Interview – Paul Rishell & Annie Raines

July 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

From the archives - several years ago Paul Rishell & Annie Raines were interviewed by Y6 pupils* at Russell Hall Primary School, West Yorkshire following their workshop at the school and prior to their appearance in Keighley.

Thanks to Laura, Daniel, Natasha, Emily, Holly, Scott, Lauren & Lucy.

Who or what encouraged you to start playing music?

Annie - I was encouraged by my parents to start taking piano lessons when I demonstrated an ability on the piano. My Mother got us a piano; there was music in the school as well. But I got into music as a career much later.

Paul - I was encouraged because I didn’t do anything before I started to play music, I sort-of sat around and watched television. Then I started playing the drums; it was fun but I didn’t think of it as playing music, playing the drums. Later on I got a guitar and as long as I was doing something my parents were really happy so they encouraged me.

I started playing a cornet at 10 years old. Do you think the younger you start the better you will become, and why?

Paul - I think the younger you start-the better you do as long as it’s something you want to do. When people try to make you do something when you’re younger it has the exact opposite effect.

Annie - I actually played, also, when I was 10, clarinet. I learned to play ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ and that was it. It’s good to have a chance to do music young even if you don’t want to do it forever. Plus it’s good for the brain and helps you sort out all sorts of problems.

Did you get nervous when you first performed in front of an audience?

Paul - I got really, really nervous. Sometimes I got so nervous I couldn’t do what I was supposed to do. I got over that by going backstage and sit in a corner and close my eyes and pretend someone was chasing me and get myself scared. Then when I opened my eyes nothing was as bad as what I imagined so going on stage wasn’t going to be nearly as bad. That’s how I cured myself.

Annie - I was always oblivious until I got right up there on stage and by then it was too late!

Do you ever have little disagreements whilst travelling?

Annie (laughs) - Just a few!

Paul - That’s a good question!

Annie - No more often than every fifteen minutes or so but nothing that can’t be figured out eventually. On the big things we agree.

Paul - Yes, on the big things we agree.

Who’s your favourite music artist?

Annie - There are so many... Little Walter Jacobs, Bonnie Raitt... Mozart!

Paul - Depends who I’m listening to at the time but some of my favourites are Louis Armstrong, ‘Blind Lemon’ Jefferson and a pedal-steel guitarist I’ve just discovered named Joaquin Murphy.

What is your favourite song and why?

Annie - That’s a tough one!

Paul - There’s a song by a harmonica player named Little Walter. He wasn’t a harmonica player like anyone else – he was very original. He was a virtuoso. He made a record called Roller Coaster. It’s about three minutes long and the guitar just plays one chord and Little Walter improvises for three minutes and never repeats himself. He gets better and better and better. By the time the record is over you can’t believe what you’ve heard and you have to put it on again! I can listen to it now after 35 years and still be amazed!

What got you into blues music in the first place?

Paul - I like blues because it’s really simple and it’s not given to ‘trendiness’. It comes from the heart; it’s a simple story - well told!

Annie - What I first liked about the blues was it enabled me to express what I felt emotionally - it’s really ‘feeling music’. Not just bad feelings but good feelings too!

What were the first records you bought and how old were you when you got your first blues album?

Paul  - The first records I bought were ‘novelty records’. I was at school in Surrey for three years. I bought a Lonnie Donegan record - My Old Man’s A Dustman and, later, Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour On The Bedpost Overnight? When I got my first blues album I was 13 years old. The Library of Congress recordings of Son House from 1941-42. And 13 years later I played with him!

Annie - The first record I bought were pop records in my teens;  Police, Cindy Lauper and Prince. The first blues record I ever listened to was by Muddy Waters and it was a recording he made in the 60s with James Cotton on harmonica. There was The London Sessions, too. I was 17 years old and it totally turned round my life. I thought I was old for high school and I'd had all the fun I was going to have; it turned out I hadn’t had any of the fun I was going to have after I’d listened to that.

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