December Showcase

By Jean Metcalfe

Dan Gediman was more accustomed to playing music with his "electric group" Something Big than "going it alone," but he was more than able to present his original music in an enjoyable fashion as lead-off performer on the December 2 songwriter showcase.

Starting with "In the Middle of the Night," in which he states that "I wouldn't want to be a fly on your wall, you wouldn't open up and let me in," he moved to songs that are cuts on Something Big's first "comette" "Right Thing" and "Turn Away." After finishing the latter number, which includes such lines as "You meant to say that you had fallen out of love; you meant to say I wasn't sent from above; you meant to say that you would rather be with anyone but me," Dan asked his audience the rhetorical question, "Don't you hate confession songwriters?"

Plugging the comettes packaged combinations of a comic book and a cassette tape containing two songs Dan described them as a "cultural/slash/retail phenomenon." He urged the listeners to purchase one they were available in the foyer as the proceeds would go the local Spouse Abuse Center.

Gediman continued with a song whose opening line was "Actions speak louder than words; it's like a sickness for which they haven't found a cure." I believe the song was called "It's So Hard to Be In Love Again."

A broken string on the foregoing number caused a change in plans as Gediman picked up his spare guitar and invited the audience to participate by singing the chorus of the alternate song. He mused, "One of the things that folkies get to do that rock people don't get to do is audience participation … except stage diving."

Gediman introduced his next number as "a song for singing around a campfire," and added that he has since thought it would have been "so nice to have The Byrds do it." In an attempt to follow through, he divided the audience into two groups one to sing the chorus as Chris Hillman would sing it and the other half to imitate David Crosby. It was sort of a non-Christmas "Twelve Days Of Christmas." Before one particular verse Gediman advised the "post-feminists" in the audience to ignore it. Mid-song he accidentally dropped his pick into the sound hole of the guitar and said, "What next?" then suggested a possible "next," but added that it was not a problem for him at the moment. Prez Paul Moffett was ready with a spare pick and Gediman continued without further incident.

Susanne Wood, accompanied by Frank Maguire, announced straight-away that "if you hear a little bump now and then it's my teeth," and I supposed that she must have hit her teeth on the mike while getting settled, but I missed it. Beginning with "Misty Mountain," written by "a Canadian songwriter," Susanne followed it with "In the Morning," a song she wrote while she was living in California." It was a song of hope that contained the line, "There's a key to every highway, there ain't no need for you to cry."

"Desire," a tune written by Maguire, was nicely harmonized by the duo. "I can see it in your eyes ... I can feel it in my heart they sang.

After allowing as how that since she had been billed as a message singer, "I'd better bring you a message," Susanne offered up "Heartland" a song about the plight of the farmer who "tilled the land, now it's gonna leave his hands."

Susanne sang a nice rendition of "Last Night I Had Too Much to Dream," a great hook song written by fellow L.A.S.C.er " Karen Le Van. Sample line "Whoever said out of sight out of mind didn't know dreams could be so unkind."

Wood/Maguire ended with a Maguire-penned number for which he also provided harmonica. Saying he had written it several years ago, "for what reason I don't know," he invited the audience to join in on the chorus. He promised that it was simple and it was it consisted entirely of a series of "la la's."

Claude Wayne opened his set with a sampler song, "That's Imitation," which contained a goodly number of the famous people whose voices he imitates, the final one being Ethel Merman and Claude had Merman's astonishing voice pretty well down pat.

"My Favorite Country Star" is a clever Wayne number which uses an "I wrote this song just for you, Lurleen and this is how long I'm gonna love you" telephone conversation to showcase more imitations. It's a funny bit that Claude has been employing for some time and for which he has done a very humorous video.

(Sample: "Long after Merle is old and haggard") "Howdee, I'm just so proud to be here." Cousin Mini Minnie was brought onstage by Claude and what a great dummy she is. The "two" engaged in a game of dueling impersonations that included Cary Grant, Conway Twitty, Randy Travis, Ernest Tubb and a clever "Elvis Fudd." I enjoyed all the imitations, but I must admit I could have done without the final one Johnny Cash. It wasn't up to Claude's standards and it was a bit short on taste, although not exactly offensive.

Mini's finale was a banjo solo of "Rocky Top," for which Claude outfitted her with a small banjo and provided the banjo plunks with his voice. A fun number.

"The Legend Of Loretta," a tribute to Loretta LynnBy Claude (using the voice of Gregory Peck), was well done. And, after the audience realized it wasn't going to be a funny imitation of Peck, they settled into the mood of the touching piece. Peck is a favorite of Lynn's and Lynn is Claude's inspiration. At Lynn's request, Claude has done the tribute on the stage at several of her concerts.

Claude closed out his set with two of his originals the perky "The Job Of Loving You" and "I Love My Country," the latter of which refers both to America and to country music."

Marie Augustine, whom this writer, as emcee, introduced as "the very first performer on the L.A.S.C.'s very first showcase," wasn't solo on this showcase. Debuting her Marie Augustine Ensemble, consisting of daughter Michelle Gossman providing vocal harmony, John Thornberry on bass and Steven May on violin, Marie stuck with proven favorite originals "Till You" and "One Dish From Your Smorgasbord Is Gone." The latter number earned Marie an honorable mention in the Co-op's recent Songwriting Competition '89.

Erin Delaney was brought onstage to sing the next three Augustine originals, "Should I Go," "Ode to A Child's Love" and "High Breeze." It was lovely.

Poet Umar Williams joined Marie's ensemble to finish off their set with the recitation of an Augustine piece called "The Cry Of the Earth."

For his three-song reprise set Dan Gediman performed two originals, "Without Love" and "Last Call For Mistletoe." The latter song is Something Big's cut on the four-song Yule Rules! album. (Proceeds from sales of Yule Rules! are also earmarked for the Spouse Abuse Center.) It was amusing to watch Dan leave the stage carrying all his equipment at one time including a guitar pick in his mouth making room for the next act.

Susanne was wearing flashing red earrings when she and Frank returned with a Wood original, "Drink." A well-done version of Bill Ede's "I've Seen Too Many Good Things Slip Away" seemed strange to the ears as Susanne is the only other singer I have heard perform the Ede favorite. Susanne finished up with Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" and she earned the audience's rapt attention.

Claude Wayne came back with a well-done little bit from The Andy Griffith Show, ably reproducing the voices of the show's beloved principals. Claude and Cousin Mini Minnie did a Minnie Pearl routine that was pure Minnie and added a duet for which Minnie's part was pre-recorded. The duet number was "If You Hate Love Then You Won't Like Me." Claude finished up with one of his original gospel tunes titled "The Greatest Treasure."

Marie and company closed out the evening with a two-song set that included her "Satisfied Me, I'm Free," and "Westbound 42. "

It was a fine evening. The Rudyard listening room wasn't filled to capacity and I had to wonder with L.A.S.C.er Wally Stewart why more folks especially L.A.S.C. members don't turn out for such fine entertainment.