Saturday, March 29, 2014

An Evening Breeze...

Kay Starr photo Kay-Starr_zpsd269dda2.jpg Georgia Gibbs photo Georgia-Gibbs_zps01294bfe.jpg
Teresa Brewer photo Teresa-Brewer_zps59d39306.jpg Rosemary Clooney photo rosemary-clooney_zps48374833.jpg
Clockwise: Kay Starr, Georgia Gibbs, Rosemary Clooney, and Teresa Brewer.

While looking for an inspiration for a post, I just decided to think of a song I really wanted to hear this afternoon. Right away, Rosemary Clooney popped into my head, and it was a song she released in 1952. Thus, a theme was born. I went to look at the song released in 1952, and found several that fit the bill for tonight, great songs sung by amazing ladies, all about love. I decided to begin with the first #1 song from the wonderful Kay Starr. "Wheel of Fortune" was written by Bennie Benjamin and George David Weiss, and it sounds like it was tailored to Starr. It showcases the power and nuance of her vocals. This is Kay Starr singing "Wheel of Fortune".

I am pleased to introduce a vocalist new to the blog with this next song. "Kiss of Fire" was written by Argentine Ángel Villoldo, and was sung by some of the greats in the music world. But it had it's greatest success when sung by Georgia Gibbs, when it went to #2 on the Billboard Pop chart. Gibbs was born Frieda Lipschitz, the daughter of Russian Jews. She lost her father while still young, and was raised for a time in an orphanage. Later, after her mother found employment, she came to get Frieda, but life as a single parent in the 1930s was not easy. Soon the teenaged Lipschitz was winning talent contests, and was hired as a professional singer at age 13. She worked hard, singing all over. In 1952, she found herself at the top of the charts with this wonderful song. This is Georgia Gibbs singing "Kiss of Fire".

Teresa Brewer made Gibbs seem like a late bloomer. She was hard at work as a singer at age 5, singing on the 'Major Bowes Amateur Hour', a touring radio program. The show was a talent contest, the American Idol of it's day. She continued with the show until she was 12, when she moved home to Toledo, Ohio, to try to have a 'normal' life. She could not stay away for long, and by the time she was 16, she was singing once again. By the time she was 18, she had her frist #1 song on the Billboard Pop chart, with "Music Music Music" in 1950. "Till I Waltz Again With You" was her second #1 song, released two years later. The song perfectly fit her glorious voice, blending the power and tone just right. This is Teresa Brewer singing "Till I Waltz Again With You".

Finally, we come to the song that inspired this post. "Tenderly" was written in 1946 with music by Walter Gross and lyrics by Jack Lawrence. It was first sung by Sarah Vaughan in 1947, but it was the amazing Rosemary Clooney who had the greatest success with it. Once again, it was a great song perfectly suited for the right voice, for the richness of Clooney's voice is truly on display on this track. It has long been a favorite of mine, and whenever I hear it, I know why. Rosie is so relaxed, so seductive, I am entranced. This is Rosemary Clooney singing "Tenderly".

Have a great weekend!

Twinn Connexion • Turn Down Day

Jerry & Jay Hopkins of Twinn Connexion photo TwinnConnexionraincoats001_zps6989a791.jpg

Identical twins Jay and Jerry Hopkins were born and raised in Helena, Montana, where they began their careers in entertainment, studying and appearing in musical theater. It was not long before the boys moved to New York City to pursue their dreams, and they were discovered by an music executive as they were performing together in Greenwich Village. Soon, Twinn Connexion was signed by Columbia Records, and then Decca. They also had a manager who believed in them, Bob Cessna. Their music was a frothy combination of Pop and Rock, and is now considered in the forefront of the 'Sunshine Pop' movement. In 1968, they released the eponymous album, and had some moderate success. This is the track "Turn Down Day", off the 1968 album, 'Twinn Connexion'. The song was originally written and released by The Cyrkle in 1966.

