TERRE HAUTE —
The photograph boils life down to five words.
Keep it between the ditches.
That goal sounds as uncomplicated as the picture gracing the cover of the new album “Between the Ditches” by Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. Peyton has one hand on the wheel of his truck and the other on his guitar, with the left hand of his wife, Breezy, holding his burly right arm. Through the windshield, a road through the Indiana countryside lies ahead. The rear-view mirror hangs from above.
Survival depends upon the hold … onto the wheel, onto the music, onto each other. Otherwise, it’s hard to avoid running afoul of the law, thieves, and (to paraphrase Peyton’s earthy lyric) not-very-nice people.
Listeners get to ride shotgun, between the ditches, with this country-blues band from Brown County, through their album and live performances.
They’ll steer their truck toward Terre Haute to play Sept. 15 during the 12th annual Blues at the Crossroads Festival.
The two-day event features five acts on Sept. 14, starting at 6 p.m., and seven more the next day, starting at 3:15 p.m.
There are no visible ditches at the Crossroads of America, where the blues fest occurs. Peyton will paint them a sonic picture, though, with his grizzly voice and slide guitar.
Backed by Breezy (his wife of nine years) on washboard and cousin Aaron Persinger on percussion, the Rev (whose real name is Josh) and his little Big Damn Band are drawing praise from national music critics and hefty crowds on their current world tour from Maine to Phoenix, Seattle to England, Ireland, Norway, Poland and countless points in between, including Terre Haute.
Festival-goers will hear “real, organic, original, from-the-heart music,” Peyton said by cellphone from his cabin near Nashville, Ind. Such music, he added, “never goes out of style.”
Beyond that staying power, this band’s sound packs uniqueness.
Peyton finger-picks 1920s and ’30s guitars (and a cigar-box guitar) and snarls and growls his clever lyrics, while Breezy scrapes her washboard wearing thimbles over golf gloves, and Aaron (“Cuz”) hammers the beat on a drum kit supplemented by a 5-gallon bucket. Peyton wears a black beard, more burly than Mr. French ever dreamed of, an English driver’s cap, and often suspenders over a white A-shirt.
Even on the blues and roots-music circuit, the Big Damn Band distinguishes itself.
“In my mind, it’s OK if we’re different and stick out like a sore thumb,” Peyton said.
Their new album sticks out, especially in reviews. Blues Revue Magazine compared the music to blues legends “Mississippi” John Hurt and Charlie Patton, folk icon Woody Guthrie, and a “Scarecrow” era John Mellencamp. Not coincidentally, Mellencamp’s producer, Paul Mahern, also produced Peyton’s “Between the Ditches” album. Mahern, Peyton said, “could see my vision.”
Unlike its previous albums, the Big Damn Band spent three weeks recording “Ditches.” “In the past, we’d set up the mic and do it like we were live, finish it and get dinner on the way home,” Peyton explained. This time, “I wanted to make sure every note, every sound, every beat was exactly the way I wanted,” he added. As a result, the CD debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Blues Chart last month.
The genre is “country blues,” but the label confuses most folks. “When you say ‘country blues,’ people think Waylon Jennings, and it’s not,” Peyton said, “It’s rural blues.”
Rural blues. That sounds so Indiana.
And yet, fans in far-flung places like Poland dig the shoutin’ and thumpin’ and groovin’ too. “Our kind of blues will fit in a blues festival [in Poland] and it will fit in a blues festival in Terre Haute,” said Peyton, a 31-year-old who grew up in Eagletown near Indianapolis.
For those unfamiliar with the band, the video from the latest single off their album, “Devils Look Like Angels,” offers a glimpse of their style. Its storyline, as Peyton puts it, shows how mean things can come in pretty packages, and vice versa. The video, filmed in Bloomington with an all-Hoosier cast, features an innocent looking little girl who wreaks mischievous havoc on her neighborhood.
Some folks are “creeped out by it,” Peyton said, “and I kind of like that. I was a little worried that it would be too cute.”
