Blue Knights Announce 2023 Percussion Staff

DENVER, CO - The Blue knights drum & Bugle Corps is thrilled to announce our Percussion staff for the 2023 season!

Percussion Caption Head

Andrew McAfee

PERCUSSION CAPTION HEAD

Andrew McAfee is an educator and composer based out of Southern California. After earning a Bachelor of Music from California State University, Long Beach, he went on to complete his Master of Music at Indiana University. Throughout his career, Andrew has studied with a wide variety of specialists in the fields of jazz, afro cuban, orchestral and solo music. He ties these influences together along with his marching arts background to create a unique fresh approach to percussion education.

 

Andrew has spent the last decade instructing ensembles and designing highly competitive shows for various schools and independent organizations throughout southern California and Indiana. As a designer, Andrew is the owner of Pedal Point LLC, a company that composes music for educational ensembles.

 

Andrew currently works as the Percussion Caption Head for Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, in addition to working with Broken City, Millikan High School, and La Canada High School.

Battery Co-Manager

Aya Strauss

Battery Co-Manager 

Aya Strauss is a percussion educator, designer, and performer from Southern California. Aya is currently the battery caption head and arranger at Mira Costa HS, battery instructor at Gahr HS and independent WGI ensemble Gold Indoor Percussion, and gives lessons to private students as well.

 

In the past, she has instructed DCI ensembles such as Pacific Crest Drum Corps and Gold Drum Corps, and independent WGI ensemble Élan Percussion. Her performance experience includes Broken City Percussion, POW Percussion, Dark Sky Percussion, Vanguard Cadets, Pacific Crest, and Gold. She also performed with Sidle Entertainment and the LA Chargers Drumline, the Thunderbolts.


Aya holds a degree in Cognitive Science, Specialization in Computing, with honors from UCLA, and performed with the UCLA Bruin Marching Band during her time at UCLA. Aya’s hobbies include CrossFit, yoga, and spending time with her two cats, Jojo and Dio.

Battery Co-Manager

Mike Kehoe

BATTERY CO-MANAGER

Mike Kehoe is a percussion educator, arranger, and clinician originally from the Chicagoland area. He holds his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ball State University. During his undergrad, Mike had the opportunity to study under Professor Braham Dembar.

 

Mike spent his DCI career performing with the Spirit of Atlanta Drum & Bugle Corps and Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps. He also spent six years in the independent WGI circuit performing with multiple ensembles, including Pioneer Indoor (2014, 2015), Legacy World (2017, 2018) and Veritas (2019), serving as a section & ensemble leader in his last two seasons. Mike currently serves as the Battery Coordinator for Veritas (2020-present), and has worked with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps as a snare instructor since 2020.

 

Mike resides in Indianapolis and has worked with several high school programs in the area, most recently including Pike High School, Hamilton Southeastern High School, Decatur Central High School, and Plainfield High School. Mike also works at Butler University as their drumline arranger and instructor.

 

Front Ensemble Co-Manager

Malia Odekirk

FRONT ENSEMBLE CO-MANAGER

Malia Odekirk is an educator, researcher, and percussionist. She holds a Bachelor of Music in percussion performance from Colorado State University and Master of Arts in musicology from the University of Denver.

 

As an activist, she works to help students and colleagues advocate for themselves and aims to form more equitable and just practices within music. She has taught at the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble, Battalion Drum and Bugle Corps, and Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, as well as multiple high schools. She strives to help all students gain a well-rounded, meaningful, and rigorous musical experience.

Kyler Altenhof

Kyler Altenhof

FRONT ENSEMBLE CO-MANAGER

Kyler is a percussion educator from Goshen, Indiana. He graduated from Ball State in the spring of 2021 with a degree in Music Media Production and a certificate in Entrepreneurial Music. During his undergrad, Kyler had the opportunity to study under Professor Braham Dembar.

 

Kyler started his marching career in 2015 with the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps. He marched with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps for three years from 2016 through 2018, and Legacy Indoor Percussion for two years from 2017 through 2018.

