+50 Years on the Road with Bill and Sue-On Hillman
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Early Years Pages
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UK '76 TOUR :: Part II
London and the Gooseberry Studio Sessions
Monday, August 2, 1976
Cloudy - then sunny

Up before 8:30  breakfast and tried to get Kev and Susan moving - not much luck, tired
Letter from home - American Song Festival in California announced my songwriting award
I had entered Cajun Stomp, Memory Take Me Back, In Sadness and Massacre
They want lyrics for Cajun Stomp which has reached a higher level of judging
Wrote out lyrics for Stomp in Vipond's lounge
Finally took off - sold Colin a record for 1 pound - 50 p of gas and to Thornaby at 9:30
No driver Mick and no answer at his phone - finally he showed up - relieved
Brian going too so will be very crowded
They disconnected the mileage indicator so we could get some free miles
I sat in front all the way - motion sickness always a problem
Stopped at Mecca at Nottingham for lunch: Plaise and chips... ech - treated Mick and Brian
Bought London maps - reached London in rush hour and out of gas
Drove past all the landmarks on fumes . . . suspense!
Mick did OK in scary traffic - finally through city to Bromley, Kent to return instruments
I tried to rent a car at a place on Tweedy but they only had vans.
Mick offered to stay until we're established
To London Road to new Wings store to drop off gear - got back 20 deposit - friendly staff
To McDonalds for supper and Mick and Brian are as excited as kids (first time)
Phoned for an hour to find lodging and finally found Abbey Guest House just off Tweedy Road
The house was run by a befuddled landlady, Mrs. Meanie, but we finally got in for 17 per week
We sent off Mick and moved in OK - nice garden terrace, etc. -
Kev and I strolled downtown to explore

Tuesday, August 3, 1976
Cloudy then sunny - nice

Up at 8:30 for breakfast by myself: - egg, bacon, sausage, coffee, toast, fruit juice -
Almost empty dining room. . . one other old reserved guy eating
Downtown to explore - cheap maps at Bromley Station South - magazines - record shops - home
I phoned recording studios - Gooseberry Studios the only available one at a cheap price
Downtown en masse with Al as guide -  he has an amazing memory
He has no eyesight but led us all over the city
47p return on train to London for a half hour trip
Change over at Grove Park to even train to Charing Cross just off Trafalgar Square
A good trip on a rocking train - interesting sights - Peek Freen Biscuit factory... great smells
Took photos of Lord Nelson statue, lions, pigeons, tourists, Canada House
Walked along Waldaur in Soho - London a great cosmopolitan city
Ate at Swiss sausage house - many prostitutes in business here - many theatres - exciting people
To Gerrard St. and into Gooseberry - office is a coal bin under the sidewalk
We took a ladder down through a manhole/service grate
Studio was small and rugged but with a 16 track board - 12 / hour
I booked time for Monday 9:30
Hired session drummer and bass for 25 for 2 hours - tape spool 30
Dubious place but should be an experience
Out along Shaftsbury where Sue-On bought two Chinese tops in silk
Up Charing Cross Rd to Tottenham Ct. Rd. and took subway 15p to Marble Arch
Alan led us through Hyde Park and Speakers' Corner - ice cream for 45p
Alan took our picture on a log - walked along the pond and fed geese - more pictures
Walked back to Speaker's Corner where an old gal was blasting Jews & Yanks
Two more were fanatically spouting gospel and "end of the world" warnings
Tried to see ERB's At the Earth's Core but next show was 9- too late as trains stopped at 12
Past hookers on corners to Italian Restaurant where I had lasagna and Sue-On had fish
Tube to Oxford and Trafalgar - took the train home - read and ate Chinese candy - bed

