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Nancy Naigle's Christmas Presents

Nancy Naigle Front Page PhotoThis Christmas season the Hallmark Channel in the United States and the W Channel in Canada are debuting two new Christmas movies, Christmas Joy and Hope At Christmas, both of which are based on romance novels written by Nancy Naigle, a USA Today Best Selling Author.  The affable Virginian who now makes her home in North Carolina was on the film set for both movies earlier this year and when she sat down with Riveting Riffs Magazine she was effusive about the actors, the production crew and the completed movies.

This writer read Christmas Joy and did not want to put the book down, because the storylines and the characters were so well developed that you felt like you knew them personally.

Joy Holbrook one of the two main characters in Christmas Joy learns that her Aunt Ruby in Crystal Falls has been injured from an accident and so Joy travels from her high profile job in the big city to the small town of Crystal Falls to help out with feeding her aunt’s farm animals, do some Christmas decorating and help out with Molly. You will not see the little girl Molly in the movie edition, but as Nancy Naigle says it is difficult to condense 70,000 or 80,000 words contained in a novel into a movie script of approximately 20,000 words.

So Nancy who is Joy Holbrook?

“The Christmas story came from me. As a career girl (She was a Vice-President with a financial institution) for a lot of years I was really proud (of my career) and I missed a lot of birthdays, I missed a lot of family time and it wasn’t until I hit forty and I started opening my eyes to the kinds of things I was missing that I realized how important those things were that I would never get back.

Joy’s character is much younger than I was, but the whole idea behind that story was that she was a professional girl and she was very good at her job. Her aunt (Ruby) needed her help. She had this big promotional opportunity right at her fingertips and being there to handhold that and hopefully make that happen was important to her. I wanted her to make the right decision, so it turned out good for her.  That is where the whole story Read More

Stellar Album by Mandy Barnett

Mandy Barnett photo for front pageAlthough Mandy Barnett made a name for herself portraying the legendary Country music singer Patsy Cline in the musical Always…Patsy Cline, her new album Strange Conversation showcases in splendid fashion her versatility as an artist, as she easily transitions into other genres. The album opens with Blues singer Mable John’s “More Lovin’,” and Barnett turns up the heat right away with a sultry vocal performance that will have you tapping your toes, nodding your head and moving your shoulders.  The song is a duet with Arnold McCuller and the two singers complement each other well. 

It becomes immediately apparent on this album that the producers Marco Giovino (Norah Jones, Robert Plant, and Patty Griffin) and Doug Lancio (Gretchen Peters, John Hiatt, and Patty Griffin) ensured that Mandy Barnett was accompanied by musicians who understood that their role was to compliment Barnett. They become the perfect dance partners with Mandy Barnett leading the way and like any truly great performance you find yourself caught up in the moment. Tom West’s organ sets the mood, Viktor Krauss is on bass, Giovino keeps beat on drums and Lancio is the guitarist. Grammy Award winning sound engineer Gord Hammond from The Nuthouse studio in Sheffield, Alabama does a superb job.

Released on Dame Records, Mandy Barnett’s own label and distributed by Thirty Tigers, Strange Conversation is a collection of songs that is a “must have” for anyone who truly appreciates well thought out song selections that showcase a singer and make you sit up and go “wow.”

In 1962 The Tams released the song “It’s All Right (You’re Just In Love),” and Barnett puts her own stamp on the tune, as she brings it back to life with a new arrangement and a stunning classic R&B performance.  

It feels like you just stepped into a time machine and you find yourself in the midst of an era when R&B ruled the day. Barnett’s phrasing is impeccable and you want to join in the conversation when she sings, “Come on tell me about this feeling now / I hear the birds are singing / I hear the church bells ringing,” and the response is sung back to her by Ann and Regina McCrary, “It’s All Right you’re just in love.”  Sign us up for concert tickets! Mandy Barnett is the real deal! The McCrary sisters Read More

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Interview with Brad Cole

Brad Cole Front Page PhotoWhen you listen to Brad Cole speak, the casual way in which he talks about his own accomplishments and the gratitude that he expresses would lead the uniformed to conclude that he is just a guy trying to find his way in the music world. That is unless, you already know enough about Cole to ask him about being the musical director and keyboardist for Phil Collins for twenty-eight years or his work as a musician, sound engineer, arranger and producer with a star studded array of artists that includes Paula Abdul, Gino Vanelli, Dave Koz, Michael Bolton, Darlene Koldenhoven, Rita Coolidge, Brenda Russell, Peabo Bryson, Al Jarreau and the late Natalie Cole, as well as numerous others. Brad Cole who as we write this is in the midst of a North American tour with Phil Collins, took time out recently just prior to his leaving for the tour, to talk about his career.

