Monday, January 30, 2012





NPR's Here & Now featured Kevin Gordon on their January 25 show for a 12-minute segment on "the singing poet laureate of the South." Gordon talks about a smoldering church in Donaldson, Louisiana with a preacher out front with a sign saying "GOD SWAY" which led him to write "Side of the Road"; a man who approached him asking for money to help him travel with his wife to Memphis for her father's funeral which inspired "Trying To Get To Memphis"; and the masterpiece "Colfax/Step In Time" about a true junior high school marching band encounter with the Klu Klux Klan. Listen to the segment here.

NPR isn't the only outlet noticing Gordon. Guitar Player recently posted the rollicking title track as an mp3.

In an online feature, American Songwriter called Gordon "one of the most accomplished but underrated songwriters and guitarists in Nashville," reprinting the lyrics to "Colfax/Step In Time" in their entirety.

Here's video of Kevin performing in the American Songwriter offices with his '56 Gibson ES-125 electric guitar:

"Colfax/Step In Time"


This month, The Boston Globe said, "Gordon makes music that grabs you by the throat and won’t let go. He wraps lyrics that reflect his background as a trained poet in a potent mix of swampy folk, blues, rock, and country."

'Gloryland' comes out February 14 on Crowville Media.

Kevin Gordon Tour Dates:

Feb 12 – Lafayette, LA – Blue Moon Saloon

Feb 14 – New Orleans, LA – Chickie Wah Wah

Feb 17 – Nashville, TN – The Family Wash

Feb 18 – Berwyn, IL – Fitzgerald's

Mar 10 – Monroe, LA – Enoch's Pub & Grill

Mar 13 – Shreveport, LA – Eldorado Resort & Casino

Jun 8 – Cape Giradeau, MO – Tunes at Twilight

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Paul Rishell bio

Paul Rishell, a W.C. Handy Award-winning singer, guitarist, songwriter, historian, and educator, has dedicated his life for the past half century to bringing recognition and respect to prewar blues, what he refers to as “the bedrock of all American music.” His latest album, “Talking Guitar,” (Mojo Rodeo, 2012) is his first solo project in 19 years and a reconnection with his Country Blues roots.
The album offers a powerful mix of songs from Blues Hall of Famers such as Leadbelly, Skip James, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, Blind Boy Fuller, Blind Blake and others. To round out the collection, “Talking Guitar” includes two original songs by Rishell. It also includes Annie Raines, his partner and critically acclaimed harmonica virtuoso, appearing on three songs, including "Big Road Blues" and the rousing original "I'm Gonna Jump and Shout."
Rishell’s original music has been used in plays, films, and countless television shows including Friends, Oprah, and A&E’s Biography. He and Raines have appeared on the cover of Blues Revue and performed on various radio and TV shows including A Prairie Home Companion, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and PBS’s Arthur. They received the W.C. Handy Award for Acoustic Blues Album of the Year in 2000 for “Moving to the Country” and earned two nominations for their albums “Goin’ Home”(2004) and “A Night in Woodstock” (2008). As a duo, Rishell & Raines have opened for Ray Charles, Asleep at the Wheel, Susan Tedeschi, Leon Russell, Little Feat, Dr. John, and John Sebastian. They were also featured members of the J Band, led by John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful, and appear in the 2007 jug band music documentary, Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost.
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950, Paul Rishell was named after his grandfather, a Methodist Minister who was pastor of the South Congregational Church. He moved around with his family to New Jersey, England, and finally Connecticut. There, at the age of 13, captivated by a recording of Son House singing “County Farm Blues,” Rishell 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. “I loved them because they were all there for me on their records when I was a kid.” explains Rishell. “It made me feel better to listen to their music.”
His first albums, Blues on a Holiday (1990) and Swear to Tell the Truth (1993) received critical acclaim and launched Rishell’s career as a recording artist. “My first record was a dream come true - I began to dream about making records as soon as I started listening to them. Making a solo album feels good because I’m a much more seasoned person and musician and I feel like I’ve grown into this material. I was probably 13 when I first heard Leadbelly’s recording of Fannin’ Street but I was 61 when I recorded it. It took me 47 years to figure out how to play the thing.”
In 1992 Rishell met and partnered up with Annie Raines. Born in 1969, Raines began playing the blues harp at 17 and went on to play the New England club circuit with local bands, and traveled to Chicago where she met and played with many of her musical idols including Pinetop Perkins, Louis Myers, and James Cotton. She has been hailed by fans and peers as one of the world’s top blues harp players, but it is the duo’s chemistry that steals the show. As Jerome Clark of explains, “…Paul Rishell and Annie Raines in stratospheric form, which means that some of the most satisfying blues around these days are wafting down on your head and into your being, courtesy of a partnership the theologically inclined may suspect to have been conceived in heaven…”
Though they always perform together, Raines encouraged Rishell to record a solo album. “I was making an instructional video for harmonica, and it was taking forever,” she said. “Meanwhile, I really wanted to hear Paul do more of that unadulterated, pure blues that he does like nobody else. I got to step back and watch his working process and appreciate all the amazing things he can do with his voice and his guitar. So many of these techniques are in danger of disappearing. And they’re part of what made blues such an influential music to begin with: songs that make you stop what you’re doing and say ‘What the hell is THAT?’”
Rishell recorded “Dirt Road Blues,”an instructional video of country blues songs (Truefire, 2008) and is currently serving as a Visiting Artist at Berklee College of Music. “Among other reasons, I made ‘Talking Guitar’ for a generation of kids who may not ever have had a chance to hear country blues.” In his 45 years as a performer, teacher, historian, and torchbearer of the country blues tradition, he has drawn students and professionals (including Susan Tedeschi and Michael Tarbox) who want to learn the techniques required to do justice to the originals and hear his first-hand accounts of meeting iconic prewar blues legends. Sometimes they just come to hear to him talk, about singing, about music, about history.
Rishell likes to point out that the music industry and blues music were rocked in the same cradle, as musicians, businessmen and electrical engineers were drawn together by opportunities to make a living off of an emerging technology. In his live shows, his historical narration is built on his fascination with the people on both sides of the microphone. He’ll often introduce a song by telling you it was recorded in August of 1929 in Memphis, that it was probably mighty hot in the studio and the engineers kept the wax mastering disc on ice until it was time to record, or that Charley Patton was recruited by one of the first A&R men, a storekeeper named H.C. Speir, or how during prohibition, when thirsty Americans turned to patent medicines, hair tonic or Sterno, Tommy Johnson fancied the latter so much he wrote the “Canned Heat Blues.” These are entertaining glimpses into the past, but Rishell has an uncanny ability to summon this lost world into the present when he touches the strings. Boston Phoenix writer Ted Drozdowski wrote, “Paul has reached a place as deep and resonant as Robert Johnson’s crossroads, where authenticity, soul and a sense of purpose ring out in every note he sings and plays.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Sons of Fathers – the band whose harmonies have earned them comparisons to Mumford & Sons and Crosby, Still & Nash with an infusion of Texas grease – are cementing their "breakout" (Austin Chronicle) status with a Next segment on the January 30 airing of NPR's World Café and a February 6 Daytrotter session taping.