Wednesday, August 4, 1976
Sunny - Great

Sue-On and I up for breakfast and then back to bed for awhile
Trains leave on 20, 40 & 60 after the hour but Kev & Susan slow starters and we missed the train
We took Cannon Street and had to cross over at London Bridge - walked along the Strand
On way back Sue-On, Al and I had lunch at Wimpy Bar -
Then to Trafalgar to meet Kev & Susan at 2
East Indian taking family photos on lions with lens cap on <g> - up to Art Gallery
Susan mailed parcel while we waited 1/2 hour watching sidewalk painters by Portrait Gallery
Dashed in and out of Gallery - then along Charing Cross Road and stumbled on Soho Market
Sue-On bought Indian vest/poncho and long white skirt
I bought many English Tarzan comics from the '50s at 20p each and Chinese tunic
I went to Denmark Street to see a publisher and made an appointment with EMI for tomorrow
Sue-On to a theatrical place and bought material - we then met group at Tottenham Ct. Subway
Subway to Marble Arch - to Odeon to see At the Earth's Core at last - somewhat disappointing
A full day of busy swarming streets - SO doing fine job as usual escorting Al through the masses
Saw many big tit tart ladies of the night by Marble Arch Station
We're getting better every day, with Al's coaching, at riding the tube and train
Took tube back to Charing Cross - to home and dressed up for New India Tandoori House
Great hot Indian food - excellent service from two little Indian waiters
We had house specialty 3.50 for two - a whole chicken
Staff wouldn't accept Chargex despite vehement argumentations - home.

Thursday, August 5, 1976
Hot and sunny

I went to breakfast and brought back tea pot and milk to princess
Kevin and I left for London around noon - SO and Susan to the bank for money
Girls went shopping and bought sweaters
We got tickets for Agatha Christie's Mousetrap matinee (Tuesday) - 2.75 front row
In to publishers on Denmark then shops but not much luck finding any publishers open
To EMI at 3:30 and left records - back at 4:45 -
They had listened to the songs but there was nothing he was "wildly excited about"
Bought Combine Harvester sheet music at EMI - good novelty number to learn.
Kevin accosted by beggars but politely moved on
To ShoBud steel guitar shop then down Oxford to Regent - past Liberty Department Store
Bought tickets for tonight's show at London Palladium
A "has-been" show for 2.00 with Johnny Ray, Billy Daniels, Ink Spots and Francis Fay
A great opportunity to see this famous theatre
Burger and pancakes at Tennessee Pancake House - eastbound to Carnaby
Walked through to Poland? Street to set up appointment with David Barnes of Essex Music
(Al had sent Barnes a tape from Canada)
Back to EMI - then to Tottenham to wait for crew
I went to bookstore and bought Tarzan of the Apes by Hogarth 50p
Met up with gang at 5:30 and back to Carnaby
Walked to restaurant by Palladium: beer upstairs then down to veal shnichtel, filet, etc.
Changed into beige pants and Chinese tunic in washroom
I left crew and explored Regent St. - back at 7:45 -  into theatre to top balcony, third row
Unexciting show - Johnny Ray unusual though
Out and down through Soho to see market - train and home to tea, coffee and tarts.

Friday, August 6, 1976
Warm and sunny... as usual

I took off early for Denmark Street to see publishers and to get recording rates
Central studios - lined up meetings and left records at places.
Sue-On, Susanne & Al to King's Cross Station to meet Keith, Margaret, Beverly & Angela
Kevin stayed home til 4 - I met all at Soho Market after 3
Sue-On and I to Oxford St. - great shops
I bought high square toed black boots which I talked down from 10.95 to 10
At next store got ragged patched chamois jacket to wear as a shirt.
Met Al and Keith at essex on Poland St. at 4 - up for interview with Barnes
Played Cajun Stomp and Massacre demo for Barnes to which he was mildly impressed
He called all our stuff very country - polite and helpful - a good guy - a one hour interview.
On to Carnaby Street. Left Al with Marg and the girls
Met Sue-On and looked around a bit but clothes entirely overpriced - many tourists
Walked south through Soho after we rounded up everyone.
To Lee Ho Fook on Shaftsbury for traditional type Chinese food  - hot & crowded
All ate but Keith, Marg and the girls - walked toward Picadilly for McDonalds burgers for girls
Trafalgar for rest and pictures (film later exposed) then walked along Whitehall
Picture of Sue-On and bobby at entrance to #10 Downing Street
To Big Ben and back along Thames to see boats and docks
Finally to Charing Cross where we all caught a train for home - guys went for beer
Kevin only used money for one-armed bandits from which he won enough to buy cigarettes.
Everyone gathered in our room for coffee and tea.
Keith tried on my chamois jacket and liked it.

