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2020 events are listed below

(either page down or click on specific event for more detail)

Second Sunday ‘odd’ months – Old Time Jam Session and clawhammer banjo workshop
Second Sunday ‘even’ months – Bluegrass Jam Session and bluegrass banjo workshop

20th March – Blackboard Concert
14th March – You Me Everybody
7th March – Gene and Gayla Mills
29th February – Jackie Bristow
21st February – String Fellows
16th February – Workshop – Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy
15th February – Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy
1st February – Richie and Rosie
17th January – Tim O’Brien and Jan Fabricius
11th January – Mickey and Michelle
10th January –  The Melling Station Boys



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Second Sunday each ‘odd’ month –  Old Time Music Jam Session and clawhammer banjo workshop



This is a new venture for the WBS, having come together after years in the making.

It will be held on the second Sunday afternoon of each ‘odd’ month (Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sept,Nov) between 2pm and 4pm at the Petone Community Centre.

Over many years the WBS has organised Old-time banjo camps, then Old-time music camps and many Old-time instrument and Bluegrass workshops. There has been a calling for jam sessions to also be held.

Embrace this opportunity and the jam session will flourish accordingly.  For this year, Bluegrass jam sessions are on “even” months, and Old-time Music jam sessions are on “odd” months.

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Second Sunday each ‘even’ month –  Bluegrass Music Jam Session and bluegrass banjo workshop



This is a new venture for the WBS, having come together after years in the making.

It will be held on the second Sunday afternoon of each ‘even’ (Feb, Apr, Jun, Aug, Oct, Dec) month between 2pm and 4pm at the Petone Community Centre.

Over many years the WBS has organised Old-time banjo camps, then Old-time music camps and many Old-time instrument and Bluegrass workshops. There has been a calling for jam sessions to also be held.

Embrace this opportunity and the jam session will flourish accordingly.  For this year, Bluegrass jam sessions are on “even” months, and Old-time Music jam sessions are on “odd” months.

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Friday 20th March – society night – Blackboard Concert

A blackboard concert is an evening of floor spots, i.e. where anyone can come along and perform two numbers – bluegrass, old time, country or Americana.

Each act must come up with a special name for the night – one they haven’t used before, and not your own personal name. If anyone is unable to come up with a name, the audience will be consulted for suggestions.

Note:
1. Two numbers per act
2. bluegrass, old time, country or Americana
3. every act must come up with a name, one they haven’t used before

Doors open at 7:30 – Door sales only

Come and try out our new condenser mic, donated by Bill and Philip Vella!

A jam session will follow – Bring your instruments and join in

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Saturday 14th March – concert – You Me Everybody


You Me Everybody take their inspiration from a range of musical styles, starting with bluegrass, then weaving jazz, country and blues to create a dynamic sound that showcases the best of Americana.

Their backgrounds are as diverse as their ages and musical styles. Brothers Laurence and Sam Frangos-Rhodes are best known for their contributions to family band RhodeWorks. Laurence builds and plays beautiful guitars and his songwriting crosses boundaries of effortless and mature in the same breath. Sam oozes musicality, he will play mandolin, fiddle or bass in a nonchalant manner but his talent clearly shatters the illusion of his youth. Nat Torkington is the resident banjo player for the Pipi Pickers. He constantly pushes his own boundaries and encourages other musicians to explore and challenge the bluegrass form. James Geluk is a graduate of the NZ School of Music and an audience member once declared James’ fingers to be like spiders as they travelled their way around his bass. Kim Bonnington has a heart of pure country. She is equally comfortable at centre stage as she is a backing vocalist, and is known as one half of Kim and Dusty but also for providing harmonies for a range of NZ acts.

You Me Everybody celebrate the best of the myriad of talents they possess. You’ll hear traditional bluegrass alongside experimental rhythms. Their musicianship will be evident from their instrumental prowess as well as their close, soaring harmonies. They released their self-titled debut EP in January featuring six original tracks. Their two month NZ tour started at The Auckland Folk Festival in January then headed south before coming back up to the North Island to play venues in New Plymouth, Taupo and Napier before finishing their tour in March.

