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Author Topic: The Utterly Weird Session Thread  (Read 16607 times)

J.J. Blair

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #30 on: February 23, 2005, 03:47:41 am »

Well, since we have digressed from sessions to just good rock stories ... I have a couple.

My business partner was Jerry Garcia's 'assistant' for a short period.  He could tell a thousand of these, but one of my favorites of his stories involves the rehearsal facility we own.  Limp Bizkit was rehearsing, and for whatever reason, Fred Durst decided to smash this control room window type thing in room A.  I believe that he kinda trashed the room, too.  My partner discovers this the next day and calls their management to ask them for some money.  They start telling him that he'll need to get a PO from the label, yadda, yadda, yadda...  After expressing to them that this was not an option and that we needed the money right then, they still insisted that they couldn't just cut us a check.  He walks into their room w/ the cordless and asks them to listen to something.  The next sound they hear is him smashing a bass guitar.  He then informs them that for every hour that we don't have a check, he will break another instrument.  They had a cashier's check there in 45 mins.

Speaking of people who act like jack asses, on another occasion, Kiss was rehearsing there.  Some young band is in the lobby shooting pool, and Gene Simmons walks into the lobby.  The singer for the band goes up to Gene to start gushing over him.  He starts telling him how Kiss is the whole reason that he started playing music and wanted to be in a band, etc. Gene responds: "Is that your band across the hall from us?  You know, you sound a lot like Love and Rockets.  Maybe you should consider becoming a Love and Rockets cover band, or just getting out of music all together."

D'oh!

Mandy (don't know last name), from the band World War 3, is rehearsing with somebody and has this dog, that is some kind of mastiff that he says is illegal in the US, that he 'won in a bare knuckle fight.'   Apparently, he was a bare knuckle fighter in Germany and according to him he had to leave the country after he killed some guy in one of the fights (allegedly).  Anyway, this dog, which was originally bred by the Romans, is easily two hundred pounds and he is on a chain that Mandy is holding.  I'm holding a soft drink from  a fast food restaurant in my hand, talking about the dog with him.  Suddenly, the dog lunges for me, and although he comes up short due to the chain, I instinctively squeeze my cup and the drink explodes everywhere in my hand.  

Anyway, while Mandy is rehearsing he decides to put the dog in room A.  Setting a precedent to be followed by Green Day and then the above mentioned Fred Durst, the dog trashes the room.  He starts eating the insulation out of the walls, etc.  I tell Mandy that he has to leave the dog outside, so he chains the dog up out front.  Somebody parks across the street from the studio and starts crossing the street to enter the studio.  The dog breaks the chain that is holding him and starts running after this guy, who turns around, runs and climbs up the fence across the street.  The dog is now running around loose and everybody is terrified.  I close the front door and I'm trying to get over to the loading door to close it.  I have a .45 in my hand, and if I see the dog anywhere near me, I'm going to kill it.  People are running into their studio rooms and closing the doors.  We got the loading doors closed, I made Mandy deal with the damn dog and nobody got eaten, thank god.  Who knew rehearsal could be so dangerous?

Hmmmm ... speaking of dangerous sessions, I'll have to tell you guys later about when I had to throw the rap group Bloods & Crips out of the place.  But for now, I need to get some sleep.  Ooooh, but there was the time that the singer of a certain group, whose name rhymes with Stone Temple Pilots, showed up in a dress, dissheveled after disappearing for two days on a crack run downtown.  (Obviously, I have no qualms using people's real names!)

BTW, does anybody know the story behind the Leon Russell song "Shootout At the Plantation"?
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

Radd 47

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #31 on: February 23, 2005, 07:17:39 pm »

I love the story in Blaney's book about an early ZZ concert.

