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Petra Wahlgren and Christmas Night

petra wahlgren photo for front pageAs you are reading this, Swedish singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Petra Wahlgren is in the midst of a big holiday season concert tour, Christmas Night, which takes her to most, if not all of Sweden’s cities. It has been a busy year for Wahlgren and her second major tour, as she performed with legendary Swedish Rocker Dan Hylander and David Carlson another highly respected Swedish musician, singer and songwriter. Petra Wahlgren also was in Nashville during the fall of 2016.

 “It is a pure Christmas concert tour. We go around all of Sweden and this year we do twenty-four cities. That is nearly every city in Sweden. I play the violin and do the backup vocals in it. I do some second keyboard and some percussion as well. We have two artists Magnus Carlsson and Jessica Andersson and this is the fourth year (for the tour). Magnus has been one of the artists every year. For Jessica this is her third year I think,” explains Wahlgren.

We digress for a moment to talk about that violin, “I went to Nashville in September and I got myself a five string violin. I am really excited about that, because in past years I have been carrying both the violin and the viola and this year I will just need to bring one instrument, because the five string has the extra lower string, just like the viola (giving it more range). This is like two instruments in one. It is perfect.  I have played it for two gigs, so it is very new. I think it is the same with every musician, the best toy that you can get is a new instrument.”

As for the Christmas Night tour she says, “There are some sketches, but it is mainly a concert. We play twelve songs and this year we have a theme as well. We have a film music theme. (There will be) a lot of old ones like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra and those kinds of vibes.  It will be exciting for the show. I think it will be a good thing.

There are five people in the band and then two artists. I don’t know how many there are in the production team. They have been working all year with tickets and with the websites  Read More

Tony DeSare -  Christmas Home

Tony DeSare Front Page PhotoTony DeSare’s album Christmas Home was released in 2015, but too late to get it out to the radio stations and the reviewers, to draw much attention, so we decided to sit down with the affable singer, pianist, arranger, composer, lyricist and film scorer to talk about his album and his career.

“I have self-produced every album and I didn’t get Christmas Home out early enough to get any press. I think that I got it mastered right around Thanksgiving and it was just too late to submit to press.

In the genre that I am in it is only natural (to do a Christmas album), because the great Christmas standards also have a lot in common with the great standards of the Great American Songbook golden era, like Irving Berlin, Gershwin and Cole Porter. The songs are right up my alley. It wasn’t a question of if I would do one, but when it would feel right to do it. In the last few years I have started to do a lot of holiday Pop shows with orchestras, which I just love so much. It gets me in the spirit too, because for two or three weeks I am usually with different orchestras. I am doing ten shows with the Philly Pops and they have dances and they a children’s choir with the full orchestra on stage. I have been doing it for the last four years or so.

Part of it was it would be really great to have my own Christmas arrangements and I could sell CDs after the show. It made sense business wise to do it and creatively I have wanted to do something for a long time. It is just that I knew when I did do it I would have to take it very seriously. If I record, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” that is going to be my version of it. It is not like I can keep trying to record better versions of it. Around the same time that I was thinking about doing a Christmas album, I fell in love with a Sinatra album that had slipped by notice, because it wasn’t released on CD at the time when I was really getting into Frank Sinatra. I think it was 1955 or ’57 that he recorded that. It is very unique. It is just Sinatra with the Hollywood string quartet and a couple of additional soloists. It was a string quartet, a French horn, a harp, and a really, really light rhythm section with just a bass and brushes. I just fell in love with it.  Read More

Singer Andrea Celeste - Jewerly by Comotto Gioielli

Andrea Celeste Front Page Photo
Photo by Roberto "Robbo" Vigo

Anna Danes Has Found Her Wings

Photo front page Imagine if you will for a moment living in three different countries by the time you are eleven years old and having to escape the first one under the guise of a vacation. Then you achieve scholastic excellence in your new found home, begin a promising career as an attorney, give it all up for love and move to a fourth country. As a single parent you think you are giving your child a gift by providing her with singing lessons, she stubbornly refuses to take part in them and then magic, at the suggestion of the vocal coach you take the rest of the lessons and you launch a career as a Jazz singer, topped off by recording your most recent album in the very same studio where Frank Sinatra once recorded. It sounds a little farfetched I know, except all of this really happened and it could not possibly have happened to a more deserving person than the warm and gracious Jazz singer Anna Danes, who now makes her home in San Diego, California. This is only part of Anna Danes’ story, read further and you will discover a courageous lady who is always looking forward, who does not dwell on the disappointments of the past and who just released her second album.  

