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Cindy Morawetz July 1 2021 front page photo

By German Designer Cindy Morawetz - website


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Gretchen Parlato & Flor

Gretchen Parlato Photo Front PageTen years had gone by since Jazz singer, composer and lyricist Gretchen Parlato and I last sat down to have a chat. A lot had changed both in the world and in Gretchen Parlato’s life during that time. She moved from New York City back to Los Angeles to be closer to her family, she got married and she now has a seven-year-old son. She received a Grammy Award nomination, Best Jazz Vocal Album, in 2015 for her album, Live in New York City. Her sense of humor, which was so evident a decade ago is still evident and as we talked over the phone she was just as insightful, introspective and still comfortable in her own skin.

Ten years ago, she told this writer, “The goal of art is to reflect who you are and to reflect your life. It has been a process for me to get to that place and to realize that it is okay to not try to sound like anyone else or to try to be like anyone else. It is just being completely honest and open and vulnerable. I want to be versatile, but I also want to sound like me.” 

Did she still feel the same and does her new album Flor (her quartet has the same name), reflect that same sentiment?

She enlightened us, “I am pleased with my thirty-five year old self for saying that (she laughs lightly). I would agree, that was my path then and it was my self-realization then. It is definitely a continued path now. Our art is a reflection of our life, so my life now and for the past seven years of motherhood is very different than when I was thirty-five, single, independent, and doing whatever I wanted to do, when I was touring the world. It did take me a little bit of time even after I had my son, I thought how could I balance these two very different lifestyles? How could I find time to be creative and to be a really present mother, while providing a nurturing atmosphere and setting. That took some time, but I think with this album I was finally able to put it into words.

The songs “Wonderful” and “What Does a Lion Say” are about motherhood and about my son, seeing life through the eyes of children and knowing the value of your words. “Wonderful” is about the feeling that kids have that they are invincible and knowing how wonderful they are. It would be great if we could keep that energy as adults, know that and let it shine. Read More

Lingerie & Swimwear from Spain

Beatriz Lechuga Fuentes photo front pageDandylion, the joining together of two words by swimwear and lingerie fashion designer Beatriz Lechuga Fuentes from Barcelona, Spain, represents both the name of her brand and the image she wants to project.

She explains, “The name Dandylion was the name of my final collection at university. It represented two sides, dandy and elegant and then the lion, more alternative, powerful and a woman who can do whatever she wants.

I want my designs to make the woman (who wears them) feel powerful. In a way I am fighting for women’s rights. I have talked to a lot of women and doctors who told me there are plenty of women that when they arrive at home they take off their bras and corsetes. The doctors also told me that wire bras cause plenty of problems for women in (contributing to) breast cancer. Now doctors recommend that bras without wire be used, because the pressure caused by the wire on the breasts increasing the chances of cancer. I didn’t know this until two years ago and I went wow!

Women who have had cancer can no longer wear wire bras, so that is why I designed a type of bra that doesn’t have wire.  

People can ask for the wire bra, but it is not something I (regularly) produce.

I asked one young client why she wanted to wear a wire bra. She said, because she felt better. I said to her do you know about the problems that may happen when you are older from wearing a wire bra? After I told her, she did not buy the wire bra. I lost an opportunity for a sale, but that was not so important to me, because for me when I sell to a woman, she has to know what she is buying.”

“There are three styles of bras depending on the woman’s breasts. For instance, if you have big breasts and you don’t want to have a wire bra, because not every woman can use a wire bra (and she does not recommend them). A woman with bigger breasts, the breasts weigh more than a woman with smaller ones, so the design is different for each woman,” she says adding the same holds true for swimwear. Read More

   French Designer Alice Berry Atelier

Alice Berry May 2021

                                                      Alice Berry Atelier website

Bill Toms is Movin' On

Bill Toms front pageRecently, Pittsburgh singer, songwriter and musician Bill Toms returned to playing before audiences with his band Hard Rain, as North America slowly starts to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. These were also the first times that he had to perform in a concert setting, songs from his new album Movin’ On, so we asked him how all that felt.

