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  Erica Sunshine Lee in concert photo by M. Whitt Photography Photo protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved

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Singer-Songwriter Keri Noble

Keri Noble 2014 front page photoYou make me wanna leave, make me wanna stay, make me so scared / Then you take it all away /Make me crazy. Make me crazy / And I don’t know why, I don’t know why / But there’s something about your love / That I can’t walk away from / And it’s killing me to let you know / That I might be crazy, but I’m never gonna let you go.  

The words are from Minneapolis singer, songwriter and radio personality Keri Noble’s song “Make Me Crazy,” from her current album Softer Place To Land. It was about five years ago that Riveting Riffs Magazine last talked to Keri Noble and a lot has changed in her life, she tours less, by choice, co-hosts a popular morning radio show on Minneapolis radio station KTCZ and she married former Minnesota Vikings football player Mike Morris. What has not changed is Noble’s ability to write very good songs from personal experience and serve them up with vulnerable and soulful vocals.

“The songs are in reverse, so half the record was written before I fell in love with my husband and then the falling in love songs and learning to trust again were the most recent songs.  It starts with “Pray For You,” “Back To Before,” and “Make Me Crazy,” (all) songs that I had written before Mike. There is a real line that I hear when I listen to the collection of music. They are pre Mike and post Mike. I think there will always be plenty to draw from.   I don’t want to put out records in the future that are all I’m in love,” she says.

This is Keri Noble’s first album since 2011 and she explains why. “I had done three records in a span of a year. I had did When It Don’t Come Easy (2010), which was a really long, fairly dark album and there were lots of songs on it sixteen or fourteen. It was a really long album. I did a solo record called Flying Solo (2010) and I did an all original holiday album, More Than Santa, which actually is my favorite CD that I have ever done.  It is a Christmas record Read More

Billy Thompson - Blues Interview

Billy Thompson front page PhotoThe things you have to like about Blues slide guitarist, singer and songwriter Billy Thompson, born in North Carolina, lived in San Diego and Louisiana and who now makes his home in West Virginia is are his down to earth sense of humor combined with his honesty and his candor when answering a question.  We are going to break with traditional journalistic style here and not refer to him as Mr. Thompson or Thompson, because he would want you to call him Billy.

When asked recently why he recorded his new album Friend in a grist mill Billy replied, “It is actually where I live in West Virginia. We brought in an engineer and some equipment. I live in a converted grist mill, with a hardwood floor and it is by a pond on Sleepy Creek. We did our best and we got a decent sound,” and when asked why he wanted to capture that sound, “to save money.  That was one and the other one was, I have a friend Rob Coward who felt that he could capture it and I said okay we will give it a shot.  Had that not worked, we would have gone a different route. My plan was to record seventeen songs and then choose the best.  We recorded seventeen tunes in three days.  We had two full days and then we captured another three tunes on the third morning and we said that’s enough, enough for now,” Billy recalls.

If you like head nodding, foot tapping, hip swaying blues that invite you to get up on your feet then songs like Billy Thompson’s “Farmer Kenny,” will hook you on his music.  He says his songs are a hybrid of Chicago, Louisiana and Memphis Blues.

“The guys that I was more influenced by were Albert King and Little Milton. Albert King is from Lovejoy, Indiana, but it is closer to Memphis. Everybody went up to Chicago and in Albert King’s case he went to Memphis. It is a cross between Memphis to Chicago to Louisiana for sure. All of those guys, Pee Wee Crayton and Lowell Fulson,” says Billy.  Read More


Jazz Singer Diane Marino In Concert

Diane Marino In Concert RR

  Diane Marino in concert Photo by Barry McCloud Photography
Photo protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved

David Forlano Renaissance Man

David Forlano front pageWhen you look up the term renaissance man, which we did from many different sources, you find explanations like these, “a person with many talents and areas of knowledge,” …someone with a variety of skills and a broad base of knowledge,” and “a man who has broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in areas of both the arts and the sciences.” All of those definitions and similar ones such as polymath draw their inspiration from people such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Francis Bacon. They serve as an apt description for Santa Fe, New Mexico jewelry designer, artist, web series co-producer (Cyphers) and musician David Forlano.

