April Showcase

By Wally Stewart

The monthly gathering for fans of good music in general and local original music in particular, witnessed a different format than is usually presented at the L.A.S.C. Songwriter Showcase. Several weeks of preparation by the Showcase Committee and individual members culminated with the first "publishers' night" concert and those involved earned a lot of thanks for their work in producing it.

The April 7 show was billed as "Prime Cuts," and featured the best songs of the Co-op, as determined by the committee, with two Nashville publishers in the audience. An open solicitation for this event had been advertised in the LA.S.C. Letter in Louisville Music News and the songs heard were chosen from those submitted by L.A.S.C. members. Two sets of original compositions were followed by an informal "In the Round" session (with) Bill Mackechnie and Charlie Walls.

Emcee Jean Metcalfe began the evening by giving some information about the reasons for "Prime Cuts" and stating, "We're trying something new tonight." In the audience were publishers Debbie Hupp of Huptown Music and Mark Bright, Creative Director of EMI Music Publishing.

Hugh Bir Jr. came from New Albany, Ind. to start the music with his country tunes "Nine O Nine" and "Lovin' Man's Dream," which said "As darkness casts its shadows, lovin' arms are all that matters." He played guitar and was accompanied by "The Silicon Valley Boys," an assortment of extra sound equipment provided by Charlie Walls' studio in Springfield, Ky.

Tom Greenfield was jokingly introduced as a "Dirty Old Man," and his song shared that title. Tom said it was something his grandfather might have sung on a date and it contained several humorous comments about getting old. "Dirty" was an Honorable Mention winner in the Jazz/Blues category of the 1989 L.A.S.C. Songwriting Competition '89.

Another Hoosier, Larry Easton from Salem, sang "Would I Hear You Whisper Good-Bye." Co-op members were allowed to submit three songs for consideration; Larry sent one and it was selected for performance. That's a good ratio.

Bill Ede was on next and Jean said, "I don't like to single out one person as being the best, but Bill is generally considered to be one of the best writers in town." His songs did nothing to tamish that reputation as he strummed on "No One Smiles For Me," "Too Many Good Things (Slip Away)," and "First Time I've Played In A While." Ede said, "Some of you have heard my songs zillions of times," but the crowd seemed to greatly enjoy hearing them again. (This enjoyment would surface again in the "In the Round session.) He remained on stage to perform Jean Metcalfe's "Willie, Please Sing A Duet With Me," which appeared on the L.A.S.C.'s initial release, First Time Out. It was a light- hearted plea for Willie Nelson to sing with the author and mentioned several famous duets Nelson has recorded through the years.

The treasurer of the L.A.S.C., Pen Bogert, strolled on the Rudyard Kipling stage and thoroughly entertained us with the first of the blues songs he would play during the program. It was appropriately titled "Travelin' Blues," and I tapped along with him. (Not for the last time.) In introducing L.A.S.C. President Paul Moffett, Jean said that the Co-op had been his dream when it started four years ago and that he should be congratulated at least once every four years. (That was a great example of extreme understatement.) Paul sang another song from First Time Out, "I've Got My Doubts About You, Boy." It was a blues number that I later learned was about a musician in New Albany, Ind., during the days of "The Post-Nuclear Spanish Opera House." It turns out that the "House" contained the forerunner of the Monday-Night Open Stage now at the Rudyard. Moffett was joined by Charlie Walls on "Upright Lady," which was written by this duo and Jean Metcalfe.

Some sound troubles had developed but they were worked on before Walls soloed with the "SV Boys" on a trio of his compositions. "Think Again" was followed bv "I've Got A Bad Memory" and "Movin' to the Country." The latter effort was a fun story of a person having to put up with a "yuppie lifestyle." It started with "My blood pressure's up, my stocks are going down," and had a line I geatly agreed with "When sushi, snails and bean sprouts are coming from the kitchen, then it's time to head South for a plate of fried chicken." (No offense intended to anyone's culinary tastes.)

When the first set was over and I had taken some time to stretch my legs, I fotmd a chair in time to enjoy works by and the voice of, Bill Mackechnie. He began with "Last In Line" and then we all longed for some shade during "Summer Rain," a story of sultry days when "cigarettes are too hot to smoke." He sounded a lot like James Taylor and the resemblance grew on "Faithless Moments." Bill lives in Nicholasville, Ky. and said later that he tries to write about situations that don't get written about. The audience showed its appreciation of this with enthusiastic responses.

After driving over from Charleston, W. Va., Ed Hager blew away the crowd with his magnificent voice on "Once Loves Goes, It's Time to End" (co-written with Chris Hale) and "Change Gonna Come." "Once" won second prize in the Rock category and "Best Vocal Performance" for Prince Phillip Mitchell in last year's L.A.S.C. song contest. Ed's vocal styling caused a lot of excitement and elicited at least one comparison "A white Percy Sledge"!

Alan Morris came out smokin' with "Too Hot to Handle," a song that was a favorite in the March showcase. He played guitar and was joined in the effort by Jeff Baxter on guitar and Valerie Yeiser on vocals and the house Steinway. I loved Valerie's keyboarding and said to a friend that my piano would greatly appreciate my learning to play as Valerie did. The trio performed the fourth-place Country winner from the previously mentioned song contest, "Would You Marry Me Again?" (The song was sung at the celebration of Morris' tenth wedding anniversary.)

Lynn Riffle took the stage and did a fme version of Jean Metcalfe's "Your One and Only," accompanied by "The SVB." .

Charlie Walls, who is affectionately known as "Music Man," came on stage to present "Empty Bottle," "Dust On My Knees" and "Proof's In My Hands." He and Sammy Reid wrote all three tunes and were joined in the composing" of "Bottle" by Gardner Barger. "Music Man" reported that he had a hard time remembering some of his songs and eventually said, "I forgot the words and I've got the cheat sheet right here by me." Nobody mindedthe brief lapse and he went on.

During the second intermission I learned that the publishers had enjoyed several of the writers' songs. Mr. Bright said that some of the writers possessed a dimension that it is difficult to attain "making words seen."

The showcase concluded with the "In-the-Round" time, when Bogert, Ede, Mackechnie, Walls and the ever-present "SVB" were together on stage. Each of them gave us more of their own tunes, with some songs receiving some solicited and good-natured harmony. (It was getting late!)

Charlie also covered Jimmy Buffett's very popular "Margaritaville," and Pen did the same with a Blind Blake blues work, "Diddie Wa Diddie." I hadn't heard it, but added drums, using the table in front of me. The longer the session went, the more relaxed and informal it became. "The SVB" even got noticed by mistakenly trying to keep up with Bogert's superb artistry on the guitar strings. (They decided to take a short break while Pen kept playing.)

The special "publishers' night" presentation finished with a lengthy jam that featured some references to the Rudyard's Kenny Pyle, as in "We don't care what Kenny don't 'low ...."

Despite some sound problems that occurred during the show,I agreed with Mark Bright's comment, "It was definitely worth my coming here." The L.A.S.C. greatly appreciates Mark Bright's and Debbie Hupp's coming for the program and hope they'll return another time.

There will not be a May showcase due to "that other event" in Derbytown, but it will return the first Saturday in June.