They were also named one of "12 to watch in 2012" by eMusic, which called the self-titled debut album "terrific" and "barn-burning," continuing, "nothing can take away the songwriting duo's brotherly harmonies, their band's ruckus-raising live shows, and finely-honed, geographically-inspired tunes."

Aspen, CO's KSPN radio said, "You guys are like Mumford & Sons but with half the members and twice the sound."

The band has been barnstorming radio. KPFT (Houston, TX) has spun seven songs while their hometown KUT has played six. Here are clips live from KPFT and KSPN:

Thursday, January 19, 2012



"He makes the masters like Son House and Robert Johnson speak to us across time."

- Frank-John Hadley, Downbeat

Paul Rishell – the W.C. Handy Award-winning blues master singer and guitarist who played with and learned from Son House, Johnny Shines, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Buddy Guy, and Junior Wells – has come full circle in creating his new album 'Talking Guitar' (May 8 / Mojo Rodeo Records) returning to the music which inspired him to play the blues in the first place when he began honing his craft over 45 years ago. It is his first solo album since 1993 and his first all-acoustic outing.

'Talking Guitar' sports interpretations of songs from the repertoires of Blues Hall of Famers Lead Belly, Skip James, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, and others in addition to two Rishell originals. His musical partner of the past 18 years Annie Raines guests on harmonica for three songs including "Big Road Blues" and the rousing original "I'm Gonna Jump and Shout."

Rishell 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." Billboard Magazine says, "Rishell is a master of country/blues styles, particularly slide played on a National steel guitar."

Here's video of Rishell teaching and playing "Down the Dirt Road Blues" and talking about Charley Patton from his instructional DVD by the same name on True Fire (performance starts at 1:23):

He is also a blues historian and educator, who is currently a Visiting Artist at Berklee College of Music. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Rishell has long lived in Cambridge, MA.

A Rishell guitar pupil, Susan Tedeschi recorded an "unplugged" version of Paul’s "Blues on a Holiday" with Paul on guitar. With Raines, he has opened for Ray Charles, Asleep at the Wheel, Susan Tedeschi, Leon Russell, Dr. John, and John Sebastian. They were also featured members of the J Band, led by John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful.

