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Swedish Drummer Rasmus Kihlberg

Rasmus Kihlberg Photo Front PageEarlier 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. We wondered how two artists with splendid careers and whose relationship and family means so much to them are able to balance their lives and schedules, especially when they have two young children and two teenagers. Rasmus Kihlberg provided these insights.

“It’s hard, but we put some kind of a system around it. When you get an (invitation) to perform even if it is only Viktoria or only me or if it is for us together, we have a procedure that is really important. First we check to see if we can have a nanny or a babysitter during that time.   Read More

German Actress Marina Welsch

Marina Welsch Photo Front PageA.R. Gurney’s play Love Letters opens in Solingen, Germany on May 26th and it stars 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 has been so great that an additional performance was added at Theater Kammerspielchen on Sunday May 29th. 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 house and then I thought we might do it at my gallery. Since the feedback was so great we couldn’t do it at home. I talked to a theater contact that I had worked with already. Michael said that he always wanted to do Love Letters and we rehearsed it over and over again, usually with a good meal, because Christina is a good cook.” 

The presentation of Love Letters in Germany has been condensed from its original fifty Read More

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia 2016

Getty Images photo by Stefan Gosatti

Design by Cynthia Rowley, Photo by Stefan Gosatti
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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 nice easygoing melody that plays like a film, as Joy Burnworth’s vocals sets the scenes   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  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 (the bassist, keyboardist, co-songwriter with Led Zeppelin) the way that I do now, but the guitar 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 during big band rehearsals and checking out everything that the drummer would do. When the rehearsal ended I would sit at the drum kit trying to emulate everything that I heard them do. 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.

(During) that period there was kind of a mirroring of the music between Italy and America.  Read More

 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., because when I was in Canada I was working for the Italian Canadian Club and I went to Hamilton Place where there was a Liberace show. I went to Read More

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 Read More

Sweden's David Carlson

david carlson photo front pageThere are some things that strike you immediately about David Carlson and despite his great talents as a songwriter, singer, guitarist and a poet, all of that takes a back seat to his personal achievements that are of far more importance, becoming sober eleven years ago when he won the battle over alcohol and after many years of being misdiagnosed, he finally obtained the correct medical assistance in the past couple of years and with the aid of the correct medication and hard work on his part he now effectively manages the bipolar part of his nature.

One of the more striking things that you notice about David Carlson when he speaks is the genuine sense of gratitude with which he lives his life. It is never pretense, but it flows as naturally from his lips as his beautiful vocals on songs such as “Till Alla Dom.” You hear the warmth and the pride in his voice as he pauses momentarily during our conversation to take a call from his son.

Carlson has worked with some of Sweden’s more prominent artists, as a member of the Raj Montana Band with Dan Hylander and Py Backman, a band that garnered four gold abums. He has also performed and / or recorded with Tove Naess, Susanne Alfvengren, Mikael Rickfors and the late Ted Gärdestad. Carlson toured as a member of The Crickets, which at the time included two original members of Buddy Holly’s band. Yet despite all of his musical accomplishments over the past four decades, at 56 years of age, David Carlson finds himself closer to a new beginning to his career than merely being someone quietly fading into the past. With a new found energy and a sense of purpose, his recording studio is humming along  Read More

Judy Wexler in Concert

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Kirsten Nash Releases a New Album

Kirsten Nash 2016 front pageFrom the artwork that adorns the front cover, to the graphic design of the CD cover, inside and out and the songs that comprise A Feather And A Scale the new album from Canadian singer, songwriter and musician Kirsten Nash, this is a masterpiece. Oh did we happen to mention that the artwork on the front cover is a painting by Nash, just one of the many gifts that this artisan possesses. The graphic design is by Heather Aston.    

Kirsten Nash vocals are sublime and they are showcased in her song “Easy Gets So Hard,” with its mix of R&B, Soul and Funk grooves and rhythms. Kirsten Nash’s saxophone is superb, Darryl Havers’ organ compliments nicely and adds texture and Pat Steward (The Odds, Bryan Adams, Matthew Good) is his incredible self on drums.

“I think the lyrics speak for themselves. We all have dreams and things that we want to do and things that we think maybe are going to be easy. We go down that path and it turns out to not be as easy as you thought it was going to be.  Life just takes you where it is going to take you. It can be rather tricky to deal with it. Sometimes easy just gets so hard. That is basically what (the song) is about,” says Nash.

She describes the new album as being about life and says that the initial inspiration came about when a friend of Nash’s youngest son, experienced his mother’s dying when she was still quite young. Left behind, were her two sons and a husband.

