By: Terry Mullins
Don't be fooled by the name. Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band is not a traveling tent revival, nor is it really a big band at all. What Rev. Peyton's Indiana-born-and-bred trio is, however, is one big Slip 'n Slide of spicy, hot-rodded acoustic blues.
The good Rev ram-rods guitar and vocal duties, wife Breezy lays down the bottom end on washboard and brother Jayme keeps the beat moving on drums, buckets or any other percussion he can lay his hands or feet on. That just three people can make such unbridled music is a remarkable feat. Chock-full of pure energy, Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band is vintage blues with a shot of dance music on steroids thrown in for good measure. Put it this way: if the Reverend's playing and your feet aren't shuffling around you better check your pulse.
The Midwestern trio's third full-length disc, The Whole Fam Damnily (released August 5 on Side One Dummy), sounds like what could have happened had Delta blues pioneer Charley Patton wandered off the streets of the Bowery and onto the stage of famed New York punk club CBGB's in the mid-70s.
The Whole Fam Damnily is probably Rev. Peyton's most fully-ripened disc to date, with a bunch of the thirteen songs having been road-tested over the course of the last year or so, as the group made its way all across the globe, carrying the feel of the many of the miles behind the family's trusty van. While the grooves on Damnily are most certainly rooted in the pre-war, Delta-style blues that make Patton and Son House such legendary figures in the genre, the lyrical themes are as current as the higher-than-a-cat's-back price of gasoline in 2008.
"Your Cousin's on COPS" details the true, hilarious story of when the Rev. and Breezy settled in to watch some reality TV one evening only to discover that reality hit pretty close to home. Seems one segment on one episode of COPS featured Breezy's cousin getting carted off to jail by the local authorities. High mercury levels in our fishing waters are lamented on "The Creeks Are All Bad," giving the Rev. the blues when he realized the fish he caught weren't safe enough to eat. The big box juggernaut known as Wal-Mart is scolded in the self-explanatory "Wal-Mart Killed the Country Store."
Throughout the balance of Damnily, the Rev. makes his battered acoustic Gibson and National Steel guitars moan, purr, rumble and tumble like a runaway freight train, while Breezy makes the washboard sound like a four-piece rhythm section. Add brother Jayme's gutbucket timekeeping and you've got a crunchy mixture of punk-like intensity and front-porch pickin.' But Damnily is not high octane all the time. Rev. Peyton eases off the throttle a bit on the slow ballad "What's Mine Is Yours," a finger-picked ode to one-sided relationships. That helps make The Whole Fam Damnily, a disc recorded in a church in Bloomington, Indiana, a mixture like nothing else, one that probably deserves its own category.
As a bonus, the Rev. saw fit to give away the persimmon pudding recipe that's been handed down through the Peyton family. The tasty-looking recipe, which won the blue ribbon for "Best Persimmon Pudding" at the Persimmon Festival in Lawrence County, Indiana one year, is printed on the back of the CD insert. And if it tastes half as good as the Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band sounds we're all in for one massive treat, Indiana-style.
Here's a montage of the Big Damn Band in action to give you an idea of their shake, rattle 'n' roll.
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