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Sara Deray - Actress - Madrid

Sara Deray Interview Photo for front page“Actors have to imagine a lot of things. We have to build life from words on paper. We also have to build a lot of things that aren’t written. You have to imagine them and create them. You have to try and find the truth and connect with the character. In all the parts that I play I try to find the parts within me that connect with the character.”

Those are the words of actress Sara Deray of Spain and she has had to imagine a lot of things during her career, as she has played a nun (El Sorbono del Cielo), an inmate in jail, a scientist who was the mother to a cloned daughter (Órbita 9), she incredibly funny  as Mary Ann, in the television series Yo Soy Franky (I Am Franky) for Nickelodeon (2016 – Colombia), and she just finished her fourth season of the comedy series El Pueblo, a Spanish Amazon Prime production, in which she plays Maria Luisa.  

Sara Deray’s ability to portray a broad spectrum of characters is due to a combination of her skills as an actress and her culturally diverse background.

She explains, “My grandma was born in France. That was my mother’s mother. She went to the United States when she was quite young and she decided to become a U.S. citizen. She left her French nationality behind and married an American guy. That was after she had my mom and she became divorced from my grandfather. She then married the American guy. My grandma married three times. The first time she married the father of my mother who was a French guy and she got divorced when my mother was fourteen. When my grandmother moved to the United States that is when she got married the second time and then the American guy died. She then married one of his best friends, because he had also lost his wife.”

You are thinking, well that is a bit diversified, but nothing that says hey, look at this. Just wait! She continues, “I traveled a lot. I did not grow up in Alicante (Spain). I grew up in Nigeria (she laughs). My father was an engineer in the oil (industry), so he traveled for several companies and sometimes there were American, Canadian, British or Belgian companies. Read More

Luke Leblanc - New Album

Luke Leblanc Interview Photo OneWith Dini (short for Houdini) and Mini keeping an eye on him, to make sure he speaks glowingly about them, singer and songwriter Luke Leblanc’s cats joined us, as we talked about his new album Fugue State, as well as his life and career.

The very likeable artist said, “The whole time we were recording it, it felt like everything melded together perfectly. It is a nice group of songs. Erik Koskinen was the producer and I was very fortunate to be able to surround myself with some good musicians too. It all just clicked together very nicely.”

The title of the album has us stumped Luke.

“It is used a lot in psychology and one of the definitions is a temporary defense against extreme stress. The person might lose awareness of their identity and the awareness of where they are. I took that term and as I have observed, and I think a lot of other people have observed, as a collective society I think we are going through a fugue state a little bit. In terms of a cultural and political divide (Many) responses to generations of inequity and the pandemic are leading people to take a step back. That is why I have the lines in the song, “Take your mind off of it / I think we’re living in a fugue state.” Someone told me the other day that a fugue is also a Classical music term. I don’t know a ton about it, but it is like a chaotic sound. I think the musical term came first,” he says.  

Let us take a step back. His first name Luke is after Old Luke in the song “The Weight,” by The Band and his middle name is Young, because his mom was a big fan of Neil Young, with whom he shares the same birthday.

“Neither of my parents played music and neither of them pushed me into it. It was just my choice about something I was passionate about. My dad was very supportive, as long as I had my homework done.

I appreciate artists like Neil Young, because they play whatever they want to do at the time. Other musicians like Brandi Carlisle are still a good example of Read More

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Laura Benitez and the Heartache

Laura Benitez Interview Photo One photo by Emily SevinIn conversation singer and songwriter Laura Benitez uses superlatives, lyrically she utilizes metaphors and vocally she is emotive, all of which are effective in communicating her message, often autobiographical, either from personal experience or things she has observed. In many ways she is a throwback to the 1960s and early 1970s when protest songs and social commentary through music were in vogue and yet one should not mistake her music as an attempt to mirror or clone artists such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Sam Cooke, Pete Seeger, and a little later Patti Smith, as she clearly blazes her own trail.