 

Kyler is an experienced and dedicated consultant for marching bands and indoor percussion ensembles, and has served as a technician for several high schools throughout Indiana. This will be his fourth consecutive year as an educator with the Blue Knights. Kyler is also the Front Ensemble Coordinator at Veritas, a WGI Independent World Class percussion ensemble. He currently works with Brownsburg and Decatur Central high schools, and additionally serves as a percussion specialist at Decatur and Brownsburg Middle schools. He currently resides in Speedway, IN.

Tyler Orbinson

Percussion consultant

Tyler has been actively involved in music performance, education and design for

over twenty five years. As a performer Tyler spent time with several notable

groups such as Carolina Crown, the Dallas Mavericks Drum Line and the Texas

A&M Commerce PASIC indoor percussion ensemble, of which he was a section

leader. He was fortunate to study with many leading educators through the years,

including Paul Rennick, Jeff Queen, Brian West, Mickey Hartzog and Allen Joanis.

 

Professionally, Tyler has served in supervisory and design roles with many groups, including Pioneer, Forte D&BC and Surround Sound Indoor Percussion Ensemble. He is the founder of WGI Independent World Finalist Vigilantes Indoor Percussion (ViP), where he serves as Ensemble Director, Program Coordinator and Battery Arranger. He holds similar responsibilities for the Boswell High School marching band and indoor program in Fort Worth, TX.

 

Tyler is an active arranger, design consultant, clinician and adjudicator, worldwide.

He proudly endorses Vic Firth, Zildjian, Remo, Dynasty, Titan Field Frames and is a hardcore fan of the Dallas Mavericks, the greatest team in the history of organized, professional sports.

Marcus Hawkins

BATTERY STAFF

Marcus Hawkins Is a native of Milledgeville Ga where he went to Baldwin High School. Upon graduation he attended Jacksonville State University on a music scholarship. He participated in many music groups and marched extracurricular activities such as Spirit (2004), PASIC (2004), Music City Mystique (2005,2006). Marcus has a long time passion for education which he discovered while teaching at a neighboring high school when he was in the 12th grade. Marcus is in high demand as a performer and teacher, with many people sighting his upbeat, positive yet demanding style. He has worked with over 50 programs as a writer,consultant, teacher,and visual instructor.

Marcus has taught and written for all levels and ages from pre school to senior centers, from general music classes to DCI. As a performer he has done corporate shows internationally for many fortune 500 companies including BMW, Cracker Barrel, Coke-a-Cola, AARP, Kaiser Permanente, Atlanta Falcons, USAA, Mary Kay, Avon and many more. He has performed many times along side members of STOMP and Cirque Du Soleil. He has recently toured internationally with legendary blues singer Sandra Hall spreading the love of blues and jazz to many universities and festivals. As a writer and music producer he has written for NASCAR, BMW, Picture This podcast, Toyota , and many local commercials . Marcus currently lives in the Greater Atlanta area and is the owner of Marcus Hawkins Music , Marcus Hawkins Media, and Soulful Baby.

Tony Cook

BATTERY STAFF

Tony Cook is a percussion instructor and arranger based out of Avon Indiana. Tony has been teaching at Avon High School since 2018, where he serves as percussion director, battery coordinator, private lesson instructor, and battery arranger. He also works as percussion director for the Avon middle schools. 

 

While studying music education and music composition at Ball State University, Tony taught at several schools around Indiana including Franklin Community, Franklin Central, Greenfield Central, Fishers, and Avon. He has also worked with Legacy, Veritas, and the Blue Knights as a battery instructor. 

 

Tony is also a performer with the High Octane drumline at the Indiana Pacers games and at the Indy 500, and with the Indianapolis Colts drumline. Tony currently lives in Avon with his fiancée Emma and their cats.

 

Michael Williams

BATTERY STAFF

Michael Williams is a percussionist, performer, and educator located in Northern Colorado. With a wide variety of performance and teaching experience over the last decade, Michael is dedicated to his pursuit of growing percussion education within his communities.

