Concert Reviews

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Countermeasure In Toronto

Countermeasure for front pageRecently the a cappella ensemble Countermeasure (no space between the two words in the name) took to the stage at Jazz Bistro located in the heart of Canada’s largest city Toronto. The rather large fourteen member ensemble opened with the Harry Warren and Mack Gordon standard, “There Will Never Be Another You,” a song that served notice of their excellent vocal harmonies.  One gets the impression that at a venue such as the Jazz Bistro which has an odd configuration that the listener does not get the opportunity to fully appreciate Countermeasure’s vocals. Jazz Bistro is an long, narrow venue, with low ceilings and the vocals bounce right back from a wall that is perhaps twenty feet at most from the front of the stage. That being said, the venue is nicely appointed, the food is excellent, the service superb and Countermeasure caught our ear and gets a favorable nod.

The first set also featured the Gerry Goffin / Carole King song, “Up On The Roof,” first recorded by The Drifters in 1962.  Artistic Director and arranger Aaron Jensen provided the legal vocals, adorned nattily in gray, black and teal, like the rest of the ensemble.

n a twist of irony, considering Countermeasure sang numerous popular and iconic songs the one that stood out the most for this writer was an original tune by Aaron Jensen, that being “This Moment Now Is All You Will Ever Own,” with the lead vocals performed beautifully by Qwyn Charter.  Read More

The Scintillating Melanie Stace

Melanie Stace review photo front pageMelanie Stace who for the past five years has made her home in New York City put on an absolutely stunning performance on July 17 th at the dinner club 54 Below located in New York’s theater district. Ms. Stace who only weeks before had garnered resounding critical acclaim for her performance at Birdland captivated her audience, enticed them and at times seduced them with a performance that can only be described as truly breathaking, by a lady who not only knows how to sing really well, but who is also the consumate entertainer.

Melanie Stace was backed by a superb quartet of musicians that included pianist and musical director Doug Oberhamer, Tony Romano (guitar), David Anthony (drums) and upright bassist Brian Killeen who opened the evening with a splendid instrumental overture featuring a medley of movie theme songs, before giving way to Ms. Stace.

Melanie Stace has developed a spectacular show that she has titled Sirens of the Silver Screen, which as you can guess pays homage to some of the film industry’s most scintillating ladies. We might suggest that Melanie Stace who is easily over six foot in heels and who is also beautiful, is a siren in her own right and although she has not, at least to our knowledge graced the silver screen she has performed on stage in London’s West End and on Broadway.

During an earlier interview with Riveting Riffs Magazine  Read More


Barbara Payton "Rock My Soul"

Barbara Payton front page concertSome singers and musicians rely on gimmicks or prancing around the stage in a fashion that in no way connects with their music and they do so to cover up deficiencies in their performance. Detroit singer and songwriter Barbara Payton simply let her outstanding and soulful vocals tell the story when she performed at the Saline, Michigan Summerfest on August 10th. Backed by her band The Instigators, consisting of drummer Ron Pangborn and guitarists Bobby Murray, Roscoe and Dale Grisa (who played keys for this concert), Payton opened her concert with “Muddy Water Blues,” written by Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company). The intro has a swampy Blues flavor to it and featured an incredible solo by Bobby Murray, demonstrating that he was very deserving of the honor bestowed upon him in 2011 when the Detroit Blues Society granted him a Lifetime Achievement Award. Murray’s solo was followed by a riveting soulful vocal performance by Payton.

Dressed in a taupe and earth tones patterned dress, cut fashionably above her knees, wearing open toe sandals and sunglasses, with her curly red hair cascading over her shoulders, Barbara Payton accomplished a difficult feat by capturing and holding her audience’s attention throughout her ninety minute performance in an open air environment with other distractions.  She did it, because she is an outstanding singer who connects with the listener  Read More

Carolyn Striho Concert Review

Carolyn Striho concert review photo oneCarolyn Striho and her band served up a concert on June 15th that is deserving of a much bigger stage and that is not disrespecting Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills, Michigan where the concert took place, but it is a testament to just how powerful of a performer Carolyn Striho is and a compliment to Callahan’s for booking such an outstanding singer-songwriter-musician.

Although, Striho is backed by a band of sensational players comprised of the aforementioned Scott Dailey, dynamic Bonnie Kaye on violin, electric bass guitarist Dave Dion, guest drummer Charlie Bongo, and background vocalist Maurya Kay, there is absolutely no doubt as to who the leader of this band is.  At times Striho is like the female embodiment of Freddie Mercury (Queen) and at other times she displays her Punk Rock roots as her fingers attack the keyboard like mini jackhammers.  Intensity pulsates through her body and passion infuses her vocals and every note that she plays. On the harder hitting lyrics her eyes pierce your very soul.

The band then moved into the hard hitting “Circles,” introduced by Carolyn Striho singing into the hard hitting “Circles,” introduced by Carolyn Striho singing “Carve my hand / carve my heart / Tattooed daggers / now it starts / Crawling around in my mind…” Read More

Rockabilly Magic in Detroit

Rio Scafone Concert Review PhotoThree and one-half hours before Rio and the Rockabilly Revival fronted by singer-songwriter Rio Scafone took to the stage at Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills, Michigan there was a buzz running through the people lined up outside the venue as they waited for the doors to open.  Comments such as “Have you seen Rio before?” and remarks about how exciting her last concert was were common. Following the one hour and forty minute concert Rio Scafone was paid the ultimate compliments as fans waited patiently to have their photos taken with their pixie like hero with the dynamic stage personality and big vocals. In the ultimate form of adulation some fans even dressed similarly to her.

This was not your everyday club gig in a suburb of Detroit, as it was a very polished, well-choreographed musical act, backed by superb musicians and excellent backup singers. Jarod Thompson was outstanding on rhythm guitar, Charlie Bongo kept the drumbeats, guest saxophonist Mambo was solid, Sean Eric Harris is a very good upright bass player and Renee Turner and Yana Levovna were incredible as background vocalists. Rio and the Rockabilly Revival is not merely a concert, it is a memorable experience involving dance, music and elements of theater.

Rio Scafone draws upon her acting experience to tell Read More

Circe Link In Concert - North Hollywood

Circe Link Concert photoOn Saturday September 22nd, Circe Link and her band performed at Kulak’s Woodshed on Laurel Canyon Boulevard in North Hollywood, an intimate, earthy setting that affords the audience ample opportunity to get close to the artists who are performing. Riveting Riffs Magazine took this opportunity to review the concert streaming on the internet. Backed by a solid band, consisting of her partner in both life and in music, guitarist Christian Nesmith (Air Supply, Debbie Peterson of the Bangles), Brant Biles (acoustic guitar), Jason Chesney (bass), drummer Christopher Allis, keyboardist Michael Sherwood (has performed with Yes, Toto, Air Supply, Lisa Loeb) and singers Laura Drew and Deb Tala (who also played accordion), Circe Link performed almost exclusively original songs (“No More Tears,” being the lone cover tune). Dressed in a black top, black hot pants, white belt, white boots and with her blonde hair almost waist length, Circe Link’s twang, as she sang what she describes as Cowboy Jazz, belies her California heritage.

Longtime friend, musician and singer-songwriter Robbie Rist introduced Circe Link and acted as the host for the evening and he did an outstanding job of demonstrating wit, while mixing in the right degree of sincerity. The ability for fans to email the venue during the concert added a unique element to the evening, as periodically, Rist read the emails and it gave Circe and her band  Read More

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