Rock

Interview with Jeff Rich (Status Quo)

Interview with Jeff Rich Interview by Ben Pierson.

I have to admit, going to interview the drummer from one of the best known bands in history with a hangover and only 4 hours sleep under my belt, may not have been the best move on my part but none the less, as I made my way to meet with former drummer of Status Quo, Jeff Rich, I was looking forward to it.

Everyone loves an English rock band right? And surely everyone’s heard of at least one Quo song? If you know nothing of the Quo, they formed in 1962 with Jeff Rich joining in 1985 after working with Stretch, Judie Tzuke and the Climax Blues Band. After 15 years of touring Jeff left the band to spend more time with his family, he currently visits schools to get children more interested in the music business and runs a drum masterclass as well as offering one to one tuition.

Interview with Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich - I suppose I’ve been to around 6,500 schools by now all over the UK, I’ve been doing this for many years now and the whole point of the workshop is to inspire the students. So I do a combination of  around 65% Primary and 35% Secondary schools.

Stabbed Panda - And what sort of things are covered in the workshops that you do?

JR - It covers initially how I got into the music business and I go through my career and then tell them a bit out TV and stuff like that, then I go on to how drumming has developed. I’ve got African drums, Military drums…

SP - So you go through the whole history of drumming?

JR - Yeah, and it’s all interactive I get them up playing with all the different drums, then I’ve got a large kit set up and I go onto that, play a solo for them on the kit to show them what can be achieved, then they all get up and play percussion. Now, in a Primary School I’ll have about 150 up at a time playing percussion.

SP - Wow, I bet that get’s a bit noisy!

JR - Yeah, but they love it! Just here we had at least 100 up playing percussion.

SP - So as you clearly care for music as part of your life and you use these workshops to inspire a younger generation, how do you feel about where music currently stands in education?

JR - Well, unfortunately, music’s been pushed down the curriculum a huge amount because of funding problems and the government still haven’t realised that, if you play an instrument your academic work comes along because it’s a discipline but they still haven’t grasped that fact. So unfortunately it’s become more difficult to learn to play instruments in schools because it costs so much money and parents have to pay for instrumental lessons whereas before it was subsidised so there's a huge problem at the moment getting music into schools and getting awareness in music and that’s where I come in, trying to inspire them. I come from nothing, my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a drum kit, I did it myself and I tell them that if you want something you can do it yourself but you’ve got to be determined.

SP - Do you have any other projects in the works at the moment?

JR - I’ve got a 3 piece band called Triple J that’s mainly original material and we’re about to do a festival in the Isle of Man and one in North Wales. I also play with a blue band based in London, I’m doing a gig with them week after next, so I still play live but I pick and choose when I want to do it so that’s great.

SP - Sounds good! Now, how many albums do you think that you’ve recorded on over your career?

JR - Countless. Countless albums. I think with Status Quo I did about 12 or 14. Loads, loads.

SP - And what advice would you give to any musicians wanting any session or live work?

JR - First advice would be to make sure you have an academic base behind you because you won’t make a lot of money out of music to start with. So if you want it to work, make sure you have some qualifications so that you can still be earning money in the meantime. My son from my first marriage, he’s now 33 and works for Fender Guitars, he got a degree in guitars in London, played in some bands and all that but of course it’s so difficult to make money out of music but luckily because he had his degree, he got this job with Fender. But he still plays live, he’s in a band, recording at the moment but it’s so difficult to get out there they do gigs and all that but it’s almost like winning the lottery how difficult it is to make it big in the music business.

SP - How about drummers in particular? Any advice for recording, any do’s or don'ts?

JR - Yeah, make sure your bass drum pedal doesn’t squeak. Seriously! That is one of the worst things ever, You got a squeaky pedal, the microphones pick it up really badly, oh, it’s awful! Don’t take a huge kit into the studio, try and have a basic kit. Kick drum, small sizes, small toms, small floor tom and a few symbols but keep it really basic because it's so much easier to mic up and there's not as much to spill into the mics as well.

