The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

Late Show

The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

The Bones of J.R. Jones

Sat, April 29, 2017

Doors: 10:00 pm

Mercury Lounge

New York, NY

$15.00

This event is 21 and over

The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band - (Set time: 11:00 PM)
The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band
The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band bridges genres and eras with an intensity and effortlessness few contemporary artists possess. And their latest album So Delicious elevates the trio’s work to a new level. Produced by Rev. Peyton, So Delicious, offers the band’s most diverse collection of songs buoyed by the Rev.’s supercharged sixstring virtuosity — a unique style of fingerpicking inspired by his Delta blues heroes, but taken to new, original heights.

The fifth full-length original album by the group is their debut on Yazoo Records, a label known for the historic reissues of blues and other old time American music that are the bedrock inspiration for the Rev.’s sound and approach.

“Yazoo was my favorite record label growing up,” he explains. “For fans of old country blues and all manner of early American music, they are the quintessential label. And for me, it’s like being on the same label as Charley Patton and ‘Mississippi’ John Hurt. To think that Yazoo believes we are authentic enough to stand with the other people in their catalog means a lot.”

The Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band has always been strong on authenticity, playing music that blends blues, ragtime, folk, country and other traditional styles with the sleek modern energy of do-it-yourself, homespun, punk fueled rock. And performing tunes plucked from their lives, their community or from the canonical songbook that fed the Rev. Peyton’s formative creative identity. It’s a mix that’s allowed the band to win fans from all corners of the Americana and rock worlds, and bring a new generation to blues and other forms of American roots music. Led by Reverend Peyton the band also features his wife Breezy Peyton on washboard and Max Senteney on drums.

So Delicious is a perfect Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band album, with songs that speak from the heart and capture the trio — whose sound has been honed over 250 annual tour dates during the last eight years — playing at their peak. The charging, anthemic “Raise a Little Hell,” also the set’s first video, lays out the band’s live modus operandi, thriving on a chugging beat and the Rev.’s resonator guitar riffs and mantra-like singing. The song was inspired by a show at a folk festival, where one of the promoters — struck by the Big Damn Band’s raucous, juke joint power —told the Rev., “Y’all sure raise a lot of hell.” “I said, ‘Naw we don’t,’ “ the Rev. recalls. “And then I thought, ‘Well, maybe we do raise a little hell.’”

The sweet, joyful “Pot Roast & Kisses,” which the band has also committed to video, was written for Breezy. The Rev. was developing the finger-busting main riff after enjoying one of her pot roast dinners when the lyrics naturally fell into place. “Some people don’t believe that we really live the way we sing about in our songs,” he explains,” but it’s true. Breezy and me are together and really love each other. We try to keep things simple, like people have in Brown County, Indiana for a long time. And we really do live in the woods and forage for some of our food — like I sing about in ‘Pickin’ Paw Paws’ on this album.”

Some listeners also have a hard time believing all of the Rev.’s extraordinary guitar performances are recorded live with no overdubs — until they see the Big Damn Band in concert. “Pot Roast & Kisses” is a radiant example of his nimble style, weaving two melodies, thumb plucked bass lines and bright decorative filigrees into a graceful, upbeat blend. The rocking electric juggernaut “Let’s Jump a Train” is another. The song’s lyrics explore the notion of courageously pursuing adventure —a frequent theme in the lives and the songs of the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band —while the Rev. bangs out a machine-gun rhythm with his thumb, ladles in generously sinuous licks and tosses off seemingly effortless fills and accents, then solos and plays the beat simultaneously.

“I’ve been obsessed with the idea of taking fingerstyle guitar to a place it’s never been before,” the Rev. says. And he’s gotten there by blending the foundational playing of great country bluesmen like Charley Patton and John Hurt with the earlyrock vigor of Chuck Berry and the licks played by old timey fiddle players who recorded in the 1920s and ’30s. In fact, that school of fiddle — enshrined in Yazoo’s catalog — is often reflected in the Rev.’s slide playing, which adds to the uniqueness of his virtuosity.

As producer, the Rev. adopted a strategy that let the Big Damn Band’s strengths shine on So Delicious. The drums were pared down to the essentials to showcase the Rev.’s guitar and ebullient singing, and to allow the beefy melodies on the 11 songs to flex their muscles. Plus the Big Damn Band helps deliver their strongest harmony singing, with Breezy in particular elevating numbers like the workingman’s ode “Dirt” with her soaring voice.

The Rev’s fascination with country blues began at the age of 12, when he started dipping into his father’s album collection and his dad brought a beaten Kay guitar into the Peytons’ Indiana home. In addition to mirroring the guitar playing he heard on recordings of early blues artists like Robert Johnson and Patton (to whom the Rev. paid tribute with 2011’s solo acoustic Peyton on Patton), he also started assimilating more modern recordings from Muddy Waters’ Chess Records catalog and blues-rock players like Johnny Winter. Those recordings often featured multiple guitar players and overdubs, but Peyton blended all the six-string lines he heard into one fluid part. “That forced me to start thinking outside the box right from the start,” he notes.

At one point the Rev. briefly walked away from guitar, when cysts plagued the tendons in his hands, inhibiting his ability to play. Shortly after a surgeon removed them, he met Breezy and the couple’s whirlwind romance and shared love of music inspired him to pursue his potential. Breezy took up the washboard, and by 2006 the members of the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band had sold their possessions, taken to the road and distributed their demo recordings, The Pork ’n’ Beans Collection and the Voodoo Cock EP, followed by the release of their initial albums Big Damn Nation and The Gospel Album.

