Catfish Keith

American Blues musician Catfish Keith on stage at the Shelley Theatre

Catfish Keith: The Shelley Theatre, Bournemouth, Saturday 11th November, 2017

From the moment that extraordinary American blues singer/guitarist Catfish Keith  stepped onto the Shelley Theatre  stage he had the audience spellbound.

Putting his own unique spin on US roots music of a bygone era, he delivered a note-bending, foot-stomping, mind-stretching celebration of acoustic blues.

His collection of rare songs, often from the 20s, 30s and 40s, is astonishing. His unique talent is to reinvent them while never losing sight of their original spirit. It’s something Catfish Keith does astonishingly well, wrenching impossible notes from three custom-designed, hand-built guitars.

In a two hour plus show he delivered a selection of material covering everything from deep delta blues and the hypnotic music of the Mississippi hill country to jail laments and cowboy songs.

With musicianship honed over a 35 year career, he coaxed sweet melodies and howls of anguish from his guitars with dextrous finger picking, beefy bottleneck slide and some glorious 12 string numbers.

There were songs with dubious titles like I’m Going Up North To Get My Hambone Boiled Because If I Stay Down South My Hambone will be Spoiled.  There were also crazy tales of bluesman like Jimmie Davis, the Singing Governor of Louisiana, whose tawdry songs like She’s a Hum Dum Dinger From Dingersville indicated the flip-side of a family-friendly career that saw the innocuous You Are My Sunshine become his greatest hit.

Catfish gave us Dingersville of course. There was much, much more in this concert that explored the music of Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Willie Johnson among others.

There was even a lovely duet with his wife and manager, Penny Cahill, who joined him on stage to serenade a pair of newlyweds in the audience with  Hurt’s Satisfied and Tickled Too and Old Enough To Marry You.

Jeremy Miles



© Jeremy Miles 2022