Apparently, the afternoon before the show, Franko Congo was showing a few friends a new way to drink beer he had discovered called shotgunning. This involved cutting a hole in the bottom of the beer can, inverting it, then popping the pop top to drain the beer into the mouth as fast as possible.(I'm sure that more than a a few of you are privy to this method!) Anyway, later that evening, Bill Ham is sweating bullets because it's five minutes til showtime and no Frank! Just then, Frank walks in, complete with his shotgunning buddies. He is completly wrecked from "shotgunning" all afternoon. Ham freaks out and starts looking for a substitute, but Frank tell's him he can still play. Well, Ham has no other choice, so Frank goes on. Amazingly, it was like auto pilot, nobody noticed any impaired drumming. But now it's time for Billy's guitar solo so Frank drifts backstage where his afternnon buddies are still shotgunning the suds. (I think Dan Mitchell was there, the drummer for the Moving Sidewalks)  

Anyway, half way into BG's solo, Frank comes stumbling out onto the stage! Ham is by the curtain, trying not to be noticed, trying to lure the meandering Frank off stage. Next, Frank grabs his hi hat stand and stumbles over to BG, who was playing his prized "Pearly Gates" at the time, and says "I'm gonna smash your f...in guitar.!" Billy just smiled at him while still soloing and said "I don't think you want to do that!" So Frank turns and hurls the hi hat stand backstage, nearly missing the still shotgunning Dan Mitchell! Mitchell is pissed, so he grabs the stand and hurls it back onstage, barely missing Billy! Well, finally, Franko hears his cue to get back on the drums, and he comes in right on the beat.

It was after this gig that the Hambone imposed the "No swiggin and giggin" rule!

(As a huge ZZ fan, I should say that this episode happened a very long time ago. Frank is now a responsible family man and can still kick out the jams better than ever!)

Then there was the time Duane Allman noticed one of his roadies enjoying some "favors" offstage from one of the groupies, and alerted the spotlight guy to the action, who promptly illuminated the smiling Red Dog, who just stood there: "I grabbed it buy the ears and shouted let it eat!"

(second hand stories, I feel like a geek next to you guys! Oh well)

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Bill Mueller

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #32 on: February 23, 2005, 09:53:52 pm »

Radd,

I'm glad you added the "No Swiggin" part, because when I was with the band the rule was "One beer before the show, no more!". This rule was the bible. I was told by Pete that if I was caught with anything else on the tour that Bill Ham would drop me off in the desert. In fact, the band itself was on a $5,000.00 per offense rule at the time. That doesn't mean that stuff didn't happen, but we were very careful around Bill.

Terry, that brings me to something I was thinking of asking you. I knew Bill Ham as the toughest damn manager in Rock. His reputation preceeded him everywhere we went. I saw him do things to stage hands, club owners and concert promoters that I never saw anyone else do, (and won't talk about). At the same time, it was kind of a tough love thing too. He was not exactly like dad but we knew we could count on him.

Here's my question. How was he as a producer? I know he was always credited with producing the band, but I always thought it was really you doing the producing. I don't want to say anything bad about Bill, but I used to think he was too damn mean to produce music.

Radd, I haven't read the book, but the Paladium show was my fault. Actually that one belongs in the Horror session thread.

Thanks,

Bill
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"Don't take it personally. But this shit is a science." J.J.Blair

“The Internet is only a means of communication,” he wrote. “It is not an amorphous extraterrestrial body with an entitlement to norms that run counter to the fundamental principles of human rights. There is nothing in the criminal or civil law which legalizes that which is otherwise illegal simply because the transaction takes place over the Internet.” Irish judge, Peter Charleton

J.J. Blair

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #33 on: February 24, 2005, 01:22:24 am »

OK, it's 1993 and this rap group called Bloods and Crips has room B locked out.  It involves a DAT player going through the PA and 30 people hanging out in the room, smoking dope while one or two of them are on the mics.  And yes, these were real gang members (allegedly).  One of the guys comes to tell me that it sounds fucked up, so I go in there and somebody has cranked the input gain on the DAT channels to the max and they have blown out the woofers and sub woofers for the entire room.  

I try to explain to their manager what happened and how one of them did this and how he is going to have to pay for it.  I find myself in a really heated conversation with the manager and a bunch of the group are standing around me asking why I'm 'disrespecting' him.  I'm really starting to lose it at this point, and I say, "So let me get this straight: You are not going to pay for the damage?  Then get out now.  Y'ALL JUST GET THE FUCK OUT!"  And I walked over to the door and held it open, realizing what I had just done.  I hear one of them say, "Damn!  That is the brashest white boy I ever heard!"

