Edd "Catfish" Kray
Edd 'Catfish' Kray
Lead Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Catfish picked up his first guitar on Halloween 1958. He took his first private lesson that afternoon from Mike Trivison at Katell's Music Center in Garfield Heights Ohio. He played his first gig in 1962. at Ronnie's Bar on the west side of Cleveland, for a whopping $6., After school each day he'd sit in his room and practice for hours.
Catfish (known as Edd before 5 PM), was born in 1946 in Cleveland Ohio, shortly after his dad's return from a stint in Normandy, and Omaha Beach. He grew up in a strongly ethnic neighborhood, and was exposed to live music weekly at Polish weddings. By the late 60’s his bands were competing with Joe Walsh, The James Gang, The Raspberries and Eric Carmen on the local Cleveland Teen Club circuit. His first recording was Big Beat 65 which received local airplay back in Cleveland.
He discovered Rock & Roll in the sixth grade and it was the 'twangy' guitar of Duane Eddy, which influenced him to learn how to play. He constantly practiced until his sophomore year, when he joined his first group, The Fabulous Twilighters, and he's been performing live since then. The Twilighters started out doing tunes by Ray Charles, The Isley Bros, and, of course, The Kingsmen.
During the 60’s, Catfish was turned on to the blues by the likes of Paul Butterfield, The Bluesbreakers, Canned Heat, and the Blues Project. During these college years, he paid his tuition at Cleveland State University from money made from his music, playing extensively and teaching up to 40 students per week. It was a fabulous period with so much innovation by guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck.
Cleveland was on the cutting edge of the music scene at the time, and new ideas were immediately accepted and expanded by local musicians. Competition was tough, with local musicians including Joe Walsh and Glen Schwartz being the leaders on the scene. Catfish’s group, The Harlequin Colour, played the same venues, as Joe and the James Gang, and once had Bob Seger use ( and ruin) their equipment during their break as a visiting act.
In the midst of the blues/rock explosion, the jazz influence was there. Catfish would visit Leos Casino on Cleveland’s East Side to hear his heroes, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Smith, Groove Holmes, and Barney Kessel. It was here at Leos that he first heard BB King and Muddy Waters in a small club setting.
He has lots of people to thank for his development as a musician, over the course of the last 40 years, including all the guys and ladies in The Fabulous Twilighters, Mike Mann and the Men, The Scoundrels of York, The Harlequin Colour, The Chase-Olsen Band, Riff-Raff, Five O’clock Shadow, Cheap Thrills, and now, The Catfish Kray Blues Band. There have been lots of musical styles worked over this period, consisting of mostly rock and roll with a blues influence.
In the 90s, after playing blues influenced rock for many years, Catfish made the decision to get back to the roots and concentrate on the blues. A trip to the Delta in 1998 was a turning point. During this tour, he visited many places, including Robinsville, Friars Point, Clarksdale, Greenwood, Indianola, the Dockery Plantation, and Helena. He met Bubba Smith at the Blues Corner in Helena, saw Sonny Boy's apartment there, and visited KFFA Radio, where Robert Jr. Lockwood and Sonny Payne started the King Biscuit Radio Show.
He walked the streets of Robinsonville, where Robert Johnson, Son House, Charlie Patton, and Willie Brown hung out, grew up and played. Also visited, were the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, along with the railroad station from which Muddy Waters set off for Chicago. Catfish met a man by the name of Rat at the Riverside Hotel, and heard tales of Bessie Smith, and her last days there.
He drove through Indianola, where BB King grew up, and found the grave marker for Robert Johnson at the Mt. Zion Church outside Morgan City. At that very spot, Catfish blew some harp in tribute. The trip was an awakening.
The blues came naturally from Catfish’s guitar, since 1958, but had been harnessed by the needs to play commercially, and fit in with other musicians doing rock and roll. It was time to get back to the blues in a more pure and simple form. Fortunately, at this time the Catfish & the Crawlers arose. Five musicians with an understanding of the blues and the talent to make playing the blues not just acceptable, but HOT.
For a decade (1998-2008) Catfish & the Crawlers entertained blues fans in Colorado, playing every blues club in town, numerous blues festivals, TV shows, and producing 3 demo CD's. Special mention needs to be made of our first lady vocalist, Loretta Erickson, who was the primary factor in making the band such a huge success. Catfish has been a regular contributor to the Colorado Blues Societies Newsletter, "The Holler", writing articles and reviews almost monthly for the past decade.
Catfish had a "day job". He graduated from Cleveland State University, and has an MS in Biology. He has worked as a biochemical research assistant, a high school chemistry and biology teacher, an analytical chemist, and for 25 years, a health physicist for the State of Colorado.
In 2005 Catfish, as an Environmental Protection Specialist for the State Health Department, was a major part of the management team which completed the decontamination and decommissioning of the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant.. This 7 billion dollar government project is notable for being completed ahead of schedule and under budget. With great feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment, Catfish retired from his work with the health department..
Catfish came to Denver in 1980 in a Ryder truck, with his wife, Jan, and a menagerie including a Siberian Husky, a Boa Constrictor, lizards, fish, cats and more. Their son, Wolf, was born in 1985 and now has become a guitar player himself. More importantly, after his 2007 graduation from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Wolf has returned to Colorado and works in developing recycling strategies for the state. Catfish and Jan, his wonderfully supportive wife since 1970, now live near the top of Conifer Mountain where they enjoy almost daily visits from the local Elk, Deer, Bear and Foxes.
Catfish loves Gibson Les Pauls and uses his half dozen 99% of the time
Gibson 2015 Les Paul Classic in a Seafoam Green flamed Maple. Newest member of the arsenal. The active electronics in it is a welcome and useful feature,
Gibson 2013 Les Paul Standard. cherry sunburst
Gibson 2011 Les Paul, Flood Commemorative: Special limited edition Les Paul produced in commemoration of the 2010 Nashville Factory Flood. The paint pattern duplicates a spill found on the floor during flood cleanup.
2001 Gibson Les Paul Class 5: OK, This is the main axe now out of the Custom Shop. The :Burstbucker pickups are very different, more like a beefed-up single coil. . Come hear it. This one is not going to gather dust or sit in it's case.
Gibson '84 Les Paul Deluxe: This has been the workhorse for years, although recently replaced as king of the hill by the Class 5 shown further on here. for years. I had to put covers over the stock pickups to keep from hanging the E string up occasionally. Never saw another Cinnamonburst LP until Gibson made another batch just last year. She's starting to show a little wear in the finish but these guitars are made to be used not stuck away in closets for collectors.
2005 Gibson Les Paul Studio: This natural flametop is quickly becoming a favorite
2001 G&L "George Fullerton" Model: This is what Fender should and could build if they cared. Unlike a Fender the craftsmanship is outstanding. This thing is built like a battleship and will last for centuries. The salesman described it as "more vintage than vintage" down to the V shaped neck. The sound is so . really good...makes you want to play clean all the time. Can you see George Fullerton's signature on it? It does NOT look like a bowling ball!
2009 Fender Tele: Another natural finish. Why didn't I get one of these sooner. It's got Albert Collins in its soul.
1999 Gibson ES-350T: Found at Prosound here in town and got a great deal cause nobody knew what it was. I've never seen another. Truly a beautiful instrument and works well on a few jazzier songs. Fully hollow so it'll howl if I'm not careful. Great sound acoustically. Like the wood?
2004 Gibson CS 137: Custom shop wonder, ebony and gold w a honeyburst finish and special inlays. Great semi-solid sound.