photo - Scott Toepfer

photo – Scott Toepfer

Somewhere in Texas, The Nashville Bridge caught up with Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band  as they  geared up for SXSW following a successful first leg of the Big Damn Blues Revolution Tour with Jimbo Mathus, purveyor off all things “Southern” and Alvin Youngblood Hart.

The latest album the Side One Dummy Records release Between The Ditches which debuted at Number One on the iTunes Blues Charts the week of its release, has caught on all over the country after 250 shows a year that has left blood, sweat and tears on stages all over North America

The first single, “Devils Look like Angels,” featured a great video and has been popular on YouTube and Blues and Americana radio.

photo - Scott Toepfer

photo – Scott Toepfer

Nashville has been a regular stop for Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band after finding a solid supportive crowd with their mix of Country Blues that sits somewhere between Blues, Country and the local Americana Scene. The Reverend will be stopping through Nashville March 20th at Exit/ In on Nashville’s Rock Block with wife, Breezy Peyton on washboard and his cousin Aaron Persinger on drums continuing The Big Damn Blues Revolution Tour with a full entourage and possible special guests.

Reverend Peyton shared some insight about why they have been doing so well this year.

Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: Where are you guys at right now?

Reverend Peyton: We are two hours from Dallas. Texarkana, I Believe.

TNB: Well you are in the south.

RP: Yeah. We were in Little Rock, Arkansas last night and now we are heading out towards our SXSW shows.

TNB: That is coming up here pretty quick.

RP: Yeah, we just did the first leg of the Big Damn Blues Revolution Tour. It will pick back up in Nashville (Exit/In March 20th) after SXSW.

TNB: You make Nashville a regular stop.

RP: We have.  We have played a lot of different venues in Nashville. We’ve played so many of ‘em and I think Exit/In is the best one. I love that place.

TNB: I have heard a lot about you guys around town. I’m sure you’ve done the Grimey’s in-store.

photo - Scott Toepfer

photo – Scott Toepfer

RP: Oh Yeah, we’ve played a Grimey’s in-store…two or three of ‘em. I just love Mike. He’s a fan and The Basement’s really cool too!  It’s an intimate place and you know Grimey’s is just such a great place. Mike is such a music fan, you know.  Like, all the bands that come through there and all the people that he deals with and he’s still a fan, you know. He’s cool.

TNB: The Basement is pretty cool, that is where Justin Townes Earle used to play there all the time when he first started with The Good Life and all that.  Even Metallica did a Live At Grimey’s disc at The Basement. They wanted to play Grimey’s but it was too small so they played at The Basement below the store. I was going to say, your band is at an interesting crossroads. You can play straight up blues festivals, Bonaroo and The Americana Music Festival. You are kind of in an interesting position, don’t you think?

RP:  Yeah, we are looking that way. It’s kind of weird because sometimes people don’t know what to classify us as or where to put us, but, it has really been a blessing because we can play anywhere, you know. There are certain bands, like a punk band, they can play a punk rock club and that’s it, you know, or if you are even just a straight up Country Honky Tonk band you’re running that way. We can play everywhere, you know.  We can play a regular rock fest and blues fest and folk fest, country fest and you name it.  It is sort of funny too. A lot of people, they don’t even quite understand what kind of music it is that we play; it’s country blues, you know, that’s what it is.

TNB: I’ve got some friends out in Mississippi. I can see your sound is mostly what they would call Boogie Blues if it was coming out of Mississippi.  It’s not straight up Hill Country; it’s got a little bit of Hill Country. What do you guys think where you are coming from? What are you after?

RP: Well, I just call it Country Blues. For Hill Country, there is a certain trance aspect. It’s kind of raggedy. Old Delta stuff.  We are a little bit of that mixed up.  I have been a student of it all since I was a little kid. I sort of have my way of playing and it kind of mixes it up all together and also, a lot of times we are playing straight up blues and blues stuff, but, the difference is nobody’s writing songs anymore. They just focus on being guitar gunslingers. You know. I want to be someone who writes song from the heart. You know what I mean. That is the most important thing.

TNB: I think that is what keeps the blues alive. Have you met “Blind Boy” Paxton?

RP: No, I don’t think I know him.

