July 2023 VOCAL Songwriters Showcase

The July 2023 showcase resumed at O’Toole’s for the third month since our COVID hiatus. This was a very intimate evening featuring two of VOCAL’s fine talents, John Ellis and Ken Roller.

John Ellis

John kicked off his acoustic-electric set with A Band of Silver, born from overhearing a conversation of a couple discussing the style and purchase of their wedding band. Needless to say, the stone/metal/shine/cost of the ring is nothing compared to the love it should represent! Honestly (featuring really catchy guitar licks) is the tale of the feelings and emotions you experience at the end of a relationship that didn’t go well. Sometimes you just need to let off the steam. He next treated us to his signature tune The Stranger, where he deviated a bit from his usual delivery of this song with a subdued acoustic vibe rather than a driving electric guitar. In this tune he recounts various relationships that were doomed for failure, hence the stranger to love. John ended his set with Autumn Hours, which also has some really cool guitar licks to draw the listener in, dancing around the lyrics of preparing for a cold winter while clearing your mind with cool peaceful nights. Great set, John!

Ken Roller

Ken, a new VOCAL member, then took the stage and treated us to an eclectic variety of tunes. It’s no secret that the love of family is the source of most of his inspiration. Lost Myself in You is a beautiful love song about falling in love with his wife. Goodspeed You Home is another tribute to his wife recounting the time she was traveling and he was home alone with the fireflies and the sunset. Song For David is a very heartfelt song written in memory of his brother whom he dearly loved. Gonna Roll All Night is the reaction to seeing that special look in her eye and not knowing exactly what to make of it (we’ll roll to the left, roll to the right, maybe we’ll roll all night!) Let Me Be There was a tender love song written about his daughter’s birth thirty years ago and which he finally finished with her wedding last year. There were some beautiful images here, always wishing for blue skies but knowing there will be rain, wishing for happiness but knowing there will be pain. The writing of a good song takes time! In Virginia was inspired by an old mill in Hanover County but goes on to describe many of the wonderful treasures in the Commonwealth, such as Shenandoah, Blue Ridge Mountains, Chesapeake Bay, and Mt. Rogers. Diversity is a funky/catchy tune telling us to look beyond the black and white and the prison that enslaves our mind, and instead focus on the beauty within. It Always Beats for You is another song written for his wife at the time their daughter “left the nest”, asking her to put her head on his chest and listen to his heart beating madly for her. Lockdown is another funky groove co-written with Jim Puckett about “Lady Covid” floating in the air, in-between the sheets, etc., a plague topic that we can all relate to! The Road is a minor-keyed number about the churning and grinding, wheels turning, feeling like the road is driving me. Can’t Find The Sunshine For The Rain is a love-gone-south number about hearing distant thunder and seeing the Heavens open up and pour out the truth, reminding me of my love with you. Excellent job, Ken!


Showcase Photos

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