Catfish Keith’s Acoustic Blues Fantasia

A fingerpicking shaman essays tunes from his 40-year career with depth, taste, and tone.

Catfish Keith

Blues at Midnight: Original Songs of Catfish Keith

Achieving lovely, burnished, rich acoustic tone is a lifelong pursuit, and Iowa-based singer and fingerstylist Catfish Keith has plucked 13 songs from his 40-year career to showcase in this collection. All are masterfully played, on instruments ranging from a 1927 Gibson Nick Lucas Special to a 1930 National Duolian to recent guitars by builders like Collings and Santa Cruz. And while exceptional instruments always tilt the deck in a player's favor, it's Keith's deft picking-hand control—producing perfectly rounded notes colored by equally well-chiseled dynamics—that makes listening so nourishing.

But this isn't just comfort food. Keith's command of acoustic blues styles is wide and impressive, from Mississippi's Delta and hill country, and the Texas flats, with influences from the West Indies, Mexico, and other lands adding depth. His voice and allusive lyrics help weave this album's distinctive spell—the work of a highly accomplished acoustic blues shaman.

Must-hear tracks: “West Indian Waltz," “Blues at Midnight," “Jumpin' Jack Rabbit"

Rig Rundown: Adam Shoenfeld

Whether in the studio or on his solo gigs, the Nashville session-guitar star holds a lotta cards, with guitars and amps for everything he’s dealt.

Adam Shoenfeld has helped shape the tone of modern country guitar. How? Well, the Nashville-based session star, producer, and frontman has played on hundreds of albums and 45 No. 1 country hits, starting with Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown,” since 2005. Plus, he’s found time for several bands of his own as well as the first studio album under his own name, All the Birds Sing, which drops January 28.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.



• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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