That recording was nominated for a Grammy Award. It was a time that Decca was going through some changes, and promotions were cut. Soon, Jay and Jerry found themselves out of the music business. Jerry went to art school, and Jay started his career as a stock broker. Jay passed away in 2001, after having a successful career on Wall Street. Jerry became a noted artist, living in Woodstock, New York, with longtime partner Bob Cessna. They were together for 44 years, when he passed away in 2008. Jerry decided to give some time to music once again, and put together a record of demos and unreleased material for the Twinn Connexion. That album is 'Songs From the Heart', and it is great fun. To learn more about Twinn Connexion, visit their official website. You can also connect with Jerry Hopkins on Facebook, as well as 'follow' him on Twitter. To purchase the music of Twinn Connexion, you can find them on Amazon.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Date Night • Oranges

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Oranges (2004) photo Oranges002_zps64cbcacd.jpg Oranges (2004) photo Oranges001_zps0ec4f70b.jpg

'Oranges' is an Australian short written and directed by Kristian Pithie. After hitting a parked car while riding his bicycle, Martin Sharpe wakes up in the room of another kid from his high school, Thomas Blackburne. The two boys talk about girlfriends and kissing, before taking a break on a playground. Both boys learn more than they thought they would, and proved to be more adventurous than they thought capable. This is 'Oranges'.

But what would happen when they went back to school? And what will they think of whenever they taste oranges? Enjoy your weekend!

QBoy • Music Makes Us Dance (Feat Darkwah)

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QBoy - Music Makes Us Dance photo QBoyDance003_zpsdd75bbdf.jpg QBoy - Music Makes Us Dance photo QBoyDance004_zps0acfa7fa.jpg

QBoy is a talented musician from England who has been a part of the music scene for several years, an important part of the Homo-Hop movement in the early 2000s. He came to the attention of many in 2006 with the release of "A Deal With God", an honest retelling of his being bullied in high school for being gay, with a sample from the great Kate Bush. He has remained in the forefront of the movement, and has collaborated with artists like Levi Kreis, Johnny Dangerous, and Matthew Duffy. QBoy has a new single out, and it is a strong one. "Music Makes Us Dance" also has a new music video, also featuring Darkwah, a club mainstay and fashion designer. The song is a strong synth-based entry to my playlist. This is QBoy with Darkwah with "Music Makes Us Dance".

At least for the time being, you can get a FREE Download of the song on QBoy's Soundcloud page. To learn about QBoy, visit his official website, 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook. You can find QBoy's other music on iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon. I must admit I wish more of his music was available in the United States. But I do enjoy what I have, and look forward to more!

 photo QBoyDance007_zpsa5c4f560.jpg QBoy - Music Makes Us Dance photo QBoyDance006_zps0d943e2b.jpg
QBoy - Music Makes Us Dance photo QBoyDance005_zpsc5152793.jpg

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Brett Gleason • Re-Calculated

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As Brett Gleason prepares to release his full album debut, he has released his music video for the single "Calculated", including the new production of the track you have yet to hear. The song invites you into the mind of the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter. There is a certain crispness to the new track, which adds an edge to the fullness of the orchestration. This is our introduction to the new take on the music, which had previously been released in demo form for EPs. This is the new sound for "Calculated".

The album 'Brett Gleason' will be available on May 6, 2014. You can pre-order it from iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp. In fact, if you order it from Bandcamp, you will get a track now, and not have to wait until May. To learn more about Brett, you can check out his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter and 'like' him on Facebook.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cilla Black • Anyone Who Had A Heart

Cilla Black - Anyone Who Had A Heart photo CillaBlackAnyoneWhoHadAHeartCOVER_zps98922ae0.jpg

The year was 1964, and Burt Bacharach and Hal David had a firm handle on the music charts around the world. In facto, some might say that the duo had a firm grip on the hearts of the music fans everywhere, with hits being written from Marty Robbins, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, The Shirelles, The Drifters, Gene Pitney, Bobby Vinton, Dusty Springfield, Andy Williams, and Dionne Warwick, among others. Soon to join the club would be an English singer with a big voice and an engaging personality. Just as Warwick was releasing the song, Cilla Black recorded "Anyone Who Had A Heart" in the Abbey Road Studios in London. Black created a sensation, and had her first #1 hit with the song. This is Cilla Black singing "Anyone Who Had A Heart".

Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Date Night • Once Upon a Crime Ep 5

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Cinderella photo Disney001_zps62e34902.jpg Snow White photo Disney002_zpsf0b4b7ba.jpg

Todrick Hall, Manila Luzan, and Willam Belli take on the Disney Princesses with the short 'Once Upon a Crime episode 5 - Cinderella vs Snow White'. It seems Snow White and Cinderella are not getting along, and take their problem to television court with Judge Ratchet. The roles are played by Luzan, Belli, and Hall, respectively. Needless to say, hilarity ensues.

For more about Todrick Hall, you can find him on Twitter. To see and hear more, you can check out Todick on YouTube.

Jason Walker • Tell It To My Heart feat. Bimbo James

Jason Walker - Tell It To My Heart feat Bimbo Jones photo JASONWALKERTellItToMyHeartCOVER_zpsf5106737.jpg

Whenever I hear a song from recording artist Jason Walker, I swear I get goosebumps, and wish I could sound like him. He combines all the things I love in a singer, giving me emotional content, power, and versatility like few others can. He reminds me a bit of Taylor Dayne, with a voice that comes from the gut and attacks each song like it was a pheasant at the table of King Henry VIII. It cooks till the time is right to take it in, one bite at a time. So when I head Jason was going to sing "Tell It To My Heart", I was nearly giddy in anticipation. With this version, featuring Bimbo Jones, UK Dance stars who seem to be a perfect paring with the bold vocalist. I hope you enjoy Jason Walker's "Tell It To My Heart", featuring Bimbo Jones.

"Tell It To My Heart" will be found on 'Love/Sexo', an April 1st release. But the song can be purchased as a single on iTunes. 'Love/Sexo' is a 23-song release featuring some of the top performers of Dance and Pop music recording now. You can pre-order the album from iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about Jason Walker, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Matthew Duffy • Better Than Dancing

Matthew Duffy - Better Than Dancing photo DuffyDance006_zps4d969b87.jpg
Matthew Duffy - Better Than Dancing photo DuffyDance003_zps375d0d8e.jpg Matthew Duffy - Better Than Dancing photo DuffyDance001_zps01b49833.jpg

"Better Than Dancing" is the first cut on the fun album from electro-performer Matthew Duffy, 'Spunk Pumpers Unite!' It is a shining example of his work, combining the elements of piano-driven Pop with a sleek finish of Electro-Pop to make a bold sound spring to life. In fact, Duffy wrote, played, and produced the music on the album, save the writing the cover of Pete Shelly's iconic "Homosapien". The music all seems perfect for music videos, and this is no exception. Shot in crisp black and white, the video is fun and sexy, just a delicious something I couldn't wait to gobble up. And Matthew also manages to make overall shorts more flirty than I thought possible. Check out the music video for "Better Than Dancing".

Whether Matthew is dancing by himself or with a hot, tattooed man, I find it hard to take my eyes away from the video. And I also find the song to be a great listen, with or without the video. You can find "Better Than Dancing" on Duffy's most recent album, 'Spunk Pumpers Unite!'. You can purchase it from iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon. For more about Matthew Duffy, visit and 'like' him on Facebook. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter and Tumblr.

Matthew Duffy - Better Than Dancing photo DuffyDance004_zpsaf29d05a.jpg Matthew Duffy - Better Than Dancing photo DuffyDance002_zps38a6ea11.jpg
Matthew Duffy - Better Than Dancing photo DuffyDance005_zps40081a66.jpg

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ryan Dolan • Start Again

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Ryan Dolan - Start Again photo RyanDolan0005_zps105f1bde.jpg Ryan Dolan - Start Again photo RyanDolan0002_zps63f3d034.jpg

Now that St. Patrick's Day is done, I know you might have thought I would be done with Irish boys making music. Well, that is not the case, as I have discovered the music of another native is the Emerald Isle, Ryan Dolan. He first came to the attention of music fans when he represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. His song made it to the Top 10, and helped launch his solo debut last May. Now he has a new single out, with a great music video. "Start Again" is a story of the profound effect bullying is having on the world, and the role hate has in it. In an interview this past February on RTE Radio 1, Dolan came out, perhaps taking inspiration from his own teen years for the video. The song, and Dolan's performance of it, are emotionally charge and pretty darned amazing. I hope you enjoy Ryan Dolan's "Start Over".

