At opposite ends of the music spectrum |

At opposite ends of the music spectrum

Stewart Oksenhorn
Aspen, CO Colorado
Seattle's Jason Webley made his Aspen debut Sunday night at Belly Up Aspen, opening for the Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band. (Stewart Oksenhorn/The Aspen Times)

ASPEN ” As stage personalities, the Rev. Peyton and Jason Webley come from opposite ends of the spectrum. The former is the genuine article: The suspenders and porkpie hat, the love for old-style country blues and the vintage National Resonator Guitar he plays, all stem, he says, from his upbringing in a tiny rural pocket of Indianapolis. The latter seems more a concoction: a Seattle native who plays ferocious, dark-hearted, punk-fueled songs, usually on an accordion.

Sunday night at Belly Up Aspen, however, the divergent personalities arrived at more or less the same result. The Rev. Peyton, leading his Big Damn Band, and Webley, performing solo, both high-energy, kinetic sets that thrived as much on a sense of theatricality as on musicianship. The effect on the crowd was similar as well, with both acts pulling nearly all the members of a half-full club to the lip of the stage, further heightening the energy level.

Webley, in his Aspen debut, needed to pull out the tricks he learned while busking on the streets of Seattle to draw in listeners. His antics early in the show ” stomping his feet for rhythmic effect, pounding so hard that his hat flew constantly from his head, leading the crowd in a chorus of the lyric, “Aardvark” ” grabbed attention.

For his finale, Webley, looking like Johnny Depp in any one of his more crazed roles, invited listeners to join him in his “Drinking Song.” Though invite is too soft a description. When the response was too tepid for his liking, he dashed into the audience and went face-to-face with concertgoers, forcing them to participate. Having assembled a sufficient crowd, he decided that the problem was that the crowd wasn’t drunk enough. So he had everyone hold a finger in the air, stare at their digit, and spin a dozen times, simulating group drunkenness. When the mood was finally right, Webley led the crowd through a chorus that ended, “If God wanted us sober, he’d knock the glass over.”

The Rev. Peyton, who has been through town several times, didn’t need to go to such antics to get attention. But in his own way, he was just as demonstrative, making bug-eyed faces at listeners, stomping away from the microphone and practically sawing away at his guitar with a slide. The Rev. Peyton’s take on Delta blues, though revved up in speed, stuck to familiar blues themes like lust, whiskey and guns.

Plus, Peyton had numbers on his side. While his Big Damn Band numbers only three members, himself included, Peyton was flanked by his wife, Washboard Breezy. Without uttering a word ” Breezy sticks to playing a vicious metal washboard ” she cycled through facial expressions and body motions that made as much of an impact as any words could.

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