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Review and Photos: The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and Swampcandy @ Rock and Roll Hotel 4.24.16

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Photos by Miranda Hontz

I arrived at Rock and Roll Hotel, father-in-law in tow, for a raucous good time with Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and opener Swampcandy.

Swampcandy is a two-man madhouse from Maryland that blend rifle-fast picking with percussive bass for a wild ride of a set. The duo dials in on a sound that evolves past the primitive blues roots that their music is clearly steeped in, favoring experimentation and a penchant for getting loud and heavy that put their unique stamp on the usually toned-down style of the genre.

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Their experimental approach delighted in unraveling songs in peculiar and often playful ways, showcasing the complex talent of the artists. Supported by the beautiful voice of their friend from England, the band’s sound softened nicely to give a breather from crazed ravings that peppered most of their set. Featuring a tongue-in-cheek attitude and a set that always seemed on the brink of coming off the rails (in the best way possible), Swampcandy is the perfect music for stomping feet and knocking back whiskey. What else could you ask for?

If you answered that question with ‘a Midwest trio featuring heavy percussion, a washboard and staggering Delta blues guitar licks that should be impossible for one man to play,’ then you have very specific tastes…and Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is perfect for you.

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Swaggering up to the stage to “The Raiders March,” the three-piece opened the lid off early, fingers ablaze on the guitar and the washboard. Whether kicking symbols across the stage, playing audience-members’ heads like they were bongos, or spanking my wife’s ass with a tambourine (I’ll let it slide), the band seems possessed by the riotous spirit of their music. This spirit took hold of the audience as well, and in between stamping their feet and hollering “fried potatas” at the top of their lungs also took a moment to boo Dallas, Texas in between songs.

The fact that Peyton had to spend a moment to dispel rumors that his playing is somehow faked/assisted/synthetic speaks to the tremendous virtuosity that is on display when he plays the guitar. Try to keep your eyes on the flurry of fingers a-pickin’ that marks the Rev’s style, and any doubts about how real and how distinctly impressive his talent is should quickly evaporate. These are real human hands playing real instruments (even if one is made out of a cigar box), and they are played with exceptional skill.

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My father-in-law walked out of the venue with a smile ear-to-ear, much like the rest of the audience Sunday evening. “Damn they could play, ” he chuckled as he shook his head, still reeling from the powerful blues performances that we were just treated to “but I don’t know why people were booing Dallas.”

Welcome to D.C., Alan.

Check out more photos from the show: