For Rev. Peyton and his Big Damn Band, music is ‘greater than the sum of its parts’
Country-blues group closes out summer concert series in Snowmass
Who: Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band
What: Snowmass Free Concert Series
When: Thursday at 6:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
Where: Fanny Hill in Snowmass Village
This year has not been a mellow one for Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band: they started a Patreon, dropped live-streamed concerts and videos and released a new album, “Dance Songs for Hard Times,” that was written and recorded during lockdowns last year.
“We’re trying to do everything — I’ll do whatever it takes,” Peyton said in a phone interview last weekend. He and his country-blues band — “big” in sound if not in actual number; the crew totals three, counting the Reverend — play the last free Thursday night concert of the season on Fanny Hill this week.
It has hardly been an easy year, either; the “hard times” referenced in that album title are no figment of the imagination for many who have struggled or experienced loss during the pandemic, nor are they an exaggeration of the challenges Peyton and his band have faced over the past year.
“Everything I write is very autobiographical. Everything I do is very, ‘right then, right now,’ so, it just felt right to release this and let people know how I was feeling. … I’m very proud of it, very, very happy to be out here touring with it,” Peyton said. “Because, you know, it’s one thing to go and record a record, and it’s another to actually, you know, get out there and play those songs for people.”
The band typically plays hundreds of shows a year, down to just a smattering since the live music scene reemerged this summer with the relaxing of pandemic restrictions. Getting back on the stage, often outdoors, has been a “very positive” experience so far this summer, even if the resurgence of live music hasn’t been quite as explosive as Peyton would have hoped by now.
(A number of venues and festivals — “too many,” Peyton said — still haven’t reopened, some closing for good and others still shuttered due to the pandemic.)
“This is our life, our livelihood, our everything, and it’s been completely shut down,” Peyton said. “We’re a year and a half in now and I never really expected this was going to go down like this. … I was very surprised at how hard the music business was hit, when other businesses were almost thriving.
“It’s been tough, but we’ve been trying really hard to just stay afloat to stay creative and do the right thing. That’s all we can do, you know?”
Peyton and his band have been coming to the Roaring Fork Valley for well over a decade.
It’s the kind of place where “everyone there is there for a good time” and where “everybody’s on vacation, even the people that live and work there,” Peyton said.
A good time he plans to bring, too, in playing numbers from “Dance Songs for Hard Times” as well as some songs from previous records and “maybe a few surprises.” The production of the band’s newest album, though it took place amid so much uncertainty about the future of live music, captured some of that positive energy, Peyton believes.
“I felt like we were just having fun, in the midst of some of the darkest days when we didn’t know when we were going to be working again, didn’t know when we were going to be playing music again, didn’t know when we were going to be seeing people again,” Peyton said. “And we quarantined up, we COVID tested up, we rented a house so that we would be away from people and went in and made this record, so we could still get something done, and I’ll always be proud of it.”
The opportunity to play that album live has reminded Peyton just how much he appreciates the performance aspect of music, he said.
“I just forgot how much I just love it — it’s a different experience,” Peyton said. “It’s bigger. … It becomes greater than the sum of its parts, it really does. And music is magical, there’s cosmic math involved.
“It’s this universal language that it doesn’t matter if we’re speaking the same language, we can enjoy music together. You know, people get caught up in the lyrics of music, but there’s something way deeper than just words.”
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