Ever see a guy playing a washboard AND drums at the same time? This is what Two River Blues is all about. Perhaps some good ol’ fashioned washboard-drummin’ is not the most uncommon thing to ever happen, but for this reviewer it was definitely a first. And, it absolutely impressed my face off.
After a glowing recommendation that went something along the lines of “unbelievable” and “you HAVE to see this”, I decided to head along to The Stag & Hunter on Saturday 23 May to catch these alleged kings of rollicking and rolling raw country blues.
Two River Blues – Matt Southon on guitar and vocals, Matt Elliott on the skins, and mouth-harp wunderkind, Declan Kenrick. A trio of scruffy country gentlemen hailing from the banks of the Bega river, who looked as if they’d just leapt off their rickety front porch and onto the stage at The Stag for a jam session.
As it says on their Facebook, “there ain’t nothing flash going on here”. An unassuming set up of a guitar, a harmonica, a junkyard cocktail drumkit, and of course, an appearance from the washboard, at first seems minimalistic. But then you hear what these guys can create with it! Matched with the growling gusto of Matt Southon’s intense vocals, Two River Blues put on a powerful, core-shaking blues performance, and the crowd completely gave themselves over to it.
Full of life, the trio ram head first into their set, throwing everything they have at it. Their musicianship is incredible; falling in and out of jams midway through each song, and all the while never missing a beat, picking up exactly where they left off with a mesmerising flow. This type of performance really shows off the immense skill and intuition that comes with playing in a blues band, they almost morph into one heaving and howling being.
What I loved about these guys is that they have fun with their music, they laugh the whole way through, making jokes with each other and the crowd. And that, I suppose, is what it’s genuinely all about. Just a couple of guys having a good time, and making some wickedly good music.
A few songs in and they had me, I was already hooked… Then came the washboard-drumming. For the first time in a long time, I am lost for words. I don’t even know where to begin describing it. It was 100% the most back-country thing I think I’ve ever seen, and I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed by such a feat of musical mastery.
Now I find myself as a newly appointed member of the TRB recommendations committee, keen to tell anyone who’ll listen that this a band you have to experience with your own eyes and ears. Even if you’re not a blues fan, you will be a fan of Two River Blues.