Saturday, August 7, 1976
Warm and Sunny

Sue-On up for breakfast - Kevin and I went to Wing Music to rent equipment for the session
Rented clavinet, Fender acoustic, and Traynor one-channel amp for 11 pounds & 4 deposit
Carried back amidst local comments "instrument of torture," etc.
Hot heavy work - set up at the guest house and rehearsed.
We learned Al's number and worked on four of mine.
Susanne and Joneses returned from shopping in Bromley and we played songs for them.
Got fish and chips from East Street shop to eat on train 45p.
All left for London, stopping at London Bridge Station.
Sue-On and I with girls to London Dungeon - a good display of cruelty and torture.
We bought each of the girls a rubber mouse.
(Keith, Marg & Al waiting in pub while we were in the Dungeon)
Then we walked on Tooley St. to Tower Bridge and bought Italian ice cream from vendor
Took many pictures but film pulled of the roll and all were wasted.
Down to the river and walked to the Tower of London
Walked around the Tower and bought slides and postcards.
Took pictures and queued for long wait to see crown jewels and fabulous riches.
In to large middle building of 3 or 4 stories
Explored the armoury's great collection of armour and weapons
Stayed there till closing but didn't see it all. We filed out, all very tired
Took the tube to Charing Cross and then walked up toward the Strand.
Ate at Florence, a good cheap Italian basement place: Lasagna, etc.
Tube to Westminster and walked along St. James Park to Queen Victoria Monument.
Saw Buckingham Palace and took pictures at dusk.
Then went along palace to Victoria Station & took tube to Charing Cross & train for home.
To pub but Kev out of money - Al bought ale and lobster, clams.
Girls learning guitar from Sue-On.

Sunday, August 8, 1976
Warm and Sunny

Sue-On and I up for breakfast - I had haddock - Joneses there
Left early for Petticoat Lane (Aldgate Tube Station).
Kevin shoved out of Queue by rude wierdo:
"Move!" - rebuttal - "When I says move I mean move!"
The market was huge and packed and everyone got separated - I walked around.
Too many people to buy anything - a real experience though.
Al bought two big suitcases.
We all met at the bank sign at 1 and 1:30 - Sue-On and I ate winkles.
Took tube to Madame Tussaud's but gave up because of huge queue.
On to Baker Street and Quality Inn which had a Peter Sellers style waiter
Worst and most inept waiter we've ever seen (see anecdotes section)
Keith was playing "Bag O Laughs" that he had bought at the market.
We walked down Baker Street leading Al and carrying suitcasess,
Along Oxford to Hyde Park Speakers' Corner: weird speakers: preachers, gays, blacks, etc.
SO got a necklace from oriental vendor in Ped Subway
A vendor charged Angela 40p for a coke
Walked along Bayswater Road with paintings and artwork all along the route.
The girls went with Joneses to King's Cross. Kevin and I home to practise.
The rest returned after seeing Keith and Marg off at 7:00.
Kevin and Susanne to fish and chips shop.
Sue-On, Al and I dressed up and went to Indian Tandoori Restaurant.
Extremely hot Indian food, almost unbearable but good - ate all the meat but left the sauce.

Monday, August 9, 1976
Warm and Sunny

Up early and carried Clavinet and guitars through rush hour mobs on train -
Rough ride shaking up last night's curry - Susan stayed home
Walked to the other side of Trafalgar till got a cab - then he took us all over London
(see anecdotes & lyrics)
Cabbie went to George St instead of Gerrard so we got to Gooseberry a little after 9:30.
Lloyd Ryan on drums and Joe Fegin on bass.
(Back home would later see them in credits for Dick Clark movie on Beatles)
We set up  and started rehearsing.
Joe caught on fast  but we had trouble getting together on the drum rhythm
Down Down Down and Walkin' Wreck both took a long time.
Al's song went quickly though (Bossa Nova beat),
Finished so fast that I tried my ballads for a small bit more
Shelter and Farther Away went fast (total cost of session men 40 pounds)
Then had trouble getting rid of the musicians jamming with Kevin in the studio
Put on some guitar - a little piano and that's all: 430 = 6 1/4 hrs at 12 + VAT & 30 for tape
Caught a taxi to Trafalgar and down to Chinese restaurant in Bromley
(left Clavinet at baggage check at station to save carrying it downtown tomorrow)
Band bought meal - so-so food - walked down to Bromely South
Al with Kev and Susan -
Nice to be alone at last with Sue-On...
First time she hasn't been Alan's seeing eye for 5 weeks - quite a responsibility
Sue-On and I ordered Keman Nan (Indian yeast bread with meat inside)
Waited in bar across from the station then picked order up - bought order for Al & Susan
Drank some stout - ate - talked lots - bed.

