Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A disreputable old-time saloon or bawdyhouse.
  • n. An early style of jazz characterized by boisterous piano playing, free group improvisation, and an accented two-beat rhythm.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A rough and tumble drinking establishment.
  • n. A loud, percussive type of blues piano suitable for noisy bars or taverns.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A cheap drinking and dancing establishment.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a cheap drinking and dancing establishment

Etymologies

From barrel +‎ house. Originally used to refer specifically to a bar that served whiskey directly from the barrel. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Mercy Dee or Mercy Dee Walton, as I knew him, was a typical Texas-style blues and half-boogie pianist, a la Whistling Alex Moore, the great Dallas pianist who is given credit in Texas blues circles as inventing what became known as the "barrelhouse" where they had barrels of whiskey and beer piano style.

    From The Daily Growler Wastebasket

  • To tie together a book that covers the colonial-era tavern, the frontier barrelhouse, the high-toned New York City saloon, the German beer-garden, the speakeasy, the cocktail lounge, the gay bar and even the contemporary neo-speakeasy, a writer needs a grand theme.

    The All-American Place

  • In a 1930 song called “Memphis Flu,” Elder David R. Curry, pastor of the Oakley Street Church of God in Christ, and his congregation sing over barrelhouse piano runs, hand claps, and interjections of “Praise Jesus!”

    FLY FISHING WITH DARTH VADER

  • They all come down in a rain of clamoring tambourines and bottleneck slide guitars, clawhammer banjo picking, booming jug band blowing and barrelhouse piano rolls.

    FLY FISHING WITH DARTH VADER

  • At the bottom of the post, I included a video of his stunning chase from “The Seven Ups”, which is a straight-up, barrelhouse through the streets of upper Manhattan.

    The Real Deal 2.0—Doin' It!

  • He carried the splashy, two-fisted style of great New Orleans pianists like Professor Longhair toward modern-jazz dissonance, then back toward propulsive barrelhouse; he sang the lyrics, but only after he had whooped and scat-sung, from baritone to falsetto.

    Jazzfest: “Thank God I Made It” - ArtsBeat Blog - NYTimes.com

  • Well, don't you let nobody, tear my barrelhouse down

    Muddy Waters Lyrics

  • She wouldn't do nothin 'but barrelhouse all night long

    Blind Lemon Jefferson Lyrics

  • Says the Richmond composer, I thought it would be great to write a sequel showing how [Porgy] goes up north, and on the way he runs into jazz, rag, barrelhouse, jug band, gospel, all the early black folk music styles.

    Archive 2006-11-01

  • For the first time in a long time, I was really able to improve my chops, digging into old blues and barrelhouse piano bits and Hendrix guitar licks I was never able to crack before.

    Electric Giudeccaland

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