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Catfish Keith - Put on a Buzz

Fish Tail Records

14 tracks/55:25

You have to admire an acoustic blues man who learned about the music while growing up in Davenport, IA and turned his passionate embrace of the music into a career that has has spanned three decades. Catfish Keith has toured across the US and the rest of the world in addition to running his own record label based out of Iowa City, IA. In recent years, many musicians have gone the route of self-releasing their product. Catfish Keith was way ahead of that curve, this title being his 14th in the last twenty-two years.

The bright, attractive tri-fold packaging contains a wealth of information, listing all of the prior Catfish Keith releases, the guitars used on the disc and the song list along with comments on each track. In his notes, Keith acknowledges his love for country blues and his desire to revisit the kind of songs that sparked his initial passion.

The dark mood of Leadbelly's "Grasshoppers in My Pillow" is enhanced by the bright sound of the twelve string National El Trovador guitar Keith uses on the track while his vocal captures the despair laid out in the lyrics. "Aberdeen, Mississippi Blues" is a Bukka White song with Keith's slashing slide guitar and foot-stomping creating a hard driving rhythm. The pace slows on "Nobody's Business", giving Keith an opportunity to showcase his finger-picking skills. On the gentle "Lost Lover Blues", Keith strengthens the vocal line by doing his own back-up singing. His guitar playing on the track is exquisite. He has some fun with Jazz Gillum's "Reefer Head", his fingers dancing around the fretboard as he describes a woman in love with the evil weed. "Willie the Chimney Sweeper" ventures further into the realm of the surreal, Keith's perfectly controlled vocal contrasting the vivid lyrical description of swirling, drug-induced events. He tears into 'Hawaiian Cowboy" on slide, singing part of the lyrics in a native language.

A dream served as the inspiration for "Sigh of the Whippoorwill", with Keith also acknowledging a debt to the Carter family for this poignant tune. His "Paying For it Now" is done in a traditional country blues style with an aggressive beat and a harder edge on the vocal. Keith pays homage to Charley Patton on "Xima Jo Road", a tune written about a road in a wild & wooly part of Mexico. His rapid-fire singing on "Can't Be Undone" is another highlight.There is plenty to enjoy on this first-class release. Catfish Keith is a masterful guitarist and a robust singer. The carefully selected material demonstrates with scope of his artistry. Fans of acoustic blues will certainly find plenty to like on this one. But then, chances are many of them are already dedicated Catfish Keith fans. Put On a Buzz is definitely one to check out !!!

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. He has been listening to music of all kinds for fifty years. The first concert he attended was in Chicago with The Mothers of Invention and Cream. Life has never been the same.

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