Catfish Keith | Mississippi River Blues

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Blues: Acoustic Blues Folk: Folk Blues Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Mississippi River Blues

by Catfish Keith

Catfish's 16th album of foot-stomping delta blues and roots music was recorded at the hot and humid peak of summer at Luke Tweedy's Flat Black Studios. Catfish brought his arsenal of Nationals and acoustic 6- and 12-string guitars and laid down a powerhouse collection of string-rattling classics and original songs inspired by the earliest and deepest country blues, bottleneck guitar gospel evangelists, and red-eyed viper jazz smokeouts.
Genre: Blues: Acoustic Blues
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  Song Share Time Download
1. It Wont Be Long Now
3:01 $0.99
2. Just Can't Keep from Crying
4:24 $0.99
3. Please Baby
4:23 $0.99
4. Telling You Pretty Mama
3:36 $0.99
5. Sleepy-Eyed John
2:55 $0.99
6. Reefer Hound
5:20 $0.99
7. Mississippi River Blues
4:56 $0.99
8. The Whale Swallowed Jonah
3:32 $0.99
9. Cancion Mixteca
3:08 $0.99
10. Jumpin' Jack Rabbit
4:25 $0.99
11. Candyman
5:01 $0.99
12. Weed
3:58 $0.99
13. Mama Don't You Sell It, Papa Don't You Give It Away
3:44 $0.99
14. Shake Sugaree
6:00 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

Catfish Keith ~ Mississippi River Blues ~ FULL ALBUM REVIEW by John Porter July 20, '17 ~ Professor Johnny P's Juke Joint

I listen to a lot of music, much of it is not something I care to write about, but every so often the universe rewards me with a new album from a favorite performer. Today the mail arrived and I say the familiar Fish Tail Records logo which can only mean one thing – a new album from Catfish Keith.

Catfish Keith is the foremost proponent of old style music. He’s one man with a whole barnful of guitars and he plays music the way it was from the turn of the century on. I think I know a little bit about that style of music, but Keith is a walking, singing, picking encyclopedia of knowledge.

His latest album, number 16, is a great collection of blues, country blues, and even a few surprises. Mississippi River Blues is a wonderful way to spend an evening listening to great music being played by a top notch performer.

The opening track, It Won’t Be Long Now, was originally performed by writer Frank Stokes. Keith may be playing solo, but the sound is rich and the song puts you in a different place – his blues is akin to those that you would hear pre-autotune, pre-war, pre-microphone; just one guy, his instrument, and the ability to entertain. I love this kind of music.

Next up is Blind Willie Johnson’s Just Can’t Keep From Crying, with some great percussion added to his guitar. Keith’s voice is hoarse with emotion and this is one of my favorite songs on the album.

The Mississippi Sheiks recorded the original of Please, Baby. Keith’s vocals are along the lines of a lullaby and his guitar adds a bass line over a waltz. I’m always amazed at the way Keith is able to get such a gorgeous tone from his instruments. It’s so much fun to listen to him.

Catfish Keith then plays an original song, Telling You, Pretty Mama, that was inspired by Blind Blake. He not only keeps the old music alive, he finds new ways to incorporate them into new music. The blues highway has many off-roads, and something for just about everyone.

Johnny Horton’s Sleepy-Eyed John gets the Keith treatment next. It’s a great down home, front porch, rocking chair, rollicking number that makes the most of some good country blues. Back in the day when I was producing family oriented country music shows, I would have loved to have had someone of Keith’s talent play this song on one. Of course, finding another performer that has his talent, drive, and unique ability to entertain, might be a tall challenge.

Next up is a song that might get more airplay in Colorado that anywhere else, Reefer Hound. This one has got some standard blues tropes and Keith’s voice shakes with emotion. It’s a powerful number that uses some serious foot stomps to create the percussion. Very cool number.

The title track follows, Jimmie Rodgers’ Mississippi River Blues. When you read the liner notes, you will discover that there is a deep family connection to the song. It’s a lovely interpretation of the song and a reminder of just how the music used to be. His playing is strong, and his vocals even have the requisite yodeling to make it sound authentic.

J.B. Lenoir’s The Whale Swallowed Jonah follows and Keith sounds like an entire band playing it. He even adds some percussion to the song giving it a striking sound.

I first heard the next song, Canción Mixteca, on the soundtrack on Wim Wenders’ great film, Paris, Texas. This instrumental waltz is a haunting number and a great addition to the album. Now I want to go watch the movie again, it’s been too long…

Next is a Catfish Keith original, Jumpin’ Jack Rabbit. Once again it sounds as if he has extra hands playing more than one guitar. It’s a clever song that uses traditional blues approaches to music to create a new-sounding song. It’s a lot of fun.

Mississippi John Hurt’s Candyman follows. One of the best known of the Delta Bluesmen, Hurt first recorded in 1928 before leaving the music business altogether until returning during the blues revival in 1963. This is a sultry version of the song and it sounds like Keith is having a great time singing and picking the song.

