There are cats who can sing and play the Bayou and the blues…and then there is Chicago born & Iowa raised Catfish Keith.
Upon meeting him before a recent show (January 28, 2017) in Lafayette, California, he comes across like a regular guy. Nice, easy going. It’s when he hits the stage that the power of his voice and awe inspiring guitar work power through…like a musical tornado that knocks you on yer ass. And you’re glad to have ignored the storm warning. Continue reading
After a day of working in San Francisco recently, I took some time to peruse record stores on Haight Street in the City. Yes, the same Haight Street made famous (infamous?) during the late 1960s for drugs, free love and protests. THE Haight-Ashbury district. Haight street is record alley. There are a number of record stores on it or nearby. In one respect, the Haight hasn’t changed. Some of the stores still take on the appearance of that time, with peace symbols and tye-dyed t-shirts in the window. But that’s just for show. They’re in business to make money, not love. Two of the record stores I tried to check out weren’t going to make any money on me, however, as they both closed on a Friday afternoon! Continue reading
Old blues musicians don’t die, they just fade away… Except in Robert Johnson’s case, when Columbia released his recordings in a major box set. If you have read my post where I review Elijah Wald’s great book about Johnson, you are in the know. But what about the music? So here it is! Compared pits Columbia’s 1990 box set extravaganza Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings (C2K 46222) versus their own vinyl, Robert Johnson: King of the Delta Blues Singers (CL 1654). My mono LP is probably an early 1980s release, with no barcode. Wish it was the original 1961 version of the vinyl, but this will have to do. Continue reading
I’ve read a lot of music biographies and histories, but Escaping the Delta, by Elijah Wald, might just be the best. Wald dissects the way we look at the blues today, versus the way Americans looked at it back when it was fresh and new (the early 1900s). The differences are startling. Perhaps most interestingly, he reframes our perception of the King of the Delta Blues, Robert Johnson…or at least, the man the Columbia public relations department claimed was the King of the Delta Blues on a 1961 record album. Continue reading
Most of us know of bluesman B.B. King from his one hit, The Thrill Is Gone (1970, originally penned in 1951 by Hawkins and Darnell). But King produced a lot of LPs before that. There are no liner notes on Custom Records CS 1052 “R&B Series,” a stereo LP released sometime in the 60s. So I don’t know who the band is, but the horn section and organist are cookin’. The LP is apparently a mish mash of several sessions mushed together on one LP. It sounds like it, too. Continue reading