SP - And what would be your personally preferred gear for studio or live show?

JR - Well as I said before, small kit in the studio, small sizes. I use this big kit for doing big gigs and the schools because the kids love to see a big kit and it looks great, it’s a lovely sounding kit. But it wouldn’t be practical to do small gigs in pubs and club with this because, you know, it’s too much to lug around. It’s alright for me at the moment because I’ve got my technician doing it!

SP - And a fine job he’s doing! Lastly, where can people go to find out more about your master classes?

JR - My website is www.JeffRich.co.uk and it’s got all the information you need and people can email me through the website as well. I do get round to answering my emails.

Thanks again to Jeff for giving us his time.

 

Stabbed Panda Presents: Alone With Wolves

Stabbed Panda Presents: Alone With Wolves Interview Stabbed Panda Presents, Season 2 Episode 10, Alone With Wolves

In this episode, Liam and Si chat with Hertfordshire modern rock & metal band Alone With Wolves. We get an insight in to their new album, with exclusive release and title info.

Stabbed Panda Presents: Alone With Wolves by Stabbed Panda Presents... on Mixcloud

Links. AWW on Facebook AWW on BandCamp

 


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Stabbed Panda Presents: The British IBM

Stabbed Panda Presents: The British IBM Interview Liam & Si chat with Aidy, frontman for Cambridge indie band and retro game enthusiasts The British IBM.

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Stabbed Panda Presents: The Prisoner Of Mars

Stabbed Panda Presents: The Prisoner Of Mars Interview Liam & Si chat with Cambridge’s own psychedelic rocker The Prisoner Of Mars.

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Stabbed Panda Presents: Band Of Brothers

Stabbed Panda Presents: Band Of Brothers E.P Review Liam chats with Anglo-French indie-rockers Band Of Brothers.

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E.P. Review by Jack Gunner

While the first association for some of the term, "Band of Brothers", will be the grimy khaki of the Emmy winning, Spielberg helmed World War II mini-series of 2001, Shakespeare nerds will know it from its original context – the ending of the renowned St Crispin’s Day Speech from the Bards Henry V, as the warrior king with the dismal bowl-cut rallies his soldiers for one final push at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

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Opener Blades of Glory is a 90’s-Britpoppy – there’s notes of Albarn to the vocals - anthemic number with a bouncy intro that’s part Holloways, part Levellers which leads into a more subdued verse and a power-house, feel-good, chorus that kicks the EP off in great style.

Bluesy Steeve takes the journey in indie time-travel back a little further, hinged on a subtle, constant bass line interspersed with some Hendrix style guitar riffs and moments of a Clash-esque sound in the chorus, it’s a real indie-disco song, that will undoubtedly form a cornerstone of the boy’s live shows.

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September Sun is a very short-and-sweet acoustic number which provides a head-turning change in tone from the other tracks, but that is rarely a bad thing. The lyrics, somewhat sentimental and poetic, might come across as borderline schmaltzy to some, but the simplicity and the repetition of lines such as, ‘long are the winter nights’ manage to hit the right notes, reminiscent even of some of the Frost poems about nature. That’s the last literary reference in this review of a rock album. I swear.

What’s the Game? brings the listener back to speed with an ever-so-slightly Libertines-esque, punk-lite track that, unlike the others on the disc runs on for a bit, allowing the musicianship to breathe a bit – the drums are at their best here, starting with a simple rhythmic build-up before exploding in pop-punk flurries, while Lawrence, (vocals), unveils his inner Billie Joe Armstrong on the rousing, emotive chorus.

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Young Wings closes off the disc with a folk-y, summer-y guitar backdrop that shows off another side to the bands tempo – it’s the kind of song that would feel right at home at a summer festival played to an evening daisy chain crowd, and it’s a decent listen and adequate disc-closer even here in rainy Yorkshire, though let down ever so slightly by a bland chorus.

