Reverend Peyton will go anywhere. The country blues guitar player who leads The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is one of those musicians more comfortable when asphalt is rolling by under the four wheels of his tour bus at 65 miles per hour, playing up to 250 club and festival dates a year. With music being practically free these days save for a few record collectors, being on the road is how you make your living.
The band has rolled through the Southwest a handful of times, even playing festivals in Telluride, and they will make their Durango debut when they play the Animas City Theatre on Monday.
“We’ve been all over the world playing, we’ve played 38 countries, but this will be our first time coming to Durango. Can you believe that? We’ll go play the places that other bands won’t. If they say, ‘hey, they want you to come play in Serbia,’ we’ll say ‘OK, let’s see what Serbia is all about.’ We live for this. I tell people that sign up with me as the crew, if your idea of being out here is cocaine and hookers this probably isn’t the band for you. But if it’s adventure, now we’re talking. That’s what we like to get into,” Peyton said. “We’re always looking to get weird, do something strange.”
Country blues is something Peyton has been obsessed with since he was a little kid, as the Indiana-raised musician was reared on the music of Charley Patton and Son House. He and his band play high-energy, lo-fi, aggressive music performed with the intensity of punk rock but done so with the respect to the forefathers of this style of music. It may sound decades old, but one thing it’s not is throwback, or some kitschy attempt to be some museum novelty act. It may sound old, but this is music that’s as fresh as next week.
“The world doesn’t need you to regurgitate songs that were already out there that were lived and breathed by another artists. The world needs you to be yourself,” Peyton said. “That’s what I’ve devoted my life to, to try and take finger style country blues, finger style slide guitar picking and do something different for people that are alive now. I’d rather be timeless than a throwback. I try to make timeless music. I don’t want it to sound like any era, I want you to listen to it and ask ‘when was this recorded? Was it recorded in 1955, or last week?’ I want people to not really know, that’s something I chase.”
With a dozen records under their belt and close to 20 years of being on the road, the band is far from tired. Peyton is a tireless road hog who remains eager to bring himself and his band to that next show or festival, whether it be in Lille, Maine, or Lille, France.
His whole mission is grassroots: Hit the road, earn fans one person at a time and play some shows in cool places, preferably in a place that has a cool fishing spot nearby so he can take a few casts pre- or post-show. That’s how he’s kept the whole touring routine fresh.
“If it ever got stale to me, or boring, I think that’d be the time to pack it in, call it quits. That’s how I look at it, that’s how I approach it,” he said. “My best song hasn’t been written, and my best record hasn’t been made yet, so I’m still out here trying to chase that. So being able to come to a beautiful place like Durango for the first time, it’s incredible. To us, that’s super exciting.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at email@example.com.