Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter-guitarist, Peach, is one of California’s best kept secrets. Born and raised in Indiana, the former University of Denver voice major has a variety of musical skills ranging in genre from classical vocals to jazz. At one point, she even played with Condoleezza Rice. The National Security Adviser was once Peach’s accompanist. “She was on her way to being a great starving musician,” Peach smiles.
Peach also became a veteran of the early 1970s jazz club scene in San Francisco before relocating to L.A. She played with such jazz musicians as Russell Ferrante (Yellowjackets), The Max Borjon Orchestra and Mary Ann Price (Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks). She even fronted her own band with San Francisco saxophonist Mary Fettig Park (Flora Purim).
Peach also often performed at the Hyatt Union Square. In 1976 Peach toured Japan as a solo artist. Returning to the US, she played with Jim Messina of Loggins and Messina.
Her debut, the EP The Cure for You, was released in 2001. This five-track sampler included the titular track and the fan favorite “Crazy for You”. She would receive the L.A. Music Award for Blues Artist of the Year.
The next year (2002) she would score an Award of Excellence as well. This was also the year she released her 7-track live, underground project Peach Live! recorded in Riverside, California. She also went on to co-found Rock ‘n Cure, an annual event she produces and performs in to benefit Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s breast cancer and stem cell transplant research Their first fundraising concert—which featured Peach and The Delgado Brothers—was held at L.A.’s House of Blues and raised $78,000.
2004 would witness the release of her first official full-length recording The Real Thing. This studio album contains 13 cuts of mainly contemporary blues. Leading the way with her voice and occasional guitar, Peach is assisted by an assortment of noteworthy blues and jazz musicians including: The Band’s Garth Hudson (keys, sax, accordion), James Gadson (The Temptations) and Gary Mallaber (Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen) on drums, Peach’s percussionist Maria Martinez (Barry White), baritone sax player Cece Worrall Rubin (Diana Ross), Paul Barrére (Little Feat), Jon Woodhead (Leon Russell) and Rick Vito (Fleetwood Mac) on slide, Amos Garrett (Stevie Wonder) on guitar and trumpeter and arranger Lee Thornburg (Tower of Power).
The album opens on “Lie Down” which was co-written by Mark Goldberg and Danny Timms–who also plays Wurlitzer piano. The earthy attitude of this bluesy-bit is highlighted by producer Marty Grubb (The Band, Etta James) on Hammond B-3.
The second selection is the Mae West-inspired “Come Up & See Me Sometime”. Lyrically it seems perfect for Peach’s strong, confident woman persona. It was co-composed by Timms and Jodi Siegel who also provide backing vocals.
Peach steps up with Denise La Salle’s “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In” which includes Joey Delgado (guitar), Lynn Keller (bass) and Paulie Cerra (tenor sax). Peach plays rhythm guitar here too.
The next number is “Love You”. Co-written by Kim Patton-Johnson and Grebb, this includes backing vocals by Valerie Pinkston and Jackie Gouchee Farris. It’s quickly overshadowed by “Beyond My Wildest Dreams” which was penned by Jerry Lynn Williams (Eric Clapton) and Grebb. She is backed by Reggie McBride (Tony Bennett) on upright bass, Carmen Dragon on harp and Jack Ashford on vibraphone.
“Won’t Be Long” by J. Leslie McFarland waits no longer. It includes Jimmy Roberts on tenor sax but is perhaps too soon forgotten once they break into the titular track, another Williams-Grebb collaboration, “The Real Thing”. Here Peach duets with blues legend Taj Mahal. This, too, was written by Williams and Grebb.
“Dance With Me Henry” is the first of Peach’s solo compositions. It features guitarist Johnny Lee Schell and is followed by another Peach piece “Starin’ You In The Face” as she continues to strut her stuff. The previously mentioned Peach-Stevie Gurr ballad, “The Cure For You”, includes guest artists Mindi Abair (alto sax) and John Molo (drums).
“Might Have A Move Or Two” serves as another example of what Peach can do when working with others. This one was co-written with Grebb and includes Bruce Conte on guitar. “Big Back Beat”, another Peach-Grubb number somehow almost has a live feel to it that makes it memorable.
Perhaps the closing cut, the 1972 Bobby Charles classic, “I Must Be In A Good Place Now” is one of the best tracks here. Hudson adds his accordion this time to highlight this pretty, low-key cover cut. The Blues Rock Records release includes 56 minutes of strong songs that Peach says are songs that she “dug up by local songwriters”. She adds: “It’s all pretty sexy music, but it’s also really real.” Indeed, after hearing her CD, music fans just might agree that Peach really is The Real Thing.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.