Thursday, April 26, 2012



Paul Rishell – the blues master with the 45+ year career who is returning to the songs that originally inspired him on 'Talking Guitar' (May 8 / Mojo Rodeo) – has been sharing his deep knowledge of pre-war country blues styles with a new generation as a Visiting Artist at Berklee College of Music, alongside fellow Visiting Artist/Professor Woody Mann.

He says, "We talk about how country blues has been an influence on popular music ever since it became a recorded art form. I also teach how to listen to the recordings and pick out the guitar parts, the tunings, and which strings to use. Some of the techniques would be difficult to notate, so they need to be demonstrated."

Of his own learning process, he says, "I've been fascinated with Leadbelly's 'Fannin' Street' for years. Like all the country blues masters, he came up with a unique way of playing the guitar. It took 50 years of it being in my head before I got to the place where I could perform it well enough to record it. I was re-stringing the guitar one day and it was tuned down to B, which made it sound like a 12-string, so it made me think of that song and I started fooling around with it." Hear Rishell's version of "Fannin' Street'":

In 2011, Berklee's American Roots Music Program launched the Robert Davoli - Eileen McDonagh Country Blues Visiting Artist Program. Now Rishell is passing on lessons he learned by getting to know elders like Son House and Howlin' Wolf. "It's a wonderful opportunity to expose people to this music in depth, to help them discover all the great musicans and stories that make up the world of country blues. I was attracted to the music at a very early age and it was always a source of great comfort and inspiration to me."

Early word on 'Talking Guitar' has been stellar. Living Blues called the music "exceptionally rendered prewar blues songs that retain the sound, and, more importantly, the spirit of the original artists," continuing, "Rishell has really mastered prewar blues—even his singing has an incredible ease and authenticity. For modern ears, the record makes the genre both fascinating and highly accessible… It’s often like Rishell is washing windows—letting in the sunlight and revealing the mystique of these early recordings… After hearing Paul Rishell’s blues, you’ll have a hard time denying the power of such bare, organic, and emotive sound."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012



Spirit Family Reunion – the six-piece Brooklyn band which is set to play at Newport Folk Festival and is "best of what's next" according to Paste Magazine – will release its debut full-length album 'No Separation' June 15.

All six members of Spirit Family Reunion sing and the harmonies, which are unplanned, are simply stunning, led by the soulful voices of guitarist Nick Panken, fiddler Mat Davidson, and banjo player Maggie Carson. The band's repertoire, chemistry, harmonies, and instrumentation came to fruition with a weekly residency at the Lovin' Cup Café in Williamsburg, playing without a PA. The band has since expanded its fanbase by opening for the late Levon Helm, The Alabama Shakes, and David Wax Museum; playing Gowanus and Bushwick parties; busking in Union Square; and touring extensively, at one point in a former Navy van, all without a booking agent.

Spirit Family Reunion makes high-energy original, contemporary American music with the spirit of an old-time church revival but with a universal, secular spirit. Singer Panken says, "I write simple songs that anyone could pick up on. I want to take the church feeling and make it more universal." Audience members dance, holler, stomp, shout, and chant along until the line between performer and fan is blurred and a community is created by the act of the concert.

In addition to their own songs, Spirit Family Reunion recorded a stunning version of "Green Green Rocky Road," featuring undeniably soulful vocals from Mat Davidson. The song comes from the repertoire of Dave Van Ronk (about whom the Coen Brothers are presently making a film); and "Give Me Wings," which they learned from an undated acetate that drummer Peter Pezzimenti found at a Salvation Army by the mysteriously named King Cunningham.

Other high points on the album include the banjo-led "I Want To Be Relieved," the song of gratitude "To All My Friends And Relations," and the hallelujah-inducing "I Am Following the Sound."

'No Separation' was recorded in Brooklyn and Richmond, VA with the help of bike shop mechanic and recording engineer Andrew Gerhan.

