Michael’s guitar work tends toward the spare and tasteful until the situation calls for heat, and then he has plenty to spare.” - Rob Schwinnn

— Manager, Occaisionally Blues

There’s a reason that J. Michael King and Joe Jones of the Catfish Po’ Boys are playing happy hour at Cribb’s Kitchen Thursday night. And that’s because they play, well, happy blues. Technically, the duo bills themselves as Piedmont Blues with a caveat or two. Piedmont Blues has a really great sense of humor," said J. Michael King, who plays guitar and sings. "It's also more related to old time and bluegrass than the kind of blues you'd hear out of Chicago or Mississippi. It's more acoustic. It's a happier sound. It tends to be not as dark. Its music “from this area” played “since whenever” by “obscure characters,” added King. It’s a “gentler, more guitar-oriented” form of blues that, in the hands of the Catfish Po’ Boys sounds at once universal and unique to the individual players. You'll find Piedmont blues artists playing songs that you might associate with the Grateful Dead or a jug band,” King said. “Joe Jones and I, we do a bizarre mixture of stuff. We do covers. We do a lot of originals. Some of it’s jazz-based blues. Some of it’s Piedmont blues, Chicago blues. We do all kinds of blues. The Catfish Boys’ repertoire consists of songs that have "stood the test of time" and songs that they "like," regardless of era or genre. We don't play anything that we aren't crazy about," King said. "We don't do songs just because they are popular.” With startling ease, the duo can slide from a Jimi Hendrix cover into an Olde Time number you may not have heard before and, after a bit of stage banter, into a Dylan tune. This is blues, steeped in the history of the genre and the region, but the Catfish Po’ Boys have a way of reminding us that history goes well beyond yesterday or “way back when”. When Jones and King take the stage, the blues are very much alive and ready to sing a song and tell you a tale or two. But, and this point can’t be stressed enough, it’s not the material the Catfish Po’ Boys play that makes them special; it’s the energy they put out. Joe is extremely charismatic," King said. "He's a great bass player. His vibe is huge. It's just the two of us, but as one fella at the bar said, 'You make a lot of noise for just a coupla boys!' Jones’ stage presence, his smooth versatility and startling, highly nuanced electric bass playing adds both gravitas and an impish mischievousness to King’s very different but no less charismatic demeanor. Michael always has a light-hearted, warm presence about him when he's playing," said Greenville-based singer-songwriter Darby Wilcox. "I always go out to see him play. He's got a great sense of humor. Michael, he's a good soul. So is Joe Jones. And you can really see it when they're playing. And they really deliver.” King’s voice is only as gravelly as it needs to be, only smooth when it has to be. He glides from sweet to stern, from a gentle growl to a gritty drawl. All the while, his thumb makes those steel strings ring. This will be the duo’s Spartanburg debut, though both J. Michael King and Joe Jones, who also plays with blues legend Mac Arnold, are well known around the Upstate. For the last five years, the Catfish Po’ Boys have been working in Greenville’s West End pretty much non-stop, especially at Smiley's Acoustic Café. Joe and I have been playing together for more than 15 years now," King said. "We had a band called Jellyroll Antenna, which was a blues trio that toured the Southeast for a long time. We only had one hit and it was in England. The band broke up before we knew it was a hit.” Piedmont blues, catfish blues or happy blues, call it what you will. At Cribb’s Kitchen they call it happy hour, and they serve "mystery beer," house liquor, $2.75 drafts, ½ priced wine by the glass, and the best blues north of Mac Arnold’s farm. ” - Jeremy Jones

— Spartanburg Herald