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Packie Russell Clips On You-tube


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#1 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 04:58 AM

Following on from earlier posts about the 1973 clip with Marcus Walsh: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ENzhd_JgAgg, another clip of Packie has now come to light on YouTube: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=EBwTNaGGPBE, seemingly recorded around the same time, but with some other local musicians, including a better tambourine player!

The others are (left to right) Packie's brother Gussie Russell on concert flute, Paddy Killourhy - fiddle, Rory O´Connor - whistle, Stevie McNamara - tambourine and Willie 'Bheag' Shannon - fiddle.

The tambourine playing on this second clip is especially interesting for me as it is the first time that I've actually seen an old-style tambourine player performing thumb-rolls on the instrument, a technique that can be heard on old recordings of both English and Irish tambourine playing, and which people have told me of in West Clare.

Edited to list all the musicians, correctly.


Edited by Stephen Chambers, 03 October 2016 - 09:24 PM.


#2 Lawrence Reeves

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 02:03 PM

Stephen, thank you for pointing this video out . I saw it last week searching on youtube for Clare dancing, and it showed up in the loop. Although off topic of concertinas, let me ask you about the bodhrán ( tambourine) playing of that era. I have seen a few occurrences of jingles on old instruments over the years, sometimes played open hand. The technique you call the thumb roll, is amazing. Is it just that you don't hear the attack, and the player rocking the drum? or is his thumb dragging against the skin causing a vibration? I also noted the tipper playing to be very top end as some young players call it. How common were these type of tambourines ( 17 or 18 inch) in the west? I know I have seen old photos of wren boys with similar instruments.




quote name='Stephen Chambers' date='May 9 2008, 04:58 AM' post='72091']
Following on from earlier posts about the 1973 clip with Marcus Walsh: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ENzhd_JgAgg, another clip of Packie has now come to light on YouTube: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=EBwTNaGGPBE, seemingly recorded around the same time, but with some other local musicians, including a better tambourine player!

The others include Packie's brother Gussie on concert flute, and the brothers John and Paddy Killourhy on whistle and fiddle respectively.

The tambourine playing on this second clip is especially interesting for me as it is the first time that I've actually seen an old-style tambourine player performing thumb-rolls on the instrument, a technique that can be heard on old recordings of both English and Irish tambourine playing, and which people have told me of in West Clare.
[/quote]

#3 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 03:53 PM

Although off topic of concertinas, let me ask you about the bodhrán ( tambourine) playing of that era. I have seen a few occurrences of jingles on old instruments over the years, sometimes played open hand. The technique you call the thumb roll, is amazing. Is it just that you don't hear the attack, and the player rocking the drum? or is his thumb dragging against the skin causing a vibration?

Lawrence,

Off (concertina) topic it may be, but the subject of old-style tambourine playing is one I'm always happy to talk about!

I first discovered Irish music around 1970, at a time when country people in Ireland still used the name tambourine for the instrument that has since become known as a bodhran (probably thanks to Sean O Riada), and those tambourines commonly had jingles on them. My first introduction was hearing Seamus Tansey play one (he's very good on it!) on his 1970 Leader LP (Masters of Irish Music: Séamus Tansey with Eddie Corcoran, Leader LEA 2005), and Joe Cooley's brother, Jack, made a fine fist of playing tambourine with him on his 1973 recordings: https://www.youtube....h?v=CGzJdoMeoQY.

Another noteworthy player was Bobby Casey's uncle, the fiddler and dancing master Thady Casey, from the Crosses of Annagh, here photographed in 1957:



ThadyCasey-tambourine1957.jpg
 

 

Whist another YouTube clip shows Denis Murphy also playing with the tambourine player Marcus Walsh (from Quilty) at the 1966 Kilrush Fleadh Cheoil: http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=_iuXCsD5jis

The thumb roll is played by (as you describe it) the "thumb dragging against the skin causing a vibration"- it's a technique commonly used by tambourine players in various styles, including English country music. A common tradition perhaps?

Edited to add:

 

How common were these type of tambourines ( 17 or 18 inch) in the west? I know I have seen old photos of wren boys with similar instruments.

Older tambourines/bodhrans tended to be smaller than 17 or 18 inches in size, and my experience would be that this made them better-suited to being played in the old "open" style (i.e. without being damped by the left hand) which tends to sound very "boomy" on an 18". The Killavil, South Sligo, maker Sonny Davey made his own rims and many of his older drums were 15" in diameter, which I think suits the old way of playing it best, though he also made 13 1/2" and (in later years) 18" bodhrans.

