:: Bluebird Theater :: January 4 :: Fox Theatre :: January 5 ::
By Monica Banks
It seems that everything these days is getting smaller, but Reverend Peyton and the Big Damn Band are keeping it large. The Reverend plays with his wife, Washboard Breezy, and his younger brother Jayme on the drums. The trio has been touring the nation and even Europe, keeping pre-war blues alive.
The Reverend is inspired by everyday people, such as Peyton’s father. “[Our music] is about people like my dad, who work their whole lives and don’t have much to show for it,” Peyton said in a recent interview with The Marquee. Peyton’s father was a concrete man and has been the inspiration for several songs, including “Mud” on Big Damn Nation, a song about the construction industry, or “My Old Man Boogie,” a song about the Reverend’s father dancing drunk at a live show.
The Reverend grew up playing music. His dad brought home a guitar when he was 12 and taught him how to play. He became hooked and has been experimenting with different styles ever since. His brother Jayme started playing music when he was young as well. The two grew up in Indiana in several “quaint” homes, some of which were condemned and burnt down by the fire department.
The Big Damn Band sound has been described as dance music about hard times and even inspired a woman in Colorado Springs to get out of her wheelchair and dance. “She hadn’t danced in 20 years, and she just got up to dance,” said Peyton. “I think she was just inspired to give it a shot.”
Growing up in the country, it just made sense for the Reverend to be playing country blues. He is most influenced by longtime favorite Charlie Patton, plus Fred McDough, John Hurt and others. He is also greatly inspired by more contemporary songwriters such as Otis Gibbs and John Prine.
Right after high school, the Reverend was playing at a graduation party until the wee hours of the morning. The day after, his hand was wracked with pain; doctors told him he would never be able to rock out with his favorite six strings again. He spent the next year working at a hotel. Separated from his music, it was a painful time for the Reverend. Finally, he got a call from the Hand Center in Indiana, who had an idea about how to set things right for the Reverend. An operation was performed, removing a mass of scar tissue that was causing his pain. During his recovery period the Revered met his future wife, Breezy, who turned him on to Jimbo Mathis and the Squirrel Nut Zippers. The Reverend introduced Breezy to his greatest influence, Charlie Patton. The two were an immediate hit and when the bandages finally came off, the Reverend was better than ever. He was even able to play the finger-picking style that had long eluded him.
The Reverend was born Joshua Peyton, however not even his mother calls him that today. “I collect titles the way others collect stamps,” Peyton said. While he is an online-ordained reverend, he is more proud of his title as a Kentucky Colonel. Colonel is the highest award given to any civilian in Kentucky and was bestowed for the attention the Reverend Peyton and the Big Damn Band has brought the state.
The Big Damn Band may be playing old time music but they’re using the new form of indie promotion to get their music out. Although they have received many offers from various labels, the band decided they didn’t need a contract. The decision came on the long haul home from a gig in California opening for the Derek Trucks Band. At the time, they were selling more albums than some labels. The band realized that if they started playing full-time they would be able to sell even more. That’s when they decided to quit their day jobs and seek out a living independently.
“We didn’t like what anybody was selling,” Peyton said. “It’s possible to do it yourself these days and business-wise it just didn’t make sense to sign with one of them.” The Reverend relies on their live show to get the music out. “There are so many things that are competing for attention, people don’t just go out and buy a record anymore,” Peyton said. “It’s all about playing shows, once somebody sees us they know what we’re all about and they get it.”
Today, the band is playing 250 shows a year and the Big Damn Band credit their first South Park Music Festival showcase for kick-starting things. “We met people that helped us put together tours,” the Peyton said. “If it hadn’t been for that show, we might not have been out on the road doing this stuff.”
:: Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band ::
:: Bluebird Theater :: January 4 ::
:: Fox Theatre :: January 5 ::
Recommended if you like:
• Charlie Patton
• John Hurt
• Otis Gibbs