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Saturday 7th March – concert – Gene and Gayla Mills (Virginia, USA)


“Take the cornerstones of acoustic Americana, add a touch of bluegrass, country and folk, mix together with dedication, superb musicianship and then add precise harmonies. If these songs don’t move you, then your soul is made of stone”
– Tim Carroll, folkwords.com

Gene and Gayla Mills play new roots music—modern folk tinged with bluegrass and country, featuring Gene’s award-winning original songs. In their latest album, Walk on Solid Ground, Gene and Gayla appeal to the head and heart with original songs exploring the breadth and nuance of life. Gene’s songs tell rich stories, many based on real people from Virginia—miners, farmers, lovers, and soldiers. The song “Another Day” has won two songwriting awards, and “No Dominion Over Me” has become a rallying cry for those fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Gene and Gayla’s debut album If Stones Could Talk reached number five on the Roots Music Report Folk Chart and number 11 on the Folk DJ chart.

Gene has won over twenty country, folk, and instrumental songwriting awards, with several award-winners appearing on his debut album ?Waiting for Rain. He is also an accomplished flatpicking guitarist and lead singer. Gayla’s bass playing—solid, rhythmic, and melodic—is accompanied by her tender harmonies. Her book Making Music for Life recounts their musical journey, then provides readers with hundreds of ideas to help them do more with music.

Gene and Gayla have played at the Oak Grove Music Festival, Southeast Regional Folk Alliance (official showcase), Crozet Music Festival, Richmond Irish Festival, Nashville Songwriter’s Festival, and Fredericksburg Songwriters’ Showcase. They’ve played in listening rooms and bars, at house concerts, weddings, and funerals, and with musicians of all stripes.

Married for over 30 years, Gene and Gayla have been playing as a duo since 2004.

?“The dynamic between the both of them is just beautiful. It’s a sweet thing to watch”
— Karen Atkinson, WHAN Radio.

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Saturday 29th February – concert – Jackie Bristow

Jackie Bristow has a very distinctive voice and style that drips with soul and life stories”
– Tommy Emmanuel

Born in New Zealand, transplanted to Australia and now the United States, with a guitar, suitcase and songs, Jackie travels light but packs a heavy punch.

Jackie has had the honour to be the opening act for many of her musical heroes. Opening for Bonnie Raitt in New Zealand on her 2013 “Slipstream” tour was a dream come true. Jackie was invited back in 2017 to join Bonnie Raitt on her “Dig in Deep” NZ tour. Jackie also opened for the Steve Miller Band in the US 2016, and opened for Foreigner in 2017.

Jackie also did a lengthy tour opening for internationally acclaimed guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel in 2011. Jackie and Tommy played to sold-out theatres across USA. Jackie then rejoined Tommy on his nationwide tours in 2015 and 2016.

Jackie has been the opening act for many other well-known names over the years, including Marc Cohn, John Oates, John Waite, Bettye Lavette, B.J. Thomas, Joe Ely, Marcia Ball, Charlie Robison, Rick Springfield, Bob Schneider, Jimmy Lafave, Euge Groove, Ruthie Foster, Howard Jones, Herbert Gronemeyer, Phoebe Snow, Art Garfunkel, Daniel Lanois, Madeline Peryoux, Jimmy Webb, Paul Williams, and Shawn Mullins, amongst others.

Jackie’s live performances captivate audiences. One reviewer of her show on the Tommy Emmanuel tour wrote: “Opening for a musical giant like Emmanuel would seem a daunting task, but Bristow was relaxed as her soulfully-seductive melodies reverberated within the auditorium. Her beautiful voice and earnest songs resonated with the audience, and they applauded her eagerly. Near the end of the show, Bristow joined Emmanuel on stage for an amazing duet that received a standing ovation.”

