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Julianna Riolino: “Things Move Me”


Julianna Riolino‘s solo debut album, All Blue, is a charming collection of alt-country songs. This Ontario artist is getting critical acclaim for her singing, songwriting, and arrangements.

Riolino was 12 years old when she told her father she wanted an electric guitar. He told her to start with an acoustic guitar, and as Riolino recalls, “He was right.” Their town, Welland, Ontario, had a shop called Central Music, where she took her first lessons. Her teacher might have been a little eccentric. He taught her the chords for “Smoke on the Water,” and, says Riolino, “He also taught me some magic tricks, like ‘pick a card, any card.'”

She got her first electric guitar a few years later, but says she was secretive about it. She had friends who played guitar, but says, “I was too shy to join in.” That all changed when she agreed to play at the year-end assembly in her last year of high school. “My thinking was that if I mess up, I’ll be gone anyway,” she laughs.

Now Riolino considers being on stage a type of “exposure therapy.” Before she performs, she’s nervous, but, she says, “That’s just pent-up energy, and I have figured out how to harness that energy and go on stage.”

The songwriting on All Blue demonstrates this unique blend of confidence and vulnerability. “I sit down, and if I’m feeling something in my heart, it comes out. I’m a sensitive person. I’m a crier. Things move me.”

She says that the track “Queen of Spades” came to her quite quickly. “I wrote that song in fifteen minutes. It poured out of me. The song was always there. I like to play on words, and the best medicine for heartache or sadness or anger is humour. A lot of these songs are me taking back control of a situation.”

It’s a process that makes Riolino grateful. She says, “This is me, not knowing what to say or do in the moment. It’s such a gift, to be able to create songs and have melody. This is my therapy. If I don’t know how to process something or react, music helps.”

Julianna Riolino will be at the Calgary Folk Fest at Calgary’s Prince’s Island Park, July 25 – 28.