Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mavis Staples Rocks the Music Hall on Friday 3/25/11

Photo as seen on

Grammy Award winner Mavis Staples illuminated The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH, with songs of peace, love, hope, and activism.  This powerful songbird held the audience captive as she belted out her message with such conviction, I wouldn’t be surprised if souls were converted right then and there.  Cute as a button, Mavis told the audience how it was stating, “It’s not over yet.”

Mavis got her start early in life singing in her family band the Staple Singers, who became famous for their hit songs “I’ll Take You There” and “Let’s Do It Again”.  As her career grew and evolved, she became widely known and respected for her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.  Mavis was a personal friend to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and shortly after joining the movement she became an iconic voice of a generation.

Her message present day is still very much relevant.  Her voice explored the full range of human emotion, making for a genuine, palpable, and heartfelt performance.  Her adoring audience experienced her up close and personal as she nailed songs like “I Am His And He Is Mine,” “You Are Not Alone,” “Wrote A Song For Everyone,” “Creep Along, Moses,” “Freedom Highway,” and “The Weight”.  Her witty sense of humor shone through as she chatted up the audience between songs.  Fans deserted their seats to dance and participate as Mavis performed “I’ll Take You There.” 

And then there was the band behind her.  I am not sure words can express the totality of awesomeness that is the Rick Holmstrom Band.  Holmstrom revealed himself as a guitar virtuoso during three separate instrumentals throughout the evening ranging from melodic dreamy meanderings to swampy electrified blues.

The stage was rounded out by three full voiced backup singers (one being Mavis’s sister Yvonne), who punctuated songs with expert inflection.  These singers were convincing.  This wasn’t a canned, sterile, superficial rigmarole, rather, a sincere wholehearted performance.

Sadly, Billy Bragg who was originally on the bill, was absent due to the recent passing of his mother.  While this was not mentioned during the concert (out of respect I gathered), concert goers were notified via email.  

Mavis delivered an excellent performance.  Her soul, rock, blues, and gospel songs radiated hope.  Her mighty voice commanded justice.  Her message was clear: “It’s not over yet.”

The Band:

Mavis Staples – Lead Vocals
Rick Holmstrom – Lead Guitar
Jeff Turmes – Bass
Stephen Hodges – Drums
Yvonne Staples – Backup Vocals
Donny Gerrard – Backup Vocals
Vicki Randle – Backup Vocals


1.  I Am His And He Is Mine
2.  Wrote A Song For Everyone
3.  Creep Along, Moses
4.  Instrumental
5.  The Weight
6.  You Are Not Alone
7.  Freedom Highway
8.  Only The Lord Knows
9.  Losing You
10.  Too Close To Heaven
11.  On My Way
12.  We’re Gonna Make It
13.  Instrumental
14.  Instrumental
15.  I Belong To The Band
16.  I’ll Take You There
17.  For What Its Worth
18.  Down By The Riverside

Visit Mavis Staples online here 

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