Blues Research music history Paramount Records public speaker

Angie on TMJ4 Segment, “Paramount Records’ history in Ozaukee County”


Vocal Demo: Midnight Train to Georgia


Vocalist: Angie Mack Reilly

Educational: R & B Super Hits, Hal Leonard
R & B Vocal Demo

Blues Research Female Entrepreneur Paramount Records

Angie Featured in Delta Download Mississippi Blues Blog


A Note from Blues Writer Denise Leisz

“Angie Mack Reilly lives on the Mississippi Blues Trail—in Grafton, Wisconsin—home to legendary Paramount Records. The Paramount label introduced such blues greats as Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Charley Patton, Son House, Skip James, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Tommy Johnson, Ishmon Bracey and Henry Townsend, who today are among the most important figures in early 20th-century American music. More about Angie and her work at

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Angie on Sessions with Sandy through Milwaukee’s Riverwest Radio 7.26.20

music history Paramount Records

Grafton Wisconsin History


Embracing The Legacy Of The Blues / From the South To The North by Michael “Hawkeye” Herman Part 2. Grafton, WI and Paramount Records

Embracing The Legacy Of The Blues / From the South To The North

By Michael “Hawkeye” Herman

Part 2. Grafton, WI and Paramount Records

originally published in the international BLUES FESTIVAL GUIDE 2006

also published at

History, dreams, meaningful coincidences, timing, synchronicity, networking, and the blues, can come together to transform a community.

Grafton, Wisconsin is a town of 11,000 inhabitants approximately 25 north of Milwaukee on US 43. In recent years, the town has struggled with its identity in the shadow of nearby communities that had achieved status, economic growth, and recognition as tourist destinations as a result of capitalizing on their local history. Port Washington, a few miles to the northeast, has a long, colorful history as a Great Lakes port and has a restored downtown nestled against a lovely harbor. Cedarburg, just a few miles to the southeast, draws throngs of weekend tourists who walk the main street spending their dollars in shops, restaurants, and galleries that are housed in carefully maintained 19th Century Americana buildings. Grafton has long been considered an anonymous working class town that you have to drive through in order to get to and from Port Washington and Cedarburg. How could Grafton, with seemingly little local history to promote beyond the legacy of the lime kilns in Grafton’s Lime Kiln Park, find its identity, capitalize on it, and step out into the sunlight with its own sense of civic pride?

Angela Mack is a musician/music teacher who moved with her family to Grafton from Madison, WI in 1996. She has a passion for African American culture, music history, and a desire to bring arts to her new home community. A few years ago, she received a letter from a record collector. The letter had been sent to many Grafton residents. It was from a record collector who was in the area looking for old Paramount 78 rpm records. This was the first time she had heard about the Paramount Records that were produced and recorded in Grafton. She didn’t believe it, thought it was a chain letter, and threw it away. Later, she was researching Grafton history on the Internet, and sure enough, it was true. There had been a very important and influential record production plant, Paramount Records, in Grafton.

Angela became obsessed with knowing more about the history and importance of Paramount. The more she learned, the more confused she got. “Why wasn’t this a big deal in Grafton?” She became intrigued with finding out the history of Paramount Records.  Embracing The Legacy Of The Blues / From the South To The North Angela found that Grafton was more than just a footnote in America’s musical history. In the early 20th Century The Wisconsin Chair Company in nearby Port Washington manufactured furniture. The manufacturing of wooden furniture led the company into the production of wood cabinets for record players. The production of the record cabinets led them to produce Paramount Records in cooperation with New York Recording Laboratories (NYRL). Under the Paramount label, they released a continuous flow of jazz, gospel, and outstanding blues recordings. The blues recordings were marketed under the Paramount 12000/13000 “race” series. Between 1929 and 1932, NYRL operated a recording studio in Grafton. The host of seminal blues artists whose music was released on the Paramount label includes Ma Rainey, Ida Cox, Blind Blake, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, Son House, Skip James, Willie Brown, Louise Johnson, King Solomon Hill, The Mississippi Sheiks, Tommy Johnson, Henry Townsend, and many others. Paramount released twenty-five percent of the blues recordings that were marketed during this era, and dominated the blues marketplace. Due to the stock market crash and failing economy during the Great Depression, Paramount began to decline. They ceased recording studio activities in mid 1932, although they were able to ship records until late 1933. Paramount then went out of business.

