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Actress, Singer Carmen Prados

Carmen Prados Main Page PhotoWhen you are the understudy for the principal role in a theatrical production it can be challenging both mentally and physically. Couple that with a major musical such as Pretty Woman el Musical when you are providing cover for Vivian (lead actress Cristina Llorente), plus you sing and dance nightly in the ensemble and wait for it plus you are Scarlett, just thinking about all of that is enough to make someone want to lay down and have a nap.

Actress Carmen Prados originally from Córdoba, Andalusia Spain and who has also called London, Paris, Barcelona and Madrid home, is that very person and she was gracious enough to take time from a busy schedule that often sees her performing twice per day and at least once per week in the sometimes salty, but mostly endearing role of Vivian. 

How does she do it? Carmen Prados explains, “I have done two shows as Scarlett and two as Vivian, one as Vivian and one as Scarlett. I have done all the possibilities. It is challenging, but I really love it. Two shows of Scarlett are tougher on the body and two shows of Vivian are tougher on the voice. Doing both, I love it because it is super challenging, and you have to be really focused.

It is really hard and for me it is crucial to take naps, because I wake up early in the mornings. I am a Spanish person and I take my siesta very seriously, so that is my solution to being tired. Getting ready for the show I warm up my voice and body, like an athlete and this is my instrument.”

Riveting Riffs Magazine would like to tell you that we went to Pretty Woman el Musical specifically to watch Carmen Prados perform, but that would be less than truthful. Read More

Adrian Sutherland Interview

Adrian Sutherland Interview Front Page PhotoThere is a place named Attawapiskat in the very far north of Canada, in what is referred to as the sub-Artic zone. It is approximately 500 kilometers (a little over 300 miles) from the nearest town of any size. Some days your best friend may be a caribou or the sound of the wind. In the winter months ice roads are constructed and it links you to other small communities and at other times of the year if you want to get in or out, you have to fly. Located on the northern end of James Bay, Attawapiskat is the home of indigenous (First Nations) singer, songwriter and guitarist Adrian Sutherland. He joined me recently to talk about his new album, Precious Diamonds, scheduled for release on March 15 (2024) and his speaking voice is as smooth as smooth as his vocals when he sings.

Adrian Sutherland recorded two songs for this album in his native language, Cree and others, while in English, share from his life experiences and his heritage of which he is proud.

The album opens with the beautiful song “Notawe,” (No Taw ee), and it is one of the two Cree songs on Precious Diamonds.

Adrian Sutherland talks about the song “Notawe.” “It is a song I wrote in my Cree language, which is the language that we speak where I live. It is the first full Cree song that I have written, which is kind of odd, because I am fluent in Cree.

With the place I am at in my life it felt really important to me to write about the loss of someone’s father. “Notawe,” in my language means my father. I know a lot of people when they get to middle age start to lose people around them that they love. That is where this song came from. It is an emotional song for me. It is a heavy song. I lost my father Read More

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Kerri Powers Love Is Why

Kerri Powers Interview Photo Front PageSpeaking to Riveting Riffs Magazine from her home nestled into the northwest corner of Connecticut, Canton, to be more specific, singer and songwriter Kerri Powers took time out to talk to us about her career and her new album, shortly after returning from her European tour.

Chuckling she says, “Not too many people can find me. It is more private, which is really nice. We have been here twenty-two or twenty-three years now. I am originally from East Taunton, Massachusetts.”

Ah that is the accent that everyone once in a while visits this conversation.

So, tell us about your European tour in support of your album, Love Is Why.

“I must say I am really on a high from that. It usually goes very well, and I certainly didn’t expect to play to sold out venues.  I went as a soloist this time and usually I play with a good guitarist from over there. I won’t say I was apprehensive, but you never know what to expect. The audiences over there were quite receptive and I couldn’t have asked for a better run of dates.

