Our Visit to America, Summer 2013

If you live in the Metro West suburbs of Boston,you might be only 10 minutes away from the ocean, or some form of saltwater. Since Boston Harbor takes on a few too many “forms” in the summer ("coli-" is one of the less appealing prefixes), most of us opt for a slightly longer trip to any of the enchanting beaches that line our New England shores. An hour's drive either way and we can dip a toe in the bracing waters of the Labrador Current or frolic in the cool spray kicked up by the Gulf Stream.


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.

February 2013

Greetings from the future as we never imagined it in the past...

The deadline to vote in the 2013 Blues Awards is less than 2 weeks away! Voting is open to Blues Foundation members only but it's easy to join and not expensive, and the Foundation supports a number of great causes, including help with musicians' medical expenses and the construction of a Blues Hall of Fame Museum. You can join and vote on their website:

Pocket Full of Soul Screening Feb. 28 - needs your help!

Calling all harmonica fans, blues history buffs, curious bystanders...we're promoting an exclusive, one-night-only screening of a new harmonica documentary, Pocket Full of Soul on Thursday, February 28 at the Landmark Embassy Cinema in Waltham, MA. The movie is narrated by Huey Lewis and features some big and small names in harmonica - I think I get my 3 seconds of fame here too. However, if we don't meet the threshold of 81 tickets reserved by February 21st, they will cancel the screening.

"Talking Guitar" garners 2 BMA Nominations!

(December 2013) 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.

And A One...

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.  

Alabama Bound

(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


Paul Rishell Talking GuitarAvailable 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."

"Steady" - Remembering Jerry McCain

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.

Paul's Blog - Remembering Angelo Dundee

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.