Next up is the dark number, Weed. A perfect companion to Reefer Hound, although much more powerful and menacing.

He follows up with the far more upbeat Mama Don’t You Sell It, Papa Don’t You Give It Away. It’s a snappy song with some very cool slide to give it a little more pizzazz.

He closes the album with his rendition of Elizabeth Cotton’s Shake Sugaree. I’ve been a fan of Cotton’s ever since I heard her sing Freight Train, and I can be pretty tough on some interpretations. Keith does an admirable job on his version, keeping it close to the original.

This is Catfish Keith’s 16th album and he keeps finding old songs to give them a new recording. He mixes ragtime, country, blues, and indigenous songs to create a gentle but powerful sound. Mississippi River Blues is a most satisfying album and one that I’ll pull out frequently and enjoy.

I will grant you that there are some that will not follow his style. Like I mentioned earlier, the Blues Highway has many connecting roads and everyone has a favorite journey. I hope at some point you just might try a road that isn’t as traveled today as it once was. You just might surprise yourself.

Please do yourself a favor and visit Keith’s little place on the world wide web at, and pick yourself up a few albums, and check out where you might find him playing live!


Catfish Keith - A Brief Biography

Cutting-edge blues singer, songwriter and bottleneck slide guitarist Catfish Keith has established himself as one of the most exciting country blues performers of our time. Catfish's innovative style of foot-stomping, deep delta blues and American roots music has spellbound audiences the world over. He has reinvented the guitar with great power and artistry, and brings a rare beauty and vitality to his music. Handing down the tradition, Catfish continues his lifelong journey as one of the brightest lights in acoustic blues and roots music.

A two-time W. C. Handy Blues Music Award nominee for BEST ACOUSTIC BLUES ALBUM, and 2008 inductee into the BLUES HALL OF FAME, Catfish's Honey Hole album was considered for GRAMMY AWARD nominations in three categories. Catfish has sixteen NUMBER ONE independent radio chart-topping albums to his credit, and packs houses all over the world with his dynamic stage show. The 40 year veteran has performed thousands of gigs, touring the USA, UK and Europe dozens of times to wide acclaim, headlining major music festivals, and appearing with legends John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles, Robert Cray, Koko Taylor, Taj Mahal , Leo Kottke, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Johnny Shines and many, many others.

Catfish Keith was born in East Chicago, Indiana on February 9th, 1962. He first heard blues as a child while living in "The Harbor," a working-class, steel mill town. When he picked up the guitar as a teenager, he was inspired to pursue the deep delta blues after being converted by Son House. Following high school in Davenport, Iowa, Catfish hit the road, embarking on a lifelong quest as a solo performer of American roots music.

His travels took him to the Caribbean, where in the Virgin Islands he crewed briefly on a sailboat, soaking up a wealth of island sounds. Rhythms of Jazz, Calypso, Reggae and the music of Joseph Spence gave Catfish inspiration to reach new musical heights. Though he grew up on the Mississippi River, Catfish earned his monicker from a West Indian lobster diving partner who, after seeing him swim, dubbed him "Catfish-Swimmin'-Around," and "Catfish-Steel-Guitar-Man."

In 1984, at age 22, Catfish recorded his first album (on Kicking Mule), Catfish Blues. The all-solo debut established him as a new force in acoustic blues, reaching Number One on independent worldwide radio charts. This enabled Catfish to play and tour continually, learning directly from legends such as Johnny Shines, David Honeyboy Edwards, Jesse Mae Hemphill and Henry Townsend.

Since then, Catfish has made sixteen solo albums, including his latest, Mississippi River Blues (on Fish Tail Records). He constantly tours the world, is endorsed by National Reso-Phonic Guitars and Santa Cruz Guitar Company (with his new signature model, "The Catfish Special"), and several other companies. His music plays on top-rated TV shows in the US and abroad. He’s also become a respected educator as well as performer, doing guitar workshops, master classes and blues in the schools throughout the the world.

"GUITAR GENIUS." - Living Blues

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

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

"Known to work his audiences to the bone, Catfish Keith is the real acoustic blues king!" -Rock 'n' Reel

"One of the finest acoustic bluesmen in America. Every fan of acoustic blues should have all of his discs in their collection. Every record label in America should be engaged in a bidding war. This man is flat-out spectacular!" -Big City Blues

"Catfish bends entire chords as well as the neck and body of his guitar to wrench emotion from his songs. Knock yourself out!” -Guitar Player

“For Catfish Keith, a resonator guitar is an organic extension of his body, an instrument he plays intuitively and with absolute authority. Manhandling Delta vamps, artfully finger picking rag-influenced Piedmont patterns and languidly chording ballads, Catfish is one of the premier pre-war style guitarists recording today.” - Living Blues



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