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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 I didn’t necessarily have to act when the time came to be the character. I had already rehearsed enough of the character ahead of time or I had enough of the identity of the character already built in.

I did two scenes for two episodes and sometimes it was just do what you rehearsed and sometimes it was throw everything out and do what the director tells you to do. Let’s record it, rehearse it and shoot it. There was a 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. That informs the rest of the body. The voice kind of follows.”

You had to know that Chelsea Clark was destined for big things, because right beside her house was the Field of Dreams. Well, maybe that is just a bit of hyperbole, but there was a cornfield beside the family home. Although, dealing that hyperbole yet another blow, she confesses she is not even sure who owned the 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

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 is the capital of Bavaria. It is in the south of Germany 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 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 The Long Ryders’ song that Stephen McCarthy wrote 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

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. Read More

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  Read More

Kincső Nóra Pethő - Actress

Kincső Nóra Pethő Photo Front PageFresh from performing as a futuristic computer from the year 2100 who is named after the Greek goddess of earth Gaia IA 01, and who sends a message back to today to warn others about a pending environmental apocalypse unless we change our ways, Hungarian actress, choreographer and dancer Kincső Nóra Pethő sat down for a conversation with Riveting Riffs Magazine, over Skype.

Obviously, only the Gaia part is taken from the Greek goddess, as Kincső Nóra Pethő explains, “I am like a computer program from the future who becomes a real person by the end of this 70-minute show. It was called Heroes of the Future and it was part of Planet Budapest 2021. There were about fifty actors and actresses working on this project, which was intended to raise the interest of kids for protecting the environment. For one week (in early December) the program ran from morning until evening. It was a wonderful experience to see how enthusiastic the kids were! I felt great about contributing to such a good goal!”

Continuing she says, “We talk to the children about how in the year 2100 there is not enough air, and the environment has been destroyed. (The message is) they have to be conscious of what they are doing in the present in 2021.

When we had some rehearsal groups and I could see a small guy, who was ten years old and he wore glasses. I was sitting in a box and at first, they could only hear my voice. They could not see me. I could see the Read More

 

 

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Nick Pagliari - Hard Lessons

Nick Pagliari Interview Photo Front PageWe have all at some point in life had hard lessons to learn and so we can relate to the title of Austin, Texas singer and songwriter Nick Pagliari’s new album Hard Lessons, which was released on July 22nd. You have to dig much deeper into a conversation with this amiable musician to discover that some of his greatest influences come from his wife Carmen and the jukebox that was in his parents’ home when he was a young boy.

Reflecting upon that jukebox he says, “That is where my early influences in music were from in general. I was probably six or seven years old when my father had that jukebox. We would sit in the living room and he would play little 45s on the jukebox and we would dance around and sing those songs. I was really fortunate and it was really, really cool. My brother who is about three years younger than me has that jukebox. I don’t know if it still works, but I would love to hear some of those songs again someday.

There were all kinds of Motown music and I remember specific artists like The Four Tops, The Beach Boys’ song “Fun, Fun, Fun,” and “Uptown Girl,” by Billy Joel. My mom was a huge fan of Huey Lewis, but that might have been later in her car.

All that music was an influence on me and it stuck with me as an artist. I think when you are that young, in that stage of your development you are like a sponge. Musically I soaked that stuff up and it stuck with me.”

Just as he was about to embark on a month-long residency at Geraldine’s in Austin, Nick Pagliari took time to talk with Riveting Riffs Magazine about his album Hard Lessons.

“The song “Down in a Rainstorm,” from the new album (came about) when I was out for a jog one afternoon and all of a sudden, I was caught in a big rainstorm. I started humming that chorus part. I got really excited about it to be honest with you, as I was finishing up my run. When I got home, I took off my wet clothes and I took my guitar, while humming that song to myself. I figured out some good chords for it and I wrote the majority of it right there.

Things like that happen on a whim and I try to capture that when I can. It doesn’t always happen that way. If I am out driving my car and I come up with a nice melody I will try and do a little voice memo, to capture it, so I can come back to it. The songs come in different ways. I have never been able to sit down and say I am going to try and write a song now. I have to have some sort of inspiration that excites me.

Sometimes I will go for months without writing a song and then I will spend two- or three-months writing songs. It just comes and goes. There are also songs that might take a few months to write and there are others that might take just a few days. It runs the gamut. I have gotten to the point when I try to focus on my lyrics more and I can come back to songs and redraft and rewrite. I really want each lyric to count and each lyric to mean something. I am a real stickler on that and it has really helped me, especially with these last two albums.”

In listening to “Down in a Rainstorm,” one has to wonder if there was just a little bit of Creedence Clearwater Revival in his parents’ jukebox, because this song is pleasantly reminiscent of their music.

“This Time will Tell,” Read More

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 writing down something that is in the air. It is really magical and being in the flow.