Anna Danes’ story begins in Gdansk, Poland, “Life (in Poland) was certainly very, very different than it is here, especially on the economic side of things and with personal freedoms, because there were none.  It was the time of the communist regime in Poland and so things were scarce and you had to fight to survive every day.  You couldn’t leave the country, unless the government gave you permission to leave the country.  You couldn’t speak your mind and if you could speak your mind it could backfire and it would affect your career, your family and life sometimes.  It was living in hiding in a way. It could put great limitations on your Read More

Jenny Jones - Christmas Recipe

Jenny Jones Photo OneJenny Jones hosted her own nationally syndicated talk show but that was just one of many jobs that Jenny has held, including waitress, bookkeeper, author, comedian, musician, singer, songwriter, caterer and chef.

Christmas Pecan Balls (Snowballs)

They look so fancy and taste like heaven. Pecan balls make a beautiful Christmas gift and people will think you’re a gourmet baker but these are surprisingly easy to make. Pecans can be finely chopped or coarsely ground in a food processor and toasting them first makes all the difference. I could not find a way to make these with less butter, I tried! Be prepared: everyone will ask for the recipe! - Jenny Jones

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Makes: about 2 dozen


1 cup all purpose flour

1 stick butter (1/2 cup/113 g), softened

1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans (or coarsely ground)

3 Tablespoons granulated sugar    Read More

Kelita - Christmas Album

Kelita Front Page PhotoKelita Haverland’s Christmas album Heavenly Night has been out for a few years now, but the nice thing about albums like this is each time December rolls around they take on a new life. This Christmas also served as an opportunity for Kelita (she is easily recognized by music fans by just her first name) and this writer to sit down and do an interview, something that we have attempted to do several times over the years and busy schedules for one or the other or both of us simply got in the way.

The Juno Awards are Canada’s top music award and Kelita has been nominated five different times for an award. She is recognized as an impactful, inspirational speaker who does not try to charm you or sell you some magic potion that will cure all life’s ills and nor does she try to tell you that if you do everything a certain way that you will never have a problem again. She just tells you how it is, through her music and through her speaking. She has experienced more tragic events than most and yet if you did not know her story you would never guess that was the case. When we first became aware of Kelita, about sixteen years ago she brought to life several funny characters she had created over the years. Since that time she has also been featured as a keynote speaker for TED X. She would also tell you that the most important thing you can know about her is that her faith in God informs the way that she lives her life and the decisions that she makes.

Kelita talks about how Heavenly Night came to be, “I saw a program on television that was on the sex trafficking of little girls in Cambodia and I was so impacted by what I saw that I ended up writing a song, “Not Just This Christmas,” that is on the Christmas CD and I ended up performing it on TV. I met the producer of the segment Read More 

Gypsy Soul - 20 Years of Great Music

Gypsy Soul 2016 front page photoGypsy Soul, the husband and wife duo of Roman Morykit and Cilette Swan, augmented by an assortment of musicians, just announced the North American release of their new album, simply titled True. It is their thirteenth recording and the songwriting, instrumentals, vocals and production capture the essence of this superbly talented and equally congenial twosome. There are no weak links with this collection of eleven songs.

When asked to reflect upon the fact that Gypsy Soul has established a musical legacy that has endured for almost twenty years, Roman Morykit says, “It is interesting, because I have never even given it a lot of thought. It is just one of the things that we do, it is like breathing. It’s like it is time for another record, we have enough material. It is part of who we are and what we do. It is only when people like yourself who are friends and fans point out that we have made thirteen albums that we realize we have had a career of (almost) twenty years as Gypsy Soul. It will be twenty years next year.