Forlano has for many years collaborated with longtime friend and business partner Steve Ford of Philadelphia, to build a very successful jewelry business based on their original designs, which are displayed in upscale craft galleries throughout America, such as de Novo, in Palo Alto, California, Velvet da Vinci in San Francisco and Santa Fe’s Patina Gallery. Their jewelry, as well as David Forlano’s paintings have also been exhibited at the New Mexico Museum of Fine Art.

In an earlier interview with Riveting Riffs Magazine, David Forlano said that the art jewelry that they create from polymer clay (and often using sterling silver) is properly defined as couture, as it very unique to them and each piece is different. “Our challenge is to stay on top of the game and to keep inventing. We have a certain look and when people see us they know us by name, just as it is with famous dress designers. People, who know that world, will look at a dress and they will know the designer. That is where we stand, in the American craft jewelry world.”  Read More

New York City's Andrea Wolper

Andrea Wolper front page photoAndrea Wolper, a New York City Jazz singer, composer, lyricist and arranger is and has been many things throughout her lifetime. She authored the book The Actor’s City Sourcebook and co-authored Women’s Rights, Human Rights: International Feminist Perspectives, with Julie S. Peters. As you may have correctly concluded from the title of the first book, she has been an actress, as well as a poet and an activist. When it comes to Ms. Wolper’s music she reminds one of a painter, using her lyrics as a palette and her vocals as brushstrokes that take the listener on a magical and vivid journey through a collection of original songs and tunes that she has covered.

She says, “I think it is one of the dilemmas for some people and maybe not for everybody, but for some people who make what is supposed to be considered a work of art, whether it is a dance or a painting or a song, is we feel it one way, we express it one way and we hear it, but we can’t really know how it is going to land on anybody else. The idea of paintings is intriguing to me, because I think as a singer and it applies to musicians of any kind, but I think when you are talking about singers working with lyrics, then it is aplified. It really is a story no matter what you are doing. I have some songs in my repertoire without any lyrics and I also do some free improvising, but there is always a story being communicated, whether we know what it is or not. When there is a lyric, we might be more consciously connected to what that story is, because words communicate so directly. A painting is the painter’s communication of thought and feeling. That is what it all comes down to. What I want to do when I’m singing is to sing well and I am always working to try to become a better singer and a better musician. At the same time, it is really important to me to try and express feelings through a song. The more skill that I   Read More

Beverly Bremers Interview

Beverly Bremers Photo front pageAlthough Beverly Bremers is best remembered for her hit song, “Don’t Say You Don’t Remember,” which cracked the top twenty on a couple of Billboard charts, in 1971 and then again in 1972, Bremers had already made a name for herself as an actress in the Broadway musical Hair. In 1964 at fourteen years of age, Beverly Bremers had also signed her first recording contract with Pickwick International (parent company of Pickwick Records).

Bremers talks about her time at Pickwick, “I was working with a guy named Terry Philips and I didn’t find out until recently that he was famous in his own right. He was part of a trio of writers, the most famous one being Lou Reed (Lou Reed was at Pickwick International from September 1964 until February 1965. It was during this time that Reed formed the band The Primitives with John Cale.) and another guy named Jerry Vance. They wrote a lot of songs, as well as produced a lot of cover records for Pickwick. Someone asked me a few years ago if Lou Reed played on my session and I said I have no idea (Reed played on numerous sessions at Pickwick, during the time Beverly Bremers was signed to the label, but he was not credited). I was very grateful to him, because Lou Reed and Jerry Vance wrote this song called “We Got Trouble,” and the B side was a remake of “The Great Pretender.” That was the beginning of my recording career and my studio experience. I learned how to sing properly and he (Philips) sent me to a singing teacher at Carnegie Hall.”

When this writer suggested that fourteen years old is pretty young to release your first record, Beverly Bremers replies, “Yes it is. We lived in the suburbs of New York and there were a lot of people who lived in Westchester  Read More

Michael-Ann Azoulai Interview

Michael Azouluai front page photoThe last few months have been busy ones for Los Angeles based singer-songwriter and musician Michael-Ann Azoulai, with gigs that saw her opening for Country music legend Mark Chestnut and also opening for iconic balladeer Don McLean (“American Pie,” and “Vincent”). By this time in her life, Michael-Ann Azoulai should be used to busy, as her life has been an adventure, so it seems, almost from birth. She was born in White Plains, New York, as a young child, moved with her family to Ridgefield, Connecticut and then she completed the later grades of elementary school in Kansas City, prior to moving to Israel for a year, as an adult, getting married, moving to Nashville, getting divorced, finding time to have two children along the way and eventually settling with her children in Los Angeles. As we write this, Azoulai has completed her album Heavy Load and on January 22 (2013) she will be officially launching the album with a concert at El Cid on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.  

