Fish Tales: Doctor Fish sings new songs from the old school

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 25, 2019

8 p.m. May 1

A musical debut two decades in the making comes to Catawba College’s Hedrick Little Theatre at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 1.  “Fish Tales: New Songs from the Old School” features the original works of singer-songwriter Doctor Fish backed by the Educators.

Singer-songwriter Doctor Fish is better known these days as professor Dr. David Lee Fish, associate professor of music and founder/director of the nationally recognized degree program in Popular Music at Catawba College.

Some of Fish’s students have gone on to enjoy chart-topping success in the music industry. Their mentor is now taking his own turn behind the microphone again.

Before coming to Catawba, Doctor Fish was an active singer-songwriter under a development deal with a major record label. When the bottom fell out of that opportunity, he turned to educating other musicians.

Life now comes full circle with Fish taking his place as an artist in his own right again in a way that may be old school but is never old fashioned.

Doctor Fish’s music echoes the golden age of singer-songwriters like Cat Stevens, James Taylor and Leonard Cohen. He wields an acoustic guitar to serve up personal stories and intimate portraits. What sets Fish’s music apart is a genre-spanning palette and a subtle jazz influence.

Fish’s jazz sensibility, as heard in his songs “Anastasia” and “Another Fourth of July,” reflects his musical background. He began his career as a jazz saxophonist backing such artists as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Cher and the Temptations, and pulls out the instrument in his current show, Fish Tales.

By turns, you can also hear a strong whimsical streak in Fish’s songs. His light-hearted works include “Post-Doctoral, Existential Blues” and “Tony Massimo,” a hip-hop number presented from the perspective of his son as a toddler.

Fish Tales not only serves as a showcase for Doctor Fish’s music but also the faculty and students of the Catawba Popular Music program. He is backed by a band of key faculty members, dubbed the Educators, plus a few of their top students. The group includes the college’s artist-in-residence, award-winning pianist Jeff Little.

As Doctor Fish sings in one his newest songs, “I’ve got songs still to sing so I’m not done yet.” Clearly, he is not. In fact, Fish seems to be just getting warmed up.
Fish Tales begins at 8 p.m.; doors open at 7:30 p.m. The performance is free and open to the general public but seating is limited. To reserve your spot, visit

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