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Fashion Design by IntoArt CottonInk - Jakarta Fashion Week 2020
December Fashion Photo Five

Photo by GCM Group, Dany Hendrata, protected by copyright ©

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Sweet Lizzy Project - What A Band!

Sweet Lizzy Project Photo Front PageImagine living in a country where you become a microbiologist and when you graduated you were at the top of the class and began a career as a university professor and you performed music on the side, as a hobby. You were probably thinking at the time even though you enjoyed being a singer what was the point, considering a broken guitar string was a tragedy, as there were not any places to buy more guitar strings and if a piece of your equipment failed well good luck on replacing that. Combine that with the challenges you faced with forging a music career in Cuba and no it made much more sense to keep teaching at the University of Havana and one certainly would never have imagined then moving to the United States to pursue a music career. It sounds like quite the adventure or someone has an active imagination, except these are the real life adventures of Sweet Lizzy Project.

Lisset Díaz is the lead singer for the Cuban band Sweet Lizzy Project a group that plays a mixture of Rock, Pop and Americana music and they do all of it well. The electric guitar work by Miguel Comas is stunning and echoes Eric Clapton in the days of Cream (with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker) and as another musician suggested to us there are also shades of David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) in his playing. The rest of the musicians Angel Luis Millet (drums and percussion), bass player Alejandro González, Wilfred Gatell on synthesizer, Lenard Delgado the other electric guitarist (as well as acoustic and backing vocals) and cellist Yanet Moreira are all fabulous. Comas, also provides background vocals. Although, the music is considerably different, Sweet Lizzy Project may be the best band to emerge with Cuban roots since Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.

On February 21st Sweet Lizzy Project releases their second album and first in America, titled Technicolor and the songs range from the beautiful and inspirational “The Flower’s In the Seed,” recorded in collaboration with Raul Malo and The Mavericks who sponsored their visas, the incredibly dynamic title song “Technicolor,” and the Pop English cover of Enrique Iglesias’ "Súbeme La Radio,” with a completely new arrangement and rhythm. The latter became a hit in Cuba when it was previously recorded there.

Lisset Díaz joined Riveting Riffs Magazine recently to talk about the new album, “The song “The Flower’s In the Seed,” was written by John Goodwin and Kostas Lazaride and they are amazing songwriters. Raul (Malo) had this song on his Read More


NEVERWONDER Photo Front Page“2020 is going to be a great year for NEVERWONDER. We have a new record coming out, we have some great shows coming up and we will be at SXSW (in Austin, Texas). We have had radio play and we have some more coming up,” says Fabienne Grisel, the Swiss born leader singer of the melodic Rock band NEVERWONDER (yes the name is all in capitals), while in conversation with Riveting Riffs Magazine.

About the new album she says, “We are experimenting a little bit more with effects. We work together as a unit even though we all have our own instruments. We collaborate, for instance if I hear something that the drums are or are not doing we can talk about it.  If the guys hear something that I am doing vocally they will say something.  We might say (to one another) why don’t you try this or that? I can’t wait to see what comes out of these songs in the studio, because they are already great, but I think we can take them to the next level for sure.

(The album) will first be recorded in analog and then it will be put through the digital (process). I like analog, because as a singer you can hear every crack and every crisp in the voice. I like to hear things that are not so perfect. I am not talking about notes or anything, but the things that make music interesting or the moment interesting; the crack in the voice or that little screech in the guitar. It is those things that you might not be able to hear as much in a digital recording. I am not trying to disregard people who are digital. I think for certain genres of music that is totally appropriate for Rap and things like that, but for what we do I think it just fits us. We are primarily an organic band. I just like the sound of analog (recordings). We like to play around too. We play around with effects and we merge some digital aspects into what we do, but we like to keep part of the sound as organic as we can.”

The longest serving and founding members of the band are Vincent Ramos (electric bass) and Andres Ramos (drummer) and the two new members are Jay Wise (guitar) and of course Fabienne Grisel on vocals.