Laura Benitez sat down with Riveting Riffs Magazine recently to talk about her new album California Centuries by Laura Benitez and the Heartache. Depending on where you are on the ideology spectrum you may find yourself cheering this album on or in various degrees of disagreement with the lyrics and tone, but the one thing you should all agree on is these are well crafted songs, played and sung superbly. Full disclosure by this writer that he is firmly encamped in the section cheering this album on.

The opening song “Bad Things,” sets the tone for the album, each verse its own story drawn from real life.

“The first verse was inspired by my partner Brian’s family, his mom, sister and stepdad all lived in Paradise California and they lost everything in the wildfire. His sister was driving to escape the flames and she got Read More

Akash Sherman - Film Interview

Akash Sherman Interview Photo Front PageSome people when you encounter them you just get this sense they are standing on the precipice of greatness. It has not quite arrived yet, but all the signs are there, your artform, whatever it may be and in this case with Canadian screenwriter and director Akash Sherman it is his internationally and critically acclaimed film. You have significant peers, who only seems like yesterday were not your peers, seeking you out for collaborations and you have two television and film stars who heap praise upon you after working with you.

As much as the entertainment industry is filled with stories of successful performing artists who grew up in places like Los Angeles, New York City and Nashville, there are an equal number of fabulous stories of artists who grew up in obscure places, not obscure, because they were unimportant, but more because one does not think of those towns, cities and villages, as an incubator for creatives. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is one of those cities and this writer says that with warmth and sincerity, as it is still the city considered to be my hometown, even though I was born in Toronto.

Akash Sherman, whose father and sister are both doctors and whose mother is a pharmacist, one might have assumed would have been headed for more of an academic career, in a cold, northern city, far removed from Canada’s two Hollywood North cities, Vancouver and Toronto and where minus thirty and minus forty degrees Celsius temperatures keep most people indoors, unless you ski or Read More

Actress Chelsea Clark

Chelsea Clark for Front PageThese days Chelsea Clark has a lot of things going right for her acting career and it seems the sky is the limit. The dark haired, Ohio born actress who fell in love with New York City during her teenage years appears equally adept on screen in films, television and streaming, as she is on the theater stage.

Last month (September 2022), she presented a reading of Joseph Krawczyk’s The Last of the Freudians directed by Eddie Lew in New York City.

Chelsea Clark elaborates, “I have worked with Joseph Krawczyk before. He is a brilliant playwright and I love his work. This one is about a college professor who for some reason can commune with the dead spirit of Sigmund Freud. I think it is brilliant. The way it is done in the play is he can hear Sigmund Freud, but nobody else can. I play one of the professor’s graduate students and (my character) is still having an affair with this professor. It is not the typical play that I am in, but I love Joe’s work, so I am excited to be in this reading.”

As for her preparation for The Last of the Freudians, she says, “I work from the outside in if it is a character I do not understand emotionally. I work a lot with physicality. How does this person walk? How does this person speak? What is the tone of their voice? Is their voice different than mine? That will inform how to play this person if it is not something that does not come naturally to me. This person is a little bit sexy, which is not really who I am. She has this little hip-hop and that is what I work with. Read More


Sierra Rein - Actress / Singer

Sierra Rein Interview Photo One These are heady days for actress and singer Sierra Rein, she has now returned to what she enjoys doing most in life, performing on stage and in front of a camera, after two years of much of the arts world being put on an involuntary pause due to COVID. She has two podcasts on the go, a short film in post-production, appears in two episodes of a series to be broadcast and streamed on FX on Hulu this fall and she has several exciting music gigs coming up. Believe or not that is just barely scratching the surface.

Sierra Rein (pronounced Rhine as in rhinestones) talks about her role in the Hulu series Fleishman is in Trouble, “It came out of the blue. It was January of this year and my agent who hadn’t really talked to me for a while said hey can you put yourself on tape for this TV show? I didn’t really know much about the project, so I did a tiny bit of Googling. I was like oh, okay there is this character Cherry who is in the book Fleishman is in Trouble, but there wasn’t very much about her. I had my husband do the other dialogue and I shot the scene and sent it in. This was when we were in lockdown a little bit (New York City). We were slowing emerging and putting our toes back into the river of humanity of this year.

