"One of the finest acoustic bluesmen in America.... This man is flat-out spectacular!"- Big City Blues
On this outstanding lesson, Catfish Keith teaches his trademark arrangements of seven traditional country blues songs. He first plays the tune, then slows it down to highlight how he achieves his powerful fingerpicking style featuring heavy vibrato, powerful bends, "artificial" or "harp" harmonics, bottleneck slide and plenty of funky attitude.
Catfish starts his lesson with Jessie Mae Hemphill's Eagle Bird, a hypnotic one-chord song in the Mississippi Hill style. Catfish says "it's a bone-simple song," but by using his trademark techniques he transforms it into a powerful statement. Why Don't You Take Mr. Catfish's Advice? is another one-chord song, this time in the Key of A. Insistent rhythms influenced by Mance Lipscomb and John Lee Hooker combine a damped, steady one-note bass with a bass riff that's echoed in harmonics that add to your pallet of sounds. "You don't need a pile of chords," he says, "just one or two good ones."
Police and a Sergeant uses the alternating thumb style with syncopation and improvisations in the key of C. Lil Green's Knockin' Myself Out Gradually by Degrees features a double-time section, a Lonnie Johnson-style solo in harmonics with bass string snaps and a "sweep harmonic" chord wipe.
Moving to the Caribbean style inspired by the great Joseph Spence ("one of my favorite guitarists of all time"), Catfish teaches his dropped-D arrangement of the calypso Brown Skin Girl. Here he uses musically simple ideas, but with the use of heavy syncopation, rhythmic variations and improvisation he takes the song into brand new territory.
Changing to his steel-body National and using bottleneck and fingerpicks, Catfish teaches Bye and Bye, I'm Going to See the King by Blind Willie Johnson. He uses open C tuning (CGCEGC) and talks about tone, vibrato, slide technique and alternating bass picking. The lesson ends with an amazing performance of Bukka White's powerful slide piece Jitterbug Swing, including fancy slapping/strumming moves as well as great show-stopping fingerpicking slide.
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