Most artists were walloped by the pandemic. This is not news. Howver, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band caught a haymaker like few others.
Videos by American Songwriter
Most artists play anywhere from fifty to a hundred or so live shows per year. For this country blues trio, that’s considered a short run. To say they tour and play incessantly could be the understatement of the year, so when the Coronavirus pandemic forced them off the road and held them hostage in a murky cloud of unknown, just like the rest of us, they didn’t know what to think or do.
But beautiful things are born in the darkness. It wasn’t long before the Peyton’s creative juices started stirring and surprisingly, amid those early days of uncertainty and watching concert dates (and their income) get wiped off the books, new songs came pouring out.
That was the only thing that came easy though. In addition to his wife and fellow band member “Washboard” Breezy Peyton falling ill to a lingering illness, perhaps undiagnosed COVID-19, his father was diagnosed with cancer. As if that wasn’t enough, life delivered another uppercut in the form losing power in their 150-year-old log cabin for multiple days. So, while Breezy rested and recovered and his father began his fight, Peyton began crafting songs. In the darkness. By candlelight.
Fast forward nearly a year and there is good news to report on both fronts. Most importantly, Peyton’s father was declared free of cancer following surgery. Musically speaking, the band has readied a new record entitled Dance Songs for Hard Times and has partnered with American Songwriter to blow the lid off the first single with its world premiere.
While the song itself details bleak financial challenges, “Ways and Means” is by no means a sad sounding song. Like a trusted friend at a party, it grabs you by the hand and steadily walks you in; chatting you up as you come up the walk but leaving no doubt as to exactly when you’ve stepped through the front door. Brilliantly comfortable yet electrifying as all get out, “Ways and Means” is as timely as it is an escape.
“It’s a personal song, like all of my songs, but the song “Ways and Means” is written for all those folks that have the moves, the style, the substance, the talent, but maybe not the seed money or the famous last name,” Reverend Peyton tells American Songwriter. “All those people that had to work extra hard, because they didn’t get to start way ahead. Folks that have been playing catch up since they were born and had to get really good just to make it to zero.”
Defined by pastel colors and confident dance moves, the song’s accompanying video was made at an old- school laundromat to match the song’s Bo Diddley-boasting on a limited budget: My knife is sharp, my guitar never flat … king of the laundromat.
“The idea for the video was born from the lyrics, but also as a wink and a nod to those folks that know what it’s like inside of a laundromat,” adds Reverend Peyton. “There could be a lot of magic hidden inside the people that you interact with in places like a laundromat, and my hope was to convey that.”
Though the bandss touring future may still be Covid unclear, one thing is certain; beautiful things are born in the darkness. The overused phrase “We’re all in this together” might sound like a line but the reality is, we really are. Thankfully, fans build real bonds with bands like Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and the music truly does hold us together, through the good times and the bad.
“Despite the hardships of this moment in history, it created this music that I hope will maybe help some people through it,” Peyton says. “Because it helps me through it to play it.”
Dance Songs for Hard Times is scheduled for an April 9 release.