We picked Gooseberry Recording Studios from an advert in the British rock paper Melody Maker. The ensuing telephone conversation clinched the deal as they swore that their studio was always cool and their previous cliental included such clean-cut groups as the Sex Pistols. On the first day of the session we lugged our gear down to Bromley Station in Kent and boarded a train that took us to Charing Cross, London. We sweated across to Trafalgar Square where we hailed a cabbie who mistakenly drove us half-way across London because he couldn't cut through our 'Canajun' accents. 

Eventually, we found the Soho studio... it was an underground studio - literally and figuratively. In stunned amazement we dragged our equipment through a sidewalk manhole and down a ladder into a dark, damp...but cool...converted cellar and coal bin. The advertised 16-track recording console had only 13 working tracks and most of these were usable only with the help of chewing gum, rubber bands and constant spraying and banging. I squeezed into a tiny closet with my acoustic guitar and a studio mike to isolate my playing from the sounds that our keyboardists Kevin Pahl and Alan Jones were able to eke out of the beat-up piano. The session drummer and bassist were good - in fact, I have since seen their names on many movie and concert credits out of England - but our session was constantly interrupted as they had to climb up the manhole ladder to confer with other clients. We closed the session at 10 PM because we had to run through the streets to Charing Cross to catch the last train home to Bromley. Our engineer suggested that we might want to stay underground a little longer because there had been Tong wars and Chinese unrest on the streets above all evening. I called the song Shelter - we needed it. 

Tuesday, August 10, 1976
Sunny and Warm

Breakfast - Kevin, Al and I carried instruments back to Wing and picked up deposit
Back to station - train in - shopped & cashed $300 American Travellers cheques to 166 pds
Saw publishers - no real luck but somewhat promising talk with Campbell Donnelly
Left records with publishers & ran to St. Martins Lane to see Agatha Christie's Mousetrap
Missed the first few minutes of the play but joined others in front row - very entertaining
Looked for food but Frigate closed - Mexican place too expensive
To Oxford where Al bought Keith a chamois jacket like mine
Sue-On got chamois vest, jacket and scarf blouse - Susan got scarf dress -
Back to Soho desperate for food
Finally to Grovenor's Steak House (chain) - high priced with hidden costs
I had lamb and lamb liver, Sue-On had steak & mushrooms
To Leicester Square & saw Bugsie Malone a gangster musical starring an all kid cast
To station and home for tea.

Wednesday, August 11, 1976
Sunny and Warm

Sue-On, Al and I started off late - they took the tube to Chelsea
Met them later at subway Charing Cross after unsuccessful meetings at Noel Gay Agencies
Pizzaland Pizza, strange - Took tube to Sloane Square and walked down King's Row
Bought blue jeans and 5pd T-shirts for kids - SO got 3 Indian tops 1@, 1 pr satin pants
Antiquarius (Chelsey) where Sue-On and I bought Chinese tops
Heard a band in park by station after which we ate grapes in a churchyard & back to subway
To Sherlock Holmes bar on Whitehall - to river - queue at 6:30 for 1 pound boat tickets
Bought tickets for Kev and Susan from nasty man at booth - Al and I waited on boat
Sue-On waited for Kevin and Susan on the dock but no show
(train was cancelled and they arrived 5 minutes late)
OK trip - good narration - many photos - all the way past Greenwich -  riverside pubs, etc.
Landmarks: place where wives dunked by husbands, prisoners drowned, ancient wharves
2 hour cruise and back at dark at 9:30 - Kevin and Susan were waiting
To Charing Cross - 32 flavours ice cream - home
Three of us walked to the New India restaurant again for Indian food.