TNB: He made the cover of Living Blues Magazine. He plays old time Charlie Patton style or earlier. He’s probably the best acoustic blues musician right now, but, he won’t write anything. It’s like the music was written in a certain time period and that is where it fits. You are one of the only songwriters that I can see where, it’s like you are not copying Burnside, Kimbrough.  You really are not copying anybody even though it has that aged feel. It’s your own stuff. Do you get that feeling?

photo - Scott Toepfer

photo – Scott Toepfer

RP: Here’s the deal, man. If you are not making new music then go home. Because, nobody is going to do it as good as Charlie Patton did it anyway. You know what I mean? Nobody can play Charlie Patton better than Charlie Patton.  You are not going to play Son House better than Son House. So, my songs are what I am going to play, you know, otherwise you are just kind of like a museum piece, like a throwback like someone in costume that is just showing up to play a part in a movie or something.  I think music should be from the heart. I’ve always believed that. That is why Muddy Waters was so good. That’s why John Fogerty is so good. The best music comes from a personal place.  Some people copy things and change the names, I don’t even do that. You know, for me, that’s what it’s all about. Music that’s fresh and new but maybe it sounds like it’s old, like timeless music that’s new. I guess so, if that makes sense.  It’s hard to do. Blues has been around for almost a hundred years and I’ve been playing it for you know, most of my life. It’s hard to sort of write new stuff because so much has been done, but, it’s a quest that I will be forever on; to write new songs that are timeless still. Songs that still fit in with the annals of blues going back to Charlie Patton, you know.

TNB:  It’s interesting; you do go back and do Charlie Patton covers, which is way back.

photo - Scott Toepfer

photo – Scott Toepfer

RP: He is my patron saint. I did that record, Peyton on Patton because I want people to know who he is because I feel like I have a problem with the blues world. Not enough people know who Charlie Patton is. I think if you know who Charlie Patton is then you have to start with him. I think that music in general starts to get more into focus. You start to understand where people like Muddy Waters and where I am coming from. I just want to make sure people know about Charlie Patton.  In his day, he was super famous you know. In his day, he was the guy. It’s sort of like he influenced Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. In his day, Charlie was the hero; He was the one they all wanted to be. He drove around in good cars; he played a Gibson Guitar with a hard case.  He was the one that was truly successful, you know and the music is amazing. In my opinion, he was the best there ever was.  I think the reason his playing is not that well known is because the recordings were so raw. That’s why I did that record that way. I wanted to do it his way. I kept it sort of raw. I didn’t put too much of myself into the record. Anyway, I wanted to try to use his rawness and play it the way he would play a song. I wanted to play the way he played them so people could hear his guitar pickin’.  So they could have appreciation for what he was on guitar. He was just about songs you know.

TNB: You guys have been around for about four or five albums now?

RP: Yeah, we have made five records I think.

TNB: Things are really starting to pick up the last couple of years.

RP: Yeah, it has been a slow and steady ride. I think the last records have got a lot more attention it has been exponential, especially after the Charlie Patton record. People in like the traditional blues world sort of heard that one and started saying, “maybe we should have been paying attention to these fellas.”

TNB: That is kind of how it happens sometimes. What is ground zero for you guys?

RP: Well, I don’t know. We have pockets all over the place where it’s big. The West Coast is really good:  lots of stuff there. It has kind of blown up in Cincinnati and, of course, southern Indiana, Burlington. Indianapolis; big time there. Kansas City has been a huge place.  I think for us it has always been just one fan at a time. More word of mouth than anything else. It has been fans just coming out and telling their friends and then they buy the record and they’re spinning it. A lot of barbecuing or whatever and I think has been the secret for us.

TNB: One of the most interesting things was that I saw you played a big motorcycle rally. Was that at Sturgis?

RP: We have done Sturgis a couple of times. We did a Bike fest in Arkansas. It’s no big deal. We do a Biker fest and then we will turn around and do the Vans Warped Tour. The kids on the Warped Tour are like 13 and those kids are fun to play for! They go nuts! Then we will go and play a festival at Red Rocks in Denver, Colorado. Denver is a big town for us. It might be one of the biggest. They are such a great crowd.

TNB: They do have a good acoustic scene.

RP: That’s true.

TNB: Real quick, any new albums this year or just touring what is going to happen.

RP: I’m not sure. We will be touring on the Blues Revolution Tour which has been going strong.  There are going to be festivals. We’d like to get in there and do some recording. I think it’s something I just we’ve made, kind of like, once a year for a while, so, I foresee us doing something.

TNB: Have you had any guests come up and jam on encores?

photo - Scott Toepfer

photo – Scott Toepfer

RP: Oh yeah on the Blues Revolution Tour we have been doing jams where it’s just the three of us those two guys and me then the Big Damn Band and Jimbo’s band. I think in Nashville… I don’t wanna say who…but, there is likely going to be some specials guests coming up that are Nashville locals.

TNB: When you jam, are you doing old time blues or…

RP: Yeah, we have been jamming on stuff like that and just trade it up, like, maybe one or two Jimbo songs or like some Charlie Patton stuff. Different things. It changes every night.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN