Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band: Preaching the Blues with Washboard and Pickle Jar
May I have the envelope, please? The award for Most Symbolically Descriptive Band Name at this year's Beartrap goes to “Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band.” As you might surmise, “Reverend” is an honorary title. The group itself often plays in the types of establishments where serious churchgoers fear to tread. And “Big” is meant figuratively, not literally. They're actually a trio.
Nonetheless, they deliver big-time musical manna, both on the road and in the studio. One reviewer has christened their style “Hick Punk.” Another observes, “I have never heard a Dobro, washboard, and five-gallon pickle jar sound so good.”
And “laid back” takes on a new level of meaning when you watch their recent video “Clap Your Hands,” loosely based on the familiar Vacation Bible School anthem. The production was shot in one day, in a barn, with a cast of dozens including line-dancers, break-dancers, cloggers, live poultry, an elderly Tai Chi practitioner, and members of a carnival freak show.
Life was not always thus for the Reverend (christened Josh by his parents); he grew up in rural Indiana, the son of a concrete mason and fur trapper who happened to own a serious LP collection of blues and rock, ranging from Hendrix and Young and Dylan to the occasional BB King and Muddy Waters.
He took to the guitar early, but he played his senior prom with such gusto he injured his left hand, was told he'd never play again, and started working as a hotel clerk instead. Eventually, surgery not only restored his playability, but provided a bonus—at last he was able to master the finger style that had eluded him for so many years. He met up with his wife-to-be, a washboard player named Breezy, and the rest is history.
Their travels, with drummers including at various times Peyton's brother Jayme and currently cousin Aaron Persinger, have taken them to Austin City Limits, the Warped Tour, Telluride, Bonnaroo, plus miscellaneous gigs in Italy and Switzerland.
It's no accident that many of their songs concern home-cooked edibles (and drinkables). “I want to thank y'all for the food you made us,” one song begins, “But it don't hold a candle to Mama's fried potatoes...” Other titles include “The Persimmon Song,” “Two Bottles of Wine,” and “Pork Chop Biscuit.” A notable exception to the food theme is “Your Cousin's on 'Cops'.”
The real common thread to their music, Peyton says, is this: “I don't like us to be classified as some 1930s throwback thing. We stick out like a sore thumb anywhere.
“The world has gotten used to pretty kinds of margarine, and we want to be their butter.”
--Dale Short, carrolldaleshort.com
Check out videos from Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, and get ready to see them this summer at Beartrap!
"Clap Your Hands":
"The Persimmon Song":
"Mama's Fried Potatoes":