The duo has played on A Prairie Home Companion and PBS’s Arthur and Rishell has performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. They have performed and recorded with Tedeschi, Sebastian, Hubert Sumlin, and Pinetop Perkins.

Paul Rishell – Talking Guitar

1. Fannin' Street (Leadbelly)

2. Special Rider Blues (Skip James)

3. M & O Blues (Willie Brown)

4. Down the Dirt Road Blues (Charley Patton)

5. Big Road Blues (Tommy Johnson).feat. Annie Raines, harmonica

6. I'm Gonna Jump and Shout (Paul Rishell).feat. Annie Raines, harmonica

7. Police Dog Blues (Blind Blake)

8. One Dime Blues (Blind Lemon Jefferson)

9. Weeping Willow Blues (Blind Boy Fuller)

10. Screamin' and Cryin' Blues (Blind Boy Fuller)

11. Tired of Being Mistreated (Clifford Gibson)

12. Louise (Paul Rishell)

13. Michigan Water Blues (Clarence Williams, adapted & arranged by Paul Rishell).feat. Annie Raines, harmonica

For more information on Paul Rishell, please contact Nick Loss-Eaton at or 718.541.1130.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


The legendary David Amram – a multi-instrumentalist, composer, film scorer, and veteran of sessions with Allen Ginsberg, Thelonious Monk, and many others – joins New York singer-songwriter Morley on her new album 'Undivided.' He plays on the hidden track "I Will Stay," performing the traditional Lakota round dance melody on vocal and Lakota courting flut

Amram testifies, "Morley is one of the outstanding voices of her generation, as a singer, songwriter and bandleader she’s in a class of her own, transcends all categories and is making a major contribution to contemporary music."

Morley says, "He's a master! The session was an education. He talked about working with Dizzy Gillespie and Jack Kerouac during the breaks, it is always an honor to be in his presence, it reminds me of why I am blessed to make music."

World Music icons Hamid Drake (drums; Herbie Hancock, John Zorn) and William Parker (upright bass; DJ Spooky, Zorn) also appear on "I Will Stay."

Morley — the New Yorker singer and composer whom the New York Times said, "embodies modern-day New York femininity in all its multicultural finesse." — will release her uplifting, genre-mixing new album, Undivided, on April 3, which also marks her debut as solo producer. She is joined on the album by a stellar cast of musicians including Joan Wasser (Joan As Police Woman), Raúl Midón, Dave Eggar, and Amram.

Friday, January 6, 2012



NYC singer-songwriter Morley -- whom the New York Times said, "embodies modern-day New York femininity in all its multicultural finesse" – has drawn on her experience teaching teens from international conflict zones for the stunning new song "Wild Bird," which she first debuted live at the Blue Note. Her vocals are vulnerable and riveting on the plaintive song. She has also made a stunning new video shot on location in the Sahara Desert by Damani Baker ("Still Bill"), which premiered this week on National Geographic Music.

WILD BIRD directed by Damani Baker from morley music on Vimeo.

Morley has been a conflict resolution and dialogue facilitator for the organization Face to Face | Faith to Faith for three years. Face to Face/Faith to Faith brings teenagers from the United States, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Israel and South Africa together for summer intensive workshops. She says, "I've witnessed true alchemy with the students… their willingness to open doors that have been boarded up by the generations, and their capacity to stand in a place of possibility, amazes and inspires me. By the end of the summer intensive they are weeping as they say goodbye. The friendships that form at Face to Face | Faith to Faith change their entire emotional systems, and possibly change the course of history."

One of the ways in which she teaches is through songwriting. She says, "The goal is to encourage the students to communicate their life experience by evoking their universal emotions through music. I facilitate their collaboration with each other on the songs that they write, sharing their rhythms and harmonies suspends issues of borders, religion and race and reveals their humanity and interconnectedness. This process allows them to linger in the sacred space music can provide."

She reflects, "'Wild Bird' is a confessional song about finding a safe place to land in the world and in the heart. A look at how universal that search is and how many hearts and lives are lost. At times it has felt like I have had to be a soldier and fight to find it, a very lonely struggle but ultimately it has been within me all along...that safe space that no one and no physical place can be for me, even in the midst of emotional or political turbulence."

Morley is joined on 'Undivided' (out April 3) by a stellar cast of musicians including Joan Wasser (Joan As Police Woman), Raúl Midón, Dave Eggar, and the legendary David Amram (Thelonious Monk, Allen Ginsberg).

Since 2001, Face to Face | Faith to Faith has brought together hundreds of Christian, Jewish and Muslim teenagers from Northern Ireland, the Middle East, South Africa, and the U.S. to develop a new generation of leaders able to negotiate a multifaith global society.