Fabienne Grisel describes NEVERWONDER as a melodic hard Rock band with a Read More

Design By Epitome, Jakarta Fashion Week 2020

December Fashion Photo Six 

Photo by GCM Group - Dachri Megantara, protected by copyright ©

Pear Duo - No Boundaries

Pear Duo Photo Front PagePear Duo comprised of pianist / composer and arranger Curtis Brengle and singer / songwriter and musician Julie Ragins recently released their new album No Boundaries, a wonderful and diverse collection of songs that are a mix of original tunes and cover songs. The husband and wife singing combo bring a wealth of musical experience painted across a vast genre palette to this recording. Their combined history has seen them perform with The Moody Blues, Chaka Kahn, Sheena Easton, Pointer Sisters, Ray Charles, Sergio Mendes and numerous other stellar artists. The affable couple sat down with yours truly and Riveting Riffs Magazine recently to talk about their new album.

Curtis notes the fact that they do have such a vast genre palette to choose from is what led to the title No Boundaries for this record.

“We are not going to limit ourselves to a particular style,” he says and Julie adds, “Much to the chagrin of every platform on the internet that wants to pigeonhole you in a single genre.”

Our conversation wanders in another direction for a moment as we ponder whether or not the music industry still wants to pigeonhole artists into specific genres.

Julie Ragins says, “The first question everybody asks you is what kind of music do you play? They want an elevator pitch answer. They want to hear Country. They want to hear Blues; they want to hear Rock and Roll. They do not want (to hear you say well we are a group that is kind of rooted in a fusion of Jazz and Pop, but we also have a lot of elements of Soul and R & B, Rock  Read More

Paloma del Pozo - Spanish Designer

Paloma del Pozo Photo Front PageIt was a Friday afternoon in February when I left the Melia Princesa Hotel in Madrid walked to the estacion de metro Ventura Rodriguez and made my way by train to another station Gran Via – Pedro Zorolo. It was a sunny day and the open square, like so many in Madrid was bustling in a good way. There was energy, laughter and a lot of people in this city of seven million. I was on my way to Calle de las Huertas, Number 5, fashion designer Paloma del Pozo’s shop. Like many of the shops in this neighborhood of narrow winding cobblestone and pavement streets, the shop Ojalá Paloma del Pozo has a somewhat modest storefront, but it is full of treasures inside.

My journey to interview this warm, delightful woman began several months earlier when I noticed a fabulous blouse that was worn by Spanish television, film and stage actress Silvia Marso. When I commented on Ms. Marso’s Instagram account about the blouse, she immediately without my asking directed me to Paloma del Pozo. The interview was arranged by her equally warm and personable assistant Sara.

So here I found myself thousands of miles at home surrounded by blouses, skirts, dresses and slacks rich in texture and colorful and in the presence of two fabulous women.

“We don’t make a collection,” says Paloma del Pozo, “We make what we want. We don’t have the same calendars as other designers, (referring to seasonal collections), but we do create throughout the year. We have different colors and different fabrics. You might see one (design) in the wintertime and another similar (item) in the  Read More

Ada Rovatti & Randy Brecker

Ada Rovatti and Randy Brecker Photo for front pageThere is something about sitting down for an interview with two people whom you have known for many years, although most of that from a distance, that has more of the feel of friends getting together for a visit, a comfortable conversation if you like. Ada Rovatti and Randy Brecker’s new album, Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond creates that same mood when you listen to the collection of songs composed and arranged by Ada Rovatti. The musicians who play on the album were drawn together by Randy Brecker and the album was masterfully recorded at Bunker Studios by Aaron Nevezie, while Cynthia Daniels put her magical touch on the mixing and mastering of the album. Just a word about Cynthia Daniels, we could not possibly do justice to her career, the many artists with whom she has worked, or the Broadway productions, films and television shows that have her fingerprints on them, so we encourage you to visit her website.

In proper journalism practice first names alone are seldom used when referring to the one being interviewed however, in this situation when conversing with the husband and wife team of Randy Brecker and Ada Rovatti and our familiarity with them it somehow would not feel right to refer to them by their last names, so we are going to cast protocol aside. Their daughter Stella also appears on this album, but her demands for a significant appearance fee could not be met by Riveting Riffs Magazine and before anyone takes us seriously, we are joking folks, but we did want to give Stella a nod for her singing performance on the opening track “Sacred Bond,” as well as making a debut on her mom and dad’s album.

