“Got Irish History? Feed the Need”

February 13th, 2016

Need a read? Feed the Need …

The 2016 Lyrics of Irish Freedom: Notes of Turbulent Times Book Tour is about to begin, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day and the 100th Commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising (Ireland’s American Revolution). Don’t Miss it.

Book Tour

‪#‎LyricsofIrishFreedom‬ ‪#‎LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish‬
Get your signed copy @ one of these to date scheduled book tour stops, or www.songsandstories.net

JOB_biosheet2 copy

Get yours at songsandstories.net; I’d be honored to sign it for you.
John

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know”:

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
O’Bent Enterprises includes:

Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites:

www.songsandstories.net
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
www.twitter.com/jobjr
www.twitter.com/365Irish
www.twitter.com/cleveland_irish
www.facebook.com/OhioIrishAmericanNews
www.facebook.com/Cleveland-Irish
www.linkedin.com/in/jobjr/

http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed

Little Boxes, Little Boxes …

January 10th, 2016

Little Boxes, little boxes,
and their all made out of ticky tacky
and their all in my closet
and they all need a good home

Won’t you grab my new book; won’t you share with your friends, and their friends too (please, they NEED a good home):

The Lyrics of Irish Freedom by John O’Brien Jr.​
A great book to frame the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising (Ireland’s American Revolution) with commemorations now starting across the Irish Diaspora.

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#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish

Lyrics.of.Freedom_Cov_Rev

Get yours at songsandstories.net; I’d be honored to sign it for you.
John

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know”:

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
O’Bent Enterprises includes:

Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites: 

www.songsandstories.net
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
www.twitter.com/jobjr
www.twitter.com/365Irish
www.twitter.com/cleveland_irish
www.facebook.com/OhioIrishAmericanNews
www.facebook.com/Cleveland-Irish
www.linkedin.com/in/jobjr/

http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed

 

Happy New Year, and Happy Anniversary too!

January 1st, 2016

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. I’d also like to add, Happy Anniversary – to all our Ohio Irish American News writers, advertisers, distributors and supporters – we are 9 years old; we are very blessed to know you, and to have your active support. We continue to learn, to grow and to get better, thanks to your feedback.

 

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As always, there is much going on in and around Ohio. Every month ads and the Out & About Ohio section are filled with what’s to come; so save the date, share the wealth and plan accordingly to not miss the best the Irish have to offer each other, and our friends.

 

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It gives us great joy to share the wealth of our heritage, past present and to come. Seeding others bears so much fruit; just as it has for generations of ground breakers, immigrants, sponsors and saviors, who then sent those proceeds back and forward, to ease the road for the next one on it. We aim to have the same impact. In 2015, our budget for helping those in need was $10,000; we blew by that in June, and will end up being nearly double it for the year. To whom much is given …

 

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Irish Network Cleveland, the Irish Chamber of Commerce in Cleveland, has launched; Music Box Cleveland Sundays are back, The Cleveland International Film Festival; Northern Ohio Rose of Tralee, and RISE Foundation events are fast approaching; Primary elections are March 15th, with many Judicial races impacting our communities; The 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising is fast approaching; Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival and many more events are this month, next, or deep into planning. I know they would welcome your support, and your help; they are asking, if you are looking for that chance to make a difference, and have fun.

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know”:

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
O’Bent Enterprises includes:

Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites: 

www.songsandstories.net
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
www.twitter.com/jobjr
www.twitter.com/365Irish
www.twitter.com/cleveland_irish
www.facebook.com/OhioIrishAmericanNews
www.facebook.com/Cleveland-Irish
www.linkedin.com/in/jobjr/

http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed

It is Christmas …

December 25th, 2015

It is Christmas Day … One of my sisters birthday is today.  She is my Irish twin, born less than a year apart.  We don’t talk as often as I’d like, but I love her with all my heart.  We always celebrate her birthday Christmas Eve and her husband makes this amazing Chicken Cordon Blue. I could eat just that, leave all the other stuff behind, and be one very happy man.  Family comes in, from where ever they can. We eat, have a great cuppa or three and exchange gifts.  Seeing the kids open their gifts, their joy and excitement, is a highlight for me. I am a fan of tradition, knowing where we come from matters.

• ˚ •˛•˚ * 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
• ˚Merry★* 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
•。★Christmas!★ 。* • ˚。
° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π_____*。*˚
˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */______/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
˚ ˛ •˛• ˚ | 田田 |門| ˚


Cherish the Mystery
by John O’Brien, Jr.