About her new album she says, “It has been a process and I won’t go into detail. There have been several attempts to make a record and for various reasons they failed (she laughs). It has been several years in the making. “Heavy Load,” (the song) is my Pièce de résistance if you will. I have had great response to that song and I wrote it as homage to my musical roots in the Ozarks. I wanted something that carried that feeling and I was also going through a difficult time. This record is more of the classical Michael Ann stuff. It is more classical Country / Bluegrass music that you hear on the record.” Read More

Countermeasure In Toronto

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

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

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

Other songs that were featured in the first set included Cole Porter’s “Experiment,” Read More

Mary McGuire Is A Blood Sister

Mary McGuire front page photoMichigan singer-songwriter and musician Mary McGuire may be one of the most underappreciated, yet most gifted artists in America today. Now living on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan and raised in suburbs of Detroit, such as Ferndale, Oak Park, Royal Oak and Berkley, Mary McGuire writes songs that reach deep into the soul of both the individual and of society to express what many of us feel, but are seldom eloquent enough to express. McGuire, who has toured /opened for / shared the stage with a stunning and eclectic group of artists including, BB King, Rickie Lee Jones, Patty Griffin, Anni DiFranco, Neville Brothers, Lou Reed, Susan Tedeschi, Dave Matthews Band, Taj Mahal and Pat Benetar, can easily hold her own as a solo artist, but she also is one of the founding members of two incredible Michigan based bands, Blood Sisters and Calamity Jane. Mary McGuire’s vocals are very good and her skills as a guitarist are excellent.

McGuire explains how the band Blood Sisters came to be, “Michelle Chenard was in a band called Leaving Dodge and we met at Mackinac Island a number of years ago. She was playing at one bar and I was playing at another one across the street. We became big fans of one another. She is such a powerful vocalist, guitarist and songwriter and we always wanted to work together, but we never really had the right moment. We organized a remake of The Last Waltz and the next year I did Festival Express. That was the year that Barbara, Michelle and I were all together, because I was playing Traffic Tunes, Barbara did Janis Joplin and Michelle did “I’d Love To Change The World,” by Ten Years After. We got to know   Read More

Kimmie Rhodes Interview

Kimmie Rhodes Photo for front page“They call me “Battleship Kimmie,” because I never stop. I come from the land of tornadoes, so I kind of am one,” platinum selling Texas songwriter and singer Kimmie Rhodes told me during a recent telephone conversation from her second home in the south of France. Kimmie Rhodes is an accomplished playwright, her songs have been recorded by artists such as, Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood, Mark Knopfler, Peter Frampton, Wynonna Judd, Joe Ely and CeCe Winans and during parts of 2012 and 2013 she produced and hosted a very good radio interview show on KOKE FM in Austin, Texas.

Recently, Kimmie Rhodes took time out prior to her European tour to talk about her new album Covers, which is just like it sounds a collection of cover tunes, the first record of this type during her career. She also talked about her radio show Radio Dreams that is now being transformed into a private project of her own and she touched upon a new film endeavor in conjunction with the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

“I wasn’t sure how people were going to receive the songwriter recording other people’s songs, but Willie (Nelson) was my inspiration and with the songwriter he is and he got away with making Stardust (1999 CD, with songs such as “Georgia On My Mind”) then maybe I could get away with recording other people’s songs once in my life.

