- Mamalee Rose and Friends rocked The Stephen Talkhouse
on Friday, Jan. 9, at the 8 p.m. show. Arlethia Lawler or Mamalee as she is known in the music world, and her band - including husband Jimmy (on drums) and daughter Rose (on vocals) - has been entertaining audiences on the East End for more than 20 years.
Mamalee Lawler at The Stephen Talkhouse.
A Spanish teacher at East Hampton High School for 23 years, Mamalee, or Mrs. Lawler as she is known to her students, has even incorporated music into her lesson plans and has been acknowledged for her creative use of singing as an instructional tool to aid students to better understand the nuances and grammar of a foreign language.
Friday night, however, all songs were in English and the universal language of music was definitely on display for almost two hours of skillful musicianship punctuated with lyrical though powerful accompanying vocals - and the crowd's response was enthusiastic in any language.
This group is well-known for not only their original music including "Itch," "Tell You That I Love You," "Poor Fool," and "Cold In The Morning," among others, but also for their incorporation of a vast repertoire of cover hits ranging from Tracy Chapman, the Marshall Tucker Band, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin
, Dusty Springfield
, The Beatles
and Sly and The Family Stone.
If you are still sitting once Mamalee and Friends take the stage you'd better have a good explanation because this group, including Josh Brussell on bass, Peter Michne on guitar and Michael Cain on percussion are all about getting the audience up on their feet to dance, dance, dance.
Performing over 20 songs at Friday's show -- no one rests until everyone is up -- the musicanship of the band members is top grade and each member is allowed to let loose and shine.
The vocal abilities of both ladies is tremendous, however, particular mention must be made of the range and power of Rose Lawler's voice. Her terrific stage presence is only enhanced by her seemingly effortless ability to bring a smooth, soulful, sexy and melodious sound to every number. Rose and her mother are in complete sync and their enjoyment performing together is evident to all who watch.
Rose Lawler exhibits some powerful vocals.
Rose's a capella version of Janis Joplin
's "Mercedes Benz" is simply one of the best renditions of this cover - ever - she ends up owning this tune by infusing it with her own variations and subtleties which belie her youth and one would be hard-pressed to remember any other cover of this classic that they have ever heard other than hers. The sheer pleasure she derives from belting out this tune and her consummate skill is memorable.
Chatting with Mamalee after their performance, she mentioned that although the group has never recorded a C.D., they have worked with both Bonnie Raitt
and Little Feat in the past. Commenting on her excitement "to go and see the guys again" [Little Feat who recently performed at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center
], she further stated, "We have been talking about doing a C.D. for years and have had such encouragement from fans and other musicians that I think maybe this year we will actually get to it." She further elaborated that the group is currently in the studio with producer Cynthia Daniels
She and Jimmy Lawler have three daughters, Rose (28) is the "baby who has been singing since about age 12. Our oldest L'Kela [who joined in for a few minutes at Friday's performance] also loves to sing, as well as our middle daughter, Jayleen, who is currently in Hawaii."
Some, but not all of Friday's set list included "Wang Dang Doodle," "Piece of My Heart," "Come Together" (The Beatles), "Treat Her Right" (Otis Redding), "Seven Day Fool" (Etta James
), "Son of A Preacher Man" (Dusty Springfield), "Can't You See" (Marshall Tucker Band), "Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself Again" (Sly and The Family Stone), "Shining Star" (The Manhattans), "Walk This Way" (Aerosmith), "Keep On Knockin'" (Little Richard
), among many more.
Mamalee Rose and Friends provided a resounding, thoroughly enjoyable performance that enveloped their audience on a rather cold winter night.
Jimmy Lawler on drums at Friday's Mamalee Rose And Friends show.
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.