December 3, 2005

Paul Rishell and Annie Raines

— Traditional and Original Blues —

Paul Rishell / Annie Raines aul Rishell was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950, which made his young teenage years coincide with the early 60ís — so naturally he started out as a drummer in a surf-rock band. Fortunately for all of us, a friend soon turned him on to the country blues records of Son House, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson and others, and Paul was hooked for life. Blues struck such a chord in him that he immersed himself in the old records until he learned to capture their feel on guitar and vocals, all the while gaining an encyclopedic knowledge of the great players and their recordings. By the early 70ís Paul had moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and established himself among contemporaries like Bonnie Raitt and Chris Smither as a solo performer, bandleader, and one of the top players on the fertile Boston music scene. It was an exciting time, as many of the great bluesmen made their first trips north of Chicago, and Paul had the chance to play with many of his heroes — including Son House, Johnny Shines, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Howliní Wolf.

bout this time Annie Raines was just across town, working her way through Kindergarten. The blues muse struck her during her high school years, which were the mid-80ís. While her friends were listening to Pink Floyd, Annie was enthralled by the sounds of the Muddy Waters Band, and particularly drawn to the blues harmonica playing of Little Walter Jacobs, Big Walter Horton and Sonny Boy Williamson. As with Paul Rishell some twenty years earlier, the blues hit Annie so hard she just had to follow, and she dropped out of college halfway through her Freshman year to become one of the first serious female blues harmonica players in the country. Annie began to play gigs at local Boston area clubs, and later traveled to Chicago where she met and played with Pinetop Perkins, Louis Myers, and James Cotton.

aul Rishellís debut recording, Blues on a Holiday was released in 1990 as the first CD from the fledgling Tone-Cool Records label, to resounding critical acclaim. The album was half acoustic, half electric, and established Paul as a masterful, versatile blues player and as well as a deeply soulful singer and songwriter. Meanwhile Annie continued to hone her considerable talents working the club circuit with various bands, including the Tarbox Ramblers and the very first Susan Tedeschi Band. Not coincidentally, Paul was giving guitar lessons to both Michael Tarbox and Susan Tedeschi at the time.

t was inevitable that these two kindred spirits would eventually get together, and when they did, during the recording of Paulís second Tone-Cool CD, Swear to Tell the Truth, in 1993, the sparks flew. Paul and Annie both base their ensemble playing style on close communication, listening keenly to the other players to support rather than overshadow them, and their duo work here is marked by the sensitive interplay that has become so central to their performances, as well we saw here tonight. Paul and Annie stayed together as a working team, collaborating on original songs and releasing I Want You to Know (1996) and Moving to the Country (2000), the W.C. Handy Award winner for "Acoustic Blues ! Album of the Year."

ouring nationally and internationally at festivals, clubs, and concert halls, and playing and teaching at workshops, Paul & Annie have earned loyal fans around the globe. Their music has been featured on various TV soundtracks and radio shows including Americana, Folk, Triple A and Blues formats. They have performed on diverse radio and TV shows including A Prairie Home Companion, Late Night with Conan OíBrien, and PBSís Arthur. Paul and Annie have recorded with Susan Tedeschi, Pinetop Perkins and Rory Block, and continue to perform and record as members of John Sebastianís J-Band. Susan Tedeschi recorded an "unplugged" version of Paulís Blues on a Holiday with Paul and Annie for her second Tone-Cool CD, Wait For Me.

his was a fantastic and sparkling evening of traditional and original blues music.

Praises for their performances:

  • "... beatific performances that transcend style to reach a place in the human heart."
      Ted Drozdowski , Boston Phoenix

  • "the pair gives new life to old neglected blues and gospel numbers ... deep feeling combines with stellar musicianship"
      Frank-John Hadley,

  • Paul Rishell / Annie Raines"Raines is the perfect foil for Rishell. Both are sincere lovers of the older masters, and though they have chops to spare, they keep their playing straight and simple, going to the heart of the material ... atmospheric late-night music, played with real grit and soul."
      Boston Globe

  • "She plays so good it hurts!"
      Pinetop Perkins

  • "There must be some physical explanation for the sheer joy they bring to the blues...lots of heat but also plenty of subtle variation under the theme."
      Atlantic Monthly

Link to their music clips:             or their web site:

Opening for Atwater-Donnelly tonight were our featured open mike performers:

  • Ira Perlman
  • Paul Helou
  • Jan Sharlun
  • Claude Margouleff
  • Andy Romanoff
  • Gary Schoenberger
  • Bob Westcott
  • Mike Kornfeld
  • Scott MacDonald
  • Bill Lauter
  • Our host this evening was Ira Perlman. If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the year ...