To achieve performance perfection without pretention is a natural gift; and Teri Lamar & New Company, whether performing as a duo or with her full band, delivers simple, unadultered talent and fun. Fortunately, my last minute perusal of the ArtsWestchester website on Thursday afternoon, 6/27, (offering daily opportunities for performance, classes and exhibits) listed TL & Co to be the season’s opening act of outdoor music at Patriot Park in Tarrytown. What luck! I was now committed to getting there on time to hear a favorite band. I had the pleasure of first encountering Teri and Frank Brenna, (keyboards and vocals) at the Dunwoodie Golf Course a year ago. For me, it was love at first listen. I am not a greedy person – when my expectations are fulfilled and my objective met, I am happy. Such contentment generates loyalty to the source, and so, I became an instant fan of Teri Lamar & New Company. I relate immediately to quality and precision (especially in the arts) regardless of the window dressing. Being a dancer, I am compelled to move my body whenever the beat grooves me, and there is plenty of music to rock my world when I am in this band’s audience.
The group is unique in their music choices, starting their sets with songs from the mid-60’s which never get covered by any other band. For an aging “Baby Boomer” it’s an instant “OMG – I haven’t heard that song since I was a kid or pre-teen” moment. Of course, you can’t believe you’re actually listening to “This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys or a totally accurate rendition of a jazzy rock instrumental, “Glad,” from the group Traffic. There isn’t a lot of glitz, just perfect pitch “covers” of songs that range for 5 decades from top 40 pop to classic rock, r&b and disco. Check out their playlist. Teri sings the “best of the best.” Amazingly, she plays my favorites in every genre. Her songs are so personal to me, that I wonder if she picked through my ancient pile of “45s” from back in the day to create her selection of “oldies from the ‘60s.” It’s true as well for her current “top 40” catalog. This band is a crowd pleaser, and their repertoire is vast. Teri has a smooth, unstrained vocal and comfortably delivers sultry or demanding, up-tempo, disco, rock and pop effortlessly. Teri just sways to the music and aims to please, her occasional tambourine is always a great accompaniment. You never think to yourself that the original is better, Teri and the band reward the audience with flawless execution of every song they cover. Keyboards are very strong and whether full band or solo, Frank incorporates a fully-nuanced sound – technology! I swear I heard a harmonica, but couldn’t see one being played. The drummer is also dead on.
On this recent Thursday night, the ominous skies and wind didn’t deter TL, and the group soldiered on through the evening from 7 to 9 p.m. The weather was promising to storm, but held off till the stage was empty and all were in our cars. I drove home in blinding torrents of rain, but I wasn’t disappointed. Besides sampling an array of great dance tunes and songs of every genre, including a few from The Beatles and Stones, Teri performed moving and inspiring versions of If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keys; It Will Rain by Bruno Mars; Sunday Morning by Maroon 5 and yes, in full voice, Rolling In the Deep, by Adele. This girl can sing anything. I went to see another performance in Ossining on 7/3 with fireworks.
Teri and Frank are genuine people, humble and modest when receiving compliments; and I will continue to let them know how much I enjoy their gigs – because I like good music.
*Title Reference: “Sweet Soul Music” Arthur Conley