Ghosts of Christmas past, go floating through my brain

I remember cold and snow, yet remember not much pain
Joyful childhood, waking up Christmas morn’

Delivering the paper, before the wrapping could be shorn

The house all dark but the tree lights still lit.

Not a sound in the sharp air, as I pull on my mitts

Bag over my shoulder, paper in my hands

Had to be in the door, not today’s “wherever it lands”

Quiet, so quiet, but this one morn I’m not afraid

I think not of dark driveways or who hasn’t paid

The stillness so peaceful, I try not to make a sound

I’m all alone in the world, as six a.m. comes around.

Up the long driveways and then back down them again,

Can’t jump the snow high on the grass, stuck like a pig in a pen

Broom hockey shoes keep me from falling, on my ass, in the snow

No matter how I hurried, I went much too slow

Frozen and often wet, I’d turn the corner for home

My mind is on presents, and Christmas past poems

The last paper’s delivered, each door tightly closed

My Irish cheeks look like Santa, the weather has rosed

I trudge up the hill and see my dad at the door

My mind sees those less blessed, many reasons for the poor

The houses in the neighborhood with no presents or a tree

My world’s not so cold, I’m starting to see.

Into the house I go, my bag hung on the stairs

One sister wakes up the others, who come down as a pair

Warm clothes, thick socks, and hot chocolate whipped to a foam

Rush through breakfast quickly, eyes to wonder and to roam.

My stocking off the fireplace, filled with fun little gifts

Then under the trees too sharp needles, the attention snaps and shifts

Clothes and cool games, wall holders for my collection

We each had our spot, our haul’s own little section

And when it’s all over, put the wrapping in the bag

Mom always says: “for thank you’s keep the tag”

Tho’ my sister is all tired, as my mother did warn her

I lean back against the wall, in my section in the corner

I think of the morning, from high chaos to early still

Of the food and the company, that this day will fill

The smell of the turkey, reaches me as I stretch out

Such wonderful memories are without a doubt

The reason I still cherish Christmas, and the still of the morn

Jesus works in mysterious ways, since the very night he was born.

Christmas dunk

***

Please share your story with me; thank you for allowing me to share mine with you. “Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know”:
#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
O’Bent Enterprises includes:
Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites:

www.songsandstories.net
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
www.twitter.com/jobjr
www.twitter.com/365Irish
www.twitter.com/cleveland_irish
www.facebook.com/OhioIrishAmericanNews
www.facebook.com/Cleveland-Irish
www.linkedin.com/in/jobjr/

http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed

It is 1 Day Until Christmas …

December 24th, 2015

It is 1 Day until Christmas ~ There can be only One.  One day, one Best friend, one Highlander, one quarterback, one God, in life, and of life. I wrote yesterday about Situational Awareness – living in the moment, not just in our own small worlds, but the greater world too, both for safety, and for satisfaction, of a life well lived. Being able to not only smell the roses, but be able to also see how it affects you, and others as well.

Best Friend

Highlander

One Day

One God

One QB

It is easier than ever to spread ourselves thin – the more technologically advanced we are, the busier we are – and the more easily distracted, unfocused, missing the forest for the trees we are, because we have been conditioned to multi-task: tell everyone, tell everyone in 140 characters or less, and move … to the next experience, satisfy the next urge, NOW.

I come from a deep and ingrained tradition of storytelling.  Today, the oral tradition is more readily available than ever.  Only now, it is electric!  It’s gone from the word, to the web. Name the poem, story or song, and you can often find it on the internet.  This is an amazing this for our culture, for every culture, and brings us full circle, because we can now see more than just our viewpoint, our own little world.

There are three sides to every story – your side, my side, and the truth. I have been writing a lot about the similarities of different people. I do a monologue presentation called “At Each End of the Rifle”. The presentation is poems, verse and lyrics that illustrates how, from throughout mankind’s history, people with remarkably similar hurts, angers, struggles, joys and goals, have insisted on killing each other.

With the advent of the internet and sharing, we can now hear more than one side of the story; we can see snap or a struggle from a perspective not often available to us, and we can make our own decision, based upon a person, and their character, not their religion, or the place they were born, whether born in Boston, in Belfast or in Bethlehem.

Shake the Bones
by John O’Brien, Jr.

