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1-to-10 Taking a Break

Hello, everyone!  I have an announcement to make.

Due to my schedule, which has been getting busier, as well as various other commitments, it seems the time has come for me to step down my blogging activity a slight notch or two.  As you’re probably aware, I’ve been keeping up this site on my own while also contributing regularly to Country Universe and making occasional contributions to Roughstock.  Unfortunately, my schedule has become such that I’ve been unable to keep up my 1-to-10 site to the quantity standards that I maintained early on in its existence (which has been the case for many months now).  Thus, after having tossed around the idea for a good while, I have made the decision to place The 1-to-10 Country Music Review on indefinite hiatus.

Rest assured this does not mean that I intend to stop blogging, which I couldn’t do if I wanted to.  But since running a website on my own is currently no longer feasible, Country Universe will now be the primary focus of my blogging efforts, where I will continue to post single reviews, album reviews, and interviews as my circumstances permit.  So if Country Universe is not already on your reading list, please go check it out, because that’s mostly where I’ll be from now on.

This was certainly not an easy choice to make – I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have a tremendous sentimental attachment to my little 1-to-10 blog.  But in the end, I believe working mainly as a part of a team-effort blog will be a much better situation for me.  For now at least, I’m still going to leave the door open for me possibly reviving this site somewhere down the road, (“Retiring” just felt like too strong a word) though I can’t say I see that happening in the foreseeable future.

While I don’t intend to go off on a spiel as if I’d just won Album of the Year, I couldn’t conclude this announcement without offering a sincere thank you to all who have read and supported my site over the course of the two-and-a-half years I’ve been running it.  Last but not least, big thanks to Matt Bjorke of Roughstock, and to Kevin Coyne and the rest of the Country Universe team for taking notice of my work, and giving me some of the best and most-cherished opportunities of my still-young blogging career.  I can’t begin to say how much it’s meant to me.

Thanks to all!  Looking forward to plenty more blogging fun to come in the near future.

- Ben Foster

I’ll close with the first song that I ever reviewed on my 1-to-10 blog.  It all began with this song, so it might as well end with it.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on September 20, 2012 in News and Events

 

2012 CMA Nominations

They’re out!  What are your thoughts on this year’s CMA nominations?  Discuss in the comments section.

Entertainer of the Year 

Jason Aldean
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
Taylor Swift

Female Vocalist of the Year

Kelly Clarkson
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist of the Year

Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Blake Shelton
Keith Urban

Vocal Group of the Year

The Band Perry
Eli Young Band
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo of the Year

Big & Rich
Love and Theft
Sugarland
The Civil Wars
Thompson Square

New Artist of the Year

Lee Brice
Brantley Gilbert
Hunter Hayes
Love and Theft
Thompson Square

Album of the Year (Awarded to artist and producer)

Luke Bryan, Tailgates and Tanlines - Produced by Jeff Stevens and Mark Bright

Eric Church, Chief - Produced by Jay Joyce

Miranda Lambert, Four the Record - Produced by Frank Liddell, Chuck Ainlay, and Glenn Worf

Dierks Bentley, Home - Produced by Brett Beavers, Luke Wooten, and Jon Randall Stewart

Lady Antebellum, Own the Night  - Produced by Paul Worley and Lady Antebellum

Song of the Year (Awarded to songwriters)

Eli Young Band, “Even if It Breaks Your Heart” – Will Hoge and Eric Paslay

Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You” – Dave Barnes

Dierks Bentley, “Home” – Dierks Bentley, Dan Wilson and Brett Beavers

Miranda Lambert, “Over You” – Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton

Eric Church, “Springsteen” – Eric Church, Jeff Hyde and Ryan Tyndell

Single of the Year (Awarded to artist and producer)

Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem” – Produced by Michael Knox

Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You” – Produced by Scott Hendricks

