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New: El Fish & Roland "Waterbottle"
El Fish & Roland are on tour together, and have also recorded some of their joint material - almost live - on the CD "Waterbottle". Adventurous, and surprising ...
>>> Buy this CD at Proxis <<<
>>> 747 Bfr - 18,53 Euro - 16,37$ (on Oct 10, 2001) <<<

Belgian blues group on a mission : "To let your joint swing with style".


uit "Blue Coffee"

"Phil's Swing"
1 min 38  sec. - 193 Kb.
song : El Fish
Produced : El Fish.
Year : 1996
from the album "Blue Coffee"

uit "Rewinder"

"Hangin' Over"
59,6  sec. - 117 Kb.
song : El Fish
Produced : Jean-Marie Aerts
Year : 1998
Record co. : HKM

"One kind of favour"
59,9  sec. - 117 Kb.
song : El Fish
Produced : Jean-Marie Aerts
Year : 1998
Record co. : HKM

Hooked (1999)
Click for more

Wisteria (2000)
Click for more


The group was formed around Steven de Bruyn, with a degree in sociology and self-educated in playing the harmonica. After experimenting with the corners of the blues for five years, he ended up in this band from Wespelaar and Leuven.

elfish.jpg (2692 bytes)  

The album "Blue Coffee", the debut they released themselves in 1996, generated - somewhat to their own surprise - loads of positive attention. In the Harp-Archives for example, the album was reviewed as: "This CD is an absolute gem. Steve is one of those rare players that can do the job of a rhythm guitar on either chromatic or diatonic, never stomping over lyrics, always in the right place, harmonizing, choosing chords and quietly doing the job of a sideman. When it's his turn to step up, he always nails it *just* how you want it to happen. To compliment Steve's harp playing is some of the most sensitive and "appropriate" guitar playing I have heard in a European blues act by Filip Casteels. Needless to say, the rhythm section also knows it's job. Toon Derison on drums is one of those minimalist, laid back drummers that most of us long to have in our band but can never find (because people like El Fish get them first!)."

Steven himself in De Mix "Our dream of touring the Benelux came true almost instantly. With the new record we can perhaps go European, but everybody is keeping both feet firmly on the ground. We realize it won't be easy ever to tour the States with this kind of music. Our first CD was welcomed very well over there, but the fact remains that the streets are paved with young and promising blues bands over there". Between the first and the second album, about which he was talking above, Steven was also noticed playing in the backing group of Roland and did performances and studio-work for acts like BJ Scott, Wigbert, Ludo Mariman, Louisiana Red and Big Joe Louis. Even the curious techno-acoustic band Neven managed to seduce him. The band also did a tour with the English blues-guitarist Bob Pearce.

elfish.jpg (2692 bytes)  

On "Rewinder", their second album of 1998, the band left the trail of the "pure blues". "The musical spectrum we are covering now has gotten much wider. Back then, we started playing American oriented blues, but this time we have tried to mix in a bit of rock and fun. Actually, we do aspire a career like Los Lobos : that group has always maintained their true self, has never done concessions to commerce, yet still they are the only band that has played every major Belgian festival : Peer (blues), Dranouter (folk), Pukkelpop (alternative) en Torhout/Werchter (rock). That's the kind over versatility we are aiming for."


The single "Hangin' Over" (about hangovers, of course) made a remarkable trip in "de Afrekening" (the "alternative" chart of Studio Brussel). The album was produced by no other than Jean-Marie Aerts, who also played guitar on some songs. According to the group, his creative impact was rather limited, "We've asked him to make the songs sound as organic as possible, and that came out perfect. Eventually, he did much more than just letting us sound good : thanks to him, our self-confidence has grown enormously." Quite justified, if you ask me.

In 1999, the band celebrated five years of existence with a CD full of live-tracks and other rarities (such as the recording of "Little Boogiemachine" unplugged on a riding train recorded with one microphone, or "Mighty Long Time" of Sonny Boy Williamson, a track that Steven de Bruyn insists on singing himself). Other tracks on "Hooked" came from the Pukkelpop-stage, the Bassta-studio and from times the band backed up Willie Foster & Bob Pearce in 1996-97.


In 2000 the band released their fourth CD, entitled "Wisteria", more adventurous than ever, with lots of influences the band picked up during a trip to Morocco. However, almost simultaneously with the release, there was a serious blow to the morale when singer/guitarist Filip Casteels decided to call it a day (citing lack of money and perspective as the reasons for doing so). The last show of El Fish in the original line-up was held in front of a filled-up Vismarkt during Marktrock Leuven in August.

The remainder of the band did let it get to their heart, but not to their "morale", so in the fall of of the same year the band wrote the soundtrack to the "road-movie" A12 together with instrumentalist Geert Waegeman (Cro-Magnon...). There were a number of concerts with the band accompanying the film live, with "super" Bruno De Grootte (Mambo Chillum) joining in. At the end of 2001, there was also a CD of "A12", although this was aimed a more select audience and got little promotion.


In 2001, the ideal replacement for Filip Casteels was found in the form of the living blueslegend Roland van Campenhout. With Roland, the remaining members El Fish started touring with a varied (and somewhat inconsistant) programme that was premiered in the AB in Brussels on February 9. It quickly became clear that there would also be an echo of these shows on CD, and this became true in June with the album "Waterbottle". This cd was put on tape almost in a live-situation, with just four recording days and a resulting raw sound with the slogan "Do You Rock from the Botttom, Or do you play it from your head?". That El Fish wasn't going to give on in the adventure-department was proven by the cover of "Libertango - I've seen that face before" (as known from Grace Jones).

Band members :
- Steven De Bruyn (harp)
- Jan Ieven (bass)
- Rohal de Ridder (drums)
and the first years :
- Filip Casteels (guitars, vocals)
- Toon Derisson (drums)

Buy CD's of this band at proxis

Albums :
- Blue Coffee (Independent release, 1996)
- Rewinder (Rough Trade, 1998)
- Hooked (Rana/HKM, 1999)
- Wisteria (Rana, HKM 2000)
- A12 (El Fish & Geert Waegeman, HKM, 2000)
- Waterbottle (El Fish & Roland, HKM, 2001)

Websites :
- is the bands official site.
- very good American review of "Blue Coffee"
- my review of "Hooked"
- review of "Wisteria"
- Audio/video interview at Marktrock 2000
- presentation of the Wisteria album at Radio1 Cucamonga (dutch)
- El Fish & Roland on tour

Forum :
- Read the messages/questions about El Fish
- Add your message, question, cd- or concertreview ... about El Fish


El Fish

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Last update to this site : December 2001.

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