But the real draw is the Tardis-like back room, a huge live music space with loud blues action rocking the capacity crowd. We can’t tell you exactly who was playing on our last visit (we were admittedly a bit squiffy) but the place was packed and everyone (us included) was having an excellent time. And – admittedly this is an aside – there was some very good accessorizing going on in the crowd too, which would rival anything you’ll see at London Fashion Week. We spotted narrow-brimmed feather-bedecked hats, perfectly turned-up jeans and lots of fancy footwear.
The weekly Blues Jam dates back to 2003 at the Heathcote Arms in Leytonstone, where it was established by the late Ray Bartrip, a highly respected hammond-player. But since 2010 it’s been firmly ensconced at the Coach and run by bassist supremo Terry Duggan and his wife Vera. And they know how to pull in the best players in the wider area.
But what is a blues jam for goodness’ sake, and how does it work? The rules are on the Coach & Horses Blues Jam website (which is very entertaining by the way, and the best place to go to find out the headliners ahead of time). In short, if you want to jam, turn left as you walk in. Vera will be there to relieve you of £1, at which point you tell her your (full) name and what you do (singer, guitarist, drummer, whatever).
You’ll be assigned a group and when your turn comes you’ll get to play up to three numbers, led by an experienced player/singer. Jammers (bar keyboard players and drummers) need to come with their own instrument, cable(s) and tuner. If you simply want to be a spectator, it’s £2 in for three hours of aural pleasure, which has to be one of the best value nights out in Leyton.
So yes, we’ll be back very soon (probably a bit squiffy, as is our wont).