The one thing I like about (being in Europe) to tour is you have very appreciative audiences. They are down to earth good people. Every time I am there I learn more about what is going on and the culture. I just like the fact that we are learning every day if we are open to it. When you are in that mindset it is very inspiring as well.

I have been Read More

Aida Ballmann - Actress - Spain

Aida Ballmann Interview 2023 Photo FourIn 2019 Riveting Riffs Magazine interviewed actress Aida Ballmann, born on El Hierro, one of the islands of the Islas Canarias (Canary Islands), of German heritage (her parents) and completely fluent in German, Spanish and English. Just a few months after that interview Spain, and much of the world was plunged into the COVID pandemic and the film, television and entertainment world came to a jolting stop. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and we caught up with Aida Ballmann again, a very busy Aida Ballmann we might add.

With recent films, and series completed in the past couple of years and more in pre-production, we decided to start with one that was filmed during COVID, a short film titled Five Minutes, written and directed by Genesis Lence.

“I knew Genesis Lence from her photography and television series and then she started writing and directing. This is not her first short film. I think it is her second or third. She says she is very proud of this (film) because it represents the way she wants to talk with her art and it (reflects) her personality.

It was a very hard piece to shoot, because it was during the time of COVID and we had to cancel it twice, before we could shoot it. That also meant we had to do the rehearsals using Skype. The co-protagonist is my sister Serai and it was the first time that we acted together. That was great. She is younger than me and she has not done much (acting), but I was really surprised to find out what a great actress she is.

The special thing about this (film) is it that it is just one piece and she did not edit it by bringing together different Read More

Maia Sharp and Reckless Thoughts

Maia Sharp Front Page B Reckless ThoughtsIt is always great to sit down, (even if it is over the miles) and chat with Maia Sharp. The renowned singer, songwriter and musician, whose songs have been recorded by artists such as, Cher, Trisha Yearwood, Terri Clark, Bonnie Raitt and Art Garfunkel, will have just released her new album Reckless Thoughts by the time you are reading this. Maia Sharp is as candid, as she is thoughtful when talking about her life, career and songs. She breathes fresh air into the world of music. She is comfortable collaborating with other songwriters and she is quick to share the spotlight and credit with them, even though it is her name on the album for which the songs appear.

From her home in Nashville (yes, she did indeed move from California a few years ago), she talks about when the seeds for Reckless Thoughts were first planted.

“The first song that I knew was going to be the beginning of a new album project was “Kind.” I wrote that with Mindy Smith and Dean Fields in 2019. When we were finished with that one, I knew I needed to start thinking about another project, even though Mercy Rising (the previous album) wasn’t even out yet. I knew that one was already finished. I knew that “Kind,” wasn’t going to be on Mercy Rising. It already set the wheels in motion and I thought I guess I am going to be making another record.

“Too Far Now,” was the next one. Those two songs are so different from each other that they really presented a challenge. How am I going to write or look through my catalogue for a body of work that makes sense, so all of these songs can play together and sound like one animal. They are the most different genre wise. I think my production, the vocals Read More

Rachael Sage - New Album

Rachael Sage Interview Photo Front Page by Bill BernsteinThe first single that was released from Rachael Sage’s upcoming album The Other Side is “Whistle Blow,” a beautiful, retrospective song with a slow tempo. It is accompanied by an equally beautiful and artistic video. Under the direction of Jenny, He and with the Director of Photography Daniel Cho onboard, both seemed to be in complete unison with Rachael Sage’s lyrics and music.

She talks about the song, “One thing I wanted to convey with “Whistle Blow,” is that moment when someone is able to find the inner strength and to summon the courage to confront someone in a greater position of power, whether it is in a workplace or in a relationship, when they know that inappropriate boundaries have been crossed. When they have been abused or wronged in some way. There are innumerable examples of this every day when we watch the news. I have also experienced these dynamics and just as a witness in society I see it recurrently. The story in the video is interpreted through movement by the wonderful director Jenny He and (we) were able to convey that specific moment when a human being is able to say ‘No this is not right. I am not going to accept this anymore and I am moving to a more positive space and away from this negative energy and negative person.’