“That just hit me so hard, having two young boys myself. I think the worst thing is saying goodbye to your children when they go and the next thing to that is to say goodbye to your children when you go.  I was getting haunted by her and the whole album became about life.  It is about life experiences and not about one person or one instance, but it is just about life that Read More

Sally Stevens Interview Part I

Sally Stevens Front Page PhotoWe would be here all day if we attempted to list every one of the musical accomplishments during Sally Stevens' career, but throughout the course of our recent conversation with Sally and in the account of that interview which you will read here, we will attempt to give the reader a glimpse into the career of one of America’s and the music industry’s most successful people, during this two-part interview.  

Sally Stevens has performed and recorded as a solo singer, a session singer, she has scored feature films and she has worked as a vocal contractor, auditioning and hiring the singers and choir members who appear on major films and her film work as relates to music now encompasses more than 600 films, including Academy Award winners and nominated movies. Here are just a few of the films that Sally Stevens has worked on, Tomorrowland, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Secret of NIMH, Dr. Zivahgo, The Sound of Music, Bridge of Spies and Jurassic World.

She toured and recorded with Burt Bacharach and she lent her voice to the records of, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Country Joe and the Fish, Neil Diamond, Michael Bublé, Percy Faith and Sonny and Cher to name just a few of the iconic artists with whom she has worked.

Sally Stevens grew up in Los Angeles and in Tujunga located in the Greater Los Angeles Area.

“My mom (Betty Clarke) and dad (Ken Stevens) and step-father (Tom Clarke) were all singers and my mom and dad met in Chicago Read More

Lyn Stanley - Jazz Singer

Lyn Stanley front page photoThe lesson that I was told early on by some pretty famous people was if anybody tries to change your singing, drop them like a hotcake. You have a unique style of singing and you will stand out. Don’t be like somebody else. You cannot become famous (by sounding like somebody else). It’s impossible, unless you are in the business to be an impersonator.  

I don’t think that you would ever find Karrin Allyson or (would have found) Sarah Vaughan wanting to sound like somebody else. I think if you are really good, you know what you want and you know what you should sound like. You don’t need to do that kind of singing,” says Lyn Stanley, a Jazz singer from Los Angeles.

While history will reflect whether or not Lyn Stanley is really good, as she has only been singing professionally for five years, her three albums, Interludes (2015), Lost In Romance (2013) and Potions From The 50’s (2014), are certainly well engineered, are populated by very good musicians and Stanley, while a solid singer still has some ground to cover before she is included in the same sentence as Karrin Allyson, Jane Monheit and Gretchen Parlato to name a few.  

“When I first began I had a major appreciation for Stanley Turrentine’s sax playing on the album Ballads (1993). The way that he phrased it and the feeling that he put into it was right where I went. I know the accompanists who know the words to the songs. If they know the words to the songs they will play them and they will have another feeling that you cannot get from the guy who is reading notes,” says Lyn Stanley.

The opening song for Interludes the   Read More

Mark Christian in Concert with Merle Jagger

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 Ulrika Ölund - Singer, Songwriter

Ulrika Olund Photo OneUlrika Ölund’s current album Paper Planes and Skylines is appropriately titled as it provides a snapshot of the Swedish Country music singer, songwriter and musician’s life and career. If you are expecting to hear a Swedish accent on these songs or some Swedish concoction of what Country music sounds like from a Nordic country you are going to be disappointed, because Ulrika Ölund sounds like she would be comfortable in Nashville, Tennessee. Guess what? She is and she has spent a lot of time in Nashville and she cut her teeth in the music industry as an intern at Curb Music Publishing. Ölund describes her music as Pop with a twist of Country, but we believe that North American audiences will hear her music as Country with a twist of Pop.

If you enjoy the music of Little Big Town and Lady Antebellum you are probably going to enjoy the music of Ulrika Ölund. Her song “Those Were The Days,” is an excellent feel good song that will put a smile on your face. It is up-tempo, with great vocals and solid instrumentals. It would be difficult to imagine concertgoers staying seated during this song, because the music encourages you to stand up and to sing the chorus back to Ölund as she performs. Like most good Country songwriters Ulrika Ölund draws from personal experience and “Those Were the Days,” talks about her time growing up in Undrom, Västernorrland in northern Sweden, five and one-half hours drive north of Stockholm. The lyrics draw great word pictures and it is easy to imagine the scene unfolding. There are plenty of great songs on this album, but we would buy the album if this was the only good song, because it is that good.

“I grew up in the north in a very small village and there are about 500 people there. “I grew up in the north in a very small village and there are about 500 people there. Everybody knows everybody kind of a thing and I think that’s imprinted  Read More

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