MEETING SON HOUSE PIVOTAL MOMENT FOR FUTURE BLUES MUSIC AWARD-WINNER
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."