“There was quite a bit of nerves. The fact that we had not played in front of an audience for over a year, and we were playing some songs we’ve never played before made for some uneasiness. But that first show in Columbus (Ohio) was amazing and soothed the soul. It also seemed to do the same for the audience. We are (now) certainly rebooted and ready to go. The new songs are being received well.  It is always nice to have fresh bait in the box.

We started rehearsing in mid-April, and it felt good to start up those engines and to feel that band behind me. It was an unbelievable feeling. You have to remember too, that I started playing in bars in 1980, so for forty years I always had a gig and a calendar with gigs in front of me. For the first time it was all gone. That was quite a shock. Making this record was therapeutic and saved my sanity,” he says.  

Movin’ On is a musical novella, not so much because there is exists a common theme between the songs, but rather, because they are a collection of stories set to music.

Always thoughtfully and reflectively, as Bill Toms shares his views, he says, “I think sometimes storytelling is a lost art. I love to do storytelling types of concerts. I do a lot of shows, with just an acoustic guitar Read More

Evie Sands - New Album

Evie Sands Photo Front PageEvie Sands started her music career (writer puts hand over mouth and mumbles, as it is never polite to discuss a woman’s age) that many years ago, but you would never know it from her new album, her vocals are crisp, the music more imaginative than many of today’s artists, and that is not a slam on today’s musicians and songwriters, but rather a nod to Sands. If you were not aware of all that Evie Sands has already accomplished during her career, you might think she was just starting out, because of her unbridled enthusiasm.  We wondered how she has managed to stay on top of her game and with such a contagious, positive and fun attitude.

“I trust in the music and then I let it go. I think it is probably a combination of things. It is my ongoing and will be forever, my insane passion for music, about making it, listening to it and breaking it down. I enjoy it, but I like to figure out what is that stuff sonically, what is going on and it is the enjoyment part of it. It is just ongoing. It is just like I was born, and I started listening. I just get excited. Then there is the striving to continually get better and all the skills that are involved, whether it is continuing to be a better singer, a better songwriter, better composer, a better musician, a better producer and engineer. It drives who I am.

I never look to chase the trends. I have learned that is a losing game. By the time we see and hear things, it already took a while for those things to be created and released, so by the time we say that must be the kind of stuff people want to hear and by the time I could get it out there it would be a day late and a dollar short. It would be old news. Also, it wouldn’t be honest, because for me making music is all about being connected to the heart. It is a combination of my heart Read More

Maia Sharp - New Album

Maia Sharp Photo front PageMaia Sharp’s new album Mercy Rising takes the listener from the highs, of the beautiful, seductive and romantic “You’ll Know Who Knows You,” which may be the ultimate love song of this century, to the reflective and picturesque “Things to Fix,” about a relationship that has ended. The former, burns with passion, mixed with ‘I want you and nobody else,’ and the latter uses the metaphor of fixing broken and worn things in a house for what the individual failed to address in the relationship, that perhaps would have made a difference. The words, “What I should have said / And what I should have done / Ya’ I keep skipping over number one / On my list of things to fix,” will take anybody who has been in that moment back there again.

The person in “Things to Fix,” stands in contrast to “John Q Lonely,” from Maia Sharp’s 2008 album Echo, and he was also dealing with a relationship that had come to an end.

She explains, “It shows that I have been doing it long enough that we can compare the end of a relationship thirteen years ago compared to the end of a relationship now.

“John Q Lonely,” is just a crab and his reaction to being hurt is just takes his football and he is going home. He is not going to play this game anymore. He closes himself off. His reaction is to pout. If love didn’t like me then I’m not going to like love.

“Things to Fix,” is a pretty different mindset. It is open and she is aware enough to see that there is something at the very top of my list that I’m avoiding, but the crux Read More

Camila Rodriguez Bohorguez

Camila Rodgriquez photo front page AIt was a journey that began as a child in Bogotá, Colombia, with dreams of utilizing a career path first as a biologist and now as a filmmaker to see the world. In between those two careers, she served as the Head of Production in a company that specialized in new and virtual media marketing for major brands. She is now immersed in several other film projects in both Madrid, Spain, where she now lives and in Colombia, but for the moment she is not at liberty to discuss them.

