For only the second time since March 2020, (April 2023 being first) the May 15th VOCAL showcase was held live at O'Toole's Restaurant. This event was billed as an open mic night for all who wished to perform members, or not.
Rona Myers Sullivan came to the mic first. She acquitted herself as a well seasoned guitarist with the following set list: "Wherever I Am" a song that was self reflexive, and after a failed relationship, has the singer deciding her best option was to follow herself in the world. "Three Forks" told the tale of what happens in a small town such as pettiness and stressing situations, causing the singer to state: "I’ll never go back there again." Next song "Beside The River" recounted living along the banks of river and how the waters flowed with memories of the past. In "Deep Waters" the singer recalls how "everything about you" caught her by surprise through her lover's eyes. Rona closed her set with "Who's Crying Now".
Matt Manion, long time VOCAL member, followed with a twosong set, accompanied by John Ellis on electric guitar. "O Rolling Sea" recounted memories of a trip to Rhode Island with his family and enjoying time at the beach. His guitar work emulated waves rolling in to the shore with timed intervals of strumming, "Thank You Chuck Berry" was a tribute song to the late performer using some the Berry's famous guitar licks in the song's music.
Gary Shaver on keyboard, presented two songs that showcased has deft finger-work on the keys and echoed with a classic country sound. "It's A Crying Shame" was the sad tale of a lost love that still resounds in his mind even after she has changed her name to her new lovers. In contrast: "I Stand Amazed By Your Love" recounted just the opposite, all sweetness and good feelings from his amour.
Next up: Carter Jordan with a singular song "Different Roads" A tale about going separate ways after a breakup.
Featured performer of the night, Jeff Wagner, started off his set with "The Reckless Kind" going into detail living life by throwing caution to the wind, taking chances and their consequences. In "Hurricane Wind" he sings about a couple who left a peaceful somewhat solitary life to enter the world and gets rebuffed and blown around by what it as to offer. In the end, they decide to return to their solitary life. "Kindness Man" is a touching portrait of Jeff's brother who left an indelible mark on him setting up examples of how to treat people who have trouble dealing with adversity and hard times, and thus: the song's title. "Rattlesnake" gives us chilling picture of a woman who plays men for what she can get by dressing provocatively, in snakeskin outfits, hanging out in bars and teasing them with her attributes. "There's Still Songs We Need To Play" reminds us that the human condition is an unending source of creativity if we stop and dig into our feelings and thoughts. The singer says there is much yet unrevealed about life. Remembering the past, times we laughed, times we danced, times we made love, are all the subject of "Sometimes" a song that reminisces about times in a life gone by. To close his set, Jeff presented "Sometimes A Fire Can Stop The Rain" which gave examples of how contradictory life can be.
Many of the attendees were happy to finally see each other in the flesh after a long separation due to the pandemic. The response to the performers bodes well for continued success at VOCAL's live showcases.
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