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Reverend Peyton and his band testify to real-life issues

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2012

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The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band may make music that sounds like it comes from another time and place, but its lyrics are drawn decidedly from current events.

The Indiana trio whose stripped-down, rootsy sound — marked by washboard, finger-style guitar and tobacco barrel percussion — feels more like 1930s Appalachia than 2012 laments that it “Can’t Pay the Bill” and that “Walmart Killed the Country Store.” It’s filled with populist sentiment and a romantic optimism that something good waits on the other side of the hard times.

“I feel like there’s a little bit of a deficit in real, from-the-heart music,” explains the Reverend Josh Peyton, who formed the band in Indianapolis with his wife, Breezy Peyton, and cousin Aaron “Cuz” Persinger. “These songs are songs we live, things we’re going through, things we see people we know going through. I think I realized early on that the more personal I made a song and the closer I could get to myself, the more people liked it.

“We never set out to be some kind of museum-piece throwback, anyway. I want to write songs about here and now and take this music to new places.”

Peyton and company have done that twice already, on their 2008 national debut “The Whole Fam Damnily” and this year’s collection of Charlie Patton covers, “Peyton on Patton.” Peyton, 29, acknowledges that what the trio is doing isn’t as easy a sell as, oh, a Justin Bieber album, but he’s been heartened by the positive — and growing — response the Big Damn Band has received during the past few years.

“To be honest with you, I’m not that surprised,” Peyton says. “I guess when we first started playing out in front of people I was surprised at how fast things started going, how fast people were into it. But when I started becoming aware of what else is out there and how what we’re doing compares to that, I guess I wasn’t so surprised. It’s pretty different, and I’m someone who thinks different is good, especially in music.”

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band performs Saturday, Jan. 7, at the 18th Anti-Freeze Blues Festival at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Thornetta Davis, Johnnie Bassett and the Rattlesnake Shake are also on the bill. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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