March Showcase

By Wally Stewart

I strolled into the back room at the Rudyard Kipling on March 3 expecting to hear lots of good music and my expectations were much more than met long before the evening was over.

Jean Metcalfe, emcee, set the mood for the show by saying, "I think it's going to be a wild and crazy night," then introduced The Strung-Out Band and their special guests, Dave Troxell and Laura Davis. Dave played guitar and sang lead as he and Laura started some rock 'n' roll cookin' with "Long Tall Sally" and drove her into "A Whole Lot Of Shakin'." Each act's first set was limited to two songs and theirs concluded with Dave's song "New Kid on the Block."

The Strung-Out Band was brought together by L.A.S.C. Board Member Joyce Trammell and featured Joyce on keyboards, Bob Totten on guitar, Jeff Baxter on bass and Eric Crawhorn on drums. They served as house band for all the performers and deserve a lot of thanks.

Charlie "Music Man", Walls came next and kept us rolling with a fine cover of the Kingsmen's standard, "Louie Louie." The room was close to full by now and the crowd enjoyed Charlie's friendly "Let's have as good time" attitude. He then performed his original "No One Else But You." I was in the middle of the room and had trouble hearing lyrics, so I later asked Charlie about a line from his tune that had attracted, me. It began with "When I wish upon a lucky star" and finished with "I feel so lucky when you're in my arms."

Marie Augustine lent her guitar and jazz vocals to the Mann, Weil, Leiber and Stoller classic "On Broadway." It has been a favorite with me for a long time and her rendition was well worth the listening. Marie's versatile styling was then heard on her composition "Till You." We were being treated to an eclectic musical evening.

Alan Morris brought his country rock guitar to the stage and was joined by Laura Davis. They presented two Morris nines "Baby Turn the Radio On" and "Too Hot to Handle. " The latter effort spoke of a relationship that "started out burning like a flame on a candle," then grew into an inferno as "the more we fanned it, the hotter it got!" I enjoyed the imagery.

Michael and Diane Kessler both sang and played guitar in what Michael described as "upbeat folk." On the self-written "Knights of the Round Table," bass player Jeff Baxter provided extra vocal. It was followed by a Joyce Trammell work, "Move On Over." Unfortunately, the Kesslers weren't able to stay for the second round, but they gave a fine sample of what citizens of the Soviet Union must have enjoyed during the husband-and-wife team's recent trip to that country. It is hoped that they'll be back on future showcases.

The combination of Lee Cable and Robbie Bartlett closed the first set by starting with Bob Dylan's "Knocking On Heaven's Door." The place was now filled and extra chairs had been brought in. Next came Lee's "Cocky Feet," which was a crowd favorite and a multiple winner in the 1989 L.A.S.C. Songwriting Competition. It garnered second place in the Jazz/Blues category, Best Recording, Best Production and was a finalist in the Rock category. For the second set I found a seat by the speakers and enjoyed several reprise numbers. (I also enjoyed being able to hear more of the lyrics.)

Marie began with "Till You," then moved into a medley of "Hit the Road Jack" and "Just A Little Foolin' Around." She then did two of her own songs, "Satisfied Me, I'm Free" and "One Dish From Your Smorgasbord ls Gone." "One Dish" came from a boyfriend's statement of "I love 'em" when asked why he had so many girlfriends. Marie's reply provided the song title. Joining her on this Jazz/Blues finalist song was talented daughter Michelle Gossman.

The spotlight then went to Joyce and The Strung-Out Band as she took the vocal on two of her compositions, "I'll Just Keep Loving You" and "Sometimes We Need A Lovin'." Both of them caused cheering and screaming in the crowd, especially "A Lovin'." Joyce said that it was for "middle-aged women who are in our prime!" I was at a table with several attractive people who evidently thought this one was for them. Hostess Rhonda Pierce capped the responses with a hand-held-high "flick of the Bic."

"Music Man" Walls kept the energy flowing with his own works, "I'll Say It With My Lips," "Who Was That?" (based on a fight that happened where Charlie was performing), "What'd It Be Like?," a reprise of "No One Else But You," and "She's Got A New Number One." (It was co-written with Co-opers Gardner Barger and Sammy Reid.) He also did a very good cover of Ben E. King's mega standard "Stand By Me." (I'd like to hear a woman do this one.) Walls finished his portion of the show by thanking the band for backing everyone.

After a short break Cable and Bartlett returned to perform several Cable originals, "Baby It's You," "Hon," "Let's See What You Can Do" (fourth-place winner in the MOR/Pop category of last year's L.A.S.C. Songwriting Competition), "Comin' Down" and a reprise of the very popular "Cocky Feet." Lee shared that he had written "Hon" several years ago and had been "lucky enough" to have it recorded by Michael McGrath. (I'm sure it was more than just luck.)

Morris and Davis returned to perform Alan's "Take One More Step," "Too Hot to Handle," "He's Still Hanging Around" and "Do You Remember?" The last one was very upbeat and kept us tapping along with 1t.

Laura remained on stage to help Dave Troxell complete the showcase. They repeated "New Kid On the Block, then did Troxell's "Feel the Way I Want To," "Destiny" (Written with Davis), "Dreams Fall Too Fast," "Tell Me Your Love Me" and "Dream On." They also dished out bluesy, gutsy covers of classics "Summertime" and "House Of the Rising Sun," with Davis doing the vocal. Part of the audience had left by now but those who stayed were rewarded as she pulled forth the emotion in those songs. Her delivery and the band's accompaniment brought several of us into joining the effort. I later complimented Davis on her performance of "Summertime," and she replied, "I'm from the South and that's how it's supposed to be done."

I think all of us there agreed with her.

The evening ended about thirty minutes later than usual but most of the audience seemed glad to have the "bonus time." Karen Le Van remarked, "This is one of the best showcases we've ever had," and Marie Augustine summed it up with "It was a smashing success!" Thanks go out to everyone involved in giving us much more than our "money's worth."

The April 7 showcase should be another great program and we hope to see you there.