Friday, September 24, 2010

Peaches Staten Belts Out Chicago Blues With Some Zydeco Seasoning

Peaches Staten is a new name to this writer and is one of the the unheralded blues artists that Swiss native Chris Harper intends to record and get wider exposure for. Staten is a tough vocalist with influences from Koko Taylor, Mavis Staples and Etta James amongst others. Originally from MIssissippi, she grew up in Chicago raised “on a steady diet of blues, soul, gospel and R&B” to quote Sandra Pointer-JonMike es who wrote the liner notes to Staten’s Cd “Live at Legends” (Swississippi Records). A world traveller, she has spent time in a zydeco band and an Afro Brazilian Samba Ensemble and worked around the world. On one of her song introductions she mentions living in Sweden. This CD was recorded at Buddy Guy’s Legends on the last Sunday before the club moved to its new location. She brings her voice and frottoir (rubboard) to the fore with a band that includes Mike Wheeler on guitar, Larry Williams on bass, Brian James on keyboards and Cleo Cole with Harper guesting on harmonica for several tracks.

She brings a big voice that is evident on her cover of Etta James “I’d Rather Be Blind,” which is solid if in the shadows of the original. This cover shows how strong a voice she has and her relaxed timing in her delivery. Much of this showcases her ability to project lyrics at varying tempo and also that she is a pretty fair songwriter. The opening “Long Distance Telephone Call,” opens with her urging the Legends’ crowd to put their hands together as she sings about missing her man who is so far away and has to hear his voice. The tempo slows down a bit for the soul-based “Don’t Rush Me,” followed by Chico banks’ “It Must Be Love,” which the late Banks wrote for Mavis Staples and Peaches delivers the lyric emphatically in a fashion that evokes Koko Taylor. Guitarist Wheeler is a very busy player which isn’t as much to this listener’s taste, but James’ organ is much stronger in laying the musical coloring and the rhythm is terrific. She takes the crowd to Louisiana for the zydeco romp, “Gotta Find My Man,” with James sounding like he is on an accordion as Staten plays the frottoir which she calls a washboard and Harper adds some nice harp. Its a very lively number with an irresistible groove as well as vocal. I can see this number getting the dance floor packed.

Peaches credits “I Know You Love Me,” to Tina Turner although the CD lists it as a B.B. King number. Harper is part of the driving accompaniment that evokes Howlin’ Wolf’s recording of “Killing Floor.” “Bad Case of Lovin’ You,” is a rocker originally recorded by Robert Palmer and later than Koko Taylor that Peaches emphatically delivers “Doctor, Doctor give me the news, I got a bad case of lovin’ you.” She picks up the frottoir for “Hole in the Wall,” a hard driving boogie blues rocker evocative of Z.Z. Top, before closing with Alberta Adams’ “Keep On Keepin’ On,” with James laying down some really nice boogie-inflected piano before she joyfully delivers the lyric about spreading the news that Peaches will keep singing the blues and that certainly is good news. Wheeler’s guitar is also much more appealing here with a jazzier touch exhibited.

“Live at Legends” is an impressive introduction to Peaches Staten whom we certainly will be hearing more about in the future.

For purposes of FTC regulations, I received the review copy for this from the publicist for Swississippi Records.

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