Brad Cole grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia and despite the fact it was a burgeoning scene for Doo Wop, Pop Music and Rhythm and Blues in the late 1950s and throughout much of the 1960s, Cole was drawn to music far removed from what most people his age were listening to at the time.

“That is a somewhat amusing part of it, because when I was a kid after a certain time I had no interest at all in listening to AM radio and bubble gum Pop music. Even The Beatles and stuff I became a real snob about. I was a Jazz purist and a Classical purist and I was that way for much of the rest of high school. By the time The Beatles’ Abbey Road came out, which was 1969 that is when I started getting reacquainted with mainstream Pop and Rock. I also liked Cream (Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce). I came back to it, but I missed a chunk of it. I definitely missed all of the stuff that was going on in Philadelphia. Number one I wasn’t sure I was going to become a professional musician and number two it wasn’t the kind of  Read More

Karin Risberg and Angel Blue

Karin Risberg Photo for Front PageFrom Pop singer to Swedish Country music star and from the small town of Skelleftehamn, just a couple of hours from the Arctic Circle to France, back to Sweden and onstage in Nashville with the legendary Time Jumpers and Vince Gill, that just about sums up Karin Risberg’s career as a singer, songwriter and guitarist.

Risberg has a 2019 tour planned with her friend Country music singer Cina Samuelson as the duo Honky Tonk Angels, a duo that still performs at times with Kerstin Dahlberg as the trio Three Chicks. The group Three Chicks has been performing together since the 2010 Lida Country Music Festival in Sweden, while Honky Tonk Angels made their debut in September of this year (2018) when they performed at the Sweden Country Music SM.

So where did this all begin for Karin Risberg? Her answer is not surprising, as she continues the long line of outstanding Swedish singers and musicians who have come from small towns and villages throughout the country.

“I was born in a small town called Skelleftehamn and it is in the north of Sweden, eight hundred kilometers north of Stockholm. It is very close to the Arctic Circle. I grew up in a family with my mom and my dad and a little sister. My mom used to sing in the choir and she also sang for me every night when I was going to sleep. She was the only (musical person) in our family. My father always encouraged me. He heard me singing all of the time when I was a little girl. He was proud of me, so he had me sing everywhere that I went with him. They started to pay me with chocolates and things like that. He was a ship broker and he took me onboard all of these big, big boats.  I got to sing when I was very little. Read More

Hayley Sales - "Like Never Before"

Hayley Sales Photo front pageRarely in this century has an individual come along who possesses the ability to equally amaze others with her acting and her musical talent to the degree that American / Canadian Hayley Sales does. It has been an incredibly busy late summer and early fall for the affable Hayley Sales, as she recorded one album, is recording another, shot a film and a television episode and in the midst of all that she also got married.

Sales, took time out from her busy schedule to sit down with Riveting Riffs Magazine to discuss at length her album Slightly Out of Tune, which will be released in the spring of 2019 (She has posted some songs on YouTube), her twin careers and to share a little bit about her life.

The self-described romantic co-produced her album (and yes she really does know her way around a recording studio) with her father Richard Sales, known for his work as a producer and sound engineer with the Grateful Dead, The Ramones and Miles Davis. The songs on Slightly Out of Tune range from those that invite the listener to dance, such as the opening track “I Don’t Believe,” and the retro infused “Waiting It Out,” backed by a stellar horn section and the soulful “Out of Tune,” to her romantic love letter “Like Never Before,” co-written with Sharon Stone.

