Friday Night Seminar Showcase: A Review

By Ronnie Dee

A humongous Halloween moon hovered over the Downtown Holiday Inn on Friday, November 2, and what was happening inside was scary. Bear with me if you dare and I'll explain it to you non- believers.

It was not too many years ago that l used to play and sing my songs in all manner of venues, modestly billing myself as a "local favorite." People would marvel at my songwriting abilities and l would soak up their platitudes with sincere humility. You see, there weren't many others doing the same thing. Mickey Clark and Tim Krekel led the way and Sam Bush was the instrumental master, but, on the whole, local songwriters were not that much in evidence.

Well, with apologies to Edwin Newman, "It ain't that way no more!" On this one night, alone there were to be twenty songwriters from the Louisville area and several from more distant points displaying their wares for an audience that included a number of prominent record industry representatives from Music City, USA -- Nashville, Tenn.

Yes, the songwriting community around Louisville is growing and most notably improving by leaps and bounds every year. I suspect the writers have always been there, lurking in the shadows and slinking in the darkness of obscurity with few places to showcase their efforts. Then along comes the LASC and THERE YOU ARE.

There you are, Scott Furlong, with at least three gold record recipients in the ballroom audience, leading oft the evening with the smooth and mellow "Moonlight Dances," which collected fifth-place honors in the MOR/Pop category of last year's contest.

Then there came the rest: Donna Beck Michael, the wispy songstress from Lexington, N.C., was second up with an upbeat number, "Who Has the Broken Heart?" and the ballad "Just For Now."

Wally Stewart's soaring, inspirational "We're Still Here" had the added advantage of being performed by David Pitt, whose voice continues to impress one, even after you've heard him a number of times.

The irrepressible Charlie Walls, who was responsible for inviting a lot of the Nashville people to the show. came on next, resplendent in his new suspenders, and tore into a classically country tune, "Worn Out My Welcome," co- written by Sammy Reid and Gardner Barger. He then did one familiar to LASCers, "Thief ln the Night," penned by Charlie himself.

Diana Black, in her shirt of many buttons, was next on the agenda. Diana, who took on the enormous task of seminar committee chairperson and did a marvelous job, sang a song she co-wrote with Charlie Walls, who seemed to have his foot in more doors than a vacuum cleaner salesman on this night. I thought Diana might do "Daydream Drifter," one of the numbers she sang on the showcase. It was a love-gone-awry. song, but not too depressing because of a very nice beat.

"Dangerous" Don McGrew, the evening's answer to Loudon Wainwright III, attired in a cool, tropical motif, then wailed out his tribute to the Vietnamese working girl, "Saigon Suzie."

Good ol' Earl Meyers, one of the LASC's most prolific writers, had one of his tunes, "Maybe This Time," ably performed by Larry Easton and Nancy Jean, who stayed on to do one by Jean Metcalfe and Larry called "We Can Make It Last." See, if you've got a good voice and people want you to cover their tunes, you can get some heavy-duty stage time.

Larry Standiford, wearing a pair of interesting white shoes, did his commentary on looking for love in the nocturnal scene, appropriately tagged "Into the Night." Upon observing Larry's shoes it struck me that most everybody seemed to have washed their face and wore a clean shirt, and a lot of the performers sported new shoes. That was nice.

Another of my favorites, Eddie Burch, with his brothers Stu and Ricky, came on to do a "bluegrass western" reminiscence about a caballero bent on revenge called "Cortez."

Frank Wilson from Bardstown closed out the local portion of the show. Accompanied by Freddy Joe and Tommy Joe Cecil on keyboards and bass, Frank lashed out at the pompous and arrogant with "Camera Appeal," a time somewhat remindful of the Sprockets' theme.

After an introduction by Vice President Jean Metcalfe, one of the LASC's best friends, Alan Rhody, took center stage in the "Star Of the Show" slot and launched into "Trainwreck of Emotion" which he co-wrote with Grammy award-winner John Vezner. He then did "Don't Let Me Fall In Love Alone," co-written with LASC regular Karen Le Van.

Following those tunes, he mixed in the old with the new, including the Oak Ridge Boys' #1 hit, "I'll Be True to You," along with the brand new "I'm Missing You."

Alan writes a lot of touching, thought- provoking songs like "Uncle John," "The Mother Road," "What Are You Crying About Maria?" and "Somebody to Care," and he regaled us with each one of those.

For an encore Alan called for a hot blues guitarist and/or a blues harpist, but no one applied, so he soloed on "Louisville Loves the Blues." A very entertaining set by one of the Big L's top entertainers.

I'll tell you, to a guy who once had a seemingly uncontested market for his own songs, observing this growing field of songwriting competition is scary. But not too scary, because instead of writing this article next year, I plan to be in it.

See y'all.