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Eugene Weekly : Music : 5.10.07

A Band of Skeletons

Jason Webley brings some friends to town

BY AMANDA BURHOP

As the story goes, in 1998 Jason Webley quit his job and left town on a Greyhound bus, accordion in hand, to pursue life as a sidewalk performer. That dream would last, of course, until his money ran out.

Jason Webley and Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. 9 pm Friday, May 11. Sam Bond's Garage • $7. 21+ show

It's been almost 10 years since Webley made that life-changing decision. While street corners have turned into bar and festival stages, his fervor for musical creation and performance hasn't changed a bit.

For those who have experienced his live shows, this information is nothing new. But newbies should know a few things: He's not just a dude who sings and plays the accordion or guitar. He tells stories, puts on puppet shows, blows up giant balloons and instigates group sing-alongs. His shows depend on audience participation. Without it, he's just another guy who sounds like Tom Waits. So don't think you can watch him passively from a darkened corner. He knows you're there, and he'll call you out. And he's been known to jump on tables of those who don't stand when he asks. "Get up or get out" is his motto.

This isn't to scare you. It is rare that people aren't at least tapping their feet to his infectious mix of ragtime, folk and punk music. As a comfort his band bio, on Springman Records, states, "And, almost every show ends with the entire audience swaying arm-in-arm, singing at the top of their lungs." See? He's not so bad.

Webley won't be alone in his efforts to bring chaos to Sam Bond's. He'll be joined by Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, which is not as big as you'd expect. The punk-inspired blues band is Reverend Peyton (guitar), his wife Breezy (washboard) and his brother Jaymes (drums). But for only three members, they make a whole lotta noise. I'd be surprised if anyone can keep their toes tapping in time with their fun, furious beats.

Webley and Reverend met several years ago in Indianapolis, Reverend's home town. Both liked what they heard and decided to make music whenever the opportunity presented itself. Three sessions later, Two Bottles of Wine was complete.

With the joint concert you get the two separate bands and their collaborative efforts, plus fun onstage antics and rare-in-this-day-and-age instrumentation like washboards. And the best part? Seeing how this will all go down on the itty-bitty stage of Sam Bond's. Let the chaos ensue.