1st Annual Nook Fest: Made In The Shade

The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

The Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band bridges genres and eras with an intensity and effortlessness few contemporary artists possess. And their new album So Deliciouselevates the trio’s work to a new level. Produced by Rev. Peyton, So Delicious offers the band’s most diverse collection of songs buoyed by the Rev.’s supercharged six-string virtuosity — a unique style of fingerpicking inspired by his Delta blues heroes, but taken to new, original heights.

The fifth full-length original album by the group — which includes Breezy Peyton on washboard and supporting vocals and Ben Bussell on drums and supporting vocals — is their debut on Yazoo Records, a label known for the historic reissues of blues and other old time American music that are the bedrock inspiration for the Rev.’s sound and approach.

“Yazoo was my favorite record label growing up,” he explains. “For fans of old country blues and all manner of early American music, they are the quintessential label. And for me, it’s like being on the same label as Charley Patton and ‘Mississippi’ John Hurt. To think that Yazoo believes we are authentic enough to stand with the other people in their catalog means a lot.”

The Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band has always been strong on authenticity, playing music that blends blues, ragtime, folk, country and other traditional styles with the sleek modern energy of do-it-yourself, homespun, punk fueled rock. And performing tunes plucked from their lives, their community or from the canonical songbook that fed the Rev. Peyton’s formative creative identity. It’s a mix that’s allowed the band to win fans from all corners of the Americana and rock worlds, and bring a new generation to blues and other forms of American roots music.

So Delicious is a perfect Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band album, with songs that speak from the heart and capture the trio — whose sound has been honed over 250 annual tour dates during the last eight years — playing at their peak. The charging, anthemic “Raise a Little Hell,” also the set’s first video, lays out the band’s live modus operandi, thriving on Bussell’s and Breezy’s chugging beat and the Rev.’s resonator guitar riffs and mantra-like singing. The song was inspired by a show at a folk festival, where one of the promoters — struck by the Big Damn Band’s raucous, juke joint power — told the Rev., “Y’all sure raise a lot of hell.”

“I said, ‘Naw we don’t,’ “ the Rev. recalls. “And then I thought, ‘Well, maybe we do raise alittle hell.’

“The sweet, joyful “Pot Roast & Kisses,” which the band has also committed to video, was written for Breezy. The Rev. was developing the finger-busting main riff after enjoying one of her pot roast dinners when the lyrics naturally fell into place. “Some people don’t believe that we really live the way we sing about in our songs,” he explains, “but it’s true. Breezy and me are together and really love each other. We try to keep things simple, like people have in Brown County, Indiana for a long time. And we really do live in the woods and forage for some of our food — like I sing about in ‘Pickin’ Paw Paws’ on this album.”

Some listeners also have a hard time believing all of the Rev.’s extraordinary guitar performances are recorded live with no overdubs — until they see the Big Damn Band in concert. “Pot Roast & Kisses” is a radiant example of his nimble style, weaving two melodies, thumb plucked bass lines and bright decorative filigrees into a graceful, upbeat blend. The rocking electric juggernaut “Let’s Jump a Train” is another. The song’s lyrics explore the notion of courageously pursuing adventure — a frequent theme in the lives and the songs of the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band — while the Rev. bangs out a machine-gun rhythm with his thumb, ladles in generously sinuous licks and tosses off seemingly effortless fills and accents, then solos and plays the beat simultaneously.

“I’ve been obsessed with the idea of taking fingerstyle guitar to a place it’s never been before,” the Rev. says. And he’s gotten there by blending the foundational playing of great country bluesmen like Charley Patton and John Hurt with the early-rock vigor of Chuck Berry and the licks played by old timey fiddle players who recorded in the 1920s and ’30s. In fact, that school of fiddle — enshrined in Yazoo’s catalog — is often reflected in the Rev.’s slide playing, which adds to the uniqueness of his virtuosity.

