Home > In the Spotlight, Tales of the Weird > Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Peyton on Patton

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Peyton on Patton

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

by Mat Weir

“Hot Damn and hallelujah! Grab me some snakes ‘cause I’m about to speak in tongues!” Or, at least, that was my first reaction to the new album by Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Peyton on Patton. Most of my co-workers reactions were to snicker at Peyton’s nasally voice, but more of that later.

Since the early 2000s, the powerful three-piece Americana-country/Delta blues band has been traversing the dusty roads preaching its blend of teachings with Josh “The Reverend” Peyton finger pickin’ & slidin’ the National Steel and occasional three-string cigar box guitar (no, he’s not a real Reverend though he is a Kentucky Colonel) with his wife, Breezy Peyton, on the washboard. The Rev’s cousin, Aaron “Cuz” Persinger, has played drums and the five gallon bucket (oh yeah, that’s the Big Damn Band getting REAL on your ass) since 2009 when Peyton’s brother, Jayme, left.

However, Peyton on Patton isn’t your typical Peyton album. Just as the name suggests, it delivers 13 tracks of 10 different Charlie Patton covers—“One of These Days” is covered in three separate versions (Josh “The Reverend” loves this song so much he originally wanted to release an entire album of different versions; thankfully he didn’t.). Patton, the legendary Mississippi Delta bluesman who grew up on Dockery Plantation (the same powerful place where the other saint of bluesdom, Robert Johnson, would receive his first guitar and where John Lee Hooker & Howlin’ Wolf would fall in love with Patton’s recordings), was such a huge influence on Peyton that the Reverend took painstaking care in trying to recreate the Father of the Delta Blues’ sound. Not only was the album recorded through one microphone in one day, but Peyton meticulously restrung his guitar with material closer to what Patton would’ve used in order to get the twang just right. While this minute detail might easily be written off as the half-crazed thoughts of an obsessed guitar player, the pay-off is more than worth it.

Peyton on Patton is an album chock-full of rich, finger-pickin’-lickin’ gems. Though most of the recordings are just of Reverend Peyton playing guitar, the Big Damn Band does make appearances on select numbers; Breezy singing duet/back-up vocals and Cuz playing a 100-year old tobacco barrel. But the true meat of this album is Peyton’s reverence to his hero. In the liner notes, the Rev. mentions that the first time he ever heard Patton he was blown away at how Patton made one guitar sound like two. Songs like “Jesus is a Dying-Bed Maker” and “Mississippi Boweavil Blues” are perfect examples of what he means and evidence of the talent both men possess as high-note picking is carried by the rhythmic thumb-plucking for a sound that will have your head swimming. As with most music of the time period, Charlie Patton’s songs were designed with a time signature for people to clap along with. However, he would kick it up a notch with songs like “A Spoonful Blues” that the Big Damn Band plays so fast & heavily that it almost sounds distorted and you can’t help but stomp your feet. Also included is my personal favorite Patton number, “Elder Green Blues;” a slow to mid-tempo ditty about a Churchin’ man going down to sin city New Orleans. With lyrics like, “I love to fuss ‘n fight/Lordy get sloppy drunk off a bottle ‘n ball/and walk the streets all night,” it’s hard not to picture Patton as the O.G. rock & roller, raising hell like it was 1929.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, it should be said that Peyton’s voice is pretty unique and often comical, especially to those who might be unfamiliar with the band or style of music. However, by the third or fourth song the brain catches on and your feet will be too busy stomping along for your grey matter to even notice.

This is the perfect album for any Delta blues fan and a great beginner for anyone who might be into the alt-country/folk-punk scene but hasn’t dug into its musical roots. Available on CD, LP and limited edition 78rpm vinyl, this is the cleanest you’ll hear Patton with some of the closest reproduction in sound you’ll find besides going directly to the source. For a man who left this world virtually penniless, without fame and not even an obituary in the paper, Peyton on Patton proves that artists never truly die.

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  1. October 29, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    This is an excellent album, if you are a fan of the Rev you definitely need to check this record out. The Reverend Peyton does a beautiful job of re-rendering Charlie Patton’s classic tunes into the folky, Indiana blues style the Rev is known for.

    If you’re into the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, check out this new Washboard Breezy Peyton interview.

    Breezy Peyton talks about weight loss, being homeless, how to be a successful band, a big announcement about what Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band has up their sleeve for the future, and a bunch more stuff. It’s a great interview, check it out!

    -John

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