 

But when sieves were used for rims the size might depend on what was available in the local hardware shop! So my Davy Gunn bodhran is 16", whilst a crude old tunable one (also made from a sieve - almost certainly by Ted Furey) that I have is more like 18".

 

But I have seen smaller country-made tambourines - one in Listowel, Co. Kerry and another (by Sonny Davey) that's at the Sailor's Home pub outside Gurteen, Co. Sligo - whilst Jack Cooley appears to have been using a factory-made tunable tambourine, perhaps a 13 1/2" German-made one (such as I also have) - it's visible briefly at the beginning of the Joe Cooley clip, and much more clearly in this 1993 photo of him:

 

 

Jack20Cooley2092.jpg
 

 

So the (18"?) tambourine in the Packie Russell clips, from Doolin, is of an unusually large size (and it appears to be the same drum in both instances - maybe it too belonged to the pub, like Packie's concertina), whilst the only other one of that size that I've come across has been in the hands of a player in neighbouring Lisdoonvarna, so perhaps made in North Clare by the same person?

Most of my experience of traditional music has been in Counties Clare, Kerry and West Limerick in the South West of Ireland, and also further north in Co. Sligo, and I've encountered tambourines with jingles in all those places. No doubt they were also played elsewhere - as witnessed by the likes of Jack Cooley (Co. Galway) and Davy Fallon (Co. Westmeath).

But these days the tambourine seems (with the exception of mine) to be just about extinct in Ireland, though there are still old-style players around, like Ted McGowan or Seamus Tansey, both from Gurteen, who will gladly give mine a tip given half a chance. Indeed, when Seamus recorded 'Phantom Shadows of a Connaught Fire Light' they had to try to approximate the sound of Wren Boys playing traditional tambourines, for his Wren monologue, by combining the sound of bodhrans with that of orchestral tambourines, because they couldn't find any surviving examples. However, I've since backed him several times doing it, on the real thing!

 

Edited to add photo of Jack Cooley in 1993


Edited by Stephen Chambers, 04 December 2015 - 12:39 AM.


#4 Lawrence Reeves

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 04:56 PM

I guess the old assumption that the bodhrán was "exclusively" a farm implement is shot down, jingles don't fit the theory. I think that O'Riada's distain for many things should be made known. He wasn't fond of ceili bands from what I have heard.So Stephen, where does one find an old style tambourine / bodhrán ?



Although off topic of concertinas, let me ask you about the bodhrán ( tambourine) playing of that era. I have seen a few occurrences of jingles on old instruments over the years, sometimes played open hand. The technique you call the thumb roll, is amazing. Is it just that you don't hear the attack, and the player rocking the drum? or is his thumb dragging against the skin causing a vibration? I also noted the tipper playing to be very top end as some young players call it. How common were these type of tambourines ( 17 or 18 inch) in the west? I know I have seen old photos of wren boys with similar instruments.

Lawrence,

Off (concertina) topic it may be, but the subject of old-style tambourine playing is one I'm always happy to talk about!

I first discovered Irish music around 1970, at a time when country people in Ireland still used the name tambourine for the instrument that has since become known as a bodhran (probably thanks to Sean O Riada), and those tambourines commonly had jingles on them. My first introduction was hearing Seamus Tansey play one (he's very good on it!) on his 1970 Leader LP (Masters of Irish Music: Séamus Tansey with Eddie Corcoran, Leader LEA 2005), and Joe Cooley's brother, Jack, made a fine fist of playing tambourine with him on his 1973 recordings: http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=NCiqPCA_MRA.

Another noteworthy player was Bobby Casey's uncle, the fiddler and dancing master Thady Casey, from the Crosses of Annagh, photograped in 1957:

Posted Image

Whist another YouTube clip shows Denis Murphy playing with a tambourine player at the 1966 Kilrush Fleadh Cheoil: http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=_iuXCsD5jis

The thumb roll is played by (as you describe it) the "thumb dragging against the skin causing a vibration"- it's a technique commonly used by tambourine players in various styles, including English country music. A common tradition perhaps?



#5 Guest_Peter Laban_*

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 02:21 AM

Some nine years or so ago RTE aired a documentary about one of the old style Bodhran makers. I don't remember much of the detail except he was in North Kerry, the Listowel area. John B making an appearance and all. I think it was a restored old film from the late 60s or 70s.

The second fiddleplayer in the Packie clip is Willie 'Bheag' Shannon by the way.



For Clare dancing watch: Laichtin Naofa Ceiliband

Edited by Peter Laban, 10 May 2008 - 02:27 AM.


#6 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 06:23 AM

I guess the old assumption that the bodhrán was "exclusively" a farm implement is shot down, jingles don't fit the theory.

