were demonstrating why the ‘double humbuckers’ were invented, but the show must go on, hum or no hum.  John covered Gary Shaver’s ‘Cryin’ Shame’ and played his own composition ‘The Stranger’.

Larry Cody came back to the stage to complete the evening.  ‘Winter is on the Way’  opened up Larry’s second performance.  Then in a great effort to make the following week’s Dogwood Dell performance all it could be, Larry performed David Atkins’ ‘Sing Your Own Songs’, which was going to be VOCAL’s grand show closing number at Dogwood Dell had mother nature held out just another couple of hours!  Never the less, Larry did a great job with the song and it was great to hear another performance of this tribute to songwriters.

As I wrap up this month’s review, I would like give Larry Cody a big thank you.  For quite a while now, Larry has been typing up, printing and laying out the playbill for each VOCAL performance and he has not always been acknowledged.  And I would be remiss if I forgot to mention our sound and MC team of Jim Uzel and Gary Shaver.  Thanks to Richbrau, to all who show up to support the performances and to all of VOCAL’s volunteers.

Songwriters Showcase May 2007

Showcase number 190 happened at the Richbrau TapHouse on May 21, 2007, offering up a big sample of fine VOCAL songwriting talent.  Gerry Laverty, Steve Nuckolls and Jim Westlyn wowed the crowd with great performances.

The Showcase was hosted by the welcoming, attentive management and staff of the TapHouse Grill.  Thanks from VOCAL to the TapHouse for the continued support.

Our dedicated soundman, Jim Uzel had the show ready to roll as always and John Ellis was sitting in as MC for the dynamic Mr. Gary Shaver.

First to the stage was Jim Westlyn.  Jim kept the crowd rockin’ and engaged with upbeat rock styles and blends of jazz.  “What are the Chances”, “Heaven Knows”, “Maybe I Won’t” and “Long Road” showed Jim’s variety of finger styles and interesting chord changes.  “Ring True” is a song that took 3 years to ‘pull together’ with a bridge, but it finally came to Jim and completed a great song.

Steve Nuckolls was kind enough to bring his thought provoking and heart-felt lyrics to the Showcase stage to share his brand of subtle, melodic song craft.  “Living Out This Love”, “This New Found Love”, “Making Memories” and “They Died for Love” kept the crowd enchanted.  Steve also included his true song about a friend “Hello from Normandy” and a song about and African trip to the ‘Land of the Zulu’s’, “Simunye”.

Gerry Laverty took the last slot of the evening and amazed the crowd, with his folk-style ballads and social commentary.  “This Lethal World”, the New Orleans inspired “Details of Catastrophe” and “Zion Crossroads” offered a sample of styles and tempos, and all were examples of Gerry’s inspiring lyrical abilities.  Gerry also gave a brief history of “Time” and shared a song born of a midnight walk in the darkened halls “Blues in the Night”.  Gerry was in fine form even with a scratchy throat challenging his vocals.

Thanks again to all performers, the sound crew and our supporters.  Keep your calendars marked for the 3rd Monday of the month – we’ll see you then!