Catfish Keith | Honey Hole

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Blues: Acoustic Blues Folk: Folk Blues Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Honey Hole

by Catfish Keith

The deepest foot-stomping, string-twanging Delta blues and Roots music. "Guitar genius." - Living Blues "Hypnotic and beautiful, dark and pure." - Premier Guitar ~ LIMITED EDITION COLORED VINYL w/ Download Card ~
Genre: Blues: Acoustic Blues
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Sweet Honey Hole
3:27 $0.99
2. Best Jelly in the Neighborhood
3:36 $0.99
3. Jailbird Love Song
3:40 $0.99
4. Weed Smoker's Dream - Why Don't You Do Right?
5:52 $0.99
5. Tomi Tomi
3:36 $0.99
6. Take Me Back
3:47 $0.99
7. Who's Been Here?
4:11 $0.99
8. She Got Washed Away
4:15 $0.99
9. Someday Baby
3:56 $0.99
10. Rowdy Blues
3:56 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
CATFISH KEITH is back with his all-new album, HONEY HOLE. Catfish is a world touring acoustic blues master that has been on the forefront of delta blues and roots music for over 30 years. Singing and playing a foot-stomping style thoroughly his own, this is music soaked in tradition and innovation. Catfish is carrying and building on a quirky, weird and very deep music, making the whole musical universe with the sounds of guitar and voice.

Catfish has performed thousands of concerts throughout the world. He's had BLUES MUSIC AWARD Nominations for BEST ACOUSTIC BLUES ALBUM, BEST OVERSEAS ARTIST by the British Blues Connection, and is in the Iowa BLUES HALL OF FAME. Most of his albums have reached NUMBER ONE on radio charts around the globe.

On Honey Hole, world-touring acoustic blues pioneer Catfish Keith performs 14 songs from an endless repertoire, out of the deepest tradition of foot-stomping solo country blues and roots music. This new CD features his unique re-creations of works from such great artists as Blind Boy Fuller, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Mississippi Sheiks, Frank Stokes, and Kid Bailey, to Julia Lee, Lil Green, The Harlem Hamfats and even Hawaiian artists Kanui & Lula.

His 15th album, Honey Hole presents Catfish at his peak, doing what he does best: spontaneous string-twanging, virtuoso picking and sliding, on an array of Nationals and acoustic guitars, with his most nuanced singing ever. Most of the songs are recorded totally live, solo, but this album also includes Catfish harmonizing and jamming with himself on Jailbird Love Song and Take Me Back.



"GUITAR GENIUS." - Living Blues

"Hypnotic and beautiful, dark and pure." - Premier Guitar

"The real acoustic blues king!" - Rock 'n' Reel

"Pulling Blues Out of The Sky, Catfish lays down a foot-stomping groove. One of the most exciting guitarists of any genre." - Acoustic Guitar



"The highly esteemed, redoubtable and seemingly inexhaustible master Catfish just carries on regardless, touring the world each year like clockwork and packing 'em in throughout the UK with his tireless championing of acoustic "weird and deep country-blues and roots music", moving from foot-stompin' goodtime to serious pindrop sanctified at the drop of his trademark hat and rejoicing in all points in between on the massive compass of the blues. Catfish is the real deal - and truly unique, even among the "blues" fraternity; his live performances are hypnotic experiences, unrivalled for the intense spell they cast on the most hardened of audiences and long-term converts alike, for folks invariably come away from a Catfish gig feelin' real good.

"So at the risk of underselling the guy's 15th CD, Honey Hole, I'll kick off by telling you it's another typically brilliant helping of prime Catfish, freshly recorded just last year, for the most part in proudly solo "recorded live" mode, effectively rewriting the rules of fingerstyle guitar-picking, but with just a couple of entertaining concessions to studio process by way of some playful double-tracking. Honey Hole is a compelling, upfront and scintillatingly varied collection that shows considerable enterprise in its assemblage, its components having been carefully selected from songs Catfish has loved for years and has evidently thought long and hard about how best to present them now. He surrounds and intersperses a hefty quotient of less well-known numbers from the wider blues repertoire (Blind Boy Fuller, Memphis Minnie, Leadbelly, Kid Bailey, Bo Carter, Sister Rosetta Tharpe) with one of his own idiomatic compositions and a clutch of supremely intelligent, perceptive arrangements of some quite unusual repertoire. There's a creative juxtaposition of the Harlem Hamfats' Weed Smoker's Dream with Lil Green's Why Don't You Do Right? (popularised by Peggy Lee, you'll remember); an uproarious take on Tomi Tomi (sung in the original Hawaiian, and accompanied bottleneck-style on a National Baritone Tricone); and, toward the end of the disc, a penetrating version of Julia Lee's haunting, pleading love song Lotus Blossom (complete with mellifluous, darkly sonorous 12-string backing). Catfish's Fred McDowell-inspired arrangement of Worried Life Blues (here retitled Someday Baby) also deserves special mention.

