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New Zealand Fashion Week Photo Four
Photo by Lisa Maree Williams Courtesy of Getty Images  ©

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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

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…”

Billy Alexander who is also the primary songwriter for the band talks about “Wildest Dreams,” on which Rocky Kuner’s splendid vocals are showcased, “The current single that is out now is called “Wildest Dreams.” The song talks about no matter what your age and no matter what your path in life never forget how you felt as a kid and how everything was exciting, fresh and new. You took chances and you had dreams. A lot of times people get so caught up in life or they see themselves as, well I can’t do that anymore, because I perceive myself as being a dad or a mom or a grandfather or a 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 ©

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 Madrid for one year. After that I went to Málaga to study there for four years (Editor’s note: Malaga is located in Southern Spain on Costa del Sol).   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

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 Pop tune (originally recorded for the movie by Sukhvinder Singh, Mahalaxmi Iyer and Vijay Prakash). The Pussycat Dolls recorded it (as well).  It is definitely a Pop dance song. I was working with Chad Rehmann who was the co arranger with me on 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.

“My father was married and he had four kids, but his wife died. Then he married my mom. After seven years they had my sister and then twenty-three months later they had me. I am Read More

Eilen Jewell Releases GypsyEilen 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  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 Read More

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 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

Fiona Joy Hawkins Interview

Fiona Joy Hawkins photo for front pageFiona Joy Hawkins is the owner of Q Pop Up Gallery in Australia, but you know her best as being an amazing Neo Classical / New Age and Contemporary Instrumental Music, pianist and composer, who doubles as a member of the ensemble FLOW and in collaboration with musician (also a member of FLOW) and producer Will Ackerman co-produced an award winning debut album for American artist Jennifer DeFrayne. Fiona Joy, as she is sometimes referred to is also a visual artist and some of her own paintings are featured in the gallery.

Elegant while seated in front of her piano, vivacious while doing this Skype interview and giving us a tour of her gallery and down to earth enough to have become the mother to numerous orphaned Joeys (baby kangaroos), one immediately recognizes the deep connection between nature and her music.

“The love for nature and animals has always been there from when I was a little girl. I used to bring home strays all of the time. I would land at home with a cat or a dog. I would find a dog with a broken leg or a bird with a broken wing or that was starving to death. I have always had a lot of animals. When my kids were growing up I was a wildlife information and rescue officer.  I took some courses about kangaroos, so I was able to hand raise joeys (baby kangaroos). When the mother is killed and the joey gets thrown from the pouch someone has to raise it and that is something that I did. It was a volunteer job, but I loved it, because I love animals,” she says.

Continuing to talk about the connection between her art, music and nature Fiona Joy Hawkins says, “It is all the same daydream. It is that same type of daydreaming world.  As for my love for animals, sometimes you can connect more with animals than you can with people.   Read More

Charlie Faye & The Fayettes

Charlie Faye and The Fayettes Photo for front pageGet ready folks, because coming your way in early February (2019) is a sensational and fun album by Charlie Faye & The Fayettes. The new record is The Whole Shebang, literally the name and the listening experience. The trio of ladies from Austin, Texas, boasts great harmonies, led by Charlie Faye and supported by her Fayettes, BettySoo and Akina Adderley. Influenced by girl group of the sixties and Soul from the sixties and early seventies they are so good that listeners may find themselves saying I am sure I have heard this song before somewhere and assume the trio is merely covering songs from yesteryear and yet that is not the case, as these are all original songs.

“In fact that happened at a show of ours last weekend. Someone who wasn’t really familiar with us, came up to us after the show and that person said I thought these were all songs from the sixties until you said something about that you had written all of these songs. I think that happens a lot,” says Charlie Faye.

The Whole Shebang opens with a song co-written by Charlie Faye and Bill Demain, “1-2-3-4,” feels like it stepped out of the sixties, but more importantly resonates with the audience in 2019. The first four lines recall that feeling of meeting “the one” with “1,2,3,4, That was all it took / A heartbeat and a look, and I was so gone / Felt my whole world tilting left and right / And suddenly a light just came on…”

It is easy to imagine being at a Charlie Faye & The Fayettes concert and everybody being up on their feet dancing to their music. These are songs that their fans are going to be singing back to them and singing with them.

Bill Barrett delivers an outstanding harmonica solo on “1-2-3-4.”

The second song on the album The Whole Shebang “I Don’t Need No Baby,” showcases 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 ©

Charleene Closshey  Interview

Charleene Closshey Photo Front PageCharleene Closshey has been on a red hot creative streak since the spring of 2018. The cinematic release of the film she produced and starred in,  No Postage Necessary during the summer of 2018  was followed by the release of the soundtrack for the album in October of 2018. Her new orchestral arrangement for the song “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day,” peaked at # 24 on the AC charts and the Holiday charts in America. The Christmas song is a precursor for the full length Christmas album, which will be released in time for the 2019 Christmas season and it is produced by six time Grammy Award winning producer / sound engineer Brent Mayer. If your head is not spinning by now Closshey is also releasing her album Only Love Remains and as we write this we are getting close to the date for the release of the first single from the album. Charleene Closshey’s short film Perception did well on the festival tour and she received numerous awards for the music she composed for Perception.

We are out of breath after that whirlwind tour of the past year of Charleene Closshey’s career and you probably are as well, so let’s turn out attention to our recent conversation with this multi-talented and creatively brilliant native Floridian.

Even though No Postage Necessary was in theaters during the summer of 2018, it can still be viewed through a variety of means, iTunes, Amazon and through the new media platform Vevue.

Closshey says, “I produced the film with my business and life partner Jeremy Culver. He was the writer and director on this particular script. We opted to produce as well, because we are gluttons for punishment. It was a story we wanted to get out there in an efficient (way) and with a very quick turnaround. The concept came up in March. We had a first draft of a script by May 1st and we started shooting August first. That turnaround time for pre-production is unheard of. Because of that we knew there was a level of intensity and efficiency that needed to be built into the production process. That also informed the decision to film  Read More


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