NEHI+RBG 2023 FACULTY

NEHI+RBG FACULTY:

Annie Raines

Annie Raines, born in 1969, Annie 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 later. Enthralled by the recordings of Muddy Waters, Little Walter Jacobs, Big Walter Horton and Sonny Boy Williamson, Annie became a fixture at Boston area blues jams. She played the New England club circuit with local bands Shirley Lewis and Some Blues by Butch, 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. In 1992 Annie partnered up with Paul Rishell and the two have been a touring and recording team ever since, recording 6 CDs together and playing at festivals, in clubs, and on radio and TV shows including A Prairie Home Companion and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. They are featured in the documentaries Pocket Full of Soul, Chasin' Gus' Ghost, and John Sebastian's Jug Band Village.

Annie is a Hohner harmonica endorsee. Her instructional video for harmonica, Blues Harmonica Blueprint is available from Truefire.

Shane Sager

Born and Raised in Boston, MA Shane began playing the harmonica at age 14. Profoundly infuenced in his early years by such harmonica greats as William Clarke, Paul Delay, and George Harmonica Smith as well as horn players Branford Marsalis and Fred Wesley, he began to explore both the chromatic and diatonic harmonicas from a young age. Although his first love will always be blues music he used the endless possibilities of the chromatic harmonica to stretch himself into a variety of musical styles.

In November 2015 Shane was invited by Sting to perform at a charity event held in Boston for the Lenny Zakim Fund and since then they have played together many times over the last several years including performances at Carnegie Hall and Times Square on New Years Eve. In April 2019 Shane was invited to tour with Sting on his “My Songs” Tour of Europe and North America as a featured soloist. At 25 years old, he was the youngest member of Sting’s band. Shane is an Endorser of Hohner Harmonicas.

Ronnie Shellist

Ronnie Shellist has been honing his harmonica skills for the past 22 years.  His musical career began in 1997 working with singer/songwriter Hugh Fadal from Austin,TX.  Blues great Gary Primich was a huge influence on his music as well as Guy Forsyth and Walter T. Higgs who lived and played in Austin in the mid 90’s. His style is a combination of mostly Chicago and West Coast blues influenced by funk and jazz greats such as Grant Green and Maceo Parker.

Ronnie’s live performances include opening for such greats as BB King, Charlie Musselwhite, Robert Cray and the Neville Brothers.  His  first official CD  was recorded in 2007, titled Chicago Sessions. His newest CD “Till Then” was released in March 2012, and features both original songs, and a few classics. It has rave reviews from harmonica greats Kim Wilson and Charlie Musselwhite.

Ronnie is a  Hohner Music artist, endorser, and clinician. He has traveled the U.S. from coast to coast with the Hohner Roadshow. These shows are a mix of performance, teaching, and product demonstration. Ronnie also offers online blues harmonica webinars where he features top players and teachers from around the world.These events are called the Global Blues Harmonica Summits. You can learn more at Harmonica123.com.

Paul Rishell

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950, Paul Rishell was captivated by Country Blues at the age of thirteen by a recording of Son House singing “County Farm Blues,” and began a lifelong study of the music and its progenitors. He moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in the early 1970’s and began to perform with and learn from blues greats such as Son House, Johnny Shines, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. He soon became a well-known blues artist in his own right headlining Boston-area clubs and opening for his musical heroes. For the past 30 years, he has been the touring and recording partner of Annie Raines. He has recorded several solo CDs and several CDs with Raines, including the W.C. Handy award-winning Moving to the Country.

Rishell’s original music has been used in plays, films, and countless television shows including Friends, Oprah, and A&E’s Biography. In 2008 he recorded “Dirt Road Blues,” an instructional video of country blues songs for Truefire. He was a Visiting Artist at Berklee College of Music from 2011-2022. In 2022 and 2023 he was awarded a Massachusetts Cultural Council Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant to teach Country Blues material and history to student apprentice Ira Klein.

 

Gabe Stillman

Based in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Gabe is one of the most promising young talents on the blues scene today. He formed his touring band in 2015 and hit the road just after graduating from Berklee School of Music. Since landing in the final 8 of the 35th Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN, and further honored as the recipient of the esteemed Gibson Guitar Award, Gabe and his band have been focused on expanding their footprint on a national and international level.

Gabe’s first self-produced release “The Grind” received wide acclaim. Gabe’s 2nd release, “Flying’ High” is backed by the legendary Nighthawks. Gabe’s most current project, his first full-length release with 15 tracks and 13 originals, is on the Boston-based, Vizztone Record Label. This robust project was guided by famed musician and producer Anson Funderburgh. Industry professionals have taken notice as evident by Gabe’s invitation to support ZZ Top at the famed Key West Amphitheater, as a Blues Music Award nominee in the Best New Emerging Artist Album category, and in March The Gabe Stillman Band was further honored by the 3rd Annual Central PA Music Awards, selected as the “Best Blues Band”.

Ira Klein

Hailing from Jerusalem, Israel, Ira Klein grew up immersed in the sounds of jazz, contemporary music, and a wide variety of world music including Middle-Eastern, North-African, and Ethiopian music. After moving to the U.S. in 2017 to attend Berklee College of Music, he fell in love with American roots music, studying with some of the greatest living folk musicians, including Alice Gerrard and Bruce Molsky, blues master Paul Rishell, and Boston guitar legend Kevin Barry. His debut EP, Invisible Treasure (2021, Nine Athens Records) blended re-imagined interpretations of American folk music with original compositions. He continues to explore American folk music in a trio with vocalist/bassist Hazel Royer and guitarist Kevin Barry. He is a Staff Guitarist at Berklee, and runs a thriving private guitar and banjo studio at the Cambridge Music Consortium. He is a Mass Cultural Council Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grantee for his continued study with Paul Rishell.