Now Angela understood why she had received a mass-mailed letter from a record collector seeking old Paramount 78s. Vintage blues enthusiasts and collectors get very excited at the prospect of acquiring old Paramount recordings. Those old 78s are the most sought after of blues recordings. They can be sold at auction for large sums of money. Finding a previously thought to be ‘lost’ Paramount record is a milestone in the life of a record collector, as well as a milestone in the documentation of American music history. In the words of Paramount Records historian, Alex van der Tuuk, “The importance of the record company and its studio cannot be underestimated. Charley Patton is considered King of the Delta Blues, partially based on his recorded output recorded in Grafton.”

The flames of Angela’s passion for African American culture, music, and history were fanned and the Grafton link to Paramount was just the catalyst that was needed to put her interests into action. She spent time at the old Paramount factory location watching the Milwaukee River tumble over the rocks, musing over the last few brick remains of the foundation of the building, and re-read the small roadside sign that marked the historic site. Later, the idea that there should be a blues festival in Grafton at Lime Kiln Park to honor the legacy of Grafton and the blues came to her in a dream.

She took her idea for a blues festival to the Village officials. Village President, Jim Brunnquell, says, “It took several more communications from Angela before I truly realized what a historical treasure the Village possessed.” He was now intrigued by the idea. Grafton was in the middle of a major downtown redevelopment effort. In addition, they were looking at marketing tools to attract and retain business. One quality that was needed was an identity, a hook, or concept that they could build their presence.  The ‘lost’ legacy of Paramount Records just might be the keystone that was needed to achieve all of these municipal goals. Brunnquell pursued the concept with Village officials, and he pointed Angela to the Grafton Jaycees for the possible production of a blues festival.

In early 2005, she got in touch with Alex van der Tuuk, author of “Paramount’s Rise and Fall, A History of the Wisconsin Chair Company and its Recording Activities.” Via very long distance, (van der Tuuk lives in the Netherlands), he offered Angela input, information, and moral support. Alex suggested that Angela’s husband, Patrick, start a Paramount web site to gain support from others and to begin networking. They got the web site up and running, and Alex and Angela doggedly started doing outreach to everyone they knew.

At this point, Angela posted a message online at The Blindman’s Blues Forum seeking advice, guidance, and support for her efforts to raise the Paramount/blues consciousness in Grafton. This writer saw her post on that forum, took a great deal of interest in her cause, and responded. I began advising and mentoring her toward her goals. Little did I know at that time how involved I would be in the Grafton/Paramount process, and how far all of these projects would progress in less than a year.

Meanwhile, local chef/restaurateur, Joe Krupski, was planning for a restaurant somewhere in the downtown area of Grafton. He was aware that there was a market need for dining in that area. His eyes kept turning towards a building sitting on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue/12th Street and Bridge Street–right in the heart of downtown Grafton. The building at 1304 – 12th Avenue had been vacant for quite some time, so he figured the owner would be very open to any idea that might work. He began constructing a business plan around this building in November 2004. He learned from the owner that the building was the first county courthouse and that it was nearly 160 years old–the oldest commercial building still standing in Grafton. He became interested in learning more about the building so that he could incorporate that into his business plan. He visited the public library in Grafton to do research. While looking through the Grafton archives, he noticed a few statements about a record company that existed in Grafton. He had an idea of incorporating some of Grafton’s musical history into the restaurant to make it a more interesting place to visit. (A Hard Rock style café concept with a Paramount Records theme.) He was learning more and more about Paramount/NYRL and had started collecting 78s and other memorabilia to incorporate into the restaurant. He read Alex van der Tuuk’s book on the history of Paramount. Krupski got excited about bringing Grafton’s heritage back in a venue that could also help educate the local population about an important part of their hometown history. His restaurant would definitely have a Paramount theme and to get the Village onboard, he needed to educate them on this wonderful history that was being ignored. He purchased more copies of van der Tuuk’s book and gave them to the Village President and Planner along with a CD set of all of the blues music recorded in Grafton by Paramount, as well as a full copy of his business plan. Since he was searching for capital to fund the restaurant, he also gave out copies of the book to local bankers. He approached the Grafton Chamber of Commerce where he was told that another person, Angela Mack, was e-mailing the Village asking them why they hadn’t done anything with their musical heritage and was insisting that they do something about it. He was given Angela’s phone number and e-mail address, but he did not contact her immediately due to so many other concerns regarding his business plan.

