Joni Bishop, Kathleen Hoye, Deanna Veragona In the Round at the Twice Told

By Bill Ede

There were three distinct musical personalities In the Round at the Twice Told Coffeehouse on April 17. I had expected that the three may have "come up from Nashville" together, or the like, allowing them ample time to swap stories, share ideas and nurture an existing camaraderie, making for an altogether "easier gig," but it turned out that each had made her respective long journey from a different point of departure. They had not even met before.

Nashvillian Joni Bishop was the most polished of the three, due to her many years of honing her music, songwriting and performance skills. Her first Nashville recording was a self-penned 45, produced by the legendary Billy Sherrill, call "Heart Out of Control,: which reached #71 on Billboard's country charts in 1987 – not bad for a first effort. She had also been a Kerrville Folk Festival "New Folk" winner in the mid-80s.)

Bishop's near-decade in the Music City was evident in the structured nature of the songs she performed, including her "Water Wheel," "Blue Bouquet" and "I'd Hardly Notice You Were Gone," co-written with Jan Buckingham. She showed herself to be quite adept at fingerstyle picking when she played the wonderful instrumental "Sequoia,:" and an untitled piece which she referred to as a "work in progress."

Kathleen Hoye came to Louisville from Knoxville and brought along her more subjective bag of songs, best exemplified by the emotionally charged "Happier Elsewhere," inspired by a phrase once used by a former employer to justify her then-recent dismissal. The song was one of the high points of the evening, with its brutal honesty and easily identifiable subject matter. Other standouts included "Climb Down (You Stupid Girl)" and "Lie to Me," which she characterized as "one of those angry, self-righteous songs that backfire."

Deanna Veragona come down from Chicago and offered the most diverse selection of song styles of the three, including elements of blues, country, ragtime, etc., all making for an effect reminiscent of Maria Muldaur during both her jug band and solo periods.

Though Ms. Veragona's voice was a delight, her articulation left something to be desired, as many of the lyrics were completely lost on this listener. A song entitled "Early Morning" (I think) sounded particularly interesting, but I could not make out enough of the lyrical content to comment. This is sad, as one gets the feeling that Ms. Veragona may be a virtual powerhouse of talent and varied music ability, but not quite connecting thus far. To be sure, a degree of vocal "looseness" is expected – even desirable – when tackling certain styles, but one has to be physically heard.

All in all, the three performers did a noble job of handling a potentially awkward situation (an ITR with complete strangers) and gave us at least a glimpse of their personal style and musical strengths.