Dierks Bentley, “Home” – Produced by Brett Beavers and Luke Wooten

Little Big Town, “Pontoon” – Produced by Jay Joyce

Eric Church, “Springsteen” – Produced by Jay Joyce

Musical Event of the Year

“Dixie Highway,” Alan Jackson and Zac Brown Band

“Feel Like a Rock Star,” Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw

“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” Willie Nelson featuring Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson

“Safe and Sound,” Taylor Swift featuring the Civil Wars

“Stuck on You,” Lionel Richie and Darius Rucker

Music Video of the Year (Awarded to artist and director)

Eric Church, “Springsteen” – Directed by Peter Zavadil

Kenny Chesney, “Come Over” – Directed by Shaun Silva

Miranda Lambert, “Over You” – Directed by Trey Fanjoy

Little Big Town, “Pontoon” – Directed by Declan Whitebloom

Toby Keith, “Red Solo Cup” – Directed by Michael Salomon

Musician of the Year

Sam Bush
Paul Franklin
Dann Huff
Brent Mason
Mac McAnally

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 5, 2012 in News and Events

 

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On the Passing of Country Music’s Queen – Kitty Wells, 1919-2012

Country music lost a true legend and pioneer yesterday with the passing of Kitty Wells, just a few weeks shy of 93.  She died peacefully at her home in Madison, Tennessee, after suffering complications from a stroke.

Wells’ historical significance to country music – particularly to women in country music – certainly cannot be overstated.  She became the first female artist in history to score a number-one country single with her landmark 1952 hit “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.”  It was an answer song to the Hank Thompson hit, “The Wild Side of Life,” and is one of only a few answer songs to nearly eclipse the song it responded to. The song made such a bold, controversial statement at the time that it was banned from a number of radio stations.

Wells was a consistent presence on the country charts from the early fifties to the late sixties – the only consistently successful female artist in country music at the time.  She became the first female country artist to release her own full-length LP with her 1956 release Country Hit Parade.  She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976, and was its oldest living member for the last few years of her life.  Because of her many unique accolades and accomplishments, Wells is often referred to as the Queen of Country Music.

Barbara Mandrell, to whom Wells was a mentor as well as a personal friend, issued the following statement yesterday:

“Kitty Wells was every female country music performer’s heroine. She led the way for all of us and I feel very grateful and honored to have known her. She was always the most gracious, kind and lovely person to be around. I so appreciated her being a part of my life and a mentor to me.”

I know I sure did love Kitty Wells’ music, and still do.  I always found her performances to have a simple, unadorned sincerity about them that’s become rare in recent years.  She truly sounded like one who meant every word she sang.  In addition, I have long had a special appreciation for the many talented women of country music, which causes me to hold Kitty Wells in particular regard as the one who laid the groundwork, and provided inspiration for the generations of female talent that followed in her footsteps. Country music has a long and illustrious history of outstanding, gifted, and at time outspoken female artists – from Dolly and Loretta to Patty and Trisha – and it all goes back to Kitty Wells.  Better yet, she taught them to sing what they believed in, and not to be afraid to ruffle a few feathers.  It’s difficult to imagine what the story of country music would have been without her.

Thank you, Kitty Wells. Rest in peace.

Kitty Wells performs her signature classic, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.”

Kitty Wells performs “Making Believe,” a 15-week #2 hit in 1955 (revived by Emmylou Harris in 1977).

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 17, 2012 in News and Events

 

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LeAnn Rimes, Lady & Gentlemen Tracklist Revealed

After being delayed for a year, LeAnn Rimes’ new covers album Lady & Gentlemen will finally hit stores on September 27.  With this 14-song set, Rimes will offer her own re-interpretations of classic country songs originally recorded by male artists.  The album will also include the original song and current single “Give,” as well as a re-recorded version of her classic 1996 debut single “Blue.”

