The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Chris Shiflett, and a Showcase of Guitar Picking

This co-headlining tour was born when Chris Shiflett, whose day job as guitarist for Foo Fighters, signed a deal for side project the Dead Peasants with indie label SideOneDummy, who then suggested a team-up with another act on its roster, Indiana’s Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. Both bands play retro-influenced roots music, and both bandleaders are ripping guitar players.

“This tour’s definitely going to be a showcase of guitar picking,” says Peyton, who plays in a finger-picked style that allows him to manage rhythm and melody simultaneously. “I’ve tried to take the style of country-blues and finger-style guitar and take it somewhere else, places it’s not been.”

Though the show’s format hasn’t yet solidified, both bands will play full sets and leave plenty of room for collaboration. “We’ll be doing some jamming,” Shiflett says.

The Foo Fighters axeman put together the Dead Peasants because he’d long been a fan of outlaw country and the Bakersfield sound. “Part of why I wanted to do this band,” he says, “was to go to honky-tonk school. I’d never really played country before, and I wanted to dig into it.” He was shocked when people at gigs started to dance. “That felt good,” he says. “I was really taken with that.”

Peyton loved roots music growing up too, but admits that as a young musician he wasn’t as open-minded as Shiflett, who was raised on punk. “If it wasn’t country-blues, I hated it,” Peyton says. “I was really obtuse.” But Peyton—a real Reverend who has actually married fans at some of his shows—eventually came to appreciate a much wider swath of sounds. When he started to write songs, he wanted them to pay tribute to the music he loved, but also have them be something that wouldn’t sound out of place among contemporary bands on someone’s iPod. “I don’t want to be some museum-piece throwback,” he says. “I want to make music that’s timeless.”

Though these two bands have different sounds, the through line between them is undeniable: Both manage to infuse modernism into styles rooted in the past—and both will make you want to dance.

 
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