Each fifty-two minute segment of Atlántico directed by Daniel Landa, who was also the series creator, is filled with culture, adventure, and beauty, as the four person crew filmed in Spain, Portugal and twelve west African countries, which border on the Atlantic Ocean. Other members of the four person team were Tato de la Rosa and Vinsen Modino, the cinematographers.  

“Daniel has devoted his life to being a journalist, director and a writer. He specializes in long expedition series and documentary series.

When Daniel (Landa) came to me he was looking for a way to make his product a little more modern within an internet and digital context. We tried to expand the narrative and we decided on a lot of things for social media. We found our principal sponsor Volvo who gave us two cars for the expedition.

It was very interesting to work with Volvo, because the first thing they told us was we are not a 4 x 4 adventure brand. We are not one of those brands that people use to cross Africa, but we do share the spirit, values, and the principles of the series. That is a whole other Read More

Amelie Blake - U.K. Interview

Amelie Blake Photo TwoAmelie Blake may not be a household name or at least yet, but some of the films and television shows that you watch and many of the movie trailers enticing you to watch a particular film have music created by Amelie Blake. The new mother and affable British woman, who grew up in Warrington, England is now also turning her attention to writing songs for other artists. She is very focused on her music, but also quite low key about her success, a far cry from that moment when she first learned one of her songs had been picked up.

She recalls that moment, “My husband, Mike and I created some demos and we sent them to a lot of production companies, trailer houses and publishers and eventually after hundreds of emails one got back to us. They asked if we could do music for this brief and so we did. (Next) we were introduced to several publishers. We then wrote the album Songs for the Soul, which was a collection of a few songs we had written over the years and we also wrote some new ones for the album. It was put out there for the music supervisors to pick from. It is not written for a (specific) trailer. We write them and then we do not know what is going to get chosen.

I was driving to a job interview for a teaching job, but I had wanted to get out of teaching for a few years, because I really wanted to pursue my music. The phone call came (when I was driving) and I could not answer it, so my husband answered the phone and put it on the loudspeaker. My dad said, do you know that you are on this trailer? He started playing it over the phone and that is when I started to scream (as I was driving) down the motorway, because I was so excited. I didn’t care about my job interview after that.” Read More

Filmmaker Lara Celenza

Lara Celenza photo by Anya Shvetsova front pageIt would be easy to lose track of how many prestigious universities and how many countries film producer, screenwriter and director Lara Celenza has studied in. She has studied in Bologna, Italy, at Cambridge University in England, in Moscow and in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Lara Celenza, chronicles her travels, “I studied everywhere. I did my bachelor’s degree in Bologna, which was already very different from where I grew up, because Italy, as a country is very culturally diverse. I grew up in the south-central part of the country and then I moved to Bologna, which is a sophisticated, university city. It was much bigger than my hometown, but not like a big city. It was kind of a mid-size city.

I experienced the first culture shock of my life there. It was more of an intellectual type of environment, where everybody was sitting down, drinking wine, and discussing literature and movies. It was very inspiring, but at the same time, at the beginning I felt very intimidated (she laughs lightly). It was also kind of wild with the partying. I wasn’t used to having all of these students around. My parents were very conservative and strict. When I went to university it was party, after party, after party. I had the chance to meet people from all over the country and some people from other countries.

I did the Erasmus programme in London, at UCL (University College London), which is quite a prestigious school.

I also studied in two different universities in Russia, one in Moscow and one in  Read More

Executive Producer Jeanette B. Milio

Jeanette B Milio Photo front pageRecently, Riveting Riffs Magazine sat down with Jeanette B. Milio who depending on the project she is working on sometimes wears the hat of producer and sometimes she dons the executive producer’s hat. During the course of her career Ms. Milio has garnered significant respect from her peers, networks, film studios and distributors for her keen business acumen and her knowledge of how to finance and produce a feature film or television and streaming series that will put people in the seats in cinemas or have their eyes glued to their television sets at home. We asked Jeanette B. Milio if she would be gracious enough to take us behind the scenes and explain the business side to us.

