Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band Talks Blood, Whiskey, Motor Oil, and Fishin'

Reverend Peyton is a fishin', huntin', hootin', hollerin' hillbilly from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

He can cut a tree down faster than a forest fire. He can build a cabin in his sleep. He's got more beard than a black bear.

His overalls stay covered in other people's blood, his own homemade whiskey, and an 18-wheeler's worth of motor oil. But what Rev. Peyton does best is rock the jam box. On the guitar, he's a force of nature. And every strum of the axe is a tornado at a razor blade factory.

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You can usually find Peyton, his lovely wife, Washboard Breezy, and drummer Bird Dog, roaring off down the highway, headed across America on their never-ending tour.

Averaging 250 shows a year, the Reverend and his Big Damn Band is known the world over for carrying on the spirit of the blues. They've played more bowling alleys, record stores, European festivals, juke joints, bars, clubs, and back alleys than there are fishin' holes in Arkansas.

You might have heard four of their songs on the Showtime original series Shameless or seen their music video for "Devils Look Like Angels" starring a six-year-old girl jackin' fools with a switchblade. You might have caught Between the Ditches, their 2012 album on Side One Dummy Records, or maybe the five albums that came before it. Nerds might have heard them on NPR. Outlaws might have met them in county jail. Sinners could have bumped elbows with them at church on Sunday. But since their first Miami show ever is coming up at Will Call, there's a chance that you've never heard of 'em at all.

Well, listen up, and listen good, because Peyton, Breezy, and Bird Dog are ready for action. We finally caught up with the Rev. during a rare break while he was hanging out in his hometown of Bean Blossom, Indiana. There, he's surrounded by hills in the northernmost Cypress Swamp in the U.S.A.

"South Indiana is different from the rest of Indiana," he says. "It's like comparing Miami to Destin. I'm actually south of Kentucky, and on the same latitude as the Virginias."

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Always looking to keep it authentic, five of the Big Damn Band's six albums have been recorded live to analog tape. That means everybody in the band, all at once, with no overdubs. In fact, the crew's fifth album, Peyton on Patton, was recorded using only one microphone for all three musicians at the same damn time, just like it used to be done in the old days.

Peyton's biggest influence is a man named Charley Patton, a guitar king from 1929 whose record deals with Paramount saw wide enough distribution to influence everybody from Howlin' Wolf, Hank Williams Sr., and Muddy Waters to the Rolling Stones and John Mellencamp. "He's my patron saint," says Rev. "And I hope one day he gets the appreciation he deserves."

Other than music, Peyton loves fishing. When he and the Big Damn Band played Warped Tour, they caught trout and cooked them in the parking lot. On the water, out in Indiana, is where he came up with the hook to one of his hits, "Something For Nothing."

He was spinning the old fly reel in his neighborhood creek when he came up with the line: "Everybody wants something, nobody wanna pay nothing." And fishing is where he plans to be between his eight Florida shows, from Miami to Jacksonville. "I love it when I can mix touring and fishing," he says.

So if you like rough, country-fied backwater blues, meet the Reverend in the 305 to witness his signature style, playing a bass line with his thumb and chords with his other fingers, followed by fingerpicked leads and bottleneck slide, all at once.

"I work on it every day. It's gone beyond passion to obsession. I love it. I live for it. And we're going in the studio at the end of this month. So if you've never seen us before, and you're a fan of real from-the-heart music played by people who are good at it, come on out. I'm looking forward to the show."

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Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. Friday, April 25. Will Call, 700 NE Second Ave., Miami. The show starts at 9 p.m. and admission costs $10. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-577-5900 or visit willcallmiami.com.

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