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Gypsy Soul - 20 Years of Great Music

Gypsy Soul 2016 front page photoGypsy Soul, the husband and wife duo of Roman Morykit and Cilette Swan, augmented by an assortment of musicians, just announced the North American release of their new album, simply titled True. It is their thirteenth recording and the songwriting, instrumentals, vocals and production capture the essence of this superbly talented and equally congenial twosome. There are no weak links with this collection of eleven songs.

When asked to reflect upon the fact that Gypsy Soul has established a musical legacy that has endured for almost twenty years, Roman Morykit says, “It is interesting, because I have never even given it a lot of thought. It is just one of the things that we do, it is like breathing. It’s like it is time for another record, we have enough material. It is part of who we are and what we do. It is only when people like yourself who are friends and fans point out that we have made thirteen albums that we realize we have had a career of (almost) twenty years as Gypsy Soul. It will be twenty years next year.

Back to Cilette’s earlier point, it is short and time flies by and all of a sudden you are on number thirteen. It is astonishing to us actually that we have managed to keep doing this for this long.”

For the Oregon couple, the story of Gypsy Soul begins twenty-seven years ago in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“That would make us twenty-nine now,” says Roman.  

“I know we met as toddlers right,” chimes in Cilette, before recalling how they met, “I was in a band with Roman’s brother and that is how it all started. I had been living in France and I moved to Edinburgh. I went there on a little weekend trip and I fell in love with Edinburgh. I said to myself, I must live here and I made it happen.

I met Roman’s brother in a recording studio.  We started writing together. We never were performing out, but we started writing arrangements. Every time he would mention, you really need to meet my brother Roman, he is an amazing bass player and you will just love him. There was a dinner party and Roman was already there playing Read More

Time Sailors of Pizzolungo

Time Sailors front page photoIn a world where children have video games, high definition televisions to watch their favorite programs and parents take them to the cinema to watch the latest and greatest movies; it takes a special parent to give a child the gift of a book. Scott Abrams and Adam Blockton are the co-authors of a remarkable children’s book, Time Sailors of Pizzolungo. It is a timeless and classic adventure book that will entertain children and adults alike. More importantly this beautiful book stimulates the imagination in a warm, positive fashion in a world in which our children need to hear a message of hope and dream dreams of what someday might be and that they might become.  Join Guillermo, Piccolo, Enzo, Mario, Luca and Tony as they sail the high seas and create magic five centuries before any of these children were born.

Scott Abrams sat down with Riveting Riffs Magazine recently to discuss this children’s adventure novel.

“I never set out to write a book, much less a children’s book and the idea came to me in an unexpected way. Years ago I was in Sicily near Pizzolungo. We were sitting at a villa poolside and it happened to be my birthday when a friend of mine gave me a small little boat as a birthday gift. I am not sure why. The boat package said that it grows in the water. Naturally we plunked it into the pool and we sat around waiting for it to grow, but strangely it didn’t grow. We said maybe it needs some time to grow and we checked it the next day and we couldn’t find the boat. We searched the same pool and it was completely gone. A few years after that I was emailing with one of my friends who was with me that day and exchanging joking messages about the boat and where it might have gone. He said it probably went into the filtration system and headed out to sea and that it was probably the biggest ship in the ocean right now. We started trading emails about that and expanding on it. At one point I said that I am going to turn this into a children’s story and I really didn’t believe it myself, but I did eventually.

I had written a screenplay with Adam Blockton fifteen years ago and I wrote to him and I said I have a new writing project that I am going to work on. I sent him my story and at the time I was thinking of writing this as a little  Read More

Mercedes Benz Spring Summer 2017 Collection

Mercedes Benz Spring Summer 2017

 Photo by Sebastian Reuter, courtesy of Getty Images,
protected by copyright ©

Anna Bonnevier of Odd Molly

Anna Bonnevier front page photoIn 2002 Per Holknet, a former skateboarding world champion, former drug addict and previously homeless person got together with designer Karin Jimfelt-Ghatan and financier Christer Andersson and co-founded the Swedish clothing company Odd Molly, with a shared vision inspired by a real life girl named Molly. The Odd Molly brand is now sold through a combination of boutiques and Odd Molly owned stores throughout the world. (Editor’s note: Holknet and Jimfelt-Ghatan left Odd Molly in 2013 to pursue other business ventures.)