When I look Read More

The Bablers from Finland

Bablers Photo Front Page“In all art you have to do something that is meaningful for you. If it is not meaningful for you it will not touch another heart,” says Finnish singer, musician and songwriter Arto Tamminen of the band The Bablers. “It has been a bit scary, especially when it comes to the Psychadilly Circus album some of the songs are deep and even spiritual and very personal. They are not just Pop nonsense.

Talking to us from his home in Finland, the affable protagonist of this conversation explains when and how the band’s name was birthed, “When young people are choosing the name for a band it is not always logical and it can be quite chaotic. In many cases later on many bands regret (the name they chose).  In this case we don’t. It came from the word babble or bubbling. It is active. Then we took one “b” out of the word and it looked right. We ended up using it and we never looked back since. I think one of the most important things with a band’s name is it has to stick in your mind. Many of the crazy names stick there.

We (Janne Haavisto) were located in the same area and we were friends. Many of us went to the same school. The drummer Janne Haavisto’s older brother and my older brother were great mates. Janne’s brother’s band rehearsed in the basement of our house. I come from a family with five children and we lived in quite a big house. They also had great parties (he laughs). I was there as a little boy in my pajamas listening to how they played the old Blues stuff and Irish Folk music. Janne and I just became friends.

I started to write songs from the time I was ten or eleven years of age. I had a disease as a child and I didn’t have anything to do. I was already playing cello when I was six years of age and my fingers worked quite well. My older brother gave me a guitar and he showed me a few chords. Almost immediately I started to write some songs. (By the time) I started to hang around with Janne I had already written some of them. We made a two-track demo. I used to play some of the demos for Janne and I asked him what he thought about them. I said to him do you want to try and play these together and we can find some other guys. Janne said finally you made the suggestion, because I was just about to pop the question.

We started to look for people to play with and we both knew Juha Mieskonen, who was the bass player and he had perfect pitch every time he sang. Miko Lankinen a local guitar player was attending the local jam session. We formed the band rapidly. Three or fourth months after we began rehearsing, we made our first demo and we sent it to the record company which is now Warner Music Finland. We received a phone call from Tommi Liuhala of Hi-Hat Records / Warner who said you sent us a demo. I said yes. He asked would you like to make a record with us? (He laughs) I said yes and it was like it was too good to be true. We were very young then Janne was fifteen and I was seventeen and Read More

 

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Sylvia Hutton

Sylvia Interview Photo Front PageNature Child - A Dreamer’s Journey released recently by Sylvia Hutton, better known to music fans all over the world as the American Country Music Award, Billboard’s # 1 Country Music Female Artist and Grammy nominated singer Sylvia, is one of the most beautiful collections of story songs you will hear this year. With numerous # 1 and top ten hits to her credit, the former RCA artist, who has for many years recorded as an independent artist, once again collaborated with longtime friend John Mock (Dolly Parton, The Chicks, James Taylor, Kathy Mattea). Other co-writers includes Verlon Thompson, Craig Brickhardt and Thom Schuyler.  

The opening song for the album “Avalon,” transports the listener to Camelot and the days of King Arthur. Sylvia and Verlon Thompson wrote “Avalon,” a beautifully orchestrated song with lush vocals by Sylvia. For any child, any teenager, any adult whoever wished you could close your eyes and open them to find yourself in a magical place, Sylvia invites you to take her hand to travel to a place where the walls are made of freedom and every tear becomes a shining star.  

Normally, we would not credit so many musicians, but they earned their due on “Avalon,” guitars, both electric and acoustic by John Mock, as well as mandolin and percussion. Matt McGee played bass, Skip Cleavinger played the Uilleann pipes, oboe by Somerlie Pasquale, Emily Bowland on clarinet, trumpet (Jeff Bailey), French horn (Jennifer Kummer), violins by Conni Ellisor and Mary Kathryn Van Osdale, viola (Betsy Lamb) and cellist Nicholas Gold.

About the musicians, Sylvia says, “They are wonderful people and fabulous musicians. John Mock is playing many of the instruments on the record. He did the strings arrangements, the wind arrangements and he and I arranged the ethereal vocals together on this record. I have worked with the bass player Matt McGee since 1983. We worked together on the road in the eighties and he is a fabulous, world class bass player.”

She takes time to explain what the Uillean pipes are that Skip Cleavinger plays, “A few years ago we put Uilleann pipes on Where in the World for the song “Crazy Nightingale.” They are similar to bagpipes. They are quieter and they operate a little differently. They have a similar sound to bagpipes, but they are not as loud and you can control the sound a little bit more. There is a bag of air under your arm that you pump the air into, as you finger the pipes. It is a very complex instrument to play.

Sylvia talks about the song “Avalon,” saying, “I thought about naming the album Avalon, but I thought it would be too confusing to people and they would think it is about King Arthur and it is not. I felt really good about naming it Nature Child – A Dreamer’s Journey.

This album Nature Child is for families and for children and Read More

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