Thursday, August 12, 1976

Willie and Sue-On have day together alone.
We'll be in Gooseberry tomorrow so told K&S to take Al along with them for the day.
Alan was with us pretty well every day in London and up north so it's a nice change for him.
 Al will take them to Chelsea as Kevin wants satin pants,
Then we're to go on ferry boat ride in the evening.
We are to meet Al at Charing Cross subway at 6:30 pm and he will spend evening with us.
Willie and Sue-On shopped around Oxford area for the afternoon.
Willie showed Sue-On Liberty and we were really fascinated by the layout of the shop
Very classy - inside a 4 layer cake with bannister all around outside of each floor -
Can look all the way down from top to bottom centre.
Each room has a different department e.g. Oriental Room (materials from India, etc.)
Basement had an antique place and oriental rugs: expensive
Toured through new designs building - all new toys, tools, art, etc. shown there.
Stopped in at warehouse and bought wooden toys for Anna and Lisie.
Met Al at 6:30 and went to Leicester Square and saw Barry Lyndon:
Great movie for England atmosphere - described the all the action events for Alan.
Home to New India as usual?  No parsley so they gave us salad and roasted peppers.

Friday, August 13, 1976

Spent the morning packing parcels and book duffle bag (6 pounds /box - sent 2)
Had to open one box for one comic!
Willie and Sue-On to Gooseberry today.  K&S came along in case need for redo on piano.
W&S checked through last session and put on vocals.
Will did Down, Down, Down with 50s style echo on voice for Walking Wreck. Sounded good.
SO sang Shelter, Farther Away and Al's. Mood in studio and playback on headphones good
Songs were easy to sing  - even sitting on a stool.
Did 3 voices on Shelter and overdub on middle part. Sounded real good.
Al's song was also done quickly. K&S impatient and anxious to leave. Left.
Al had gone with Aunt Dorothy and Norman and twins in the morning.
Will came down with Keith on Mon. Session started in late afternoon? & worked till 11:35 pm
Engineer Mark Lesardi warned us that there were Chinese Tong wars on the streets above.
We had to run like hell for train, the last one to Bromley being at 11:45 pm.
Nothing stopping us... had to jump over drunk in the middle of the sidewalk ... no Tongs.
Didn't get all mixing done - back tomorrow. Made train all right.
Phoned New India Restaraunt and ordered food to take out.
Ate late night supper out on lawn - Tandoori chicken and beef curry and nan.

I wrote this one under pressure. One of the sponsors for our first tour of England was the Traynor Sound Equipment Company of Toronto, who were trying to promote their sound equipment in England. Upon our arrival at Heathrow Airport we were directed to pick up the gear at a music shop in Bromley, Kent. Here we found a grand old house near the station which offered overnight bed and breakfast lodging. We were so fond of these digs that, after our six week tour in the north, we returned to this B&B for R&R. Since we could commute easily to London by train, I impulsively booked studio time in Soho...the only problem was a lack of material to record. Shortly before we left Canada we had recorded enough original songs for Album 6 and all I had left were scraps of unpolished song ideas in my head. Our room opened onto a gorgeous English garden where I immediately started to bounce song ideas off Sue-On. After we came up with something akin to music, the four of us - Kevin, Alan, Sue-On and myself - threw together some hurried arrangements which we hoped would cut down on studio time. We eventually recorded five songs at the session of which three, Farther Away, Shelter and Al's While You're Away, appear on this CD album number 10. 

Saturday, August 14, 1976

Willie and Sue-On mixing at Gooseberry studio today.
Reggae band in there - running late and they also took up time arguing with Mark
Band didn't want to pay their bill and they kept us waiting.
W&SO had to wait so went out for Chinese food - upstairs in Soho restaurant.
Got mixing done, but must wait till Monday to pick up master dub
Must go to bank early Monday to get money to pay for the session.
Anyway - had to run like hell AGAIN for train
Jumped streams of urine from two fellows peeing on sloped sidewalk by Leicester Sq.
Left trails "running down the road!"
Can't remember any more so Will will fill you in : )
Think I bought some new blue jeans for pictures anyway - can't remember.
WILL: I can't remember much either... info overload.