Spirit Family Reunion will perform in New York at Mercury Lounge May 12 and near Washington, D.C. at Jammin' Java May 21. Other tour dates are posted here.

Spirit Family Reunion is Carson (banjo and vocals), Davidson (fiddle and vocals), Panken (guitar and vocals), Pezzimenti (drums and vocals), Stephen Weinheimer (washboard, drums, and vocals), and Ken Woodward (upright bass and vocals).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Sons of Fathers – the band whose songwriting and harmonies have earned them comparisons to Mumford & Sons, Dawes, and Crosby, Still & Nash with an infusion of Texas grease – will perform at Hill Country Barbecue May 17 and debut the new, harder-edged material from the second Sons of Fathers album coming this summer. The band just completed final mixes in Nashville with Vance Powell (Jack White's 'Blunderbuss,' Chris Thile, The White Stripes, The Dead Weather). Powell approached Sons of Fathers after seeing them live at an in-store at Grimey's Record Store in Nashville, TN and asked if he could be involved.

Check out video of new songs:

They have cemented their "breakout" (Austin Chronicle) status with a Next segment on NPR's World Café, a Daytrotter session taping, and a slot at Relix Magazine's SXSW party. They were also named one of "12 to watch in 2012" by eMusic, which called last year's 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." The Austin Chronicle wrote a feature on the band as one of their picks for Austin bands to see at SXSW.

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

WHO: Breakout Austin band Sons of Fathers
WHAT: First NYC show of 2012
WHERE: Hill Country Live, 30 West 26th St., New York, NY, 212-255-4544
WHEN: May 17, 2012

Photos of Sons of Fathers.

Monday, April 16, 2012



Longtime Cantabridgian and Blues Music Award winner Paul Rishell, who sat in with Howlin' Wolf at a club in Inman Square in the '70s and is a patriarch of the Boston blues and folk scenes, will celebrate the release of his new album 'Talking Guitar' (May 8 / Mojo Rodeo Records) with a concert May 6 at Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA. Rishell will be joined by longtime musical partner Annie Raines on harmonica, Jesse Williams (Duke Robillard, Joe Louis Walker) on bass, and other special guests to be announced. The event will kick off with a reception catered by Blue Ribbon Bar-B-Que

Acoustic Guitar Magazine , whose review of the album is forthcoming, shared the first mp3, a rendition of Lead Belly's "Fannin' Street (Mr. Tom Hughes Town").

'Talking Guitar' also sports interpretations of songs from the repertoires of Blues Hall of Famers Skip James, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, and others in addition to two Rishell originals.

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.

WHO: Paul Rishell and Annie Raines
WHAT: Album release show for 'Talking Guitar'
WHERE: Temple Isaiah, 55 Lincoln Street, Lexington, MA
WHEN: 6pm, May 6, 2012
TICKETS: $20, via Brown Paper Tickets

Friday, April 13, 2012

Boo Hanks and Dom Flemons set to showcase new collaborative album on tour

Music Maker is pleased to announce the addition of several upcoming tour dates for Boo Hanks and Dom Flemons. The two blues artists plan to promote their new collaborative album Buffalo Junction, which will be released June 19, with four shows along the East Coast in August 2012. Hanks and Flemons will be performing at the World Café in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 15, at Joe’s Pub in New York City on August 16, at Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, Virginia, on August 17 and 18, and at the Hamilton in Washington, D.C. on August 19.

Hanks, one of the most important ‘discoveries’ in recent blues history, grew up sharecropping in Vance County, N.C., where he learned to play guitar from his father and from listening to Blind Boy Fuller on a wind-up gramophone. After partnering with Music Maker he went from being heard only in his community to playing for thousands at shows and festivals across the South, at the Lincoln Center and in Belgium, and opening for the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Flemons, who won a Grammy in 2011 with the Drops, was at the Music Maker office the day Hanks first arrived, and their friendship and collaborations grew from that first jam session over the next six years.