I had not worked with Jenny before, but I saw some examples of her work and I was blown away. I have never actually worked with a female director in this capacity and it was exciting for me. She is very talented and she trained at NYU. When we talked, we had a lot in common and we shared a feminine sensibility and a specific sensitivity to music that led to a wonderful Read More

Florence Dore

Florence Dore Interview Photo for front pageIt is difficult to know where to begin a conversation with Florence Dore, as her creative and scholastic achievements are plentiful. She has taught creative writing and American literature (fiction) at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill since 2010, during which time she authored three books, raised a daughter with her husband Will Rigby and most recently released a splendid album Highways and Rocketships. Florence Dore received her doctorate in English from the University of California at Berkley. Her life began in Nashville, and among the places along the way that became home for a time, was New York City, before finally settling in North Carolina.

After spending an hour and one-half in conversation with Florence you come away with deep respect for her insightfulness, smile at her quick wit and due to her warmth and generosity you come away ninety minutes later convinced that you must have been friends in another life.

We decided to begin with digging into the roots for her passions for literature, writing and music. Where did this all begin?

She thoughtfully says, “I think it was the music. I would say the two things are similar parts of me. It is my love of literary beauty related to whatever that kernel of joy is when you are really small and your enjoyment of music and your response to beauty that maybe is irrational beauty and artistic beauty. I think they are Read More

Tom Paxton and John McCutcheon

Tom Paxton and John McCutcheon Interview Front Page PhotoSitting and interviewing one music legend is special. Having the opportunity to interview two music legends at the same time rarely happens, and yet this writer was fortunate enough to do just that recently when Tom Paxton and John McCutcheon sat down with me to discuss their new album, Together.

The most poignant song from this beautiful and heartfelt collection of songs is “Invisible Man,” and Paxton and McCutcheon would be quick to tell you that this song is also about the invisible woman and invisible child too. With words such as, “I am the invisible man / This really was not my plan / Wherever you don’t look there I am / I am the invisible man.”  The song is about the homeless, or the person you work beside that you never speak with or some other person that society has overlooked or forgotten, perhaps an elderly person. It draws attention to our need to do better.

John McCutcheon talks about his personal inspiration behind the song, “I think I had just finished reading Ralph Ellison’s book Invisible Man (editor’s note: not to be confused with HG Wells book of a similar title), which of course is about the black experience in the United States. During the pandemic, I remember contemplating the whole term of sheltering in place and I thought there is a whole class of people who have been sheltering in place for years in this country. Nobody knows them. They are absolutely invisible.

Again, it was creating that character that isn’t me and isn’t Tom and giving them a voice. I have no idea who Read More


Lift - a Film Review

Lift review photo front pageLift produced by and starring Kevin Hart and his HartBeat Productions, 6th & Idaho and Genre Pictures, was released on Netflix January 12 (2024) and if ever there was a film that deserves a sequel this is the one. Yes, it is a heist film, but from an airplane in mid-flight. Impossible. Well to borrow a line from the movie, “No, it’s just never been done before.”

This is not a film when you are waiting for the thieves to be caught. This is the ultimate anti-hero movie, and you are cheering for the art thieves. Kevin Hart’s character Cyrus offers up lines crafted by screenwriter Daniel Kunka, “We rescue art from undeserving owners,” and “I would never lift anything from anyone who doesn’t deserve to lose it.”

This cast just etched their names in infamy. As already mentioned, Kevin Hart as Cyrus, the suave straight man and boss, oh and before we go any further, there is not a bad looking member of his team of art thieves, woman or man. British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Interpol agent Abby Gladwell and the onscreen chemistry between her and Kevin Hart is not only believable, but has some subtle comedic elements to it, but make no mistake, this is an action film not a comedy film.

