Catching a Golden Catfish

Catching a Golden Catfish

When Covid hit the world 4 years ago, Toronto was hit hard in the live music department. Not only did we not go see live music for a long time, we lost a lot of great music clubs that kept this city vibrant for years. Since then, the traditional clubs have not really been resurfacing. In fact I noticed a trend in musicians finding unique place to play their music. I have seen live music in skateboard shops, General Stores and even under the Gardiner. In fact Blast Toronto is promoting music in a record store called Press Vinyl Café every Wednesday night.

Well another trend that is growing is having live music in our local distilleries. I received an email from Cameron Hawkins, who is well known for fronting the band FM, whose hits include “Phasors on stun”, and “Just like you”, in the 1970’s and 80’s. Today he is having a good time playing in a Blues band called The Catfish Blues Band. It seems they are one of those acts who are now playing the occasional gig in a Brewery. This is a relatively new brewery that opened about a year and a half ago and began promoting live music for about two months.

The place is called Goldenfield Brewery and they are located at 71 Sunrise Ave, which is roughly around Victoria Park Ave and O’Conner Drive. Not only is the beer good but they have these meatball sandwiches that you would kill for.

I walked into a pretty packed house of newbies and fans of Cameron Hawkins who probably have not seen him live for quite awhile. The beer was flowing and the meatball sandwiches were a huge hit. The band came on for the first set and within a few songs I noticed they were not rehashing the typical blues you would hear from all the other bands out there. These were really obscure Blues that I didn’t even know that well. Well this was very refreshing to be surprised by a band doing things their way. They did the song Fire: You know the one where Robin Williams sings it like Elmer Fudd, well they did this one justice, the only other ones I recognized was the Allman Brothers and the Black Crows.

They had a beer and joined us for a second set. I am sure they didn’t have to pay for that beer. That is the advantages of working for a Brewery. The band seemed tighter and looser at the same time.  Cameron was starting to pull out his Rock Star moves out more and the drummer, Mike Polywoda was hitting the kit with solid precision. He was not afraid of spicing up the sound where most bands just play it through. I noticed a difference with this band. Most Blues Band I have witnessed lately can play the songs well, but Catfish were adding those special ingredients that added their unique flavour which made this Catfish jump a little higher. In fact the guitar player,   Gary Alexander when soloing, I noticed he was putting some sonic twist in his part that got you head a little dizzy, and it felt great! The singer Leo McQuiglan seemed to be a perfect fit with his not so flowery voice, nor was it too gruff. It had just the right amount blues energy that kept you engaged just like his sense of humour and connection with the audience. At one point one fan was so excited he ran up to band and yelled out his request, a song by Muddy waters called Mannish Boy. Leo looked straight him at and said NO, which had the entire audience laughing so hard that people began to fall through the floor boards. He was very direct and dry, but the fact was that they just haven’t learned that song yet. So when you see Catfish next, go yell Mannish boy in their face and I think this time they will play it.

Well if that was enough, it wasn’t, they went for a beer break and I a pee I am sure, and came back for a third set which was worth the wait. If you enjoyed the first two sets they set you up to blow you away for their third set. They started with “In the midnight hour” and “Who do you love” which seemed to come from the bowels of lust and then turned in a steamrolling version of “Rolling and Tumbling”. The depth and grit was devilishly delightful. They finished with the authentic version of “Kansas City” Well the audience wasn’t go let them go, so for an encore they finished with another deep cut called, “Funky Bitch”.

For you true Blues fans out there this is a band that will shed off the typical songs you are a little tired of and fill you with a renewed energy of blues music you have been craving to hear for years now.  They will be back at the Goldenfield Brewery on Saturday May 4th from 4-7pm. Tell them Blast Toronto sent you, and don’t forget to yell out Mannish Boy!

Here are some images of Catfish:

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