Jeanette B. Milio’s story begins in a small town outside of Cologne, Germany, where she was raised by a single mother, who was a hairdresser. At first glance this would appear to be an inauspicious start and far removed from the life she built as a movie mogul, but she credits in part, her success to lessons learned from her mother (more about that in a minute).

“I didn’t have any idea of what this industry would be like.

The one thing I remember that drew me to storytelling even as a child, is that I would come up with little stories and I would engage all the children on our street to perform the stories in Saturday morning theater pieces on the stairs in front of our house. I invited all of the other neighborhood kids to come and watch the plays and to pay ten pennies. I think I was ten or eleven  Read More

Fuchsia & the Grey - Eden Iris

Eden Iris front page photoEden Iris’ new album Fuchsia & the Grey opens with the song “Death is a Teacher,” which is punctuated, but not dominated by, edgy vocals that segue into her more ethereal and beautiful singing. If that sounds like a bit of a contradiction consider that the theme is grief, but it opens with an aria that is ever present in the background.

She explains, “I had a friend pass away and the song started out that day. It was a good three years until I finished it. At that point I took it to another friend of mine who came in and helped me finish the production and the writing structure. My friend’s death was the one experience, which triggered it.

It is (interesting) the way that life unfolds, that I would have to be in a particular mood or state of mind, when the song would just float into the room or my mind and how it brought comfort at the time.”

The accompanying video for “Death is a Teacher,” is shot in black and white and is quite stark. Eden Iris talks about the video, “I do a lot of hiking around Southern California and I have always been fascinated, because growing up in New Zealand it is such a different terrain. The video was just me with my iPhone and Samantha (Myles) that day in the park.

We stumbled upon a clearing, and we improvised those shots. I made the decision when editing it to put it into black and white to give it the feeling that you are in a dream, and you aren’t sure if what you are experiencing is real. She is haunted by this persona and feeling of death, which I represented.

When I was writing the Read More

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Misley June Test One

                      Misley - Designed and Made in Spain

Actress Stefanie Früchtenicht

Germany’s Stefanie Früchtenicht checks all of the boxes for the entertainment industry and is a casting director’s dream. The film, television and theater actress is trilingual, German, Spanish and English and fluent in all three languages. She worked for several years in musical theater on the Spanish islands of Mallorca and Ibiza. She is however much more than an actress as the mezzo-soprano  performed with singer Jeffrey Staten. Her favorite genres are Jazz, Soul and R & B. She counts U.K. singer Katie Melua as one of her favorites.

As if all that talent was not enough, Stefanie Früchtenicht says I was born to dance as well. I've been dancing since early childhood. When I dance, I can forget the whole world and I can get lost in the passion.  

I prefer Latin American dances because they are more in line with my temperament, but I also know many other European and worldwide dances and techniques. A few years ago, I won a competition, and I am the German Champion, the reigning Queen of Lambada.”

In addition to the Lambada dance, Stefanie Früchtenicht is also accomplished in modern dance, Salsa, Argentine Tango, Tap and several other Latin American dance forms.

Like many who have made a strong statement in the arts, Stefanie Früchtenicht grew up in what she describes as “a very small town,” in Hessen, Germany. She finds herself in good company with others who began their journey in small towns singer, songwriter, musician Joni Mitchell (Fort MacLeod, Canada – 2,967), Lili Babs (Järvsö, Sweden 1,407), actress Jessica Biel (Ely, MN, U.S.A – 2,460) and one of the most well-loved celebrities of all Dolly Parton (Pittman Center, TN, U.S.A. – 502).  

Continuing, Stefanie Früchtenicht says, “My family were not artists. My father worked in a bank. I was the first (creative) person in my family.

The town was so small that the kids really knew each other and we played outside (including) football.