Jackie’s songs have been used repeatedly in Australian and New Zealand film and television hit shows such as Go Girls, The Secret Life of Us, Home and Away, Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street and Go Big. Her original song “This is Australia” won Tourism Australia’s Nationwide Competition and was featured in their worldwide promotional campaigns for three years. Songs from the “Crazy Love” and “Freedom” albums were programmed into rotation at 7,000 Starbucks locations nationwide in the US.
In 2014, Jackie was awarded New Zealand Southland Music Ambassador of the Year.

Jackie has proven to be an artist who shows no signs of stopping. In 2017 Jackie relocated to the music mecca of Nashville, Tennessee where she recorded her 5th album, working with producers Viktor Krauss and Rick Price and this was released in 2019.

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Friday 21st February – Society Night – String Fellows

Warwick Murray and Dougal Speir are String Fellows, although their full name is The Flying String Fellows.

They play guitars, banjo, harmonica, voices, percussion and blukulele. They perform original blue-tinged music from across the world. Warwick recently caused an online sensation with his ukulele version of ‘Voodoo Chile’ and was recently in the NZ Albums Top 10 with his band The Fabulous Murray Brothers. Dougal Speir is best known for his time with the iconic Mangaweka Junction Blues Band. Dougal also regularly performs with Dave Murphy as the Red Dog Acoustic Duo, which is an acoustic spinoff from their other band the Red Dog Saloon Band.

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Sunday 16th February – workshop (harp, fiddle, guitar) – Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy


Learn some of the tunes played the night before and explore their techniques through these workshops!

Embrace this fantastic opportunity to learn from two of Scotland’s most superb instrumentalists and experienced tutors! Rachel and Ron both have years of experience of tutoring group workshops and curate their workshops to suit the level of participants, with a focus on enjoyment achievement.

Scottish Harp with Rachel Hair
Rachel Hair is one of the world’s leading teachers of Scottish harp. Her 15 years of touring has led her to perform and teach at numerous International harp festivals in the USA, Japan, Russia, Europe and at home in the UK. She has released 5 critically acclaimed albums, published 4 harp books and was nominated Tutor of the Year in Scotland a few years ago. This is Rachel’s first visit to New Zealand so don’t miss this amazing chance to learn some of her favourite Scottish tunes from her.

Scottish Guitar with Ron Jappy
Critically acclaimed for his driving rhythm and accompanying of tunes, Ron Jappy is one of Scotland’s most sought after guitar accompanists, having played with many of Scotland’s top bands, including Skerryvore, Manran and The Scott Wood band. So come along and learn his tricks of the trade in guitar accompaniment, as well as learning how to fingerpick a few Scottish melodies yourself.

Scottish Fiddle with Ron Jappy
Ron, from the North-East Scottish fishing village of Findochty, first love is Scottish fiddle workshop, having been schooled in the North-East style from a very young age. So come learn some top rate Scottish tunes from this award winning fiddle player whilst learning about the Tradition he grew up in… we’re sure he’ll even teach you a few curious North-East Doric phrases!

Workshops are by ear, with music given out at the end of class.

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Saturday 15th February – concert – Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy


Take the oldest Scottish instrument, the clarsach (harp), and the newest addition to the traditional music arsenal, the guitar, and throw them in the musical blender of Glasgow and the result is Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy. Superb instrumentalists with a shared passion for traditional tunes, they perform as if sharing one mind. Both from fishing villages rich in musical tradition, they sought to expand their understanding and studied music in Glasgow, training formally during the day and attending the famed night-time sessions of the city.

Don’t expect to get a nap in during a performance by Rachel and Ron. Whilst they may lull you for the start of a set into thinking you will hear spa-ready harp music, please don’t be fooled. The first clue is when you notice that Rachel stands while playing. Her hands dance on the strings while her body dances with the harp as she blasts pre-conceptions and breaks out of the box while joyfully exploring the versatility of this beautiful instrument. Passionate about sharing the history of the harp and the culture of Scotland, the duo charm audiences wherever they go. From crisp Strathspeys and heartfelt airs, to virtuosic reels and driving jigs, Rachel and Ron have combined their influences to embrace the rich cultural tradition in Scotland.