What makes this film work so well is it is an ensemble acting performance, featuring Spanish actress Úrsula Corberó making her English language film debut. She is an icon in her home, Spain, and she shines as art thief who drives boats and flies planes and while doing so manages to look elegant. Vincent D’Onofrio, plays the master of disguise and serves up Read More

Beth Bombara Releases New Album

Beth Bombara Front Page PhotoIt All Goes Up is the title of Beth Bombara’s new album that will be released this week (August 4) on Black Mesa Records, and Riveting Riffs Magazine gives two thumbs up to a fabulous collection of songs, that once again demonstrate Bombara’s superb musicianship and delicious vocals.

Confessing that she is really excited about this record she says, “We were sort of coming out of COVID and we were getting back to normal. When I wrote “Lonely Walls,” I was reflecting on my feelings and the past year or so.

It started out as me reflecting on the pandemic, but I really wanted it to be more open than that.”

The lyrics are open enough to interpretation that the listener might find themselves thinking about a relationship or perhaps a difficult time in their lives. It may also be as easy to interpret them as that time during the pandemic that separated so many from the ones they loved, whether they be romantic relationships or familial.

Beth Bombara goes on to say, that it (the song), “morphed into this longing for one person.”

The melody meanders, an easy tempo, that sets the mood for more reflections than missives.

She says about the fourth track, “Get On,” is a mixture of being about procrastination, someone who is afraid to move ahead and just finds it easier to make  Read More

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Ben Brown - King  of Air

Ben Brown Interview 2023 Photo Front PageBen Brown from Austin, Texas is a deep thinker, who also happens to be a terrific songwriter and musician. King of Air is his second solo album following Sayonara Sorrow. Although at one time it was considered risky for an artist to release an album that cannot easily be pigeonholed into a specific genre, that may be more a thing of the past than it is an absolute today. Certainly, Brown’s new record, King Of Air, a collection of eclectic songs does a lot to dispel that myth and when combined with today’s purchasing habits of music fans who tend to listen more to single songs that they like versus buying an entire album King Of Air has arrived on the scene at the right time. In fact, those who regulate the radio airwaves are themselves almost a thing of the past, with listeners and artists alike enjoying numerous ways to access and distribute music that simply did not exist thirty years ago.

Ben Brown, an excellent guitarist, bassist and keyboardist is joined on King Of Air, by saxophonist Tim Cappello (Tina Turner – “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” Carly Simon, David Bowie and Peter Gabriel), Mick Flowers who doubles as the drummer and producer, Matt Hubbard who also plays keyboards, as well as the theremin and vocalists, Sally Allen and Bianca Lugo. Jared Wenkman who also sound engineered Sayonara Sorrow, is at the controls once again.

While the title song opens the album, it is the sixth track “Dancing With the Village Girls,” that really grabbed our attention with an almost Bowie like feel to it.

Ben Brown says of the song, "Dancing With the Village Girls" has been well-received in a live setting and I assume for several reasons. First, the song is arranged around a slinky, pulsating groove, which is tailor-made for dancing. Second, the verses and choruses are in a minor key, but the bridge is in a major key, which functions like a crescendo, or a release of slowly building tension. Third, the lyrics of the song are about choosing pleasure over meaning, and choosing pleasure is fun! Beauty may only be skin-deep, but skin makes the world go around and keeps the population growing. Every sinner in history plans to repent for their sins, but not until tomorrow, which is the notion and the nature of "Dancing With the Village Girls." 

The song is introduced by Tim Cappello’s saxophone, features strong drumbeats by Flowers and of course excellent guitars. There is a special treat however later in the song with some excellent background vocalists.

