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A hypnotic performance of old-school R&B

Mavis Staples
The Fox Theatre
Tucson, AZ
September 5, 2014
Mavis Staples< Mavis Staples< Mavis Staples<

Review and photos by Mary Andrews

Mavis Staples and "family" made a long awaited stop in Tucson to perform. It had been so long that she thought we had forgotten her. She declared, "Tonight, we will bring joy, happiness, inspiration, and positive vibrations to you." Mavis kept her promise and more!

Ms. Staples was the "baby" of the American gospel, soul, and R&B family singing group started in the early 1950s. Their father, Roebuck "Pops" Staples, played guitar and Mavis and her siblings Cleotha, Yvonne, and Purvis provided the voices that would over time evolve from being gospel singers into an enormous influence in popular music. Pops' friendship with Martin Luther King in the 1960s made the Staple Singers the spiritual and musical voices of the civil right movement.

Mavis' band still includes sister Yvonne Staples singing background along with Vicki Randle and Donny Gerrard. Guitarist Rick Holmstrom led her band, which consisted of bassist Jeff Turmes, and drummer Stephen Hodges. Their band had an opportunity to show off their exquisite talent during the show jamming on "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Mercy."

The show was much like a Friday night revival. Ms. Staples and the audience kept the feeling going throughout the show. Mavis exclaimed at one point in the show, "Do you feel alright? I am too. Thanks to you I'm having a real good time!" The songs performed took the crowd back to the 1960s. The some of the songs were Staples Singers' hits and some were covers from Buffalo Springfield, The Band, Talking Heads, and Lauryn Hill. During "Freedom Highway" she chanted, "You know that song. .In 1962, the March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Yes, we did it. I was there and I'm still here! I am a witness. I was a soldier. I'm still a soldier. I'm on the battlefield fighting for love, fighting for peace. I am a soldier and I'll keep on fighting. Yeah! Say yeah!" The screams from the audience were deafening.

The final song was "I'll Take You There" and it was testimony that Mavis Staples was in charge and had taken the crowd on a journey over the last 60 years. The hypnotic performance was over and we are all the better from experiencing Mavis Staples.
Set List:
1. If You're Ready (Come Go With Me) (The Staple Singers song)
2. For What It's Worth (Buffalo Springfield cover)
3. Slippery People (Talking Heads cover)
4. I Like the Things About Me
5. Respect Yourself (The Staple Singers song)
6. Can You Get to That (Funkadelic cover)
7. You Are Not Alone
8. The Weight (The Band cover)
9. Everything Is Everything (Lauryn Hill cover)
10. Freedom Highway (The Staple Singers song)
11. We're Gonna Make It
12. Instrumental Jam
13. Let's Do It Again
14. I'll Take You There

Related articles:

Mavis Staples (Taste of Chicago 2009) - Concert review - Chicago, IL July 2009
Mavis Staples (SxSW Festival 2005) - Festival review - Austin, TX Mar. 2005
Mavis Staples (Jammin' for the Kids) - Concert review - Chicago, IL Dec. 2002

Mavis Staples< Mavis Staples<

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