Cory Branan: The Loft at City Winery  22 June 2021

The day after Poundcake, I was back at City Winery for Cory Branan. This time it was upstairs at The Loft, a smaller room than the main room. Upstairs at the new City Winery they also have a bar, a private room, and somewhere there is a restaurant.

You can order food/drink two ways – you scan a QR code and access a menu and then order either directly with the wait staff or through the toasttab website. I did not realize I had a choice and ordered directly through toasttab. The food is still not good – the arancini were cold. The wait staff come through a side exit door that has a bright light, so every time they open it the light shines into the semi-dark room and it is very annoying.

Michael Dorf did the introduction. He said he had seen Cory for the first time the night before at the Boston City Winery and this was the first concert at the new Loft. I was happy to be at the inaugural concert. All the soundproofing for the room had just been completed. During the show, I was thinking that the room sounded better than downstairs.

Cory went right into his set. At one point he forgot his capo and went backstage to get it. I think he may have played more songs than usual because there were not so many stories – he was not drinking because of a long drive ahead of him. Someone did buy him a drink and he said it was tempting because the light was hitting it just right, so it was a beautiful amber. He seemed nervous. During the long break, he was playing IG livestreams and after a song ended there would be silence and little hearts floating up on the screen. Some of the songs were new because they are not on an album yet but we heard them in shows pre-pandemic; others were new and we had not heard them before. His five Quarantunes albums will be leaving his website soon. He recorded them during the pandemic. There are a bunch of fun covers on those records.

One story – his son Clem laughed at Cory falling down, so he showed him Chaplin and Keaton movies and now his 7yo can do all sorts of physical bits.

He went back and forth between sad songs and ditties. And then said he does not know if he has ever written a ditty. “Long Night” was introduced as a sea shanty that does not go anywhere near the ocean. One of the new songs was written just before the pandemic for a friend, who was in the audience and she is from Memphis but now living in NYC – “Oh Charlene.”  For “Survivor Blues” he said he apologizes to Mark Knopfler for the using his sound on the guitar. Two of my favorites that night were “Lily” with its dreamy melody and “The Only You” with one of my favorite opening verses – “I hear you got another boy; I hear he looks a lot like me; And this one comes with some kind of guarantee; Well I got me another girl and she looks like you at twenty-three; And while she sleeps I trace the places where your tattoos used to be.”

There was the switch from acoustic to electric guitar, stomping of feet, banging of the guitar, fast strumming to quiet and stepping back from the mic, and shredding the guitar like no one else does. And add to that his wonderfully intelligent and heartfelt lyrics.

At the end, while bowing, Cory hugged his guitar as if he was giving all of us a hug.  I spoke to him for a few minutes after the show. We talked about Joe Brown (soundperson for Lucero) because I was wearing the Lucero roadies baseball shirt. And Cory talked about how much he needed to be out and play.

Set List (some song titles are guesses since the songs are new to me)

I Only Know

Incarcerated Heart

Walking on the Waterfront

Angel in the Details

Sour Mash

I’m Gone

One Happy New Year

Pick the Pocket of God


Long Night

That Look I Lost

Oh Charlene


Stepping Outside

Hell Enough

The Prettiest Waitress in Memphis

The Only You

The Corner

Tall Green Grass

Survivor Blues

Skateland South




By Carene Lydia Lopez