Fans can listen to the album online 48 Hours in advance of release at www.leannrimesworld.com, and album is now available for pre-order on iTunes

“This album was born out of the memories of when I first fell in love with country music and in reflecting, I realized that almost all of my favorite country songs from back then were sung by men,” says LeAnn of the album. “I am honored to take a step back in time and sing these songs from a woman’s perspective and hopefully help reintroduce them to a new audience.”

The final track listing is as follows:

1.            Swingin’    3:00

(originally recorded by John Anderson, released in 1982)

2.            Wasted Days And Wasted Nights    4:04

(originally recorded by Freddy Fender, released in 1975) 

3.            Only Mama That’ll Walk The Line    2:37

(originally recorded by Waylon Jennings “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line”, released in 1966)

4.            I Can’t Be Myself    3:10

(originally recorded by Merle Haggard, released in 1970)

5.            16 Tons    2:39

(originally recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford, released in 1955)

6.            Help Me Make It Through The Night    2:58

(originally recorded by Kris Kristofferson, released in 1970)

7.            Rose Colored Glasses    3:04

(originally recorded by John Conlee, released in 1978)

8.            Good Hearted Woman    3:38

(originally recorded by Waylon Jennings, released in 1972)

9.            When I Call Your Name    3:49

(originally recorded by Vince Gill, released in 1990)

10.          He Stopped Loving Her Today    2:26

(originally recorded by George Jones, released in 1980)

11.          Blue   2:26

(originally recorded by LeAnn Rimes, released in 1996)

12.          Bottle Let Me Down    3:29

(originally recorded by Merle Haggard, released in 1966)

13.          Crazy Women    3:22

(bonus track – original new song)

14.          Give    4:31

(bonus track – original new song)

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in News and Events

 

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44th Annual CMA Awards – Highs and Lows


Seven of my winner predictions for correct!  That’s not too bad.

And the winners are…

Musician of the Year
Mac McAnally – Correct!

Music Video of the Year
Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”

Single of the Year
Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
Song of the Year
“The House That Built Me” – Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin – Correct!
New Artist of the Year
Zac Brown Band – Correct!
Vocal Group of the Year
Lady Antebellum – Correct!
Album of the Year
Miranda Lambert – Revolution – Correct!
Vocal Duo of the Year
Sugarland
Male Vocalist of the Year
Blake Shelton
Female Vocalist of the Year
Miranda Lambert – Correct!
Entertainer of the Year
Brad Paisley – Correct!
Nominees Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood returned to host the event for the third consecutive year, once again drawing chuckles from the audience for their musical parodies of country classics.  This time, “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail” became “Caught Tiger [Woods] with Some Tail.”
Carrie kicked off the night with a high-energy performance of “Songs Like This,” featuring some guitar work from Brad Paisley and a banjo breakdown by Keith Urban.

That was followed by Rascal Flatts giving a mediocre performance of a great song (“Why Wait”), and Blake Shelton giving a great performance of a mediocre song (“All About Tonight”).  Miranda Lambert, who led the pack of nominees with nine nominations, gave a loud and energetic performance of “That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round.”

Little Jimmy Dickens also made his requisite appearance wearing swim goggles in preparation for another Nashville flood.  Brad explained to the audience that Little Jimmy would yell when the water got up to his neck, and then the rest of us would have time to get to safety.

George Strait performed “The Breath You Take,” and then the Zac Brown Band was joined by Alan Jackson for a performance of their number-one collaborative hit, “As She’s Walking Away.”  Kenny Chesney followed with his recent number one hit “The Boys of Fall.”

Taylor Swift accompanied herself on piano in a shower of snowflakes for a performance of her new song “Back to December.”

Sugarland turned the kooky fun factor up to ten with their wild performance of “Stuck Like Glue.”

Keith Urban set the stage on fire with “Put You In a Song.”

Reba gave a performance of the Beyonce pop hit “If I Were a Boy,” which she covers on her new album All the Women I Am.

Jeff Gordon made a comedic appearance as a Brad Paisley impersonator right before Carrie introduced Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson, who sang their duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay” from Jason’s new album My Kinda Party.

