Wing’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill is next to Krishna Grocery on Greenridge Road. Despite that specificity, you probably still don’t know where it is. This evening it was packed with off the clock military personnel smoking them, because they had plenty of them. Through the haze I found five televisions, all tuned in to stock car racing on the Speed Network and a friendly bartender that looked like a genetic amalgamation of Betty Boop, Betty Rubble and Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island. Staff T-shirts sport an “I did Grandma all night long” slogan on the back. It’s odd, but after a couple of hours I understand it to be an homage to the popular orange flavored liqueur, and not a twisted fetish shared by folks that work at the establishment. There was no stage and the floor space reserved for the band was illuminated by a Golden Tee machine. The poster on the wall suggests the venue hosted a UFC pay-per-view event in this room a week earlier. The down and dingy aesthetic was perfect, because drummer Woody Hughes, bassist Clay Hinson and guitarist/vocalist Matt Joiner came to play the blues.
With respect to Widespread Panic’s Jimmy Herring, the finest guitar work in the Low Country last weekend wasn’t the noodling at the North Charleston Coliseum. Another Athens, GA export was kicking it in Chuck Taylor’s and a flat cap in a dive bar a few exits west on Friday night. Matt Joiner was on absolute fire, and it isn’t a stretch to imagine the twenty-something rhythm and blues guitarist holding court in arenas one day soon—until then you’re advised to catch his power trio at a hole in the wall in your neck of the woods. The weekend jaunt to South Carolina was the first time the band had taken their sound across state lines.
Midway through the first set Joiner shreds through a fine rendition of Clapton’s “Tore Down” and the soldiers seated at the table closest to the band collectively nod in appreciation. One begins to air drum. It’s safer to air drum when Joiner is in the room right in front of you playing the real guitar. Even the greatest hyperealist air guitar virtuoso couldn’t compete Naysayers are quick to dismiss blues guitarists for lack of originality—trafficking in a genre riddled with players that are ultimately just reasonable facsimiles of each other—but Joiner resists that criticism on original numbers like “Long Gone” and “EJ” as he confidently explores the most progressive and psychedelic and acerbic corners of the genre.