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If I Could Holler CD Reviews
from Blues Revue, Premier Guitar & Living Blues



"If I Could Holler" CD by Catfish Keith"If Catfish Keith couldn't sing a note, he could take over the world with his guitar chops alone.  The fact that he injects as much passion into his vocal delivery as his acoustic resonator strangulations singles him out as a Catfish worth trolling for.  The 14 arresting tracks on his latest release, If I Could Holler, will leave you feeling...hooked.

"A solo acoustic blues outing, the sound is divided betweeen Keith's distinctive, hard-plucked
, rhythmic style of guitar playing and his rather startling vocal assault - an odd, urchin-like quality that bobs and weaves in time with his guitar histrionics for a truly expressive double shot of talent.  This hour-long set of foot-stompers and head-turners  kicks off with the title track, an original  that rides the back of Keith's thrilling, highly animated 12-string accompaniment.  The comparititvely simple Pack My Little Suitcase showcases the high drama Keith can squeeze from the neck of a six-string, as his expressive vocals begin to hypnotize, if not mesmerize.  A reworking of the beloved traditional The Cuckoo presents Keith's talents in their best light, injecting the old chestnut with uncommon zest.  His treatment here underlines his musical philosophy: like many of his old-time blues idols (Son House, Robert Pete Williams, Bukka White), Keith brings a personal style to traditional songs and delivers them in his own distinctive way.  Keith uses the term "re-creations" to describe the time-honored gems he reworks, some more liberally than others.  As a result, the ghosts of Leadbelly, Jessie Mae Hemphill and Blind Willie McTell flow freely through his work, yet he lays claim to a playing and singing style so thoroughly distinctive that everything old is new again.

"Gonna Live That Life honors Keith's love for Joseph Spence's distinctly Bahamian contribution -- and intricate, polyrhythmic guitar approach blending island rhythms with vocals utilizing a series of grunts, groans and guffaws that serve the guitar's melody.  Despite falling head-over-heels in love with Son House's deep delta blues as a teenager and migrating towards the influence of Mississippi Hill Country music, Keith's distinctive style owes a large debt to Spence's lovable musical idiosyncracies.  McTell's gospel Cross the River of Jordan is augmented here by Keith's strong slide skills on baritone bottleneck guitar.  His original Nineteen Birddogs pays tribute to Charley Patton's Pony Blues, and, as with most of Keith's compositions, what could stand as an instrumental achieves full liftoff with his spirited vocals.  

"A reworking of Skip James' My Gal leans on a slight falsetto that does the piece no favors, but three bars into the sensational Jitterbug Swing, Keith reclaims your complete attention.  This classic is absolute butter in Keith's hot hands.  One of his signature tunes in concert, he imbues it with equal parts funk and fun.  To do anything short of hearing it again and again does the song a disservice.  Offbeat, original and uncommomly satisfying, this 46-year-old, Indiana-born bluesman is overdue his rightful place in both the blues history books and your own library."

- Blues Revue, # 113, Aug-Sep 2008, by Eric Thom




"I love this CD - let's just get that our of the way right now.  There's a raw, pure energy to it.  So live and in the moment - almost innocent, yet very worldly.  The strings snap, sizzle and twang in just the right way, and that powerful voice growls, whispers,snarls and hollers in all the right places.  The originals blend seamlessly with tradition, and the old songs are lovingly presented, full of power and inimitable mischief.  Drawing from an enviable arsenal of guitars, this solo outing is rich and sonically varied; from steel to wood, from bottleneck to flesh, from sex to gospel, this CD is endlessly engaging and downright fun to listen to."

- Premier Guitar, June 2008, by Gayla Drake Paul




"With his eleventh solo release Catfish Keith delivers another rousing set of resonator-driven blues cuts that pay homage to several acoustic blues masters but with enough of Keith's own unique flair and touch to keep the material fresh.  

"Keith has fashioned a 30-plus year career by mining his deep love for the Mississippi Delta and Piedmont styles of blues.  The two-time Handy Award nominee brings it all together in his lastest release on Fish Tail Records.  

"Keith's playing evokes images of the easy-rolling blues of Mississippi John Hurt on the album's lid-lifter and title cut.  One listen to the sweet melody of the title cut, powered by Keith's 12-string mastery, and the listener can instantly recognize an artist comfortable with his craft and appreciative of those who have paved the path before him.  

"Throughout If I Could Holler, Keith unleashes reams of emotionally charged riffs and evokes images of a bygone era.  

"While his music gives a serious tip of the hat to many of the masters, such as Leadbelly on Big Fat Woman (with the Meat Shaking on the Bone) or Skip James on My Gal or Sister Rosetta Tharpe on Rock Me, don't make the mistake of classifying Keith as an imitator.  

"Keith keeps each track fresh with his own spot-on interpretations while his impeccable mastery of the resonator drives this release straight to the heart of the blues."

- Living Blues, #195, May-June 2008, by Dave Ruthenberg









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