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Woman On The Moon

Giulia Millanta Interview 2022 front page photoGiulia Millanta who makes her home in Austin, Texas and is originally from Italy is a perpetual songwriting machine. Shortly after releasing her album Tomorrow Is A Bird two years ago, she began writing more songs, the best of which now appear on her album Woman On The Moon, to be released on April 8 (2022).

She explains, “It is part of my natural cycle. I release a record and then I take a little bit of time to promote and play shows and regroup. I then start writing again. I never write for a record, I just write.

Once I have thirty or forty songs, I start looking at them and choose what to record. I had a few songs that I wrote early in 2021 or maybe the end of 2020. I write often, but not every day, there are people who are way better than me at that. I write fairly consistently, probably every week. If you think about the fact there are fifty-two weeks in a year and I write every week, by the end of the year I have forty to fifty songs. Probably half of them nobody should ever hear and half of them are decent.

This one was different than my previous records, because I didn’t record it all at once and normally, I do. I (usually) sit down with all of my songs and decide which ones I want to record. I then go ahead and book my session and record everything in three days. This time I did it differently. In June of last year, I approached Gabe and I said, hey I have a few songs. Can we record them, because I think I want to release some singles? I wasn’t planning on a record. (She starts to laugh) We started recording and then one thing led to another. I ended up with twelve songs in the summer. Then in the fall I got back from Italy and I was making plans to release a record, but I wasn’t sure about some of the songs and I went back to Gabe and I said I have two other songs I want to record to replace the other two that I wasn’t sure about.

It wasn’t like a process that I was going to the studio to make a record. It was (more like) let’s record a few songs. Read More

Carla Olson - Triple Threat

Carla Olson Interview Photo front page by Markus CuffIt is rare for an artist / musician / producer to have three almost simultaneous releases and even more rare to have those three be simply outstanding, while being considerably different and yet that is exactly what Carla Olson has accomplished this spring with first her album Americana Railroad, secondly with her cover of The Who’s song “I Can See For Miles,” with proceeds going to Teen Cancer America. The find project is a beautiful collection of Gordon Lightfoot songs, on an album titled Ladies Sing Lightfoot, featuring artists such as The Kennedys, Natalie Noone, The Textones, Susan Cowsill, IIsey Juber, and Carla Olson sings the closing song, “Ringneck Loon.”

The seeds for Americana Railroad, the album, began to take root in the early 1990s with Carla Olson, Gene Clark and Saul Davis, Carla’s manager and husband.

Carla Olson says, “It was a nice idea to be a vehicle for a couple of Gene’s songs, one of which is “I Remember the Railroad,” and not many people know about it unless you are a big Gene Clark fan. Also, his songs, “Train Leaves Here This Morning,” and “Kansas City Southern.” Gene was a railroad guy. I remember buying a package of shirt patches that they used to sell in train stations and train shops and I bought four or five of the Rock Island Line. I gave a couple of them to Gene when we were first hanging around together in the eighties. He said this is so cool I am going to sew them on my jean jacket as soon as I can. He was a huge reason why we tried to cobble this together. The other song was The Long Ryders’ song that Stephen McCarthy wrote called “Here Comes That Train Again.”   Those were the songs that started the ball rolling.”

We wondered what attracted Carla Olson to create a concept album around the theme trains.

She explains, “I am a child of the fifties who walked home with her buddies, while listening to The Beatles, the Stones Read More

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Madeleine Davis - One of a Kind!

Madeleine Davis Front Page PhotoIf we told you that Madeleine Davis has lived a life full of adventure some might easily argue that is an understatement. She grew up the daughter of a Gospel singing mother, and a pharmacist father in Columbus, Georgia, near the Chattahoochee River, with one sibling, a brother at home and a sister eighteen years older, who had pretty much left home by the time Madeleine appeared on the scene.