The CMA’s obsession with Kid Rock continued this year, and he also received a coveted performance slot, despite having no award nominations, and having only a single country hit from two years ago under his belt.  Time for a bathroom break.

Brad Paisley performed “This Is Country Music.”

Afterwards, Lady Antebellum performed their current hit “Hello World.”  Then, in one of the show’s more surprising and memorable moments, Martina McBride presented the award for Male Vocalist of the Year to none other than Blake Shelton.  Miranda and Reba wiped tears as Blake strode up to the platform to accept the first CMA Male Vocalist award of his career.

Subsequent performances included Carrie Underwood with “Mama’s Song” and Dierks Bentley with “Up On the Ridge.”  Miranda and Lambert paid tribute to Loretta Lynn on her classic hit “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”  Then Loretta herself made a surprise appearance to sing the final verse of the song, and was received with a thunderous applause from the crowd.  Loretta and Sissy Spacek then presented the Female Vocalist award to… Miranda Lambert!

Finally, Gwyneth Paltrow took the stage for her much-hyped CMA debut.  Vince Gill joined her in singing “Country Strong.”

Finally, Tim McGraw presented the CMA’s top prize – Entertainer of the Year.  Brad Paisley was announced the winner.  He choked back tears as he thanked country’s loyal fanbase for its support.  His speech was easily the best moment of the show, and it unfortunately was one of the only parts that I could not find on YouTube.  There is no justice in this world!  But if it shows up, I’ll add it.

That’s all for this year’s CMAs!  We’ll see how things play out at the ACMs this spring.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 11, 2010 in News and Events

 

44th Annual CMA Awards – Who Wins?

Nashville is abuzz with excitement during preparation for country music’s biggest event of the year.  I will be watching this year, more as a fan than as a critic.  Fortunately, we do have quite a few strong nominees in a show that has often been a disappointment in recent years.  We should have a good show this year!

Now it’s time for me to put on my thinking cap, and decide who I personally think should be recognized this year, and who I expect will emerge victorious.

Entertainer of the Year
Lady Antebellum
Miranda Lambert
Brad Paisley
Keith Urban
Zac Brown Band

Most Deserving:  Miranda Lambert.  Over the past year, she has consistently released strong singles that have been embraced by fans, critics, and now even by country radio as well.  No one represented country music in 2010 better than Miranda Lambert.

Most Likely:  Brad Paisley.  Let’s face it – we all know it’s going to be Brad.  He didn’t have nearly as big a year as Miranda, but he’s the only longtime nominee in this category who has yet to take home the trophy.  I have a feeling the CMA is going to show more Paisley love this year.  With Carrie Underwood left out of this category, I’d say Brad’s got it in the bag.

Male Vocalist of the Year
Dierks Bentley
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
George Strait
Keith Urban

Most Deserving:  Dierks Bentley.  He took a significant career risk in releasing a bluegrass album that had actual radio singles.  Top that, Paisley.

Most Likely:  Brad Paisley… possibly out of the force of habit.  Bentley bluegrass album aside, I highly doubt that the CMA is going to take this one away from Brad just yet.

Female Vocalist of the Year
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Reba McEntire
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Most Deserving:  Miranda Lambert

Most Likely:  Miranda Lambert.  She’s probably got this one all wrapped up.  Taylor was relatively quiet at radio this year.  Reba had a good year, but didn’t match Carrie or Miranda.  Martina is essentially out of the running to begin with.  It’s going to be between Carrie and Miranda.  Carrie continued her consistent trend of success this year, but I think Miranda has a slight edge thanks to her massive radio breakthrough with “White Liar” and “The House That Built Me.”  Still, the CMA might give Carrie this award as an apology for leaving her out of the Entertainer of the Year category.