When this writer opens the conversation by saying the songs on this album seem to Read More

Charlott Axenström - Designer

Charlott Axenstrom Photo Front PageWhen you are a little girl growing up in a tiny village in the very far north of Sweden where during the middle of the winter you may only have at most two hours of daylight and you are in some of the best ski country in Sweden, one supposes like most children you turn to sports or music. Charlotte Axenström became an avid skier, something she still enjoys today, but her imagination and creativity, also took her in another direction.

“It was kind of boring,” Charlott Axenström says chuckling, “I think that was the key (to where this all began), you are so bored and it is so dark. I am a skier and a swimmer and I was into clothes. I started sketching clothes when I was five years of age. I think when you have so much time to think about it you (become good at what you are doing). That is what I tell my daughter you have to be bored (first) to be good. If you have everything just in front of you there is no reason for your brain to work.”

“I grew up in the same village in northern Sweden as Ingemar Stenmark the skier (Editor’s note: Ingemar Stenmark won more international ski races than any other skier in history, including eighty-six World Cup wins). I think with it being dark for twenty-two hours every day (in the winter) that was part of the creative process. Yes it is dark and you are out skiing, but you also stay home a lot. In the summer I was outside all of the time. From April until September you don’t sleep that much (Editor’s note: there is almost continual daylight),” she says.

When this writer comments about how for such a small country in terms of population Sweden is and yet how it seems like from every Read More

Marisol Rozo - Dance / Theater

Marisol Rozo Front Page PhotoMarisol Rozo may very well be the most creatively gifted person that Riveting Riffs Magazine has interviewed and yet she is also one of the most modest about her own achievements. Marisol Rozo was born in Colombia and twenty-two years ago she arrived in Madrid, Spain with only her two suitcases. Her career, as a dancer and began at the age of fourteen and she later appeared as an actress on Colombian television. In the years that have passed since she moved to Spain, Marisol Rozo has become a well-respected dancer, choreographer, director, playwright, appeared in films and not many people realize she is also a noted author of books for both children and adults, although she admits almost somewhat shyly that not many people are aware that she is an author. She says it is almost too much to tell people about. She has performed in and directed numerous theatrical projects in several countries, including major European cities and in New York City, as well as in China.

While conversing and getting to know Marisol Rozo one becomes aware of three things, her passion for her creative endeavors, her ability to balance a family life with a very busy artistic schedule and her kind and generous heart. 

As for finding the time to do everything she laughs and says, “It is very difficult to be a mother, a couple, dance, and theater and to write, but when you are passionate about what you do and you love it, I think that time is your friend. When I talk about that I can’t understand how I made it (she laughs). It is better if I don’t think about it.”  Read More

Actor Tatum Shank - Interview

Tatum Shank Photo Front PageIt was a smoky evening on Cahuenga Blvd West in Los Angeles, California last October, while I was waiting to be admitted to Theatre West when a very personable man struck up a conversation with me. He introduced himself to me as Tatum Shank. He was very unassuming and I do not think it was until after the night of one act plays when we talked again outside of the theatre that I learned that Tatum Shank is a film, television and stage actor, as well as the owner of a production company. I still did not know a lot about his acting and producing, but I was so impressed with him I decided to dig in deeper when I returned to Vancouver, contacted him and we arranged an interview earlier this year.

Tatum Shank never intended to be an actor, at least when he was going through his childhood and teenage years. In fact he was more interested in athletic pursuits and eventually attended university on a football scholarship, just an hour south of where he grew up in Des Moines, Iowa.  Yet, he has portrayed George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life on stage, he has appeared on Law & Order: LA, CSI: NY, Criminal Minds, NCIS and Hawaii Five-O (are you noticing a trend?). In post-production is the film Blonde, scheduled for release this year (2020), in which he plays Dick Tracy, but not that Dick Tracy. We will have more on that in a minute.

