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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.”

The title track is a love song elegantly performed by both the musicians and Ms. Miller. The strings section comprised of Andreanna Moravec (violin), Emi Tanabe (violin), Jennifer Lowe (violin) and Bill Cernota (cello) and with Michael Cunningham on piano provides a beautiful accompaniment. Andrea Miller’s vocals are exquisite which echoes an observation that Tom Saviano made  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.

All of us have lived in Texas for a long time and I grew up around a lot of flood culture it just seemed like a very salient metaphor for us,” she says.

As for why the group decided to name the album after the song “Waterline,” BettySoo says, “We had the most emotional investment in that song. We also felt that the forming of the group, the record deal and with all of the momentum that it was a demarcation point for all of us. Even though, it is a grim marker, a waterline just expressed how we felt.”

There is always a danger in covering  Read More

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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 wife coming down the steps of a hotel, the Grand Terrace in Chicago. He approached her and asked if she knew anybody who would be a good teacher and who would teach him how to arrange. She gave him Zilner Randolph’s phone number.  Read More

Outside the Soiree - Erin McDougald

Erin McDougald Photo Front PageOutside the Soiree, is the name of the album by Jazz singer, arranger and songwriter Erin McDougald, a fitting title for someone who does not shy away from putting a different twist on her music and music that has been composed by others. That said McDougald is far from being a wild child or the 2018 version of in your face Punk come to set the Jazz world on its ear. She is in fact far from that. Erin McDougald is respectful of Jazz music heritage, tips her hat to lyricists and composers from yesteryear and she allows a lot of room for her musicians to showcase their talents. All of those elements are on display in abundance on Outside the Soiree.

For many years now Erin McDougald has been compared to Jazz icons such as Anita O’Day and as flattering as that may be it does a disservice to the tremendous talent that McDougald possesses. This writer would like to suggest that it is now time for Jazz journalists, reviewers and fans to start using Erin McDougald as the gold standard to which other artists should aspire.

The music from Outside the Soiree is being played on the radio from coast to coast with stations in New York City and in Los Angeles raving about Erin McDougald’s vocals, her arrangements and the fabulous musicians who compliment her so well, such as, Mark Sherman (vibraphones), soprano and tenor saxophonist Dave Liebman, percussionist Chembo Corniel, pianist and guitarist Rob Block, drummer Rodney Green, Tom Harrell (trumpet and Flugelhorn), bassist Cliff Schmitt and Dan Block (flute, clarinet, alto and tenor saxophone).

The couplet of songs “Linger A-While / Avalon,” will not be as well known to listeners, but that also is an Erin McDougald trademark, as she 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 to a year and then we started making the record.”

In her songwriting Arrica Rose likes to create word pictures with tones and shades others seldom, if ever use and it draws the listener in.  Read More

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.”

As for this album she says, “The music is all over the place. You have Irving Berlin (“Let’s Take An Old Fashioned Walk,”) from a musical that he wrote so many years ago and then you have  Read More

Sass Jordan - Racine Revisited

Sass Jordan Photo Front PageRacine Revisited is a fabulous new album from Rock singer and songwriter Sass Jordan. The original album Racine was first recorded in 1992 and Jordan refers to it as her most successful album to date. The new album is not simply the same songs remastered or remixed, but instead the decision was made not to go back to 1992, but to record all of the songs again only this time as though they were being recorded in 1975.  

“We did that on purpose, because the question that I had to the people I was working with was, why the hell would anyone want to buy a record that they already have? We wanted people to talk about 2017 is the 25 th anniversary of the release of that record. That record was a big record for me. I think it was the biggest record that I ever did. There are a lot of fans that were directly affected in some way.  

I said if we record it again, let’s put a twist on it. Instead of bringing it up to date and making it sound all spangly (This word is a Jordanism) fresh in 2017 why don’t we make it sound as much as possible and to the best of our ability as if it was recorded in 1975. Let’s record it as if we were in 1975.

There aren’t any click tracks and there isn’t any Auto-Tune. We adhered as much as we could to the idea that it was 1975 and not 1992 and not 2017. That is when I would love to have made this record,” says Jordan.

The album opens with “Make You A Believer,” a powerful, vocally driven song, backed by strong guitars from Chris Caddell and  Read More

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 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 Read More

Fanny Walked the Earth

Fanny Walked The Earth Photo Front PageContinuing she says, “One of the things that we brought to this record, which was different from the first four Fanny records is this record is all original. There are no covers on this record. That was a first for the Fanny women.”

The self-titled album Fanny Walked the Earth boasts numerous solid songs, including one “When We Need Her,” that is heralded as somewhat of an anthem for women.

The song begins with a strong downbeat on the drums, served up by Brie Howard Darling (led vocalist) and with the Millington sisters clearly demonstrating that time has not eroded their abilities as musicians, with Jean on bass and vocals and June on electric, slide guitar and vocals and in fact there is a spellbinding guitar solo. If listening to the three of them play is not enough to get you excited, they have an all-star cast of singers backing them up. How about this, three members of The Bangles, Vicki Peterson, Susanna Hoffs and Debbi Peterson? On top of that Cherie Currie, the former lead singer of the all teenage girl band The Runaways, Patti Quatro, Teresa James (also plays piano), Sherry Barnett, Alicia Velasquez, Kathy Valentine, Wendy Haas-Mull and Genya Ravan also sing background vocals.