Recently, Anna Bonnevier, the Head of Fashion for Odd Molly took time to talk to Riveting Riffs Magazine from her home in Sweden.

Ms. Bonnevier elaborates on the story behind Odd Molly, “The Odd Molly brand would not exist if there was no Molly girl. It is a true story, because one of the founders Per was a skateboard pro in the ‘80s and at that time he lived in Los Angeles and there was one girl called Molly, just hanging around the skate parks and so on. It was her personal look and style that really inspired Per to start this brand. I know that Per and Karin bumped into each other in L.A.”

We wondered just who is this Molly girl and is she still an inspiration for the designers today?

“Per often talked about her as the girl that everyone wanted to be with, because she was just having her own way of doing everything and also because of the way that she dressed. I think it is the spirit of this girl that is the most inspiring part, because she always did everything in her own way. (You can hear the smile in her voice.) That is Read More

Cindy Alexander and Deep Waters

Cindy Alexander Photo One 2016On July 15th Cindy Alexander released her album Deep Waters, a collaborative effort with Colin Devlin of The Devlins. It is Cindy Alexander’s best album yet. It is a collection of songs that are original tunes, with two exceptions a cover of “Heaven’s Wall,” by The Devlins and Jann Arden’s “Good Mother.”

The new album opens with Cindy Alexander covering “Heaven’s Wall,” a 1990s song by the Irish band The Devlins, from their 1997 album Waiting. She has always had a good voice, but this song fits very well with Alexander’s vocals and her phrasing is excellent. As the song builds to a crescendo at the 2:30 mark Cindy Alexander’s connection with this song is evident as she repeats the chorus “Come on, take my hand, we’ll rise above it all / Then we can meet as planned outside of heaven’s wall.” 

“When I was going through Colin’s material, before we were going to start writing together, I was listening to his music and I came across this song. It is a Devlin’s song from the ‘90s and it hooked me. I loved the groove and I loved that the beat was relentless, but there was this slow and steady build. It kept going through my head and it was an earworm. When it came time to put the songs together I thought it would be nice to cover one of his songs. I love the guitar solo by Colin,” says Alexander.

The album Deep Waters was difficult for us to get through the first time and only because each of the songs is so well presented that the tendency is just to keep replaying them, before finally convincing yourself to move on to the next song.

The current album originally started out with the premise that there would be a Read More

German Actress Marina Welsch

Marina Welsch Photo OneA.R. Gurney’s play Love Letters was presented in Solingen, Germany during the spring of 2016 and it starred German actors Marina Welsch and Michael Lesch, with Lesch also directing the play. The play originally was staged Off Broadway in New York City and starred Kathleen Turner and John Rubinstein in 1989 and Love Letters was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The story is told through letters that were written by the characters, Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner to each other throughout their lives. The response for tickets was so great that an additional performance was added at Theater Kammerspielchen and Welsch and Lesch also have plans to present Love Letters in several other German cities during the autumn of 2016.  

Just prior to the opening of the play in Solingen, the warm and thoughtful Marina Welsch took a few minutes to sit down with Riveting Riffs Magazine to discuss the play, the art gallery that she owns and her life and career.

As for staging Love Letters in Germany, Welsch explains, “It was my idea. Christina, Michael’s wife, was my former acting agent years ago and at the time he was still very busy doing TV serials. He is quite well-known in Germany. When I changed my agency and I lost track of Christina, but when I opened my gallery in September (2015), she went there and meanwhile Michael had returned to Solingen, which was his family’s home years ago. Christina and I talked about what Michael was doing and what I was doing. I always dreamt of having a literature salon, something pure, theater work at home and reading something very intimate. I asked him if he was interested in doing Love Letters. At first I felt that we might do it at their  Read More 

Joy Burnworth

Joy Burnworth Photo Front PageAnderson is the name of a city in Indiana and it also happens to be the name of a very good musical duo of the same name. The duo comprised of Joy Burnworth and Howie Anderson draws its name from both Howie Anderson’s last name and the fact that Joy Burnworth grew up in Anderson, Indiana. The American duo boasts a ton of experience and talent, as Burnworth has worked with producers David Foster, Gerry Gallagher (Led Zeppelin, ACDC) and Matt Hyde (Jonny Lang, No Doubt). She has performed at both the Academy Awards and the Emmy Awards and Burnworth has opened for artists such as Buffalo Springfield, Pat Benatar and Juice Newton. Joy Burnworth is also the first call sub for Jefferson Starship. Howie Anderson is the lead guitarist for The Strawberry  Alarm Clock and he has worked with Spencer Davis, actor Ben Vereen, Robbie Krieger of the The Doors, Peter & Gordon, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ed King, Jerry Corbetta (Sugarloaf) and drummer Buddy Miles to name but a few.