Well, they all walk out without incident, but they hang out in the parking lot for about two hours.  Everybody in the rehearsal facility knows what just happened, and they are hiding in their rooms.  I was wondering what I had just done.  Eventually they all left the parking lot, but we were sure that there was going to be some type of reprisal.

That evening, I am hanging out in the lobby playing pool by myself.  I hear some footsteps outside the front door and then I hear 'click-click' kind of sound.  I immediately dive behind the soda machines, because I am sure that somebody outside has just locked and loaded an Uzi and is about to spray the front door.

Nothing happens.  

I crawl over to the door to look out the little window next to the door.  A bum is standing outside.  The sound I heard was him cracking open a can of beer!
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

Radd 47

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #34 on: February 25, 2005, 04:54:51 pm »

OK, that was Billy Ethridge doing the shotgunning with Frank. Not Dan Mitchell. I think Mitchell got drafted.

Another funny story I remember, the Merry Frankster was at Ethridge's house one time, and decided to relieve himeself in the catbox while Ethridge was in the other room. Ethridge comes into the room and see's Frank's "surprise" in the catbox and says "Oh my god, something is terribly wrong with my cat!" While Ethridge was rushing out the door to take the animal to the vet, Frank let him in on the prank.

I know, disgusting story, but pretty funny!

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Bill Mueller

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #35 on: February 25, 2005, 07:35:38 pm »

I was going to put this on the Strange Other Worldly Gear thread but I think it belongs here more.

So when I was a kid this kind of stuff happend to me alot. I would be working a show and have no idea who the next act was.

I was roadie with Humble Pie and we were in the middle of the Eat It tour (1972 I believe). That band toured ten months a year and 26 or more days a month. Yeow. We frequently had unusual opening bands in those days. We had shows with Humble Pie, Dave Mason, Foghat and Lighthouse, all on the same show. It was great.

Anyway, I was working stage and assisting monitors on this one show and this band shows up. About ten black guys in long colorful robes and headgear. Now, we knew what to do with a drum set, lead vocal, lead guitar and bass, but had no idea what to do with these guys and no time to figure it out. They had congas, and lots of strange little percussion toys and if I remember right, four or five mics across the front of stage. They came out with these little boxes with metal tines attached and started thumb picking this plink, plunk stuff into the mics. Well we were grabbing faders left and right trying to get a mix. I had no idea where the particular sounds were coming from and about the time we figured it out their set was over.

It was Earh Wind and Fire.

Another show that was interesting was a big festival I did with ZZ Top in Houston around the same time. It was at Jepperson Stadium (I believe that is what it was called) and it was an all day afair. There must have been about ten acts on that show. So I was standing stage right and this old guy walks up and stands next to me. He is wearing rags and smells really bad. He has no shoes on and is carrying a guitar that has a HOLE in the middle of the sound board!

I looked at this old man and started to worry. He was obviously stoned and was standing right next to me looking all the world like he was going to run out on the stage. I had been in some hairy situations on stage (almost dragged into the crowd in Detroit) and was ready to take action if needed. I thought I might have to grab him and hold him down until security came and drug him away for me. If he moved, I was ready.

As the band  went into the end of their last song, we had some feedback on the vocal mic and I took my eyes off the old guy for a minute. All of a sudden I looked back and he was running out on to stage! Shit! About the time that I was deciding whether to run out from behind the monitor console and grab him, the crowd of about 50,000 went wild! I reconsidered.

It was Willy Nelson.

Best Regards,

Bill
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"Don't take it personally. But this shit is a science." J.J.Blair

“The Internet is only a means of communication,” he wrote. “It is not an amorphous extraterrestrial body with an entitlement to norms that run counter to the fundamental principles of human rights. There is nothing in the criminal or civil law which legalizes that which is otherwise illegal simply because the transaction takes place over the Internet.” Irish judge, Peter Charleton

J.J. Blair

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #36 on: February 25, 2005, 10:03:29 pm »

What?  You guys had never seen a kalimba?  You mean Humble Pie didn't do a kalimba solo in the middle of their set?  Not even an okarina solo?
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

Barry Hufker

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #37 on: February 25, 2005, 10:09:39 pm »

I used to do a lot of pipe organ recording for broadcast.  Joseph O'Connor (the host and organist) and I produced a weekly program called "King of Instruments."  We visited a different organ installation each week, recording music composed to be played on that style of instrument.  This week we were at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis.

