Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band from Brown County, Indiana, is a chart-topping three-piece American country blues group, having reached number one on iTunes and Billboard with their latest, “Dance Songs for Hard Times.” Guitarist and singer Reverend Peyton, along with his wife, the beguiling Breezy, a washboard-playing maestro, and drummer Max Senteney much of their music offers stories of romance, the difficulties of American life and, of course, food.
While playing nearly 250 dates a year, the hardworking trio crafts heartfelt tunes about heartbreak, and their love of Indiana and its food. Whether in full songs or a lyrical mention, Rev and the group warble about food. In “Pickin Pawpaws”, Peyton finds difficult in traveling all the time, finding peace in harvesting the native fruit of the Midwest, roaring “pickin paw paws with my maw maw/ come pick pawspaws with me now.” Pawpaws are a mango-banana-like fruit also called a Hoosier banana. In their rendition of the 1948 song Cornbread and Butterbeans, while playing in London, they change the lyrics to “goodbye and don’t you cry/ I’m going to Indiana/ buy a dog/ and a big fat hog” as an ode to their hometown state.
Belting out about food isn’t without precedent. According to CBC News food writer Andrew Copplino, the great master of the Delta-style blues Robert Johnson, found inspiration from tamales at a Mississippi restaurant called Abe’s BBQ, prompting him to pen a 1936 song called Hot Tamales, They’re Red Hot about a woman and steamed masa. Not only did the musical notes of an American institution start but also became synonymous with food. For the last century, blues and food evolved, becoming the best of friends, either as a euphemism for love or evangelizing great tastes, or both.
On one of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band’s many hits, “Pot Roast and Kisses” , with more 2,000,000 streams, Peyton croons a husky hunger, “I got a Genie/ just granting wishes/ Like I won the lottery/by my misses / Pot roast and kisses/ So delicious/ I smell something sweet cookin up/ in the oven/ but there’s nothing like her lovin.” It’s one of the best of the American musical genre showcasing a heartland heart smoldering with gravy laden affection. If only we could see the mashed potatoes.
After reading the email interview with Breezy and Rev, it felt like participating in one of the great romances of the world such as Richard and Elizabeth, Johnny and June, Stephen and Ayesha…and ahem, eating.
What is your favorite food to cook when not touring?
Breezy: I do all the cooking, so when we get home from a tour, I am usually cooking for a ton of people. Our friends and family know I love to cook, so I’m always prepared to feed a crowd.
Rev’s favorite is salmon, so we usually have that when we get home.
REV: Breezy is a real cook, an absolute chef. She has a real passion and love for preparing food. All our friends and family look forward to her coming home, because she is always creating amazing spreads of food that she shares with so many people…. And luckily… me too!
What is your favorite food when touring?
B: We are fairly limited on the road, but I often make deviled eggs as a snack for the band and crew because we have the ingredients on our rider.
REV: Because of the nature of touring, we end up eating at restaurants a lot. After years of doing this though, we have so many favorite places all over the world. We avoid fast food at all costs.
What do you always have in your fridge at home?
B: Prairie Farms Cottage Cheese, small curd, full fat and cold brew. These are essential for Rev to live. He is obsessed with cottage cheese and that’s his favorite brand.
REV: I would eat the same three or four things over and over if it weren’t for Breezy, making sure that I don’t. Breezy always has interesting things in the fridge, because she is usually planning meals way ahead.
What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
REV: you know I have very rarely actually shared a meal with someone, really got to know them, and not liked them.
What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
REV: I’d say terrible manners, rudeness, if at a restaurant- treating servers with disrespect.
What is your favorite thing to make for yourself and your family?
B: Maybe Paleo chili, or creamed spinach.
REV: Breezy’s creamed spinach might be mine too haha! It might be surprising, but so many people in my hillbilly family always ask her to make that dish. Her secret is Indian spices, and it is incredible.
Beer, wine, or cocktail?
B: For me bourbon, Rev doesn’t drink alcohol, but he does drink a lot of coffee.
REV: Coffee for sure!
Your favorite song about food?
REV: Oh man, that’s a tough one, and probably would change day to day, but today… it’s Poke Salad Annie by Tony Joe White.
Where do you get your inspiration when writing a song about food?
REV: I just write about whatever inspires me. Sometimes a melody will just speak to me in a certain way, and sometimes…. That’s food!
Your favorite kitchen or bar tool?
B: My Blackstone Grill.
Favorite types of cuisine do you like to cook?
B: I use a lot of Indian spices in my food but I cook all different cuisines.
Beef, chicken, pork, seafood or tofu?
B: Seafood, hands down. We both fish, so as fresh as we can get it.
B: Cabbage, it’s so versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked.
What chef or culinary person do you most admire?
B: That’s a hard one, because I am a cooking show fanatic, but Alex Guarnaschelli is my absolute favorite.
What food do you like the most?
B: I could eat a spicy tuna roll everyday for the rest of life and be happy.
What food do you dislike the most?
B: I love everything but for health reasons we don’t eat much fried food and heavy carb foods like potatoes.
What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
B: Cuddle up with our cat Chunkleberry Finn when we aren’t on tour.
Whom do you most admire in food?
B: The farmers. I have a small garden, but I’m pretty lousy at it.
Where is your favorite place to eat/drink in Indiana?
B: Our favorite restaurant is a place called Samira in Bloomington, Indiana. It’s Afghani good and it’s wonderful. I’ve been trying to duplicate one of their dishes for years and I’m getting close, but they are very secretive about the recipe and I think I’m missing one ingredient.
REV: We have eaten at amazing places all over the world as we travel around and play music, and Samira is our favorite!
Where is your favorite place to eat and drink outside the Midwest?
B: Any place that has good fresh seafood.
REV: Osteria Del Calderone, Parma, Italy
Who is/are the person/s with whom you would share your last meal?
B: When we are home we have dinner with our best friends/neighbors Michelle and Francie nearly every night. They own a wonderful store called The Wild Olive that sells olive oil, balsamic vinegars and other great food products. I use a lot of their products.
What made you want to become a musician?
REV: it’s just been in my soul since I was born. As soon as I was handed a guitar, I haven’t put it down.
Tour Bus Deviled Eggs (Inspired by Breezy Peyton)
What You Will Need:
- Hard-boiled eggs (6 eggs make 12 deviled egg halves)
- Mustard (yellow or Dijon)
- Salt and pepper
- Paprika (optional, for garnish)
- Optional: vinegar, ras al hanout, garam masala hot sauce, pickle relish, chopped herbs (such as parsley or chives) for extra flavor
Let’s Make This Puppy:
Hard-boil the eggs: Place the eggs in a pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the eggs sit in the hot water for about 10-12 minutes. Afterward, transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool before peeling.
Once the eggs have cooled, carefully peel them and slice them in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place them in a separate bowl. Arrange the egg white halves on a serving plate.
Mash the egg yolks with a fork until they’re crumbly. Add the mayo and mustard to the mashed yolks. Start with about 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon of mustard for 6 eggs, adjusting to your preferred taste and consistency. Mix well until you achieve a creamy texture. You can add a splash of vinegar, hot sauce, pickle relish or as an ode to Breezy, ras al hangout or garam masala. Season with salt and pepper to taste.