Mark Hooper, a local music aficianado, took in the Lee Boys show last Thursday at the Revolution Room and files this report:
Intro to a Revolution in the Rock: Revolution - THE Music Room
I finally caught a show at Revolution (the Music Room), so I wanted to take a moment to talk about Little Rock's newest venue for live music. FINALLY!!!
Finally someone has stepped into this marquee location in the Rivermarket and put together something that isn't a ramshackle of corrugated sheets of metal and plywood (Pourhouse) or a sad rendition of Cocktail the movie (Coconuts)...two bad experiments gone worse in reality. Chris and his staff have now stepped into two locations that had a bad case of the flops (remember Six Bridges Restaurant?) and have produced two winners. Sticky Fingerz is well established within the Rivermarket community and it appears that Rhumba/Revolution are not far off path.
After enjoying my second fabulous dinner at Rhumba (which I HIGHLY recommend - try their empanadas and go for a mojito or two), I was ready to break on through to the other side. When I stepped into Revolution I could not believe it. This place is HUGE! As a former musician, the first thing I noticed is that heavy consideration was given to musicians and an ample stage is in place to accommodate the largest of ensembles. Not as colorful as Stikcy Fingerz, Revolution still had a festive vibe.
Mostly a big black shell of a room. Revolution has cool little booth areas adorned with red pillows and silver beads hanging throughout the room. The club is two tiered with ample seating for people to kick back and watch live music on the upper lever or get onto the dance floor and mix it up on the lower level. I'm not sure what the maximum capacity is for this room, but I think it could easily hold 500 people for a marquee entertainer.
Little Rock has been shackled by not having a place like Revolution for many many years. Acts can come to town and play smaller clubs, which is nice. More established acts can also roll into the city and perform at Alltell, or the amphitheatre or even Robinson Music Center. But, a clean, safe, well managed club capable of accommodating a crowd of 400 to 500 people was not a viable option for performers travelling through Little Rock. Not anymore.
(More after the jump)
Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band/ Lee Boys - August 17, Revolution Music Room
Be careful what you wish for...sometimes you get it! After sampling Rev. Peyton and His Big Damn Band on MySpace, I was hooked...all that it took was one sampling of Plainfield Blues. I quickly did a write up of the band and submitted it to this blog on June 14th...I was that impressed! Logging on to the bands web site, I was infected with the sites and sounds of this band. Man, I really wanted to see these guys perform live sometime soon. It did not take long for management at Sticky Fingerz/Revolution to fulfill my request.
My wish was granted, Rev. Peyton was stopping off in Little Rock. I counted off the days until they arrived. But, as is always the rule...be careful what you wish for! I had no idea what type of utter throwdown I would soon experience.
Prior to their taking the stage, I had a few minutes to visit with Rev. Peyton (Guitar and lead vocals), his wife "Washboard" Breezy Peyton (washboard and background vocals) and his brother Jayme Peyton (drums). As wild and fuel injected as these cats are on stage (as I would soon discover), I found RPBDB to be nothing less than down home and personable off stage. Hell, Rev. Peyton was damn near shy and soft spoken prior to the show (note that I said "damn near"). Since I had exchanged a few e-mails with the incomperable Breezy, I was quick to give her a big Arkansas hug...she was quick to answer back with her own Indiana version. The three continued to thank me for coming out to their show. These are the type of people you want as friends...just simple folk.
The three shared a bit about their recent tour through Europe and the heapin' of European hospitality that was tossed their way. They were HUGE in Germany! But, now that they were back in the States, someone was out to flat wear out this hard workin' trio. Prior to rolling into Little Rock, they just played a gig in Athens. After Little Rock, they had to pack up the big green van and roll on to Chatannooga. Once the applause stopped in Chatanooga, the band would have to load it up and shuffle off to New York for a gig there -- no rest for the weary and dedicated.
As I chatted with Breezy Peyton, I asked her how many washboards she goes through a week? "I run through 2 or 3 a week!" MERCY!
"So, are you stopping at every Ace Hardware along the way?"
"No, I only buy buy em from the Amish."
It is that type of dedication to authenticity that makes Rev. Peyton and his Big Damn Band instantly convincing to any listening audience. Like characters out of "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" They seem to have stepped right out of the early days of the burgoning new Delta sound that soon grew into the movement we know as the Blues. Ironically, this group hails from rural Indiana (now calling Indianapolis their home), but they still get it, feel it, know it, live it.
As the band took the stage, a small crowd trickled into a fairly good size and enthusiastic crowd. Most of the Little Rock ears had no idea to what they were about to be treated. After patiently waiting for the limbo contest to end (good job you double jointed ladies!), it was time...
The threesome stepped to their marks...like actors in a play, awaiting for the curtain to rise. Once that imaginary curtain lifted, all hell broke lose! Suddenly sparks were flying off of that old National dobro guitar, that new washboard and from those flyin' drum sticks. Breezy was flashing her signature voodoo eyes as she ripped welps across that washboard. Jayme bobbed up and down as he hammered away with his sticks and the good reverend had a look of confident committment as he wailed up and down the frets of that dobro -- flashing a grin as that guitar testified. It was an instant possession, and the crowd hollered their approval and flooded the dance floor.
It only took one song before a friend leaned into my ear and said, "Damn, I like these guys. How did you find out about em?" Before I could even answer the question, my friend was heading down to the dance floor as the beat carried him away. Like a soulful tent revival, the crowd was rushing down to the feet of Rev. Peyton to make an altar call. Little Rock was washed in the chords and cleansed in the blues. Who said God still doesn't work in some mysterious ways?
Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band thrilled the crowd with songs like "Plainfield Blues," "My Old Man Boogie," "Boom Chank," and one hell of a closing song, "My Soul to Keep." As the good Rev. Peyton slid through the into of this final song, one thing was well understood this night, Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band captivated every soul inside Revolution on this night...and God said, "Thanks for bringing the Delta sound back down to my people in the Delta and setting them free!"
The biggest sound in blues music today has to be "sacrd steel' music. This is a sound that was birthed in the House of God denomination and whos members have carried it over into secular markets of music. Little Rock blues fans are more than familiar with Robert Randolph and the Family Band...a group who has brought their infectious joy to our city. The Lee Boys were also making their second visit to Little Rock, carrying the same gospel of celebration, as broadcated through the infectious grooves of their pedal steel sound.
Celebration? That is exactly what these 6 mellow fellows exclaimed when they first took the stage at Revolution Music Room...well, not at first. At first, they eased into a groove with the smoothness of a rich red wine...and it was warm all over as Alvin Lee laid down some infectious guitar riffs. Shortly thereafter, the band fell in line and let the pedal steel prowess of Roosevelt Collier take over. Sweet manna from heaven...that is one beautiful sound!!!
As the pedal stell manuevered out into the front, the band's cadence transitioned into a march, the energy began to increase and the band exclaimed "Let's Celebrate!" The beat that Earl Walker produced was a strong foundation, the bass playing of "Little Alvin" Cordy resonated strongly (a 7 string bass, no less!), then there were the Lee brothers themselves ready to do the rest!
With oldest brother, Alvin steering the band with rhythm guitar, younger brothers Keith and Derrick do nothing less than give full, heart felt testimony as they trade off on vocals. The energy is nothing less than good vibrations!
Take the Allman brothers at their most organic and funkiest and mix that with Sly and the Family Stone at their most energetic...you have the Lee Boys in all their glory. -- Mark Hooper