January Showcase

By Jean Metcalfe

C. Lynn Riffle led off the first L.A.S.C. Songwriter Showcase of the decade with her original song "Don't Go Away." The song worked not one person left. No reason to.

Lynn, accompanying herself on keyboard, offered up mostly songs that she had written, including "I'm Out to Get You," "Fire, Fire Burning Bright" and "Maybe, Just Maybe Mama Was Right." She also introduced us to "Rita" the girl that other girls love to hate in a Riffle original that no doubt conjured up a "Rita" that all of us knew in high school.

Before the evening was over, Lynn had slipped in Felice and Boudleaux Bryant's mega-audience-request number, "Rocky Top," and Chubby Checker's twice#1-hit song (1960 and 1962), "The Twist."

In a sharp departure from past showcase entertainment, the Lyrical Lords showed off their considerable talent by rapping their original material. "Professor D" (Damon Long) and "G. Teacher" (Garland Thomas) had brought along "DJ John Boy" (Cliffton Johnson) to manipulate the record player.

The guys exhibited real professionalism during most of their first set, but did an about face when they stayed on too long. Their attempt at "winging it" in the unscheduled "overtime" provided a classic example of how not to "Leave 'em wanting more."

They redeemed themselves in the reprise set with their prize-winning "Social Conscience," which has earned them a good bit of acclaim locally. (They have received airplay of it on WLOU's "Hip Hop Countdown" and it won them $150 in a local rap contest. And, of course, they were the winners in the Rap Category of L.A.S.C.'s Songwriting Competition '89.)

We will forgive Damon for his not-quite-up-to-snuff a cappella rendition of a song written for and about his girlfriend, "Baby I Want You Forever." I was touched by the emotion he put into the song.

The Lyrical Lords are very talented, especially in light of their youth. I predict that, with a little more seasoning, they will go far.

Pen Bogert, a fine performer and songwriter who excels on slide guitar, was the evening's third performer. With a hat on his head and a harmonica around his neck, Pen entertained his way through a series of well-written and -performed originals. During Pen's "Southern Crescent," Co-oper Scott Furlong was heard to exclaim from the audience, "I'd swear that there was a trio playing up there."

After performing a well-received variety of tunes that included "Goin' to the Country," Pen closed with "Irish Lady," written for his wife Janine. "She's only part Irish," Pen said, adding that the song "is only part Irish." Sounded Irish to this mostly-Irish listener.

Next up, looking like Sean Connery with a guitar, Eddie Burch presented his listenable voice and tunes to their best advantage. He soloed on Burch-penned favorites "Roses of Carmichael" and "Richmond Town," keeping the crowd's attention with his easy style. He also included "Moses Town," a song that he wrote for his 7-year-old son Evan. (The young lad couldn't be there, so the performance was being videotaped for his later viewing.)

The trio of Burch brothers (the other two are Stu and Rick) livened up the evening with a couple of close-harmony numbers that were very enjoyable. Although they don't sound a lot like the famous singing Gatlin boys, I always think of that trio when the Burch boys perform. That's intended as a compliment.

The January 6 Songwriter Showcase was a great success. The entertainment was excellent, the Rudyard Kipling Restaurant listening room was full and members Lucille and Harry Wills were there celebrating their 51st Wedding Anniversary. What more can you ask?