Lamar Cook is one of the hidden secrets of Liberty County.
Cook has worked for the Hinesville Fire Department as a paid firefighter since 1980 and was selected as chief in 1998. Thirty-four years on the same job and he does it well. Almost every morning, he can be found at Krystal, drinking coffee with the “Old Geysers Club.”
Cook and his wife, Melissa Blocker Cook, have four children. Each had two when they married. Melissa works as an EMT with Liberty Regional Medical Center and greatly enjoys her job.
Their son, Ryan Dasher, also works as an EMT firefighter with Liberty Regional. The other son, Tyler Cook, works with the Pooler Fire Department. Their daughter, Ciara Dasher, is a hairdresser in Savannah. Their other daughter, Kristin Cook, works at the National Guard Training Center on Fort Stewart and has a precious, 15-month-old girl, Kinsley.
Lamar and Melissa have a “cookhouse” at their home in Gum Branch that they built and have decorated with numerous antiques. They like to hunt for special items for the cookhouse.
Also, Lamar is a great carpenter. I have seen several beautiful benches he made from twin-bed headboards and footboards. He also cures game hides, rebuilds old furniture, plants a garden each year and is an excellent cook.
Now, I am getting to Lamar’s secret. He has been singing for most of his life, but credits his wife Melissa for encouraging him to take the stage.
“My daddy was a preacher and the whole family sang in church when I was young, but Melissa contributed to my singing in public as an adult,” he said. “When we met, she liked going to sing karaoke, and I liked it so much that I bought some sound equipment and started practicing at home. Tattnall Productions is what made me really like singing in public.”
Lamar and Melissa have been involved with Tattnall Productions for 11 years. The first show of the year is in January and the second one, “Sweet Sounds of Country,” is in May to kick off the Glennville Onion Festival. The next one is Jan. 16-17 in the Glennville Auditorium. None of the participants are paid — it is all voluntary. All the proceeds go to local charitable causes.
Tattnall Productions is a family affair. Melissa is in charge of the food preparation and helps the singers and dancers change into their costumes, which they do numerous times throughout the two-hour show hosted by WTOC anchor Sonny Dixon. At the onion festival, Lamar is one of the leaders in the musical presentations, and Melissa works to head up the event’s entertainment.
“The second year of the show, a friend of mine told me that Nancy Wilson was looking for someone to sing ‘A White Sport Coat’ by Marty Robbins and asked if I would go audition. I have been singing in the show ever since,” Lamar said. “When I look out in the audience and see people singing along with me, I know that they are enjoying what I am singing and that it’s bringing back some type of memory from the past.
“One night when I was singing at a karaoke bar, ‘Silver Wings’ by Merle Haggard, a man came to the stage crying. He said it had been many years since he had heard that song sung, and it reminded him of being in Vietnam. He thanked me for taking him back just by singing a song.”
Lamar likes the older songs and singers like Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, Gene Watson, George Jones, the Statler Brothers and Elvis Presley. He likes any type of music from the 1960s and 1970s. He also can sing gospel.
Lamar performed at our farm a few years ago when I had the Liberty County Historical Society as guests. One elderly lady said, “I can just sit in this rocking chair and close my eyes and hear him sing those old songs, and if I did not know better, I would think I was listening to the real singer, such as Elvis.”
I wholeheartedly agree with her. His talent to perform the different songs is amazing.
Despite his many years of singing in front of crowds, Lamar gets nervous before going on stage. He practices a song until he is tired of it, learning it well enough to sing in a Tattnall Productions show. Right after one show is over, Lamar begins practicing for the next year.
“Ryan is a great performer and is one of the best singers I have ever heard. I enjoy it when Ryan and I get to sing together, but I enjoy anything I get to do with any of our four children,” Lamar said.
Tyler also has performed in the shows a few times, such as the skit “Ahab the Arab,” as well as worked backstage. Melissa has been in some of the comedy skits such as “Hee Haa,” “Love Shack” and “All My Exes Live in Texas.”
Lamar and his family have sung for many charity benefits and consider it a great blessing that they are talented enough to do it. The people listening are blessed, also.
One of Lamar’s great recipes is for 7 Up Biscuits.
2 cups Bisquick
½ cup sour cream
½ cup 7 Up
¼ cup melted butter.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut sour cream into Bisquick and add 7 Up to make a soft dough. Sprinkle additional Bisquick on a board or table and pat out dough. Cut out. Melt ¼ cup butter in a 9-inch square pan. Place cut biscuits in the pan and bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.