It just takes one glance at the Reverend Deadeye's rig to get a good idea of what's in store for his gigs. There's the washtub snare with a tambourine attached to it, a kick drum, hi-hat with a mannequin hand on top, an old rusty Falstaff beer can microphone, a modified wok-lid resonator guitar, a '60s-era Gibson archtop, amps, effects and a few other assorted things.
Then Deadeye, wearing a white bandana around his eyes, takes a seat behind all that stuff and pumps life into all of it, with his feet thumping out a breakneck beat, as he's laying down some mean slidework on that fuzzed out wok-lid guitar. It's hard not to get absorbed in the man's one-man bluesified gospel revival.
After his first song this past Saturday night, Deadeye took off his blindfold, and a few minutes later he unbuttoned his western shirt and started clawing at his white t-shirt underneath, ripping it up and holding out a piece of it. This might have been right before he ripped into "Can't Take It With You," the opening cut on his new album, The Trials and Tribulations of Reverend Deadeye, which he was celebrating the release of that night.
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After three barn-burners, the Rev slowed it down a bit on the fingerpicked "Chased Ol' Satan," which included the line: "Well, I met that devil at the door, hit him in the head with a two-by-four." After that, he ramped things right up again with "Pentecostal Rattlesnake Shake," and a few songs later, former Machine Guns Blues frontman Aaron Collins and former American Relay drummer Alex Hebert joined Deadeye on the slow chugging blues on "Backstabbin' Savior."
With Hebert on a stripped down kit made up of a tom and snare and Collins on keys, the two beefed things up for the rest of the set, including raucous takes on "Fuck the Devil" and "Jesus on the Mainline," with Deadeye dropping lines from "This Little Light of Mine."
For the last cut, Deadeye fired up the siren, which had been sitting dormant in front of the kick drum all night, just before riding out on the "Train Medley," which included parts of "This Train (Is Bound for Glory)" and "I'm Coming Home on the Morning Train."
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: This ranks as one of the most energetic Deadeye shows I've seen. Random Detail: When he wasn't using his slide, sometimes he slip it on the finger of the mannequin hand. By the Way: Deadeye heads over to Ireland and Russia in September.