Death, revenge, war, riots, sex, drinking and of course crime are just some of the themes that run deep through the phenomenon known as Peaches and Crime. Merging the old theatrical styles of Vaudeville and Burlesque with costumes from the period, they are more than just a band but an experience that creates a inclusive atmosphere that their audiences can become a part of. And as the macabre sensibility and pitch-black sense of humor that is theirs and theirs alone blends with their otherwise-lost sense of elegance -- not to mention old fashioned musical talent -- some say this “criminal cabaret” has brought Vaudeville back better than it ever was.
Vaudeville is at its heart a traveling variety show, and Peaches and Crime embodies this wholeheartedly in its synthesis of old and new. Between songs that straddle genres from catchy calypso, polka, jazz, and swing to the blues, the Binghamton, New York-based act is at the same time relentlessly original. When not performing lead vocals in the character of the alluring and mysterious “Angie Diamond,” Angela Schwartz writes all the original music in a barrage of early-twentieth-century styles, while her husband Daniel Schwartz, who also performs as the suavely vicious master of ceremonies “Danny Black,” writes all the intricate and witty original lyrics. “We call the songs ‘murder ballads,” Daniel Schwartz says. “No prizes for guessing the theme in this project. That can be extremely potent, or make for a shocking contrast. It is difficult to think of a subject with the potential for a greater range of possible strong reactions than murder.”
The rest of the group consists of a cast of characters as colorful as they are talented. With Ross on the drums, Honest Stephen Longfield on Bass and Mikey the Fist tickling the ivories, they comprise the strong musical foundation upon which the show is built. They also each have their own Vaudeville panache with card tricks from Stephen, a strongman show featuring Mikey the Fist and Ross performing a single, unique magic trick. When not playing the clarinet or trombone, Young Catherine played by Cat MacDonald and Abbigail Pins played by Julia Adams, bring theatricality front and center with their ring leader, Angie Diamond. Behind the scenes, Adams -- a professional costumier with the Tri-Cities Opera – designs each performance with costumes that possess both flair and exacting period accuracy.
While heralding the return of lost styles of entertainment, their aesthetic of taking classic sources and forging them into something aggressively new and theatrical is what leads Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, Blues Editor at www.mary4Music.com, to comment that “Creativity oozes from this cast of characters. Peaches and Crime don't just cross that fine line between genius and bizarre....they zigzag over it.” It’s all part of creating a sense of a full night of variety entertainment -- disparate elements synthesize into something full and cohesive, even as the songs move from the toe-tapping to the heart-wrenching.
With their latest release “Vaude-VILLAINS!” Peaches & Crime brings their live performance right into your living room. Comedy skits such as “The Dizzy Dame” and “Table for Two” break up the emotional rollercoaster that takes us from flames of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in “Never Be a Good Girl” to the cool waters of the sunny Caribbean in “Rum Runner,” but it doesn’t stop there. We are also exposed to some New Orleans voodoo blues in “Saturday Man,” super sweet harmonies in “Sugar Daddy,” the bleakness of the Civil War POW Camp in Elmira, known as “Hellmira” and even a little spirituality in “He Done Me Wrong, I Did Him In.”
Previous releases are just as diverse as the latest, including their first album, “The Great Display.” Thrill to Ross’ homemade junkyard percussion in “I’ll Take the Rest.” Join in on the chorus of their Irish drinking song “Oh Wandering Eye” or wander down south in the “Baby Full of Buckshot Blues.” Succumb to the black widow charms of “Mrs Colt Revolver” – which they also released a music video for—or finally get whisked away with the exotic escapades of “My Shanghai Baby.”
Whether jerking tears or poking fun, Peaches and Crime will charm the young and old alike with its virtuoso performances and vivid personalities. Brace yourself as they sing, play, dance and quip their way into your heart like a gunshot in the dark.
Peaches and Crime