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Katja Rieckermann - Double Release

Katja Rieckermann Front Page PhotoYou know the song “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” from when Rod Stewart recorded it on his 1978 album Blondes Have More Fun, but you have never heard it played like this before. Saxophonist, arranger and composer Katja Rieckermann and TMTQ turn in a stunning dance version of the song, with new vocals by Sir Rod Stewart. Rieckermann who toured with Stewart for fourteen years and during that time she began her solo career, which to date has produced three albums, the self-titled Katja (2007), Horn Star (2010) and Never Stand Still (2014). Katja Rieckermann has performed with a diverse group of artists, which include, Carole King, Brooks and Dunn, David Foster, Mary J. Blige, Al Green and Jeff Goldblum.

Katja Rieckerman first started thinking of recording “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” “about two and one-half years ago. Originally it was going to be an instrumental version of “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” and it was going to be very close to the original with the tempo and the vibe of it. I wrote a couple of horn sections for it and we recorded it.

I sent it to Rod for approval and said what do you think? I said hey Rod what do you think? I am thinking about releasing this version. Do you like it? He wrote back, yes I love it. How about I sing on it? I was like wow! That is crazy. Of course, that would be fantastic. He ended up singing over the original track that I sent to him.

I thought now I have these newly recorded vocals of Rod and it is too close to sounding like the original, so I should do something super hip and new.

I contacted award winning composer and arranger Sandi Strmljan who produced my second solo album Horn Star. He suggested doing a remix version and involved Tim Brettschneider (TMTQ). They sped it up and turned it into a dance track. 

I am really surprised at how much people love it. Rod Stewart has been so generous already with all of this. He has been unbelievable and I cannot thank him enough for what he has done for me. He is amazing. The response has been really great. People like the music and the video. I am super happy,” says Katja Rieckermann.

We wondered if perhaps there is a Read More

Christmastime Is Here

Charleene Closshey Christmas Album Photo Front PageOn Thanksgiving day you will hear laughter in the background and it will continue throughout the holiday season and continue until Christmas. It is not the ghost of Christmas Past, Present or Future, but it may very well be the ghost of singer, composer, musician, arranger and actress Charleene Closshey. I am going to borrow a sentence from Charles Dickens and with artistic license change Scrooge’s name and the gender, “And it was always said of her, that she knew how to keep Christmas well, if any woman (or man) alive possessed the knowledge.”

Christmastime Is Here is the title of Charleene Closshey’s brand new album and yes you have heard most of these songs before, but you have not heard them this way. Charleene Closshey’s tremendous musical gifts as an arranger and composer are in the forefront, as she weaves together lyrics and melodies from different songs. The incredible beauty of the Bulgarian choirs (including a boys choir) from Sofia, Bulgaria and the accompanying orchestra recorded at Four for Music studios in Sofia. Masterful conducting by Lyubomir Denev, Jr. (orchestra), adult choir (George Elenkov) and boys choir by Dr. Adrianna Blagoeva.

The album was produced by six time Grammy Award winner, American Brent Maher (As a producer: The Judds, Ike and Tina Turner, The 5 th Dimension, Tanya Tucker, Shelby Lynne, Jo Dee Messina) and we have not even talked about his six times being awarded Song of the Year by the Academy of Country Music or his engineering feats. The album was also produced by George Elenkov and George Strezov.

Charleene Closshey opens our conversation, which catches this writer by surprise (the words you just read were written in mock disbelief), “Well first of all I have always loved Christmas music. It is in my bones, it is in my DNA and I listen to Christmas music all year ‘round and I have since I was a kid (it is easy to detect the enthusiasim in her voice). One of my first memories of Christmas music is of an old ivory colored eight track my parents had, of Bing Crosby singing “That Christmas Feeling.” “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” “Good King Wenceslas,” and “That Christmas Feeling,” (all from Bing Crosby’s album) all hold an incredibly special place in my heart. There is a purity of connection to that particular album and for whatever the reason has inspired me during the holidays. Read More

Design By Sophie Joy, Rhemy, Olli, FuMoso 

New Zealand Fashion Week Photo One

Photo by Stefan Gosatti Courtesy of Getty Images protected by copyright ©

YYNOT - American Rock Band

YYNOT Photo FiveYYNOT is a Rock band mostly out of California with a dash of Florida and their name addresses what others might be prompted to ask. Those questions might be why three musicians and a singer got together first as a RUSH tribute band and later started to write their own songs, but still very much in the vein of Progressive Rock. Another question might be what does a twenty-two year old lead singer (Rocky Kuner) know about the pinnacle of RUSH’s career or what does she know at all about that era of music? Yet another question stems out of the former question, which is can three older (not old) guys who grew up listening to RUSH and a Generation Z singer actually make it work? Well if one considers the strong following that YYNOT has and they have played concerts all across America rather than just being a regional band then the answer to the last question is a resounding yes!