 

His interest in percussion first started with his time attending Northglenn High School in the band and indoor percussion programs taught by Dave and Kathy Marvin from 2007-2011. In his four years, Northglenn earned PSW finalist status twice at WGI, and won the very first WGI Fan Favorite Award in 2010 with their show entitled “Deadbeats, Drums of the Dead.”

 

In 2015, Michael graduated from Colorado State University with a B.A. in Music Education. From percussion ensembles and jazz band to solo repertoire and steel pan, Michael has developed an array of performance experience under the instruction of Dr. Eric Hollenbeck and Shilo Stroman.

 

Michael has been heavily influenced by his experiences in the marching arts community through his participation in DCI and WGI. In 2012 and 2014, Michael played snare drum for the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps of Casper, Wyoming. Michael continued in WGI playing snare drum for the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble from 2013-2015.

 

Michael has become a prominent music educator in the state of Colorado. Currently, he is in his 10th year of teaching with Loveland High School, as the Director of Percussion/Assistant Band Director. Additionally, he has worked at Thompson Valley High School, Fossil Ridge, Windsor, and Dakota Ridge High School with their percussion sections.

 

Michael has worked with NOCOAMP, Silver Creek High School, Standley Lake High School and Dakota Ridge High School, who took first in PCO at WGI World Championships in 2015. 

Michael worked at Altitude Percussion serving as the Battery Caption Head in his second year with the ensemble. He also helped found Black Diamond Percussion as a caption head in their inaugural year, making semifinals at the 2018 WGI World Championships.

 

Currently, Michael is in his 5th year as the Battery Caption Head for the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble. The 2021-2022 season saw BKPE making their way back into WGI Independent World Finals for the first time since 2013.

 

Michael is proud to work with the Battalion Drum and Bugle Corps from Salt Lake City, Utah. Currently, he is in his eighth year with the Battalion serving as the Battery Caption Head.

 

While also working with Battalion, Michael is excited to be joining on with the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps as a Snare Tech for the 2022-2023 season!

Sean Fitze

BATTERY staff

Sean Fitze is from Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is currently teaching at Rise Percussion as a snare tech, as well as Monarch HS where he works as a battery coordinator. He also enjoys giving lessons to drummers of all ages and skill levels. 

Sean spent his DCI/WGI career around a variety of groups. He started his marching career as a student at Air Academy HS marching band, winning three state championships. From there he went on to march independent groups in Colorado including Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble and Rise. He later went out of state to be a part of Monarch Independent as well as spending his last few years at Broken City. As for DCI, he marched his first two years with the Sacramento Mandarins, went on to march Blue Knights, and spent his final year with the Bluecoats. 

 

Sean currently resides in Boulder, Colorado where he studies Computer Science and Astronomy at CU Boulder.

Cameron Cavender

BATTERY STAFF

 

Cameron grew up in a musical household and began to play drums and piano as well as write his own music all before elementary school. Once in high school, the snare drum stole his heart and propelled him into a storied marching career spanning 20 seasons and 8 different ensembles. His time with SCV, ViP, and Monarch landed him two WGI finals appearances, a DCI gold medal, an I&E gold medal, and two Fred Sandford awards for high percussion. Having recently aged out with ViP in 2022, he now teaches high school and lessons out of Fort Worth.

Hunter Desjarlais

 

BATTERY staff

Hunter Desjarlais is an active educator in the Metro Detroit area of Michigan. He has worked with multiple programs such as Novi HS, Plymouth Canton HS, Farmington HS, Skyline HS and most recently taught at the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps for the summers of 2021-2022. Hunter has a bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University in Music Technology/Production. He works doing live sound engineering in the metro Detroit area.

 

Hunter has performed with many ensembles over the years including Farmington United Percussion Ensemble (2011-2015), Redline Percussion (2016-2019/2021), Rhythm X (2020), Matrix (2022), Legends Drum and Bugle Corps (2014-2015), Colts Drum and Bugle Corps (2016), Phantom Regiment (2018) and Carolina Crown (2019).

