Indy’s favorite country-ass Hoosiers are back with a new album and a new album label, and they’re coming home to celebrate. Following last year’s old-fashioned holler-and-stomp The Gospel Album, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band joined indie label Side One Dummy Records, and will release The Whole Fam Damnily Aug. 5. The Rev. Peyton, drummer Jayme and “Washboard” Breezy showcase their trademark, back-porch country blues sound on this album, while Peyton’s talent for storytelling shines through on nearly every track.
Peyton believes the new album — and the band — will benefit from the push Side One Dummy can give them. After years of taking the do-it-yourself approach, Peyton was ready for a new direction.
“The new label is a big indie label, and I hope they can pour some gasoline on the fire,” Peyton says. “We ran our own label for the last three years, and we planned on doing it until we couldn’t handle it anymore, and now that time has come. Things have got to the point where we needed some help, and they were the first label we trusted and thought had the same vision as us.”
Peyton and Co. will take a break from their non-stop touring and do an in-store performance at Indy CD & Vinyl the day of the album’s release. This year’s touring schedule has taken the Big Damn Band from Nashville to Norway, and while they show love for their home state every chance they get, touring is a way of life for the group.
“We tour because we have to, but we love it,” Peyton says during an e-mail interview. “To survive in the world of music today, you must tour. It is necessary to get the word out and, simply put, we have to work every day to survive. We ramble around like all of my heroes did it.”
Like Peyton’s heroes — down-home blues masters like Charley Patton, John Hurt and fellow Hoosier Scrapper Blackwell — the Rev and his band rock hard and dirty. For just three people, the wall of sound they create is solid: “Worn Out Shoe” is a rich and mid-tempo track, accented by the Rev on harmonica and washboard virtuoso Breezy (an unlikely instrument at which to excel). “Mama’s Fried Potatoes” is a happy ode to the Rev’s home cooking, with the rhythm section keeping a tight and heavy beat.
Ranging from the serious (a snarling ballad about health care called “Can’t Pay the Bill”) to the silly (“Your Cousin’s on Cops”), each song on the album is a small glimpse into the life of Peyton and the people he knows, with moments of both pride and shame.
“This album isn’t just inspired by true events,” Peyton says. “It is all true. Breezy’s cousin was on Cops!”
Other songs like “The Creeks Are All Bad” and “Wal-Mart Killed the Country Store” recall the original inspirations for old-style blues: protest, lament, the urge to share common experiences.
“I have never written a song that didn’t happen to me, or someone that I knew first-hand,” Peyton says. “The more personal the songs get, it seems the more universal they become to people. Wal-Mart comes in and swallows the rural culture in an area. Times are really hard for a lot of folks, too.”
The fan base the Big Damn Band has cultivated all over the country and abroad is a testament to how well the band’s Indiana pride — and their brand of what Peyton calls “country-ass Hoosier blues” — connects with their listeners. Peyton believes staying true to their roots is what attracts fans from all over the map.
“I was born and raised in Indiana, and I am proud of it. So many bands want to hide their Hoosier roots for some reason,” he says. “The only thing I try to do when I write a song is come close to that root of things where all music starts; where we all start.”
WHAT: The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band CD release BBQ
WHERE: Indy CD & Vinyl, 806 Broad Ripple Ave.
WHEN: Tuesday, Aug. 5, 6 p.m., free, all-ages