The July 2022 Songwriters Showcase took place on July 18, 2022 via Zoom (streamed live on FB). Two long-time VOCAL members Bill Kaffenberger and Matt Manion were the featured writers.
Bill opened the show in a dropped-D tuning with Acts of Random Blindness, the story of someone out of control with serious non-earthly problems who defied everything and cashed it all in – don’t mess with God or he’ll mess with you! In The Morning was a partially-written tune from the late 60’s – early 70’s that he had written with a friend who has since passed away. He’s sorry he walked out on his friend when he needed him most and doesn’t blame him for anything that happened in the past – I’ll be heading out when the morning comes. The Ghosts of Laurel Canyon is the title track of his newest release, describing his ventures into the canyon in search of the muse from past musicians who lived there. The ocean breaks for miles and miles – are these ghosts of the canyon even real, or are they walking these hills? Dad is a very sentimental tune about his father, remembering all the great times they had together. Summer Day Summer Sun was co-written with his high school friend Jim Howard, a salute to the summer fun and sun and the idea of leaving everything behind and dream on a new horizon. The next tune, also co-written by his friend Jim, was inspired by the Don McLean’s song Vincent. Asking what Van Gogh’s life could have been like, he encourages us to never give up on our dreams despite how despondent things may seem at the moment. She’s So Real is a signature tune of Bill’s that most everyone can relate to – trying to find that special person in your life who’s the “real deal”! She’s got a heart a million miles wide, so how can you go wrong with that? Maybe someday he will have the nerve to tell her how he feels about her. And So it Goes was written after attending a John Prine concert, where Prine encouraged all songwriters in the audience to go home and write a song. Bill took that to heart and wrote a pleasing-to-the-ear Prine-ish number. You can’t cook an egg in a toaster or comb your hair in the wind – reminded me of the advice dispensed in Prine’s Dear Abby song! He then introduced his new single Summer Rain, a rhetorical apocalyptic tune that will make you stop and think about what’s going on in our world today. His next tune, She Was Meant For Me, was written in the style of Gene Clark, a member of the former Byrds. He can’t believe that he’s the only one who understands that when all is said and done, and after a lot of time has passed, maybe she’ll see that she was meant for me! Bill ended his set with Someone Greater, a song he wrote back in the 70’s while at VCU and playing at the Grace Street Coffeehouse. After witnessing all the majestic mountains, newborn babies, etc. you certainly will believe there is someone greater! Great set, Bill!
Long-time member Matt Manion then took the virtual stage, opening with one of his signature tunes I Don’t Need to be Perfect. Definitely a message many folks can relate to – let me just be myself and get on with my life! Looking for a Man’s Man describes the search for that perfect mate – doesn’t have to be rich, just someone who will grab me by the heart. Blue Springs Hideaway recounts the heavenly trip to the mountains in southwest Virginia, soaking in Mother Nature miles away from the city lights – rocky ridges and forest trails. Definitely a peaceful place for a great weekend! Another dreamy ode to Mother Nature is Life Can Be Funky Down on the Pamunkey, a really cool song describing all the wondrous aspects of natural life along this lazy river. Matt then treated us to a new song using sampling from the Simple Minds’ song Don’t You Forget About Me. I Just Wrote a Song Today asks the listener to just let him know if you don’t like it and he’ll stop it! Matt took us home with Rolling Sea, which included soothing backing tracks he recorded on the beach by the ocean. I could almost feel myself floating and bobbing peacefully with the gentle roll of the waves. Way to go, Matt!