The new album Resonance opens with an instrumental “Synergos,” written by Billy Alexander, a longtime friend of Riveting Riffs Magazine. Alexander sat down with us to talk about the band YYNOT and the songs on this album. Heavy drumbeats (Joel Stevenet) and dare we say it, riveting guitar riffs slice through the air (courtesy of Alexander), while Tim Starace works his magic on bass.

Superb songwriting (Billy Alexander) and fabulous vocals by Rocky Kuner take over with the second song on the album, “Wildest Dreams.” The song is both an encouraging missive and a challenge to keep imagination alive, to keep that little girl or little boy spark inside of us or to reignite it and to keep pursing our dreams. The theme is reflected in the chorus, “Sing it to the top of your lungs / Who’s to say you’re not forever young / Set a course to cross the sea / May you imagine yourself / Living your wildest dreams…”   Read More

Gary Nicholson - Two New Albums

Gary Nicholson Photo Front PageIt is not often that an artist puts out two albums at the same time, but then when you go by two professional names Gary Nicholson and Whitey Johnson and the albums have entirely different themes then maybe it should not be surprising that is what Nicholson / Johnson did recently.

“I am still writing songs about what is still going on in our culture. I am going to make another record that speaks to this situation that we are in. I want to temper that with the Whitey Johnson music that offers some fun and humor and some rocking Blues music that can go along with the Folk music of the Great Divide (one of the new albums). I think the two things work well together and that is why I chose to put out the two records at the same time. Thankfully Blue Corn Music was agreeable to releasing both records,” says Nicholson referencing the other album More Days Like This released under his other moniker Whitey Johnson.

So, just before we get into the main part of our conversation we thought we would tell you how Gary Nicholson, singer, songwriter and guitarist also acquired the name Whitey Johnson.

“The Whitey Johnson persona started when I wrote a short story about Whitey Johnson who was a composite character from my youth. He was a guitar hero of mine. He was black, but he was albino, so his family called him Whitey and that short story appeared in a book called Guitar in a Tent. A lot of songwriters wrote short stories for this book. (Kris) Kristofferson and John Hiatt and others wrote stories. That is how the Whitey Johnson thing started. When Colin Linden and I started playing a lot of Country Blues together we felt compelled to go to Read More

Specialty Records & Art Rupe

Billy Vera Specialty Records Photo Front PageRecently, singer, songwriter, musician, author and Grammy Award winner Billy Vera sat down with me to talk about his new book Rip It Up: The Specialty Records Story. Vera tells us how the book came about.

“BMG contacted me. They initiated a series of books with each one being about a different independent record label, either an old one or a new one. They knew I worked for Specialty years ago and that I knew the founder Art Rupe, so they figured I was the guy to do the Specialty (book). They gave me the outline and they said we want roughly 50,000 words. Each book is in a seven by seven format, which is the size of an old 45 rpm record.

I have known Art for thirty years. I had Xerox copies of correspondence between artists and Art, recording session sheets and union contracts from my days at Specialty. I produced over fifty CDs of Specialty music. I was also very familiar with the history of the label and of Art’s history. Whenever I had a question I just called him up. I wrote the book in about three weeks.

Art is 102 years old and he is sharper than you and I put together. He still goes to work every day. In fact, later in the day after he finished with us (doing a video with him), he had a board meeting. He runs a charitable foundation that gives away tons and tons of money to various things that he is interested in. He is an incredible man. He is an amazing man,” he says.

Art Rupe penned the foreword to the book.

Billy Vera’s association with the kind Read More

45 Revoluciones Television Espanola

45 rpm front page photoRiveting Riffs Magazine does not write a lot of reviews these days, although those were our roots as an entertainment, fashion and visual arts publication. We now focus on interviews. Having said all of that when 45 revoluciones, which first was broadcast on Antena 3 (television) in Spain in the spring of 2019 appeared on Netflix recently, what began as a curiosity turned into a love affair between this writer and yet another fabulous production from Spain.