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Band of Brothers, like the comrades of their namesake, are old-school in their sound and their vibe, sounding less like a band of the current nerd-rock-fused-with-dance scene that dominates modern indie, and more like a fun, drink-and-dance-along pop-rock act, which carves them out a great space in the market. With a decent range for a five-track that shows talented craftsmanship, good energy and the potential for expansion, both sides of the Channel could do with standing up and taking note of them.

(8.5/10) Jack Gunner

Stabbed Panda Presents: The Varsity

Stabbed Panda Presents: The Varsity Album Review In our first ever video interview, Liam chats with local good-times indie-rock legends, The Varsity.

Review of “Get Down, Get Loud!” by Jack Gunner

Its hard to know what to expect from Cambridge alt-rock up and comers The Varsity. Claiming a vast array of influences, their early work has a melting-pot feel that could easily have sounded like a musical power-tussle, but instead carves them out as one of the city’s most intriguing unsigned acts.

The four-piece, consisting of vocalist Nigel Mpakti , guitarist Oscar Corney, bassist Matt Barkway and drummer Sean Clayton have spent the last few years spreading their fun-driven sound around the loosely-worn Cambridge circuit, with sets at venues including the Portland Arms (A great venue, by the by, that doesn’t seem to get enough support), and the Cambridge 105 tent at the Strawberry Fair, before February saw the release of their debut EP, ‘Get Down, Get Loud’.

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The album kicks off with, Tomorrow Never Comes, an infectiously catchy anthem of vitality that thankfully sounds nothing like the Garth Brooks dirge it shares its title with. With a great bass lick intro from Barkway, elements of Arctic Monkeys to the vocals, and some memorably off-the-wall lines, such as - “I’ll do some crazy shit/I’ll set my hair on fire just to prove a point” – something which you hope for health and safety reasons isn’t a regular feature of their gigs. Fire safety is, after all, what rock is all about.

Jake’s Song keeps up the tempo nicely, blending a nicely shoegazy indie-rock backdrop with a hint of melodic hardcore vocals and a short, slightly prog-esque guitar solo. It would be comparable to some of the mid-era Lostprophets numbers if recent events hadn’t made that just about the worst comparison a music journalist could make. Nonetheless, it’s an instant repeat-track, and unquestionably the highlight of the EP.

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Red Light sees the discs emotive core, the lyrics turn a little angsty,but they’re matched with an upbeat rapid-fire verse which melts slickly into a more melodic chorus, before an effectively layered ending act.

Titular number, Get Down, is a left-fielder, pairing the hazy indie backdrop with unexpected rap vocals and a slight ska-feel to the chorus. If there’s a criticism to be made, its that the sound quality seems to waver a little on this track, the punchy style maybe requires a little more volume and clarity – but this is something that can easily be ironed out in recording or concert.

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Righteous Eyes brings the disc to a satisfying close with a more Britpop style, adopting an ever-so-slightly Albarn-esque spoken word pentameter in the early portion before sliding into a more organic chorus, bringing back the light-hearted vibe as the listener is given a catchy first-person narrative of an unconvincingly repentant love-rat.

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As the festive season draws to a close, anyone feeling like they may claw their eardrums out if they hear, Driving Home for Christmas one more time could find some nice appeasement with The Varisty – their début shows an outstanding diversity in sound for a five-track – and with their sideline in acoustic numbers, a full length will likely have even more reach - and a real commitment to fun and energy in the performance style.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and keep supporting Cambridge music!

(9/10)

Jack Gunner

Here’s some links, free of charge: The Varstiy on Facebook The Varstiy on YouTube "Get Down, Get Loud!" on iTunes

Stabbed Panda Presents: 28 Boulevard

28 Boulevard header Liam talks with Tim and Michael from Cambridge indie-alt-rockers 28 Boulevard.

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Review by Jack Gunner 
Formed in 2010, 28 Boulevard have earned themselves a reputation as one of Cambridgeshire’s best unsigned bands. Having played the standard smorgasbord of talent nights around their homelands, the boys profess a desire to stretch beyond their county limits Fresh from a mini-tour around the UK with pop-rockers Room Service, they’re back home for a while, with a number of upcoming gigs in their local area. 