The Cathedral, which is located more or less in the heart of the city, has an outreach to all people, especially the poor and homeless.  We were allowed to record at the Cathedral provided people were allowed to enter unimpeded to pray, tour, etc.

For some time, Joseph and I had been mulling over what was a new concept (to us anyway) about recording the organ.  We reckoned that pipe organs were really voiced to be heard by the people standing below the organ loft on the main floor and not 20' up in the air.  For this session then we were miking the instrument a reasonable distance away but on stands a little higher than head height.

As recording started and people wandered in, I quieted them by holding my finger over my mouth in the classic "sssshhhh" and then pointing towards the mikes.  Everyone was quick to see me and remained silent.

Things had been going surprisingly well.  The recorded sound was decent.  We had quite a number of pieces down and we were ready for the huge finale.  We had had several incomplete takes of the finale as the piece was a bear to play. Once again I rolled tape, called the take number and Joseph started out with a monstrous chord at a fiery tempo.  The sound was big, bold and sweeping.

Standing, listening and praying that this would be "the take", I looked up about midway through the piece to see the doors to the center aisle push mysteriously open.  A homeless man from the streets just outside slipped through the parted doors.  He was tall, thin and obviously drunk.  Seeing me, he shuffled ahead.  I spotted him instantly and gave him the universally understood "ssshhh" signal.  He continued to shuffle up the center aisle.

The organ continued its roar as the man shuffled closer.  I tried to make sure I got his attention.  I pointed to the microphones and put up my hands signalling he had to stop.  The organ continued its roar and the man shuffled closer.  I again signalled him to quit moving.  The organ roared and the man shuffled closer, all the time moving slow step by slow step unswervingly towards the microphones on the stand in the middle aisle.  I hurried towards the microphones as quietly as possible hoping to still save the take.  The organ roared. The man, having now made his way down the long aisle, finally reached the mikes.

I didn't know it, but even in his own mind the man understood he had microphones before him.  He leaned in towards the pair in order to be clearly heard.  "I don't mean you no harm mister.  I won't bother you." were the words spoken plainly and directly into the mikes.  Stunned that the inevitable had actually happened, I gave him a couple of slight nods and a half-smile-half-grimace acknowledging his statement. Satisfied he had made his intentions known to me, the man turned away and shuffled down the center aisle, exiting the church through the main doors.

When the final building-rattling chord ended and the reverb faded, I yelled to Joseph that we had to do the piece again.  Turning from the organ console in disbelief, Joseph was stunned by the story I told.  With a heavy sigh, I called another take.
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David Kulka

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #38 on: February 25, 2005, 10:41:12 pm »

Well, my little stories are on a small scale and not nearly as dramatic as some of the other offerings, but here goes.  Both took place in Studio 3 at United/Western, home of countless hit singles.

Nearly all the old Beach Boys hits had been recorded and mixed in 3, by the wonderful Chuck Britz.  In about '79 a Beach Boys comeback project was booked, with an unusual kicker.  Instead using the resident MCI console and 24-track, we set up a vintage tube mixer and (I think...it's been so long) an Ampex 350 2-track, with tube electronics.  Everything would be recorded live, kinda like the old days, on the old gear, old school style.

The "Closed Session" sign was on the door most of the time but even from the shop, it was clear that things weren't going too well.  Heated arguments rang down the hallway and retakes went on with numbing, Groundhog Day kind of repetition.  For us staffers the initial thrill soon turned to sadness.  My most vivid memory of that project is a group member jumping up and down on a cheeseburger in the hallway.  The burger was still wrapped, but the jumper seemed rather unwrapped.  After about a week the project was abruptly cancelled, the recordings were never released.

