Big Damn Advice: Suspenders and sellin' everything you own 


With hundreds of thousands of miles traveled, dozens of countries toured via interstates, planes, vans and buses; from dining with royalty in the South of France in castles to living on the road with hobos and vagabonds, Rev. Peyton has seen and done a lot. As an internationally revered recording artist and performer ­— and a proud Hoosier — we asked Rev. Peyton to lend his unique perspective and wildlife experiences to our readers.

Got a question about music, traveling, love, food, religion, politics, family, friends or enemies? Send it in to or submit anonymously to, and Rev. Peyton will answer back in a regular column. Anonymity is assured.

Dear Rev: When I go to work, it is easy to dress sharp. Oxford shirt, slacks, maybe a tie. When I punch out, I'm lost. I'm too old for a hoodie and jeans. Wearing work clothes when getting drinks with friends is super douchey. At chain stores, the "nice casual" clothes make me look like either a Carmel dad or a professional golfer. The boutique stores make me look like a cheesy hipster. You always look sharp without being overdressed. How can I look like a wellkempt man in casual attire?

I appreciate the kind words and the vote of confidence with this question, but I don't know if I can answer it for you. You see, clothes are personal. In my opinion, clothes should be unique to you. This is almost like asking me who you are, and I don't know who you are. It has taken me all of my life up until now to try to figure myself out.

Some people spend their existence trying to follow trends and stay up with modern fashion. I don't think this is wise for many reasons. First, I don't like anyone telling me who I am. Telling me what to wear is like changing my name. Second, chasing trends is almost impossible. It will leave you broke and always behind the times. Only someone with a boatload of extra money and spare time could possibly get a new wardrobe every season.

I try to dress in a timeless way. I like boots and shoes that can hike, work, play and — with a good shine – could pass as dress shoes. I like overalls and suspenders because I hate belts and I think suspenders look classy. I have worn suspenders since I was 14 years old. (I guess younger, if you go back to when I was a little kid and my mom was dressing me).

I prefer locally made clothes that are tough and last. I am especially fond of Zace USA out of Ohio. Sometimes handmade things cost a little bit more, but it is worth it if it will last and fit, and get things done. At the end of the day it really comes down to personality, confidence, function, and fit. A classic white T-shirt can beat a dress shirt in some situations if it fits right and isn't sloppy. Think back to Marlon Brando in A Street Car Named Desire.

So, in closing friend, figure yourself out. You definitely identified what doesn't work for you in your question, so you are more than halfway there. Now just figure out what will work for you.

Dear Rev: My band has been playing locally for a long time. Our shows are packed and we have a unique sound and good songs. We pack places but we can't get good paying shows out of town. Those promoters only want to give us gas money and maybe food. How did you guys get such good gigs?

If your shows really are packed, then you should be making money. In the music business fans buy tickets and the venue pays the bands in a money made at the door vs. guarantee deal. You only make money if you have fans who will pay for tickets, and even then, everyone gets their cut, from the promoters to the booking agents to the sound personnel to the merch person.

Those first trips out of town will be a big loss. Remember, anyone can play to their friends and family cheering them on at their neighborhood dive. The true test is if someone a thousand miles away and not related to you is willing to pay the price to support your music. Sometimes, it takes many shows in one town to build a following.  If you really want to make money become an investment banker or sell knives on late night infomercials. If you want to make a living doing music, then do what I did. Sell everything you own. Walk away from everything else you do. Live in a van that you also tour in. Spend many years living in a way where you don't know where your next meal will come from. Miss everyone's weddings, birthdays and holidays. Then if you are really lucky you will slowly build a fan base around the country, and maybe even the world. You'll never be rich, but maybe you'll get to play music for a living.

I feel like the luckiest fella on the planet. If you are a music fan reading this, then please buy those tickets and support the artists that you love. We are only able to survive in the modern music industry thanks to loyal music loving fans who buy tickets and merchandise and spread the word. 

Dear Rev: Robert Johnson or Leadbelly?

This is an easy question my friend. Robert Johnson or Leadbelly? I'm surprised you even asked it. The answer is of course Charley Patton. Look him up. Probably the most important figure in American music history. He died two years before Robert Johnson ever recorded a note, and he influenced everyone from Robert Johnson to the Rolling Stones, John Fogerty, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Hank Williams Sr., and almost everyone else since, whether they know it or not. If you haven't already, please give his music a listen. It is raw, rhythmic, amazing, and at the root of almost everything we listen to in America today.

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