In mid-February I got an email that said, you are booked. I called my husband and I said you know that one minute scene that you shot with me, I am going to do a scene with Claire Danes and Jesse Eisenberg. It was one of those surreal moments.  I was surprised they didn’t have a callback. I think it was one of those (times) when they see who the person is and think yep that’s the character. That’s great, because Read More

Rain Perry - A White Album

Rain Perry Interview Front Page PhotoA White Album, by American singer and songwriter Rain Perry, which will be released on April 15 (2022) is a lot of things, a collection of songs with an activist theme, some original and some covers from music icons, it is heartfelt, and it is sincere, but what is most of all is very, very good. It was our pleasure to sit down with Rain Perry recently to discuss her new record and why these songs are so special to her.

She says, “It is definitely a concept album. It is somewhat of a sequel to my album Cinderblock Bookshelves, and it was a memoir in music about me growing up as a hippie kid raised by my dad. This record, A White Album, is me looking back at my same life and my same family, but through the lens of race. It is called A White Album, because it is me telling my story. I think most larger topics are best addressed through people and it is my way of wading into a fraught conversation and to talk about some issues that we seem to be having a hard time talking about right now.”

Although the common thread is raising awareness of societal issues, the songs on the album do not come across as preachy or even protestation, but instead seem to be asking the question, why are we still here after all these years, far removed from the civil rights movement of the 1960s and yet in many ways the needle seems to have barely moved.

“Thank you, that is what I was shooting for. I think the best way to empathize is getting to know somebody and to see the way they are trying to solve the problems we are all trying to solve, how to be happy, to be fulfilled, and to be successful in life. I don’t think Read More

Beatrix Löw-Beer - German Violinist

Beatrix Low Beer Interview Photo Front PageWhile on her way from Munich, Germany to play a gig in Frankfurt, uber-talented saxophonist Beatrix Löw-Beer, whose performances have taken her to England, the United States, the Netherlands, Spain, Ibiza, Mallorca, Italy, Luxemburg, France, Austria, Switzerland, numerous other European countries, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Dubai and some parts of Asia, took time to talk to Riveting Riffs Magazine about her career and her life. The very congenial Beatrix Löw-Beer, while setting a high standard for herself, is as nice a musician as you will meet. She has been compared to her contemporaries, celebrity violinists such as Vanessa-Mae from England via Singapore and American violinist Lindsey Stirling. Beatrix Löw-Beer has performed with such stars as Rod Stewart, Dutch singer Caro Emerald, award winning Pop singer Sarah Connor, the first German performer to ever have four consecutive #1 hits on the German charts. Beatrix Löw-Beer’s music ranges from Classical to Rock to House, Pop, Jazz and everything in between.

Artists such as Beatrix Löw-Beer are the reason why people are discovering the saxophone for the first time. When you watch her concert performances or videos to promotional videos everything from her movement to her attitude and her costumes exhibits an exuberance for performing music. One is never left with the impression that you are watching someone playing an instrument, because her saxophone becomes an extension of her persona.

Take us back to where this all began.

“I grew up in Augsburg, which is one hour from Munich, which Read More

Enola Holmes 2 - Film Review

Enola Holmes 2 Photo Credit Alex Bailey Netflix front pageOn November 4th Netflix debuted the film Enola Homes 2 starring Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill and it is a simply a wonderful movie. Better yet, it is a film that can be enjoyed as a family and that you can watch over and over again. Whereas the first Enola Holmes movie, based on Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes Mysteries book series was a fun romp through Victorian England with Henry Cavill as Sherlock Holmes and Millie Bobby Brown as his teenage sister, with a lot of adventure thrown in for good measure, Enola Holmes 2 digs in a little deeper.

Whether it was the screenplay written by Jack Thorne and the story adaptation courtesy of Harry Bradbeer (who also directed) or Nancy Springer’s book that provided for more character development and a more complicated mystery to solve, the result is great and keeps us guessing.