Ron, originally and still a fiddle player, grew up in Findochty and was a finalist in several of the UK’s most prestigious fiddle invitational competitions – the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship and the Highlands and Islands fiddle Masters. He started playing guitar while studying music in Glasgow and has toured with Skerryvore, Scott Wood Band, Jamie Smith’s Mabon, and the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musicians of the Year, Hannah Rarity and Clare Hastings.

Rachel received First Class Honours when she left Ullapool and went to study in Glasgow, where she received a BA in Applied Music. She is regularly invited to both teach and perform at harp festivals around the world. Rachel is regarded as a specialist in Celtic harp, no easy task for someone so young. Rachel has released five CDs and four books of harp arrangements and original compositions.

(photo by Sam Hunt)

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Saturday 1st February – concert – Richie and Rosie


Richie Stearns and Rosie Newton grew up a 150 miles and few decades apart. Whilst both were raised by professional cellist, Richie started playing banjo at 14 and Rosie began classical piano lessons at eight, eventually moving to classical viola as a teen. Both shared incredibly unique, musically-immersed childhoods: Richie’s family founded the iconic GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance (which he is now President of) and by her junior year of high school, Rosie was playing fiddle and touring with folk rock band The Mammals. During that time, the two were introduced at Saratoga Springs’ Flurry festival — a meeting that would spark a fated friendship and unique musical bond.

“He left an impression on me because he was wearing Converse. I had never seen an adult wear Converse before” says Rosie, reflecting back on the first time she shared the stage with Richie. As a Woodstock native, she graduated high school and decided to move to Ithaca after being drawn to the thriving old-time scene — which happened to also be Richie’s stomping grounds. While studying viola at Ithaca College and playing fiddle on the side, Rosie started incorporating folk with her traditional Celtic and classical upbringing. Meanwhile, Richie was a well-established singer and banjo player in the community, having performed around the world with Bela Fleck, Pete Seeger, David Byrne, Billy Bragg and Wilco, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Joan Baez. In addition to releasing two solo albums, Richie was adding to his endless discography, which includes three Natalie Merchant records, multiple collaborations with Jim Lauderdale and Donna The Buffalo, and Carrie Rodriguez.

During Rosie’s freshman year, the two finally began touring together regionally as part of the Evil City String Band, where they were joined by bass player Ben Gould, Steve Selin on fiddle (in addition to Rosie), and guitarist Paddy Burke. Eventually they decided to pursue a more intimate project as a duo and in 2013 released Tractor Beam, a 12-track mix of originals and classics, including Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” and “Say Darlin’ Say”, a traditional lullaby. Being their first exclusive release as Richie and Rosie, the pair wanted to give fans a polished recording of the songs that they played live.

After three years of touring and writing, the duo returned to the studio last December to record their second full-length album, Nowhere in Time. The record finds itself at a junction of Americana, old-time, and folk, bringing a new sound to traditional music. Recorded with producer Alex Perialas at Pyramid Sound Studios, the album highlights the incredibly-refined skill of both musicians — and while the majority of the album is a simple combination of fiddle, banjo, and captivating melodies, the duo manages to pack an incredibly full sound.

“At the beginning, we were thinking it might be a project with lots of other people involved, more of a big production. As we went through it, we realised that the magic lies within the duo. We have an intimacy of music and we feel the power of two people playing. That’s who we are” says Rosie.

Nowhere in Time gives fans a look inside the band’s personal lives, with a variety of introspective lyrics. While some songs are more light-hearted, like “Honey Bee”, which Richie wrote to “lure” his girlfriend back to the East Coast, others face more serious topics. Rosie stepped out of her comfort zone for one of the few lyrical co-writes between the two being “No Longer Lonely”, to write about a close friend passing away. “I actually began writing it a couple of years ago — I would give it to Richie, he would tweak it, and we ended up going back and forth maybe six times. It was a different way for both of us to work and humbling to have our creativity challenged by each other. In the end, we came up with something really beautiful that reflects both of our musicality. I needed to see something beautiful come out of that dark moment.”