Its moral is more than anti-Little Red Riding Hood, though. “A simple way to put it is, you can’t judge a book by its cover,” Peyton said.
TERRE HAUTE —
The photograph boils life down to five words.
MARK BENNETT: Returning the dome to Normal
Folks at Indiana State University haven’t summoned Indiana Jones, yet.
VIDEO: Out of the Shadows: ‘Finally, I am living again’
Malea Crosby has a one-word tattoo that tells her story: Survivor.
It’s a constant reminder to her, every day of her life, that while she once was a victim of childhood sexual abuse and rape, “It didn’t kill me. I’m still alive.”
VIDEO: Revealing new studies, persistent advocates bring issue of sexual assault, rape out of the shadows
Growing up in northern Indiana, Christina Hale and her friends felt safe and secure in their neighborhoods.
“It was an era you played outside all day, and everyone’s parents looked out for you.
VIDEO: Terre Haute Rex claim home opener 5-1
A memorable spring of college baseball ended last weekend for Terre Haute fans, but those at Bob Warn Field on Tuesday night heaped cheers upon hometown hero A.J. Reed. Sycamores Derek Hannahs, Tyler Wampler and Jacob Hayes also were recognized during the Terre Haute Rex home opener.
As has become custom when the calendar flips to June, fans cheered on the Rex to a 5-1 victory in front of 1,166 fans for the first home win under the new ownership.
VIDEO: If These Cars Could Talk: Readers take nostalgic look back at their ‘first loves’
Brilliant sunshine beams down on Danny Weir and his “first love” in that photograph from the summer of ’63.
He’s 18, looking country cool in rolled up sleeves, jeans, loafers and a straw hat with the southern Indiana countryside stretched out in the background. Weir’s companion in the picture gleams, sublime.
VIDEO: Swim by 7 program
Swim by 7 is a collaborative effort involving the United Way of the Wabash Valley and the Vigo County School Corp. As envisioned, all VCSC kindergarten students would participate in the learn-to-swim program once the new VCSC Aquatics Facility is constructed and ready for use at Voorhees Park.
VIDEO: Indiana State breaks ground for $4.3M riverside track and field facility
Indiana State University officials, community leaders and donors broke ground Monday on a new, $4.3 million track and field facility on the Wabash riverfront, along North First Street.
VIDEO: Overcoming symptoms
Even when he was in grade school, it was obvious Justin Huxford was a special kid.
He was the first at Rio Grande Elementary School to walk 100 miles around the school grounds over the school year, one of just a handful of kids to meet the goal.
VIDEO: Windom seeking strong start to USAC Silver Crown Series at Action Track
Chris Windom has big plans.
Sure, the 23-year-old would like to make the ascent from success in the U.S. Auto Club to the fame and fortune of the larger racing series of NASCAR.
The Canton, Ohio, native who makes his home in West Lafayette has his sights on a big USAC season in 2014. Windom was second in Silver Crown points in 2013 and ninth in the sprint series.
VIDEO: Dues Paid, change under way
25 years later, ‘influentials’ assess long road of progress for women.
VIDEO: Community Health Fair
Nursing students in Indiana State University’s senior community health class hosted a community health fair Wednesday in Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall, 1356 Locust St.
Mayor Duke Bennett helped kick off the afternoon of free activities as part of his “52 Weeks of Fitness” initiative.
VIDEOS: Keeping memory of fallen Aces alive
Memorial Wall in Evansville's Ford Center pays tribute to Terre Haute native Mike Joyner and University of Evansville's Purple Aces basketball team killed in a plane crash on Dec. 13, 1977.
VIDEO: Seuss is Loose
Ouabache Elementary School Music teacher Alison West, playing the part of Dr. Seuss' Thing 1, tosses confetti during the "Seuss is Loose" parade celebrating the end of ISTEP+ testing.
VIDEO: Mahan's 17 rebounds among five best totals in league tournament history
The toughness — both mental and physical — of Marina Laramie and Racheal Mahan — is a big reason the Indiana State women’s basketball team won five games in a row to close the regular season.