"And throughout, studio producer Luke Tweedy has exactly and faithfully conveyed the essence of Catfish, every last deep nuance of that trademark "quirky yet heartfelt" expression that flows so uncannily naturally 'twixt voice and any one of his seven (count 'em!) different guitars. Yeah, with Honey Hole, Catfish has produced another landmark blues-based album that's so much more than the blues. Even at a wonderfully generous 55 minutes, I just can't get enough…"

- David Kidman



December 2013 by Mark Uricheck

"Catfish Keith has spent some serious time in the woodshed. Keith's latest disc, Honey Hole, his 15th and latest disc since 1991's Pepper In My Shoe! debut, is further evidence that the Iowa-based guitarist understands the Delta blues geneology from which he culls his persuasive guitar style. The liner notes are dotted with testimonials to the artists who either inspired or first covered the tunes on this album, with notes as to which of his impressive guitars he has used on each track -- some beauties including a National M1 Baritone Tricone and Flammang Parlor guitar.

"All of the albums 14 tracks were recorded live - just a man, a voice and his guitar. Keith's fingerstyle precision is honed to the bone on cuts such as Best Jelly In the Neighborhood, while his inventiveness and slide chops ring true on early 20th century Hawaiian duo Kanui and Lula's Tomi Tomi.

"Elsewhere Keith digs deep for a cover of Kid Bailey's 1929 Rowdy Blues, replete with colorful rambling vocals. He goes the opposite way with a cover of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's 1939 Decca single, God Don't Like It, a precursor to John lee Hooker's foot-flapping brand of talking blues that urges the listener to "stop that drinkin' moonshine."

"A one-man roots exposition able to command his audience at the mere snap of a string and a tall tale, Catfish Keith continues his exploration of 21st century acoustic blues."

- Mark Uricheck



JOHN HIETT interviews acoustic blues & roots guitar legend
CATFISH KEITH about his new CD, HONEY HOLE, world touring, and more:

If you haven’t seen heard Catfish Keith play, odds are good you haven’t seen anyone like him. The shorthand for what he plays is acoustic blues, but you’ll hear hokum, Caribbean and Hawaiian influences as well. He’s toured overseas 41 times, and is just back from 2 1/2 months in Denmark, Ireland, N. Ireland, and the UK. Though he lives in Southeastern Iowa, Keith just plays locally a few times a year, usually at the Mill. This Saturday night, for instance.

An astonishing virtuoso on guitar, he’s recorded 15 albums on his own Fish Tail Records label, the most recent being Honey Hole. Subject matter on this includes blues standbys like sex (Sweet Honey Hole, Best Jelly in the Neighborhood) and drugs (Weed Smoker’s Dream, Lotus Blossum).

Can you tell us a little about how you research the older styles you play?

" Well, John, I’ve been in love with the real deep blues since I was a kid. I was always endlessly curious and have always been digging deep to discover more great music. A common thread in all of this is a heartfelt human quality, and a virtuosity that made one guitar sound like a whole band or orchestra. So I take all of these essential American music styles from the old days and make my own sound with them. It’s a sound that has a lot of twang to it, big string bends, chiming harmonics, and the full human spectrum of joy and sorrow, everything that being human is.

"I get into early blues artists, with life-changing sounds, such as Son House and Charley Patton, and have learned as well from some of the greats that were still living from that era: I’ve studied and got to know Johnny Shines, Henry Townsend, Honeyboy Edwards and Jessie Mae Hemphill personally. They were friends and mentors. My musical grandparents, so to speak.

"Then, my musical fathers and mothers, uncles and cousins include people like John Hammond, Dave Van Ronk, Paul Geremia, and some great musicians from around here like Greg Brown and Joe Price, Bo Ramsey, Pat Hazell, Robert One Man Johnson and Al Murphy. So it’s definitely a tradition handed down.

"But I did forge my own thing out of all of this: Hawaiian, Caribbean, Hillbilly, Blues and Early Jazz. And the artists that I made my sounds from were giants: Lonnie Johnson, Django Reinhardt, Howlin’ Wolf, the Carter Family…it goes on.

"But I’ve always dug deep, and continue to do so. It’s not something you hear on the radio or TV, I don’t even bother. I just keep finding these great old records, and keep learning big repertoires of great musicians, like Leadbelly and Mississippi Fred McDowell. Any of my songwriting is informed from that, to me it’s the same thing as playing the old songs, but in my own way, always."

You and your wife Penny Cahill make such an effective, efficient team. What are some of the roles she plays in your career?

"Penny is my manager, sound engineer, she’s Pres. of Fish Tail Records, our record label. And she has endless curiousity as an archivist, loves to videotape, take photos and preserve magic great moments of our life and travels. We’ve sort of intuitively forged a career out of just my music for over 25 years now, and I love it that she enjoys it, sometimes even more than I do!"

You used to describe your old dobro as a cross between a hubcap and a garbage can, then accidentaly dropped it in the ocean.

"Yes, I did drop my old National in the ocean once. Didn’t help it. "

Now you sell high end guitars. How did that come about?

"I love great guitars. Ones that are brand new, inspired by vintage instruments. We now live in the peak of the golden age of the guitar, there are a bunch of wonderful luthiers and small manufacturers that make the best guitars you will ever play. So my selling guitars came about as a natural extension of loving this music. When someone gets a new National or Flammang or New Era or Bown or Fraulini through me, I get a vicarious thrill from it, as if it were my new guitar; I love that “angels singing” moment when they open the case for the first time! It just goes right along with playing and teaching and touring and recording. I love it."

Catfish’s YouTube page is full of great performances, and five of his albums are available from the Local Music Project. There’s nothing like hearing an elite player live though, and Saturday night’s your chance.

–John Hiett




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