With 2009’s The Whole Fam Damily — and hundreds of thousands of touring miles in the U.S. and abroad under their belts — the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band was hitting stride, but the Rev. considers 2010’s The Wages, which entered the Billboard blues chart at number two and featured the buoyant airplay and YouTube winner “Clap Your Hands,” his breakthrough as a songwriter. “That album came at a point when I decided I really wanted to work on myself as a writer and as a guitarist, because it was the great stories in the songs of my country blues heroes and their playing that brought me here in the first place,” he avows. “If I wanted to follow in their footsteps, I had to step up.”

By the time the Rev. recorded Peyton on Patton in four hours with a single microphone, the band had received the “Best Band of the Warped Tour” award and has since performed at the famed Austin City Limits, Glastonbury, Bonnaroo, WOMAD, ParkPop, All Good, King Biscuit, High Sierra, Telluride, Delfest, Juke Joint and Riot festivals, among many other prestigious gigs.

Between the Ditches, which debuted at number one on the iTunes blues chart and landed on Billboard’s pop albums chart in 2012, continued that momentum, bringing the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band to an even larger, demographic-leaping audience thanks to the powerhouse songs “Devils Look Like Angels” and “Something for Nothing,” which were video and radio hits. And now So Delicious is a hit - it debuted at number one the iTunes Blues Chart, number three on the Billboard Blues Album Chart, number three on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart, number five on the Billboard Tastemaker Albums Chart, number twenty two on Billboard's Independent Albums Chart and was the AIMS top selling debut on street date and the AIMS top seller release week.

“When people hear our records and see us play live, I think they understand that what we’re singing about is real to us,” the Rev. says. “We believe in the stories we’re telling and in the way we play. And when we’re on stage or off, there’s nothing fake about us. We are what we do, and I’m proud of that.”
The Bones of J.R. Jones - (Set time: 10:00 PM)
The Bones of J.R. Jones
On a recent trip to Southern California, Jonathon Linaberry did the one thing he knows best: he wrote music. That it happened to be during his honeymoon mattered little to the New York-based musician. "I feel like I'm always writing," the artist who performs as The Bones of J.R. Jones says with a laugh. "I feel ever more confident in the sound I'm trying to create."

In many ways, Linaberry is a victim of his own creativity. Where some musicians lock themselves away in a studio to create an album or a concrete collection of songs, Linaberry can't help but write whenever inspiration strikes. The blues singer and multi-instrumentalist, who incorporates elements of old-time folk into the all-encompassing persona of The Bones of J.R. Jones, describes his songwriting as "a continuing evolution." Nonetheless, he admits he often wishes his ever-wandering creative spirit would settle down. "I would jump at the chance to have the flexibility where I can have six months locked away in a room and focus on one solid cohesive theme for a record," Linaberry says. "But unfortunately with my schedule I try to cram these songs into the spaces of my life where I can fit them."

Thankfully, within these delicate cracks of life, Linaberry is able to strike musical gold: The Bones of J.R. Jones' latest album, Spirit's Furnace, a crisp nine-track effort that bubbles with barroom dust and hard-won wisdom, finds the musician expanding the scope of his musical vision while stripping away the excess. "I'm a little clearer on the message that I'm trying to put out into the world," says the singer who has effectively blurred the line between his own life and The Bones J.R. Jones character; he draws evermore from his personal life on his songs, most notably the tender, banjo-plucked "Wedding Song" written day's before his own nuptials.

"It's definitely a balance," Linaberry says of expanding beyond his self-created alter ego. "I try to inhabit this character… whoever it may be. But obviously a huge influence on that is what's going on at that time in my life. And then I'll twist it through the spectrum of The Bones of J.R. Jones. It usually gets a lot darker after but they both inform each other."

While 2014's Dark Was The Yearling hinted at an artist grappling with his influences, albeit still carving out his own existence, the new Bones of J.R. Jones LP instead "feels a little sharper, a little more defined" to Linaberry. "On this album I'm more confident in my choices and feel better about the performances."

Linaberry remains a disciple of early 20th-century blues and folk artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lightnin' Hopkins, both of whom the singer discovered in his teenage years. Still, he readily admits more contemporary influences are beginning to creep into his musical oeuvre. "I like to think I'm casting a wider net," Linaberry says, citing opening Spirit's Furnace track "13 Kinds" and "I'm Your Broken Dog" as "major departures" for him, what with their heavy folk influences and electric guitar as opposed to his earlier more traditional blues numbers. "I definitely still listen to the folk and blues stuff, but I really try to make a conscious effort to listen to music outside that box — whether it be bands like Sylvan Esso or more pop-influenced stuff," he adds. "Sometimes you have to find out what the kids are listening to!"

Part of his current challenge, he explains, is paying homage to his influences while still making his own mark. "I am hyperaware of the history that a lot of the music I play brings with it," he says. "I'm trying my damnedest not to reinvent the wheel but carve out my own voice. It's very tough to create something in this day and age with everything being a tap away without having a little history involved in it. But it's about finding that balance where the music does feel fresh and new but also familiar at the same time."

What has continued to define The Bones of J.R. Jones is the musician's hypnotic live show. He operates as a one-man band — playing guitar, drums, and singing in unison, creating the feeling of a raucous blues band with more immediacy. However, as a result of his new album's size and scope there has emerged a stirring impulse in him to bring other musicians onstage.. "These songs are big enough that if I wanted to have another drummer up there with me it would make sense," he explains. "I'm trying to evolve the live show and the space it lives in.

"Anytime I think about my live show I try to view it from one of my audience member's perspective," he concludes. "I do a lot up there. I cover a lot of ground sonically. I'm trying to give myself room to grow."
Venue Information:
Mercury Lounge
217 E Houston St.
New York, NY, 10002
http://mercuryloungenyc.com