Show Review: Maggie Rose at the Rams Head Tavern, Annapolis, MD, June 29, 2022.
You can learn a lot about someone by their choice of covers songs. At the Ram’s Head On Stage in Annapolis (MD) Maggie Rose, a great songwriter herself, covered Aretha Franklin, Carol King, Phish, and the Box Tops, and even a bit of Sly Stone. That mix captures Rose’s unique sound – soulful, rocking, twangy. And entirely her own.
Rose’s most recent album, 2021’s Have a Seat, was recorded at the legendary FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Her sold-out show featured eight songs from Have a Seat, each of them showcasing her distinctive, and powerful, synthesis of rock, folk, soul and country. As she said in a recent interview, “I think it’s a …way of saying, ‘This is where I am; this is who I am. I occupy this seat like only I can, just the way that you can only occupy your space that way.’”
Rose made every part of the show shine. From the openers – Charlottesville’s Erin and the Wildfire, who made the most of their short set, hitting a fun groove early on and building the energy in the room song-by-song – to Rose’s greeting her parents who were at the show, to her winning interaction with the sold-out crowd. It was clear, from beginning to end, that she owned the room. At times, it seemed as if the Ram Head’s stage was too small to contain her energy.
The cover songs were fun (I was not expecting a Phish song!), but Rose’s own songs were, of course, the heart of the show. From the perfect opener, “Hey Blondie,” to the athematic “What Are We Fighting For” that closed the show, Rose’s songwriting was the main attraction.
“For Your Consideration” (“I wish that I could borrow your eyes/Maybe that would open my mind/Say that I’m wrong, don’t need to be right/But I need to see that you’re hearing my side/Just look at all the room I’m making/For your consideration”) was a particular standout, with perhaps Rose’s most compelling vocal of the night.
By the time they hit “Smooth” (No I don’t want you on your best behavior/We gotta do what’s in our human nature/But at the end of the day, baby you better be smooth, smooth, smooth”) the energy was so high that Rose and her band were quite literally jumping for joy on stage.
As for the covers, it takes some real balls to cover an Aretha Franklin song. And Rose absolutely, well, rocked “Rock Steady.” It was, indeed, a “funky low-down feeling.” Her newest recording is a version of Carol King’s “I Feel the Earth Move.” Her take is slower, more soulful, and in concert she turns a familiar song into something totally new. It’s a revelation.
The show ended with an encore of “The Letter,” with Erin from Erin and Wildfire joining Rose on stage as the audience at the normally sedate Rams Head was up and dancing.
You can buy, stream or download Have a Seat everywhere. Maggie Rose is wrapping up a summer tour and will be playing on the festival circuit for the next few months. You can find tour dates on her website.
Mark Pelavin is a writer, consultant and music lover living, very happily, in St. Michaels, MD. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org