Friday, October 24, 2008

Two Nights with The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

On Wednesday October 22nd and Thursday October 23rd we were able to see two shows from
The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, the first at the The 8X10 in Baltimore and the second at the Gravity Lounge in Charlottesville. Both shows were awesome and solidified the Big Damn Band's top ranking as one of the best live acts in the country. Reverend Peyton's guitar playing was inspiring and Breezy and Jayme were completely in sync, slowing down with the Rev and then exploding simultaneously as soon as the Reverend changed pace.

Both nights they played many of the same songs, starting with "Aberdeen" and My Old Man Boogie" from the Big Damn Nation. They transitioned quickly into their new CD, The Whole Fam Damnily, by playing "Your Cousins on Cops" and DT's Or The Devil". Eventually they also got to "Can't Pay The Bill", "Mama's Fried Potatoes", "Persimmon Song", "The Creeks Are All Bad", and our favorite "Worn Out Shoe" sometime in the performance. What a great CD. "Worn Out Show" is a great song, their self-called Ike & Tina song, only because its starts out nice and ends rough. Each night they played two songs from The Gospel Album, with crowd favorite "Glory Glory Hallelujah" each night and "I Shall Not Be Moved" in Baltimore and "Let Your Light Shine" in Charlottesville - obliging a special request. Thanks Reverend. The Charlottesville show also was unique in that it was an all ages show. A few parents brought their children who danced near the stage the entire evening. Even the band's sometimes menacing stage presence did not deter the kids. And thanks Gravity Lounge. Of the two shows, the Charlottesville seemed a little better, the band seemed more at easy - telling more stories than the previous night. Maybe they were relaxed because the last time they played at this venue only 10 people showed. This night, close to 75 attended, bringing more energy to the stage. Regardless The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band is a must see. If a venue isn't within reach - we recommend each of their CDs. They only get better.

We also want to mention the opening acts at these shows. At the The 8X10 Junior League started the night with a bluegrass feel and we were quickly impressed with this Washington D.C. based band. Fronted by Lissy Rosemont sweet vocals, the band has a unique sound in particular when they covered Robert Johnson's Crossroad Blues - starting off extremely slow and bluesy and finishing with a string bluegrass flavor. The band also covered Levon Helm with another strong performance. They just released a new CD, "Mitchell Williams Fo Govena" and we enjoyed several songs that we hope are included: South Carolina Blues and Kiss You in the Morning. Afterward we learned that this is not simply a regional band. They have a strong national following, especially in the Midwest. We hope to see them at the IOTA Club on Halloween.

Keith Morris & the Crooked Numbers opened for the the Big Damn Band in Charlottesville with a set that was part Appalachia, part Gospel, part Bluegrass. Morris is accompanied by several Charlottesville area musicians who played songs from their new much acclaimed CD, Songs From Candyapolis. We liked what we heard. The band also hosts several children shows which fits in nicely to the Gravity Lounge's all ages concept. We look forward to their next show.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

JJ Grey & Mofro @ The State Theatre

On October 15th, we watched one of our favorite bands, JJ Grey & Mofro, perform at the The State Theatre in Falls Church Virginia. We were first exposed to the band at the Austin City Limits festival, maybe in 2004. Since then we’ve listened to the band evolve from a bluesy folk style in Blackwater– to a full blown funk, soul, and R&B sound in Country Ghetto. The band’s core is JJ Grey on vocals, guitar, harmonica, and keyboards and Daryl Hance on the slide guitar. At least that’s how we first heard them. The current lineup includes Adam Scone on bass and organ, Anthony Cole on drums, Art Edmaiston on the sax, and Dennis Marion on trumpet. The songs reflect Grey’s life growing up in the swamp lands of Northeast Florida. In fact, during shows he often sites how it wasn’t until he was living in London attempting to become the next Elvis Costello – when he had a prophecy to return to his roots.Lochloosa , both the song and CD, reflects these roots. Currently, the band is touring in support of Orange Blossoms – with the title song describing the magnificent birth of spring in north Florida.

The last we heard JJ Grey & Mofro was on a road trip to Raleigh over a year ago – in support of Country Ghetto. This was our first exposure to the funkier R&B sound accentuated with the new horn section. We were pleased to see the lineup intact tonight and that Orange Blossom continues the same path set the previous year. Basically, the show was awesome – they intertwined songs from their last three CDs – and we particularly enjoyed the horn section on the more original bluesy songs from Lochloosa. But most of the songs were from Country Ghetto: "War", "Mississippi", "Country Ghetto", "Circles", "A Woman" to name a few. Grey was simultaneously ornery and playful – with a constant smile throughout the night. The band complements each other and Grey often stepped aside to allow other members take center stage. It seems we spent half of the show concentrating to hear Hance on the slide guitar. His chords are soft and his minimalist approach gets overshadowed by his band mates. But if you concentrate you can listen how his notes blend with the song. But the stage is Grey’s and he is most powerful singing one of his slower songs, such as "Fireflies", "The Sun is Shining Down", "A Woman", or "Circles". His voice seems tailored for this style – giving the lyrics meaning and more “authenticy”. Of the songs from the new CD, the title track is clearly our favorite - but we look forward to listening to the entire compilation in more detail.

