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Sweet Pea CD Reviews

"The Naked Album"
"This album is best described with a series of facial expressions; something like that squinting, head-shaking bliss experienced after a bite of the best meal of your life. Catfish Keith appeals straight to the senses, especially going for those little tendons and ligaments which connect your spine to the rest of your body. It's certainly not every day that a blues album of this quality comes through our doors and even less common that after the end of the day, the album gets played again and again for deeper listening. But Catfish Keith isn't your usual dude. His 13-track gem, Sweet Pea, indulges the juiciest blues licks, giving in fully to the ache, the grind, that sensation which feels so good, it hurts. Heads up to the blues fans."     

                                                                                                 CD Baby Featured CD

                                                                                                                                   
                                     
"No country bluesman paints from a wider sonic palette than Catfish Keith. Incorporating copious string snaps, bent harmonics, rhythmic gymnastics, and other surprises into his interpretations of prewar blues, Keith creates something new while not losing sight of the groove that is so vital to this music.  On Sweet Pea, his tenth solo CD, he adds 12-string National Tricone to his arsenal of acoustic and resonator guitars, and you can practically feel his giddiness in exploring it's tonal and dynamic qualities on Leadbelly's 'When I Was a Cowboy' and Gus Cannon's 'Going to Germany.'  Keith - unaccompanied except for Marty Christensen's stand-up bass on a few tracks - also seems to enjoy teasing out the rumbling, primordial-sounding bottom end on several baritone Nationals: his slow, simmering rendition of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Lightning Flash, Thunder Roll" is particularly haunting..."                                       
   
                                                                                                         Acoustic Guitar
April 2006

                                                                                                                          

"...the effect is magical, a rollicking delight of outstanding quality.  If you want your acoustic blues with infectious rhythm, excellent singing, virtuoso picking, and a real groove, this is for you."                            
                                                                                                                Blues & Rhythm
UK


"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 prewar-style guitarists recording today.  As is the case with most talented pickers devoted exclusively to country and folk-blues, Keith takes no wild stylistic detours on Sweet Pea.  Rather, he offers outstanding interpretations of prewar tunes and originals that might as well be covers.  For Catfish, blues clearly hit its creative apex around 70 years ago.

"On his own dirty blues 'Gonna Get My Hambone Boiled', Keith sets the album's pace, sliding out a gutbucket Delta groove, scratching strings, and personifying a train with his guitar in the spirit of Blind Willie McTell.  His is an astonishing full sound, and even without accompaniment from bassist Marty Christensen, Catfish would sound like an entire jug ensemble on the hokum tune 'Salty Thang'.

"His Masterful technique recalls John Fahey in all his string-snapping, harmonic-ringing glory, though Catfish forgoes Fahey's eccentric repertiore in favor of a devotion to classic blues.  Covering everyone from Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Lightning Flash, Thunder Roll) to Gus Cannon (I'm Going to Germany) and Lead Belly (When I Was a Cowboy), Keith is a theatrical vocalist, singing as an entertainer rather than waxing emotive, personal laments.  The guitar playing is surely the main attraction here, and 'Blotted Out My Mi
nd' alone earns Catfish comparison to Frank Hovington, Elizabeth Cotton, and other virtuoso six-stringers."
                                                                                                                          Living Blues  May-June 2006


"For more than 25 years, this W.C. Handy Award-nominated Iowa blues singer, songwriter and bottleneck guitarist has traveled the world preserving gritty Delta blues with as much authenticity and enthusiasm as any acoustic bluesman out there.  And though he honors the traditions of his heros like Sister Rosetta Tharpe ('Lightning Flash, Thunder Roll'), Leadbelly ('When I Was a Cowboy') and Skip James ('Put Your Bucket in Your Basket') with conviction on his stellar new album, Sweet Pea, equally impressive is the revisionist approach he takes to creating songs that stand up to the standards he champions.  Original tunes, such as the ramblin' 'Goin' Up North, Gonna Get My Hambone Boiled,' the sanctified 'A True Friend is Hard to Find,' and the dreamy Hawaiian instrumental 'Deep Sea Moan,' further establish him as one of the most accomplished post-war country players of our time."             
                                                                                                                             Dirty Linen  April-May 2006                                                         
                                                                                                                                    

"On Catfish Keith's latest batch of simply and sweetly self-produced acoustic material, selections range from the gospel sounds of Sister Rosetta Tharpe (to whom Keith claims to have listened nonstop for a year straight) to songs recorded by Leadbelly.  Beginning with 'Gonna Get My Hambone Boiled' and concluding with Gus Cannon's mournful 'I'm Going to German,' Keith hard-driving guitar is relentless.  He's joined by Marty Christensen on standup bass on about half the tracks, creating an infectious and affecting acoustic groove. 

"His penchant for raunch is evidenced by 'Salty Thang,' a ribald ditty he learned 20 years ago from the Otis Brothers at the Philly Folk Fest, and by Skip James' 'Put Your Bucket in Your Basket,' which Keith sings in a convincing falsetto.  There's also a dark side to Sweet Pea, demonstrated best by the oft-recorded 'Blotted Out My Mind.' But Keith seems to be at home on emotionally lighter, harmonically brighter fare such as 'Baby I'm a Fine Artiste,' first recorded in the early 1970's by R. Crumb and His Cheap Suit Serenaders.  Also irresistable is 'Little Sweet Pea,' where Keith sings, 'She's my daily thought and my nightly dream / I'd walk ten thousand miles just to see what she's doin'.'  The disc's most powerful track is the M.K. Moke-inspired 'Deep Sea Moan,' played on a baritone Tricone National.  His playing and song selection are always dead-on."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                           Blues Revue Feb-Mar 2006



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