When I was growing up I had a flute and an accordion and twice each week my mother took my brother and me to get lessons. It was really fun to play the accordion.”

As for when she started to perform, she says, "My dancing teacher and I created a show and I was paid for it. We showed people how to dance during the (era) of Dirty Dancing and Mambo. I was about seventeen. A lot of people attended the performance and they liked it. My family was also there.

Two months after I did my test another person asked me if I wanted to have my own dancing school. It was during the time of Lambada and I was the queen of Lambada. Everybody knew me, because of competitions. I opened my own dancing school. It was a great success and it was really, really good. It was ballroom dancing. We had a show called Let’s Dance. In the beginning people came, not only to dance, but to get to know each other (she laughs lightly). It is a social event to go to a dancing class. My job was to entertain the people and to show them how to dance.”

Now, in her early twenties,  Read More

These Fine Moments - Season 10

These Fine Moments Front Page PhotoThrough the magic of technology our guests recently at Riveting Riffs Magazine were Hilary Kaufmann who was in Austin, Texas and Robert Watts who was in the Greater Beaumont area of Texas, while this writer talked to them from Toronto, Canada. They joined us to talk about their brand-new album Season 10, whose title informs the listener that the music duo has now spent ten years performing as These Fine Moments.

Hilary Kaufmann talks about their respective musical styles when she first met Robert Watts, “We were different in that my musical interests were completely opposite from Robert’s. I was more into Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt and I guess more Folk Rock and Americana, but I have been doing original music in bands for a long time. My band was a finalist in the Kerrville Folk Festival. I am also a songwriter. Robert is much more edgy than I am, and he took me way out of my comfort zone. Our voices blended so well together it was a natural progression. I feel writing with him has really helped me to grow as a musician.”

Robert Watts picks up the conversation, “I come at it from a little different angle. My writing style is not so much literal, but it is more abstract. Hilary centers me a lot to keep me from getting too far out there.”  

“Robert’s influences are more from eighties music and I am slightly older, so my influences are mostly from the seventies,” she says.

As far as how their music has evolved during their ten-year careers together, Robert says, “We started as a duo and then we progressed as a full band thing. We have always had control over the music, the arrangements and everything else when we had the band. It got to the point when it didn’t make sense to have the band anymore because it was too expensive. We went with the model we now have.”  

Hilary adds, “Initially, I would play acoustic guitar like Robert and some harmonica, with the band, but once we started going with the duo (music) Robert set me up with a pretty cool electric guitar and an old Gibson Falcon amp from ’63, so I get to do all the tremeloes and colors. That made it much more interesting than just two acoustic guitar players. We are a lot moodier now (the music not them). It is a lot of fun.”

As for the name These Fine Moments there are two interesting stories attached to that.

“The first EP that we put out when we first got together, there was a line in a song that said, “I won’t let these fine moments pass you by,” Hilary Kaufmann says.  

Robert also recalls, “One of the first bookings we got in Austin, they thought These Fine Moments was the name of our band and so they booked us as that. We thought at first, that’s not right, but then we thought it sounded kind of cool and so we went with it.”

Hilary Kaufmann and Read More

Actress Ana Cerdeiriña

Ana front pageActress  from Madrid, Spain has been a lot of things when she first took up acting. She was a mosquito, a bird, the sun, and a tree, but as her career progressed, she was cast in juicer roles, such as, a nun who sold aphrodisiac candies, and a psychopath. One gets the sense the role she enjoys the most is being the mother to her daughter. Ana Cerdeiriña has been in drama series such as Si No Thagues Conegut, sitcoms like Gym Tony (2015) and her most recent role in the television series Los Hombres de Paco Reboot.

Life began for Ana Cerdeiriña, “in Salamanca, a little town in Castile y León. It is a big area in the northwest of Spain, but not as far north as Galicia. It is a university city with students from all over the world. I have a small family, my father, my mother, my sister, and me. The center of my life is my father, my mother, my sister and now my daughter. My mother is a nurse, my father is a doctor, and my sister works as a hospital administrator. My father and mother split up when I was twelve years old, and I went to live in Madrid with my mother and my sister. I have lived in Madrid for thirty years.