45 revoluciones is set in the early 1960s in Madrid, Spain at a time when Rock and Roll music gave a voice to young people in many countries in the world, but also at a time in Spain when it was ruled by a brutal and repressive dictator General Francisco Franco. Franco would not die until 1975 and during his dictatorship people of a gay sexual orientation were arrested, beaten and persecuted if caught, literature was heavily censored and often rewritten, radio and television stations broadcast what they were told to broadcast and music was censored.

Now that you understand the setting of 45 revoluciones let us talk about the outstanding thirteen episode series that we hope will be renewed for another season and if you watched the series in its entirety, yes the writers and producers did leave a window open for that to occur with the way the story was written. If it is not renewed by Antena 3 then perhaps Netflix will pick up the rights. It has done well with other Spanish productions such as Alta Mar (High Seas) and Las Chicas Del Cable (Cable Girls).

There are so many good acting performances in 45 revoluciones by the stars of the show and by the entire supporting cast that it will not be possible to mention everyone. Never in recent  Read More

Eva Gamallo - Actress from Spain

You sit down with someone on the other end of a telephone call or in this case on SKYPE to do an interview or as we prefer to say to have a conversation and neither person knows quite what to expect. All you know about in this case, Eva Gamallo, a wonderful film, television and stage actress from Madrid, Spain is what your research has been able to tell you and all she really knows about you and Riveting Riffs Magazine is what you have told her and what she has read when visiting the magazine’s website. What this writer discovered during our hour long conversation with a very talented actress, is a warm and charming woman for whom you immediately want the best for her in life and career. Take a few moments and listen in on our conversation with actress Eva Gamallo. Oh and yes we do know how to say her name correctly in Spanish, because through much shared laughter and some giggles on her part, Eva Gamallo was gracious enough to teach this writer how to pronounce hers surname correctly. Her first name Eva is also pronounced like we would say Ava in English.

Eva Gamallo was born in Switzerland to Spanish parents. Her mother was from Pontevedra in the north of Spain and her father from Granada in the south of Spain.

“I have one brother and one sister. (My family) was medium size, not so small and not so large.  When I was three years old we moved (from Switzerland) to Granada.  I lived there until I was eighteen or nineteen and then I went to live in Read More

Interview with Lisa Dondlinger

Lisa Dondlinger Photo Front PageYou would be hard-pressed to find an iconic music figure with whom violinist, arranger, composer and singer Lisa Dondlinger has not performed with and / or recorded with during the course of her career. To name drop for a moment, Lisa Dondlinger has performed and / or recorded with Lady Gaga, John Legend, Andrea Bocelli, Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, Rihanna and Tony Bennett. That is barely scratching the surface of her musical resume. Perhaps you have seen her appear as a soloist or concertmaster on the Grammy Awards, American Idol, The American Music Awards, The Voice, The Ellen Show, The Tonight Show or The Academy Awards, Dancing with the Stars, The Emmy Awards and the Latin Grammy Awards.

The former Miss America beauty pageant contestant who represented the state of Iowa (Miss Iowa) sat down with Riveting Riffs Magazine recently to talk about her current album Movies & The Masters, as well as her career.

In talking about her album Dondlinger says, “I have always heard melodies together in my head and I know that sounds really weird, but I always hear things that lend themselves to something else. One of the things on the album that I am the most proud of and sounds the most weird is I was hearing Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite and especially two of the movements Infernal Dance (Of King Kashchei) and the Finale. I was trying to figure out what could go with them? What would sound really cool with them? The thing I came up with was Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire. It is definitely a Read More

Magda Salinas - Actress - Interview

Magda Salinas Front Page PhotoMagda Salinas was just about to conclude her five week run in the play Y gritamos sorpresa! (So We Shout Surprise!), directed and written by Sara Palomo and presented in Madrid, Spain, when she took time from her busy schedule to talk to Riveting Riffs Magazine. She also had a recurring role as Doncella during the third and fourth seasons of the very popular Spanish television series Gran Hotel. In addition she has appeared in other Spanish television shows and the web series Entre amigos. At the time of our conversation Magda Salinas was also writing a one-woman play.

