peaches staten
Peaches Staten: Everything comes through loud and clear

Got It Bad, And That Is Good
By David McGee

live at legendsLIVE AT LEGENDS
Peaches Staten
Swississippi Records

If Etta James were somehow crossed with Tina Turner, the resulting creature would likely sound much like the powerhouse known as Peaches Staten. That would be someone whose muscular voice can growl an aggrieved blues, belt a celebratory blues, or sing it sweet and gritty all at once, as she does in an epic 10-minute gospel-infused workout declaiming against betrayal in “I’d Rather Go Blind” on her rousing live album recorded at Buddy Guy’s Legends club in Chicago, the city where the Mississippi-born Staten was raised and learned all about the blues from the ground up. “I’d Rather Go Blind” finds Ms. Staten wringing such a variety of emotional colors from the lyric (with support in the form Mike Wheeler’s ferocious, stinging guitar work), you wonder what she’s got left in the tank when this tune rolls out at about the halfway mark of the set, after she had already opened the proceedings with a hearty howl of loneliness in her own “Long Distance Phone Call”; seethed with unrestrained lust in the stomping, relentless groove that is “It Must Be Love,” a tune written by the late Chico Banks expressly for Mavis Staples that cleverly quotes a smidgen of King Floyd’s soaring “Groove Me” chorus at the 1:09 mark; and issued a no-nonsense, rough ‘n’ rowdy declaration independence suitable for the aforementioned Tina Turner, who in fact first recorded “I Knew You Love Me” and has her indomitable spirit invoked here by Ms. Staten’s assertive fire (with a notable assist from harp master “Swississippi” Chris Harper—co-owner of the label that bears his nickname—who blows a mean solo halfway through, all shimmering, howling, protesting discourse, before giving way to another incendiary Wheeler guitar solo).

Peaches Staten, in Spain, turns the Marshall Tucker Band’s classic “Can’t You See” into a testifying blues howl.

But there is more: in the penultimate “Hole In the Wall,” an unrestrained boogie juggernaut penned by our heroine, Ms. Staten not only sasses her way through the lighthearted lyric but breaks out her famous washboard to add some infectious scratchety-scratch to the driving rhythmic assault (we get to hear the washboard in the set’s first half, too, when she gives it a good going over in another original tune, the Zydeco-influenced “Gotta Find My Man,” a joyous affirmation of the singer’s determination to ferret out her baby down Mississippi way, with a big, atmospheric assist from the happy organ of Brian James, whose keyboard work throughout is nothing short of remarkable in finding the precise color of each moment when it’s needed). At the close, in a set that has directly referenced Mavis Staples and Tina Turner, and obliquely called up the spirit of the singers who have influenced Ms. Staten, the festivities close with a joyous celebration centered on “Keep On Keepin’ On,” in tribute to its most famous interpreter, the nonagenarian jump blues queen, Alberta Adams. It’s an occasion for the singer to assert herself once more in service to a lyric declaring her affection for the blues, and to give each member of her unflagging band a deserved turn in the spotlight. Label co-owners Chris Harper and Dave Katzman say they are committed to issuing blues recordings of high sonic quality, so let it be noted here, as per this rousing live set, they got it right: everything comes through loud and clear.

Peaches Staten’s Live at Legends is available at

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
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Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024