Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
There is a lot of irony surrounding Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn. In fact, his band isn’t that big at all if you count personnel. There are only three people that make up this band: Reverend Peyton – fingerstyle slide guitar, fingerstyle guitar, cigar box guitar, and lead vocals; Washboard Breezy Peyton – background vocals, washboard, tambourine, and snaps & claps; and, Maxwell Senteney – background vocals, suitcase, tambourine, snaps & claps, and other percussion. The name “Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band” was derived from the sound and not the number of personnel in the band. The sound is actually larger than big, it is momentous.
If you notice, there is no bass player in the band and there is a good reason for that. The Rev plays both the lead and bass parts simultaneously. I was lucky enough to see The Rev live in December 2016 and he gives a detailed explanation of how he plays the lead and bass parts. The Rev is one of the most dynamic guitar players I have ever seen. He is part showman and part bluesman. The big question is if the energy of their live performances can translate into a recorded album. For the most part, the answer is yes. Clearly, the energy of a live show is like nothing else, but Front Porch Sessions does a good job of harnessing a majority of the vivacity of a live performance.
The Rev stated during his performance the he is “front porch trained”, meaning he taught himself everything that he knows about playing guitar by practicing and playing on his front porch. That is quite astounding, considering how good he is. It speaks to the fact that practice does make perfect. Also, being born with a little bit of talent helps as well. But clearly, The Rev has paid his dues and probably has the callouses and bloody fingers to prove it. So the album title “Front Porch Sessions” has a deeper meaning than just merely playing on the front porch. It is a testament to The Rev’s talent, tenacity, and the motivation to hammer on.
The music is pretty much straight ahead delta blues. Plenty of slide guitars and topics of sadness, gambling, and heartbreak. The production quality is great and is a very easy listen. There is deep meaning just under the surface as the Rev explores a lot of very heart wrenching topics. One of the highlights for me is When You Lose Your Money (Track 10). This is a song about Stagger Lee and Billy Lyons, a topic that has been covered over 200 times in song. The Rev’s version is a cover of the words and style of Furry Lewis’ number entitled Billy Lyons and Stack O’Lee. A great cover that pays homage to a legend, Furry Lewis.
I recommend running to your local records store or online music store to snatch this one up, quick.