Just like in North America where some of the most iconic actors, actresses and music legends began their lives far from the centers for the film, television and music worlds, in Spain it is not uncommon to find that actresses such as Magda Salinas grew up far from what now is considered the hub for film and television production in Spain, the city of Madrid.  

Let’s take a journey to Almeria, a city more than one thousand years old located in the southeast of Spain in the region known as Andalusia and where life began for Magda Salinas.

She talks about life in Almeria, a city with a population approaching 200,000, one she describes as being sunny and with a large coastline. Almeria has beaches, the desert, mountains, so we have everything.   Read More

Beth Bombara - Americana Rock

Beth Bombara Photo Front Page Credit Nate BurrellWe do not often think of the word Evergreen, as summer is winding down, but Christmas came early this year with a delicious album from Beth Bombara that bears that title. The dual first tracks, which for the music video merge into one another, “I Only Cry When I’m Alone,” and “Upside Down,” are well worth investing in the album, so the listener can discover some other treasures.

Beth Bombara talks about those first two songs, “Social media has changed how we interact socially and what I was really thinking about is how it has enabled us to hide behind this curtain, minus emotion. If you don’t want somebody to know that you’re sad you don’t have to post a picture of you looking sad on the internet. Nobody has to know that you are sad or upset. It is this idea of not letting people behind your emotional curtain. That is what I was thinking about when I started writing,” the she adds that you can also convey your true emotions, “I have cried in front of other people before. It is capturing the idea that it is a lot easier now than ever to let people see when you are feeling sad.”

Although, the song does not focus specifically on the period of her life when Beth Bombara was dealing with depression, she says, “I was not thinking about that, but generally speaking yes. Part of my battle with depression during that time period was the aspect of feeling stuck and not feeling like I had any power to do anything. There is an aspect of “Upside Down,” that alludes to that. It is the feeling of being stuck and not having the power to do anything and then just flipping your whole perspective upside down. If you think you are at a place Read More

Design by Lemon Tree, Rhind, Ruby and Rain

New Zealand Fashion Week Photo Two 

Photo by Stefan Gosatti Courtesy of Getty Images protected by copyright ©

Interview with Charlotte Martin

Charlotte Martin front page photoCharlotte Martin has been a lot of things during her lifetime, a beauty pageant winner and contestant (numerous times), an Opera singer, Classical pianist, she was signed to a major record deal, she is both a private music teacher and she teaches music at a college in the Greater Los Angeles area, but if you asked her what her greatest accomplishment has been and the one from which she has derived the most satisfaction she would likely tell you it is being mom to her son and daughter. If you asked us what strikes us most about Charlotte Martin we would tell you it is her toughness. We are not talking about the kind of tough that comes with an edge or that is confrontational, but rather the kind of strength that wills one through life. She overcame anorexia early in life, for more than a decade she has dealt with considerable physical pain from a condition known as arachnoid neurological syndrome and she has soldiered on with her music career, albeit at the moment she is more focused on the educational and songwriting aspects of it.

Charlotte Martin grew up in Charleston, Illinois the daughter of Becky and Joseph and with a brother six years older. Joseph was a professor of music for forty-seven years and he played woodwind instruments, while Becky was a singer who also taught choirs and music in general.

“I grew up listening to a lot of music. I listened to a lot of Classical and my dad also loved Elvis. My mom was also very influenced by Christian music and I grew up singing in churches. She always sang in the worship band in church and she played as well.

I grew up in a great community for music. The access to music education there is so much more intense than it is even here in California. You would think it would be the opposite. There were a lot of opportunities for me to be involved in things,” she says.

 It was not until she reached college that Charlotte Martin started to broaden her music palette, influenced by her roommates who Read More

Eilen Jewell Releases Gypsy 

Eilen Jewell replacement Photo Front PageYou will travel a long way and you will meet a lot of singers, musicians and other people in life, before you will meet someone as nice as Eilen Jewell who took time out from writing more splendid songs and family life with husband Jason Beek and their five year old daughter Mavis to talk about her new album Gypsy. A decade had passed since Eilen Jewell had been our guest at Riveting Riffs Magazine, when she released her Sea of Tears album, and our conversation began with talking about the move from the northeast United States back to Boise, Idaho a few years ago. It was an important part of our conversation, because those Idaho roots provide the color and the fabric of Eilen Jewell’s music.