Perhaps it is just the familiarity with the characters of Sherlock, Enola and Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Patridge) and the fabulous (can we say that again? fabulous) actress Helena Bonham Carter who plays Eudoria Holmes, the mother to Sherlock and Enola that gives us a jumping off point to plunge right into the plot. Susan Wokoma is back as Edith who along with Eudoria taught and continues to teach Enola how to fight back at the world and how to be an independent woman with feminist values, before the word was used.

It is always difficult to write a review of a film you are really enthused about, because you cannot go into the details of the juicy parts or you will spoil it for those who have not yet watched. Let us say this, after solving her first big case in the first Enola Holmes movie, Read More

Carla Olson - Triple Threat

Carla Olson Interview Photo front page by Markus CuffIt is rare for an artist / musician / producer to have three almost simultaneous releases and even more rare to have those three be simply outstanding, while being considerably different and yet that is exactly what Carla Olson has accomplished this spring with first her album Americana Railroad, secondly with her cover of The Who’s song “I Can See For Miles,” with proceeds going to Teen Cancer America. The find project is a beautiful collection of Gordon Lightfoot songs, on an album titled Ladies Sing Lightfoot, featuring artists such as The Kennedys, Natalie Noone, The Textones, Susan Cowsill, IIsey Juber, and Carla Olson sings the closing song, “Ringneck Loon.”

The seeds for Americana Railroad, the album, began to take root in the early 1990s with Carla Olson, Gene Clark and Saul Davis, Carla’s manager and husband.

Carla Olson says, “It was a nice idea to be a vehicle for a couple of Gene’s songs, one of which is “I Remember the Railroad,” and not many people know about it unless you are a big Gene Clark fan. Also, his songs, “Train Leaves Here This Morning,” and “Kansas City Southern.” Gene was a railroad guy. I remember buying a package of shirt patches that they used to sell in train stations and train shops and I bought four or five of the Rock Island Line. I gave a couple of them to Gene when we were first hanging around together in the eighties. He said this is so cool I am going to sew them on my jean jacket as soon as I can. He was a huge reason why we tried to cobble this together. The other song was Read More

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Madeleine Davis - One of a Kind!

Madeleine Davis Front Page PhotoIf we told you that Madeleine Davis has lived a life full of adventure some might easily argue that is an understatement. She grew up the daughter of a Gospel singing mother, and a pharmacist father in Columbus, Georgia, near the Chattahoochee River, with one sibling, a brother at home and a sister eighteen years older, who had pretty much left home by the time Madeleine appeared on the scene.

Madeleine Davis had a lengthy career with Boney M (By the Rivers of Babylon, Rasputin) and a small sample of her work in the studio and / or live performances includes artists such as Precious Wilson, Hoyt Axton, Peggy March, Terence Trent D'Arby, Rick Astley, Klaus Doldinger, La Bionda and Amanda Lear. She was in demand by producers such as, Ralph Siegel, Tony Monn, Michael Kunze, Sylvester Levay, Giorgio Moroder and Frank Farian.

She sang in church as a young child, acted on stage as a teenager (there is a motorcycle story we will get to in a minute) and she was a soloist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, while still in university.

“My father was a lot older than my mother. He was fifty-nine when I was born and he was seventy-five when I was eighteen.

I grew up with a father who was in World War I. He had so much information for me when I went to school. When he was a paperboy the Titanic sank, so he knew the information from the newspapers of that time. He told me information about the Titanic and I went to school with this information. In my day we only had encyclopedias and my teachers said to me, this information is not in encyclopedias where did you get this? I said my father was a paperboy at the time and this is the information that he gave me that was in the newspapers. The kids thought this was a hoot. These days you would call my father Wikipedia (she laughs heartily).”

As for her childhood she says, “My mom was a Gospel singer who would do concerts in churches. She was well-dressed and she had a wonderful accompanist. I saw from the beginning how to (present) concerts even though she was not a professional.