Christmas smells and sounds drift through the house.
The sun is shining brightly.  There is no snow
but the cold and wind shake the bones, the panes
shudder and stress; sticks against the racing clouds.
On the beautiful blue canvas of the half clear sky.
cinnamon and pine and the green, red and gold
brightly tantalize the nose and the eyes.

Ave Maria, O Holy Night. Tynan in my ears,
praise and wonder in my mind.
Regret not the confusion, the chaos and the urgency
Of preparation. Of Thanksgiving. Of Christmas.
What gathers people, crafts hugs, kisses, handshakes, peace.
That which draws people together across miles, continents and anger,
is worth celebrating itself, let alone for the miracle that gave birth
to more than a child.

Contact, in cards and letters and pictures sent, seeing old friends
reunions, the healing power of hugs,
the healing power of God.

And they say we don’t see God at work in our world today.

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know”:

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
O’Bent Enterprises includes:

Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites:

www.songsandstories.new
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
www.twitter.com/jobjr
www.twitter.com/365Iris
www.twitter.com/cleveland_irish
www.facebook.com/OhioIrishAmericanNews
www.facebook.com/Cleveland-Irish
www.linkedin.com/in/jobjr/
http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed 

2 Great gifts to give for Christmas, that give back all year long:

December 23rd, 2015

2 Great gifts to give for Christmas, that give back all year long:

Lyrics_Cover_WebThe Lyrics of Irish Freedom by John O'Brien, Jr. Get your autographed copy at www.songsandstories.net

The Lyrics of Irish Freedom
by John O’Brien, Jr.
Get your autographed copy at www.songsandstories.net

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It is 2 Days Until Christmas …

December 23rd, 2015

It is 2 Days until Christmas …

Come my friends, it is not too late to seek a better world. – Tennyson (Ulysses)

Living in the moment isn’t hard to do ~ perhaps because it is so easy, and we are so busy, we often forget to do it. Being aware of our surroundings, our blessings, right now, as well as the ripples outward, is called situational awareness.

I have become good at living in the moment.  Too much time in my head, trying to mentally conquer RA and a broken back when the physical implements of war have not worked, especially this year, has allowed me to not only look inward for joy, but outward as well.  I go a little slower, so life is not as blurry for me as for others. Silver linings.

Beside the Ohio Irish American News, Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival and my books, I work as spokesman with the Sheriff’s Office. Every day I trade one day of my life for something.  It drives me to make that something traded worthwhile. I can recover some memories, but not time. I can’t recover the day. The opportunities may be repeated, but not in the same way.

There is not a lot of money in it; there is a load of grief, but the opportunity to significantly help people, to make this world a better place for my having been here, exists every day. Sometimes I win; sometimes I learn how to win.

The same is true for my new book, The Lyrics of Irish Freedom, which comes out January 1st (www.songsandstories.net). Sharing the bardic stories and songs of the Irish passion for freedom was a fun undertaking, but only time will tell if it resonates with others as much as it does with me.

Another echo of striving to make the world a better place is editing and publishing the Ohio Irish American News ~ we are celebrating our 9th Anniversary this month, and have grown tremendously in the past year, our best ever. There is no money in it; we haven’t grown enough yet, tho I have grande dreams. The chance to learn and share our rich heritage with those around me; to say thanks to trail blazers, volunteers and sacrifice, and to capture stories of the past and the present, for the future, have their own rewards. Saying thanks while they are still here, to hear it, is way more important than after they are gone, tho their families only seem to sense their impact later in the wake line shares and tears.

This year more than ever, we are aware of situations of struggle, of heartache, of loss and injustice, so many in need of a helping word, a helping hand. A helping hand CAN be verbal you know. They can be given out like sincere candy. We have seen those blessed with enough have taken to paying off other’s layaways – how incredibly thoughtful, subtle and loving, without any banging on chests or self-congratulations.

Acts of selfishness often make the news; acts of selflessness rarely do. Those without money try to find ways to make the world better by giving in other ways. We can’t let the lack of money dictate a lack of action.

The smallest gift – of word, assistance, thoughtfulness, can have the biggest impact ~ random acts of kindness can be a part of everyone’s day, not just at Christmas time. The theory is sound, the practice of this situational awareness, how we impact others, is so easy; we often forget to live it.  But it is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.