“I felt pretty homesick almost as soon as I left (Idaho). Part of me enjoyed feeling homesick and I wanted to keep it up and to keep it going, which is why I stayed away as long as I did.  I was gone for fifteen years and then I just felt like I had been homesick long enough and it was time to go home. I really have enjoyed being back here. Part of it is Jason Beek my husband and drummer and I, we were ready to buy a house. We felt we would never be able to afford that in the northeast.  Now we have this sweet little home and two years after we bought our house we had our little girl, Mavis. It has been really nice to raise her here in Idaho. I don’t think I could do the big city parenting thing. I see people with strollers on subways and I just cringe. I don’t think I could hack it. I am just a western girl by nature,” she says.

Seguing back to the album Gypsy, Eilen Jewell says, “(It has been four years) since my last album of original material. I released an album of Blues covers in 2017. It was called Down Hearted Blues. I started writing some of the songs (for Gypsy) eight or nine years ago. They were sketches and they didn’t have any flesh to them. They just stayed in idea mode  Read More

Mindi Abair  Interview

Mindi Abair front page photo“We always joke that our band is a sport. Some people just stand there and play or play quietly or play nice little Jazz, but with what we do we are dripping wet by the second song. It is a sport and we all believe that you are supposed to give a pound of flesh and that you are supposed to give a piece of your soul every night to (your audience) That is the deal that you make when you step on stage. I think it is good for us. It is a great catharsis. I don’t need therapy, because I have a band (she laughs) and an audience,” says singer, songwriter and saxophonist Mindi Abair, while talking about her band Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers.

Abair’s comments were part of a conversation when talking about the song “Whose Going to Save My Soul?” from the new album No Good Deed released on June 28 (2019).

About the song she says, “It is a hard song to sing, because you have to give your all. It is one of those songs that you can’t pretend. Every ounce of your being has to emote. This will be one of the songs in the set that takes it out of us.”

Mindi Abair both sings and plays a lengthy saxophone solo during “Whose Going to Save My Soul?” and we wondered how much that is going to sap her energy.

“I think that it is really helpful to have songs that I am singing and then songs that I am playing sax on (both for the same song). It breaks it up. Sometimes if you are just playing saxophone all night, those muscles get broken down and those muscles in your face hurt. As a singer different muscles are going to be worked. It is all energy and it is all (about) you giving, but it is different. It does help to be able to spread it out over the night and to go I am going to sing this song and play this sax.

As far as wearing you out, it spreads it out a little more. It is a lot of energy and I am going to be exhausted to do this record live. “You Better Run,” oh my god I have done that one live. Your heart is beating out of your chest.”  Read More

Design By Sophie Joy, Rhemy, Olli, FuMoso 

New Zealand Fashion Week Photo Three

Photo by Stefan Gosatti Courtesy of Getty Images protected by copyright ©

Cool Country Music From Sweden

Cina Samuelson Photo Front PageFresh off of her tour of Finland Swedish Country Music singer and songwriter Cina Samuelson took time with Riveting Riffs Magazine to reflect upon her career and her life.

“We had a wonderful tour and we played at wonderful places that most of the times were near water. We had lovely weather, the sun was shining and the sunsets were so wonderful.  It was a tour that I will have in my mind and in my heart for a very long time,” says Cina Samuelson (pronounced Keena Samuelson).

The year 2020 will mark the twentieth anniversary for Cina Samuelson’s solo career, after spending ten years as a founding member of the band Freetown Highway and another five years performing with other bands. During her career she has toured and performed in the United States with Charlie McCoy, Dale Watson, Teri Joyce and Becky Hobbs.

To celebrate that anniversary she is going to start recording a new album this fall (2019) to be released in 2020 and it will include her recent single “Sweet Mama, Elvis and Me,” (now available to purchase online).

She talks about that single, “It is a song that I wrote about my mother and me and the way that she taught me to dance crazy to Rock and Roll and Elvis Presley. I haven’t got a name for the new album yet. I haven’t decided which song will be the title song. I am going to record this exactly the way I did it with the Roots and Memories album (2014), to sit down with all of the musicians at the same time. I did it that way with this single as well. It was a smaller studio. I would like to do the album that way again and do it like a live recording.”

Cina Samuelson’s musical journey began in the small Swedish town of Fristad near Borås and forty minutes by car, north of Gothenburg. Read More



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