Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band

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Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band honors blues legend charley patton on latest release


By Jonathan Gang

Locking down Josh “the Reverend” Peyton of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band can be a tough proposition. It’s not that he’s hard to locate or wary of reporters.  It’s also not because he’s some junkie and he’s certainly no primadonna with gatekeepers that need to be passed through. It’s just that, the Rev lives a lifestyle that’s far removed from cell phone towers. “[We are] way out in the country. Phones don’t always work,” he said when I finally got ahold of him.

Telecommunications difficulties aside, it’s an appropriate living situation for a man so steeped in the tradition of America’s rural blues music. “I call it country blues,” said Peyton in a recent interview with The Marquee, about his band’s spicy gumbo of American roots. “You look at the blues tradition, and it really splits into two lanes, one’s city blues, and the other’s country blues. Most people only know about the city blues, folks like Stevie Ray Vaughn and B.B. King. But I grew up with people like Furry Lewis, [Mississippi] John Hurt, Booker White, and Son House. That was the music that always spoke to me.”

The Reverend’s latest album, Peyton on Patton, pays tribute to one of the giants of the country Delta blues that’s shaped the Big Damn Band’s sound so much —Charley Patton. Patton, one of the first commercially successful blues artists of the early twentieth century, was a major influence on better-known followers such as John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, and Robert Johnson.

“It was a record I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Peyton. “It’s a one microphone recording, really stripped down, sparse and raw. I thought that would be the best way to present Patton’s music to our fans and to the world. I really wanted to just remind people that he existed, or introduce him to people who had never heard of him, because a lot of people don’t know who he is, and he’s probably one of the most important figures in the last hundred-and-fifty years of American music.”

That’s a bold statement to make, but to the Reverend it’s a no brainer. In a press release about the album Peyton wrote, “When I first heard Charley Patton, my life was changed forever. I was hooked. He made it sound like two guitars. I have spent a lifetime admiring and studying his music.”

He goes on to write about how his career has almost been an education with a major in Patton, before writing, “Only now do I feel confident enough to attempt to pay tribute to my Patron Saint, Charley Patton.”

When not expressly paying tribute to their musical heroes, Peyton and the rest of his Big Damn Band — which consists of washboard player (and Mrs. Peyton) Breezy, and cousin Aaron “Cuz” Persinger on drums — plays a jumpy electrified version of the rural Delta blues and puts a modern barn-storming spin on its well-trodden influences. “We don’t want to be some sort of museum piece,” said Peyton. “Our music is real and it has heart. It pays tribute to what’s come before, but we don’t pretend it’s 100 years ago. We just want to make good music. Good, real, raw rich music. There’s still a lot to be said in rural America.”

The Big Damn Band’s mission to bring rural music to a modern audience came to a head last year with their presence on the venerable punk-rock extravaganza, the Vans Warped Tour. Standing out like a sore thumb amongst the tattooed, scantily clad masses was no problem for the Reverend, however. “I think the music we play, the live show we bring, I think it feels as fresh as anything out there,” he said. “A lot of the music we play is based on old songs, but I think people can relate to it just as well today. As far as I’m concerned, we can kick as much ass as any band, and everyone out there made us feel just right at home. It was like a big rock and roll summer camp.”

 

:: Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band ::

:: The Black Sheep :: September 11 ::

:: Bluebird Theater :: September 14 ::

:: The Llama (Telluride) :: September 15

:: Telluride Blues and Brews :: September 16 ::

 

Recommended if you Like:

• Charlie Patton

• Robert Johnson

• Mississippi John Hurt

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