Catfish Kray Blues Band
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Catfish Kray Blues Band

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Colorado Music Buzz – May 2007
Live Blues: Catfish & the Crawlers
By JR Wolfe

Listening to Catfish & the Crawlers play at Jazz@Jacks’s was like being transported though time and space to the legendary Stax/Volt Blues revues in Memphis. Their current lineup boasts four distinctive lead vocalists and fine horn section in Greg Sage on trumpet and Joe Lilly on saxophone. MJ Harrold is the lady keyboardist that sings lead on half the songs. Here is a voice steeped in Gospel that can belt out the Blues like a red hot roadhouse mamma. Clarence Johnsen can play bass and sings the deepest Blues on “Texas Flood”. Charter member “Bland Willie” Garcia provides the backbeat and sings the dance numbers. Founder and leader “Catfish” Edd Kray plays lead guitar, harmonica, and sings with gutbucket gusto. Highlights included the three new songs from their forthcoming all original album. “Stink Bait” is an instrumental composed by Catfish that had the horn section swinging and also boasts a fine guitar solo. MJ Harrold sang both her co-composition with Catfish, “Chuckie’s Place” and her own “Sittin’ Alone”. The perfect four-part harmonies in “You Can Leave Your Hat On” merit further exhibition. The show ended with a rocking “Sweet Home Chicago” that had Catfish jumping off the stage and dancing with the audience, still playing his guitar – a high energy finish to a fine show.

- Colorado Music Buzz – May 2007


Customarily, first dates are about investigating whether or not one wants a second. November opened on my second date with Catfish and the Crawlers, and I do believe we’re en route to true love. The strain of a long, hectic week evaporated during their jumpin’ opening instrumental (starting with the horns), and all was right with the world again. With the six talented musicians that comprise this band, one would be hard-pressed to determine which has the heaviest case of the blues. They all adhere to the tradition we so love while contributing their own soulful considerations to some ass-kicking classics.



Let’s start with the gorgeous chick (no bias here…). MJ’s got some serious pipes (and knows her way around the keyboards), and you haven’t heard Buddy Guy’s “Five Long Years” until you hear her tear it up on being fed up. The girl can capture a crowd with seemingly little effort and truly knows how to move. No offense to the boys, but sometimes it takes a woman to get it done.



And sometimes it takes a man. Like when bassist Clarence Johnsen elects to cover some Robert Johnson. With a voice that is bigger than he is, Johnsen takes a song to the deep places, evoking long misplaced memories of past gigs and loves. Then the drummer gets involved. Blind Willie Garcia has the groove and the voice, and man can he rock Bobby Rush’s “Hoochie Man.” So damn much fun! And it was his birthday. Happy birthday, again, Willie! Thanks for giving us the gift of you.



The gentlemen (I assume) on horns bring some considerable cool points to the stage. Of course, they scored the coolest points when they left the stage, with Joe Lilly (sax) sitting at the bar, and Greg Sage (trumpet) at a table. Moving the sound around the room as they did made for a very haunting, affecting atmosphere. They are very good and riveting to watch.



Then there’s Catfish. What can I tell you about Catfish? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret plan of mine; came to me last night in the first set trying to capture the essence that is Catfish. I’m thinking maybe a screenplay based on a bluesman who has the powers of Cassandra (read up on your Greeks if you don’t what that means), but his prophecies are only imparted through original blues songs he can only perform once. Ok, clearly my imagination got the best of me, but he is a character, fascinating to watch. He’s had a guitar in his hands forever as his solos confirm. Absolutely old school! He possesses an immense charisma both on and off the stage, bringing an exuberant theatricality to the band. I dare anyone to disagree with me. He is an accomplished blues guitarist and a true showman. He sucks you in.

One of the band’s originals, “Chuckie’s Place”, should be a Colorado anthem. This number has city pride all over it, and it captures the Spirit of Place (thank you, Mr. Durrell) in the tradition of music and literature (and bonus points for those who know who and where this song is about). How can one think of Chicago without hearing “Sweet Home” in front of it? I mean with a chorus like this “Going down to Chuckie’s, where they play the blues all night/Going down to Chuckie’s, that’s where they do it right/Gonna be shaking and jiving till the morning light.” And then there’s this: “Going down to Union Station, stop at Redfish for a brew/Watch the Amtrak leaving, off to Chicago by 2/Hear Ace play some Muddy, or the Crawlers do what they do/Eat those bright red crawdads and some jambalaya stew.” COME ON!!! As residents of this state, we should all be petitioning radio stations to give this some serious play. I mean seriously!