Trevor Dunbar

BATTERY STAFF

Trevor Dunbar is from Indianapolis, Indiana, where he got his start playing Quads at Lawrence Central High School. His first experiences with indoor were with Legacy Indoor Percussion (‘14,’16) and NorthCoast Academy (‘15). He also went on to march Phantom Regiment (‘15,’16,’17,’18), where he was section leader his last two years. Finally, Trevor finished his marching career with Rhythm X (’17,’18,’19). 

Trevor graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science where he majored in Mathematics and obtained minors in Psychology and Spanish. He has previously taught the Battery at Center Grove High School and The Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps and is now currently teaching the Battery at The Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps, Rhythm X, and Carmel High School. Trevor lives in downtown Indianapolis where he works from home as a software engineer and performs with the Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Colts Drumlines.

 
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Austen White

BATTERY STAFF

Austen is an educator in Dallas, Texas. He has worked with programs such as Burleson Centennial HS, Seven Lakes HS, Cinco Ranch HS and most recently taught at the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps for the 2022 season. Austen has a bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in Music Education.

 

 

Austen has previously performed with ensembles over the years including Monarch Independent Percussion (2017-2020), Colts Drum and Bugle Corps (2017) and the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps (2019).

Kevin Peixoto

 

BATTERY Staff

Kevin Peixoto is a battery instructor and arranger from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He started playing drumset and guitar when he was eight, and by 12 years old he was performing regularly around the Minneapolis area with his band Ithomiid. He has instructed the battery at several groups across Minnesota and California, including Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps and various high schools. In addition to giving private lessons, Kevin is currently a battery instructor at Gold Indoor Percussion, El Segundo High School and Vista Murrieta High School. In the 2020 SCPA Composition Scholarship Competition, his original battery composition was awarded the grand prize. 

 

Kevin’s performance experience includes Broken City Percussion, Bluecoats, River City Rhythm Drum & Bugle Corps, River City Rhythm Indoor, and Minnesota Brass Drum & Bugle Corps.

 

He currently lives in Sherman Oaks, CA and spends his free time writing and releasing music under artist name Languid, collecting bourbon and spending time with his roommates.

Matt James

BATTERY STAFF

 

Matt James is an active educator and performer from Goshen Indiana.  He holds a Bachelors in Music Education and a Masters in Music Performance from Illinois State University. He currently resides as the percussion director for Goshen Community Schools, where he works with their various music ensembles and marching program.

 

 

His marching performance experience involves Green Thunder Percussion (2011-2014), Cavaliers Indoor Percussion (2015-2017), Legends Drum and Bugle Corps (2012), and Phantom Regiment (2013-2016). His marching education experience includes Shadow Drum and Bugle Corps (2017-2020), Cavaliers Indoor (2018) the Madison Scouts (2019), and the Blue Knights.

Christian Gonzalez

BATTERY STAFF

 

Christian is a resident of Houston, Texas and a current student at the University of Houston. He is finishing up his degree in instrumental music education and has experience performing with the school’s wind ensemble, symphony orchestra, percussion ensemble, steel band, and world renowned “Spirit of Houston” marching band. Christian has had the opportunity to perform in Drum Corps International with the Phantom Regiment, and WGI Percussion with Monarch Independent. 

 

His teaching experience includes numerous high school percussion programs in the Houston area, and independent groups as well. Christian served as the former percussion caption head at Compass Drum and Bugle Corps during their 2021 season. In 2022, he served as a bass technician at Louisiana Stars. Christian is also serving as a bass technician for Rhythmic Force Percussion in Austin. TX.

He is extremely excited to be a part of the bass drum staff at Blue Knights and plans to bring wonderful pedagogy and experiences for the students!

 

Outside of the activity, Christian enjoys spending time with his labradoodle, Piper.

 

Ethan SpotT

BATTERY STAFF

Ethan Spott is a writer and educator based out of Powhatan, VA. He works with the concert and marching programs at multiple schools in the Richmond area including Deep Run High School, Powhatan High School, and Powhatan Middle School. 

