Review: Bourbon and Blues at Matthews Yard

By - Wednesday 2nd April, 2014

Blues fan Paul Dennis hopes that this one does what it says on the tin

Some fine pulled pork was served by Bare Bones. Photo author’s own.

I’m not a picky man. Give me a couple of shots of red eye and a hot band with a cool blues shouter and I’m as happy as the proverbial pig.

So, Blues and Bourbon at Matthews Yard – promising at least a dozen types of bourbon, similar numbers of American beers, the Chris Corcoran Trio fronted by Jerimiah Marques, not to mention pulled pork provided by Bare Bones (hold the apple sauce). What could possibly go wrong?

Well, arriving fashionably late for the stated 7pm start turned out to be a mistake – we were still unfashionably early. The promised bourbon had yet to arrive, although I suppose the whiff of ‘Prohibition Era’ bootlegging that this faux pas provided did give the gig a certain authenticity.

Some vintage vinyl hinted of delights to come

No matter, the evening still promised much, and a gathering crowd hinted that Croydonians would not be shy in lending their support to ventures of this kind. DJ Big Gee set the mood with some vintage vinyl that hinted of delights yet to come, and in a surprisingly short time the joint was jumping.

In fact the crowd was still swelling when the Chris Corcoran Trio kicked off the evening, with a set that helped the pulled pork – excellent – and the now-arrived bourbon to slip down a treat.

Dave Lagnado on double bass and Peter Greatorex on drums proved to be admirable foils for band leader Chris Corcoran on guitar, effortlessly shifting from swing, through blues to rockabilly – sometimes all in the same number. The trio are undeniably tight – and on the pokey stage provided, they needed to be – but I enjoyed their first set best when they got loose on self-written numbers like ‘The Plunge’ – giving it space to breathe.

These were wild men in chains – would the blues set them free?

Wild men in chains and their very appreciative audience. Photograph by Paul Dennis.

At times I got the feeling that these were wild men in chains, so the question was: would some uncompromising blues in the second half set them free?

As things turned out, their second set should perhaps have started with Bob Dylan’s ‘Worried Blues’ – as guest vocalist Jerimiah Marques’ arrival was delayed, but cometh the half hour cometh the man, and the expected service was resumed.

This was indeed pure blues, with Chris Corcoran playing with the sophistication of BB King and the low down dirt of John Lee Hooker in support of the excellent Jerimiah Marques. ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ and ‘This Is Hip’ might be viewed as predictable blues standards – but who gives a damn? It’s what we were there for and we weren’t disappointed.

I really hope that this will be the first of many such evenings at Matthews Yard. I got the feeling that the size of the crowd was unexpected, similarly their enthusiasm for strong liquor, and there is clearly some work to be done in the area of serving both demands.

So, Blues and Bourbon – did it do what it said on the tin? Eventually, yes, showing that all good things do indeed come to those who wait.

Paul Dennis

Paul Dennis

An award-winning journalist, Paul has worked on angling titles for much of his career, including 16 years as deputy editor of Angler's Mail and 4 years as editor of Total Sea Fishing magazine. He is a regular freelance contributor for a wide array of non-angling-related titles, author of two books on angling and a widely-followed authority on the subject.

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