Joy Burnworth sat down with us recently and talked about her own career, the duo Anderson and where it all started for her.  

“I write all of the lyrics and it all starts with me.  I start with the lyrics and I usually have some type of a melody, but sometimes I will not have a melody and Howie will start playing things to give me ideas. I take the lyric and the partial melody and I go to his house and we hash it out. We figure out if it is going to be in 3/4 or in 4/4 and figure out the tempos and all of that.  He comes up with the harmony and helps me to take the melody in a different route based on what he is playing,” says Burnworth.

Take for instance the Anderson song “Aqua Gardens,” a mid-tempo song with a Read More

Emy Persiani from Rome

Emy Persiani Photo OneFrom an early age Italian singer Emy Persiani seemed destined for a career in music. She is the daughter of preeminent composer and pianist Cesare Persiani who also performed with some of Italy’s most highly acknowledged artists including conductor, arranger and musician Cinico Angelini, Pippo Barzizza (composer, conductor, arranger and music director), singer and actor Alberto Rabagliati (The Barefoot Contessa, Montecarlo and Il Vedovo, The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t – as Santa) and songwriter, musician and band leader Gorni Kramer. 

About one of the people her father performed with Emy Persiani says, “You probably know Gorni Kramer (She sings a song in Italian). He is very famous in Italy and I don’t know if he is famous in America, but it is a kind of Swing after the Second World War made (famous in Italy) and my father played piano for him.

My father was a very famous pianist and when I was born my house was full of piano notes. My father was the most important figure in my family of course, first for the music and he got a diploma at The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, which is a very famous music academy here in Rome and in Italy. He played Classical music, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven and Mozart. He was born very early in the 20th century and fifty years before me. That is an important fact, because a lot of the heritage from, I don’t if that is the right word him comes to me from the early years of the 20th century. He was a piano player between the two world wars and he was a very famous piano player after the Second World War.  Read More

Swedish Drummer Rasmus Kihlberg

Rasmus Kihlberg Photo OneEarlier this year Swedish drummer Rasmus Kihlberg who has played and / or recorded with artists such as Tom Jones, Charlotte Church, Bill Champlin, The Cardigans, Björn Skifs, Japanese singer and actress Tomoyo Harada and Joseph Williams of Toto, had a very busy tour schedule.

Talking about this year’s tour Rasmus Kihlberg says, “I played with Nils Landgren. He is a Swedish trombone player and singer and with my wife Viktoria Tolstoy who is a singer. (There was also) a piano player, a bass player and the Frankfurt Philharmonic Orchestra, but not the strings, only the woodwinds and the horn players. The arrangements for that tour were made by Vince Mendoza and we played only Leonard Bernstein music, all the famous hits and also the non-famous. It was a fantastic tour and we had thirteen or fourteen concerts in a month and only in Germany. There was a full house in every place and standing ovations. Nils and Viktoria sang this music so well. Sometimes they would sing duets, sometimes she would sing one song and (other times) he would sing one. Sitting in the middle of this orchestra with my drums was also a dream come true, because I love all of the things that come from Vince’s pencil (and that has been) since the first time I heard Vince’s arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now (the album).  It has been a huge experience and also a fantastic tour to be able to play enormously beautiful arrangements. It was fantastic.”

That tour came on the heels of a very ambitious tour schedule for Kihlberg’s wife, the accomplished and highly respected singer, Viktoria Tolstoy, whose own tour embraced several months in the fall of 2015 and the early part of 2016, with breaks to return home to be with her family. Read More  

Ali Handal

Ali Handal front of magazine photoAli Handal an American singer, songwriter and guitarist living in Los Angeles serves up gritty Rock songs that cut like a knife. She also sings tender, ethereal songs like “Last Lullaby.” Handal’s songwriting and her playing on acoustic songs such as “Distance,” and “Sweet Scene,” remind us of John Denver. If you are reading this and thinking she cannot possibly be all those things, we would say to you, yes she can and she really is that gifted and versatile as an artist. If you are looking for a reference point for Ali Handal’s music we would suggest you take a big mixing bowl and put in a bit of Joan Jett, some Neil Young, a slice of John Denver and a dash of Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart.   