However, the most interesting story on the album might be the one behind the title track. After receiving an unexpected phone call from the American Association of Retired Persons, Richie wrote a song for the organisation that chronicled ‘life after 50’, in addition to other ultra-specific stipulations. “They set up a recording date for the song before it was even written. So I’m sitting in my living room, crumpling up paper and trying to write a song about reinventing yourself after 50. I thought, ‘I’m going nowhere with this’” Richie says about the song that turned into appreciating the present, “That’s what the song was actually born out of. You can look back and look forward, but we aren’t done with life, we’re just where we are. It’s about focusing on the moment.”

Ironically, the commissioned song became one of their most well-received songs and defined exactly what the duo hopes to achieve — music that many can connect with. With the fated combination of Richie and Rosie’s unique skill, varied musical influence, and honest storytelling, Nowhere in Time does just that. As two musicians in two very different parts of life, Richie and Rosie are proof of two things: the power and magic of two people making music, and that the universal messages that lie within their songs will remain timeless.

Richie and Rosie blend traditional and contemporary sounds, outrageous punk banjo, powerful evocative fiddle with beautiful vocal harmonies. Richie is an innovator of five-string banjo much loved for his “mantra-groove spooky-banjo style”. Rosie is a ferocious fiddler who’s work spans many musical styles.

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Friday 17th January – concert – Tim O’Brien and Jan Fabricius

Born in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 16, 1954, Grammy Award winning singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school. Gaining attention in the 1980s with Colorado’s Hot Rize, O’Brien scored a country hit in 1986 with Kathy Mattea’s cover of his song Walk The Way The Wind Blows. Soon artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks also covered his songs. Collaborators include his sister Mollie O’Brien, old time musician Dirk Powell, and songwriters Darrell Scott, Steve Earle, and Mark Knopfler. O’Brien formed his own record label, Howdy Skies Records, in 1999, and launched the digital download label Short Order Sessions (SOS) with his partner Jan Fabricius in 2015.

Notable O’Brien recordings like the bluegrass Dylan covers of Red On Blonde and the Celtic-Appalachian fusion of The Crossing led to Grammy winning CDs Fiddler’s Green (2005) and The Earls of Leicester (2014). In 2017, Where the River Meets the Road paid tribute to the music of his native West Virginia. The 2019 release, Tim O’Brien Band, features well known players Mike Bub (bass), Shad Cobb (fiddle), Patrick Sauber (banjo/guitar) and Jan Fabricius (vocal and mandolin). Shaping Tim’s blues, jazz and Celtic influences within a string band setting, they transform five originals and eight well chosen covers into his own unique brand of bluegrass.

Tim O’Brien performs in a duet setting with his partner Jan Fabricius on harmony vocals. Featuring his solid guitar and fiddle, performances showcase a range of original compositions and traditional arrangements, mixed with stories and Tim’s self-deprecating humour.

Jan Fabricius grew up in western Kansas. Her father was a wheat farmer and US Postal worker and her mother was a nurse. Her older sister Diane taught her piano and later mandolin. She played clarinet in her high school band and was in choir in school and church. She has attended the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield KS since 1976 and also enjoyed attending various bluegrass festivals over the years, singing and jamming around the camp grounds. She is a Registered Nurse. She raised two sons and has three granddaughters. She started dating in 2011 and in 2013 moved to Nashville. The two play fiddle tunes and bluegrass songs around home. Tim and Jan started a label for singles called ‘Short Order Sessions’ which Jan added harmonies to some of those tracks. Then when Tim made his recording, Pompadour in 2015, she sang background vocals on several songs and was soon singing on stage with Tim. Her early influences include Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hot Rize, New Grass Revival, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell and Norman Blake, amongst many others. Her vocals and mandolin are also featured on Tim’s recordings Pompadour, Where the River Meets the Road (2017) and the latest 2019 release Tim O’Brien Band.

