Who is Catfish Stephenson?
The man. The myth. The mayhem. The music.
A singer. A songwriter. A legendary, guitar-slinging blues busker.
A failed marine. A failed seminarian. A soul-saving Pentecostal preacher man.
A cycle-riding, gun-toting, nut-job-attracting, road-kill-barbecuing,
American-made musical anti-hero for our times.
A genuine, one-of-a-kind, original.
"Mama had a jug band."
Even before he shaved off the droopy trademark mustache that earned him his nickname, "Catfish" Stephenson had a long history of skirting expectation.
Born in the Midwest in the middle of the century, young Stephenson grew up in a household that hummed with music: Tin Pan Alley, ragtime, fox trots, and country two-steps. The Gershwins. Sinatra. His mother fronted a popular jug band of the day, and both grandfathers jammed the squeezebox. And while making music was a matter of fact in the family, making a life of music wasn't a vocation anyone could have predicted for young Catfish.
"I was looking for me."
Growing up, Stephenson devoured books about the old west. He spent hours poring over the grainy black and white images, searching for a face that resembled his own. He knew he belonged to a different time and place. Out of step with his AM radio-loving peers, Stephenson found himself drawn to a different sort of music-Hank Williams, Lightin' Hopkins, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and any number of broken-down, uncelebrated bluesmen long forgotten.
"I watched. And I learned."
Following fruitless, failed, and blessedly brief stints in the Catholic seminary and military, Stephenson took to the road where his real musical education began. From Madison, WI to Steamboat Springs, CO to Springfield, OR, to Austin, TX, to Ocean Springs, MS, to Key Largo, FL, and back, he crisscrossed the country, south and west. And in every backcountry cur dog town, and at every red dirt bump-in-the-road in between, Stephenson sought out the local country and blues musicians who became his teachers and musical mentors.
"I make music to please me."
Thousands of street corner gigs, hundreds of skanky bars and sorry-assed whorehouses, and countless musical line-ups later, Catfish Stephenson and his current co-conspirators have cooked up something utterly new. Their latest release-"The Way You Move"-is a greasy gumbo of delta blues, swampy serenades, Texas boogie, roadhouse rave-ups, lonesome cowboy laments, and the odd Parrothead lullaby. Catfish Stephenson's music is a heartfelt homage to all things musically American. It feels like freedom and it rings like truth.