Madeleine Davis had a lengthy career with Boney M (By the Rivers of Babylon, Rasputin) and a small sample of her work in the studio and / or live performances includes artists such as Precious Wilson, Hoyt Axton, Peggy March, Terence Trent D'Arby, Rick Astley, Klaus Doldinger, La Bionda and Amanda Lear. She was in demand by producers such as, Ralph Siegel, Tony Monn, Michael Kunze, Sylvester Levay, Giorgio Moroder and Frank Farian.

She sang in church as a young child, acted on stage as a teenager (there is a motorcycle story we will get to in a minute) and she was a soloist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, while still in university.

“My father was a lot older than my mother. He was fifty-nine when I was born and he was seventy-five when I was eighteen.

I grew up with a father who was in World War I. He had so much information for me when I went to school. When he was a paperboy the Titanic sank, so he knew the information from the newspapers of that time. He told  Read More

The Bablers from Finland

Bablers Photo Front Page“In all art you have to do something that is meaningful for you. If it is not meaningful for you it will not touch another heart,” says Finnish singer, musician and songwriter Arto Tamminen of the band The Bablers. “It has been a bit scary, especially when it comes to the Psychadilly Circus album some of the songs are deep and even spiritual and very personal. They are not just Pop nonsense.

Talking to us from his home in Finland, the affable protagonist of this conversation explains when and how the band’s name was birthed, “When young people are choosing the name for a band it is not always logical and it can be quite chaotic. In many cases later on many bands regret (the name they chose).  In this case we don’t. It came from the word babble or bubbling. It is active. Then we took one “b” out of the word and it looked right. We ended up using it and we never looked back since. I think one of the most important things with a band’s name is it has to stick in your mind. Many of the crazy names stick there.

We (Janne Haavisto) were located in the same area and we were friends. Many of us went to the same school. The drummer Janne Haavisto’s older brother and my older brother were great mates. Janne’s brother’s band rehearsed in the basement of our house. I come from a family with five children and we lived in quite a big house. They also had great parties (he laughs). I was there as a little boy in my pajamas listening to how they played the old Blues stuff and Irish Folk music. Janne and I just became friends.

I started to write songs from the time I was ten or eleven Read More

Kincső Nóra Pethő - Actress

Kincső Nóra Pethő Photo Front PageFresh from performing as a futuristic computer from the year 2100 who is named after the Greek goddess of earth Gaia IA 01, and who sends a message back to today to warn others about a pending environmental apocalypse unless we change our ways, Hungarian actress, choreographer and dancer Kincső Nóra Pethő sat down for a conversation with Riveting Riffs Magazine, over Skype.

Obviously, only the Gaia part is taken from the Greek goddess, as Kincső Nóra Pethő explains, “I am like a computer program from the future who becomes a real person by the end of this 70-minute show. It was called Heroes of the Future and it was part of Planet Budapest 2021. There were about fifty actors and actresses working on this project, which was intended to raise the interest of kids for protecting the environment. For one week (in early December) the program ran from morning until evening. It was a wonderful experience to see how enthusiastic the kids were! I felt great about contributing to such a good goal!”

Continuing she says, “We talk to the children about how in the year 2100 there is not enough air, and the environment has been destroyed. (The message is) they have to be conscious of what they are doing in the present in 2021.

When we had some rehearsal groups and I could see a small guy, who was ten years old and he wore glasses. I was sitting in a box and at first, they could only hear my voice. They could not see me. I could see the boy talking to the other kids. We wanted it to be Read More

Beatrix Löw-Beer - German Violinist

Beatrix Low Beer Interview Photo Front PageWhile on her way from Munich, Germany to play a gig in Frankfurt, uber-talented saxophonist Beatrix Löw-Beer, whose performances have taken her to England, the United States, the Netherlands, Spain, Ibiza, Mallorca, Italy, Luxemburg, France, Austria, Switzerland, numerous other European countries, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Dubai and some parts of Asia, took time to talk to Riveting Riffs Magazine about her career and her life. The very congenial Beatrix Löw-Beer, while setting a high standard for herself, is as nice a musician as you will meet. She has been compared to her contemporaries, celebrity violinists such as Vanessa-Mae from England via Singapore and American violinist Lindsey Stirling. Beatrix Löw-Beer has performed with such stars as Rod Stewart, Dutch singer Caro Emerald, award winning Pop singer Sarah Connor, the first German performer to ever have four consecutive #1 hits on the German charts. Beatrix Löw-Beer’s music ranges from Classical to Rock to House, Pop, Jazz and everything in between.

