Lumberjack Blues

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

by Dave Keneston

Peyton 7Ever wondered what would have happened if Paul Bunyan was abandoned at birth and adopted by Son House? What if he was raised on Charlie Patton and Bukka White records? Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band brings that fantasy to fruition and features the larger than life voice and playing of frontman Reverend Josh Peyton. Formed in the early 2000’s, this country blues outfit also consists of Peyton’s wife, Washboard Breezy Peyton on washboard and vocals. Currently, Ben “Bird Dog” Bussell holds down the drummer position for the band. The blend of electrified pre-war style fingerpicked blues with Peyton’s booming voice and driving rhythm of the washboard and drums gives this group an oddly anachronistic yet inventive sound. Did I mention the Reverend’s facial hair is quite possibly most gloriously luscious follicle growth in human existence? Because there’s that too.

Their most recent release, Between the Ditches, was my introduction to the band. I heard the title track and thought, “What the fuck is this? Watch out for sons of bitches?” “Who is this guy and where did he come from?” The marching, stomping beat married with the greasy slide guitar riffs and bellowing vocals are impossible to ignore. I was hooked hard when I listened to the rest of the album. Its incessant, powerful grooves and sing-a-long choruses transported me to an old time barrelhouse to get my stomp and holler on.

With tracks like “Something for Nothing,” “Shut the Screen,” and “The Money Goes,” this album consistently delivers hillbilly thump and poignant commentary on the human condition. “The Money Goes” is a warning to all who think they can handle hard drugs. It’s delivered in a ridiculous fashion featuring lyrics like:

Teeth all black

Teeth all Black

Teeth all Black

It might be crack

and

It looks like death

It looks like death

It looks like death

It might be meth

I can’t help but chuckle to myself while letting the hoedown-flavored strut possess me. “Shut the Screen” highlights Peyton’s finger picking and slide prowess with blazing fast riffs and rolls, while “Something for Nothing” and its pounding rhythm and catchy hooks will undoubtedly get your head bobbing and toes tapping.

After hearing Between the Ditches, I had no choice but to go back and explore their earlier works. From 2008’s The Whole Fam Damnily, “Persimmon Song,” and “Mama’s Fried Potatoes” continued to suck me into this world of bucolic boogie. The lyrics and cadence of Peyton’s vocals are intrinsically amusing and captivating, eliciting involuntary grins and head nods, while Breezy’s rhythmic washboard scratching accents the pounding drums.

Peyton 6In 2010 the band released The Wages. They continued their themes of country living and energetic, romping grooves. “Born Bred Corn Fed,” “Two Bottles of Wine,” and “Clap Your Hands” exemplify the down-home blues the Big Damn Band is known for. The video for “Clap Your Hands” is absolutely ludicrous. With break dancing B-Boys, line dancing bumpkins, circus freaks, belly dancers and Luta Livre mask wearing couples twirling around a hay lined dance floor, all you can do is shake your head and stomp your feet.

 

 

Peyton on Patton was their 2011 album of Charlie Patton tunes featuring the Reverend Peyton on guitar and vocals, with Breezy playing on a few numbers, and Aaron Persinger on drums. These stripped down arrangements paid tribute to Peyton’s biggest influence, and allowed him to showcase his tremendous ability to capture the traditional finger style country blues approach while injecting his own sensibilities. Check out his version of “Some of These Days I’ll be Gone.”

Peyton 2Feel free to go way back and check out Voodoo Cock and Big Damn Nation, but I prefer their later work. If you’re like me and you embrace country-fried blues, you’ll love the Big Damn Band. This type of music is not only fun, but it’s also a history lesson of American roots music. From the acoustic blues of Charlie Patton and Son House to Peyton’s electrified Nationals and resonators, it all sounds like coming home to me. I also suggest having a nice glass of bourbon while listening to these campestral composers of riotous riffage. It always helps me get in the mood to shake ’em on down. Gather up your friends, cook up some good barbecue and get ready to have a backyard dance party.

3 thoughts on “Lumberjack Blues

  1. I hadn’t seen this review before. Glad you re-shared, I am going to introduce my brother to this band now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s