Paul Rishell was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950, descended from a long line of Methodist preachers and Norwegian painters. At the age of ten, he discovered that he could keep time on the drums, though his feet didn’t reach the pedals. He started a band a few years later, playing surf music and rock ‘n roll, until a friend turned him on to the country blues records of Son House, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. He immediately took up the guitar and in the early 70’s Paul moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and had the chance to play with many of the first and second generation of blues masters — including Son House, Johnny Shines, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Howlin’ Wolf.
Paul Rishell’s debut recording, Blues On A Holiday (Tone-Cool) was released in 1990 to resounding critical acclaim. The album was half acoustic, half electric, and established Paul as a masterful, versatile blues player and as well as a deeply soulful singer and songwriter. He followed that with Swear To Tell The Truth in 1993, which featured heart-stopping solo performances as well as guest artists Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters and “Little”Annie Raines. Paul’s original music has been used in plays, films, and countless television shows including Friends, Oprah, and A&E’s Biography.
He has built up a stellar reputation over 40 years as a performer, teacher, and torchbearer of the country blues tradition. His former students include Susan Tedeschi and Michael Tarbox. Dirt Road Blues, Paul’s instructional video/CD-Rom for Truefire.com, was released in 2008 with detailed demonstrations and transcriptions of his original songs and songs by Scrapper Blackwell, Blind Boy Fuller, and many others. He is currently serving as a visiting artist at Berklee College of Music in Boston.