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.

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