So, it’s fairly evident I’m looking for a third date with Catfish and the Crawlers. I hope they call soon… http://www.catfishnthecrawlers.com/



Speaking of dates, the Delta Sonics will be back this Saturday night, fresh on the heels of backing Steady Rollin’. As some of you may know, I’m a fan of this band (and no, not a stalker as some have suggested!), and Al Chesis got to talking about playing with Bob, so I think I will leave you this week with his thoughts on performing with such a legend. And I’ll see you Saturday night (I’ll be the one stalking the band).

Honey Sepeda



It's really special for me to get to work with Bob, because I went to see Muddy in DC when I was 16. The music moved me, and the next day I went and bought my first harmonica. If you look at the old videos of Muddy from the 70's, Bob is always on Muddy's right side. It’s obvious he paid attention, because no one plays Muddy's deep Chicago blues style like Bob today. At the Boulder Outlook , Bob always throws down, and the crowd is extra receptive. The cool thing is he plays all the other styles of blues guitar equally well: T-Bone, Robert Lockwood, Freddie King, BB, Robert Nighthawk, Lowell Fulsom, the list goes on and on. Man, he's an encyclopedia of blues guitar styles! It’s an honor for me as a harmonica player to get to play with Bob.” Al Chesis, The Delta Sonics



P.s. I wanted to share a recent experience with you. (For those of you not familiar with Boulder, we used to have an eyesore known as the Crossroads Mall.)

Ok, something happened to me on my way home on the night of October’s full moon. I couldn’t be sure if what I think happened actually happened. I needed some time to process. Well, now I think I can let you in on it, freaky and unbelievable though it is.

I’d been at the Outlook listening to some great, soulful blues and decided to walk home. Walking up the highway, laptop in my bag propped up on my shoulder. October cool night, full moon filling up the dark sky, I was thinking about the blues preaching to me, "Put that laptop down, girl, you drivin' people nuts." It was a quiet, dark and lonesome road, with a crazed, poisoned dog howling and moaning in a ditch alongside the road sending electrified chills up and down my spine, as I was coming up on the ghost of the demolished Crossroads Mall just south of home. Then I saw a man sitting off to the side of the road on a log at the heart if the old Crossroads Mall, and he says, "You're late, Honey Sepeda." I dropped to my knees and said, "Maybe not."

The man stood up, tall, barrel-chested, and black as forever, and walked out to the middle of the old Crossroads Mall where I kneeled down. He says, "Stand up, Honey Sepeda. You want to throw that laptop over there in that ditch with that hairless dog and go on back to the Outlook and just listen, because you just another blues reviewer like all the rest, or you want to write about the blues like nobody ever wrote about it before? Turn phrases nobody ever heard before? You want to be the Queen of the Blues Writers and have all the whiskey and men you want?"

"That's a lot of whiskey and men, Devil-Man."

"I know you, Honey Sepeda," says the man.

I felt the moonlight bearing down on my head and the back of my neck as the moon seemed to be growing bigger and bigger and brighter and brighter. I feel it like the heat of the noonday sun bearing down, and the howling and moaning of the dog in the ditch penetrates my soul, coming up through my feet and the tips of my fingers through my legs and arms, settling in that big empty place beneath my breastbone causing me to shake and shudder like a woman with the palsy. I said, "That dog gone mad."

The man laughs. "That hound belong to me. He ain't mad, he's got the Blues. I got his soul in my hand."

The dog lets out a low, long soulful moan, a howling like never heard before, rhythmic, syncopated grunts, yelps, and barks, seizing me like a Grand Mal, and causing the keys on my laptop to vibrate, hum, possessing me, taking me over, spinning me around, losing me inside of my own self, wasting me, lifting me up into the sky. I looked over in the ditch and see the eyes of the dog reflecting the bright moonlight or, more likely so it seems to me, glowing on their own, a deep violet penetrating glow, and I knew and felt that I was staring into the eyes of a Hellhound as his body shudders from head to toe.

The man says, "The dog ain't for sale, Honey Sepeda, but the words can be yours. The words of the Blues."

"I got to have those phrases and interviews, Devil-Man. They are mine! Where do I sign?"

The man says, "You ain't got a pencil, Honey Sepeda. Your word is good enough. All you got to do is keep walking north. But you better be prepared. There are consequences."

"Prepared for what, Devil-man?"

"You know where you are, Honey Sepeda? You are standing in the middle of the old Crossroads Mall at midnight, and that full moon is right over your head. You take one more step in the direction you're headed, you going to be in your office under this full October moon, and you are going to write about the Blues like never known to this world. My left hand will be forever wrapped around your soul, and your newsletters will possess all who read them. That's what's going to happen. That's what you better be prepared for. Your soul will belong to me. This is not just any old Crossroads Mall. I put this "X" here for a reason, and I been waiting on you."