Often punctuating our conversation with light laughter Hayley Sales talks about her musical influences, “I have always been in love with Judy Garland who was my first influence. When I was five years old I was madly in love with her and that introduced me to a different time. In some ways I was that absolute dork. I didn’t know that Pop culture existed until I was eleven or Read More

 

Andrea Miller - Maybe Today

Andrea Miller Photo Front PageAndrea Miller, Jazz singer, by choice, but who measured up well with the best R&B and Pop singers when she delved into those genres earlier in her career, may be one of the best young singers on the music scene today. She has drawn praise from the late Al Jarreau with whom she was booked for an extensive tour, before his passing in 2017 (Editor’s note: Al Jarreau passed away, before the tour took place.), from Celine Dion for whom she recorded a demo, as she worked with David Foster, as well as Alan and Marilyn Bergman and from producer, arranger, songwriter and musician Tom Saviano (Dolly Parton, Melissa Manchester (as musical director and arranger), Dusty Springfield, Sheena Easton and others).   

Andrea Miller recently released her new album Maybe Today, composed and arranged by Michael Cunningham, an album that they hope to tour with full orchestral support.

She talks about the album, “They are all of Michael Cunningham’s arrangements and compositions. It is almost like I am the voice of Michael Cunningham on this particular album. These are his wonderfully orchestrated string arrangements. A lot of his original material is on the album.

We did some covers, “It’s All Right With Me,” “The Water Is Wide,” and “You Would Be So Nice To Come Home To.”  He wrote everything else on the album.  I love his writing so much and he in turn likes my voice a lot, so we decided to make an album together.

Originally, we met online through Facebook and he asked me to do a couple of songs in a work for hire session work. We both really dug each other’s musicality. One thing led to another and it took us about two years to finish the album. It wasn’t funded by anything or anybody.”  Read More

Arrica Rose's New Album

Arrica Rose Photo Front PageThe name of the album is Low as the Moon, but after listening to Arrica Rose’s new album you will be on a high. Each album by the California singer, songwriter and musician, just seems to keep getting better.  From the hypnotic, rich vocals of “All and None of These Things,” featuring some scantling guitars by Rose and Marc Thomas, to the intriguing retro vibe of “Bobby,” written with Dan Garcia and “X-Ray Eyes,” an introspective journey from childhood through youth and beyond, there is not one weak song on this entire album. The latter song showcases Rose’s rich vocals and her ability to tell a story that leaves a powerful impression on her listeners and if you have never heard Kaitlin Wolfberg play the violin then you are in for a real treat.    

In describing Low as the Moon, Arrica Rose says, “I think for me the theme became reaching for the silver lining when it seems to be the most obscured and finding the brighter side when hope seems to be lost. I went through some challenging times and people around me were going through challenging times. There was a point when I did not want to be working on anything and I used this set of songs to help pull me through that place that I was in. It was cathartic. It helped me to process some of the things that I was going through at the time.

These songs are specifically written for this record. Everybody in the band and the producer that I work with everyone was going through a bit of upheaval, so it took a while to make this record. I started writing these songs around 2015. I worked on this collection of songs for about six months Read More

Jesse & Noah and Neon Pike

Jesse and Noah Bellamy 2018 Front Page PhotoWhile in the studio recording a few songs, Jesse & Noah (Bellamy) kept writing more songs and before they knew it they had enough for a new album. The album became Neon Pike.

Jesse says, “We cut three songs to begin with and it was going to be a tip our toe in the water kind of a thing, but we realized we might as well keep on making an album.”

Noah says that they wrote about forty songs in total and then they picked the best ones for this record.

The album opens with the up-tempo love song “Unconfined,” driven by Jesse and Noah Bellamy’s acoustic and electric guitars and featuring some great fiddle playing by Lillie Mae Rische who also provides background vocals for this tune.

Although, Jesse & Noah have always played the guitars on their previous albums, we asked why it seemed for Neon Pike that their talent as superb guitarists seems even more highlighted.

Noah says, “We brought in more musicians and other engineers, so we were able to focus more on our parts because of that, whereas before we were producing and engineering a lot of it ourselves. It took the pressure off with not having to do that.”

To which Jesse adds, “We could just come in and be the players and not have to worry about (the rest). We were also able to cut it a little more live.”

