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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.

“I am trying to provoke a feeling. I am not trying to be so precise in my wording in an actual scenario, but I am trying to describe said scenario that will capture the most feeling for my listeners. I utilize that in songs,” she says.

Arrica Rose talks about one of her songs, “Whole Lot of Lows,” from the new album, and the companion video featuring a dark  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 explains, “I feel that is my trademark, finding obscure songs and unearthing them, so the listener can have a palette that has some historical references to the American Songbook, but I really pride myself on doing the antithesis of what would be expected. On one of my previous albums I did “Slow Boat to China,” and we do it at breakneck speed. It is incredibly fast, almost like a tongue in cheek. The lyrics are “I’d like to get you on a slow boat to China,” and I thought it is really funny doing it really super-fast, because it is this person who can’t wait to kiss  Read More

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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 thoughts about songwriting and along the way asked her to talk about some of the songs she has recorded, both of her own and of her iconic parents Carole King and Gerry Goffin. 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 Derek Sharp (The Guess Who), electric bass by Rudy Sarzo (Queensrÿche, Ozzy Osbourne) and booming drums and percussion courtesy of Brent Fitz (Alice Cooper, Streetheart. It is a song that can best be described as Gospel meets edgy Rock and Sass Jordan says that would be a good way to describe 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

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

Nicholas Wells - Now and Then

Nicholas Wells Photo Front PageYou don’t have to have an exceptionally trained ear to realize that Nicholas Wells is a pretty special musical talent and while you are talking to him you also realize you are talking to an exceptional person. Is he a singer and songwriter? Yes. Is he an arranger and producer? Yes. Oh by the way he also plays the piano and guitar. With the release of his EP Now and Then Nicholas Wells gifted the world with some of the most beautiful songs that you will listen to this year, including the title track “Now and Then,” a song that can be interpreted through the lens of young love or perhaps of two friends that once were.  It is not a song about a breaking heart or a bitter memory, but quite the opposite. It is filled with warm memories

Wells talks about where his songs originate, “Usually the song will come after something significant happens. I will get a feeling that will hang around me for days and it will end up in a song or else it won’t go away. If you are not writing a song for yourself (but instead pitching it to someone else) you still have to find where the song is coming from, because you can really sniff out when a song is not authentic. It was always about go back to your muse. Who hurt you in the past? Let’s bring all that stuff up now, so we can start writing,” he says laughing lightly.

If you find yourself going through a challenging time or perhaps you have a friend who is going through a difficult period in their life you may find yourself playing Nicholas Wells’ song “What I’m Here For,” over and over again, as it is a very inspirational and comforting song.

“That song is one of the final songs that I wrote for the EP and it was after I looked back  Read More

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

Cindy Alexander - Nowhere To Hide

Cindy Alexander Front Page PhotoYou should purchase Cindy Alexander’s new album Nowhere To Hide, you really should, because it is a beautiful collection of songs that will stir your soul, remind you of what it feels like to be in love and most importantly what it feels like to really live.

The album opens with Cindy Alexander’s original “I See Stars,” one of the prettiest songs you will hear this year. She is elegantly accompanied by Paul Trudeau on piano, while Ali Handal plays acoustic guitar and provides background vocals.

Alexander says, “(The song) “I See Stars,” is one of the first songs that I ever wrote and it came about in my life at the time when I didn’t know that I was a songwriter. I was making stuff up. I took my diary and set it to music. I was reading the book Running From Safety: An Adventure of the Spirit by Richard Bach. I have always been fascinated by time travel and in the book he goes back and he meets himself as a child. It turns out that the child knows more than the adult. I think it is true that as we get older we struggle to believe the things that we innately knew as children. That is what this song is about. I wrote it as a love song to myself, but I know that other people may take it as a love song (written) about another person. That’s great. That is the goal that somebody can find their own story in my songs.”

We were not willing to let Cindy Alexander off quite that easily, so we asked about her fascination with time travel, “I don’t believe that time is linear. I think that we accept it, because it Read More

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  Read More

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Actress Charlene Tilton

Charlene Tilton Front Page PhotoI had a lot of days with really dark times and that were really challenging. There were times when I didn’t want to get out of bed. Things had happened, but I have also had some really blessed days and some really good days. Even on the darkest and most challenging days the one thing that I will say is life is exciting no matter what it brings,” says film, television and stage actress and playwright Charlene Tilton.

