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CD REVIEW -- Peaches Staten

 

PEACHES STATEN

Live At Legends

Swississippi Records

Peaches Staten CD art

By Dawn O’Keefe Williams

Peaches Staten’s new CD is a blend of blues, funk and R&B that gives the listener a chance to experience a live Chicago Blues show at Buddy Guy’s Legends.

 

A live recording is a bold risk as it can make or break an artist; they are performing without any electronic devices to hide bad notes or forgotten words.  But Peaches Staten knows how to make “live” work to her advantage. Her alto voice is filled with grit, punctuated with Chicago style growls and, at times, velvety.  Live at Legends captures Staten showcasing, not only her vocals and songwriting ability, but her stage performance as well.  The energy comes across as you visualize her as she interacts with the audience, introducing songs and including a little background that reveals a little something about her life. It’s a party that you can only experience with Chicago blues performers like Staten who do it so well. 

 

The CD opens with her uptempo, funky original “Long Distance Phone Call” and you hear her invite the audience, “Can I get you to put your hands together like this!”   Her voice is filled with grit as she belts out the song and does a call-and-answer with her band, The Grooveshakers.

 

Staten gives us a peek into her life as she introduces another original, “Don’t Rush Me,” which she wrote in 1986 while living in Sweden.  Her voice mellows with this R&B infused song.

 

Throughout the CD Peaches cajoles and laughs with the audience, wishing someone a happy birthday, and telling the crowd that she wanted to say the words to the B. B. King song “You Know I Love You” to her sister, making you feel like you’re a part of her life, or at least a part of it while you are there at the show. 

 

Live At Legends is distinctive for its blend of standards and Staten originals that show her versatile songwriting as she delves into R&B on “Don’t Rush Me,” funk for “Long Distance Phone Call,” boogie  with “Hole In The Wall” and zydeco as she dishes up “Gotta Find My Man” while playing her signature washboard or “frottoir” (fra twah).  This CD holds another distinction in that Peaches Staten was the last artist to be recorded live in the original Legends. 

 

Staten lovingly dedicates the third song to the late Chico Banks, one of Chicago’s top rising stars whose life was cut short by illness.  Chico originally wrote this song, “It Must Be Love,” for the legendary Mavis Staples, for whom he used to play guitar. He also worked with Peaches and many other blues artists in Chicago.  Mike Wheeler’s fiery guitar intro along with his skillful use of the wah wah pedal give tribute to the late Chico Banks style of playing.  Staten’s solid vocals fit this composition as if it were written just for her.

 

The audience is then treated to her skillful use of the washboard as she brings up special guest harp player and Executive Producer/Co-Owner of Swississippi Records, Chris Harper.  “We’re gonna take you to Nawlins!” she declares, as the band fires up and Peaches keeps perfect time on her frottoir.  Chris Harper plays an energetic lead and then Peaches brings the band down, to highlight her rhythm playing. 

 

The diverse styles from blues to funk to R&B and boogie to jazz swing, showcase how Staten can fluidly shift styles and sing them with ease.  Live at Legends” isn’t just about Peaches Staten the singer, but Peaches Staten the songwriter and performer.  This is a recommended CD worth listening to, so you can join the party!

 

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