It’s something that I wanted to do for a long time and I have been thinking about it. As a songwriter I pretty well always said, I didn’t keep a journal, because my songs were my journal and I have a lot of songs going, but after Joe Gracey (her husband) died (November 16, 2011), I had a  Read More

Georgia's Erica Sunshine Lee

Erica Sunshine Lee Cover for The South Shall Rise Again front pageErica Sunshine Lee’s star is rising quickly, because she has matured as an artist. She still writes the fun songs such as, “All My Bucks Go To Starbucks,” and “”How ‘Bout Them Dawgs,” but she also writes and sings heartfelt and vulnerable songs like “Train Wreck,” and “The South Will Rise Again,” the title song from her new album. Lee is one of the hardest working artists in America today, relentlessly touring coast to coast and internationally and one gets the sense that she stands on the precipice of suddenly being thrust into the national spotlight, as she breathes new life into America’s somewhat cloned Country Music scene. Listeners feel the urge to dance to her songs and to sing along to them, but most of all they have fun with the up-temp ones and they identify with the vulnerability of the duet “You Saved Me.” All of the songs on the new recording The South Will Rise Again are original tunes.

The first three songs on the current album, “Girls Night Out,” “Georgia For This,” and “Everyone Loves A Country, Girl,” are very quick moving and get the party started early. The opening track “Girls Night Out,” is a party song, about the ladies having fun, dancing, turning heads and closing down the club. “Georgia For This,” this writer’s personal favorite from the record, good naturedly pokes fun at the California lifestyle, while reminiscing about what the singer-songwriter truly cherishes about her Georgia roots. Eamon McLaughlin’s fiddle spices up the guitar driven tune.

About the song “Georgia For This,” Erica Sunshine Lee says, “I was hanging out in Nashville with my friend Joe Denim and we were discussing what I experienced while living in California. I told him how people in California tend to watch  Read More

Katie Cole In Concert

Katie Cole feb 28 2014

  Katie Cole has a CD release concert April 4th at Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles 
       Photo by Justin Higuchi, protected by copyright, all rights reserved      

Join Najee For A Musical Journey

Najee Small PhotoThe album is called The Morning After: A Musical Love Journey and the artist is saxophonist, flautist and composer Najee. He has two platinum albums and two gold albums to his credit, as well as multiple Grammy Awards. He has worked on stage and / or in the studio with Chaka Khan, George Duke, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones. The current album allows the listener to share in Najee’s musical journey and his career, as well as the sights and sounds of some of his favorite places that he has visited around the world. The album opens with Najee talking to himself, as he waits at the airport for a friend to arrive, wondering what is keeping her and if she will make it to the airport on time to catch their flight. She does and we hear Taschi Lynell’s voice, as she greets Najee at the airport.

Najee explains, “The idea was a couple is meeting at the airport to go on a journey. It starts with me at the airport waiting on somebody and finally they show up and the first song is “Rendezvous,” and that’s our rendezvous.  We go to different places where I have been fortunate enough to visit throughout my career “San Tropez,” (3rd track), which is in the south of France. We then go to different places around the world and we end up on West 72 and Broadway where I spent part of my childhood.  Of course after that we have a morning after.

The whole idea was to just create a different angle. There are a lot of great records out there with instrumentalists. The one thing that I feel has been lost in the recording industry is a personal touch by the artist. That is the way records have been done over the years. George Duke until he passed away he did that. To me your music should connect with the audience, engage them and keep them interested. It is to have something personal by the artist and not just be a great musician. In my case, you have how many great saxophone players out in the world doing what I’m doing? You try to find an angle that sets you apart from everybody else.”

The conversation that opens the album segues nicely into the first song “Rendezvous,” that puts the listener in a romantic and relaxed mood. Nothing is overstated. Najee’s tenor saxophone is subtle and sensuous, Demonte Posey is elegant on the keys,  Read More

Mark Winkler and Laura Nyro

Mark Winkler Photo OneIf the songs of Laura Nyro, who was one of the most celebrated Pop singer-songwriters of the 1960s and 1970s were to be interpreted in a Jazz idiom then it is only fitting that they are recorded by another critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Mark Winkler, who saw Laura Nyro in concert nine times. Winkler who is a platinum award winner has had more than 150 of his songs recorded and / or performed by artists such as, Dianne Reeves, Randy Crawford, Liza Minnelli and Lea Salonga.  He has collaborated with Wayne Shorter, Dexter Gordon, Joshua Redman and David Benoit, writing lyrics for their compositions.  The Laura Nyro Project is his twelfth album and this fall he will be co-releasing with Cheryl Bentyne (Manhattan Transfer) the Jazz album West Coast Cool. Winkler’s accomplishments also extend to the theater where Naked Boys Singing! which he co-wrote, is now in its second decade playing Off Broadway. He collaborated on songs for the musical revues Bark and Hanging Out! His Jazz noir musical Play It Cool garnered a Los Angeles Times Critic Choice accolade, while he received L.A. Weekly and Backstage West awards for Naked Boys Singing!