For more information on Face to Face | Faith to Faith, please click here.

Morley photos.

More info and streaming tracks.

Thursday, January 5, 2012



A ZZ Top show in Shreveport, Louisiana led to an altercation in a McDonald's parking lot afterwards and a young Kevin Gordon was there to witness it. Gordon – now a master songwriter who has been covered by Levon Helm and Keith Richards – has documented the event in the sardonic "Bus To Shreveport" from his first album in seven year 'Gloryland' (February 14 / Crowville Media).

Musically influenced by 'Highway 61 Revisited'-era Bob Dylan's, the song starts off with nervous excitement as a 12-year old Gordon headed with his young uncle Randy and his uncle's friend Hank to see the Houston band at "the worst sounding arena in the whole United States" and offered wine and marijuana for the first time (he takes the former but rejects the latter). "And the little band from Texas played it loud and like they should."

"I remember for some reason that they did the Howlin' Wolf song Little Red Rooster that night," he says, citing one of his own musical influences, continuing, "Billy Gibbons is one of my favorite guitar players, and yeah, I'm a fan."

At "a McDonald’s packed with late night refugees," a gang of boys pick a fight with Hank until Randy pulls a gun while Gordon crouched. Gordon recalls, "I remember it as one of those 'time-stopped' moments -- like what happens when you're in a car wreck -- everything slows down." He captures the moment vividly:

"Randy tried to talk to them

With reason and common sense

It was about like a de-clawed cat

Trying to climb a razor-wire fence

Blood sprayed over the white hood

Hank was passing out

Randy pushed me back in the car, said

Don’t look up, don’t get out

He reached down under the seat,

Pulled a black pistol out of the dark

Said 'don’t you tell nobody,

Don’t you ever say a word'

Randy laid that .38

Across the roof of the car

Said 'everybody better get back,

and let my man go'

I was crouched down on the floorboard,

Low as I could pray

Seen a empty beer can under the seat

And a book on the KKK"

"Can't wait 'til my dad and uncle hear this one," Gordon laughs.

Gordon will perform his first NYC show in six years at Rockwood Music Hall on January 19.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Music Maker Releases Boo Hanks & Dom Flemons Collaboration

January 4, 2012 – Music Maker Relief Foundation is pleased to announce the release of Boo Hanks’ & Dom Flemons’ Buffalo Junction. This album is the result of a partnership between Piedmont-style blues guitarist Hanks and Flemons, who in 2011 won a Grammy Award and played the Newport Folk Festival with his group the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Hanks worked the tobacco fields near his Virginia home for the majority of his 83 years. In 2006 he began a partnership with Music Maker Relief Foundation that led to opportunities such as opening for the Chocolate Drops and playing at Lincoln Center. Hanks met Flemons on the day he arrived at the Music Maker Relief Foundation office, and the two have remained friends. Their collaborative album, Buffalo Junction, named for Boo Hanks’ hometown, features upbeat, country blues that crosses generational lines.

Learn more about Hanks’ life in Virginia:

The album highlights Hanks on the guitar and vocals, while Flemons plays a variety of traditional instruments such as the jug, harmonica, bones and also sings backup vocals. The album was recorded when Music Maker Founder Tim Duffy and Flemons went to visit Hanks at his home in Buffalo Junction, leading to the album’s title.

Dom Flemons said of the recording experience: "Boo Hanks is a treasure. His vocal and guitar phrases are something so unique and forgotten in the modern world of folk and blues. He an absolutely engaging songster and it has been a pleasure to have played with him for several years and to be a part of this album which will hopefully present his music to a much wider audience.”

Hanks has been a Music Maker Partner Artist since 2006, and up until that time his music was only heard by those in the communities close to his Virginia home. Since beginning work with Music Maker, he has performed all over the country, and developed a professional friendship with Music Maker Next Generation Artists Flemons. Through Next Generation partnerships, MMRF is able to foster the continuation of Southern traditional music among younger generations of musicians. Buffalo Junction is a collaborative album that does just that.


About Music Maker Relief Foundation:

Music Maker Relief Foundation, Inc. is a tax exempt, public charity under IRS code 501(c)3. Music Maker aims to keep our Southern culture vital by directly supporting senior (over 55) American roots musicians in need, expanding their professional careers, and assisting Next Generation artists in the development of their professional careers. Since the organization’s founding in 1994, Music Maker has assisted hundreds of musicians who represent the traditions of Blues, Gospel, Old-Time String Band, Jazz and more. Music Maker’s programs ensure the talents of these cultural treasures are accessible so that our rich musical heritage can be shared with the world and preserved for future generations.