One day in '78 or '79 we got word that Glen Hardin, Elvis's piano player, was coming in to do a session with a mystery singer.  Who was the vocalist?  An Elvis fan who'd spent his life savings to book the room and bring the pianist in at triple scale, to record a vanity album.  Tragically, he was oblivious to the fact that he had no voice, and couldn't sing his way out of a phone booth.  As he butchered I Really Don't Want To Know and Unchained Melody, Mr. Hardin looked close to tears.  I kept a cassette copy and dubbed it to CD a while ago, and I assure you, it's awfulness stands the test of time.
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Barry Hufker

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #39 on: February 26, 2005, 08:56:29 am »

David,

Both of those are great!

Barry
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Consul

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #40 on: February 26, 2005, 09:24:15 am »

That second story is a perfect testament to what can happen if EFD (Elvis Fandom Syndrome) stays unchecked. Please, please don't let that happen to your loved ones! EFD is a serious disease that requires medical treatment.

Typical treatment usually consists of shock therapy induced by playing early Beatles albums over and over again (Beatles Shock Therapy, or BST). There are other, milder forms of therapy now available, though. Please check with your doctor.

Very Happy  Very Happy  Very Happy

With tongue firmly in cheek...
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Darren Landrum

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J.J. Blair

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #41 on: February 26, 2005, 11:49:37 am »

On a side note, you know that Jerry Scheff has played with both Elvises?  (Or would that be Elvi?)
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They say the heart of Rock & Roll is still beating, which is amazing if you consider all the blow it's done over the years.

"The Internet enables pompous blowhards to interact with other pompous blowhards in a big circle jerk of pomposity." - Bill Maher

"The negative aspects of this business, not only will continue to prevail, but will continue to accelerate in madness. Conditions aren't going to get better, because the economics of rock and roll are getting closer and closer to the economics of Big Business America." - Bill Graham

jimmyjazz

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #42 on: March 02, 2005, 02:14:50 pm »

Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 21 February 2005 19:56

Of course that kind of stuff is typical for St Louis. I too am from St Louis so I guess we should stick together.


Sign me up.  Born in St. Louis, raised in the area.  My mom's dad was probably the only lawyer in town who never owned a house -- but he rented his half of a Clayton duplex from Dizzy Dean!  They caught Dizzy splitting a beer with my mom's littlest sister late one afternoon, when said sister was only 5 years old.  As if to compete with mom's famous Cardinals connection, my dad's mom was Stan Musial's bookkeeper, mostly for Biggie's Restaurant.

Barry, if you've been involved with the St. Louis Symphony or Symphony Chorus at all during the past 15 years or so, you might know my sister Gail.  She sometimes plays odd keyboard parts (clavinette, etc.) with the symphony, or even the piano when their pianist can't make it, and she is the pianist for the Symphony Chorus.  She is also a vocal coach at Washington University.

As for strange studio tales, I can't even hope to compete.  Keep the stories coming, guys.  This thread is too much!
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CCC

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #43 on: March 02, 2005, 03:21:49 pm »

I have a story related to one of the not-very interesting-or-talented "trash the place" kind of bands mentioned earlier.

First time I assisted on a gig with not-very-interesting-or-talented band they wrecked the place. It was only a problem in so far as it was so tedious, predictable, non-threatening and utterly innocuous. Between the end of their gig in the wee hours and the next morning we had the room cleaned, refurnished, painted and ready to go for the downbeat of a string date the next morning. At their expense. I guess it worked out for everyone.

Some weeks later not-very-interesting-or-talented band is back in another room and I'm not on the gig. This time they trashed their lounge and the lounge for the room I was in as well...which really pissed off the not-very-sober producer I was with....so he went home and brought back a gun and went prowling for not-very-interesting-talented band. (I don't know much about guns, but this didn't look like a starters pistol - could have been a Glock, I guess). Not-very-interesting-or-talented band must have left for the day and they didn't cross paths with the other clients again, which, in retrospect, is a bit of a shame since the world "could" have been spared some pretty awful records. Not that I advocate the murder of rock stars per se....

I've got some other, better stories. Ask me about the band of cheese-heads who thought they were vampires that broke up in the studio before recording one note, followed by the lead singer having a nervous breakdown and curling up in a fetal position under the console. ....nevermind, that's most of the story right there...
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compasspnt

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #44 on: March 02, 2005, 03:41:21 pm »

Cool John...come on, out with the whole thing!
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