“(Acting) was a departure and I am the one lone wolf in the family I guess. My dad built houses when I was growing up and by the time I  development and the second house he built in that Read More


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 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 Aleza, Designer Josephine Anni

Fashion December Photo Two 

Photo by GCM Group, Dandy Hendrata protected by copyright ©

YYNOT - American Rock Band

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

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

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

Billy Alexander who is also the primary songwriter for the band talks about “Wildest Dreams,” Read More

Aïda Ballmann is Feeling Alive

Aida Ballman Photo Front PageIt is not often at the end of an interview that one has tough choices to make in terms of writing, but in the case of actress Aïda Ballmann, there are so many interesting aspects to her life and career and they are intertwined. She grew up in Islas Canarias (the Canary Islands), on the smallest of the islands El Hierro and she describes her parents at the time as being hippies from Germany. She is a very good, trilingual (English, German, Spanish) actress who has drawn rave reviews for her performances. Where we decided to begin however, is with her documentary film Sand Path filmed in Senegal. It is a documentary of the people, the ties to her family, the work that she volunteered to do there, along with her friend Eva Gamallo (also a splendid actress) and it encompasses the reasons that Aïda Ballman became an actress and the values she holds dear.

Aïda Ballmann talks about her documentary film Sand Path, “I didn’t plan to be a producer. I think my childhood was very nice and when I was eighteen and I started traveling around the world with my twin sister. I found that the world is not as fair as I thought. I thought what can I do to make it a little bit better? I decided I wanted to tell stories about our reality and maybe give a little push to the audience to think a little different or have a new point of view about their reality and change by themselves. When I was studying theater and started acting afterwards I realized I wasn’t telling the stories that I wanted to tell. That is why I made this documentary film, which was the first official film that I started and finished (as a producer).  It was like going back to the reason why I started acting and why I wanted to study acting.”

She continues, “I didn’t have any money and I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I wanted to do something. Also, I am not Read More

Eva Gamallo - Actress from Spain

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

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

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

A lot of artists like Frederico Garcia Lorca (playwright and poet) have come from Granada and he is the most (famous). When I act in the plays of Frederico Garcia Lorca I can see the city of Granada, the streets, the fields, the sky and I can feel the magic of the city. It is a big honor for me to act in one.  Read More

Design By Alleira Rotelli, Jakarta Fashion Week 2020

December Fashion Photo Seven  

Photo by GCM Group, Budi Harianto, protected by copyright ©

Sara Ballantine A Triple Threat

Sara Ballantine Front Page PhotoRiveting Riffs Magazine has counted actress Sara Ballantine, as one of our friends for more than a decade now and there are some things that no longer surprise us about her, those being; how busy she seems to keep whether it is with films, television, theater doing a commercial or learning a few magic tricks. When we caught up with Sara Ballantine recently both in person while we were in Los Angeles and then later on the phone she talked about her most recent career adventures.

“I was in American Christmas, which aired on SHOWTIME on December 1 st, starring Tara Reid and Robert Carradine. I played Annie, a nosy neighbor and my hubby was played by Stuart Pankin. We had a ball working on this funny and racy Christmas movie, with a lot of the creative team from the web series that we did last year called Kaplan’s Korner.

I am also now learning some magic, as I am appearing for the first time ever at the world famous Magic Castle in the Palace Theatre at the end of December, carrying on in the tradition of my dad, Carl Ballantine who was known as The Amazing Ballantine. (Editor’s note: Carl Ballantine was also considered to be a very good television and film actor.) I was asked by a magician to be a part of his act and that week between Christmas and New Year’s they need a host. He asked me if I would assist him. I am going to learn an illusion.

I have learned a few teeny weeny card tricks. I hope to learn more, but it is just another thing that takes so much practice, so I can’t delude myself that I will be performing magic anytime soon. It is a wonderful hobby and I love it. It is something new to learn that I am interested in. I think it is important to keep learning in this life. It may have taken all of this time and I am sure my father is thinking I told you so. Now I am into it.

I am also in a wonderful children’s show called Peter Rabbit. It’s part of the Read More

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