When I was little, I sang a lot with my mom, because I had a natural alto voice to her soprano. I said to various people that I did not want to be in show business and my father said that is what you are for. I told him I wanted to be a doctor and I thought that would stop him from talking about show business, (because he was a pharmacist), but it didn’t. (She laughs and says) he said, no you are not cut out to be a doctor.

I was adamant about being a doctor and I joined the Red Cross as a candy stripe nurse at the age of twelve. I went to Martin Army Community Hospital not far from my hometown in Fort Benning.

My father was friends with colleagues all over and he happened to call someone at the army and (convinced them) to play a mean trick on me, but it made me think I am definitely not for the medical profession. My father and one of his nurse friends cooked up a little scheme. I wondered why this nurse wanted me to help her draw blood. That is not what candy stripers did. We were mostly comforting patients, giving them water and magazines.”

Let’s just say Read More


The Brother Brothers

The Brother Brothers Front Page PhotoThe new album Cover to Cover by The Brother Brothers, released on Compass Records is a solid album pulling songs from diverse genres and artists and as the title suggests all of them are cover songs. Although, it is not unusual at some point during a band or a solo artist’s career to release an album of cover tunes, this is the first time The Brother Brothers have done so, because they are usually recording their original songs, as they are skilled songwriters and arrangers.

David Moss, one-half of the duo sat down with Riveting Riffs Magazine recently, “I think you can tell this from this record that most of the songs are older and not that modern. We really cherish the songs that we grew up with. We listen to a lot of new music too, but when we are making music, we gravitate to older music and an older sound.  

Any musician has an arsenal of songs that they didn’t write, even if they are songwriters and I think when you are sitting on so many songs, you do them yourselves and when you do them in your own style, you go man, I should really record one of these. I like my version and I want to share it.

During the pandemic we released our album Calla Lily and we had not been able to tour it, so we barely played those songs out on the road. Calla Lily slipped by the wayside, but we thought if we put out an album of covers, we could fill a concert with both albums at the same time. It also seemed like a very good time to come into the studio and put out (a covers album) with the pandemic and the way touring had been.

As for the diversity of songs on the album, David Moss says, “We wanted to make a good album that people would want to listen to and that we wouldn’t mind listening to. The other thing was we wanted to introduce people to (things like) you might know who Richard Thompson is, but I bet you haven’t heard this song (Waltzing’s for Dreamers”). You might not have heard of The Revelers, but this is one of their great songs (“If You Ain’t Got Love”). The James Taylor song (“You Can Close Your Eyes”) some people might have heard that song, but I felt like I hadn’t heard it. Adam had brought it up and he knows more James Taylor than I do. Judee Sill’s “There’s A Rugged Road,” if anyone hasn’t heard of Judee Sill that they might think I need to dig into that. It was the idea.  

This is a collection of songs that we have always loved and we just do them our own way.”

The album Cover to Cover opens with the Tom T. Hall song, “That’s How I Got to Memphis,” which at first listen sounds like a love song, but listen more closely and, “It is a song about why people go to places they go and that is the way I have always seen it. It is also a song about somebody who is always chasing something they can’t ever have. In this case it is a woman, but he talks about how he follows her to Memphis, but I think it is also a metaphor for why people go to (those) places. It is not always for the best or for a happy reason,” explains David Moss.

Continuing he says, “I love the melody and I love the way it feels when you sing it. I also love how it can be interpreted, Read More

Ariana Donovan Making A Difference

Ariana Donovan Front Page PhotoThere is an early twenties something young woman living in a small prairie city in Canada who is already making her mark on the world of modeling, but not quite the way you might expect. Ariana Donovan from Regina, Saskatchewan has been an advocate for providing a safe environment in which models (and other independently employed people) can work and she has coupled that with building a career as a creative director. What is even more remarkable is she is forging her career, while attending university with a major in Human Justice and a minor in film. Oh, did we happen to mention that pre-pandemic she was the first model to grace the runway in her very first fashion show? Well, we do not want to tell Arian Donovan’s story for her, so we will let her tell you.

“Modeling was never actually an interest of mine. It was just something that popped up for me. I grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan and there is not a whole lot to do here. Modeling and fashion is one of the ways I kept myself entertained for six years now.