I must admit, I loved the song as soon as I heard it, and went directly to iTunes to purchase it. I added it to my March 2014 playlist, and look forward to playing it again and again. You can purchase "Start Again" from iTunes and Amazon. For more about Ryan Dolan, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook.

Ryan Dolan - Start Again photo ryandolanstartagaincover_zpsbb8c8b84.jpg

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dark Monday • Éirinn go Brách-dway

Barbra Streisand photo barbra-streisand_zps26db2461.jpg Anita O'Day photo Anita_ODay_1958_zps444532fa.jpg
Left: Barbra Streisand, and right: Anita O'Day.

On January 10, 1947, the original Broadway production of 'Finian's Rainbow' opened at the 46th Street Theatre, in New York City. The hit show had lyrics by E.Y. Harburg and music by Burton Lane. The show told the story of an Irish father and daughter who move to the American South to bury a pot of gold, hoping it would grow. And, of course, the leprechaun that followed them. Two months later, another original Broadway production opened March 13, 1947, at the Ziegfeld Theatre. 'Brigadoon' is a musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. It is a story of a group that stumbles upon a Scottish town that only appears once every century. Of course, love blooms when strangers meet. What do these two productions have in common? Aside from the year 1947, they both have songs that Barbra Streisand made into a medley that is gorgeous to hear. She sings "How Are Things In Glocca Morra" from 'Finian's Rainbow' and "Heather on the Hill" from 'Brigadoon', to make a lovely aural experience. This is Barbra Streisand with her recording of the songs.

Another of the great songs from 'Finian's Rainbow' became an instant classic, with vocalists putting their time in the studio to be a part of the fun. One of those voices could be counted as one of my favorites for the Jazz singers. Anita O'Day teamed up with with the Oscar Peterson Quartet to record "Old Devil Moon" from the Broadway hit. It appeared on her 1957 album, 'Anita Sings the Most'. This is Anita O'Day and the Oscar Peterson Quartet singing "Old Devil Moon".

And since it is St. Patrick's Day, I have to add "Éirinn go Brách" people!

St. Patrick's Day with Brian Kennedy

Brian Kennedy photo Brian_Kennedy001_zpse927030d.jpg

As I have said before, I come across music in the oddest of ways sometimes. Recently, I was checking out links about Kian Egan, a former member of Westlife, who is releasing a solo album. I found out he just won 'I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here', and is also a mentor on the show 'Voice of Ireland'. One of the other mentors on the first season of the show was Brian Kennedy, who I vaguely remembered as a backup singer for Van Morrison. So I decided to check him out, and soon found myself fascinated by his solo music. I also learned he had come out, and is now an out and proud Irishman! And, I have to say, a yummy treat to look at, as well as to hear.

Brian Kennedy photo Brian_Kennedy004_zpsdcb237a3.jpg Brian Kennedy photo brian_kennedy006_zpsc9590cb2.jpg

I am particularly fond of his Pop music, but since this is St. Patrick's Day, I thought I might decide to go with some of his traditional Irish Folk now, and give you some of his Pop at some future date. Kennedy has certainly given me enough material, having released 'On Song' in 2003, and 'On Song 2: Red Sails in the Sunset' in 2005. 'The Bohemian Girl' is an opera by Irish composer Michael William Balfe that opened in 1843. The best known song from the opera is "I Dreampt I Dwelt in Marble Halls", which has been recorded by some of the best names in Irish Folk. Kennedy recorded the song for his 2003 release. This is Brian Kennedy with the great Sinéad O'Connor singing "I Dreampt I Dwelt in Marble Halls".

