Catfish musicians win chance to play at Europe’s best blues festival

Matt Long. Picture by Graham Whittington
Matt Long. Picture by Graham Whittington

It’s turning into quite a year for West Sussex blues band Catfish.

In January their debut album soared straight to the top of the independent blues chart. Now they’ve been invited to play at what is officially Europe’s best blues festival.

The four-piece band have won through nationwide auditions to appear live at this year’s Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival, alongside Blues legends including Courtney Pine, Avery Sunshine, Coco Montoya, Davina & the Vagabonds and The Revolutionaires.

The band are one of only seven of the UK’s best unsigned blues artists to have been selected to play at the festival in Colne, Lancashire, over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Recently named as Europe’s Best R & B Festival for the second year running, it is expected that more than 20,000 people will flock to Colne during the four-day festival.

Catfish are led by 20-year-old Matt Long, from Horsham, who has played on stage with Buddy Whittington and Larry Miller and says he’s been heavily influenced by some of rock music’s greatest names, including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and BB King.

Matt’s dad Paul plays keyboard and joins his son on vocals, and the line-up is completed by Dusty Bones on bass and Kevin Yates on drums. The four of them met up at blue jams in Brighton and Worthing and formed the new band.

In January their first album So Many Roads was quickly picked up by internet blues stations and within three weeks reached number one in the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association chart. Now they’re about to record a four-track EP tribute to BB King and are writing some original songs for their next album.

After a series of auditions, Catfish were invited to play at this year’s Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival as part of the Jessica Foxley Unsigned initiative.

The Unsigned project was set up in memory of Jessica, a talented musician who died in a car crash at the age of 21. At the time of the accident in 2009, Jessica was on the cusp of breaking into a music career.

Her parents Paul and Margaret set up the Jessica Foxley Unsigned project as a lasting legacy of their music-loving daughter, aiming at giving unsigned musicians the chance to perform live alongside established music stars.

Matt said: “It’s a huge honour to be invited to play at the best blues festival in Europe so we’re really proud. It means even more now we know about Jessica’s tragic story and we feel privileged to be playing there. What her family have done in her memory is just brilliant”.

Organiser Alison Goode said: “The standard of the musicians who applied this year was remarkable. Once again we have found some really talented young people who can showcase themselves and their music at this fantastic event which draws in national and international lovers of blues music. The bands chosen can now write themselves into the legacy.”

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