Michael Katon Live!
The 100 Club in Oxford Street, London boasts a strong tradition of supporting the blues, having hosted Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Otis Span, Sonny Boy Williamson and those influenced by them such as The Yardbirds, Clapton, Beck, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. This week it was the turn of Michael Katon to bring his hard rocking Detroit blues to The 100 Club in a welcome return to Central London for the guitarist who comes from the small town of Hell, Michigan.
Katon’s appearance marked the first of a regular series of Tuesday blues nights since the venue was renovated. It said much for Katon’s virtuosity and his ability to weave the meanest blues and boogie that the club warmed up quickly on a wet and cold Tuesday evening as he launched into opening number “Hard On The Boogie”.
Katon was supported by bass player Tod Perkins and superb ex-Alice Cooper and Mitch Rider drummer Johnny “Bee” Badanjek. As they played “Red Moon Rising”, a song based upon Freddie King’s “Going Down”, Katon’s impressive guitar string bending skills were starting to warm up. Even Yuri Geller can’t bend metal with such magical effect.
Pausing to adjust his guitar, which had de-tuned in the heat, Katon grinned and said about his strat, “When it’s cold it’s tight, but when it’s hot it’s loose. I don’t know which I prefer: Cold and tight, or hot and loose….” I’m sure he was still referring to his guitar.
“No More Whisky” related the tale of when the doctor told Michael to stop drinking, which he did back in 1990. It hasn’t done his playing any harm for Katon is a genuine six-string master. Having grown up in the midst of the Detroit blues scene in the sixties, and having met many of the original bluesmen, Katon’s playing is authoritative, skilful and full of raw blues emotion. It is a privilege to see live.
On the night, Katon’s sweet slide-work first made an appearance on “Fried Jalapeños” from the “Rip It Hard” album. During “Luv A Dawg” things slowed a little, and Katon channelled Hendrix, turning up the volume and feedback.
As the show concluded with an encore of “Jump Back” I was left marvelling at such a talented guitarist. He’s a rare talent: quite a player which isn’t something you get the chance to see every day.
Michael Katon continues his tour this week and next in the UK and then onwards to Europe: catch him if you can.
As a postscript to this review, I ought to mention a couple of things. Firstly, I wrote an article about Michael a couple of weeks ago, about a time many years ago when I bought his album and he wrote thanking me. As it tuned out, he responded to the article on his Facebook page as follows:
“Wow!…this brings back some memories!…
I had been playing gigs for nearly 20 years before I made my first record…No record label would record me without me compromising and watering down my sound…In my opinion compromising is for losers so I said “f- ’em!” and formed my own record label Wildass Records…I recorded myself…pressed up cassette tapes myself and sold them mail order…Luckily my pal Cub Koda (Brownsville Station-‘Smokin’ In The Boy’s Room’) was writing for Goldmine Magazine a worldwide publication and reviewed the album ‘Boogie All Over Your Head’ and inserted my address for mail orders…this was back in the days before the Internet…I received orders from all over the world…Australia,Iceland,Brazil,Europe and the UK…
I would buy the mailers and stuff the tapes in and drive the orders to the post office myself and mail them…I knew how hard it was to get your records distributed back in those days so I would include a letter of appreciation to the fan because I really did appreciate the fact that someone would go to the trouble of getting an international bank check and mailing it to me and wait a few weeks to get the cassette in the mail!…
A lot of time has passed since then but I still do really appreciate all of you that support me by buying my CDs/downloads and coming out to the shows!
Nowadays I don’t always have the time I would like to answer each one of you that writes to me here at FaceBook,Twitter or my website etc.,But I do see most everything and still like to hear from you!…
Hope to see you at a show soon
Warm Regards From Hell!,MK”
I followed this up with an email, and asked for an interview. Michael turned out to have a fascinating story to tell, involving brief mentions for the likes of Iggy Pop, Free, Muddy Waters, and some bad behaviour with Rick Dufay (ex of Aerosmith) and one of the girls from that Robert Palmer video. I wrote it all up for Classic Rock Magazine, who published it online for a time. An adapted version of that interview can be seen by clicking this link.
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