As producer, the Rev. adopted a strategy that let the Big Damn Band’s strengths shine on So Delicious. Bussell’s drums were pared down to the essentials to showcase the Rev.’s guitar and ebullient singing, and to allow the beefy melodies on the 11 songs to flex their muscles. Plus Breezy and Bussell deliver their strongest harmony singing, with Breezy in particular elevating numbers like the workingman’s ode “Dirt” with her soaring voice.

The Rev’s fascination with country blues began at the age of 12, when he started dipping into his father’s album collection and his dad brought a beaten Kay guitar into the Peytons’ Indiana home. In addition to mirroring the guitar playing he heard on recordings of early blues artists like Robert Johnson and Patton — who the Rev. paid tribute to with 2011’s solo acoustic Peyton On Patton — he also started assimilating more modern recordings from Muddy Waters’ Chess Records catalog and blues-rock players like Johnny Winter. Those recordings often featured multiple guitar players and overdubs, but Peyton blended all the six-string lines he heard into one fluid part. “That forced me to start thinking outside the box right from the start,” he notes.

At one point the Rev. briefly walked away from guitar, when the tendons in his hands were plagued with cysts that inhibited his ability to play. Shortly after a surgeon removed them, he met Breezy and the couple’s whirlwind romance and shared love of music inspired him to pursue his potential. Breezy took up the washboard, and by 2006 the members of the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band had sold their possessions and taken to the road. That same year their initial album Big Damn Nation was released and The Gospel Album followed in 2008.

With 2009’s The Whole Fam Damily — and hundreds of thousands of touring miles in the U.S. and abroad under their belts — the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band was hitting stride, but the Rev. considers 2010’s The Wages, which entered the Billboard blues chart at number two and featured the buoyant airplay and YouTube winner — with 728,000 views and counting — “Clap Your Hands,” his breakthrough as a songwriter. “That album came at a point when I decided I really wanted to work on myself as a writer and as a guitarist, because it was the great stories in the songs of my country blues heroes and their playing that brought me here in the first place,” he avows. “If I wanted to follow in their footsteps, I had to step up.”

By the time the Rev. recorded Peyton On Patton in four hours with a single microphone, the band had received the “Best Band of the Warped Tour” award and performed at the famed Austin City Limits, Glastonbury, Bonnaroo, WOMAD, Telluride, All Good, King Biscuit, Juke Joint and Riot festivals, among many other prestigious gigs.

Between the Ditches, which debuted at number one on the iTunes blues chart and landed on Billboard’s pop albums chart in 2012, continued that momentum, bringing the Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band to an even larger, demographic-leaping audience thanks to the powerhouse songs “Devils Look Like Angels” and “Something For Nothing,” which were video and radio hits. And now So Delicious offers a feast of new music from the Rev. and his accomplices.

“When people hear So Delicious and see us play live, I think they understand that what we’re singing about is real to us,” the Rev. says. “We believe in the stories we’re telling and in the way we play. And when we’re on stage or off, there’s nothing fake about us. We are what we do, and I’m proud of that.”

Matthew Curry

Curry’s roots certainly run muddy-waters deep, something that’s not been lost on the guitar legends he’s had the honor of sharing the stage with over the past few years. “Matthew Curry is a phenomenal guitar player,” marvels Peter Frampton. “A highlight from my tour last year was jamming with him. He’s the next guitar hero!” Echoing that sentiment is Steve Miller, whom Curry both opened for and joined onstage during an exhilarating nine-date run in Canada in 2014 — and will again be his opening act for a slew of dates starting in May. Steve Miller declares that Curry is a “wonderful guitar player [and] great songwriter in the Stevie Ray Vaughan area of virtuosity and originality.” Besides continuing on with the Steve Miller Band, Curry will also be opening for The Doobie Brothers and Don Felder. “I’m absolutely thrilled,” Curry says of supporting these and other heavy hitters. “We have so much fun out there and I really, really enjoy it. I grew up listening to those guys, so to be out on the road with people like Don Felder, The Doobie Brothers, and the Steve Miller Band is quite an honor.”

