April 22, 2023, 8 p.m. – Paul Rishell & Annie Raines
For 30 years W.C. Handy Award Winners Paul Rishell & Annie Raines have been hailed as one of the world’s best blues duos. They have recorded 6 albums together, and received numerous award nominations from the Blues Foundation. They have performed and recorded with John Sebastian, Susan Tedeschi, Pinetop Perkins and Rory Block. They have opened for Ray Chares, Dr. John, and Little Feat, and performed on international radio and TV shows including Late Night with Conan O’Brien and A Prairie Home Companion, and PBS’s Arthur. As a working team, Paul and Annie have racked up hundreds of thousands of miles on the road in the U.S. and Europe, performing American roots music and their own compositions at festivals, concert halls, and clubs all over the world.
Paul and Annie are equally passionate about their craft and devoted to the study and performance of a wide range of blues styles, from the syncopated acoustic guitar wizardry of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Son House to Chicagoan “Little” Walter Jacob’s swinging amplified harmonica. Paul has reached what Boston Phoenix writer Ted Drozdowski called “a place deep and resonant as Robert Johnson’s crossroads, where authenticity, soul, and a sense of purpose and commitment ring out in every note he sings and plays.” Annie has added vocals, mandolin, piano, and other instruments to her musical arsenal, while being recognized by top professionals and fans worldwide as the “queen of the blues harmonica.” Blues piano legend Pinetop Perkins said “She plays so good it hurts!”
Annie Raines was born in 1969 in Boston and grew up in the suburb of Newton, Massachusetts. She picked up the blues harp at 17 and made her stage debut at the 1369 Jazz Club in Cambridge a few months before her high school graduation. Enthralled by the recordings of Muddy Waters, Little Walter Jacobs, Big Walter Horton and Sonny Boy Williamson, she became a fixture at Boston area blues jams. She briefly attended Antioch College and 1988 interned with Washington, DC homeless rights activist Mitch Snyder, who persuaded her to drop out of school to pursue her musical career. She started playing the New England club circuit, and traveled to Chicago where she met and played with many of her musical idols including Pinetop Perkins, Louis Myers, and James Cotton. She also enjoyed yearlong stints with the Tarbox Ramblers and the Susan Tedeschi Band, going on to perform on Susan’s first three albums. She lives in Boston with her number one musical hero, Paul Rishell.
Paul Rishell was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950. He started playing surf music and rock ‘n roll on the drums in the early 60s until a friend turned him on to the country blues records of Son House, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. He immediately took up the guitar and in the early 70’s Paul moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and had the chance to play with many of the first and second generation of blues masters — including Son House, Johnny Shines, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Howlin’ Wolf. Paul Rishell’s debut recording, BLUES ON A HOLIDAY (Tone-Cool) was released in 1990 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. He followed that with SWEAR TO TELL THE TRUTH in 1993, which featured solo performances as well as ensembles featuring guest artists Ronnie Earl and “Little”Annie Raines. Paul’s original music has been used in plays, films, and countless television shows including Friends, Oprah, and A&E’s Biography. He has built up a stellar reputation over 40 years as a performer, teacher, and torchbearer of the country blues tradition. His former students include Susan Tedeschi, Michael Tarbox, and Kathleen Parks. For the past 11 years he and Annie Raines have been Visiting Artists at Berklee College of Music’s American Roots Music Program.