Back to Cilette’s earlier point, it is short and time flies by and all of a sudden you are on number thirteen. It is astonishing to us actually that we have managed to keep doing this for this long.”

For the Oregon couple, the story of Gypsy Soul begins twenty-seven years ago in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“That would make us twenty-nine now,” says Roman.

“I know we met as toddlers right,” chimes in Cilette, before recalling how they met, “I was in a band with Roman’s brother and that is  Read More

Benjamin Franklin V

Benjamin Franklin V Photo TwoRecently, The University of South Carolina Press published a book authored by Benjamin Franklin V titled An Encyclopedia Of South Carolina Jazz & Blues Musicians and it would make a great addition as a required or recommended supplementary text book for many music courses. The use of the word musician may cause our readers to immediately jump to the conclusion that this book only concerns those who play an instrument and that is not true. The term musician is used in the broader sense here to also include singers and some who composed music.

The author also took time during a recent conversation with Riveting Riffs Magazine to talk about the music that is covered in this very well presented book, “The South Carolina contribution to Jazz and Blues has been rich. I am dazzled by many of the musicians who came out of this small state.

Jazz is pretty well understood, although difficult to define, but Blues over time has expanded to include Doo Wop, Rhythm and Blues, Soul and maybe even other things, but those are the three for sure. I include them and I also say that a line has to be drawn somewhere and I drew that at Gospel music.

There will be Soul singers like Nick Ashford, of the group from the seventies Ashford & Simpson. Nick Ashford is from South Carolina and there is a really nice picture of him in there. I don’t think many people would consider them to be  Read More

Swedish Drummer Rasmus Kihlberg

Rasmus Kihlberg Photo OneEarlier this year Swedish drummer Rasmus Kihlberg who has played and / or recorded with artists such as Tom Jones, Charlotte Church, Bill Champlin, The Cardigans, Björn Skifs, Japanese singer and actress Tomoyo Harada and Joseph Williams of Toto, had a very busy tour schedule.

Talking about this year’s tour Rasmus Kihlberg says, “I played with Nils Landgren. He is a Swedish trombone player and singer and with my wife Viktoria Tolstoy who is a singer. (There was also) a piano player, a bass player and the Frankfurt Philharmonic Orchestra, but not the strings, only the woodwinds and the horn players. The arrangements for that tour were made by Vince Mendoza and we played only Leonard Bernstein music, all the famous hits and also the non-famous. It was a fantastic tour and we had thirteen or fourteen concerts in a month and only in Germany. There was a full house in every place and standing ovations. Nils and Viktoria sang this music so well. Sometimes they would sing duets, sometimes she would sing one song and (other times) he would sing one. Sitting in the middle of this orchestra with my drums was also a dream come true, because I love all of the things that come from Vince’s pencil (and that has been) since the first time I heard Vince’s arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now (the album).  It has been a huge experience and also a fantastic tour to be able to play enormously beautiful arrangements. It was fantastic.”

That tour came on the heels of a very ambitious tour schedule for Kihlberg’s wife, the accomplished and highly respected singer, Viktoria Tolstoy, whose own tour embraced several months in the fall of 2015 and the early part of 2016, with breaks to return home to be with her family. Read More  

Cindy Alexander and Deep Waters

Cindy Alexander Photo One 2016Earlier this year Cindy Alexander released her album Deep Waters, a collaborative effort with Colin Devlin of The Devlins. It is Cindy Alexander’s best album yet. It is a collection of songs that are original tunes, with two exceptions a cover of “Heaven’s Wall,” by The Devlins and Jann Arden’s “Good Mother.”

The new album opens with Cindy Alexander covering “Heaven’s Wall,” a 1990s song by the Irish band The Devlins, from their 1997 album Waiting. She has always had a good voice, but this song fits very well with Alexander’s vocals and her phrasing is excellent. As the song builds to a crescendo at the 2:30 mark Cindy Alexander’s connection with this song is evident as she repeats the chorus “Come on, take my hand, we’ll rise above it all / Then we can meet as planned outside of heaven’s wall.” 