Not only does he get to go toe to toe and string to string with some of his heroes, but Curry recently became one of only 10 artists asked to be a part of The Fender Accelerator Tour, a program that provides developing artists the resources needed to get out on the road and spread the good word about what they do and where they can be seen next. Fender provided a touring van, promotion, equipment and publicity to their 2 Million plus fans!

While Curry loves it when his band headlines its own gigs, he also sees the opening slot as a way of winning over new fans one lick at a time. “Part of the reason people like us so much is because we’re not just a corner-bar blues band,” he reflects. “We’re trying to make an impact and connect with audiences as best we can, even though when they see this young blond kid with a Stratocaster walk out there, they’re thinking, ‘Just get it over with.’ I know they’re there for someone else, but we’re able to grab their attention, so I like to think some of those people are walking away as fans.”

Curry believes the way to convert an audience is to perform an undeniably engaging set. “One thing I really enjoy is putting together a show,” he acknowledges. “We all have so much fun when we’re up there. Interacting with your bandmates or interacting with the people in the crowd — like maybe jumping off the mike and stepping out front and singing to them really loud — can really make people think, ‘This is so great!’ Sometimes it’s the real simple things that will connect you to the audience like that.”

As much as Matthew Curry is invested in summoning the spirit of the blues — a commitment that’s in full display on the pair of smokin’ hot albums he’s released to date, 2011’s barn-burning If I Don’t Got You and 2014’s hard-charging testifier Electric Religion — the 19-year-old guitar slinger and soulful singer from Bloomington, Illinois likes to take a much broader view of his style. “If somebody came up and asked me what I would call my music, I don’t think I would say ‘the blues,’” he admits. “And I don’t think I would say ‘rock and roll,’ either. I would actually say, ‘good music.’ Blues is my first love, but I also love ’60s rock like Cream, The Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix. I’m also into things like Southern rock, Chet Atkins, and The Allman Brothers. All of those artists are complete musicians. They write great songs, and they sing great too. They’re just incredible.”

All in all, it’s been an amazing trajectory for someone who just couldn’t get enough of that guitar stuff at age 4 to having a tune he’d written, If I Don’t Got You’s epic tour de jam “Blinded by the Darkness,” win accolades as the Best Blues Song in the International Songwriting Competition. “My dad had this beautiful Martin acoustic guitar, and he was really big into old-school blues like Muddy Waters,” Matthew recalls. “It really caught my ear. I can remember my dad sitting in his recliner and playing his acoustic while I would just sit on the floor, watching every single movement his fingers made. I was mesmerized by the sound.”

- Mike Mettler || 5/15

Chicago Farmer

The new Chicago Farmer album is about Depression, Hope, Job Loss, Meth, Skateboards, A Divided Nation, Used Cars, The Late Shift, Farms, Factories, The Destruction of our Environment, and still being around to sing about it.

Edward David Anderson

Music, by its nature, is a migratory creature. It moves as it moves, often powerfully, through people and places, communities and cultures, created and carried on currents of electricity and air. Edward David Anderson is one of its modern makers, a rock and roll veteran from the cornfields of Illinois, who went into the woods of coastal Alabama and found musical serendipity, emerging with Lower Alabama: The Loxley Sessions—a timeless, unvarnished beauty of an album.

“I had no idea Anthony Crawford even lived in LA (Lower Alabama), let alone minutes from our RV park,” Anderson says, still somewhat in disbelief. Indeed, it was during his inaugural exodus from the brutal Midwestern winters to the Gulf Shores of the Cotton State that Anderson discovered his neighbor, of sorts, was Crawford—a producer, multi-instrumentalist, and former sideman to Neil Young. “I sort of couldn’t believe it, you know? I knew this guy, I knew who he was. I had seen him play with Neil and was familiar with his work’” His next thought was as certain as sunrise. “I need to record some songs with him.”