Relaxing in his home in Los Angeles Mark Winkler ponders my question as to why he chose Laura Nyro as the subject of his current album. “Laura Nyro is my favorite singer-songwriter. I have liked her since I was eighteen years old and now I am much older than that, I am 63, so I have liked her for a long time. There are some people that I liked at that age or I liked a little bit later or whom I still like, but I don’t like them as much. I see that they have aged, but Laura is timeless to me and I still like her as much as when I was a kid. That was really it, I just loved her music and I thought she was underappreciated. I thought it would be great to keep her music alive.

She (Laura Nyro) was great and there are not that many people who write great songs. As you know, a lot of people are called great and I am a fan of a lot of people. I am not one of these people who think there are only four people in the Read More

Carolyn Striho Word Attacks

Carolyn Striho front page photoDetroit singer-songwriter and musician Carolyn Striho has toured with Punk legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Patti Smith, Striho shared the stage with Iggy Pop and she fronted the Detroit based super group Detroit Energy Asylum, a band whose members went on to careers with Kid Rock, Eminem and Was (Not Was). Carolyn Striho has toured England and Italy and plans are in the works to revisit both countries with her music later in the year. Recently, the eclectic artist has appeared in two different documentaries about Detroit. The first, a film called Tough Luck: Detroit Stories is directed and produced by Chicago’s Mary Sommers. The second film, Detroit Michigan – Motor City Music, is by German director and producer Claus Bredenbrock and has already appeared on television in Europe. Striho, who it often appears seldom takes time to savor one accomplishment, before moving on to the next project, just released a new album, Word Attack and it is her most eclectic collection of songs to date.

Whereas Carolyn Striho often invites other artists to guest on her albums, the recipient of numerous Detroit Music Awards, wanted to capture in this recording a sound and a vibe that most closely reflects her live performances, so she opted for an album recorded entirely by her live performance band consisting of guitarist and vocalist Scott Dailey, percussionist / vocalist Ron Wolf, Bonnie Kaye (violin) and bassist Dave Dion.

The album Word Attack opens with a Pop love letter “Always In My Heart,” written for Carolyn Striho’s cousin Katrina. The song is written from the perspective of Katrina and what she would have liked to have said Read More

CALICO The Band In Concert

Manda Mosher by Jacki Sackheim

Photo of Manda Mosher of CALICO The Band by Jacki Sackheim 
protected by copyright ©, All Rights Reserved

Gabe Rhodes - Producer

Gabe Rhodes Cover Art front pageWhen you grow up in Texas, most of that time in Austin, one of the foremost music cities in America and when your mother is a platinum selling songwriter (and singer/musician) and your step-dad was one of the most influential people on the Austin music scene, one might assume that music would be the career path you would also choose. That is precisely what songwriter, musician and producer Gabe Rhodes did, and from an early age.

Rhodes describes his early indoctrination to music, “From a pretty early age, I wanted to do something musically. My mom (Kimmie Rhodes) had a western swing band when I was pretty young, which had all of these old great pickers like, Jimmy Day the legendary steel guitar player, “Lucky” Meadows the great Jazz guitar player and David Zettner (bass, steel guitar). These guys were always around the house and they were cool enough to want to show me things and they inspired me as a musician.  Of course all the above mentioned are dead now, but they really knew something about the old style music and it was just fascinating to me. I feel like the level of musicianship that they had you don’t see anymore. There are so many great players now, but it was just a different thing.  I pretty much decided that I wanted to play the guitar and all through school that is what I did when I had any free moment.”

There were two major influences that steered Gabe Rhodes in the direction of sound engineering and producing. “I guess it was about in ’96 when I had a buddy named Matt Hubbard who had some ADAT machines (that I got interested). (Also) When I was thirteen I was the second engineer up at Willie’s (Nelson) studio and I really got into it then. I would end up running the session after a couple of days, just because I have never been able to keep my mouth shut. We worked with a lot of really neat people and I worked on Read More

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