We don’t know too much about them at this stage – they purport to be inspired by Biffy Clyro, Muse, Feeder and Bloc Party, love playing music ‘in the studio, on the stage and for their neighbors’ – which is good, as bands who hate playing music tend to suck - and in the true indie style of taking the banal and giving it meaning, plucked their name from a poster hanging in their practice room.

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The five-piece is led by Tim Lloyd-Kinnings on vocals and guitar, with his brother Lewis Lloyd-Kinnings (LK) on guitar and keyboards, Cameron Gipp on guitar, Lewis Moon on bass and Michael Smith on drums and backing vocals. 

Opening number Logistics is the EP’s lead track, and the bands newest single, with a chair-tastic video for it on YouTube to check out, (LINK!). A solid percussion cold-open with a sudden jolt of fast-paced, urgent sounding guitar leads into an enjoyable track- its here that the Bloc Party influence is clearest - which effectively pairs stripped-back verses, with a powerhouse, sing-a-long chorus. The swirling guitars and keys, combined with the semi-angsty lyrics provide the song an anthemic feel that would make it a great gig-opener. 

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Treat Me Like A Fool, is the pick of the bunch, a bouncy, straightforward number with some  enjoyable lyrics that blend neo-trendy self-deprecation, ‘Everybody here has cigarettes/ I’m the only non-smoker and it makes me feel undressed’ , with a more sinister tone at points, the lines - ‘So I went to town and bought a gun/And pretended to shoot the birds all flying into the sun’ indicate a darker undertone to the typical frustrated-young-protagonist, which would be interesting to see the band develop further. Lloyd-Kinning’s vocals are at their strongest here, reaching the high notes on the chorus without sounding forced in the process. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a hazier British Weezer, with notes of a poppier Libertines. 

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MCE’  brings the disc to a closewith some spacey guitars, and a more pop-punkish vibe, with a simple repetitive structure to the lines. Attempting  to analyse the lyrics can be jarring – the protagonist has a letter for a lost love he isn’t sure what to do with (my initial reaction was, ‘Um… post it?’), but, critical pretentiousness aside, the track is a real ear worm - its not hard to imagine skinny-jeaned, small-hatted crowds chanting along to the refrain, ‘I would love you if I had the choice’.  Taking an unexpectedly mellow third act, the song fades into a melodic guitar dénouement which brings the EP to a satisfying ending. 

As a sample of what’s to come, the EP offers a lot of promisealthough with only a meagre three tracks, its hard to really imagine what a full album might sound like. The ending of the third track alludes to a more chilled style, and they’ve expressed comfort with playing smaller, acoustic gigs, so the slight lack of variation isn’t too concerning at this point. The musicianship is slick and straightforward, with the poppy, quasi-American vocals a strong fit for the background. All in all, while it treads very familiar ground, their sound brims with youthful energy, and indicates it would be fun to check out live, a great starting point for any young band. 

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In an August where Mallory Knox – professed Facebook friends to the Boulevard boys – are slotted to play the Reading and Leeds main stages, it seems high time for music fans to realise that there’s more to Cambridge than the university, the punts, and the pretty skies. If you’re looking for a catchy new indie band to check out this autumn, you could do a hell of a lot worse than 28 Boulevard. 

Links!

Stabbed Panda Presents: DAFM

DAFM header Today we present to you the good-times funk-rock-psychedelic stylings of DAFM. Si enjoys a beer with vocalist Tom and bassist Sam.

