Review: Roy C at Lamont's Entertainment Complex

Roy C sings for fans at Lamont's Entertainment Center in Pomonkey.
Roy C sings for fans at Lamont's Entertainment Center in Pomonkey. (By James A. Parcell)
By Sarah Godfrey
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, May 25, 2009

For many, Memorial Day weekend is nothing without beer, barbecue and listening to a guy sing about having an affair and getting duly pummeled by his lover's husband with a baseball bat. Soul singer Roy C, best known as a member of '50s group the Genies, performed songs about the thrill of love and the pain of infidelity at Lamont's Entertainment Complex in Pomonkey, Md., on Saturday -- a show celebrating his 52nd year in the music business.

Carloads of fans, mostly in their 50s and 60s, made the trek out to Charles County, dragging lawn chairs, coolers and six-packs, to see the man born Roy Hammond. Although Roy C isn't exactly Ray Charles, many of the 450 or so in attendance have been fans of the singer for most, if not all of, his career.

"I just love me some Roy C," said Diane Vernon, a retired school bus driver from Temple Hills, who has seen Hammond perform countless times and said she always gets an autograph. Cookie Hayes, a medical professional who lives in Lusby, has done even better: "I got onstage with him!" she said of last time he was in town.

The bill at Lamont's on Saturday also included bluesy soul singers Ms. Jody and Clarence Carter of "Strokin' " fame. After six hours of performances, Roy C took the outdoor stage around 8 p.m., and the crowd made its way to the front. They went wild when he launched into "Infidelity, Georgia," also called "Saved by the Bell," a song about getting caught in bed with someone else's wife.

"They love that man like he's B.B. King," remarked WPFW radio personality Captain Fly, surveying the scene.

D.C. loves Hammond in part because he keeps coming back: He has gigged here steadily since the '60s. Plus, he has a voice that is part Bobby "Blue" Bland and part Isaac Hayes, and he sets funny, smutty lyrics over old-school soul and blues in a way that takes folks back without making them feel old.

Since the 1960s breakup of the Genies (who are best known for 1958's "Who's That Knockin' "), Hammond has enjoyed modest solo success with hits such as 1965's "Shotgun Wedding" and 1973's "Impeach the President," which he recorded with backing band the Honey Drippers on his own Alaga Records.

Sitting in the dressing room of Lamont's before his set, Hammond claimed that more than 100 artists have sampled his music and that, like many soul singers of his era, he hasn't seen a dime in royalty payments. But he still does well for himself. He is the subject of a forthcoming documentary, "Roy C Forever," and still records regularly under his own Three Gems imprint -- his most recent release is this year's "Don't Let Our Love Die."

"I feel blessed to still be here -- to still be anywhere," he said.

Although his catalogue is a mix of smooth love songs, blue soul and militant political tracks, Hammond limited his song choices to the first two categories on Saturday. The crowd got a kick out of "Slow Roll It," in which a narrator details bedroom tricks he learned from a 17-year-old, the voyeuristic blues of "Peepin' Through the Window," and the sweeter, more slow-jam oriented "She's Gone" and "Let Me Take You to Paradise."

He ended with "Morning Train" only an hour after he started his set, but he extended an invitation for everyone to join him inside Lamont's clubhouse and keep the party going.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company