| Peach at Martini
Here in Southern California, there is a multitude of nightclubs
and bars where one can go to eat chili poppers, down tequila shooters
or jello shots. One can watch a three piece band rattle the walls
with blues reminiscent of Buddy Guy, Luther Allison or Stevie
Ray Vaughn. There is nothing wrong with this. It's great fun,
actually. Nevertheless, on this particular evening I was treated
to the soft, soulful blues of Peach and her band as they performed
in the Celebrity Room at Martini Blues.
Located in Huntington Beach, California, Martini Blues is a beautiful
supper club with an attractive menu and a comfortably elegant
atmosphere. You couldn't ask for a more ideal setting for Peach.
There are many sides to the Blues, each with its own style and
history. Peach's music can range from the poignant to the rambuntious,
but one can listen without having to scream into your dinner partner's
ear to please, pass the salt.
From the first note, the band displayed their talents admirably.
However, they seemed to struggle to find that special groove that
is so apparent on all of Peach's three CDs.
only member of the band who seemed completely relaxed was bass
player Eric Ward. Eric is a big man with an even bigger smile
that seemed to recognize every guest in the room. He played his
bass with confidence and a bit of slap as he swayed to the music.
Drummer Maria Martinez reminded me of an idling Ferrari, just
waiting to take the band wherever and as fast as they wanted to
Things began to click as Peach crooned TELL ME YOU LOVE ME. Her
sweet vocals, accompanied with a touch of slide from guitarist
Jeff Ross, captured the gentle mood of this ballad. NEVER MAKE
YOUR MOVE TOO SOON featured a nice keyboard solo from Alicia Morgan
and a strong vocal by Peach. The song was augmented by some charming
onstage banter between Peach and Eric. Pity that there wasn't
more of this and less of the caustic remarks from Paulie Cerra.
We've heard WALKIN' THE DOG by Rufus Thomas, The Rolling Stones
and at least a dozen versions in between; but Alicia's treatment
was delightfully sweet. That isn't the sort of song one would
expect to hear from such a nice young lady, but Alicia performed
it admirably. It was disapointing that the audience did not give
Ross' guitar solo and the fine sax by Paulie Cerra the reception
they deserved. It seems that the protocol is a bit different in
a super club. One isn't expected to applaud a solo until one has
finished one's entree. Nevertheless, it was still a fine rendition
of a classic tune.
One of the many highlights of the evening, ANGEL FROM MONTGOMERY,
belonged to Peach. Her vocal rendition of the John Prine compostion
was appropriately moving. Peach has a gentle voice, but is capable
of sustaining a note with ease. Her voice is unique for the blues,
and her original compositions and clever treatments of classic
material make listening to Peach a pleasure.
Their first set ended on a positive note with THE REAL THING,
the band finding that groove with a cohesive rhythm that allowed
for some fabulous solos by each member of the band.
* * * * * * * * * *
At the close of the first set, I was able to catch Peach for
a quick interview. Here's what she had to say:
SBM: Three sets make for a long night for you. Do you prefer playing
the longer sets?
Peach: On the first set, we wanted to take it easy. We knew that
we had two more sets to do.
SBM: You sounded a little tentative, but with each song, the
band got stronger. I could feel the momentum building. The band
seemed to relax and then really take off. Is this common for you?
Peach: (laughs) It really depends on the material we're picking.
We know what tunes that we sink into, so tonight on the first
set we were doing tunes that we sometimes skip. Tonight, we just
wanted to roll some other songs. I prefer long sets, but some
of the band want to play shorter sets.
SBM: How would you describe your brand of blues?
PEACH: I would say that we are soul blues. I really don't know
of anyone else that plays in this genre. There's no one person
that I would call the king or queen of soul blues. That's how
I see what I do. The thing is, this band is capable of kicking
into all types of genres. Maria, for example, is from New Orleans;
well, she's originally from Cuba.
SBM: I had to look over the cymbals to see if that wasn't Buddy
Rich back there!
PEACH: It's Maria, and she's just one of the greatest. So, it's
really been a great time playing with her.
SBM: ANGEL FROM MONTGOMERY really stood out.
PEACH: In the Seventies, I played that at a party with John Prine.
I lived in Colorado for a long time; around Aspen. A lot of people
toured through there at the time and John Prine passed through.
At the time, I wasn't writing songs, so I didn't realize how great
John Prine was; his writing, his poetry. I liked it, but I was
a young kid and I just thought, you know, it's a good song...
Even though he's become famous, I don't believe that he's been
rewarded for his greatness. Dylan is a great writer, but I think
John Prine is just as great, but he hasn't earned a fraction of
the money that Dylan has.
SBM: I fault that to the public. If they would wake up and stop
spending there time and money standing in line for three days
when they can go down the street and hear someone that's equally
as good or better...
PEACH: (laughs) Well, you're preaching to the choir, here.
SBM: I really think this club suits your style of music. I mean,
you look good up there...
PEACH: This club has supported a lot of women; I think it's well
suited for that. There's so many rooms, but I love the room we
were in tonight, because the audience is up close. I'm amazed
that this club owner has got all this going on; it's a big undertaking.
SBM: I'm so happy to be able to come out here and see you tonight.
This is what I'd call swaying blues...
PEACH: (laughs) Well maybe, that's what we should call it! The
reason I think of it as soul blues is because of the grooves that
it's coming from. Then again, we like to do the shuffles and stuff,
SBM: You have a very talented band up there.
PEACH: I work hard on this band.
SBM: Is this a labor of love? Is this for the love of the music
or the challenge of succeeding, because it's a very hard arena
to survive in.
PEACH: My purpose is to play music; to play the best I can and
to record the songs. I've written a lot of songs that haven't
been recorded yet. So, one of my goals is to keep recording.
SBM: Are you planning to go into the studio anytime soon?
PEACH: I'm thinking of doing another recording next year, something
that's in between the live recording and this newest one. Tonight,
I did BLUE SKY. To me, that is my groove.
SBM: My personal favorite of yours is DANCE WITH ME, HENRY.
PEACH: Oh, yeah! We'll try and do that one later on tonight.
SBM: Peach, I know you're being called so I'll let you go. I
want to thank
you for sharing your time with us.
PEACH: You're very welcome!
* * * * * * * * * *
For the rest of the evening, the audience was treated to an accomplished
entertainer performing with a fine band. The playlist was a diversity
of genres, ranging from the soul of LET'S GET IT ON, to the smooth,
swaying blues of I CAN'T STAND THE RAIN. The transition from these
tunes to the rhythm and blues of MUDDY WATER and COME UP AND SEE
ME SOMETIME was seamless and great fun. And Maria Martinez, that
idling Ferrari, left us all holding onto our hats as she flew
through the gears on SHUFFLE WITH PAULIE. It is notable that Peach
is generous with her band; allowing them to showcase their skills,
yet still remain the focal point of the stage.
All in all, the evening was most enjoyable and I can't remember
the last time I left a club with my hearing intact. I'd like to
thank all the nice folks at Martini Blues for their hospitality.
When Peach returns to Martini Blues, you can bet that I'll be
there. I hope to see you, too. If you can't make it, be sure to
check out her website at * * * * *