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Review by Wesley Freeman-Smith

The somewhat enigmatically named DAFM, (“what does it mean?” I hear you think ferociously), are hardly billing themselves as a ‘serious’ band. If anyone saw Man of Steel recently, and wondered where it’s sense of humour was, it’s possible these guys stole it. Describing themselves as ‘music to barbecue to’, and with a penchant for beer, (including novelty outfits), these guys seem to present themselves as the antithesis of anything too hip, self-serious, or po-faced. They are the anti-Radiohead, the anti-Joy Division. They’ve never even heard of Wild Beasts, and probably don’t know how to make Macs do that hip triangle symbol either.

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The fairly self-explanatory ‘Promo EP’ fills it’s 4 tracks with the kind of soulful 70’s homage that in anyone else’s meaty hands would feel regressive and neanderthal. In DAFM, the riffs, solos, the harmonica and the cowbell work as a reminder that music can just be fun, and it doesn’t have to be making some statement bigger than itself. Channelling a range of influences from both older and newer acts, (think the kind of music Mike Patton might still be making if he wasn’t so busy pushing boundaries and making zombie noises), it’s almost impossible to feel down while this is playing. When you can sound this energetic on record it’s a hard to imagine them playing to anything but pubs full of sweaty, dancing people. You’d have to be pure killjoy not to appreciate the energy here.

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In terms of songs and musicianship, it’s all fairly solid stuff. Even on first listen, there are enough obvious hooks to trip your brain up head first into the songs. It’s practically overflowing with inventive flamboyance and clever noodling which, true to the press release, boasts a tightness that only comes from playing together for years. ‘Magnify Infinity’ launches with the kind of fast-talking, better-than-a-roomful-synths riffage, driving home a distortion and funk that wouldn’t feel too out of place on a Primus record. ‘Pussyfootin’ is pretty damn soul-funk, again not breaking any new ground but still managing to be tight as hell and insanely competent. Laden with funk bass noodling (and, actually, noodling on all the strings) it’s near impossible to dislike. Contemporaries in the hard rock scene would be people like the Chilli’s, albeit leaning more to the Frusciante side. Despite these American touchstones, there’s something quintessentially English about these songs. It’s a reminder that once upon a time, we had a pop / rock scene that wasn’t afraid to take risks, and music charts that didn’t feel so uniform and homogeneous.

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Just four tracks is a fairly concise musical statement, and I suppose from a critical point of view, if this was to work as an album there’d need to be a little variation. The songs are all excitable and eager, and perfectly built for a live stage. There’s a sense all this came out of jamming, out of playing live, and as a flyer for a show it works perfectly. As to where it’s ultimately going, who knows? And frankly, who cares? It’s doubtful it’s going to knock the latest minimalist or miserablist trend off the top of the alternate rock charts, but that doesn’t mean it bloody well shouldn’t. The argument was recently put to me that if it’s not doing something new, why bother? Well, sometimes when you mine the past, you end up sounding like this; that’s why.

Here, have some links: DAFM’s Press Release & Bio DAFM on Facebook

 

Stabbed Panda Presents: Blunderbuster

Blunderbuster header

Blunderbuss- noun. An archaic flintlock firearm, most commonly used by gangsters in the near future to execute illegal time travellers. Because in the future, we’re weird.

 

The other day, I became a proud owner of a shiny new E.P from Stafford based quintet ‘Blunderbuster’. First of all, I shall endeavour to enlighten you about them. Because I’m nice like that.

We’ll look at the members to begin with, because it’s best to know who I’m talking about, when I mention them by name later on, sparing you all the shame of your own ignorance. On the back of their professional looking E.P cover, it shows them leaning up against the wall of a brick building, neatly arranged from left to right for your ease, (also pictured below). Starting at the left, we have Hywel Evans, fiddle-master, followed by Loz Shaw who deals with shouts, mandolin, and bass, with Ben Burns, vocalist, electric guitarist and banjo player next in line. Fourth figure along is Sam Johnson, drummer, cajonist and fellow shouter to Mr. Shaw, and finally on our line-up we cannot forget the other vocalist and acoustic guitarist, Jules Davies. So there we are, a rogue’s gallery of a sort.