When I was a child and I wanted to become an actress, my mother and father thought that was bad news. They wanted me to study for a different career. In Spain when you are fourteen and sixteen years old and if you say you want to be an actress, it is not beautiful news, because it is so difficult to be an actor or an actress here. Our country has a lot of good things, but the arts and acting or creative (careers) are difficult.

If my daughter came home and said she wanted to be an actress I would probably tell her no, but fortunately she loves math and science,” says Ana Cerdeiriña.

Her first training in the arts came through the music conservatory where she studied piano, learned to sing, and studied music theory.

“It was the way for me to (keep alive) the arts in my body, in my brain and in my life. When I played the piano, and I sang songs I thought I wanted to dance. When I told my parents, I wanted to dance they said okay, I could do it. I attended a dance academy in Salamanca and step by step I got closer to acting.  

I went to a private academy for dance, but I do not consider myself a dancer. For me it was another way to learn. I can sing, but I do not consider myself a singer. I am an actress who can sing.

When I was fifteen years old and I was living in Madrid, I told my parents I would like to study acting and my mother said okay. It came through the music first. First it was music, then dancing and then acting.

I always loved American and English dancers, singers, actors, and actresses. For me it was Wow! I want to be this way. For me it was different than other actors and actresses. In Spain it was not common for an actress to sing and dance and to play an instrument. It is more common with younger actors and actresses, but not for people in my age group,” she explains.  Read More

 

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Cozy Rebel June 24 2021

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Leah Belle Faser - Rising Star

Leah Belle Faser Intro Photo OneIt has been a long time since Riveting Riffs Magazine has said of any young artist that she or he has superstardom in their future. In fact, the last time we said that was when we sat down in April 2005 with then little-known singer, songwriter and guitarist Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry and that is exactly what we predicted. Here we are almost sixteen years later and having recently spoken with sixteen-year-old Leah Belle Faser from Atlanta, Georgia, we are saying the same thing. She has the voice, the songwriting skills and the maturity to become a really special artist, one that we suspect someday will receive serious consideration for and could possibly be the winner of any of the top music awards in Country music.

When you first listen to songs such as “Better Than Mine,” “Back Home,” “The Lift,” and “Second-Hand Store,” from Leah Belle Faser’s new album Crossing Hermi’s Bridge, songs about relationships and longing for home, the first thing you want to do is go to the album credits to find out who co-wrote these songs with her. Surely, you think, a sixteen-year-old could not write so insightfully about such mature themes and compose such well constructed songs. Then you think there must be information missing from the album credits, because all of these songs are attributed to this affable teenage girl who answers your questions thoughtfully and you realize not only are her songs mature, but so is she. Yes, she has all the exuberance of a sixteen-year-old, but she also is wise beyond her years.

Leah Belle Faser says, “There is only so much that has happened in my life at sixteen, so there are only so many things that I can write about. There are ideas and concepts, but I like to observe things and people around me. They are not happening to me, but it is what is happening to other people in my life and even to strangers. It is like listening to the booth behind you in a restaurant (you can hear the smile in her voice), not in a creepy way, but as you observe what people are going through. They may not be my age and they may be older than me with problems that I might not experience at this age. I think that is a really cool way to approach writing.

We share a joke about your writer imagining her slinking around restaurants with a wig and dark glasses looking for new stories. She replies with a laugh and says, “Everybody better watch out! I am on the hunt for hot new stories!”

“I worked with my mentor Phil Barnhart, a veteran songwriter up in Nashville and he gave me that piece of advice, to observe the things around me. I think it holds true with my writing today and it is a great piece of advice. He also told me that not every song is worth writing. When you write songs, a lot of songs have the same core idea, heartbreak or love or happiness and it is important to write (the songs) in a fresh way that nobody has heard before. It is why I like to weave stories into my songs, because you can follow along with the melody and the lyrics and it (becomes) a new story you have never heard before.  Read More

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