Hanks’ and Flemons’ new album Buffalo Junction, named for Hanks’ hometown in Virginia, features upbeat, country blues that crosses generational lines. 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.

Music Maker president Tim Duffy said of the upcoming tour: “Audiences will have a chance to enjoy this new collaboration in person through these performances. They will see live the passing of the torch from Piedmont Blues veteran Boo Hanks to an artist like Dom, who is poised to take the sound into this new century.”

Hanks is a partner artist of Music Maker, while Flemons is a Next Generation Artist. Through Next Generation partnerships, MMRF fosters the continuation of Southern traditional music among younger generations of musicians. Buffalo Junction is a collaborative album that does just that.

Listen to a track from Buffalo Junction here.

Tour dates:
8/15 – World Café, Philadelphia
8/16 – Joe’s Pub, NYC
8/17 & 8/18 – Blue Ridge Music Center, Galax, VA
8/19 – The Hamilton, Washington, D.C.


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.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Newport-Booked Spirit Family Reunion Prepping Debut, Opened For Levon Last Month

Spirit Family Reunion, the Brooklyn outfit which plays original American music rooted in old time, gospel, and traditional folk, is in the studio this week mixing their debut full-length album for summer release. The band is set to break out in 2012, with a Newport Folk Festival booking and having opened for Levon Helm and David Wax Museum. Spirit Family Reunion plays timeless, homegrown American music that has fans stomping, clapping, shaking and hollering.

Paste Magazine recently compared them to The Band, naming them a "best of what's next." Click here to read the Paste feature and hear "When My Name Is Spoken." Jeff Giles writes, "All dusty acoustic guitars, wailing fiddles and weeping accordions, with a woozy-yet-skintight rhythm section—and topped off with burr-edged vocals that sound like they’ve been soaked in a Mason jar for generations—it’s the type of music that blurs the line between past and present so thoroughly, and so deftly, that time feels irrelevant."

To hear previous tracks from Spirit Family Reunion, please click here.

Baeble Music said, "Enter Spirit Family Reunion, a group with so much country soul they make the mountains of the Carolinas look like Northern New Jersey."

Spirit Family Reunion Tour Dates:

Apr 14 Brown Folk Festival Providence, RI

Apr 15 Brunch Session Boston, MA

Apr 15 Brighton Music Hall Allston, MA

Apr 16 Bowery Electric New York, NY

Apr 20 The Kenmore Inn Fredericksburg, VA

Apr 21 Rhythm n Blooms Festival Knoxville, TN

Apr 26 House Concert Providence, RI

Apr 27 The Oak and the Ax Biddeford, ME

Apr 28 Belfast Free Range Music Festival Belfast, ME

May 11 TomTom Festival Charlottesville, VA

May 12 Mercury Lounge New York, NY

May 21 Jammin' Java Vienna, VA

Jul 26 FloydFest Floyd, VA

Jul 27 FloydFest Floyd, VA

Jul 28 Newport Folk Festival Newport, RI

Sep 21 Fresh Grass Festival at Mass MoCA North Adams, MA

Friday, April 6, 2012



When he was 13, Paul Rishell first heard Son House's "County Farm Blues." "It was a revelation. I didn’t know how old he was, but here was this guy who was an adult, and he was rocking out. He was not an old geezer. He wasn’t making Lawrence Welk music. He was playing Rock and Roll music. He was playing stuff with a beat and he was making the beat; he was the beat; he was the whole thing. I thought, 'Listen to this guy. He’s unbelievable; he’s like a whole band!'"

"Soon afterward, he heard Lead Belly's hard-driving "Fannin' Street (Mr. Tom Hughes' Town)." I wanted to learn it from the first time I heard it. But I had to get in shape to do it."

On his new album 'Talking Guitar,' he performs some of the songs that originally inspired him but which have taken a lifetime to master. "Most country blues records were compendiums then," he recalls, continuing, "It was rare to find an album by the more obscure artists like Scrapper Blackwell or Charley Patton. For years I thought Charley Patton only recorded one song, 'Hang it On the Wall,' because that was the one that showed up on all of the compilations."