Ali Handal started life in Amorok, New York, the oldest of three girls. When she was twelve years old, she drove across the country with her father in a station wagon when her family moved to northern California and during that trip she became the temporary guardian of the family fern named Rhoda. Her mother and her sisters flew to their new home in the Bay Area.   

“I was excited to move to California and for me it was really fun. I had relatives in San Jose, California which is south of where we went to live, but it was a very positive experience,” she says.  

Although she had started taking piano lessons when she was four years old she later switched to guitar and Ali Handal talks about that decision, “I heard Led Zeppelin and that is what made me really want to play guitar, because I just thought they were the coolest and I still do.  At the time I didn’t really appreciate John Paul Jones  Read More

Sweden's Stefan Gunnarsson

Sefan Gunnarsson ThumbnailMeet Sweden’s pinball wizard Stefan Gunnarsson, who has forty-five pinball machines in his personal collection. That would be a fascinating story on its own, but this is not the story of a man who relaxes in the far nothern town of Boden, Sweden, by playing pinball, but instead it is about the musical journey of a man who some might say is a musical genius and who as a childhood protégé was playing with adult aged bands. Stefan Gunnarsson has gained a stellar reputation as a multi-instrumentalist, a composer, a television personality and as a producer.   

Stefan Gunnarsson’s journey began in the same town he now lives in, Boden, on the coastline of the Baltic Sea and approximately a ten hour drive by car, north of Sweden’s largest city Stockholm.   

Gunnarsson says, “Boden is a pretty small town way up north. There are about 25,000 or 30,000 people living here.  It is pretty close to the Polar circle and it is very cold in the wintertime, with lots of snow. It is also a military town, with a big military tradition. My father was a trumpet player in a military orchestra. It became like an institution and it turned into other things than just a military orchestra. They had a big band and they played a lot of different music (instead of) just military music. As a four, five and six year old I loved sitting during rehearsals with the big band and listening to the music and checking out the drummer. The drums were my first love.  I started (playing drums) when I was four or five years old.  

The first memories that I have from that time period was of me sitting next to the drums   Read More  

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia 2016

Stefan Gosatti Photo
Design by Cynthia Rowley, Photo by Stefan Gosatti
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Lisa Hilton Is Nocturnal

Lisa Hilton Photo Front PageJazz pianist and composer Lisa Hilton who makes her home in Malibu, California recently released her eighteenth album, titled Nocturnal and this time she combines both Jazz and Classical elements for some of her compositions. She also previously released in Asia, two compilation albums and she has one vinyl. Ms. Hilton debuted her new album at Carnegie Hall in January (2016) and radio stations such as KVNF in Colorado, Virginia’s WTJU and WUNH in New Hampshire have given her the thumbs up. Those accolades however are not restricted to America, as they have also flowed in from places such as Australia, Spain and Italy. Lisa Hilton’s albums are entirely instrumental, which also helps to create a broader international audience.  

“I thought my concert at Carnegie Hall went really well and I felt really good about my band and we performed what was very exciting and different for me. It was my third time at Carnegie Hall.   

I was doing “Midnight Sonata,” and I had never done a piece of music that is essentially twenty minutes long. Stuff like that is fun and exciting for musicians. We always want to do the hard and complicated, so those things are fun and interesting to us. It was my first time stepping up to that level for a longer piece of music. What was most important to me was how it came through and when I finished playing it I saw someone in the audience do a two thumbs up. That person mouthed the word beautiful. 

Afterwards I asked a couple of people whom I respect for their opinions and they said that the sonata was beautiful.

That was a big exciting moment. I played it as a trio and I also had horn players for other pieces, but the sonata was just for the trio. (For some) upcoming (concerts) I am going to play solo piano, so there will be a little bit more on my shoulders. I am very excited about playing solo, because musicians really like challenges and I have not played solo for a little bit. Read More 

Hypnotist Kellie Karl

Kellie Karl Photo FourKellie Karl has performed as a singer and a dancer, but her celebrity for many years now has been attached to her performances as a hypnotist in Las Vegas where she lives, as well as her performances in other parts of North America. It is a career that started when a friend who was the assistant to a hypnotist was moving and asked Kellie Karl if she would like to take over for her.    