I rolled my head around, eyes upwards in their sockets to stare at the blinding light of the moon which has now completely filled the pitch-black Front Range night, piercing my right eye like a bolt of lightning as the midnight hour hit. I looked the big man squarely in the eyes and says, "Step back, Devil-Man, I'm going to my office. I am the Blues Reporter."

The man moves to one side and says, "Go on, Honey Sepeda. You the Queen of the Blues Reviewers. Go on home to your office. And when you get to your office, you get you a plate of hot tamales because you going to be needing something on your stomach where you're headed."

And that’s what happened, I swear. It was my Meeting with the Devil at the Former Crossroads Mall. Now, forward this along and let’s get the legend started. 11/07


- Blues News


We at the Highlands Ranch Community Association are happy to recommend Catfish & the Crawlers to anyone looking for a good show!

We worked with Catfish & the Crawlers this past summer, as a part of our 2007 Summer Concert Series. The group entertained nearly 1,000 audience members, with many up on their feet, dancing and tapping to the beats. Kids and adults alike enjoyed the engaging band with upbeat songs to move to.

We absolutely enjoyed working with Catfish & the Crawlers – the band members were all professional, yet fun and had a very energetic spirit! The interactive show that involved the audience was fun and very entertaining.

We were extremely pleased with Catfish & the Crawlers and look forward to working with them again in the future.
.
I am happy to answer any further questions if you need.

Best Regards,

Jamie


Jamie H. Noebel
Community Relations Manager
Highlands Ranch Community Association
Highlands Ranch Cultural Affairs Association
9568 S. University Blvd.
Highlands Ranch, CO 80126
303-471-8807
- Highlands Ranch Community Association


“We LOVED having Catfish and the Crawlers at our event. Not only were they completely professional, they were a whole lot of fun. Even with the high winds and the cold that we weren’t expecting, they played right through and really made the event special. We’d absolutely recommend them in a heartbeat.” Mary Jo Tomlinson, Outlook HOA. - Outlook HOA


Discography

Our commercial CD, "Splash" was released in May of 09 on Circle 504 Records. Nine original modern, electric blues cuts and 3 classic covers.
samples available on our website: www.catfishkrayband.com or downloadable "snippets" in this EPK

The CD includes:
Catfishin Catfish Kray Blues Band (CKBB) original
Lady Luck (CKBB)
Furr-Bag Blues (CKBB)
Chuckies Place (CKBB)
Busy Woman Blues (Levay Smith)
Good Bottle of Wine (CKBB)
My Kinda Guy (Shemekia Copeland)
How'd You Learn to Shake it Like That (Ana Popovic)
Without Me (CKBB)
Wandering Eyes (CKBB)
Cherry Streeet Shuffle (CKBB)
Quittin Time Blues (CKBB)

Cover tunes in the list include material by BB King, Albert Collins, Jr. Wells, Susan Tedeschi, Billie Holliday, Ropbert Johnson, Debbie Davies. A current listing is on our official website.

Photos

Bio

The debut CD was released on May 29, 2009 and has received rave reviews including a Grammy entry in contemporary blues and a threee star review in Downbeat. Blues the way we see the blues in 2009: Uptempo, funky, electric and made to move people.

Our music: Picture a late night Mississippi Juke House with hundreds of tired sharecroppers drinkin', dancin, recoverin' from a week in the cottonfields and HAVIN' A GOOD TIME.

We've been around for over a decade. In spring of 09 we released our commercial CD of "Colorado-style Blues". We play a modern, electric blues style, funky and set to make people get up and dance. Our horn section gives us the "big'band sound" and our lady vocalist, Jesse Garland (actually a cousin of "Judy" herself) can move a large crowd.

We are unique amongst "blues bands" in being a very tightly reheased act with highly organized horn arrangements. The band projects an aura of "class" rather than "grunge".

Jesse Garland, our lead vocalist, comes from a big-band, theatre background and is the visual center of the band. She moves, emotes and draws a crowd into our performance; a true show lady. (see our full website www.catfishkrayband.com for a full hour video performace on the cable TV, "Blues Tuesday: TV show).

Catfish sings a few, writes most of our original material, and plays a mean lead guitar. He has been strongly influenced by the people and culture of the Mississippe delta. We play our own style of blues and it's 21st Century. If Catfish has favorites and influences they include B.B King, Albert Collins and Robert Jr. Lockwood, performers who blended old school blues with the advancemenst of their day.

Our rythm section of Ed Braezaele and Jeff Davis lay down a heavy groove and get ANY crowd on its feet.

The band has been together for over a decade. audience reaction here in Denver has been overwhelming (see schedule in EPK). We began on our original CD in January of 2009, and it was released in May of 2009 on Circle 504 Records.