The Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band bridges genres and eras with an intensity and effortlessness few contemporary artists possess. And their new album So Delicious elevates the trio’s work to a new level. Produced by Rev. Peyton, So Delicious offers the band’s most diverse collection of songs buoyed by the Rev.’s supercharged six-string virtuosity — a unique style of fingerpicking inspired by his Delta blues heroes, but taken to new, original heights.
The fifth full-length original album by the group — which includes Breezy Peyton on washboard and supporting vocals and Ben Bussell on drums and supporting vocals — is their debut on Yazoo Records, a label known for the historic reissues of blues and other old time American music that are the bedrock inspiration for the Rev.’s sound and approach.
“Yazoo was my favorite record label growing up,” he explains. “For fans of old country blues and all manner of early American music, they are the quintessential label. And for me, it’s like being on the same label as Charley Patton and ‘Mississippi’ John Hurt. To think that Yazoo believes we are authentic enough to stand with the other people in their catalog means a lot.”
The Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band has always been strong on authenticity, playing music that blends blues, ragtime, folk, country and other traditional styles with the sleek modern energy of do-it-yourself, homespun, punk fueled rock. And performing tunes plucked from their lives, their community or from the canonical songbook that fed the Rev. Peyton’s formative creative identity. It’s a mix that’s allowed the band to win fans from all corners of the Americana and rock worlds, and bring a new generation to blues and other forms of American roots music.
“I’ve been obsessed with the idea of taking fingerstyle guitar to a place it’s never been before,” the Rev. says. And he’s gotten there by blending the foundational playing of great country bluesmen like Charley Patton and John Hurt with the early-rock vigor of Chuck Berry and the licks played by old timey fiddle players who recorded in the 1920s and ’30s. In fact, that school of fiddle — enshrined in Yazoo’s catalog — is often reflected in the Rev.’s slide playing, which adds to the uniqueness of his virtuosity.
The Rev’s fascination with country blues began at the age of 12, when he started dipping into his father’s album collection and his dad brought a beaten Kay guitar into the Peytons’ Indiana home. In addition to mirroring the guitar playing he heard on recordings of early blues artists like Robert Johnson and Patton — who the Rev. paid tribute to with 2011’s solo acoustic Peyton On Patton — he also started assimilating more modern recordings from Muddy Waters’ Chess Records catalog and blues-rock players like Johnny Winter. Those recordings often featured multiple guitar players and overdubs, but Peyton blended all the six-string lines he heard into one fluid part. “That forced me to start thinking outside the box right from the start,” he notes.
At one point the Rev. briefly walked away from guitar, when the tendons in his hands were plagued with cysts that inhibited his ability to play. Shortly after a surgeon removed them, he met Breezy and the couple’s whirlwind romance and shared love of music inspired him to pursue his potential. Breezy took up the washboard, and by 2006 the members of the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band had sold their possessions and taken to the road. That same year their initial album Big Damn Nation was released and The Gospel Album followed in 2008.
“When people hear So Delicious and see us play live, I think they understand that what we’re singing about is real to us,” the Rev. says. “We believe in the stories we’re telling and in the way we play. And when we’re on stage or off, there’s nothing fake about us. We are what we do, and I’m proud of that.”