Both men are multi-instrumentalists a Read More

Tom Saviano - Interview Part One

Tom Saviano Photo Front PageIn one or more of the following capacities, Tom Saviano has played live or recorded in the studio with and / or composed for or arranged music for artists and bands such as, Chicago, Juice Newton, Sheena Easton, Dolly Parton, Sweden’s Björn Skifs, KISS, David Foster, Dusty Springfield, Melissa Manchester, Bill Champlin, Leo Sayer and many other iconic artists.

One might say that Tom Saviano’s journey to becoming one of the most respected individuals in the music industry began with his childhood in a multi-ethnic neighborhood in Chicago. On the other hand it is far more likely that we can say that odyssey began with his father Albert who was born in 1920.

“My dad came through the depression. By the time he was fifteen they were six years (removed) from the ’29 crash. There were fourteen children in the family and there was not enough money to buy each of the children instruments, so he waited until he was married to my mom and I think she helped him buy his first instrument. 

(When he was growing up) he wanted to play so badly, while he watched his older brothers play (an instrument) that he would play a paper accordion. It was almost sad and funny at the same time. He was so hungry to be a musician that once he got a horn he just ate it up. That is all he did.

He found Zilner Randolph (Jazz trumpeter) when he saw Lil Armstrong, Louis Armstrong’s Read More

Nobody's Girl Releases Waterline

Nobodys Girl Photo front pageNobody’s Girl a trio of young women from Austin, Texas (Rebecca Loebe, Grace Pettis and BettySoo) have released a terrific new album titled Waterline, comprised of mostly original songs, plus a cover of the Blondie hit “Call Me,” which they do in fine fashion. Of all the songs on the album the title track “Waterline,” signals that this is a Pop / Rock group with the potential to be something really special. The harmonies are superb and subtle the way harmonies are meant to be, three voices blending into one and yet each having a distinct role to play.

Drummer J.J. Johnson keeps the beat on “Waterline,” David Grissom on electric guitar leads the way eloquently and bass guitarist Glenn Fukunaga is his equal.

BettySoo from Nobody’s Girl took time out from her busy schedule and her touring to talk to Riveting Riffs Magazine about “Waterline,” and the new album.

“The song “Waterline,” is the most straight ahead Rock song on the record. It is a little less Pop and positive. David Grissom’s guitar is all over it and he is really fantastic. The song is about things slowly coming apart.

The metaphor used in the song is of water rising and you do not realize it until you are under water. You are in the middle of a disaster. As you get older and you get into adulthood there are things that don’t turn out the way that you wanted them to and there were signs all along the road.  Read More

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Billy Thompson Sizzles

Billy Thompson Photo Front PageBilly Thompson’s self-titled and current album segues easily between straight up Blues and Blues Rock. The album was recorded in seven different studios and features a cast of top rated musicians including, drummer Tony Braunagel (Coco Montoya, B.B. King, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt), organist Mike Finnigan (Curtis Salgado, Neal McCoy, Tracy Chapman, Steve Tyrell), James “Hutch” Hutchinson on bass (Marc Cohn, Randy Newman), keyboardist Michael Leroy Peed, bassist Daryl Johnson and several other musicians too numerous to name in this space.

As for recording the songs, “Stranger,” “Hourglass,” and “Phoine” at Ultratone Studio in Studio City, California where it was recorded by Johnny Lee Schell (Marcella Detroit, John Lee Hooker Jr.,  Bonnie Raitt, Joe Cocker) and calling up old friends Tony Braunagel, “Hutch” Hutchinson and Mike Finnigan, Billy Thompson says, “I feel the bluesier stuff always works great with those guys. I recorded four songs, but I only used three and the fourth one will be on the next album. I think those guys are the cream of the crop when it comes to Blues based playing. They are some of the best players in the world. Mike Finnigan played with Jimi Hendrix when he was twenty-two and Tony Braunagel was with Back Street Crawler, which became Free with Paul Rodgers and he played with Eric Burdon.”

The album opens with the somewhat funky “Burn It Down Bernadette,” cuts to the jumping “Phoine,” a song on which Thompson’s guitar seems energized by Finnigan’s splendid organ and vice versa.

