On Friday, Oct. 14, Mama Rue’s Blues Garden had their blow-out first anniversary shindig. Alongside Chef Eric’s fabulous jerk
chicken, collards, and Island rice with festival bread, they had the Keith Patterson Band’s official CD release party for Stone Cold Blue (which, despite the title, is over the top hot!).
Mama Rue’s is a smokin’ little juke joint just below the Hammock Shops in Pawleys Island. I don’t think they have more than ten or 11 tables inside, but the vibe is sweet , and outside there’s a big old bar with picnic tables and the main stage. I could live there.
Owners are Marrue Bleau and Chef Eric Sutherland. The duo met some 25 years ago in St. Pete’s, Fla. and have been looking for just the right spot to open a Jamaican restaurant slash blues club (Thank goodness they’re on Island time and didn’t rush into anything!) Marrue books the music and runs the bar, which includes creating some pretty magical cocktails. Eric works his magic in the kitchen.
Chef Eric is a native of Galina, Jamaica. He’s been in the States since 1979. Eric is a self-taught kind of chef. He cooks from the heart, with no recipes. He blends his own seasonings, makes his own signature hot sauce, his own jerk sauce. He buys whole seafood and he buys local.
I had a chance to talk to Eric when he came out to the bar during a brief kitchen break.
“When I was younger, I was adventurous! My first job was at the Playboy Club in Ocho Rios in Jamaica. I was determined to travel a
lot, so I then I worked for different cruise lines. Before I came to Pawleys, I was cooking in Atlanta. Now I like Pawleys; the people are friendly, always nice.”
I think Eric’s cooking must put them in a good mood … or it could just be hanging at the bar with Marrue.
She grew up in Florida and says she’s worked in and out of restaurants since she was 17.
“I was a bartender at a hotel in Palm Beach, working with a little jazz trio there, and that planted the seed of owning my own place.
Marrue has spent time in the Keys, on Grand Turk in the Turks & Caicos; she’s lived on the Suwannee River. Marrue and husband Steve lived on a 27-foot sloop for a time. They took off on a motorcycle and wound up in Mobile, Ala. for a while, too.
“I met Eric when my husband and I used to hang out at his place in St. Pete’s,” says Marrue. “It was called the EZ Jamaican Cafe, and people just went to it in droves. I needed a job and he took me in.”
Marrue and Eric are in the process of expanding the menu to offer more vegetarian fare. For me, I like the stuff that moves! Curried goat, jerk pork, Wednesday night ribs, the daily catch in Jamaican butter sauce or escovitch style (with spicy vegetables). Even the lowly burger is to die for.
I love the character of the place. There are no TVs to distract from the music or the conversation. Marrue laughs when she says, “We don’t serve shooters, we serve cocktails.” And if it’s wine you want, it comes in sweet little jelly jar glasses, New Orleans style.
All that, and top drawer music, too. Marrue tells me that she’s always been drawn to early blues. At Mama Rues, though, she’s
running the gamut. Of blues, that is. Earlier this month, Mississippi John Doude was in the
house! Local bluesman Todd Roth of My Buddy Todd is a regular player. You can catch George Davis playing a set or two, as well. Rootsy, bluesy gospel duo Blue Mother Tupelo played to a packed house this summer. Rickey Godfrey brought his hot rockin’ blues to Mama Rue’s and folks are still talking about it.
That brings me back to the Keith Patterson Band, another rockin’ blues band, somewhat reminiscent of the seventies, when it was hard to tell the difference between blues rock and hard rock.
Keith’s 11-track debut CD, Stone Cold Blue is solid blues rock, dominated by guitar and B3. I can’t do a full-on review here, but the disc is in my car player and I’ve got it loud!
The five-piece band includes Keith Patterson on guitar; Daniel Korzelius singing lead vocals; John Taylor on drums; Brian Mckenzie, guitar and lap steel; and Drew Jacobs on bass.
They put on a great show. My guess is they’ll be back at Mama Rue’s before too long. YEAH!