Charlene Tilton did not have time to be bored in (2017), even if that was in her nature, as she co-starred with Lauren Aliana in the movie Road Less Traveled, as an eccentric wine making aunt, had another major role in Second Chance Christmas, as the meddling mother of Katrina Begin’s character Caroline who is dealing with amnesia and she appears in the drama Vengeance: A Love Story with Nicholas Cage and Anna Hutchinson, as the mother of two meth addicts and a drug dealers. In the latter role she says some of her own friends did not recognize her when they saw the film. She appeared on the revived Battle of the Network Stars and she wrote the script for a one woman play Tammy Faye Tweets. At the beginning of 2017 Charlene Tilton starred in the stage production of Driving Miss Daisy. Along the way there was a stop in October of 2017 to speak at Voices for the Voiceless: Stars for Foster Kids, hosted by Seth Rudetsky in New York City, just one of several charitable causes that Ms. Tilton is involved with.

Charlene Tilton talks about Voices for the Voiceless: Stars for Foster Kids, a star studded evening that featured Broadway stars, Tony Award winning actors and producers, as well Grammy Award winner Stephanie Mills and stars from television and film.

“Everybody comes in and donates their 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

Interview with Imogen Tear

Imogen Tear Photo Front PageActress Imogen Tear just turned fourteen years old and she has already won several awards and when you are in a conversation with her she sounds like she has been at this for years. In fact, she has been acting for years, not many years, but the past five years. Throughout the conversatino you are also reminded of something else that she is a teenager and she still sees the world through the eyes of a teenager and in a very positive way. She defaults to superlatives when describing the people who are her friends and while talking with enthusiasm about the television and movie sets on which she has worked. She also does something else that immediately stands out and that is that she expresses gratitude often for the opportunities that she has been given, for her family and for other actors who have helped her along the way.

She talks about winning the Young Entertainer’s Award for best actress in a television series (awarded to those between the ages of five and twenty-one). Recently, she also won a Joey Award for Best Lead Actress in a television role (an award, which is also given to youth actors).

“I won the award for my role as Hattie in When Calls the Heart and it was an incredible experience. It was my first time ever going to LA and the experience was totally amazing!

I never go anywhere thinking that I am going to win otherwise I will always disappoint myself. Even after I win I remind myself that awards are the result of hard work. It was pretty amazing, because it was my first award ceremony ever and winning on top of that was super cool. I was quite surprised to win something, because there were  Read More

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Marcella Detroit

Marcella Detroit Photo Front PageDetroit (also known as) Marcy Levy is in her words “the thing that wouldn’t go away.” She says that half in jest and half seriously, as she has enjoyed an incredible career as a stunning vocalist, a good guitarist, one of the best songwriters on the planet and more recently she has added to her vast repertoire fashion designer.

For the sake of this interview we are going to toss accepted writing style out the window and dispense with referring to her by only her last name and default to Marcy or Marcella Detroit. After all when this writer asked at the beginning of the interview if she had a preference she said in a mock, snooty, upper class British accent “No you may only call me Marcella,” before saying yes it was okay to call her Marcy, and for the record Marcy was in fact born in Detroit. This is the first part of a two-part interview with Marcella Detroit aka Marcy Levy.

Marcy toured as Marcella Detroit on two separate occasions with Eric Clapton and co-wrote several songs with him. She toured with Bob Seger, Leon Russell and was the co-founder of Shakespeares Sister (with no apostrophe) who stayed perched in the # 1 spot on the U.K. charts with their song “Stay,” for eight consecutive weeks.

It is simply not possible to name all of the people with whom she has worked as a session singer, but we will name a few, Aretha Franklin, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Al Jareau, Bette Midler, Burt Bacharach, Leiber and Stoller and Carole Bayer Sager. Her songs have been recorded by Chaka Khan, Belinda Carlisle, Al Jareau and Philip Bailey.

She also recorded the duet  Read More

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