Catfish Keith – Catfish Crawl
Fish Tail Records – 2019
13 tracks; 57 minutes
Catfish Keith’s last album Reefer Hound was the winner of the 2019 Blues Blast award for Acoustic Album of the Year. On that disc Keith revisited songs he had recorded before, assembled round the theme of marijuana, but on this new one, his eighteenth album, he delivers new recordings culled from blues performers of yesteryear plus a few original tunes. Keith wrote four of these tunes and the material covers quite a range of styles – Country, Delta Blues, Mississippi Hill Country, Gospel, even island music. As usual Keith plays solo acoustic, using a total of nine different guitars which are helpfully detailed for the guitar enthusiasts out there. Highlights include Keith duet with himself (vocally and on guitars) on The Carter Family’s “Dixie Darling”, the sprightly version of Big Bill Broonzy’s “Willie Mae” and “Turn Your Money Green”, a 1928 song from Furry Lewis which sounds like it might have provided the inspiration for some of Dylan’s classics, as well as an early use of the ‘diving duck’ verse.
The two ‘island’ pieces are a pre-war Bahamian tune by The Nassau String Band, “Bella Mina”, and an instrumental romp through “By The Waters Of The Minnetonka”, originally recorded by Jim & Bob, The Genial Hawaiians. The originals include the title cut “Catfish Crawl” which has some amusingly risqué lyrics and “Memphis Morning Train” which is a homage to Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup and also includes an anecdote from Honeyboy Edwards that Keith recalled and set to poetry. “Little Pal Of Mine” is a jaunty original inspired by the Rev. Robert Wilkins and “Don’t You Call Me Crazy” is a driving piece played on a 12-string guitar.
Catfish Keith tours constantly and is a regular visitor to Europe and the UK. Fans will know what to expect from this album and are bound to enjoy it; those not familiar with his music and who enjoy acoustic blues played in the traditional style may want to investigate this album.