Today we MUST talk about The Guitar Player from HELL!
Michael Katon is a Blistering, Tasteful, and Massively inspiring Rock /Blues Songwriter, Vocalist, and Player. He’s just simply a Badass playing a 1961 strat he calls old blue.
No Matter the Genre of music, In my experiences Nothing that comes out of Michigan, U.S.A, is ever Halfway. Everyone knows about Motown, and The awareness of Rock History is growing throughout the world due to The Grande Ballroom Documentary “Louder Than Love”. The list is endless of amazing Musicians continuing every day. As Guitardoor has grown we have had Players from many different locations.
He is also a Michigan Rock N’ Roll Legends Hall of Fame Member. For many reasons. He is also a pioneer of the DIY and Indie approach to Running your own Record Label, and a Trailblazer since the advent of Internet music sales. Over 30 years of Maverick work.
Hell, Michigan is a small section of the planet a bit North of Ann Arbor. Born in close proximity and through life changes and world tours he always returns back home. Since the mid-1980’s he has based his Hell Raising music from there and taken it to the world, and for my Money, he is one of the very best Musicians in the world. That is not based on accolades and awards. It’s based on what I’ve heard with my ears and seen with my own eyes. This man is the kind of player that will send you back to the drawing board and cool your ego. If you listen there is a lot that even the top players can learn from what comes out of Mr. Katon.
He has the wisdom of Tone. You can be a Killer Guitar player but if you don’t know the secrets of getting THE sound well you are half-assing it. He also has the wisdom of being a good man. This is another reason I have concluded he’s got it all. He just in our brief discussions the last week has shown me he has got it ALL right. We share a couple of similarities in life. You have to do the right thing and we both have stopped our careers at times to be caregivers as nothing is more important than Family. It’s what you do, it shows a wealth of Soul that is not only in the Talk but in the Walk.
The Education of the music he plays comes from seeing the Legends first hand. A friend from an early age of Dan Erlewine and Having a Musical Family background put him in the position of witnessing Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Albert Collins, Otis Rush, Albert King, Hound Dog Taylor, and Freddie King. He not only saw them and met them he was shown some tips by many if not all. He through Dan Erlewine also Saw the work that ultimately became Albert Kings Best known Flying V. You could hold there and be happy but the story Goes on…I mean the Man Owns Bob Seger’s 1958 Fender Telecaster. Let that sink in.
The Biography is Stellar and a handful so I will link the total story in this article to the rest of this tale of an amazing life. I wanna get down to the Music.
The first 2 songs that grabbed me by the Feels came from Mutual friend Pete Feenstra. ” Diablo Boogie” is just what the title would make one imagine. “Red Moon Rising” fully explains why Michael calls himself a ROCK Player first and the Blues is there as well. He fits in every good form of Rock Depending on the direction he chooses. You can’t put the Lion in a cage nor the player in a Box. Classic Rock and Rip Roaring sound from the Dawn of Metal, anything goes with Katon, as long as it’s good. Let me assure you it’s ALL Good.
Michael Katon Red Moon Rising on Youtube
I read a Statement recently that someone said a Fender couldn’t provide the Proper sound for Hard Rocking music. Funny thing Players Like Dave Murray, Jimi Hendrix as well as Katon could strip the paint off your car and Stun a Badger at 30 paces with their use of a Stratocaster. To quote Yosemite Sam..”Dragon’s is So Stupid.”
“Rip it Hard” is another favorite. Doubtful you could write better work. An Ode to Work Hard and Play Hard I would have loved to see The Late Great Eddie Shaver go toe to toe with Michael on this, they would have surely left nothing but a smoking crater of a stage in 4 mins and 40 seconds.
Mr. Katon is yet another rare bird that has his own sound and although he will give a nod here there to the Greats, he sounds like no other. He owns his sound and style and that is one of the most well-rounded and eclectic sounds ever. His Tool kit and the Trick bag is endless. I’ve been doing this stuff myself for over 30 years and I had my jaw drop, thinking “Oh I got some schooling coming”.
Valerie Potter of Metal Hammer said, ” Michael Katon plays some of the loudest, toughest, meanest rock & blues on the planet!”. Living Blues also said of Katon: “Katon is a virtuoso guitar player with his roots in the right place…his sound is a blazing blend of electric blues and roadhouse boogie”.
His discography is extensive, so I am concentrating on 3 releases in Particular. 2012’s “Hard On (The Boogie)” puts on display clever thought and on the track “Watermelon and Black Coffee” He is working call and response between the vocal and the Wah pedal. Again evoking sounds and tones unique to even a Wah Wah. Frankly, he even knows how to make that his own. The Blues are all over “Bring me My Morphine” while The title Track Could have been Motorhead. “Jimi we need Ya ” is about as unique a guitar piece, the progression and Riff is something that will challenge you in syncopation. “Whiskey Hill” is aside from its Burning guitar work, one of the best songs I’ve heard in decades. When I said songwriter, I meant just that. “Hold on Memphis” is exemplary storytelling, Bedded down by atmospheric guitar Chords and Perfectly placed slides, and eloquent but stinging single-note solos. “Younger Man” is Power Boogie. In the end, this album is 12 songs of “Whoa Mule “.
2017’s “ROR OUTTA HELL” was recorded in The Netherlands and is dedicated to the Eternal Spirit of Rory Gallagher. “Bought and Sold” “In Your Town” to “A million miles away” it is 10 songs that are evidence of the awesomeness of the Writer and the One paying Homage. Go find it…If you don’t dig it, Get your head checked.
2014’s BLUE TOOTH ( Music I cut my teeth on) is another tribute and study on the Masters of The Blues from John Lee Hooker to Buddy Guy, Elmore James to Robert Johnson. Further Proof Katon is as capable as any of evoking the spirits of those he chooses and puts his own stamp on it.
This man is no copycat, He is Original as they come. He also has the Balance of Subtle Nuance to Pedal to the Floor Rock the house down. Talented doesn’t do him justice. Refreshing in a world of Bad top 40 Nightmares, and Keeper of the Guitar flame is close.
I wish I knew about Michael Katon 20 years ago, but the important thing is I know of him Today. I would be remiss in not putting it this way, in an alteration of his thought I can say “Michael we Need ya!”
For you of interest find his work and buy it all. It will not disappoint. For me well I’m sure it won’t be long until I head up Detroit way to shake the man’s Hand and Have a little Hang….. I already owe him Lunch anyway. Mike keep doing what ya do and thank you greatly for your contribution to the world of music. It doesn’t get much better than that.