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The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

By: Lori Smerilson Carson

Overcoming obstacles can lead to great things. This is what happened to Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band during the 2020 pandemic, when Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Reverand Peyton and his wife Washboard player Breezy Peyton had to overcome family illness and Mother Nature. While the power was down, Reverend Peyton was compelled to write music which became their eleventh studio album DANCE SONGS FOR HARD TIMES, released in 2021. This LP reached #1 on Billboards Blues charts and iTunes Blues charts. Since their original CD The Pork n’ Beans Collection released in 2004, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band has utilized their extraordinary talents to create a larger than three-piece sound that has resonated throughout the blues, country music world. They have been nominated for Blues Music Awards twice, and have been deemed the greatest front porch blues band in the world. Now, along with Drummer Max Senteney, they are taking their amazing show on tour and Florida fans will be able to experience their music on January 20th at the Key West Theatre in Key West, January 24th at the Floridian Social in St. Petersburg, January 25th at Tuffy’s in Sanford, January 26th at the Boca Black Box in Boca Raton, February 5th at Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, and on February 7th at Café 11 in St. Augustine.

Catching up with Peyton prior to these Florida shows, he revealed some details about their music, their album DANCE SONGS FOR HARD TIMES and a few of the songs, what he likes to do when he’s not playing music, and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: What can fans look forward to with the new show?
Reverand Peyton: We have been the last six months, like really hitting it hard. We spent six weeks in Europe. We spent a month on each coast, and I’m just really excited to bring this show down to Florida. We haven’t been to Florida in a while. A record’s gonna be coming out next year. It’s a quiet acoustic record. We’ve been doing a few songs from that record. We’ve been doing a bunch of stuff that is may be only available on our Patreon or as singles. Stuffs gonna be coming out later in the year. Of course, stuff off our previous records too. I don’t know, it’s sort of a dynamic show. I’m just excited to be down there.

SFL Music: Your album DANCE SONGS FOR HARD TIMES has been out.
Peyton: Yeah, DANCE SONGS FOR HARD TIMES has been out and of course we’re playing songs from that. For me, I’m always on the next thing. I just firmly believe that my best record hasn’t been made yet. My best show hasn’t been played yet, and I’m just always working on it. That’s one thing about us, that we are just always working on this stuff.

SFL Music: I did see the video for “Ways and Means”. I loved the bluesy, rock with some country elements. What inspired that song?
Peyton: The song itself is born of just real-life experience, but musically it’s kind of well, it’s kind of like that hill country blues, boogie style stuff which has always been one of my biggest influences. I try to take it, sort of to interesting places and do things that maybe haven’t necessarily been done with bigger styles like guitar before. Then as far as the video itself, when we were sort of coming up with concepts for these things, I just kind of search into my own sort of self and I try to paint a picture so that people can kind of see the song how I see it. That’s just what I’m always thinking because what’s nice about a music video, is you get to visually describe things a little bit, not just with the audio. You can have ten people hear a song, and they all kind of get a different picture in their minds eye. One of the things about a music video is, you get to kind of coax them toward how you were thinking.

SFL Music: Songs like “Come Down Angels” and “No Tellin’ When”, those are basically related to what you were going through during the initial COVID period?
Peyton: Yeah, which you know lasted for musicians a lot longer than it lasted most people.

SFL Music: I read the story where you had bad weather that knocked your electricity out and you basically wrote that album (DANCE SONGS FOR HARD TIMES) in the dark.
Peyton: Yeah.

SFL Music: In addition, your wife was really ill. I’m glad she is well and also your father (who battled cancer). Your song “Too Cool to Dance” is about appreciating things in life? Is that what inspired the song?
Peyton: Absolutely! My typical answer to the song is it’s about seizing the day in a way because I was thinking to myself, and those songs are like real personal. Our songs are always about me (he laughed). At least to some extent. So, I’m always telling myself, like for myself not to be too cool to dance. Sort of giving that all back. I want to be able to sort of move freely though this world in terms of, without being caught up on whether or not it’s cool. We were talking about this yesterday. It’s like guilty pleasure songs. Forget about that. If a song is good and makes you happy, then who cares. It’s too hard otherwise.

SFL Music: The song also features your 1954 Supro Dual Tone electric guitar. What inspired you to play that instrument?
Peyton: Well, I love all kinds of old and interesting vintage guitars. I’m obsessed with guitars anyway. I just am, and that Supro is a magic little thing. It just is. It almost has like a lap steel quality to the way its sounds. I love running the slide on that instrument. It just really, really sends.

