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Catfish Inducted into Iowa Blues Hall of Fame
By David Hotle
Article from the Washington Evening Journal 10/01/2008
Catfish Keith, a lifelong blues musician and Washington resident, was honored with a spot in the Iowa Blues Association Hall of Fame recently.
Catfish Keith, a lifelong blues musician and Washington resident, was honored with a spot in the Iowa Blues Association Hall of Fame recently.
      When Keith Kozacik was a child, he searched for that one magical thing. He tried artwork. He tried acting. He even tried performing stage magic, but in his heart he knew it was only an illusion. Today, Catfish Keith spreads the magic of music to fans all over the world.
      On Sunday, Sept. 22, Catfish was inducted into the Iowa Blues Society Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Des Moines. His trophy sits next to other Washingtonians such as Pat Hazell and the late Rick Cicalo.
      "Enjoy the music and soak up as much as you can," Catfish said, of his 30-year love affair with the blues. " Music is really my passion. I think it's where I found magic. That singular devotion to whatever your passion is - that's what makes life worth it."
      While the first album he recorded in 1984 was called "Catfish Blues," Keith said the nickname "Catfish" really started when he was living in the Virgin Islands. He remembers one of his fishing buddies used to say to him, "You ain't nothin' but a catfish mon." He said the name stuck.
      What had also stuck earlier in his life was his love for acoustic guitar. When Catfish was about 12 years old growing up in Davenport, he remembers listening to some of the LPs his parents had, including Johnny Cash, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. As he studied the music, he discovered all the artists he listened to had gotten their roots from blues music. He said that he started listening to blues.
      "It really struck me hard and deep," Catfish said, of the music based on one person playing guitar and singing. It was from that he based his style.
      His first guitar was a Christmas gift from his parents. He remembers the guitar strings were so loose he could almost slide his fingers between them and the fret board. Still, he said, it was his guitar and he set out to learn to play the music he loved so much.
      Catfish said when he really found the magic was the first time he performed in front of an audience. When he was about 16 years old, he began doing gigs in coffee houses, local colleges and bars. The excitement, he said, happened when people came to listen to him.
      As a performance artist, Catfish has toured all over the world, bringing the musical style to the people.  He has traveled in all the countries of Europe, Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, as well as all the states in the United States.  He plans to leave for the United Kingdom soon.
    "I feel like an ambassador in a lot of ways," he said.  "Not only am I bringing music that's distinctly American,
 but I'm bringing with it the culture of the times it was created.  When people hear it, even though English might not be their first language, they really respond to it."
    Catfish credits his nomination to the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame to the late Mayor Rick Cicalo.  Also a career musician, Catfish said Cicalo was inducted last year and believes he told judges that Catfish should be nominated.  The rules say the carreer musician must be based in Iowa for at least 30 years.
    It's the first award he's ever won.  Catfish said he was overjoyed and honored when he learned he won.  He beamed when he said half the audience at the induction was people from Washington.  
    "I got to hang out with all my friends." he said of the ceremony.




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