No, they certainly don't! laugh.gif

But large tambourines were being used by British Army bands 200 years ago, and it may not be altogether mischievous to suggest that they may have introduced them into Irish music - a bit like set dancing! wink.gif
 

 

I think that O'Riada's distain for many things should be made known. He wasn't fond of ceili bands from what I have heard.

He didn't like snare drums or accordions in traditional music, that's for sure, nor does he seem to have liked tambourine jingles, so the tambourine was stripped of them and the bodhran was born, as the drum for his group Ceoltoiri Chualann.

In that connection, it may be worth mentioning that when the Chieftains sprang out of Ceoltoiri Chualann in 1963, Paddy Moloney turned to Davy Fallon, an elderly tambourine player and farmer from Castletown Geoghegan in Co. Westmeath, for the first Chieftains' album. But Paddy persuaded him to tape up the jingles of his tambourine, so only the drum could be heard!
 

 

So Stephen, where does one find an old style tambourine / bodhrán ?

Sadly, one doesn't any longer. sad.gif

The last traditional tambourine was probably the beautiful 15" one made specially for me around 1990 by James "Sonny" Davey, from Killavil (near Gurteen), Co. Sligo, a master maker who had started making drums when he was only 10 (around 1920) and used to sneak out at night to play at crossroad and house dances with his mentor, the older flute player Tom McDonagh. But Sonny hadn't made one like it for twenty years or more by then, having gone over to making only the more fashionable bodhrans (for which his customers had included the likes of Christy Moore and Kevin Conneff of the Chieftains), and it took me several years to persuade him to build me a tambourine since he was no longer set up to make them.

Most unfortunately that tambourine was destroyed in 1995, when a woman fell off a bar stool in Gleeson's of Coore onto it, and I didn't have the heart to tell Sonny what had happened to his cherished creation (his arthritis had become too bad to make another one for me by then anyway) so I made a replica of it myself, even matching the exact same shade of brown paint that he used. I must have made a decent enough job of it though, as I was delighted to be approached (at the Coleman Cottage, Killavil) by one of his son's a couple of years ago, who thought "my" drum was one his father had made, and both Seamus Tansey and Tommy Hayes have asked me to make them one too!

Edited for spelling


Edited by Stephen Chambers, 04 December 2015 - 12:52 AM.


#7 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 07:27 AM

Some nine years or so ago RTE aired a documentary about one of the old style Bodhran makers. I don't remember much of the detail except he was in North Kerry, the Listowel area. John B making an appearance and all. I think it was a restored old film from the late 60s or 70s.

Sounds interesting, I wonder if that was about Davy Gunn by any chance? He was the best-known maker around those parts, and I met him the very first time I ever came to Ireland, to a fleadh in Listowel about 1973. Like many of the old-school makers he used the wooden rim of a sieve (or riddle) for the rims of his drums, I've got one of his somewhere...

The second fiddleplayer in the Packie clip is Willie 'Bheag' Shannon by the way.

Is he anything to the concertina player Micheál Shannon from Doolin I wonder?

But who's the tambourine player?

For Clare dancing watch: Laichtin Naofa Ceiliband

Yes, that's a really great clip. There's another interesting one, with Michael Falsey playing for dancers from Quilty, here: http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ-ZmWfOCiM

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 08:22 AM

That's a nice clip too, shouldn't be too hard finding out who are in the clip.

The whistle player may be Joe Cunneen and there are other familiar faces in the video as well (Steve don't you think one of the dancers, with the hair up and the glasses, looks an awful lot like a young version of Nel Gleeson?)

The plain set didn't seem to have caught on though, I have seen it danced in Moyasta a few times but never in the Miltown/Quilty area (I have seen it taught, by Aidan Vaughan, my son can dance it but I have never seen it in use at social occasions).

I have a bunch of recordings of (another instance of) the Quilty Ceili Band by the way with Junior Crehan, Michael Downes and others. Some of it quite good.

Also recently found some stuff of Mrs Crotty with Paddy Killoran and Josie Hayes recorded in Gleeson's in 1957 and 1960. And a tape of Thady Casey, Seamus Ennis, JC Talty, Martin Talty and Willie Clancy, some nice bits there too.

Edited by Peter Laban, 10 May 2008 - 09:22 AM.


#9 buikligger

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 10:18 AM

hi Stephen and others,

véééry interesting stuff for bodhrán players like me and Rea.

I put a message with a link to this thread on the bodhrán community group http://launch.groups...n/message/14571. So if you want you can participate in the discussion on that site.

kind greetings

Dirk De Bleser, Belgium

#10 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 06:32 PM

(Steve don't you think one of the dancers, with the hair up and the glasses, looks an awful lot like a young version of Nel Gleeson?)