Artists such as Beatrix Löw-Beer are the reason why people are discovering the saxophone for the first time. When you watch her concert performances or videos to promotional videos everything from her movement to her attitude and her costumes exhibits an exuberance for performing music. One is never left with the impression that you are watching someone playing an instrument, because her saxophone becomes an extension of her persona.

Take us back to where this all began.

“I grew up in Augsburg, which is one hour from Munich, which is the capital of Bavaria. It is in the south of Germany, very close to Austria. Augsburg is the third largest Read More

Rain Perry - A White Album

Rain Perry Interview Front Page PhotoA White Album, by American singer and songwriter Rain Perry, which will be released on April 15 (2022) is a lot of things, a collection of songs with an activist theme, some original and some covers from music icons, it is heartfelt, and it is sincere, but what is most of all is very, very good. It was our pleasure to sit down with Rain Perry recently to discuss her new record and why these songs are so special to her.

She says, “It is definitely a concept album. It is somewhat of a sequel to my album Cinderblock Bookshelves, and it was a memoir in music about me growing up as a hippie kid raised by my dad. This record, A White Album, is me looking back at my same life and my same family, but through the lens of race. It is called A White Album, because it is me telling my story. I think most larger topics are best addressed through people and it is my way of wading into a fraught conversation and to talk about some issues that we seem to be having a hard time talking about right now.”

Although the common thread is raising awareness of societal issues, the songs on the album do not come across as preachy or even protestation, but instead seem to be asking the question, why are we still here after all these years, far removed from the civil rights movement of the 1960s and yet in many ways the needle seems to have barely moved.

“Thank you, that is what I was shooting for. I think the best way to empathize is getting to know somebody and to see the way they are trying to solve the problems we are all trying to solve, how to be happy, to be fulfilled, and to be successful in life. I don’t think anybody really changes by being lectured. Read More

Bureau Of Magical Things

Bureau of Magical Things Photo Front PageIn 2021 The Bureau of Magical Things, season two appeared once again on television in Australia and recently season two which had limited exposure on American television last year, showed up once again streaming on Netflix. Season one laid the groundwork for us of a world in which fairies, elves, humans and trilings, the latter of which are a hybrid, elf, fairy and human exist, but not coexist. With various themes running through the episodes of acceptance of others when they do not look like us and in some cases do not act like us, to the immortal struggle of evil versus good and some very subtle teenage romance.

There is more than one instance of the suspension of disbelief, the first being that this group of high school students who belong to a secret magical order are, well the actors are all even at the time of filming of university age or slightly older. Hey, they are not the first television series to go there and they will not be the last. Tom McSweeney and David Newman did a wonderful job of casting for the series. I suppose if pressed we could say that Kimie Tsukakoshi as Kyra is the star of season two as the plot for the most part revolves around her character, but her co-stars shine too, with the brother and sister team in real life and in the show, Elizabeth and Julian Cullen, as Imogen and Darra respectively. Lilly is played by Mia Milnes, Jamie Carter as Peter, and Rainbow Wedell as Ruksy. Their teacher in the school of magic is Professor Maxwell portrayed by Christopher Sommers. Oh, let’s not forget ladder. What you say? Watch the show and you will understand.

This season we find the group of magical friends looking for three keys and a hidden temple and at every turn in both the present and the past evildoers are after them. That Read More

Sylvia's New Album

Sylvia Interview Photo Front PageNature Child - A Dreamer’s Journey released recently by Sylvia Hutton, better known to music fans all over the world as the American Country Music Award, Billboard’s # 1 Country Music Female Artist and Grammy nominated singer Sylvia, is one of the most beautiful collections of story songs you will hear this year. With numerous # 1 and top ten hits to her credit, the former RCA artist, who has for many years recorded as an independent artist, once again collaborated with longtime friend John Mock (Dolly Parton, The Chicks, James Taylor, Kathy Mattea). Other co-writers includes Verlon Thompson, Craig Brickhardt and Thom Schuyler.  

