Written and Photographed by Eric Sperrazza
If you haven’t been following my love affair with the music of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, let me bring you up to speed. In April of this year, I went to The Fillmore to see The Dead South perform. Seemingly pulled away from my Jamesonat the bar by a venerable tractor beam of sensational sounds, I arrived, front and center, at the feet of Max (drummer), Breezy (washboard), and the man himself, Rev. Peyton. I was scuttled through a wave of masterful licks, rapid-fire beats, and a flaming washboard smashed at the end of the set. With all the talent and grace of Muddy Waters and the explosive fun of a classic CBGBs show, this vintage rockabilly sound blew me away! I was bowled over and desperately needed to find out who this trio was and what else I had missed in their catalog.
Serendipitously, I was able to have made contact with Rev and spent a reasonable amount of time interviewing him about his humble beginnings, his father’s records, and his trials & subsequent victory over issues with his hand. But most importantly, we talked about his undeniable tenet, muse & great love of his life, Breezy. From her inspiration to begin playing again to her mastery of playing washboard and even her donning the mantle of band business manager, I felt a deeper connection to the music and his story. It reminded me of my wife and our journey from star-crossed teens to married parents. Their music became the music in our home; the ultimate reward in this job as a humble Sherpa through the regional music scene, for you, the readers, is discovering music that becomes the soundtrack of my family!
The culmination of this journey was bringing my wife with me to World Café Live in August of this year, as Rev and his Big Damn Band brought their big damn show back to the City of Brotherly Love. So, with excitement in my heart and my own bedrock in this life by my side, we traversed the mighty Delaware River and drove west to see the show with a new set of eyes. Not as a writer trying to size up a band before me, ignorant of their tale, but as fans looking for a night of bonding over music that moves our collective soul.
The setting at The World Café Live was an intimate dinner-theater vibe. Regardless of where you were, it was as if Rev, Breezy & Max were playing just for you…a complete contrast to The Fillmore in Philadelphia earlier in the year. As the band went through a venerable hit list of songs like “Rattle Can” & “This Little Light of Mine,” there was a new dynamic on stage that was seemingly missing in the bigger setting, and that was the interaction of Rev & Breezy with each other. The comments, back and forth, Breezy’s foil to Rev’s jokes, and even the synchronized dancing during Pot Roast & Kissesall made for a wildly new form of entertainment from the band.
At one point, Breezy surrounded her coveted washboard and took the reigns of Max’s drum kit. To the surprise of everyone in the room, myself included, savagely played with the marksmanship of someone who has played their whole life.
During my interview with Peyton earlier in the summer, I had asked him if the band would be doing anything new in their set list, to which The Man with a Thumb for a Bassist was coy. I assumed I had tread too far out of the scope of coolness, asking about new music during our chat. But much to my surprise, The Big Damn Band debuted a new single that night; a cover of a 1929 song by legendary Charlie Patton called “Banty Rooster Blues.”
The show ended with the ceremonial lighting of Breezy’s washboard a flame; however, no smashing took place in this boutique venue. I imagine a piece would have seemingly and assuredly landed right in someone’s prime rib. That didn’t stop the audience from returning the big damn energy exuded from that stage. At times, it felt as if the walls themselves were swelling from the nuclear fission of the sheer power & decibels of the band and the audience’s reaction.
If I have but one piece of criticism of the night, I wish we heard “We Deserve a Happy Ending” with my wife, live. That has literally surpassed our wedding song as our new favorite relationship hymn for us. The adage of “Leave them wanting more…” as the two of us are waiting with bated breath as fans for the trio to make a return to anywhere within driving distance!
I planned to introduce myself to Rev and the Band after the show. I wanted to sincerely thank them for the music they created, the interview time & the great show I witnessed. As they began walking off the stage toward the side door, I could see that they had given everything they had to that room and left it all on the stage. At that moment, I knew the best thing I could do to show my appreciation was to let them get back to their waters and to whatever method of transportation was taking them away to recharge for the next big damn show.
I will settle to continue being The Big Damn Band’s unofficial PR point for the Delaware Valley. If that sounds biased, rest assured, the day I hear or see something worth being pointed out and critical about, it will be reflected. But it hasn’t happened yet, and I do not foresee it happening anytime soon…or ever.
And as far as my better half is concerned, we may be poor until payday, but we still deserve that happy ending.
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