Opening for Mofro was another blues act, the newly formed, Hill Country Revue. This band formed when Luther Dickinson took time off from the The North Mississippi Allstars in order to tour with The Black Crowes. Brother Cody Dickinson and band mate bassists Chris Chew needed new work so they assembled together a few friends: singer/harp player Dan Coburn, guitarist Kirk Smithhart, and guitarist Garry Burnside. This evening Cody took center stage on the guitar and washboard – starting the evening on the washboard and ending it with a tremendous washboard solo - something you don't see everyday. In between - the music was contemprary hard driving blues - with great guitar playing - even when Smithhart broke a string - he didn't miss a beat - staying in rhythm with the band. Perhaps the best performance was the guitar duel between Smithhart and Dickinson - each trying to out perform the other. Eventually the The North Mississippi Allstars will regroup - but in the meantime the Hill Country Revue is a worthy alternative.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Live Music Blues

Today we received an email from The Lantern, in Blacksburg Virginia which stated that if the low turnout at recent shows continues, then they will have to close their doors come springtime. This news comes after several other well known venues have already closed this year. It also raises a few questions. Are people getting tired of seeing live music? Is the quality of music declining? Are ticket prices too high? We see exorbitant ticket prices at large arenas for aging rock stars - but high ticket prices can't be what's causing the Lantern troubles. Let us know your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

MyJoog Artist: The Reverend Peyton and His Big Damn Band

This past July at FloydFest, we had the fortune to “discover” a new artist: The Reverend Peyton and His Big Damn Band. The band is actually quite small in number, Reverend Peyton on guitar, his wife Breezy on the washboard, and his brother Jayme on the drums. But their sound is big – and intense. And yes, The Reverend is legally ordained in the 50 states.

Their music is a unique combination of old Americana, blues, and some zyedco – inspired from the likes of Charley Patton, Furry Lewis, Mississippi John Hurt, Bukka White, Son House, and Leadbelly. Their instruments also contribute to the unique sound. The Reverend plays an old National and a Flat top Gibson guitar – the later was purchased “off the wall at one of those stupid restaurants that put all kinds of crap on the walls!” Since there isn’t a bass player in the band, the Reverend mimics it use by playing a bass rhythm with his thumb and the melody with his fingers. He was able to accomplish this feat only after having hand surgery to recover normal use of his hands. It is an incredible sight seeing how he takes his standard tuned guitar – and glides back and forth on the stem, playing minimal chords, all the while picking a bass rhythm with the other hand. On most songs, Jayme Peyton plays the drums, but he is most effective when hammering away on a pickle bucket – evidently no other five gallon bucket makes the same sound. He can really generate a range of sounds from the bucket – as evident from “Tell All the World John” from The Gospel Album. And Breezy plays a similar “improvised” instrument – a washboard - after The Reverend purchased her one as a gift. She is one smooth performer – able to drift slowly along with a song – and then suddenly – well, you need to see a show to see how intense and aggressive she can get.

Reverend Peyton writes songs about his family, friends, or experiences in life. Many of these involve life in southern Indiana – a rural area with rolling hills of hardwood trees and farms – “my favorite place on the planet” according to the Reverend. But, like most communities, them old days are changing. Their latest CD, The Whole Fam Damnily, contains a nostalgic look at this area through “Them Old Days Are Gone”, Mama’s Fried Potatoes”, and “Persimmon Song” as well as current problems in “The Creeks are All Bad” and “Wal-mart Killed The Country Store”. These songs contain some classic lines such as “They never build up they always build out” and “4 football fields of Chinese crap”. We will let economists argue whether strip malls and Wal-marts add value to an area, but boy do we love country stores. The band also wrestles with contemporary themes such as “Can’t Pay the Bill” which describes the band’s difficult in paying medical bills without health insurance. And on the humorous side there's “Your Cousin’s On Cops”, “What’s Mine is Yours”, and our favorites, “Worn Out Shoe” and "DT's or the Devil".

This is a great CD - part roots, blues, and even bluegrass - thirteen songs of singing and dancing music - and loved by all ages in our household. For many of you on the East Coast, you can listen to these songs live as the band finishes their present tour. Starting October 9th they travel from Buffalo New York, through Rochester, Burlington, New York City, Wilmington, Baltimore, Charlottesville, Richmond, Virginia Beach, and ultimately Orlando Florida on November 1st. We hope to catch a couple shows during this period and even fly out to Indiana and see the band at the Lafayette Brewing Company on November 15th. More information about these shows can be found at Still undecided? Then check out the many videos on UTube – our favorite is the video of the the Reverend Peyton teaching blues at The Kansas City Academy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

October 2008 Music Festivals

Here is our list of major music festivals for October 2008. Please check back often, since the list will be updated when new festivals are added to
  • 29th Annual American Royal Barbecue - American Royal; Kansas City, Missouri: October 3, 2008
  • 39th Annual Texas Rice Festival - Texas Rice Festival; Winnie, Texas: October 3-4, 2008
  • 2008 Harvest Festival - Starks; Starks, Maine: October 3-4, 2008
  • Fall Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music - Shakori Hills; Pittsboro, North Carolina: October 9-12, 2008
  • 1st Annual Fall Palatka Bluegrass Festival - Rodeheaver Boys Ranch; Palatka, Florida: October 10-11, 2008
  • Chicago Country Music Festival - Soldier Field; Chicago, Illinois: October 10-11, 2008
  • Loki Music Festival - Deerfields; Horse Shoe, North Carolina: October 10-12, 2008
  • 36th Annual Cuero Turkeyfest - City Park Pavillion; Cuero, Texas: October 11, 2008
  • The Taylor County Throwdown '08 - Taylor County Expo Center; Abilene, Texas: October 18, 2008
  • Joshua Tree Roots Music Festival - The Joshua Tree Lake Campground; Joshua Tree, California: October 18-19, 2008