The opening song for the album “Avalon,” transports the listener to Camelot and the days of King Arthur. Sylvia and Verlon Thompson wrote “Avalon,” a beautifully orchestrated song with lush vocals by Sylvia. For any child, any teenager, any adult whoever wished you could close your eyes and open them to find yourself in a magical place, Sylvia invites you to take her hand to travel to a place where the walls are made of freedom and every tear becomes a shining star.  

Normally, we would not credit so many musicians, but they earned their due on “Avalon,” guitars, both electric and acoustic by John Mock, as well as mandolin and percussion. Matt McGee played bass, Skip Cleavinger played the Uilleann pipes, oboe by Somerlie Pasquale, Emily Bowland on clarinet, trumpet (Jeff Bailey), French horn (Jennifer Kummer), violins by Conni Ellisor and Mary Kathryn Van Osdale, viola (Betsy Lamb) and cellist Nicholas Gold.

About the musicians, Read More

Stranger Things Season Four

Stranger Things Review Photo Front PageIf you have followed the Netflix series Stranger Things from season one, you have watched the cast members grow up before your eyes. While Millie Bobby Brown garners most of the attention as Eleven or El, it is the depth of this cast and the superb casting by one of the industry’s best Carmen Cuba that has allowed the show to maintain fan interest despite lengthy delays in launching season four, mostly due the COVID pandemic. On May 27th Netflix gave us the first half of season four, with Volume Two scheduled to stream on July 7th.

Matt and Ross Duffer wrote some great scripts for season four and further diversified both the cast and the locations. The result is we have five parallel stories within one greater story, but all of them linked. Will (Noah Schnapp) Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) and Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) are traveling all over the United States for various reasons, with their newfound friend the eccentric Argyle played by Eduardo Franco.  If you want to know why they are traveling you will have to watch the series.  

Back at home in Hawkins, Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer), Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), Robin (Maya Hawke) and Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink) are fighting monsters once again from the Upside-Down world. The chemistry within this group of actors makes the show worth watching and they are joined this season by new character Eddie Munson played by Joseph Quinn. There is a little bit of everything within this group, romance, adventure, they are on the run, new friendships form and old relationships…. well, you will just have to watch the series, Read More

 

 

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Julia Helbich - Actress / Host

Julia Helbich Interview Photo Front Page“With acting you put yourself into a role to tell a story. I like to work on that and to touch the people out there,” says our guest at Riveting Riffs Magazine, Julia Helbich, from Germany.

Acting represents just one of the many facets of Julia Helbich’s career and education, including, her television hosting in which she has established a noteworthy career, as an interviewer of top athletes, both American and European, she also has an MBA Global Management, an MBA in Business Administration, two bachelor’s degrees, one in political science and the other in the arts.

For now, her primary focus is on acting and continuing to interview others.

“It is a tough decision to go to a new road in your career, but that is what you have to do. You have to go a few more steps, to see where it (takes you) because if you don’t you will stay in the same place,” she says

Finding herself attracted to the arts is not an accident with Julia Helbich.

“It is definitely in the family. Let’s start with my parents. My dad, Wolfgang Helbich was a very famous conductor and my mom Ortrun Helbich sang in my father’s choir. That is how they met! Later on, my mom managed my dad, because he traveled all over the world conducting. He was an amazing conductor and musician. He was a typical musician and conductor who worked late at night. He also composed his own music.

At his funeral there were over 2,000 people from all over the world. He was so appreciated. It was very touching.

My dad was not such a good businessman and that is why my mom took over at one point. We had five kids though, so my mom still had to be a mom. She gave piano lessons and she opened up a music school. With five kids she studied culture and music management and got her master’s degree. My dad and my mom were an amazing team,” she recalls.