SFL Music: What inspired you to become a musician in the first place?
Peyton: When I was a kid, when I first started playing guitar and I was able to hear my dad just bang away a few songs, chords, I was just blown away by it. I was. It’s almost hard to explain, but I say it like this. When I first was handed that instrument, if you’ve ever been fishing. You pull a fish out of the water and the fish kind of looks silly. Its flopping around, but as soon as you put it back into the water, it looks like magic. You can’t imagine how something could swim so well. And I felt like when I was handed the guitar, I was put back in the water.

SFL Music: That’s a great analogy! You knew it was your thing to do?
Peyton: That’s exactly it. Yep.

SFL Music: I’m so impressed with how Breezy plays the washboard. How did that come about?
Peyton: When we first got together, we really bonded over music. I mean, I’ve been with Breezy since I was nineteen. So, we were essentially teenagers when we started. When I met her, like I said, we bonded over music and I was dealing with coming back from hand surgery, so I was kind of having to relearn to play. It calmed my confidence to be up onstage. At the same time, she started learning the washboard. So, we just kind of worked on it together.

SFL Music: What would you say inspires your music, like for your upcoming album?
Peyton: All men are heroes of rural blues, early blues, up through the hill country stuff. It’s also my whole, just musicality is inspired by all kinds of other things from classic fifties and sixties R& B, to I guess modern hip hop. That’s not to say that the music sounds like any of that necessarily, but when it comes to catching a vibe or chasing down some sort of artistic idea, I try not to get so caught up in acquis that I won’t explore it because I think well, Charley Patton never did it that way, so I probably shouldn’t. I want to still chase that I guess, wherever these songs come from. Wherever the inspiration is. When the universe grants ya something that is unique and new. The older I get, the more I’m ready to chase it down and explore it.

SFL Music: Is that what you would recommend to a new musician?
Peyton: Yeah. I’d recommend it to anybody that’s an artist. You got to push the boundaries sometimes. Otherwise, you’re just kind of regurgitating the same old stuff. From time to time, you got to push it.

SFL Music: When you were in the recording studio with producer Vance Powell, you liked the same gear as he did, and he took you back to the audio to analogue tape recording. Are you going to be recording with him again for the new album?
Peyton: Yes. Vance and I talked about it. This acoustic record, I just recorded at my house, but Vance is hopefully, our fingers crossed, gonna be working with us on mixing it, and the next full Big Damn Band record, I hope to make with Vance. Vance is just a, he’s a genius. He’s an incredible talent and just a wonderful person to work with too. He has a way that just makes you feel real comfortable. In the studio, that is not a super easy thing to do because it’s a nerve-racking thing.

SFL Music: Do you attribute that to how he maybe brings out your best when you are recording?
Peyton: Yeah well, he has a way about him that is really cool because first off, I think his talent exudes confidence as well. It allows you to feel like you are in good hands because you are, but he goes a step further. His personality and demeanor and his way of being is very just welcoming and easy going. It makes the process great ‘cause I’ve been in the studio with people that don’t make you feel that way. It’s not fun. Making a record is a lot of work, but it should also be fun.

SFL Music: You all do have a couple of blues nominations. How did you feel about that?
Peyton: I think we were proud of it. It felt good to have sort of your peers recognize that you’re doing cool stuff. My whole goal is to continue to live up to that.

SFL Music: Are there going to be any new videos?
Peyton: Always, yeah absolutely! I’m gonna be working on that. We’ll see what happens with this acoustic record if it’s gonna have some big production videos like some of our other records, or if it’s gonna be live stuff or on location stuff. It’s hard to say. We’ll see where it goes. We were kind of getting that stuff to determine in the next couple of months.

SFL Music: That is definitely something for fans to look forward to. Is there anything extra you’re looking forward to when you go to Florida?
Peyton: I’m just hoping maybe we’ll be able to get in a little of that sunshine ya’ll got down there. Maybe catch a fish or two in the meantime too.

SFL Music: Is fishing your favorite sport to do?
Peyton: I love it, yeah. I really enjoy it. We travel with fishing rods. We travel around the world and do this and Florida is definitely one of the best places in the country for it.

SFL Music: Is there anything else you want fans to know?
Peyton: Just that me personally, I feel like I’m playing better than I ever have. I feel better and I’m just real excited to get back out there and do it.

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