Friday, January 21, 2022

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Sound Stage

Matt Woods and The Thunderbolts


Whether you went to The Longest Yard last weekend specifically for the show or just wandered in because the Valley Junction pub is your usual Saturday hangout is immaterial. Because as soon as you walked through the door, you became a fan of Matt Woods and The Thunderbolts. The longtime Des Moines blues mainstays are tying the bow on a stellar career. The Dec. 15 show was its last ever at The Longest Yard, and it was all done for fans packed shoulder to shoulder in a loud, whistling, stomping crowd so thick it would have surely given any passing fire marshal pause. Seeing the three-piece in action on this night is a bit like Henry V’s Saint Crispin’s Day speech: Those who missed this show shall think themselves accursed and hold their manhoods cheap. It was the blues at its very best, and it came not from Kansas City or south Chicago or the Delta, but from right here in the capital city. On song after song, bassist Scott Cochran and drummer Michael Swanger held down the low end with efficiency and style, and the band was joined onstage at various times by special guests Malcolm Wells and Heath Alan, who lent harmonica and sax respectively to the festivities. But there’s a reason the band isn’t just called The Thunderbolts, and Matt Woods was on his A-game this night. Woods’ slide work is top notch, and his vocals are powerful yet seemingly effortless. This may have been the band’s swan song at the Yard, but let nobody say that they went quietly into that good night. They played their hearts out and, as Lord Buckley once said, they stomped the terra, and the multitudes dug infinity. CV

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