Brown talks about the singers, “On the chorus section, I am joined by my partner, a singer named Bianca Lugo, and on the bridge section, I am joined by another Austin artist named Sally Allen. For inspiration in the chorus sections, there is a singer who I am very partial to named Julee Cruise, who is most well-known for her work with David Lynch and Angelo Badamlenti, who together did the music for the TV series, Twin Peaks. Julee Cruise has a soft, angelic, soprano voice and a straight delivery, which is what I asked Bianca Lugo to emulate in the chorus sections. In the bridge section, I asked Sally Allen to evoke the spirit of Read More

Charlie Faye & The Fanimals

Charlie Faye Photo Front Page June 2023On July 21 st one of the most fun and danceable family albums will be released. Although, billed as a children’s album Charlie Faye & The Fanimals is really a record that the whole family can enjoy from a toddler to a grandparent who may reminisce about dancing to The Temptations, The Spinners, Martha and the Vandellas, The Marvelettes, Sam & Dave, Booker T. & the M.G.s and Carla and Rufus Thomas. Charlie Faye’s vocals add Soul and R & B to lyrics that kids can relate to and the musical arrangements, the groove the vibe is something that will not leave mom and dad or mom or dad or mom and mom or dad and dad sitting on their sofas for long.  

The album opens with the fun “7 Days of Fun,”

Charlie Faye talks about what inspired these songs, “Usually they were things that just came to me as a parent and I would just think oh write a song about snack time. They all come from different places. “Seven Days of Fun,” I wrote, because Edie (Charlie’s daughter) and I had been talking about the days of the week. I used to sing a song in Charlie Faye & the Fayettes called “Seven Nights to Rock,” and in “Seven Nights to Rock,” which I learned from a Nick Lowe recording. In (that song) you get to yell out all the days of the week “(She mock yells out) Monday, Tuesday…” I thought it would be great to have a song like that for kids and Edie could learn the names of the days of the week. Guess what? It worked. “Snack Time,” was obvious. Kids love snack time and everybody loves songs about snack time. It is a time that already is generally fun. I felt it was also important to write a song about bath time, because when my daughter was younger, she didn’t love bath time, so I thought okay let’s write a song about being in a bath. That turned into “Puppy in the Bath” and we have a dog. Edie likes to sing “Puppy In the Bath,” when we are giving our dog a bath and she also likes to pretend to be a puppy in the bath (Charlie laughs).

My dog’s name is Rufus. He is named after Rufus Thomas. Both Rufus and Carla Thomas were Stax artists and Rufus Thomas is the guy who wrote “Walking the Dog.” He also wrote “Do the Dog,” and “Can Your Monkey Do the Dog,” and various other dog related songs. So, Rufus (the dog) was named after Rufus Thomas.”

Jim Brunberg’s deep vocals make a cameo on this song and when we say deep, we mean really deep. In addition to Charlie Faye’s lead vocals there are outstanding background vocals served up by Dana Starr Brunberg Sparling, Veronica Sue Brunberg Sparling, Akina Adderly and one of this magazine’s favorite people Betty Soo.

So, enlighten us about Jim Brunberg?

“Jim Brunberg is so many things. He is a musician, songwriter and producer, based in Portland, Oregon. He has an incredible ear and he is also incredibly prolific.  He composed the song for the New York Times’ The Daily podcast. He has done a bunch of cool stuff. Read More

Rubén Yuste and Pretty Woman

Ruben Yuste Interview photo for front pageImagine you are relaxing in a restaurant in a picturesque town on the island of Mallorca, Spain, the resort of Port d’Alcudia and in walks a fellow and you think wait a minute isn’t that the same guy I just watched a few nights ago when I was in Madrid (or Barcelona) and he was Mr. Thompson in Pretty Woman the Musical? The restaurant is Como en Casa and the actor is the highly respected Rubén Yuste who owns this beautiful restaurant with his sister Vanessa Yuste. Actually, you may have noticed Rubén for more than one reason, as he also plays Happy Man with the wild hair and Mr. Hollister in Pretty Woman the Musical. After enjoying a six month run in Barcelona during the 2022 – 2023 theater season, the musical, with the cast intact are taking the production to Teatro EDP Gran Via in Madrid for the entire 2023 – 2024 season. Rehearsals begin in early September.

