I wrote the following review for Jazz & Blues Report (December 2008 issue 311) and can be downloaded at www.jazz-blues.com.
It has been several years since the popular duo of Paul Rishell & Annie Raines have had a new release and their “A Night in Woodstock” is live recording on their Mojo Rodeo imprint. It features the pair as a duo and with their band that includes Reed Butler, Billy MacGillivray and Chris Rival along with guest spots by John Sebastian and Bruce Katz.
Recorded at the Joyous Lake in 2005, it opens with Rishell doing marvelous interpretations of Blind Boy Fuller’s “Custard Pie,” and with Tommy Johnson’s “Canned Heat Blues.” With Rishell steady, assured accompaniment and Raines supportive harmonica backing, these two performances illustrate how Rishell as grown in handling such vintage material. Johnny Winter’s “Dallas,” is a marvelous display of Rishell’s wonderful slide playing and an excellent evocation of the Robert Johnson-Muddy Waters tradition (with elements of “Terraplane Blues in its melody). “Got to Fly” is the pair’s original and provides Raines with the vocal spotlight on this highly likable performance. A medley of Jack Clement’s “It Will be Me” and Rishell’s “I Will Be Looking for You,” enchants with Rishell’s wistful vocal. It is followed by a country blues adaptation of Louis Armstrong’s “Old Man Mose,” into a delightful folk blues. “Blues on a Holiday,” has Bruce Katz join in on piano as opposed to the sparse band backing with Rishell’s pensive vocal again moving the soul of the listeners.
The band kicks into a more forceful groove on “Can’t Use It No More,” a modern hokum blues, with the duo harmonicas of Raines and Sebastian, both of whom solo here being to the forefront followed by Katz’s barrelhouse piano. Raines handles the vocal on Lazy Lester’s “I’m a Lover Not a Fighter,” with a nice amplified harp solo, whereas “Moving to the Country,” has a forceful Rishell vocal as he tells us he is returning to things he never should have left behind. Jerry McCain's songs often have a wry spirit to them and Rishell delivers the lyrics on “Bad Credit,” with Raines wailing on harp, embellishing Rishell’s vocal. Rishell starts “Blue Shadows,” sounding like B.B. King on guitar, before launching into the vocal on a fresh, driving arrangement of Lloyd Glenn’s song. the album closes with a harp instrumental by Raines and Sebastian, “Orange Dude Blues.”
“A Night in Woodstock” is a throughly engaging live recording with many excellent moments that certainly merits serious attention.
For FTC regulations I have no idea whether I got this from a public relations firm or the recording label.