It is 2 days until Christmas

If not now, when? If we won’t begin putting other’s first, of thinking beyond ourselves now, at Christmas, whether we have money or not, when will we? The time for thinking is over; the time for acting is now.  … Two words have so much meaning: Act Now; Merry Christmas; Happy Anniversary; Thank You…

 “Come my friends, it is not too late to seek a better world”

Tennyson Come my friends

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know”:

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
O’Bent Enterprises includes:

Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites: 

www.songsandstories.net
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
www.twitter.com/jobjr
www.twitter.com/365Irish
www.twitter.com/cleveland_irish
www.facebook.com/OhioIrishAmericanNews
www.facebook.com/Cleveland-Irish
www.linkedin.com/in/jobjr/

http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed

It is 3 Days Until Christmas …

December 22nd, 2015

It is 3 Days until Christmas …

Being Irish and being Catholic, three has a significant presence on my life.  A symbol of Ireland oft used is a shamrock, which has three leaves.  It is very prevalent in Ireland, but rare here, and considered lucky because of its rarity. The shamrock is not to be confused with the clover, which has four leaves (I’m looking over, a four leaf clover, that I’ve over looked before…”) and is everywhere here, like a weed – oh wait ….

Shamrock vs clover

In the song, the 12 Days of Christmas*, 3 is 3 French Hens, which symbolize Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues.

Faith, Hope and Charity; like many immigrant nations who forge a new home, my family had no relatives in the U.S. while I was growing up.  My dad, from Co. Roscommon, Ireland, and my mom, from Montreal, Canada, faced uncertainty, and filled with great dreams, risked much when they came here.  Those who became our friends WERE our family – they adopted us, nurtured us, became our family and so much more. In many ways, you can’t choose your family; in many ways we did. But Faith, Hope and Charity blessed us, again.

Legend has it that St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to illustrate the three entities of God ~ The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, when converting pagan Ireland to Catholicism.  Each leaf, and each aspect of God, is recognizable on its own, but inseparable from the whole, very much like Christ, celebration, and Christmas.

This year will be our 34th Annual Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival.  The planning and booking is well under way, the grunt work has not yet begun.  I am excited about what, and who, is coming, but dread the havoc the physical work will wreak on my joints. I steel myself to it, and bow my head; by the grace of God, I get through that week each year.  I have 34 years of practice. To Date, we have Scythian, Ronan Tynan, The Fitzgerald’s, Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, Socks in the Frying Pan, Garry Gormley, Irish Descendants, Young Wolfe Tones, New Barleycorn, Brigid’s Cross, Marys Lane, Dermot Henry, Ashley Davis, Dennis Doyle and The Kilroys, with a throw out the the young wans, The Spazmatics. With that lineup, I hope you can see why I am excited; there is still much to come and slots to fill.

Temple Bar & Museum was a big hit last year, and will be expanded again this year.  We have moved forward from a one-year focus, to a longer term one; The Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising is on our minds as well.  If you’d like to get involved, we’d love to have you. Social Media, planning, entertainment and hospitality is in need of your help, just call out my name (john@clevelandirish.org).

Ireland and America are so heavily intertwined.  Many in Ireland are surprised when they see the fervor of Americans for Ireland. Festivals not only allow our music and culture to reach so many, they employ all the music makers: performers, sound men, vendors of food and merchandise, grounds rental and a myriad of direct and indirect saints and sinners. At many festival’s, you will see a t-shirt that says, “If you are lucky enough to be Irish, you are lucky enough”. #truth #LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish

Being Irish is a shamrock of faith, family and friends – each with their own identity and characteristics, but each an inseparable part of being Irish in America. Each, alone and together, a very, very, very lucky legacy of life, love and liberty.  My country, my heritage is tattooed across my back, and in my heart.

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know”:

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
O’Bent Enterprises includes:

Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites: 

www.songsandstories.net
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
www.twitter.com/jobjr
www.twitter.com/365Irish
www.twitter.com/cleveland_irish
www.facebook.com/OhioIrishAmericanNews
www.facebook.com/Cleveland-Irish
www.linkedin.com/in/jobjr/

http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed

It is 4 Days Until Christmas …

December 21st, 2015

It is 4 Days Until Christmas ~ Four Green Fields … Tommy Makem wrote more than 400 songs, the anthem, Four Green Fields, of course, as well as Gentle Annie, Winds of Morning, The Winds Are Singing Freedom and so many other iconic songs, songs that are sung where ever the Irish gather around the world. I grew up with them, I fell in love with them; They are the stories of our people.