Admiral Bean Studio rests comfortably on the 2,400-acre property Crawford owns and makes his home on in Loxley, Alabama. It’s a retreat where music is still sung, and played with instruments, by real people, not constructed by computer programs, and provided the ideal setting and collaborator for what became Anderson’s follow-up to his solo debut Lies & Wishes. “This record is my experiences and my songs, given the Crawford treatment,” says Anderson. “Even the tunes that existed long before the album was recorded have a Lower Alabama feel, and were heavily affected by Anthony.”

For his part, Crawford, in addition to producing, played a multitude of instruments on the sessions, but felt less of a challenge shaping the material than easing Anderson into a role of simply singing and playing. “I wanted him to show up and play for me his best performances, play the song live, let me record his guitar and his vocal. Let me get the real Edward David Anderson to start with so that everything else after that could be made of truth,” recalls Crawford. “He let go, and as a result, we have something very special.”

The subsequent nine-song collection floats melodiously on rivers of fiddle and clouds of pedal steel, on gentle acoustic guitars and hints of piano, dusted with some ghostly guitar from Will Kimbrough and striking vocal harmony from Crawford’s wife, singer Savana Lee. Listen to the opening strains of “Firefly” and be transported to a lonesome highway, the endless fields stretching out ahead. There’s “Sentimental in the Morning,” a porch shuffle that knows it can rock with the best of them, but displays self-restraint, or the classic outlaw storytelling of “Jimmy and Bob and Jack” that holds on to his Chi-Town accent, but rolls out like Southern Gothic. Hear the easy breeze of “Sadness” rustle through the trees, having picked up a bayou sensibility as it blows through, or the devastating honesty of “Cried My Eyes Dry,” a song of loss and carrying on.

There’s an alignment that happens when great albums are made. Cosmic, or maybe karmic—a reaction chemical, physical, emotional, spiritual, when an artist and his art find kindred souls of expression, even sweeter when it arrives unexpectedly. Last fall when the cold crept in to central Illinois, his migration to his Southern sanctuary calling, Edward David Anderson didn’t know his next album was waiting for him in the woods of Lower Alabama.

Lucky for us he found it. And it was not just another session, not just another record, but a moment to be preserved, to be treasured, when his voice was as true as it was seasoned, his words as intimate as they were universal.

Lower Alabama: The Loxley Sessions on LP, CD & Digital in stores 10/16/15.

The Neon Moonlighters

The Neon Moonlighters is a 3 piece acoustic string band that plays cover songs ranging from old standards to modern favorites, as well as a few original songs.

Electroplated

Drew and Joe

Acoustic, Classic Rock, & Country with special guest vocalist, Samantha Rae

Chris Corkery

Born from the endless silo towns of the rural Midwest and it's fertile music scene, including Backyard Tire Fire and Chicago Farmer, comes singer/songwriter Chris Corkery. He is armed with a sound that is influenced by the beautiful heartbreak of singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt mixed with the roots-based rock of Alejandro Escovedo and Chuck Prophet. Chris has been playing backwoods honky-tonks and barrooms all around Illinois from Chicago to St. Louis for the last 10 years. His songs could be called "dusty roots pop" in some cases, but above all, the vibe and sound-scape he creates through the lyrical stories and melodies of his songs is something all of it's own. From cutting his teeth as frontman of the Bloomington, IL., heartland rock group "The Dirty Hands Band," Chris has forged ahead in his solo outings to create something heartfelt and unique that stands out from his peers in the Midwest music scene.

$25.00

Tickets

The Castle Theatre is a proud supporter of Nook Fest, but this event will NOT be held at The Castle Theatre. The All-Day Concert will be located at The Shady Nook, (310 South Center Street in Saybrook, IL. For more information, please call 309-475-2021

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