The third song on the album “Black Rain,” is poignant in its social commentary, Thompson explains, “Black Rain was inspired by all of the shootings that have been happening for a good long while. I was thinking about Ferguson when Ferguson first happened. Then I got thinking about Virginia Tech and some of these other instances, which were Read More

Hallmark Christmas Movies

Hallmark Christmas Movies Photo Front PageHallmark Christmas movies may not be for everybody. We realize that some people due to religious beliefs or for other reasons may not celebrate Christmas, but for some who do celebrate Christmas the movies do hold a special place. We all know how the movie is going to end. Whether it is Danny and Maggie in Road to Christmas or it is Joy and Ben in Christmas Joy or it is Jessica and Matt in Christmas In Homestead we know eventually they are going to fall in love. We also know that it is likely going to happen during the last five minutes of the movie and yet some of us feverishly watch the clock and say quietly hurry up and do it.

Some may argue that the Hallmark tradition of Christmas movies is just simply good business for Crown Media the parent company and nothing more than that. If that is the case then why is it good business? What makes so many people want to tune into the movies each holiday season and why in recent years, including 2018 have Hallmark Christmas movies consistently been some of the top rated shows in their time slots?

Perhaps it is a longing on the part of many for a time when things seemed simpler. Whether they actually were or not or perhaps our memories of yesteryear have become a bit fuzzy is not the point, because that longing for a simpler time, when stress is replaced even for a few minutes with the joy of knowing that things can be better, is still real.

What is often overlooked at Christmas, as families get together or there are office parties to go to and friends to visit, is there are those who spend Christmas alone. That loneliness combined with the merriment that exists and should exist at this special time of the year can often be painful to those for whom Christmas just becomes  Read More

Interview with Louise Goffin

Louise Goffin Front Page PhotoJust in time for Valentine’s Day singer, songwriter and musician Louise Goffin is releasing a new song this week, “Good Times Call.”

Goffin says, “Releasing this song the week of Valentine’s Day made sense. It’s an upbeat love song. The conventions of this holiday push so many buttons. What’s love? Are people supposed to feel less-than if they’re not in a relationship? The cultural messages for Valentine’s Day are full of myths that have nothing to say about love being a state of being. The myth is that love is a state of having. “Good Times Call,” is not about roses, chocolates and chivalry. When we are open to loving ourselves as we are while loving and allowing others to be who they are, that’s when the good times call." 

Louise Goffin originally wrote “Good Times Call,” with songwriter / producer Chris Seefried and singer / songwriter Ethan Burns, with Burns being the intended singer. Goffin’s recording provides us with the perspective of an empowered woman.

"Whenever cars are involved in songs, it’s 98% the man driving. It makes a nice change to hear a woman say what “Baby, drive my car means," she says.

Recently Riveting Riffs Magazine chatted with Louise Goffin and we could have covered a wide variety of subjects that relate to this very talented lady’s life, but we decided to ask her for her Read More

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Diane Marino at Her Best!

Diane Marino front page photo 2018In what may be her best album to date, Soul Serenade the Gloria Lynne Project, Nashville based pianist and Jazz singer Diane Marino brings to life the songs of Gloria Lynne whose career spanned a phenomenal six decades.

Marino talks about her decision to delve into Lynne’s catalogue, “I wasn’t too familiar with her, but I heard the name years ago. While I was doing a gig up in New York my drummer was Vince Ector and he was Gloria’s drummer for the last fifteen years of her life. He knew all of the material very well.  We were doing a tune called “I Am Glad There Is You,” which I recorded on another album many years (earlier) and I didn’t realize it was one of her signature songs. When we played it on the gig Vince told me that. Then he said her big song was “I Wish You Love,” and that I know and I sing it too.

It got the wheels turning and I investigated her catalogue of music. I thought these are really cool tunes. I had not heard a lot of them. She also recorded a lot of standards, but the songs that we picked out for this CD I had never heard before.”

As for why this particular selection of songs she says, “It is a combination of the song and how she sang them. It is great stuff. How do you put your finger on how it struck you emotionally? When I listen to her versions, I go wow.  She was very dynamic and very soulful. I sang from the heart and the soul and it just went right through me. That is what brought me to these particular songs and in listening to more of her music I came to appreciate who she was and what she did.”  Read More

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