Tommy Makem

Our stories define us; the Irish culture is such a story-driven one, with an oral tradition passed on generation to generation.  We pass the stories on so our roots, our history, our very identity stays vibrant and alive – it is our connection to our past, AND our present.

makem proc

In these writings of Christmas, all my writings, my story is not the only one I am trying to tell.  Tommy wrote Four Green Fields one day while driving down to Newry, in the Co. Down.  It was 1967.  He saw a woman coming down from the fields with the cows, to cross the road.  They were both stopped at a British checkpoint.  Tommy watched her as he, and she, waited to go thru.  He could see the, Hassle, as the woman just wanted to get on across the road, to get on with her life. He wrote the first two verses then, and the final one later, when he got to Newry.

The Four Green Fields symbolically refer to the 4 Provinces of Ireland: Leinster, Munster, Ulster & Connaught, which hold the 32 counties, closest to our States, here in the U.S.  The “fine, old woman” represents Ireland herself.

What did I have? said the fine old woman
What did I have? this proud old woman did say
I had four green fields, each one was a jewel
But strangers came and tried to take them from me
I had fine strong sons, they fought to save my jewels
They fought and died, and that was my grief, said she

Long time ago, said the fine old woman
Long time ago, this proud old woman did say
There was war and death, plundering and pillage
My children starved by mountain valley and sea
And their wailing cries, they shook the very heavens
My four green fields ran red with their blood, said she

What have I now? said the fine old woman
What have I now? this proud old woman did say
I have four green fields, one of them’s in bondage
In stranger’s hands, that tried to take it from me
But my sons have sons, as brave as were their fathers
And my four green fields, will bloom once again, said she
Yes my four green Field, will bloom once again, said she.

In this time of birth, and rebirth, the beginning of new eras and new days, that dream of one country is not over.  One Ireland is closer now than it has been in more than 800 years.

“Do not worry if you have built castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them”.
- Henry David Thoreau

“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know”:

#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
O’Bent Enterprises includes:

Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites: 

www.songsandstories.net
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
www.twitter.com/jobjr
www.twitter.com/365Irish
www.twitter.com/cleveland_irish
www.facebook.com/OhioIrishAmericanNews
www.facebook.com/Cleveland-Irish
www.linkedin.com/in/jobjr/

http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed

It is 5 Days Until Christmas …

December 20th, 2015

It is 5 Days Until Christmas ~ In the 12 Days of Christmas Song* 5 is the 5 Golden Rings, which symbolically refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”, which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.
Grace is a many splendored thing; falls can be too, whether we are talking about weather, or wipeouts. Walmart fist fights, for deals the day after a national holiday to say thanks for all we have, seemed sharp in its particularly social commentary. And the legend grows, each year.

We are met with little irritations each day; sometimes we are met with big ones. Every person has crosses to bear, and if we knew their story, would probably often weep with surprise and mull the strength of the subject. Grace is a strengthening, a coating, an extra layer of armor to fight those challenges each day. It is given thru prayer, or handing a difficult situation, with … grace!

Christmas season is one of love and appreciation, but it is also notorious for irritations, waning patience and urgency hypocritical to the essential Christmas message of sacrifice, of love for our fellow man, of dying for all men ~ for which one man gave the last full measure of devotion. Life is not perfect, we cannot create a perfect Christmas, but still we try.

How we handle those crosses ourselves, with a smile or a smack, can use up our supply of grace, or add to it. So it becomes easier to be mean, or easier to be kind.

9 years ago this week. we launched the Ohio Irish American News – it premiered January 1st, 2007. I couldn’t begin to tell you all the stories, the doors opened, the memories and the friendships that have come about because of the OhIAN. I couldn’t begin to tell you all the late nite sessiúns and sing-alongs, the friendships and fun I have been privileged to be a part of. I have met, I have travelled, rejoiced and shared in too many sorrows, in all seen and done over the last nine years. The list is long, the list is distinguished; in my mind, the list shall live in infamy.

Nine years is an awful long time to go by in a blink. I am grateful beyond words, grateful to be so blessed. Two words have so much meaning:
Merry Christmas; Happy New Year, Happy Anniversary; Thank You.

Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know”:
#LiveMoreLifeBeMoreIrish
O’Bent Enterprises includes:
Ohio Irish American News
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Songs & Stories, my author web and SM sites:

www.songsandstories.net
www.ianohio.com
www.clevelandirish.org
www.twitter.com/jobjr
www.twitter.com/365Irish
www.twitter.com/cleveland_irish
www.facebook.com/OhioIrishAmericanNews
www.facebook.com/Cleveland-Irish
www.linkedin.com/in/jobjr/

http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed