Blues Review – Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band “Between The Ditches”

October 21, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  10 Comments

I’m going to start this off with a confessional.

Though I get varying degrees of enjoyment from virtually all the bands that constitute the overall “Muddy Roots” world, there was only one that I really just could not stomach: Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. Over the years, there’s been no quicker punch out for me than when Rev. Peyton came on a podcast. It just felt so gimmicky. His voice was so inflected, and the lyrics so repetitive. I never felt the need to go public with my disdain–there was nothing productive in that–and even though I couldn’t stand the music, you’d have to be stupid to not notice that Reverend Peyton is possibly the best finger style slide guitar player the Deep Blues boasts.

But as the songs on Between The Ditches began to trickle out, I began to wonder if Reverend Peyton had evolved into a different animal. When the barrel-chested, Brutus-looking man took the stage at the Muddy Roots Festival this summer with Washboard Breezy and drummer Aaron “Cuz” Persinger, they put on one of the marquee performances of the weekend. The crowd lost their minds, busting up hay bales meant for seating and tossing them in the air in a wild scene.

I swear, it is almost like Reverend Peyton had a little window into my brain when making Between The Ditches, because virtually every one of the concerns I had about their sound going in was resolved, while still keeping what is at the heart of their raucous and rowdy Delta-blues sound completely alive.

For an underground roots band, Reverend Peyton is “making it.” Worming their way on to the Warped Tour and opening for The Reverend Horton Heat, they’ve found some traction with their music by working hard and taking a professional approach as opposed to compromising their sound. That is what’s great about Between The Ditches. It’s not a change, it is a refinement. Thought Rev. Peyton still has the same bellowy voice, he’s figured out how to employ it better, keep it in check when it could be grating. Though the repetitiveness in some of the lyrics remains, it’s measured. And though there’s still the Vaudevillian feel, there seems to be new value put on the music over the show.

But the best part about Between The Ditches is the songs, like the deep, groovy “Big Blue Chevy ’72”, the fun look at political fatuousness “Shake ‘em Off Like Fleas”, and the “Between The Ditches” title track preaching about the dangers bands face being on the road. “The Money Goes” may be the best example of Rev. Peyton’s evolution, how the lyrics evolve over time instead of relying on one catchy line.

The big surprise of Between The Ditches and possibly the best song is the enigmatic “I Don’t Know”. This song catches you completely off guard with its approach and theme. The usually grounded and folksy Big Damn Band gets insightful and inquisitive, as Rev’s slide finds the top register in echo to lyrical lines in a stroke of brilliant composition.

There are a few songs I may have left off, like the repetitious “Shut The Screen” that reminded me of the song “Everything’s Raising” that was seminal to my previous distaste of this band. But one of the great attributes of Between The Ditches is how it guides you into understanding Reverend Peyton’s approach, how he sometimes uses repeating lyrical lines to engage you in a rhythmic cycle meant to ensnare you in the music. This is not music to listen to, it is music to feel. In the spirit of Delta blues, it grooves, and cycles and repetition are important both to its effectiveness, and to the roots of the music.

This is a good album. It’s not for everyone, and Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band will always be a better experience live with the energy they evoke. But it’s a great home edition, and a great step in the direction of opening up their music to a greater audience.

1 3/4 of 2 guns up.

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Preview & Purchase Tracks from Between The Ditches


10 Comments to “Blues Review – Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band “Between The Ditches””

  • I will checkout this album.


  • I was the same way with Rev Peyton’s Big Damn Band. I just couldn’t get into them. As a matter of fact I think we spoke about it before, Trigg. But, like you, I was won over by this album. It was a surprise for me. I found myself really digging it on the first listen. That in itself is not that common for me. It usually takes a few listens for me to like an album. All in all a great album


  • Yep good album and the video from the single “Devils Look Like Angels” is amusing ^^



  • Never been a big fan in the past either, will have to give this album a shot. On another note; any idea whether or not you’re going to write up a review for Jamey Johnson’s Hank Cochran tribute album?


    • d’oh, disregard that, just saw the review on the front page :P.


  • As a blues enthusiast, I really dig Rev. Peyton. He’s a maniac on guitar. And I honestly never considered his singing to be contrived or a gimmick, I considered it to be an attribute that made his sound unique. The songs wouldn’t sound right if he were singing any other way. He’s a modern-day bluesman and does a fine job conveying the essense of pure country-blues.

    For any Charley Patton fans, I’d recommend checking out Rev. Peyton’s album “Peyton on Patton”.


  • Please consider reviewing the Ben Miller Band.


  • I will be sure to pick this up, download it onto my library and give it some spin time in my car.

    I am glad that you mentioned Rev. Horton Heat.

    I bought one of its CDs and didn’t care for it.

    Maybe I should listen to it again a few times.

    My taste is pretty versatile and I am usually willing to go beyond my comfort zone of hardcore honky-tonk and outlaw country music.


  • Random comment here, but his voice reminds me of the 70’s Canadian folk muscian Stan Rogers… though the style is entirely different.


  • My only previous encounter with Rev Peyton was at the fall Joshua Tree Music Festival way back in October of 2007. I found his sound and style grating and the songs all sounded the same to me. His was the only band that entire day that motivated me to go explore the grounds around the festival area during his set. Compared to some of the other featured artists that day, such as the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Uncle Earl, and The Greencards, Rev. Peyton was definitely a low point.

    On the other hand he will soon be coming back to LA’s The Mint club on Pico and because of this review I might actually make the effort to give him another try. I don’t drink alcohol but I can see how that might enhance enjoyment of The Rev…


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