Teri Lamar

Teri Lamar
Teri Lamar Interview

Interview by Roger-Z (04/11/12)

Roger-Z: How did you get into the music business?
Teri Lamar: Music has always been an integral part of my life. Growing up in Manhattan, my parents loved music, so they sang a lot around the house and encouraged us to sing too -- just for fun -- or maybe just to give us five kids something to do! I grew up with my two sisters and I singing to a hairbrush microphone in our bedroom and my two brothers playing guitar and drums in their room. I remember daydreaming about how great it would be to be a backup singer for the Supremes -- but never seriously. How could I be? I was eight!

About eight years ago, I nervously walked into a local bar in Eastchester on an open jam night. I sang the requested "Fever" with a very cool little jazz band. The result was not too bad. So I started attending more open jams to improve my vocals, presentation -- and basically just to have fun! It was a learning experience that I put 110% of my efforts into. Three months later, after meeting some very accomplished musicians, I formed a trio band that played local restaurants. I held some auditions and six months later, started New Company, a four-six piece Motown/R&B/Top 40 Band who played a lot of material you don't often hear from the other bands out there. We are still going strong seven years later. And this was my childhood dream! I honestly still can't believe it and am grateful every day I get to do it.

Roger-Z: How do you pick your material?
Teri Lamar: Sometimes it's the song you hear on the radio that touches you. But, of course, you need to analyze it to see if your audience will be "feeling it" too. So, I tend to pick very popular dance tunes, or "groove" songs that are just a bit obscure. When I hear certain records again, I realize how much I love these "forgotten" tunes. I ask my band members if they agree and we try it out. Usually it works. Often someone in the group makes a suggestion -- so we try that out, too. We are fortunate that most of our compliments refer to our play list. We must be doing something right!

Roger-Z: How do you keep that "golden" voice in shape?
Teri Lamar: I could lie and tell you that I try not to speak too often and that I gargle with Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (my brother Bill's suggestion) and that I rest my voice before each and every gig. Don't I wish! I know what to do, but it's not always easy, especially if there are three back-to-back gigs on a weekend. So I do gargle occasionally and keep my voice to a soft level when I feel my vocal cords are strained. I try to avoid caffeine. But my only vice is Diet Coke and a cup of black tea. So what's left? Oh yes -- I do vocal exercises sometimes before a gig. They are actually very helpful!

Roger-Z: How do you pick your venues? Do you have an agent?
Teri Lamar: I try to place the band in venues that I feel we'll be suited for. I would not approach a rock club because it would not be a perfect fit. Nor a house-music/hip hop venue. I try to keep both the audience age group and our music stylings in mind. The duo (keyboard player Frank Brenna and myself) perform frequently in restaurants and private parties. I do all my own bookings and always have. Sometimes an agent will call me and if I have an opening for that particular date, I will certainly take it -- and it is very much appreciated!

Roger-Z: Who is in your band and how do you keep it together?
Teri Lamar: My current band members consists of Frank Brenna (keys/bass/vocals), Jamie Bannon (guitar/vocals), Greg Laruccia (drums), and myself (lead/background vocals). Frank Brenna has been in this business over 30 years. He's performed in Westchester's top wedding bands and possesses the amazing talent of nailing three things at once -- keyboards, left-hand bass playing and singing! Jamie Bannon is an awesome, professional guitar player/vocalist who has toured with famous acts for over 30 years, i.e. Martha & the Vandellas, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Drifters, Belmonts, Brooklyn Bridge, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Wilson Pickett, and about 100 others. Greg Laruccia is the newest member of New Company and contributes just what every band needs -- youth! He's the quiet, young, kind of shy, red-hot drummer that sits up there in the back and smiles a lot. We like that!

Keeping the band together? We are all such good friends and these are genuinely great guys, so... we are a musical family that supports each other. If other opportunities should arise for any of us, there is an understanding that there would be no hard feelings. But yes I am indeed the luckiest girl in the world since three quarters of my band have remained with me for all these years.

Roger-Z: Do you see yourself recording original tunes in the future?
Teri Lamar: I would love to write and/or record some of my own music. I try every once in a while to write something but am particularly hard on myself. I come from a highly creative and talented family. So I probably feel my work is never quite good enough in comparison. Not to mention all the awesome original artists I hear out there. I have had the opportunity to sing other people's material and may head in that direction. I guess time will tell -- and timing is everything. Until then, we are just good 'ole Teri Lamar & New Company, Westchester's friendliest "cover band."

2012 Roger-Z