PEACH: The Total Total Git-Down Happening Lady
I found myself chuckling a lot when my wife and I met with Peach at Cozy's in Sherman Oaks the other night. She is fun to listen to. Her candor is fun. Her enjoyment of what she is doing is fun. Peach reminds me of my college days when we marched against the war and went to Love-Ins. I forgot to ask her if she was at Woodstock but if she wasn't, certainly her spirit was there, carefree and fun on one side and intense on the other.
The moniker Peach was fixed to my new blues friend at the tender age of two days when her older sister started calling her "Pee-shee."Later it became a more manageable "Peach." Peach was born in Anderson, Indiana, a General Motors town, where she grew up next to an airport. She started playing guitar at twelve or thirteen, singing on Sundays at her church. Her first axe was an electric Fender Jazz Master. She got her musical abilities from her mother who played a honky tonk stride piano style. In fact, her mother's mother played the piano. As she grew, Peach went through a lot of phases. She was an admirer and follower of Ernestine Anderson and Billie Holliday and of course, Jimi Hendrix and B.B. King. She listened to Cannonball Adderley and a lot of Motown, Aretha Franklin and Bessie Smith. How's that for diversity?
As a teenager, Peach moved to Colorado where she attended the University of Denver School of Music. She told me that, except for meeting and becoming friends with Condaleezza Rice, now President Bush's National Security Advisor, the U of D was not a good overall experience. From there, she moved to San Francisco where she started hanging around bars, gigging five or six nights a week, playing a lot of solo guitar, jazz, and actually spent two years with a a big band.
In 1983, Peach came to Los Angeles to do computer programming and network installation. She giggled when she told me that.She quit playing for awhile, but later picked up her guitar when Jim Messina asked her to come to a gig. That period in her life didn't work out and the less said the better.
Peach picked up her guitar again three years ago when a friend asked her to play at a wedding. She had kept her guitars, but had gotten rid of her amps. So she bought a Rivera Jake Studio Combo amp and is endorsing Rivera amps today. She told me excitedly that the amp "triggered me off" and got her obsessed again. I'm not kidding! I wrote the words down verbatim. Now her husband, Ron, is adjusting to a ton of people hanging around the house. In fact, she spent six hours that very day rehearsing for a gig at Lunaria in Santa Monica.
Peach started hanging around every jam she could find including Harvelle's, where she went every Monday night. As you may know, Larry Johnson ran the jam night there for fourteen years. Tragically, Larry died last month at age 58 or so. Peach describes him as "my total hero on guitar". She said "When you put yourself out there, you get slammed in a lot of different ways. "Larry was a source of encouragement and inspiration to me." She said that she would sit-in on the side of the stage for four hours and "do my woodshedding."
One night, Peach played a gig with Joe Delgado at The Knitting Factory. Afterwards, they went to the Pure Pleasure Lounge in South Central L.A., where they sat in with J.J. "Bad Boy" Jones. She told me, sputtering with enthusiasm, that the club is "the total, total git down blues bar. The music was really, really happening." Joe laughed when he confirmed the story later. He said the place has great absolutely down home blues music.
Peach's band consists of Maria Martinez, drums, Eric T. Ward, bass, Hardy Eason on the piano and B3 and Paulie Cerra on sax and vocals. Peach's daughter, Gina, age seven, sits in with the band regularly, beating the drums. The band is heavily experienced in jazz and blues and has an incredibly full sound. Peach has an album out, The Cure For You, which is excellent. She asked me to mention that she "loved working with Freebo (Bonnie Raitt's former bass player) on the album because he has a heart of gold (and plays his ass off). Peach was nominated for Blues Artist of the Year for the L.A. Music Awards and it's not hard to see why. She is working on a new album with Leon Haywood, a "legend" in her words, her eyes and face glowing as a she talked. For influences regarding songwriting, she said "the total bomb is Keb Mo. I recorded two of his songs on the CD because I admire his writing so much."
Go see Peach when you get a chance. The band can be seen and heard at Rusty's Surf Ranch regularly. Yesteryears in Pomona on August 11, and at other gigs. She is going to open for Rod Piazza in Riverside at the Festival on the Steps of the Riverside Courthouse on August 2nd. She has a website at www.peachmusic.com. Whatever you do, have fun at it. Just ask Peach if you forgot how.