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Saturday 11th January – concert – Mickey and Michelle


From Australia, Harpist Michelle Doyle and violinist/vocalist Michael O’Donnell have embarked on walking the Te Araroa Trail. They are also bringing their instruments with them to perform a series of concerts along the way. Their six month adventure will take them through the major cities, rural locations and scenic mountains while their instruments are couriered to each gig. The duo are thrilled to be releasing their debut album ‘A Walking Pace’ in this unique way and are donating 20% of sales from merchandise to osteoporosis research, a subject very close to their hearts.

Michelle was born into a musical family and has performed professionally on the harp from the age of eleven. She studied classical performance and has gone on to perform with Paul Kelly, Shane Howard and Fiona Ross. Her compositions reflect the deeply rooted energy of her Celtic upbringing whilst balancing her attention to detail and nuanced phrasing from her classical studies.

Mickey developed a passion for jazz and his playful improvisations are ever-present in his original compositions. His creamy voice is reminiscent of a young Chet Baker as he croons, growls and hums his way through uniquely poetic lyrics and soars through ethereal high notes.

Together the two combine their skills to create a unique and exciting blend of contemporary folk music. Come see Mickey and Michelle in concert as they perform until their fingers are as sore as their feet are.

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Friday 10th January – society night – The Melling Station Boys


This effervescent group from the heart of the Hutt Valley has been made famous courtesy of NZ Rail.

“We are the best bluegrass band in Wellington. We know this, as there are no other bluegrass bands based in Wellington, hence we rightfully assume this title. At our last appearance at the WBS, we were known as the Melling Station Boys. Since then we have changed our name to The Melling Station Boys, as we feel this makes us sound much more important. Over the last three years we have been hired to perform annually for the Christmas party of a local group, however they decided to get another band last year. Reason: none given. Admittedly they didn’t pay us, so that shouldn’t have been a factor, but we conclude that we got too good for them.

“We are very happy for our adopted sponsor, NZ Rail, who inadvertently gave us a railway station as our mascot, and at no charge (to date). We’re not worried that a train derailed there about ten years ago, when it tried to angle park next to the railway station. That manoeuvre clearly failed, resulted in sick leave for the driver and huge payouts to all passengers on that particular service, and in addition, over the following few weeks, subsequent services having to park about 100m from the station whilst the wreckage was sorted out. Despite this, we continue our support to NZ Rail by performing at least one train song during every performance.

“After our last appearance at the WBS, two people confirmed verbally, and to us directly, that we are not bad. We know there were other comments, all said out of earshot, however we assume they were all positive, but as they couldn’t be heard, also said by people that retreated far enough away from our company, so we have been unable to confirm this.

“For this show, we will have our full five piece lineup. This includes Giacomo (who is not in the photo), who throughout the last year spent more time out of the country with international audiences than here. This is as opposed to the rest of the band, who spent more time in Wellington than anywhere else in the region. Giacomo was so busy that he only attended two band practices last year. However he has attended more than that this this year. Consequently we are positive that things are looking up for 2020.

“Being a Lower Hutt band, we are striving to become as famous as our local hero Gerry Paul, who can play every instrument in our lineup better than any of us, and can muster a much more famous lineup than we could ever hope to. However we are resigned to the fact that at the minimum, all we will manage is to just having that dream.

“At the conclusion of our show, you will be served with a complimentary cup of Dilmah tea, or two. You may even get a slice of our renowned date loaf, if you are lucky, all provided on the house.”

“These guys are fantastic!”
– anonymous

“Wow, I got see must this guys!”
– first Facebook comment for this year, interpreted and traced to someone in Uzbekistan

“We’re famous for not being famous!”
– The Melling Station Boys

Ed:
“Usually bios are written in the third person. However as The Melling Station Boys were unable to encourage, summon, plead nor pay anyone to write their bio, they wrote their own, in the first person.”

– photo courtesy of Donald Laing

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