“When I was going through Colin’s material, before we were going to start writing together, I was listening to his music and I came across this song. It is a Devlin’s song from the ‘90s and it hooked me. I loved the groove and I loved that the beat was relentless, but there was this slow and steady build. It kept going through my head and it was an earworm. When it came time to put the songs together I thought it would be nice to cover one of his songs. I love the guitar solo by Colin,” says Alexander.

The album Deep Waters was difficult for us to get through the first time and only because each of the songs is so well presented that the tendency is just to keep replaying them, before finally  Read More

Time Sailors of Pizzolungo

Time Sailors front page photoIn a world where children have video games, high definition televisions to watch their favorite programs and parents take them to the cinema to watch the latest and greatest movies; it takes a special parent to give a child the gift of a book. Scott Abrams and Adam Blockton are the co-authors of a remarkable children’s book, Time Sailors of Pizzolungo. It is a timeless and classic adventure book that will entertain children and adults alike. More importantly this beautiful book stimulates the imagination in a warm, positive fashion in a world in which our children need to hear a message of hope and dream dreams of what someday might be and that they might become.  Join Guillermo, Piccolo, Enzo, Mario, Luca and Tony as they sail the high seas and create magic five centuries before any of these children were born.

Scott Abrams sat down with Riveting Riffs Magazine recently to discuss this children’s adventure novel.

“I never set out to write a book, much less a children’s book and the idea came to me in an unexpected way. Years ago I was in Sicily near Pizzolungo. We were sitting at a villa poolside and it happened to be my birthday when a friend of mine gave me a small little boat as a birthday gift. I am not sure why. The boat package said that it grows in the water. Naturally we plunked it into the pool and we sat around waiting for it to grow, but strangely it didn’t grow. We said maybe it needs some time to grow and we checked it the next day and we couldn’t find the boat. We searched the same pool and it was completely gone. Read More

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German Actress Marina Welsch

Marina Welsch Photo OneA.R. Gurney’s play Love Letters was presented in Solingen, Germany during the spring of 2016 and it starred German actors Marina Welsch and Michael Lesch, with Lesch also directing the play. The play originally was staged Off Broadway in New York City and starred Kathleen Turner and John Rubinstein in 1989 and Love Letters was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The story is told through letters that were written by the characters, Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner to each other throughout their lives. The response for tickets was so great that an additional performance was added at Theater Kammerspielchen and Welsch and Lesch also have plans to present Love Letters in several other German cities during the autumn of 2016.  

Just prior to the opening of the play in Solingen, the warm and thoughtful Marina Welsch took a few minutes to sit down with Riveting Riffs Magazine to discuss the play, the art gallery that she owns and her life and career.

As for staging Love Letters in Germany, Welsch explains, “It was my idea. Christina, Michael’s wife, was my former acting agent years ago and at the time he was still very busy doing TV serials. He is quite well-known in Germany. When I changed my agency and I lost track of Christina, but when I opened my gallery in September (2015), she went there and meanwhile Michael had returned to Solingen, which was his family’s home years ago. Christina and I talked about what Michael was doing and what I was doing. I always dreamt of having a literature salon, something pure, theater work at home and reading something very intimate. I asked him if he was interested in doing Love Letters. At first I felt that we might do it at Read More 

Sweden's Stefan Gunnarsson

Sefan Gunnarsson ThumbnailMeet Sweden’s pinball wizard Stefan Gunnarsson, who has forty-five pinball machines in his personal collection. That would be a fascinating story on its own, but this is not the story of a man who relaxes in the far nothern town of Boden, Sweden, by playing pinball, but instead it is about the musical journey of a man who some might say is a musical genius and who as a childhood protégé was playing with adult aged bands. Stefan Gunnarsson has gained a stellar reputation as a multi-instrumentalist, a composer, a television personality and as a producer.    

