Paul Rishell & Annie Raines

Paul Rishell & Annie Raines
A Night In Woodstock

Self-produced, Mojo Rodeo Records

By Karen Nugent
November 2008

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What was supposed to be a little bit of film footage before a deliberately sparse club for a documentary about jug band music turned out to be a very special live album Ė with an enthusiastic audience - by Bostonís own Paul and Annie, and some special guests.

The high-energy, fast moving set of acoustic and electric mostly blues tunes, was recorded, and filmed, in 2005 in Woodstock, N.Y. The 13-song disc features Rishell sounding his usual fantastic self on acoustic, electric and National Steel guitars, and Raines retaining her queen of the harp crown.

They are joined by guests John Sebastian on harmonica, and Bruce Katz on keyboards. They share vocals with bassist Reed Butler, and guitar with Chris Rival. Billy MacGillivray is on drums and percussion

Raines, a Newton native who met Rishell in Boston in 1992, really outdoes herself on harp, especially on “Iím a Lover Not a Fighter”parts of which are reminiscent of Little Walter. Her vocals on the song, in which the diminutive singer talks about having to take on a - shall we say Ė big and heavyset, rival, are melodic, smooth, and snappy. (She talks about being “really built for speed.”And: “I can roar like a lion, I can sting like a bee/Sometimes I think Iíve got rabbit blood in me.”)

They also perform their own “Got To Fly”a catchy, popular song often done at their gigs, and more than often getting the audience to join in the call-and-response.

The disc opens with Blind Boy Fullerís “Custard Pie,”a country blues.

One of the best tracks is Johnny Winterís “Dallas,”which showcases Rishellís slide prowess.

Another crowd pleaser is Louis Armstrongís “Old Man Mose,”a real toe-tapper.

“Blues on a Holiday,”written by Rishell, is a slow, moody late-night piece, in which he sadly talks about missing his love.

“Canít Use It No More,”penned by Raines and Rishell, is a funny, danceable, song about unwanted advice from an old girlfriend.

The liner notes explain that A Night In Woodstock was planned as footage of Raines and Rishell playing with Sebastian for a documentary by Todd Kwait called Chasiní Gusí Ghost. In late September of 2005, Raines and Rishell booked a gig at a club called the Joyous Lake, in Woodstock, because they did not expect anyone to be there, and figured they could go over some tunes with the band to stay in good musical shape. Katz, an old friend, had recently moved to the area, and he was to join them on keyboard for the night.

Then, the call came announcing that Sebastian would be on hand Ė with a film crew.

Raines said when the cameras rolled everything imaginable went amiss, including technical problems, a drunk who fainted, and messy starts and stops. What was supposed to look like a front porch duo had turned into seven musicians trading off on 14 instruments.

But it worked. And a DVD with extra songs and features is due out in early 2009, so you can witness the magic in full spontaneity.

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