June Songwriter Showcase

By Paul M. Moffett

Following the one-month break for Derby, the Showcase returned in June with some familiar performers onstage: Alan Morris and Valerie Yeiser, Lee Cable and Robbie Bartlett, Hugh Bir, Jr., and Tom Flood with Ray Mann. The crowd was somewhat light early on, but as the evening progressed, folks trickled in steadily until by the end of the night, the house was comfortably filled.

Alan and Valerie opened the show with Alan's tune "Read 'Em and Weep," then followed with the title cut from Alan's new album, Old Friends, a tune celebrating the friendship inherent in a good marriage. With Alan on guitar and recent University of Louisville Music School graduate Yeiser on piano, they moved through "Crazy From the Get-Go," "Would You Marry Me Again?" and "I'm Goin' Fast As I Can," before turning the stage over to Hugh Bir, Jr.

Bir operates the Hugh E. Bir cafe in New Albany, Indiana, and performs regularly there, as well as the occasional gig in other rooms. Dressed as a C & W singer, Bir fit the part of singer and songwriter, picking his way through "Lovin' Man's Dream," "Playin' a Different Game," and a favorite, "909," a solidly traditional treatment of one aspect of alcohol consumption. He then tossed in the Jimmie Rodgers tune, "Waitin' for A Train," and to demonstrate that he was not just a three-chord country performer, closed out with Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'," most recently recorded by Hank Williams, Jr.

Lee Cable and Robbie Bartlett opened the second set with an array of tunes Cable wrote for Bartlett, including the tune that got them an Honorable Mention in the Co-op's 1988 contest, "What About You?" This reviewer was called away to tend to other duties in the middle of their set, so a complete review of their performance is not possible, but the applause emanating from the back room of the Rudyard evidenced the quality of their music.

The final act of the evening was arguably the most remarkable performance ever presented on the Showcase stage. Tom Flood, now living in Nashville and engaged in songwriter career-building, brought along Ray Mann for accompaniment and was nearly overshadowed by him, for Mann played bass guitar and drums simultaneously. Playing the bass with his left hand, hammering on the strings with enough force to get clear tones, he beat the snare, toms and cymbals with his right hand, over a rock-solid bass drum powered by foot. The result of this musical balancing act was a firm rhythm section for Flood's tunes.

The songs were generally new ones, since Flood admits that his sojourn in Nashville had convinced him that many, if not most, of his "old" tunes were weak. "Masquerade," "No-Win Situation" and an instrumental piece entitled "Renegade" demonstrated that Flood had indeed been busy stretching himself musically since moving to Nashville. "Renegade" had the distinction of having been performed in several eastern European countries by the band with which Mann regularly performed.

Flood did not completely ignore his pre-Nashville material, doing "Captain of the Seas," which he dedicated to LASC'er Joyce Trammell. He and Mann then closed out the night with the up-tempo "Workin' Man Blues."

Because of the Fourth of July Holiday weekend, we will not have a Songwriter Showcase on July 1.

The next Showcase will be on August 5, 1989. The line-up is not yet set, so watch the next issue for the performers.