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Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010

Peaches Staten

Live at Legends (Swississippi)

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The best recent news in the blues music world was that a new record label, Swississippi, was established specifically to record blues musicians. The company was founded by Swiss harmonica player and producer Chris Harper, who launched the label with three albums, including one of his own and one by Chicago vocalist and washboard player Peaches Staten. Staten’s album, Live at Legends, was recorded May 23 at Buddy Guy’s Legends, the last live performance to be recorded at the club’s original South Wabash location before it relocated after 21 years.

Staten spends much of her time performing outside of the United States, which may be why she is only now becoming known to many blues fans here. Born in Mississippi and raised in Chicago, with a background in gospel, R&B, soul and blues, Staten was in an Afro-Brazilian samba band, as well as a zydeco band, before submerging herself primarily in the blues.

Although the album’s primary focus is on Chicago blues, Staten’s varied musical interests are demonstrated in two of her four original songs on the album, the zydeco blues song “Gotta Find My Man” and the R&B-based “Don’t Rush Me,” as well as a funky blues/gospel version of Chico Banks’ song written for Mavis Staples, “It Must Be Love.” Most of the live set features Staten’s very deep, very energetic and, at times, gritty vocals in which key lines are repeated in a chant-like, hypnotic way that encourage audience participation. The range of her voice and her ability to convey emotion in a more subtle manner are evident on the classic “I’d Rather Go Blind” and “Bad Case of Lovin’ You.”  With a solid backing band, The Groove Shakers, as well as Staten’s enthusiasm for the music and the excitement that often comes with a live recording, Live at Legends is an enjoyable CD.