This song was Alan Jones' contribution to our London sessions - you can't help but notice his unique piano style behind Sue-On's equally unique vocals. Alan and I have known each other since the early sixties when he moved from England to Brandon, Manitoba to work as a physiotherapist. At the time, I was playing four hours of guitar solos every night with our group - The Blue Angels - so, when we heard that Alan played piano and sax, we pressed him into service to offer our fans a little musical variety and relief from Shadows and Ventures material. Following a return visit to England, he amused us with stories of an outrageous new band with a silly name and girlish haircuts that for some strange reason was stirring up quite a bit of excitement back home...the Beatles?...Nah, they could never make it here. After a year or so, we went off in different directions, but we got together some time later to record a Maple Grove album, comprised mostly of his songs, under the title FREE SPIRIT. He later contacted an Middlesborough agent for us back in England and helped us line up our first tour of England - he even went along and filled in on organ on many of the gigs

Sunday, August 15, 1976
Sunny and Warm

Picture day for W&SO - K&S to St. Albans
We planned to see all the major sights in London.
Took train to London Bridge. On to Pettycoat Lane: Got silver chalices
Took tube back to 'Monument' tube station and took 29 alibis poster.
Photos for album at .... and from monument. SO in chamois vest.
Across London Bridge - photos - Japanese tourist bus - along Thames past London Dungeon
To Belfast ship - toured the ship and into bow bridge, machine shop, engine room,
Good tour of the ship - got souvenirs for dad.
Belfast part of the 1945 US/UK Pacific convoy dad was in
Dad's ship was the HMCS Prince Robert that sailed to Hong Kong  to accept Jap surrender.
To London Bridge Station and Charing Cross where we checked in parcels.
To Buckingham Palace and Victoria Monument.
Bought Bobby helmet  and took many photos.
Walked through St. James Park to Big Ben and Westminster Cathedral
Westminster Abbey & Parliament to Trafalgar, Charing Cross to Shaftsbury for Chinese food

Monday, August 16, 1976

Willie off bright and early to bank at Canada House
Got money to pay Gooseberry and picked up dub.
So, I stayed home to pack as haven't started yet. K&S are home to do the same.
Al phoned earlier on  to meet him at Leicester Station with Keith and Norman at 5:30 pm.
Sue-On packed till 4:00 then took train to meet the gang - was early
Shopped and waited by paper stand with suspicious man looked at her funny all the time there.
Finally guys showed up with Willie who met them earlier on
(caught him while walking by restaurant window. )
Headed for Keith's car (rented) - stopped to buy tea for Blankenburgs.
All piled in car and drove back to Bromley. Rested, washed up.
Weighed K&S's bags - found earlier they had near empty suitcase
(Al's - so bought sweaters etc. at afternoon)
Now 126 lbs but allowed only 88. We're over as well so all sorted out things to leave behind.
Willie had to leave 2" tape.
Went out to Chinese restaurant for supper paid for by band funds.
Stopped at pub for drinks. SO left early and walked home to finish packing.
Guys back later - took W&SO's bags to weigh but station closed - will do early in the morning.
SO made tea and coffee for all in our room. Bed late.
K&S up till 4 am packing still.

Tuesday, August 17, 1976
Air Canada #853 L 10:55 am - Arrive 12:45 pm Winnipeg (Noon)

Norman up earliest - got rest of us out of bed - over to main house for breakfast
Keith and Willie took bags to get weighed - packed all left overs in car -
Car already full with just our luggage with no room for passengers.
Decided Al and Keith to drive to airport. Willie, SO, Kevin, Sue and Norman took train
Rail from Bromley to Waterloo Station to Faltham (long distance train)
Then changed to bus for airport, terminal #3.
Made trip in good time - hit every connection right on.
K&A arrived ahead and had dropped all luggage on sidewalk.
Al stood guard over the luggage
Keith went to park and we all helped take luggage in and we passed the weigh in.
Willie actually smuggled 15 lbs of books on as hand luggage!
Went for continental breakfast with Al and Norman - K&S wandered.
Went to check on plane - will be late - boarded finally at 1:30 pm
Hugs, hard saying goodbye, but no tears!!
Got last 3 seats in plane - K&S upset over seats.
Anyway had lots of room although a bratty kid ran around all  trip.
Movie was Sunshine Boys - good but no sleep!
Sick kid in front of us - 6 bags full!!!
Long wait at Canada customs - given the runaround but finally through.
Kevin's dad, Howard Pahl was there. Cars looked strange: big and on wrong side.
Long ride home but air conditioned.
Picked up motorhome, milk and paper and home to 2 months of mail.

. .
Early Years Pages
. .


1. Gig Notes: 1-10
2. Album Notes
3. Guitar Tales
4. Prairie Saga
5. Roots
6. Photos
7. Media
8. 100 Songs


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