"The Fields of Athenry" was written in the 1970s by Irish singer/songwriter Pete St. John. The song speaks to the time of the Great Irish Famine of the 19th Century. It talks about a man who steals food for his starving family, only to be caught and sentenced to prison in Australia. While the song is fictional, it was certainly possible during the time. This is Brian Kennedy singing "The Fields of Athenry", as it appears on the album 'On Song'.

"The Homes of Donegal" is an Irish ballad written by songwriter Seán McBride in 1955. McBride was a school teacher, and wrote the lyrics set to a melody around since the 18th century. While many sang the song, it was singer/songwriter Paul Brady who is most closely associated with the song. So it is not surprising that when Kennedy recorded the song for his 'On Song' album, he did it as a duet with Brady. The is the result, the recoding of "The Homes of Donegal" by Brian Kennedy, featuring Paul Brady.

In closing, I thought I would offer up this lovely live performance captured by a fan. The song is "Carrikfergus", also off the 'On Song' album. It is named after a town in Northern Ireland, so it is no wonder the Belfast native sings the song. The song is lovely and romantic, and Kennedy sings it with such authenticity, I cannot resist it. This is Brian Kennedy singing "Carrickfergus" as a London cafe in 2009.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! For more about Brian Kennedy, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter. Neither of the 'On Song' albums are available in the online stores. I know, what a bummer! You can find it as an import on Amazon. I'm keeping an eye on ebay to see what comes up. In just a short time, I am already amassing quite the collection.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Secret Garden featuring Brian Kennedy • You Raise Me Up

Secret Garden photo Secret_Garden_zps50363e95.jpg Brian Kennedy photo Brian_Kennedy_zps32c74eba.jpg
Left: Secret Garden members Rolf Løvland and Fionnuala Sherry. Right: Brian Kennedy.

As tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, I thought I would bring you a classic favorite from an unexpected source. While most are familiar with a "You Raise Me Up" when sung by either Westlife or Josh Groban, I thought I would bring in the song as performed by Secret Garden. At the center of Secret Garden are Fionnuala Sherry and Rolf Løvland, instrumentalists who meld Celtic and Nordic Folk music to create some amazing results. That would include the song "You Raise Me Up", with lyrics by Brendan Graham and music by Rolf Løvland. The duo invited Irish vocalist Brian Kennedy to lend his considerable talents to the recording session, and, as you might expect, something special happened. This is "You Raise Me Up" by Secret Garden and featuring Brian Kennedy.

Sadly, while it might be the original recording, it was not the best selling. Westlife had that honor in Europe and elsewhere in the world, and Josh Groban in the United States and other countries around the globe. "You Raise Me Up" can e found on 'The Best Of Secret Garden 20th Century Masters - The Millemmium Collection', available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

When Irish Ladies Are Singing

Celtic Woman photo Celtic-Woman_zps21ac2af9.jpg Sinead O'Connor photo sinead-o-connor_zpsf4031862.jpg
Moya Brennan photo Moya_Brennan_zps80a0f86b.jpg Enya photo enya_zps455444ae.jpg
Clockwise: Celtic Woman, Sinead O'Connor, Enya, and Moya Brennan.

To get an early start on the St. Patrick's Day festivities, I thought I would allow some of the more recent Irish voices to come out to play. I understand I am a couple of days early, but wanted to do this nonetheless. Yes, I know, Saturday nights are usually the place for ladies singing torch songs from at least 50 years ago, but just for tonight, I thought I would invite some great singers who have been in a recording studio more recently than that. And I will start with Celtic Moan, a group of four vocalists and one fiddler, all Irish lassies, to capitalize on the 'Celtic' craze begun by Michael Flatley and 'Riverdance' so many years ago. The show, which first toured the United States in 1996, and officially opened on Broadway in 2000. The show focused on Irish dancing, and hence, showcased Irish music. Celtic Woman was put together to tour in Ireland, the UK, and world-wide. They became very popular, and soon were seen in fundraising specials for PBS. They were so profitable, they also spawned Celtic Thunder, the male version first seen in 2007. Here is Celtic Woman singing "Danny Boy".

