Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
Never in my life has George Hunter held me in his thick, hairy, Thurman Munson/Dick Butkus arms and made me putty there - vulnerable and vacant of all bashfulness. Wouldn't really know what that would be like, never thought of the Catfish Haven lead singer that way, nor would I ever, though he's a charming young man. He's winsome and romantic as all hell. Even the male folk can see that. The happily married can see that. The toothless and lonely can see that. Those committed in love can spot his earnest traits of living and dying by the power of the heart and the come-on as well as the apology and the sincere embrace of tenderness as if it were the noses on their own faces. He's not a dog casting his line out into the blue water and sitting back waiting for anything to bite and tug. He doesn't want to lure every agreeable woman into the sack or into a lip lock. He doesn't even want a grand sampling of the female species. He is not a collector or even on the prowl. He has the faithful gene, one wants to believe from the soulful offerings from the Chicago band's Please Come Back extended player and from the long-playing Tell Me, which was released last year and is Motown at its finest.
It is pimp music for all, but it's even more so for the bearded, greasy indie rock and rollers who have long lamented the idiocy of girls looking at the beefy beau hunks of the gridiron games and wondered when was it going to be their turn. The life lesson that Catfish Haven and Mr. Hunter - along with always hard-partying bassist Miguel Castillo and likewise drummer Ryan Farnham - gives for free and in triplicate is that you stick to your guns, learn a trade involving a six-stringer and ensconce yourself with the kind of timeless music of R&B greats and you're going to be able to sidle up to numerous birds before you're wrinkled and nostalgic for the nothing days. The songs that Catfish Haven churn out so effortlessly are teaming with pure, unfettered raw emotion - more specifically, the intangible need that many associate on the pyramid with food, water and shelter. Nay, love is more important than all of that, says Hunter, for it occupies both the want and need category. Many settle for small homes, roofs over their heads for the time-being, food that's sub-par and worse, but they strive feverishly for the love that can shatter them. Hunter's songs go the one step further - when already shattered - and wondering where to go from there. It's about being shattered in the good way and the bad way. No matter what, it's great to live with. It's a good day to be alive.