Brie Howard Darling explains how having this all-star cast of women join Fanny Walked the Earth on the album came about, “The very first person I thought to have on as a guest was Sherry Hagler who is now Sherry Taylor and she is from the group Birtha who were our contemporaries Read More

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Aaron "Quick" Nelson - Actor

Aaron Nelson Photo OneDon’t let the fact that actor Aaron “Quick” Nelson is a big sturdy guy who can cast a mean look with the best of them if his film role requires it, scare you off, because as witnessed in the 2016 Hallmark movie Christmas In Homestead he really is just a big teddy bear. In the movie, which starred Taylor Cole, Michael Rady and Brooklyn Rae Silzer, Nelson plays Gavin Williams the bodyguard for actress Jessica McElllis (Taylor Cole) who is filming in a small town, as Christmas approaches.

Aaron Nelson talks about his character “He seems to be this tough bodyguard, this intimidating looking guy and a very militant type, but what you start to realize is he’s like a teddy bear and he cares for little Sophie who is played by Brooklyn Rae Silzer. She is a very talented and phenomenal actress.  He always had advice for everyone and you start to realize that Gavin has a lot of wisdom and (you learn more) of him later in the story.  With Jessica (Taylor Cole) she falls in love and she asks Gavin questions and he has answers for them. He gives her what she needs, so she can see in life what she always wanted. She is a phenomenal actress and (her character) falls in love with Matt played by Michael Rady.”

There is an aww moment in the movie when child actress Silzer and Nelson have an extended scene at a pretend tea party.

“That was a fun scene that I did with her. We had a ball. That was by far one of my favorite scenes. You start the see the big teddy bear side of Gavin in that scene as well,” then we share a laugh when I point out he was even holding a teddy bear in the scene, “That’s right his is holding a teddy bear!  That’s funny,” he says.

As for how he prepared for the role of Gavin Williams he says, “I thought about who was involved in Gavin’s life and I had to understand each character. For instance I looked at what Jessica McEllis was going through in her life and I then looked at what my purpose was going to be in her life. For  Read More

Alexandra Dean - Film Director

Alexandra Dean Front Page PhotoWhile in conversation with film director / producer and co-founder of Reframed Pictures Alexandra Dean it becomes immediately apparent that you are talking to one of the industry’s top documentary filmmakers. Partnering with producer Adam Haggiag and Academy Award winning actor and producer Susan Sarandon, Dean explains their self-made mandate, “Reframed Pictures is called Reframed Pictures, because we wanted to reframe the conversation around various topics. For me first and foremost it was the questions of gender and what does it mean to be a woman in America today? For my brother Adam Haggiag who is a producer it was about the environment, the most pressing issue of our time. I agree with him and we have to find new ways to tell the story of the environment in a way that is entertaining, brings in the crowds, but also delivers the message. We want to talk about human rights in general. All three of those needed to be reframed we felt and brought back into the conversation in a way that feels fresh and exciting to people. Also it needs to make people go to the ballot box and vote differently.”

It is therefore an easy step to understand what attracted Reframed Pictures and in particular Emmy Award winner Alexandra Dean to make the film Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, a film about an iconic actress and an astounding inventor.

“There were two reasons (I was drawn to Hedy), I was interested in inventors. I was doing the series with Bloomberg and I was looking at all the inventors who created and shaped our world today and seeing the obstacles that they faced. I found out that those who didn’t look like Thomas Edison felt they were at a disadvantage when it came to getting funding in Silicon Valley. I wanted to find somebody who would shatter our tidy notion of who would invent. I found that person in  Read More

Celia Berk

Celia Berk front page photoThere is something about listening to a singer who knows how to infuse each and every phrase of a song with authenticity and when she is accompanied by superbly orchestrated musicians playing exquisite arrangements that puts you right in the middle of the scenes that she has vividly brought to life. Celia Berk’s interpretation of the songs on her current album Manhattan Serenade accomplishes all of that. The collection of thirteen songs by composers and lyricists such as David Heneker, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers / Lorenz Hart, Cy Coleman and David Zippel and others is Ms. Berk’s love letter to the city she has lived in and around her entire life. This is home for Celia Berk and in the midst of the hustle and bustle and masses of people she finds beauty and peace. That is really what this album Manhattan Serenade is all about.

It is about a woman who was born in Manhattan and grew up on Long Island, before eventually moving back to New York City, as an adult. As a young girl her mother would take her to the Opera on Saturdays and Celia Berk’s father inspired within her a love for the Great American Songbook.

“My mother took me to the Opera and she started out when she first came to the city and they had a subscription at the Metropolitan Opera. My father, because he commuted all week long into the city, the last thing that he wanted to do (was come back to the city) on a Saturday afternoon.  Frequently I was the one who went with my mother. I saw some of the absolute greats doing the Opera repertoire. That was my whole life,” she Read More

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Opportunities for Women In Music

A Guest Editorial by Manda Mosher

Manda Mosher Photo Front PageThere is a significant divide when it comes to opportunities for women versus men in the music business. I currently co-lead a female-fronted band, CALICO the band, and jointly operate a female owned record label, California Country Records, both with Kirsten Proffit. I know what it is like to be completely DIY (Do It Yourself) and participate in every aspect of the business. I come from a music business background and graduated from Berklee College of Music. I have lived and breathed music my entire life. At one time our band was being considered by a significant record label. Although that label expressed their love of our music, they were unable to work with us because they already had another “girl group” on the roster. I had to laugh at the ridiculousness of that notion in particular. I cannot imagine that being the case for any “guy bands.”

From the comments that I receive on social media, it is clear many men believe the divide in equality is fabricated, imagined, or an effect of women not wanting to do the work or take a seat at the table. This is untrue. I have had the pleasure of working with and witnessing incredibly hard-working women threaded through the entirety of the business; it is just that there are so few of them.

Billboard recently spotlighted a new report from the USC Annenberg School for  Read More

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