Riveting Riffs Magazine attended two performances in Barcelona and while still in Barcelona we connected with several cast members with Rubén Yuste, kindly consenting to be interviewed by us. (Editor’s note: We are secretly hoping that when we relocate to Madrid in the fall that we will be able to attend another performance.)

Naturally our conversation began with Pretty Woman the Musical, and we wondered about the challenges presented by playing three very different characters, and also if he had a favorite scene or two that he was in.

My favorite scene is when Mr. Thompson looks for Vivian to talk

My favorite scene is when Mr. Thompson looks for Vivian to talk to her. After realizing that she is a good person, he decides to help her find a dress (she can wear) to go to the restaurant with Edward (the other main protagonist). Also, when he teaches her how to dance the Tango is another of my favorite moments of the show,” says Rubén Yuste.

Oh, that brings us to another facet of Rubén Yuste’s performance skills, “I competed internationally in ballroom dancing, in Latin dance. It was really nice, because when I began the rehearsals for Pretty Woman the choreographer (Giulio Benvenuti; additional choreographers – Denise Holland Bethke and Carla Janssen Höfelt) told me that he wanted me to do the choreography by myself. The choreography that you see in the show, part of it is from the choreographer and the other part is my choreography.”

All three of the characters played by Rubén Yuste are keys to the transformation of Vivian (who in the film was played by Julia Roberts and in the musical, Spanish rendition is played splendidly by Christina Llorente). They combine to give Vivian a new map for her life, Read More  

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Actress Sara Deray

Sara Deray Interview Photo for front pageActors have to imagine a lot of things. We have to build life from words on paper. We also have to build a lot of things that aren’t written. You have to imagine them and create them. You have to try and find the truth and connect with the character. In all the parts that I play I try to find the parts within me that connect with the character.”

Those are the words of actress Sara Deray of Spain and she has had to imagine a lot of things during her career, as she has played a nun (El Sorbono del Cielo), an inmate in jail, a scientist who was the mother to a cloned daughter (Órbita 9), she incredibly funny  as Mary Ann, in the television series Yo Soy Franky (I Am Franky) for Nickelodeon (2016 – Colombia), and she just finished her fourth season of the comedy series El Pueblo, a Spanish Amazon Prime production, in which she plays Maria Luisa.  

Sara Deray’s ability to portray a broad spectrum of characters is due to a combination of her skills as an actress and her culturally diverse background.

She explains, “My grandma was born in France. That was my mother’s mother. She went to the United States when she was quite young and she decided to become a U.S. citizen. She left her French nationality behind and married an American guy. That was after she had my mom and she became divorced from my grandfather. She then married the American guy. My grandma married three times. The first time she married the father of my mother who was a French guy and she got divorced when my mother was fourteen. When my grandmother moved to the United States that is when she got married the second time and then the American guy died. She then married one of his best friends, because he had also lost his wife.”

You are thinking, well that is a bit diversified, but nothing that says hey, look at this. Just wait! She continues, “I traveled a lot. I did not grow up in Alicante (Spain). I grew up in Nigeria (she laughs). My father was an engineer in the oil (industry), so he traveled for several companies and sometimes there were American, Canadian, British or Belgian companies. We traveled a lot, my parents, my sister, who is six years older and me. When I was 18 months old, they took me by plane to Nigeria and I spent my first six years there. I learned English in Nigeria. I don’t remember learning languages. My mother always talked to me in French, my father in Spanish and when I was in school in Nigeria it was in English.”

Are you a little more impressed now? Keep reading.

We always came back here to Alicante, because my father’s parents were here in Alicante (Spain). This was always the meeting point to come to. Whenever my father’s contracts were over, we always came back to Alicante. Then they would say okay Mr. Rodriguez Read More

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