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The band came together (stop laughing), with a much larger collection of musicians, but as typically happens, life has a way of buggering with things whether you want it to or not, knocking out an accordion and tin whistle and changing a couple of members. This sudden absence of folk-instrument based players is one of the main reasons for their much punkier and heavier sound, which, for your interest, is classified by the band as Celtic Punk, though still retains a number of folk elements.

You now know enough to be considered a novice Blunderbuster enthusiast, which means you can engage in small talk with the more hardcore fans at their gigs and not feel like a complete tit. Congratulations.

Now, we can move onto the E.P, which is great, because I’ve been wanting to talk about it since I put the amusing cultural reference at the top of the article.

I’ll begin by saying how much I enjoyed this E.P. It’s rare that I hear music that makes me want to dance at nine in the morning when I wrote this, however, this band, and their delightful E.P did. I didn’t actually dance, because I actually have some dignity (usually runs out around lunchtime though).

It opens the proceedings with ‘Dani’s House Party’, which introduces itself through the medium of acoustic guitar, building up to add the electric, and the fiddle before bursting into what my head is adamant is called ‘piratey jig music’. It’s a fast paced start up to the whole CD, that I suspect would inspire people to shout along to the words, wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care (they should care, however, because they look like fools), and get obnoxiously drunk (which works as the perfect excuse for not caring about how much of a fool you look, waving your hands around above your head).

'Dani's House Party' is followed by the much softer acoustic and fiddle intro to 'Old Macquarie', joined with equally soft vocals before kicking off into a punkier, faster version of itself. Listeners may be tempted to compare this to something by the Dropkick Murphy's, but I wouldn't, because that would be lazy. Wait a minute… Anyway, you'll probably enjoy this as much as I did for it's masterful fiddle-work and melancholy, yet inspiring sound.

Third song on the E.P, ‘Picked up and Fucked up’, starts acoustic, but rapidly descends into a wonderful upbeat ‘jump-around’ track about women and being really drunk (not exactly a very in-depth lyrical break-down, but I am on a word limit here), with powerful foot-stomping drums and sing-along ‘woah’s for the simple folk who can’t be bothered, or are incapable of remembering the words.

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'Kick Arse' or it's full title, according to their Facebook page, 'I Play in a Kick Arse Celtic Punk Rock Band' is a brilliant example of Hywel's fiddling skills, accompanied by shout-along lyrics. Listeners may want to learn how to jig, and down a lot of alcohol at the same time to fully appreciate the experience. I know how to do the second, and I'm sure many of you, dear readers do too. Regrettably, I'm sure there are many out there who can already do both, so we've got a lot of catching up to do.

Finally, and with much sorrow, (which can easily be remedied by simply playing the entire E.P on repeat) we come to the last song ‘The Crucible’. I’m sure it has a specific name, but it starts with military-style drums, and a simple electric guitar melody. It’s a much slower song to start than most of the others, but that’s not a down-side- far from it in fact. Once the vocals get going, it picks up the pace, moving from a gentler opening gambit into a faster rhythm, interspersed with slower parts, and much to my delighted surprise, fiddle-lead breakdowns.

I’m normally a little sceptical of folk-based music, but Blunderbuster has conveyed to me that it does have many admirable qualities, and can be blended masterfully with modern styles. It’s a rare thing these days to find something that opens up musical vistas, but I honestly reckon that people who feel the same was as I did about folk and variants thereof, will be thoroughly inspired to give it a go, thanks to Blunderbuster. Check them out, for shows and such on Facebook.com/Blunderbuster

I suppose that’s all from me this time around blessed readers, but before I go: if you want us to keep reviewing awesome underground bands, (which you do), we’d ask you to show your support by liking our Facebook Page. I promise it’s worth it. Peace out.

Reverend Mickey Kink.