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Catfish Keith's Live at the Half Moon
CD Review from Living Blues Magazine, June 2011
by Matt Uricheck

"At once a catharsis and a powerful visual statement...
Keith calls down fire and brimstone with every lick on this emotionally charged performance."




Catfish Keith at Foyublues Festival. Photo by Alain Hervier.For the past two decades, some of the best interpretation of prewar Delta blues has come from none other than the state of Iowa and Catfish Keith.  Keith can scare the heck out of an audience with a bark as ferocious as Blind Willie Johnson, and get them moving with a foot-stomping romp like Bukka White rattling off Sic 'Em Dogs On Me.  Keith's Live at the Half Moon is his first ever live recording, but shouldn't be his last.  His Delta delivery is one of the best in contemporary blues, and it's clear that he shines brightest on a concert stage.

Keith's unassuming and congenial greeting to the audience at London's Half Moon club in November of 2008 belies the hair-raising experience that the crowd was about to have.  Keith soon tears into the hill country blast of Tell Everybody in Your Neighborhood, his manic palm muting of the strings creating a rigid homemade percussion while he yells out a forceful "hey" between verses.  Logging in at over eight minutes, Jessie Mae Hemphill's Eagle Bird (first appearing on Keith's 1997 studio record Twist It, Babe!) is at once a catharsis and powerful visual statement of resilience.  "I'm comin' down/you're going to spread your lonesome wings," Keith howls.

Catfish Keith's Live at the Half Moon CDThe direct-to-digital audio tape recording provides crystal clear sonic quality, and the silence of the crowd (seemingly mesmerized) lets every note and foot stomp Keith hits be completely audible.  On Keith's original composition Roll You in My Arms like a Wagon Wheel, he uses a slide/picking technique that essentially doubles his sound, as if he's being accompanied by another guitarist.  Keith's theatrical character also comes into play with a convulsive take on Rev. Gary Davis' You Got to Move.

Keith calls down fire and brimstone with every lick on this emotionally charged performance.





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