An introduction to Son House facilitated by Dick Waterman furthered the young Rishell's growth: "I was blinded by sitting across from this guy. It was like meeting Abraham Lincoln. I shook the same hand that had shaken Charley Patton's hand. I asked him about his life. He told me about his travels, which included places as far-flung as California and Louisiana. At one point he worked in Algiers, Louisiana, picking the Spanish moss off of trees to fill mattresses."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival features Blues legends and fresh faces from Music Maker Relief Foundation

Music Maker Relief Foundation is pleased to announce that several Music Maker partner artists will perform at the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Jazzfest.) Guitar Lightnin’ Lee and Ironing Board Sam, in addition to Next Generation artists the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Leyla McCalla, will play the first weekend of Jazzfest. Little Freddie King will perform during the first week.

Tim Duffy, Music Maker founder, said, “It is a great honor for so many Music Maker artists to be appearing the world’s greatest premier roots music festival. We can’t wait to see them perform in a lineup that includes everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Bruce Springsteen.”

Little Freddie King has been performing his particular brand of “gut bucket blues” at Jazzfest since the first event in 1970, and is a fixture on the New Orleans music scene. Freddie will take the stage in the Blues Tent on Friday, May 4th from 5:45 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Returning to Jazzfest this year after a 41-year absence is Ironing Board Sam, who also performed at the event in 1970. Sam, a singer, songwriter and piano player, was forced into early retirement after hurricane Katrina, but since partnering with Music Maker in 2010 he has released a new album and has been performing around the U.S. Sam will perform Sunday, April 29th in the Blues Tent from 1:50 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

Grammy-Award winning string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops, hailing from Durham, N.C., will play Jazzfest for the first time in 2012. Their performance will follow the release of their new album, Leaving Eden, in February. The Chocolate Drops will perform Saturday, April 28th on the Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-do stage from 4:20 p.m. – 5:35 p.m.

Guitar Lightnin’ Lee, a rhythm and blues purist and native of New Orleans, will also take the stage that first weekend of Jazzfest, which will be his debut performance at the event. Guitar Lightnin’ Lee will perform Friday, April 27th on the Lagniappe stage from 5:15 p.m. – 6:25 p.m.

Music Maker Next Generation artist and New Orleans resident Leyla McCalla has spent the first part of 2012 touring with the Carolina Chocolate Drops between recording her debut album. A singer, cellist and banjo player, Leyla incorporates many facets into her music including Haitian folk songs and the poetry of Langston Hughes. Leyla performs on Friday, April 27 on the Lagniappe stage from 2:20 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.

Music Maker Relief Foundation partners with elderly traditional musicians in order to document their art, assist them in building their careers, and ensure they live in safety and comfort. Music Maker’s Next Generation program connects younger musicians with veteran artists, passing along traditional music to future generations.


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.

Monday, April 2, 2012



NPR has aired a 17-minute segment on and music and life of New York folk-soul artist Morley. NPR's Jacki Lyden said, "['Undivided'] blends world rhythms with folk, soul, and pop [and] one of the things that your work does it bring people together."

Morley and Lyden talk about the artist growing up in the diversity of Jamaica, Queens; how she wrote 30 songs in the desert after playing at the Nomad Women's Cultural Festival on the border of Algeria with the elders and children of the area; choreographing for Max Roach and Alvin Ailey; working with teens from conflict regions on conflict resolution with the organization Face To Face | Faith To Faith and how that inspired her to write "Be The One"; playing for the Dalai Lama; and how music heals and brings people together.

NPR also played excerpts from the songs "On My Way," "To Begin Again," "Be The One," "Wild Bird" from 'Undivided' and "Women of Hope"

Morley will perform at Joe's Pub in NYC on April 7; Room 5 in LA April 23; and Johnny D's in Boston May 11.

Stream 'Undivided' in its entirety this week at AOL Music.