December Showcase

By Wally Stewart

"In this place we are among friends "opens "In This Place," the theme song for a recent reunion of the Lindsey Wilson College choir I sang in over twenty years ago. I was looking at this Bev Youni and Fred Taylor work and suddenly I saw that this opening line perfectly describes the atmosphere at the monthly LASC Songwriter Showcases at the Rudyard Kipling Restaurant. For those who are "regulars," it is a reunion of sorts, whether they are performing, in the audience or helping put the show on. Great effort is made by the LASC workers to make new or infrequent visitors feel welcome, as though they truly were "among friends."

December's "reunion" began as LASC vice-President Jean Metcalfe introduced the very personable Alan Morris. Morris brought his guitar and voice and was joined by regular partner and accomplished pianist and vocalist Valerie Yeiser. He had been ill but didn't sound adversely affected as "As Fast As I Can" was presented, a car story with a 50s feel to it. "Crazy From the Get Go" said "I don't want to live by myself, don't want to live with nobody else," and Alan said his last guitar lick was the best part of the song.

Yeiser provided harmony on a favorite of the "regulars," "Would You Marry Me Again?" then Morris soloed with a sound similar to another Alan Rhody on "Do You Remember?" This was a collection of evoked memories that felt common to most, if not all, there, with such lines as "first car, first date. . . " Alan put down his six-string and Valerie returned to the keyboard for the very tender "You Mean So Much To Me," with the poignant line "l wouldn't mind working all of my life if I could just come home to you." Their closing number displayed a different musical side as Alan picked up a bass guitar and called for LASC President Paul Moffett and superb fiddler and humorist Larry Green to join them.

Moffett picked up a guitar as Morris promised a "jam." The group helped Alan more than keep his word on a fun cover of Crosby, Stills and Nash's "A Long Time Coming." (One woman in A the audience had to leave but made the most of the moment as she danced out the door in time with the music.)

As Rebecca Sleadd came to play on the house Steinway. an occurrence from her last Showcase appearance was recounted: she was Rebecca Clinard in 1988, but after seeing old friend Bradley Sleadd there, the rest, as they say, "is history." In addition to a new last name. Rebecca also has a new daughter and her songs reflect the joy that she has found in both changes. "American Dream," "You Are My Fantasy,"and "If I Loved You Now" were about Bradley. and "Now" displayed a lyrical flair with "lf I touched you now could you feel beyond the skin?"

"Tender Lovin' Baby" had a twist, as it could easily have been a man's song with the lines "Cause when my baby smiles, the street lights up for miles," and "Tender lovin' care is always here when she's here next to me." I thoroughly enjoyed her keyboard playing as she went through "I Know That I Know," "Bye and Bye," finishing with "Lullabye." This very moving work sketched her baby dreaming with "Crayon-colored dreams full, sleepy eyes," and "Blue skies and deeper seas, waking could never see."

The crowd had thinned out somewhat when Dave Troxell put on his guitar to start the second set. He is usually accompanied by the sultry voice of Laura Davis, but she was absent due to illness.

Opening with a cover of Hall and Oates' "So Close," Troxell wrenched it out with eyes closed, "feeling" the song. Dave's "Thank You" thanked a lady for "Loving me just right," then he changed the mood with another self-penned tune, "Goodbye." This was an intense effort about a woman who had left and it lamented "If we'd spoke our hearts instead of lies … Troxell shared more of his originals, then closed with a rollicking version of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentuck."

A trio of Frank Wilson on guitar, harmonica and vocals, his vocalist wife Bridgett and previously-mentioned fiddler Larry Green kept the program rolling with a mixture of interesting songs and hilarious one-liners from Green. Green got the laughter started by fiddling "Pop Goes the Weasel" as Frank was getting his guitar and harmonica.

Wilson does not strive for commercial appeal but writes for artistic expression and catharsis and his songs reflect that. "Camera Appeal" was performed at the recent LASC "Hit Makers '90" Showcase and spoke of superficiality "You can get anything with camera appeal, never again have to lie. cheat or steal." Karen Le Van remarked that "Bridgett has great stage presence" after "Camera" and "Tumbleweed in a Whirlwind." "Columbus" came from Frank's freshman college days and was inspired by Henry David Thoreau. At. its conclusion, he remarked to Green, "I keep waiting for you to dance."

"Crying" was sad but very pretty and "I Kind Of Expect It" spoke of single parenting, even though Frank has never been a single parent. On it, Bridgett beautifully sang "There comes a change of seasons, my children don't hug on me anymore. It's hard to accept but I kind of expect it." The trio ended their set with the indigo Girls' "Closer I Am To Fine."

Alan Morris was scheduled to start the "late round" but had to leave to deal with a balky automobile. (I missed getting to hear "Too Hot to Handle," a song recently signed by Debbie Hupp of Huptown Music) This brought Rebecca Sleadd to the stage for an a cappella session and she presented several more originals. The most "noticeable" of these had to be "Something's Growing On inside Of Me," as she slipped a pillow under her shirt to simulate someone in at least her twelfth month of pregnancy. The audience was nearly rolling in the aisles as Sleadd sang of the joys of maternity. especially gaining fifty pounds.

Dave Troxeli returned and shared his "When I'm Gone," plus Hall and Oates' "Sarah," and the Lennon-McCartney tune "Yesterday." Troxeli also mentioned that he had gotten a "call back" from the Greater Cumberland Publishing Company after some recent "pitching" in Nashville. Good luck, Dave!

This left the Wilson and Green Musical Comedy Revue to finish the program and they kept us entertained to the end. When Frank said that "Bumper Sticker Rag" had just been learned the previous night, so it might be rough, Larry Green replied "This one will be dynamic. It will still have a cutting edge to it." This kept up during "Baby Kate." as Green briefly wore a red ball on his face after saying 'This is one of the few happy songs tonight, so I'll put on the red nose."

There were many good songs on this Showcase and the LASC invites you to join the fun and be "among friends' the first Saturday night of each month at the Rudyard Kipling.