Stefan Gunnarsson’s journey began in the same town he now lives in, Boden, on the coastline of the Baltic Sea and approximately a ten hour drive by car, north of Sweden’s largest city Stockholm.

Gunnarsson says, “Boden is a pretty small town way up north. There are about 25,000 or 30,000 people living here.  It is pretty close to the Polar circle and it is very cold in the wintertime, with lots of snow. It is also a military town, with a big military tradition. My father was a trumpet player in a military orchestra. It became like an institution and it turned into other things than just a military orchestra. They had a big band and they played a lot of different music (instead of) just military music. As a four, five and six year old I loved sitting during rehearsals with the big band and listening to the music and checking out the drummer. The drums were my first love.  I started (playing drums) when I was four or five years old.  

The first memories that I have 

 Barbara Dennerlein New DVD / CD

Barbara Dennerlein 2016 Front Page PhotoBarbara Dennerlein one of the world’s most highly regarded organists and Jazz composers just released a brand new CD and DVD, My Moments, recorded live at Studio Acusticum in the northern Swedish town of Piteá. The original Jazz compositions are played on both the Hammond organ, for which she is more widely known and the pipe organ. The very congenial Dennerlein who has become a good friend of Riveting Riffs Magazine over the years spoke to us from her home in Germany and referred to this CD / DVD as her most personal recording so far.

She explains why, “It is so pure. It is a solo situation. I am alone with both instruments. It is so personal. I think my personal style has developed over many, many years and it is very special. When you have a solo situation you can hear it more clearly. Also you can hear the little things. Very often when you have a drummer with you no matter how good he is it is always covering details from the organ sound. I do so many little things, because I love the sound and I love the colors that you can make and little changes. I like to experiment with sound and I can do this alone with my instruments. That is why I think it is my most personal one.

(Also), there is nobody else that you can hide behind. You have your own inspiration. I play the pedals very intensely, I have a whole band in a way, as I play with my feet the bass player’s work and I have both of my hands for comping and soloing. It gives me a lot of freedom and my style, which is very different from other organists, can be heard very clearly on the solo performance. It is wonderful and I just can let it go and it flows. I have a lot of inspiration and the two instruments are fascinating.

It is also only my music and my Read More


Panto 2016 Photo One

Joy Burnworth

Joy Burnworth Photo Front PageAnderson is the name of a city in Indiana and it also happens to be the name of a very good musical duo of the same name. The duo comprised of Joy Burnworth and Howie Anderson draws its name from both Howie Anderson’s last name and the fact that Joy Burnworth grew up in Anderson, Indiana. The American duo boasts a ton of experience and talent, as Burnworth has worked with producers David Foster, Gerry Gallagher (Led Zeppelin, ACDC) and Matt Hyde (Jonny Lang, No Doubt). She has performed at both the Academy Awards and the Emmy Awards and Burnworth has opened for artists such as Buffalo Springfield, Pat Benatar and Juice Newton. Joy Burnworth is also the first call sub for Jefferson Starship. Howie Anderson is the lead guitarist for The Strawberry  Alarm Clock and he has worked with Spencer Davis, actor Ben Vereen, Robbie Krieger of the The Doors, Peter & Gordon, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Ed King, Jerry Corbetta (Sugarloaf) and drummer Buddy Miles to name but a few.

Joy Burnworth sat down with us recently and talked about her own career, the duo Anderson and where it all started for her.  

“I write all of the lyrics and it all starts with me.  I start with the lyrics and I usually have some type of a melody, but sometimes I will not have a melody and Howie will start playing things to give me ideas. I take the lyric and the partial melody and I go to his house and we hash it out. We figure out if it is going to be in 3/4 or in 4/4 and figure out the tempos and all of that.  He comes up with the harmony and helps me to take the melody in a different route based on what he is playing,” says Burnworth.

Take for instance the Anderson song “Aqua Gardens,” a mid-tempo song with a nice easygoing melody that plays like a film, as Joy Burnworth’s vocals sets the scenes accompanied by Howie Anderson’s sterling guitar playing.  Read More




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