 

Ethan spent his marching career as a bass drummer at Carolina Crown (2018-2021) and George Mason University Indoor Drumline (2017-2022), and joined the George Mason University staff in 2023 as a bass drum and visual instructor. This is Ethan’s first year with the Blue Knights and he’s excited to contribute to such a great organization!

Anne Turner

BATTERY STAFF

Anne Turner is a 22 year old with roots in Wilmington, North Carolina and

Williamsburg, Virginia, but she is currently based out of Ontario, California,

pursuing her age-out with RCC. A passionate, driven percussionist, she has

been involved in different facets of the marching arts through membership with

DCA, DCI, and WGI ensembles, and she has performed with various concert and

orchestral organizations as well. In addition to percussion performance, she also

has experience in vocal music, audio engineering, and stage lighting for theater.

 

She began her marching career at John T. Hoggard High School in Wilmington,

NC, joining the battery sophomore year. With no WGI program offered at her

school, Anne began her indoor journey in 2017 as a charter member of Alchemy

Independent, an open class ensemble out of Raleigh, NC. From there, she

served as the bass line section leader at Carolina Gold (2017) and has been a

member of Shadow DBC (2018), the George Mason University Indoor Drumline

(2019-2022), Carolina Crown (2019-2020), and the Boston Crusaders (2021).

Anne spent her age out with the Blue Devils in 2022 as a member of the

leadership team, where the ensemble received first place at the DCI

Championships after an undefeated season.

 

A private lessons teacher and instructor, Anne was previously the percussion

caption head at Bruton High School. Outside of her musical endeavors, she

received her degrees in Biology and Environmental Science and Policy at the

College of William and Mary where she co-produced the podcast “Conservation

Stories: Trailblazing Women in Conservation”. Additionally, she was a laboratory

research assistant in a climate change ecology lab at the Virginia Institute of

 

Marine Science under the direction of Dr. David Johnson.

 

Nicholas Soden

FRONT ENSEMBLE STAFF

Originally from Buffalo, Minnesota and currently residing in Saint Paul, Nicholas’ passion for music and the marching arts began at Buffalo High School, where he performed in various concert and marching ensembles. Nicholas has extensive marching experience in both indoor ensembles and drum corps, including Minnesota Brass Indoor (2012, 2015, 2016, 2017), and RCC Indoor Percussion in 2018, and serving as the ensemble’s section leader in 2019. Minnesota Brass Drum Corps (2013), Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps (2014, 2016), and Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps in 2017, aging out at section leader and center marimba in 2018. In the realm of teaching, Nicholas has worked with the front ensembles at Irondale High School, Warm Springs Middle School, and Loara High School. 

 

In 2017, Nicholas obtained his bachelor’s degree in Interpretation and Translation for both Portuguese and Spanish language from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Outside of the marching activity, he works for an international airline and loves to dance, write music, and spend time at the beach. As a Blue Knights alumni, Nicholas is incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to give back to the organization that has given him so much.

Jake Betts

FRONT ENSEMBLE STAFF

Jake is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and performer based in Fort Worth, Texas. He has extensive experience in outdoor, indoor, and chamber percussion, and began his percussion career at Boswell High School in Fort Worth, Texas. Jake was a performing member of Vigilantes Indoor Percussion from 2014-2018, as well as the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps in 2016 and 2018.

 

Jake completed his undergraduate at the University of North Texas, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Percussion Performance. While studying at UNT Jake had the opportunity to perform with the Afro Cuban Percussion Ensemble, South Indian Cross-Cultural Ensemble, 2:00 Steel Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Chamber Percussion Ensembles. Through various forms and outlets Jake has had the chance to study with renowned performers and educators such as Mark Ford, Paul Rennick, Christopher Deane, Brian West, Mike Jackson, and Kevin Shah. 

 

Jake is currently serving as the Assistant Percussion Director at Chisholm Trail High School in Fort Worth, Texas, and is also on the front ensemble staff at Vigilantes Indoor Percussion.