Maybe it is Nell? :unsure:

The plain set didn't seem to have caught on though, I have seen it danced in Moyasta a few times but never in the Miltown/Quilty area (I have seen it taught, by Aidan Vaughan, my son can dance it but I have never seen it in use at social occasions).

You should venture down my direction more often, further into the wilds of West Clare (south of Cree) if you want to see the plain set danced socially. They often used to dance it to polkas here, in years gone by, and I've seen it danced in the Old Brogue (a.k.a. "the Cloche" - it was my "local" for a while) at Killimer with a polka for the final figure only last year (they have dances there most Saturday nights, that will usually include some sets).

Also recently found some stuff of Mrs Crotty with Paddy Killoran and Josie Hayes recorded in Gleeson's in 1957 and 1960. And a tape of Thady Casey, Seamus Ennis, JC Talty, Martin Talty and Willie Clancy, some nice bits there too.

Wow, I'd especially like to hear Mrs Crotty with Paddy Killoran :blink: , and Thady Casey too...

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 13 May 2008 - 12:38 PM.


#11 Guest_Peter Laban_*

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 05:28 AM

Wow, I'd especially like to hear Mrs Crotty with Paddy Killoran blink.gif , and Thady Casey too...


They are the recordings Michael Tubridy was talking about, a bit of poking around made them emerge soon after that talk.

Two recording sessions were done : one in 1957 at Gleeson's and another in 1960 at Master Gorman's house in Shanaway (the only places that had the electricity in those days). Paddy Killoran acts as master of ceremonies, introducing the musicians and there are lots of messages from the 'locals' to friends and family in the US as well.

The tapes also included another 'musical letter' from Killoran in New York to the family here. There he plays with members of the 'orchestra', Paddy Sweeney, Martin Wynne and others (and the infamous Jack McKenna on the electric guitar). Tapes like this give us little trivia like the fact Paddy Killoran had a cuckoo clock at home.

Kitty told me a lot about Killoran's visits and how going to Crotty's where the men played with Lizzie made her pine in the corner for a concertina. She is included in one of the tapes, sending greeting overseas, saying 'if I had a concertina now, I'd play you a tune'. 40 years before she finally got one.

The Thady Casey tape is another 'letter', Seamus Ennis acting a MC, like the BBC recording (from the same session that also gave us Willie Clancy and Aggie White playing the Shaskeen and the Mary Haren concertina recordings) Thady is a bit scratchy but his playing (on the fiddle) is nicer here.

I know the Plain Set gets danced in South West Clare, I was responding more or less to the attempt talked about in the clip of reviving it in the Quilty/Miltown area, which seems to have been unsuccessful, it's always the Caledonian here.

We're going to get Brid O Donohue's father to look at the dancing clip, Brid says he's likely able to identify everybody in it, I'll come back to that later.

Edited by Peter Laban, 12 May 2008 - 05:33 AM.


#12 Guest_Peter Laban_*

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 05:33 AM

Sorry, that was a double post.

Edited by Peter Laban, 12 May 2008 - 05:35 AM.


#13 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 06:44 AM

Wow, I'd especially like to hear Mrs Crotty with Paddy Killoran blink.gif , and Thady Casey too...


They are the recordings Michael Tubridy was talking about...

Peter,

Thanks for saving the remnants of my sanity :wacko: , I knew I'd been discussing the Kerry influence in the music and dancing of [South] West Clare, and dancing of the Plain Set, with somebody recently, and I've been going mad in the last 24 hours trying to remember who it was with and hunting for it in correspondence on my computer... But you've just reminded me that it wasn't over the internet, but in conversation with Michael Tubridy at his talk in Miltown - doh!

Mind you, you remind me of the confusion about the geography of County Clare, which has a North, East and West, but you'd never hear anybody talk of a South! Whilst what is often considered to be West (like Miltown Malbay) is officially North (and the North Clare Tourist Office was there for a while, some years ago), and what is geographically South West is described as West, though the West Clare Railway was originally called that only on its meanderings through North Clare, but became the South Clare Railway at Miltown Malbay, where it actually entered West Clare... Posted Image

Kitty told me a lot about Killoran's visits and how going to Crotty's where the men played with Lizzie made her pine in the corner for a concertina. She is included in one of the tapes, sending greeting overseas, saying 'if I had a concertina now, I'd play you a tune'. 40 years before she finally got one.

Was it this corner in Crotty's I wonder? ;) (It's great she's got the concertina there now, at last!)