Continuing to talk about her early artistic endeavors, Julia Helbich says, “I started off with singing, I played the violin. I then started with theater.

I guess I always had it in me (to become an actress), but I was afraid and I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t want to do just an acting school. I also wanted to have the assurance that I was safe. I had that from my parents. I grew up in an artist’s family and my parents were always focused on us getting a great education.

I started off very quickly with great roles in Germany (appearing) in pretty big series and movies. That gave me the (confidence) that I do have talent.

One of those series is called Tatort and it is one of the biggest series in Germany. Everybody knows it. It is a little bit like Criminal Minds. I played in that (three times) and it was one of my first roles. One time I had a role when I played a bad agent and I liked that.

Other television and film appearances include, Lügen und andere Wahrheiten and she played a young mother in Haltet die Welt an. She has three films in various stages of production, Islamaphobia in post-production, Torquemada’s Curse and I Will…anything that moves, which is in pre-production. Julia Helbich played Henrietta in die Expats and Read More

Ana Muñozo - Costume Designer

Ana Munozo Photo Front PageCostume designer Ana Muñozo has designed for productions in theater and film, in both Barcelona, Spain and in New York City. She has lectured at Fordham University in the United States and UNED University in Spain. Although, she is a designer, you discover while in conversation with her that she is part costume designer, with a bit of director, a dash of screenwriter and with an affinity for actors and actresses.

Ana Muñozo studied fashion design and in fact spent four years at the beginning of her career in the industry and established a fashion brand with some colleagues.  

“On white fabric we hand painted the prints ourselves and we made a color chart for every season.

We designed accessories such as ties, fans, umbrellas, scarves and dresses. Actually, the original idea were nightshirts, I remember when I showed them to a client, she told me that she saw them as dresses and I said, "as long as you sell it, I don't care if they wear it to dinner or to dream." We did everything ourselves, the boxes, the labels, they were exclusive and on the label the client could see the number of the series. (There might be) a series of fifteen and you bought number four, therefore you knew that there were only fifteen of that model. We did fashion shows in different places like the international "fashion cafe" and we also participated in some collective exhibitions. I also worked at different times as a stylist for several publications,” she says.

Ana Muñozo grew up with her parents and one older sister in a rural area outside of Barcelona, before they moved into the city.

Her ties to both the fashion world and theater run several generations deep, “My mom was an excellent tailor. I grew up surrounded by buttons, fabrics and sewing.

My great-great grandfather and his siblings acted in his village since the theater companies did not go there. His brothers were the actors, and he was the promoter. This was the connection my family has with art and fashion,” Ana Muñozo explains.

She continues, recalling, “I spent most of my time drawing. I was drawing all day and then I decided to draw clothes for my dolls. My mother made dresses for my dolls, but she wanted to know what I had drawn. My mother made the dresses that she wanted, but I said mom! (you can hear the childlike inflection in her voice as she recalls)! She sewed what she wanted. They were beautiful but different than my (drawings).”

During her teenage years, “If I said to my mother for example, I want a jacket for this weekend, my mother would make it for me in a day. It was incredible.

I was influenced by the fashion of the moment, but I never wanted to have to wear my designs. This is weird. I think this is weird. I think in that moment I didn’t know what I Read More

Laura Blossom - Madrid's Finest

Laura Blossom Photo Front PageActress and singer Laura Blossom, may be someone you have not heard of yet, but you soon will, because she is superbly talented in both of her career choices and although we have not yet had a chance to watch her dance, we understand that she is also an accomplished dancer. If we were casting a musical, whether on stage or in film, we would have her in our cell phone as someone to present to the producers and directors.

Laura Blossom is what many would consider to be a late bloomer when it comes to acting.

“I started acting when I was twenty years old. My uncle, Balbino Lacosta, is an actor in Madrid and I often went to the theater to see him. He was the only (person in the arts) in my family. My grandmother and my mother played piano, but as a hobby,” says Laura Blossom.  

