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The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band


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This family band plays country blues


Josh Peyton, left, with wife Breezy and brother Jayme, plays Hideaway BBQ on Wednesday.


By Ed Condran, Correspondent

'Alternative" is a term that has been thrown around in radio circles like cash was thrown around in the music industry back in the Clinton era.

Yet, alternative is a misnomer unless you're talking about an act like The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band.

The trio, led by hulking vocalist-guitarist Josh Peyton, his wife, Breezy, who plays washboard, and his brother Jayme, who handles the drums, is an old-school band with a sound as big as Peyton's belly, that plays a passionate -- and at times poignant -- style of blues.

"What we do is country blues," explains Peyton via cell phone, while driving through New Hampshire. "Everyone is familiar with city blues and that electric world. We like to play acoustic and just go at it."

Peyton, 26, has been playing country blues since he was 12 in his hometown of Nashville, Ind. Of course, the other same-named music city is a bluegrass haven. "That's the style of music I've heard since I was a kid," Peyton says. "It's authentic where I'm from. If you say you're in a bluegrass band and you have drums where I'm from, well you're not quite in a bluegrass band."

The drums and washboard make for a distinctive percussive sound, providing a nice backdrop for the group's vivid lyrics. The clever Peyton writes what he knows. He sings about his favorite food ("Mama's Fried Potatoes"), the end of mom and pop shops ("Wal-Mart Killed The Country Store") and pollution ("The Creeks Are All Bad"). His style is simple, direct and welcome.

"I have my way of doing things," Peyton says. "I like being as authentic as I can be. I can't relate to someone doing country blues, who is singing about picking cotton. I'm not saying you can't write something you haven't done. Look at [the late] Townes Van Zandt. He wrote 'Pancho and Lefty,' and that's a great song that was invented in his head. I just like to write about what I know. It's not too complicated that way."

There's humor too. "Your Cousin Is On Cops" was inspired by Breezy's cousin, who appeared on the reality show. "Like I said, I write what I know," Peyton says. "It's not as if I'm exaggerating."

The Big Damn Band recently released an EP "The Gospel Album" full of spiritual tracks culled by Peyton, an ordained minister. "I'm not trying to convert anybody," he says. "We're just doing music that we love. When we take the stage, we're especially having fun with scorchers like 'Mama's Fried Potatoes.' "

At the Hideaway, the troika will preview tracks from its forthcoming but as yet untitled disc, which will drop in early spring.

And live, the Big Band is a force. "I think the trick about that for us is that we're family," Peyton says. "We've played together for so many years. It's what we're good at. We're not good at anything else."

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