Now, there is no way I could speak about Irish music without bringing in a favorite of mine, Sinéad O'Connor. Yes, she has done a fair share of Pop songs in her career, but Sinéad has always been very proud of her heritage, and recorded some great traditional music as well. On her album 'Sean-Nós Nua', she recorded some great songs, including the next song up, "Her Mantle So Green". The song is a beautiful but heartbreaking story of a young soldier going off to war, leaving behind the young girl he loves. This is Sinéad O'Connor singing "Her Mantle So Green'.

Many consider Moya Brennan the 'First Lady of Celtic Music', from her time as the lead singer and driving force behind the great band, Clannad. The band combined the more traditional sound of Celtic music with the Pop of the time as they took new themes and wrote songs that sounded like they could have been sung in Irish pubs for decades. Their sound was so authentic, so real, they were almost irresistible. I still remember the first time I heard them, when they released "In A Lifetime" with the boys of U2 in 1986, some 28 years ago. I love their version of "Siúil a Rún", a traditional Irish song. The title can be translated as "Go, my love", or even "Walk (away), my love". For, off their 1976 release 'Dúlamán', this is Clannad singing "Siúil a Rún".

My final entry for the post is from Enya, a woman who made a career out of combining the Celtic sound with New Age inspirations. Her sound was unique and yet very Irish, and was playing on the radios all around the world. What some didn't know that she was born Enya Brennan, and started her career in the family band, Clannad. That is right, she is Moya's sister. In 1988, Enya released her first solo album, 'Watermark'. While "Orinoco Flow" was the breakthrough hit off the album, I liked the song "Na Laetha Geal M'óige". The title translates to "The Bright Days of My Youth", a wistful look back to a time when the singer was full of hope and innocence. This is Enya singing "Na Laetha Geal M'óige".

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!

Dishwalla • Counting Blue Cars

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I was an instant fan of the band Dishwalla, from the first time I heard their 1995 hit, "Counting Blue Cars". It was partially because I loved the song, with it's interesting prose and balance between a big Rock sound with some beautiful quite moments. And there were the exceptional vocals of J. R. Richards, which are what grabbed my attention to start with. So it didn't take long before I purchased 'Pet Your Friends', the debut album featuring the single. The greatest thing about this story is I loved the CD, and still have it sitting in my collection, in between my DEVO and Thomas Dolby CDs. Back then, the band was made up by Richards, along with Rodney Browning Cravens, Scot Alexander, and George Pendergast. I think they were all pretty cool, especially when I watch the music video for 'Counting Blue Cars".

In 2008, J. R. Richards left the band, and while they continue to tour, the band has not recorded new music since the eponymous 2005 album. That is sad, as I truly enjoyed the music this band made. And I can look back that the debut album, 'Pet Your Friends', which is now 19 years old and still sounds new and fresh. You can purchase 'Pet Your Friends' from iTunes and Amazon. J. R. Richards released a solo album, and I will admit I loved it. I hear he is back in the studio, looking to release another. I can't wait.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Date Night • Bugcrush

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Bugcrush (2006) photo Bugcrush001_zps2dfb2c29.jpg Bugcrush (2006) photo Bugcrush003_zps0006c635.jpg

'Bugcrush' is a 2006 short film that touched me on so many levels. It was written by Scott Treleaven and Carter Smith, and directed by Smith. The dark and brooding film takes a look at boys in their teenage years, with the social pressures, relationships, the search for themselves, and how easily one can be distracted on the journey is all apparent. the film stars Josh Caras and Donald Cumming as Ben and Grant, two teens whose path will cross in unexpected ways. This is 'Bugcrush'.

I must admit, I thought Josh Caras was quite handsome and talented, and was glad to see on IMDB he had gotten plenty of work since this film. Have a great weekend!


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