Brianna Rude

FRONT ENSEMBLE STAFF

Brianna is an active music educator and percussionist from Brownsburg, Indiana.  She graduated from Ball State University in 2020 with a degree in Music Education.  She is also currently finishing up a Master’s degree in Music Education from Anderson University.  This will be Brianna’s first season working with Blue Knights’ front ensemble.

 

As a performer, Brianna marched with the Blue Stars from 2017 to 2019, where she gained experience playing synth, vibraphone, and marimba.

 

As an educator, she currently works with all age levels in Brownsburg Community Schools.  She is an Orff-focused elementary music teacher as well as a percussion/front ensemble coach with Brownsburg Middle & High Schools. FR

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Isaac Merriweather

FRONT ENSEMBLE STAFF

Isaac Merriweather is a percussion instructor born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. Isaac has worked with multiple high schools as a front ensemble technician including Ben Davis High School (2017-2018), Pike High School (2021), and is currently a front ensemble technician at Hamilton Southeastern High School (2018-Present). He is also a front ensemble technician for Veritas Indoor Percussion and serves as the director of membership experience for 317 Performing Arts. 

 

As a performer, Isaac spent his outdoor experience as the timpanist for the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps (2017-2019). His indoor experience includes Legacy Indoor Percussion (2017-2018), and Veritas Indoor Percussion (2019-2020).

 

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Eric Roundy

FRONT ENSEMBLE STAFF 

Eric Roundy is an active educator and performer based in Fort Worth, Texas. He currently serves as a percussion specialist and clinician for Boswell High School and Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD. Over the last decade Eric has also been heavily involved in the DCI and WGI community working with such groups as Music City Drum & Bugle Corps, the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps, Carolina Crown Drum & Bugle Corps and currently serves as the Front Ensemble Coordinator for Vigilantes Indoor Percussion based out of Fort Worth, Texas. 

As an active performer, Eric performed regularly with the live house band for the Smoky Mountain Opry Theater in Pigeon Forge, TN as a featured percussionist. In the realms of the marching arts, Eric has been a member of the Pioneer Drum and Bugle Corps (2008- 2010), Carolina Crown (2011, 2012, 2014), and Music City Mystique (2014-2016). As a soloist, Eric has been named a Finalist for the 2014 Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra Concerto Competition, a Semi-finalist of the 2015 Great Plains International Marimba Competition and placed 1st in the 2016 TNPAS Collegiate Multi-Percussion Competition. In 2014, Eric placed 1st in the American Protégé International Concerto Competition resulting in a solo performance at Carnegie Hall. He also performed regularly with the Bryan Symphony Orchestra and was a member of the 2015 Inaugural Percussion Arts Society All-Star International Percussion Ensemble. 

Eric holds a degree in music from Tennessee Tech University, where he studied with Dr. Eric Willie, Dr. Colin Hill, and Dr. Brad Meyer. His other teachers include Brad Martin, Keith Brown, and Betty Smelcer. .

 

Shilo Stroman

FRONT ENSEMBLE STAFF 

Armed with his dad’s record collection, a toy drumset played with chopsticks and an empty basement, Shilo Stroman’s musical journey began. As an educator, Shilo is an instructor of Percussion and Jazz at Colorado State University and very active in the marching arts where he continually works with ensembles from around the country. Shilo’s love of travel and sharing his passion for music education has led him to  presenting clinics, adjudicating festivals and judging competitions throughout the United States.

 

He is very active in the marching arts and recently served as the Artistic Director and Front Ensemble Caption Head/Arranger for the Battalion Drum and Bugle Corps in Salt Lake City, UT and arranges marching band and WGI shows for high schools across the country.

 

A versatile performer, Mr. Stroman’s credits range from playing triangle in symphony orchestras, electric bass in salsa bands, drums in funk bands and flower pots in chamber groups. In 2016 he commissioned and performed the world premiere of “Scala Enigmatica” by James David for solo vibraphone and wind ensemble. Shilo’s contemporary jazz quartet, Square Peg, released their first recording, “Searching” in 2013. In 2006, he commissioned and performed the world premiere of “Sticks and Stones” variations for drumset and wind ensemble by Jim Bonney.

 

 

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