Originally, when I got into modeling I had been falsely scouted online by a predator, who used to be an agent for a really big agency in New York. My mom called their office and they let us know about it (that he was a predator), so I applied to a local agency and I was accepted. I think I was a little naïve about (the stalker), but after my mom called the office, it made more sense. I was gullible and I didn’t pay attention,” she says.

Remember this experience, because it starts to inform the decisions she makes later.

Continuing Arian Donovan says, “I started to develop self-confidence, but then I received this offer and even though it wasn’t true I still wanted to pursue modeling, because now the interest was there. Also, when I was a kid, I was really into dressing up. I would wear my dresses and plastic heels that you can wear around the house. Whenever my grandmother would pull out one of those disposable cameras that could be purchased at Shopper’s Drug Mart, I would stop crying and pose. It was an interest, but not one that I was conscious of until I received the fake offer. I was sixteen when that happened.”

“I can’t name them, but the first agency scammed me. I was forced to pay seven hundred dollars for a photoshoot, just to see if they would sign me. Everything I did with them afterwards I had to pay a lot of money to do work for them and to be promoted. I found out later on that is sort of a normal thing, not the test shoot part, but the agency signing fee and it is never as expensive as (I paid). You have to do that every time. They were investigated and found to be scamming (others) and by that time I had already moved to Vancouver and I had signed with a different agency there. Most of the work that I did with the first agency was trade for print with photographers here.

Modeling was never actually an interest of mine. It was just something Read More


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Woman On The Moon

Giulia Millanta Interview 2022 front page photoGiulia Millanta who makes her home in Austin, Texas and is originally from Italy is a perpetual songwriting machine. Shortly after releasing her album Tomorrow Is A Bird two years ago, she began writing more songs, the best of which now appear on her album Woman On The Moon, to be released on April 8 (2022).

She explains, “It is part of my natural cycle. I release a record and then I take a little bit of time to promote and play shows and regroup. I then start writing again. I never write for a record, I just write.

Once I have thirty or forty songs, I start looking at them and choose what to record. I had a few songs that I wrote early in 2021 or maybe the end of 2020. I write often, but not every day, there are people who are way better than me at that. I write fairly consistently, probably every week. If you think about the fact there are fifty-two weeks in a year and I write every week, by the end of the year I have forty to fifty songs. Probably half of them nobody should ever hear and half of them are decent.

This one was different than my previous records, because I didn’t record it all at once and normally, I do. I (usually) sit down with all of my songs and decide which ones I want to record. I then go ahead and book my session and record everything in three days. This time I did it differently. In June of last year, I approached Gabe and I said, hey I have a few songs. Can we record them, because I think I want to release some singles? I wasn’t planning on a record. (She starts to laugh) We started recording and then one thing led to another. I ended up with twelve songs in the summer. Then in the fall I got back from Italy and I was making plans to release a record, but I wasn’t sure about some of the songs and I went back to Gabe and I said I have two other songs I want to record to replace the other two that I wasn’t sure about.

It wasn’t like a process that I was going to the studio to make a record. It was (more like) let’s record a few songs. Oh, let’s record a few more. Oh, all of these songs belong together and I have a record. It kind of happened is what I am saying.”

The album opens with the very pretty “Mad Man On the Moon,” which put the spotlight clearly on Giulia Millanta’s beautiful and ethereal vocals. The song is 3:33 in length and we cannot improve upon Giulia Millanta’s own words to describe her song, “Floating in a liquid sky, bathing in moonlight, wrapped in a tapestry woven from a dreamy guitar and a lonely piano, while the kick drum beats like a distant heart.”

“(The song) “Mad Man On the Moon,” was written one night in the middle of the pandemic and I had no idea what I was writing about when I wrote it. I sat at the piano and I wrote that song in twenty or thirty minutes. It is magical when that happens and I shouldn’t even take credit for it. It is a musical, magical thing. It is like dictation and someone is dictating to me. I don’t want to sound too crazy or do woo woo, but I am not coming up with anything, I am just Read More

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