Vocal Group of the Year
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Rascal Flatts
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band

Most Deserving:  Lady Antebellum.  They did put out a weak single with “American Honey,” but they also reached their artistic peak to date with “Need You Now” – a massive crossover smash that ranks as a potential classic.  But Little Big Town may get a turn for this award when ACM season rolls around.

Most Likely:  Lady Antebellum.  At the very least, their enormous sales figures are going to net them the trophy.

Vocal Duo of the Year
Brooks & Dunn
Joey + Rory
Montgomery Gentry
Steel Magnolia
Sugarland

Most Deserving:  Joey + Rory.  I would vote for them on principle, since they released one of the strongest albums of the year.  But since radio still isn’t playing them, I doubt that they’ll be victorious against their more contemporary hitmakers.

Most Likely:  Brooks & Dunn… as a parting gift, if nothing else.

New Artist of the Year
Luke Bryan
Easton Corbin
Jerrod Niemann
Chris Young
Zac Brown Band

Most Deserving:  Zac Brown Band.  They have quickly become one of country music biggest attractions.  This is a formidable line-up, but the Zac Brown Band is the strongest competitor.

Most Likely:  Zac Brown Band.  Since they will likely be edged out of the Entertainer and Vocal Group categories, I expect that this is where the CMA will give them their due.

Single of the Year
Easton Corbin, “A Little More Country Than That”
Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”
Miranda Lambert, “White Liar”
Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”

Most Deserving:  “The House That Built Me.”  It’s a great song to begin with, and the acoustic arrangement and strong vocal performance brings it to full potential.

Most Likely:  “The House That Built Me.”  “Need You Now” will be its biggest competition, but I can’t imagine picking any of these other nominees over this four-week number one hit.  “A Little More Country Than That” was a pleasant breath of fresh air, but it’s simply not strong enough to unseat Miranda’s “House.”

Song of the Year
“A Little More Country Than That” – Rory Lee Feek, Don Poythress, Wynn Varble
“Need You Now” – Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott
“The House That Built Me” – Tom Douglas, Allen Shamblin
“Toes” – Zac Brown, Wyatt Durette, John Hopkins, Shawn Mullins
“White Liar” – Natalie Hembry, Miranda Lambert

Most Deserving:  “The House That Built Me.”  Most of these nominees are good songs.  “The House That Built Me” is a great song.

Most Likely:  “The House That Built Me” – “Toes”?  Seriously?

Album of the Year
Dierks Bentley, Up On the Ridge
Lady Antebellum, Need You Now
Miranda Lambert, Revolution
George Strait, Twang
Carrie Underwood, Play On

Most Deserving:  Up On the Ridge.  Dierks was the only one in this group who took a significant career risk in releasing a bluegrass album, and a pretty dang good bluegrass album at that.  He stepped outside of the mainstream mold, and challenged country radio to play something drastically different from its usual favorites.  That deserves an award.

Most Likely:  Revolution.  Miranda is unstoppable this year, and I expect her momentum to continue into this category.

Musical Event of the Year
Dierks Bentley, Jamey Johnson and Miranda Lambert, “Bad Angel”
Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews, “I’m Alive”
Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack, “‘Til the End”
Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”
Zac Brown Band and Kid Rock, “Can’t You See”

Most Deserving:  “Bad Angel.”  Three of country music’s most critically lauded stars performing on an ultra-cool bluegrass track – That is just impossible to outshine.  I like “Hillbilly Bone,” but “Bad Angel” makes it sound like crap in comparison.

Most Likely:  “Hillbilly Bone.”  The CMA will gravitate toward the one song that was the biggest radio hit.

Music Video of the Year
Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”
Miranda Lambert, “White Liar”
Brad Paisley, “Water”
Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”

Most Deserving:  “White Liar.”  The song tends to sit in the shadow of “The House That Built Me,” but it should be recognized for it’s remarkably clever and creative video with a surprise ending.

Most Likely:  “White Liar.”  I could be going out on a limb here, since this is a formidable lineup, but I think the Jamey Johnson cameo should at least be enough to put “White Liar” over the top.

