We were recently lucky enough to find ourselves in the same town as Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, who were playing a funky little joint called Mojo’s in Columbia, Missouri. Mojo’s oozed character — from the warm, ancient wood walls to the many framed indie music posters that adorned them (not to mention the tiny chicken and waffle business inside the joint)! If ever such a talented act and a live music venue were in pitch-perfect tune with each other, this was it.
As usual, Peyton, Breezy, and Aaron delivered a high-energy rip-roarin’ show. Something fascinating was happening with the crowd, however. This wasn’t the usual cadre of many loyal blues fans and some curious live-music seekers. There were dozens of young indie-rock lovers, screaming and knowingly singing the words along with Peyton and Breezy. “My friend told me that I had to come to this show,” said one new long-haired fan as he quickly burned through a cigarette to get back inside. Throughout the set, the crowd continued to dance wildly, holler, and find themselves lost in the music.
The moment it became readily clear that the venue-goers that night weren’t made up of blues fans was when the good reverend had to explain finger picking to the crowd (so that, when they listened to the album, they would know there weren’t two guitars). The oft-heard sentiment echoed that of when Keith Richards famously thought there were two guitars when he started listening to Robert Johnson.
The band was high, high energy. Breezy attacked the washboard with a fury, Peyton punished his old guitars, and Aaron laid down the percussion sent the crowd’s into a dancin’, stompin’, exciting new world. Breezy, as usual, sang the perfect backup vocals, haunting yet inviting. The set list consisted of a solid mix with new and familiar material, with tantalizing hints of the new album to come. Peyton put a spell on them (with “Clap Your Hands”) and then… they were his.
One thing is for certain: In their steadfast, unrelenting adherence to delta blues authenticity, Reverend Peyton and the Big Damn Band have seemingly entranced half of the known world (and, judging by the crowd, most of the indie rock fans) into loving old school country blues. This many people haven’t loved Charley Patton music this much since Charley Patton — if ever!
As the debate in the blues community marches on about the future and direction of blues music, it can’t be discounted that the destiny of the blues can just as easily lie in it’s deep, muddy, Charley Patton-drenched past. Any non-believers need only see a Reverend Peyton show for the proof.