The Reverend Josh Peyton learned a long time ago that there's more to music than playing an instrument and writing songs.
"When I was a kid, I'd go to see shows and I started to figure some things out," he said in a recent phone interview. "I realized early on to be good, you've got to be good on your instrument, you've got to be good at writing songs and you have to put on a show."
That's why The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band—playing with The Supersuckers and Jesse Dayton in Bend Oct. 16–brings not just solid country blues songs, but a dynamic, high-energy and entertaining show.
"You will never come to one of our shows and see us staring at our feet, acting like the audience isn't there or we don't care," Peyton said. " When I see a band doing that, it makes me mad. I literally get mad. I get angry. That's not at all what it's about."
What it is about is showmanship–something that's been pivotal for decades.
"My hero is Charley Patton," Peyton said of the father of the Delta Blues. "He played behind his head, between his legs. He'd throw the guitar in the air. He'd say funny things between the lines of a song. He didn't take himself seriously, even when the songs were serious as a heart attack."
When they hit the stage, Peyton, his washboard-playing wife Breezy and drummer Ben "Bird Dog" Russell aim at getting the audience moving rather than just standing and staring.
"All the uniquely American genres of music started as dance music, from old timey music and bluegrass to blues, country, rock 'n' roll, jazz," Peyton said. "They were all meant to be listened to while people were getting close to each other and dancing."
After that, Peyton says, the show is up to the audience.
"I feed off the crowd," he said. "I always think I have a great night–but if I'm really going to have one, it's up to the crowd."
Of course, good music doesn't hurt, and the current release, "So Delicious," is the band's eighth full-length release and its first under a new deal with Yazoo Records. It's the group's best effort yet and the first album that captures what the trio, which formed in 2003 in the Indianapolis area, sounds like live.
"Our early records were like field recordings," Peyton said "We'd throw up mics and play live. It actually takes more effort to make it feel live than just throwing up mics. Over the years, we've learned that."
Among the most notable songs on the record are the charming down-home-in-the-kitchen ramble, "Pot Roast and Kisses."
"If you can listen to that song and not at least smile, maybe you and I are so far apart we should see other people," Peyton said. Meanwhile, the country blues march, "Raise a Little Hell," has the band joined by a children's choir.
"I wanted kids to sing with me, one, because it sounded awesome and two, it helped with the joke," he said. "Some people aren't getting it. But here's where it came from. We played this roots festival—we play dozens of those things, they're our bread and butter. After we were done, one of the guys that ran the thing came up to me and said, 'Some of the people on the committee thought you raised too much hell.' I thought, 'We don't raise that much hell, maybe a little.' Then it occurred to me you raise hell or you don't. You can't raise a little hell."
Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band
With The Supersuckers & Jesse Dayton
Sunday, Oct. 16, 8pm
Volcanic Theatre Pub
70 SW Century Dr., Bend
Tickets at bendticket.com
$18 adv., $22 door