When asked if she had any preconceived notions about hypnosis, prior to her involvement Kellie Karl replied, “I wasn’t suspect. I wasn’t the type of person who said, oh that’s just not real. I had really never seen a hypnosis show, so I was pretty open-minded about it. When I saw his (the hypnotist that she assisted) show I was very intrigued, because I had always known about the power of the mind. It is something I have always embraced and I had done my own study about it.

Once I really got into hypnosis I realized my aunt taught me hypnosis when I was eight years old. I had been doing progressive relaxation on myself since I was eight.  I thought I had this super-duper power. I would tell all of my friends, if you have a headache I can get rid of your headache. I would do progressive relaxation on them and they would not have a headache anymore.  It was pretty amazing when I realized that I had actually been doing this my whole life. 

This is what I was meant to do for sure. I absolutely believe in the power of the mind. People can help themselves and people can change themselves by accessing the subconscious and wanting  Read More

Nilla Nielsen

Nilla Nielsen review front pageRecently, Riveting Riffs Magazine came across a musical gem that we had not heard previously, the 2008 album release Shellshocked from Swedish singer, songwriter and musician Nilla Nielsen. One of the responsibilities of a songwriter and singer is to evoke a strong emotional response from listeners and this collection of songs accomplishes that.

These songs demonstrate imagination and versatility. The hard hitting instruments and jagged pace of the vocals on “The Mister Song,” remind one of early Alanis Morissette meets early Sheryl Crow. The song opens with ethereal keyboards which quickly give way to cutting guitars and booming drums, matched by edgy lyrics about experiences with men who “lie until they believe themselves,” and others who simply present a façade hoping that you will buy the romantic lines that they are selling.

“Just Don’t Want To Talk About It,” has an easygoing melody and it is hauntingly beautiful. In the first verse one gets the sense of being lost or trying to navigate this sense of aloneness. Like an actor ‘in the moment’ Nilla Nielsen’s vocals match that emotional void that now exists after a relationship has ended. Her lyrics “love is fragile and it bleeds,” and “But I feel alone and I just don’t wanna talk about it,” as well as, “…is it hurting you this way?” reflect the heartbreak and asks are you struggling to deal with this as much as I am? Linnea Olsson’s cello is breathtakingly beautiful as she compliments Nilla Nielsen’s vocals and her acoustic guitar.

The poignant “Black Water,” is drawn from Nielsen’s own experience when she was on a beach on the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand when the massive tsunami hit in 2004 and she was severely injured.

Nilla Nielsen’s abilities as a singer, Read More

 Jazz Singer Anna Danes

Anna Danes Photo E

Singer Anna Danes, gown designed by Malgorzata Couture
Photo by Marissa Boucher, protected by copyright All Rights Reserved

Actress Mara New

Mara New Photo front pageMara New has accomplished much during her lifetime and in a lot of areas that those of you are reading this may not even know about. You may recognize the name Mara New as a Los Angeles film, stage and television actress or you may know her for the philanthropic work that she has done over the years. Throughout her lifetime she has been a model, was the driving force behind a 2004 fashion show in Los Angeles that highlighted the clothing of emerging, but not yet well-known fashion designers. She was a member of the dance ensemble at the Roger Hazel American Dance and Musical Theater Company in Australia. Mara New is also fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish. In collaboration with her husband Ron New, Mara produced an album for highly respected Blues and Jazz singer Barbara Morrison, as well as the husband and wife team were the executive producers of a musical about the life of Blues singer Big “Mama” Thornton that was staged at the Stella Adler Theater in Hollywood. In 2004 Ms. New was also the recipient of an award that acknowledged her as being one of the most influential women in the city of Los Angeles.    

The pretty and personable Italian actress born Mara Beltrami in Milan, Italy spent some of her teenage years in France and later moved to Australia, before she moved to Canada for five years, during which time she also hosted a radio show. The first two moves were due to her father’s work building hospitals. Then the final moved happened, the one to Los Angeles.

Mara New explains, “I went to L.A.,  Read More

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