NEW ALBUM 'TALKING GUITAR' (MAY 8 / MOJO RODEO) ALSO SERVES AS PRIMER FOR STUDENTS
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'": http://nicklosseaton.blogspot.com/2012/03/paul-rishell-mp3.html
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."