We're sad to share the news that Shirley Lewis, Boston's regal "Queen of the Blues," passed away on Sunday after a battle with cancer. Shirley was a musical mother and mentor to many of us in the Boston Blues community. She had seemingly limitless positive energy and a take-no-prisoners approach onstage that made her a popular draw for decades. She fostered many young musicians' careers, and when it was time to take wing she ungrudgingly let them fly the nest and continued to offer encouragement and support.
A few musings on the change of seasons as time yanks us forward like a puppy on a leash: Musicians are in the business of keeping time. With or without formal training, we need to recognize the difference between quarter notes and triplets, "swing time" and "straight eighths," and revere the existence of a "pocket." Ironically, many of us are chronically tardy for real-world appointments, and frequently have empty pockets.
Available now from Mojo Rodeo Records
"Talking Guitar delivers exactly what its title and its creator's reputation promise: lucid translations of prewar records and expert insight into what made them so good. After hearing Paul Rishell's blues, you'll have a hard time denying the power of such bare, organic, and emotive sound."
- Katie Lambert, LIVING BLUES MAGAZINE
Jerry McCain died this week in his hometown of Gadsden, Alabama. I heard about it on Facebook, but it must have been on the wind. I had just been talking to one of my students about him. The previous week we had started working on “Steady,” the downhome harp instrumental widely regarded as a standard, and I told him some stories about going to Gadsden to visit Jerry, or Mr. McCain as I quaveringly called him, in 2009.
In 1978, I had a little band, and occasionally this horn player would sit in with us. He was going out with Angelo Dundee's niece. He got some tickets for all of us to go to the Hynes Auditorium in Boston and watch Sugar Ray Leonard fight a 10-round exhibition match against the Welterweight Champion of New England, Dick Ecklund.
January 29, 2012: Paul's upcoming solo CD, Talking Guitar will be released on April 17. The album features Paul returning to his country blues roots with 13 wonderful songs played on acoustic and resonator guitars as only Paul Rishell can play them. Here's a sneak preview of "Big Road Blues" featuring Annie on harp, plus some favorite songs from earlier albums on our Reverbnation music player:
TO HELL AND BACK:, The intrepid blues duo recently returned from playing the Hell Blues Festival in Norway. Says Raines: "I didn't think I'd like Hell, but I met so many great musicians there." Also on the festival bill were Duke Robillard and his excellent band; Janiva Magness; Johnny Nicholas; Henry Gray and Andy Cornett; and Paul Jones and the Blues Band from the UK.After their return from Hell, the duo played a church service in downtown Boston. So the score is sitting at 1-1 so far.
PROFESSOR PAUL: The big news this fall is that Paul will be teaching at
Hello and greetings from the syncopated and ever-more multi-instrumental world of Paul Rishell & Annie Raines. We’re happy to be trading our layers of snow, salt and polar fleece for a fresh dusting of pollen. Those itchy eyes tell us it’s time to see the world, and we’re hitting the road again this month, for short jaunts to Bethlehem and Barto, PA, and gearing up for longer trips in early and late summer. But first, we’re making our official “Mojo Rodeo” debut this Saturday, May 7 at the Bull Run in Shirley, MA (click on "Read More" to read more...).
We are honored and delighted to share the news that Paul Rishell and "Talking Guitar" have received 2 nominations for the Blues Foundation's Blues Music Awards, in the Acoustic Artist and Acoustic Album categories. Though the duo of Rishell & Raines has been nominated dozens of times and won the award (formerly called the W.C. Handy Award) for Acoustic Album of the Year in 2000 for their Moving to the Country CD, this is Paul's first nomination as a solo artist.
(Annie is traveling by train and other conveyances to Mississippi and St. Louis to teach and perform at some harmonica workshops, "jam camps" and festivals this week and next. The following road blog is a work in progress.)
Day four,Tallapoosa, GA, Alabama State Line