The resolve of the Sycamore post duo was put to the test Friday in the MVC Tournament quarterfinals, and Laramie and Mahan were up to the task.
VIDEO: Sax at the Crossroads
Saxophonist Michael Reed spiced up the Crossroads of America under long-awaited sunny skies around noon Tuesday, March 11, in downtown Terre Haute.
VIDEO: Reaching the Wabash
Fairness holds no power over the Wabash River.
The waterway floods where and when it pleases. Its speed and volume take no account of humans using it for recreation.
VIDEO: Tasting their way to a cure
People appeared to be in high spirits Friday inside the historic Indiana Theatre as they gathered for an evening of wine, food and conversation while supporting efforts to find a cure for breast cancer.
VIDEO: Watch these robots play ball
Drivers of remote-controlled robots will match skills, similar to those used in basketball and soccer, to score in the FIRST Robotics’ Crossroads Regional on the campus of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
VIDEO: Munn has made her mark on ISU women's program
Anna Munn has been a dependable leader in the Indiana State women’s basketball program. Her leadership has helped coach Teri Moren build to back-to-back 10-or-more win seasons in the Missouri Valley the last two years.
VIDEO: Mardi Gras at the Swope
Teresa Shaffer was handing out beads and masks at the Swope Art Museum's Mardi Gras celebration Saturday night. The event is an annual fundraiser for the downtown museum.
West Vigo High School's team competed in the Northview Winter Guard Invitational Friday, Feb. 28. Some 80 teams will perform their routines between Friday evening and all day today.
VIDEO: Indiana State women looking to add to winning streak at home
Indiana State looks to put a three-game winning streak together tonight against Loyola, who topped the Sycamores behind 30 points by senior forward Troy Hambric for one of the Ramblers’ nine wins this season.
The Sycamores’ women’s basketball team stifled Missouri State last Friday and knocked off first-place Wichita State on Sunday for a pair of road wins last weekend. They'll look to build upon that momentum tonight at home.
VIDEO: Wilhelm leads South swimmers into state finals
Christian Wilhelm plans to compete in the distance freestyle when he gets to the University of Illinois-Chicago’s downtown campus.
Wilhelm emerged as a state qualifier in the 500-yard freestyle and 200 freestyle as a junior for Terre Haute South. But his senior season took a different turn and he’s hoping to make a big splash in a new event.
VIDEO: Inner beauty
Cheers and applause filled the room as 13 smiling women took center stage Wednesday night in Terre Haute to shine a spotlight on the unique beauty each person possesses — inside and out.
VIDEO: First responders train for ice rescues
The phrase “skating on thin ice” refers to a risky situation, and with good reason. Falling through the thin ice of a frozen lake or pond can be the last thing a person does if a rescue is not quickly made.
VIDEO: The Grascals have Wabash Valley’s toes tappin’
Bluegrass fans came from all four corners of the Wabash Valley to see Nashville, Tenn.-based band The Grascals — and its Vigo County-native member — in concert Friday night in Union Christian Church.
Jo-Ann Jones of Clinton was “pew dancing” in front of the sold-out crowd.
VIDEO: Eyes in the sky
Downtown Terre Haute gets demonstration of Pocket Drone and GPS navigation software.
Video: Navy veteran recounts tale of kayak trip
Sharing his story is exciting for a Dugger man who made history by becoming the first blind solo kayaker to travel the entire length of the Grand Canyon.
Video: SPPRAK-ers spread message
Six-year-old Sunny Santharam knows what kindness is.
When his father Ram asked him the definition, Sunny quickly responded, “Be nice to everyone!”
Video: Full-time Eagle Scout
Seth Boland poses with his Eagle Scout award at the stage extension he built in Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall. Boland had the help of family, friends and fellow scouts, taking parts of three weekends to build the structure.
- More Multimedia Headlines
- MARK BENNETT: Returning the dome to Normal