Musician of the Year
Paul Franklin (steel guitar)
Dann Huff (guitar)
Brent Mason (guitar)
Mac McAnally (guitar)
Randy Scruggs (guitar)

Most Deserving:  Paul Franklin.  I really have no business trying to pick a winner here, so I’ll just give a shout-out to the good ol’ steel guitar.  It’s a shame that country music’s signature instrument is becoming it’s least-used and most underrated instrument.

Most Likely:  Mac McAnally.  The CMA will act on the force of habit in this category.

Those are my picks.  Sound off in the comments section, and tell me yours!

More CMA Picks and Predictions:
Country Universe
The 9513
Roughstock
My Kind of Country
All Things Country
Country Chart Talk, Part 1
Country Chart Talk, Part 2

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 9, 2010 in News and Events

 

Katie Armiger Celebrates Album Release

On Wednesday, September 29, a large crowd packed into SESAC to hear Cold River Records artist Katie Armiger perform an acoustic set of songs from her upcoming third album Confessions of a Nice Girl.  She was joined onstage by several of her co-writers.  During her set, she shared several stories of how she was inspired to write some of the songs.

The event was streamed live online, and watched everywhere by fans from the U.S. to Scotland.

Katie’s set list:

“Nice Girl”
“Kiss Me Now” (with Shanna Strassberg)

“That’s Why” (with Rebecca Lynn Howard)

“Can You Handle It”
“Can’t Keep Myself from Loving You” (with Joe West)
“Cry Cry Cry” (with Chad Carlson)
“Ain’t Gonna Happen” (with Bruce Wallace)

“Best Song Ever” (with Amanda Flynn)

Rebecca Lynn Howard (left) joins Katie onstage to perform their composition “That’s Why.”

Katie and co-writer Amanda Flynn close out the set with Katie’s upcoming single “Best Song Ever.”

In between songs, Katie answered questions submitted by her fans.

What was your favorite song to write?
“I would probably say ‘Best Song Ever.’  I wrote it with Amanda Flynn and Bruce Wallace.  We were, you know, in Amanda’s Jeep driving through Kentucky, which is where she lives – well, she lives here, but which is where she came from.  I was so much fun!  I just never had that much fun writing a song.  We were technically on retreat, but we wrote a song during it.”

How old were you when you first sang, and thought to yourself, “This is what I want to do”?
“I don’t even remember.  My first memories are when I was like a teeny teeny toddler, and my mom loves to tell this story where I was kicked out of preschool, because I was not a problematic child – I was just more mischievous.  So I would get put in time-out a lot, and I would just write songs in time-out about how much I loved being there, and I would make those teachers so mad that they would be like ‘We can’t watch her anymore.  Send her to another preschool,’ and I just always knew that I wanted to sing.”


Scott Wendy reads off a list of fan questions for Katie to answer.

Where can we see you again?  Do you have anything coming up on television?
“I do!  I’m going to actually be on the CBS Early Show on October 9th.  We just confirmed it today.  We’re very excited.  So you guys can watch it.”

Is there going to be another tour?  Do you have plans to do dates, and travel the country so we can go out and see you live?
“Well I definitely have plans to be doing a radio tour, so we’re going to try to promote this album so much, and with everything that we can, so definitely we’ll be traveling around, and I’ll post it on Facebook, on my web site, on everything, so you will know when I’m performing!  Just stay in touch.”

When your album goes on sale on October 5th, are you actually going to go to a store and buy your own CD?
“You better believe it, yeah!  I’m gonna be that person that buys every single copy in the store.  I figure if I spend like a hundred dollars on myself, it won’t really matter maybe.”

Katie poses with (left to right) Chad Carlson, Shanna Strassberg, Amanda Flynn, Joe West, and Bruce Wallace.

WATCH VIDEO OF THE EVENT

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2010 in News and Events

 
 
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