Definition of barrelhouse in English:



  • 1North American A cheap or disreputable bar.

    • ‘He soon began to work in barrelhouses and jukes in Helena, Arkansas often working with pianist Lee Green.’
    • ‘Like I say, I was hangin’ around a lot of churches, barrelhouses, speakeasys, I just mix my ideas up and call it a gumbo.’
    • ‘Patton ruled the Delta blues circuit during the 1920s and early 1930s, packing the barrelhouses and selling loads of records to prove it.’
    • ‘Brown played the song at a brisk pace, imitating the piano blues so common in the jukes and barrelhouses of the South.’
    • ‘Starting in the barrelhouses and places of even lower repute, piano players provided entertainment often by themselves in places that required music in high spirits.’
    • ‘Aubrey ‘Moon’ Mullican encountered Holiday frequently in the honkytonks and barrelhouses around Houston.’
    • ‘There are some eye-opening glimpses into the business of recording, musical discoveries with amplification, sharecropping life, and the get-down funkiness of the juke joints and barrelhouses.’
    • ‘There will be a whole array of local and international artists playing gigs in barrelhouses cross town, and hosting workshops to boot.’
    • ‘He rode the rails from the Mississippi Delta to St. Louis, where he played poolrooms, barrelhouses, and parties for food and tips during the 1910s and 1920s.’
    • ‘He worked parties, roadhouses, jukes, and barrelhouses in the South and Midwest, notably Memphis into the 1920's.’
    • ‘Johnson left home around 1930 and for the rest of his life traveled the country, playing and singing at parties, juke joints, barrelhouses, and other venues.’
    • ‘The Seagram Lofts condominiums occupy the two former barrelhouses, and there's almost five acres of land on the site waiting to be developed.’
    • ‘Every day these barrels of Jack Daniel's whiskey are rolled up into barrelhouses that are scattered throughout the hills.’
    • ‘Though he received a crash course in the ways of women, more important was his exposure to the blues and boogie woogie music which was popular in the barrelhouses at the time.’
    • ‘By the time Albert was eleven, he was already playing parties and barrelhouses whenever he could slip away.’
    • ‘Boogie-woogie was generally confined to barrelhouses, dance halls, and houses of ill-repute.’
    • ‘The Blue Highway - winds past the plantation barrelhouses of the Delta to the clubs and tenements of postwar Chicago.’
    • ‘As an itinerant musician in his early life, Pickens played in barrelhouses across the southern states.’
  • 2mass noun, usually as modifier An unrestrained and unsophisticated style of jazz music.

    ‘neither took formal music lessons—they developed their barrelhouse style through playing by ear’
    • ‘The former is given and laid back with an almost reggae rhythm and the French lyrics hilariously slurred through, and ‘Ruby Tuesday’ is given a barrelhouse piano reading by Johnston.’
    • ‘They've got this one organ sound that mimics a growling, overdriven axe with startling fidelity, and which, along with the deep waves of the low end, ballasts the mutant barrelhouse boogie.’
    • ‘As well as some bluesier tracks - not many of them showcased per se; there's some unreal barrelhouse piano played in one of the churchy scenes that makes me wish I had hands with a foot-long reach.’
    • ‘‘Tuesday Afternoon’ is constantly shifting from gloomy, melancholic folk rock to jumpy, jolly barrelhouse rock, for just a few seconds each.’
    • ‘On album opener ‘Let me Put my Suitcase Down,’ Ethier lays himself down to rest on top of the track's lazy barrelhouse piano.’
    • ‘Hell, I love ‘Drug Squad’ - love the barrelhouse piano and Strummer's near-Dylanesque delivery, because it's one of the only times they sound like they're having fun on Rope.’
    • ‘The results are a delirious jumpcut odyssey where fragments of styles collide and splinter apart; ambient drones, barrelhouse piano, funk, jazz, even a snatch of ‘Roll Out the Barrel’ played on an accordion.’
    • ‘The funky barrelhouse piano that stomps all over ‘Cats vs. Dogs’ fits perfectly with the song's aggressively playful mood.’
    • ‘The disc's second half comes across like Coney Island arcane arcadia by way of clattering barrelhouse piano and broken merry-go-round melodies.’
    • ‘‘Monk's Dream’ perches perfectly between barrelhouse boogie woogie and rippling Conlon Nancarrow player piano.’
    • ‘The title track's a barrelhouse rocker, dripping attitude, about how she can use what she's got to get what she wants.’
    • ‘Of course round these parts we all love Mr Holland, with his cheeky east-end banter and barrelhouse joanna-thumping style.’
    • ‘It's not impossible for them to start off with a barrelhouse boogie and, by the end, be dragging through a New Orleans funeral dirge with a singing saw leading the charge.’
    • ‘Gelb stays away from jazz or barrelhouse blues, preferring to stay in the classically influenced realm with a few diversions into Kurt Weill territory and that of movie soundtracks.’


Late 19th century: so named because of the rows of barrels along the walls of such a bar.