Posted Image

We're going to get Brid O Donohue's father to look at the dancing clip, Brid says he's likely able to identify everybody in it, I'll come back to that later.

That would be mighty altogether!

#14 Dan Worrall

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 07:34 AM

I guess the old assumption that the bodhrán was "exclusively" a farm implement is shot down, jingles don't fit the theory.

No, they certainly don't! :lol:

But large tambourines were being used by British Army bands 200 years ago, and it may not be altogether mischievous to suggest that they may have introduced them into Irish music - a bit like set dancing! ;)

The tambourine, the bones, and the banjo were all staples in American minstrel music, which was all the rage in England and Ireland in the middle to late 19th century (I've reported earlier about its popularity with some 19th century Irish concertina players). In that the banjo almost certainly came to Ireland with the minstrels, it is not too mischevious either to suggest that use of the tambourine and bones in Irish ensemble playing came from that source too. Don't let the British army have all the fun!
I don't think I have seen any reference to tambourine or bones with Irish music in any of the old Irish music texts that predate the minstrels invasion (ca 1850). If you can find one, that may help the British army hypothesis....they invaded long before the minstrels! :rolleyes:
Cheers,
Dan

#15 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 08:05 AM

I don't think I have seen any reference to tambourine or bones with Irish music in any of the old Irish music texts that predate the minstrels invasion (ca 1850). If you can find one, that may help the British army hypothesis....they invaded long before the minstrels! :rolleyes:

Dan,

Just as Chief O'Neill later ignored the melodeon, concertina, harmonica and tinwhistle, along with the tambourine and bones, in his writings (though there is a banjo in one of his illustrations!), I'm not aware of earlier texts that mention the tambourine either. However, tambourines do appear in several paintings that predate the Famine, the earliest being "Snap-Apple Night" by Daniel Maclise, which portrays a Halloween party in Blarney in 1832:

Posted Image

The tambourine player is in the opening above the heads of the fluter, fiddler and piper, on the far top right of this detail:

Posted Image

I'm sorry about the quality of the image, which is the best I can find at the moment, but it is much, much clearer on the original painting.

Mind you, I don't rule out the possible later influence of the blackface minstrels, but let's not forget that many of the original ones were themselves Irish - so the influence could have been the other way! ;)

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 12 May 2008 - 08:30 AM.


#16 Guest_Peter Laban_*

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 08:59 AM

Kitty told me a lot about Killoran's visits and how going to Crotty's where the men played with Lizzie made her pine in the corner for a concertina. She is included in one of the tapes, sending greeting overseas, saying 'if I had a concertina now, I'd play you a tune'. 40 years before she finally got one.

Was it this corner in Crotty's I wonder? ;) (It's great she's got the concertina there now, at last!)

Posted Image



It was the very same corner, in fact she was telling me this when we came up there for the Mrs Crotty memorial plaque. It was the first time she had been in Crotty's since she was up with Josie And Paddy Killoran and she pointed out where everybody was sitting and there was a sense of satisfaction she'd come back playing, long after they were all gone.

I had posted a clip of Mrs Crotty and Josie Hayes elsewhere, so that's something to satisfy some curiosity. It is also the first recording of Josie we've been able to locate. Paddy Killoran does the introduction. For those who aren't aware: Josie Hayes was a fluteplayer and husband to Kitty Hayes, Paddy Killoran was married to one of Josie's sisters. The clip was recorded on during of Killoran's visits to Clare.

Edited by Peter Laban, 12 May 2008 - 09:02 AM.


#17 Stephen Chambers

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 09:57 AM

I don't think I have seen any reference to tambourine or bones with Irish music in any of the old Irish music texts that predate the minstrels invasion (ca 1850). If you can find one, that may help the British army hypothesis....they invaded long before the minstrels! :rolleyes:

... tambourines do appear in several paintings that predate the Famine, the earliest being "Snap-Apple Night" by Daniel Maclise, which portrays a Halloween party in Blarney in 1832

I'm sorry about the quality of the image, which is the best I can find at the moment, but it is much, much clearer on the original painting.

And here's another, clearer image from some ten years later. It's a detail from the unsigned watercolour "A Shebeen near Listowel" (attributed to Bridget Maria Fitzgerald, c. 1842), which clearly shows a large tambourine being played to accompany a barefooted fluter, whose clothing and military cap suggest that he may himself be an old soldier "down on his luck":

Posted Image

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 14 May 2008 - 11:47 AM.


#18 Guest_Peter Laban_*

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 10:06 AM

Here's a different version of the Shaugraun image:


Posted Image

Edited by Peter Laban, 12 May 2008 - 12:43 PM.





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