She explains another factor that led to her pursuing a career in the arts, “There was an acting course at the university where I was studying art history and I thought why not and I loved the course.”

Laura Blossom grew up in Zaragoza, the capital of the autonomous region of Aragon located in northeast Spain. The city is located between Madrid and Barcelona.

“It is a big city, but not as big as Madrid. There are theaters there, but I had to move to Madrid, because in Zaragoza you can’t live from art and from acting, because there aren’t enough opportunities,” she explains.

She says, “I started to sing when I was five years old and at the same time my parents paid for me to take piano lessons. I loved that. I then took a music course and it was the best experience of my life. I was in music courses for eleven years.

When I was ten years old, I started studying ballet in a school near my home. I studied for twelve years and then I broke my leg when I was practicing. Two or three years later I was watching musical theater dancing and I thought it was so beautiful, so I decided to learn.

I was eleven years old when I first performed for an audience. For the music course I was in we played a concert and we sang. It was really fun and I liked that. It was in the principal auditorium. There were a lot of people, family, friends and others. The feeling was special. It was amazing.”

When we suggest to Laura Blossom that she is one of those rare triple threats, an actress, dancer and singer (and keep reading and you will read more about this talented young woman), she says, “It is so necessary if you want to work in a musical.”

She got to realize that dream a few years ago when she performed in the musical stage production of Mary Poppins. Read More

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Sayonara Sorrow - Ben Brown

Ben Brown Photo Front PageSinger, songwriter and musician Ben Brown from Austin, Texas sat down with Riveting Riffs Magazine recently to talk about his new album Sayonara Sorrow a collection of songs whose music is as beautiful as the lyrics are poignant. A common thread throughout these songs is social commentary, which should not be mistaken for being political, because that it is not. Commenting on social issues through music is a familiar theme For Ben Brown as the Pennsylvania born songwriter and his brother Jeff, who tragically passed away a few days after this interview, recorded the song “That’s How the West was Lost,” with their band The Savage Poor.

He says, “The song, “What Will Happen to All that Beauty,” was inspired by novelist and activist James Baldwin. James Baldwin was a writer and activist in the sixties and seventies. I was reading some of his writings a few years ago and the line “What Will Happen to All that Beauty?” is a direct quote from one of his essays called The Fire Next Time. At the end of his essay, he talks about what will happen to the beauty that is blackness. He equates beauty with blackness. He says what will happen to the beauty of blackness, in the United States if we don’t reconcile the racial injustices. He said this in 1968. When I read that line it sounded profound and like a great title. Shortly thereafter I heard music in my head that seemed to fit the mood and the tone, so it went from there. I made a YouTube video with a quote from James Baldwin and some stock footage of 1960s civil rights activism.”

Ben Brown takes the lead vocals on the song, “What Will Happen to All that Beauty,” while producer Mick Flowers lays down the drumbeats, Jeff Brown plays bass and Tim Cappello’s (Tina Turner, The Lost Boys) vehement saxophone graces this song and others on this fabulous album. Ben Brown also plays guitars and keyboards.

As for the former song we mentioned, Ben Brown says, “The song “That’s How the West Was Lost,” is from The Savage Poor album The Grown Ups.

Social Justice and Social Justice commentary has been an issue and concern in my writing and was in the writing of my brother Jeff Brown years. In The Savage Poor I would argue that the writing takes a slightly more ironic tone. In the solo work of Sayonara Sorrow it is a bit more direct and a bit more personal. Social commentary and social justice was fodder for the work that we did for a number of years.

As for the new album, “Some of the themes that are explored through Sayonara Sorrow are, in order to make sense of the world you have to seek your own answers. The counsel of the world will not always get you where you need to go. The paradox of that is the self is not the final frontier. We share the world, we share the experiences we have in the world and while you have a duty to yourself to find your own answers and meaning in your life, you have a duty to take care of others. I believe we have a duty and a responsibility to not harm others, to take care of others and to make sure our individual path doesn’t infringe upon the rights and dignity of other Read More

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