Finally, Krupski locked in an offer with the owner of the building and found funding to begin construction of the Paramount Restaurant. It was during the period of time that he officially approached the Village about doing the project was when he first met Angela Mack and her husband, Patrick. As they talked about the Paramount Records history, they knew the Village was starting to also have their share of thoughts on the Paramount concept since the Village officials had always fielded complaints that “Grafton doesn’t have a theme like Cedarburg or Port Washington.”

While Krupski was pushing forward with his Paramount-themed restaurant concept, Angela connected the Grafton Area Live Arts (GALA) to bring an “Embrace the Legacy” concert series to the GALA concert hall venue. The concert series would focus on performers who could educate on Paramount history and perform songs recorded by Paramount artists. She approached Scott Oftedahl, former Grafton High School band director and current principal of Kennedy Elementary School, about bringing a blues educator to Grafton to raise the awareness of school children regarding the history of blues music and Grafton’s blues legacy. Oftedahl was more than receptive to the idea. While Angela made arrangements with GALA for the first “Embracing The Legacy” concert, Oftedahl organized plans for a combined blues education presentation/concert for all of Grafton’s elementary school children. Over 500 elementary students would be bussed to the high school auditorium for the one-hour morning blues presentation/concert on Sept. 30th, 2005. In the afternoon, the 4th grade students at Oftedahl’s Kennedy Elementary School would have a private one-hour session with the blues educator. The concert at the GALA venue would be that same evening. A Paramount history discussion panel was scheduled for Oct. 30th at the Cedarburg Arts Council.  Participants in the panel discussion would include Paramount historian, van der Tuuk, and other knowledgeable Paramount Records devotees.

I was pleasantly surprised and most grateful when Angela Mack and school Principal, Scott Oftehdahl, requested that I participate in their plans by being the blues educational presenter, as well as the performer for the first GALA “Embracing The Legacy” concert. I eagerly anticipated my visit to Grafton, the school presentation, the concert, and to visiting the Paramount historic site.

Steve Ostermann of the local Ozaukee Press staff did a superb job of publicizing all of the Paramount ‘resurrection’ efforts, including covering my visit to Grafton. “Michael “Hawkeye” Herman had Grafton school kids bouncing in their seats. In between the boogie beat, he also taught them a few things about the blues — the profound influence it has had on music they listen to every day and the vehicle it offers for expressing their emotions. Herman’s hour-long program drew praise from students, parents and educators alike. Scott Oftedahl, Kennedy Elementary School principal, said Herman’s appearance introduced students to historically important American music and showed them how relevant it remains today. We’re very fortunate to have him come here.”

The evening GALA concert was a sell out. The audience was superb. During the concert I explained to the crowd, “Grafton and Paramount Records are responsible for much of the American blues music that came out of the 1920s and 1930s. You have a great opportunity here to show people what this history is and why it’s so important. It’s not only important for students to learn about, it’s important for the community to realize what they have. You have a sleeping giant, and it’s finally starting to wake up.” An enthusiastic full house of local residents showed up at the Cedarburg Cultural Center the following day for the afternoon Paramount panel discussion.

At about this time, local Jaycees members, Kris Marshall, Ellen Zacharias, and Peter Raymond were instrumental in founding a blues society. The group used the “Let’s Get Started/How To Create A Blues Society,” article that appeared in the 2005 issue of the Blues Festival Guide as an aid in founding the Grafton Blues Association. They immediately undertook responsibility for producing the first annual Paramount Blues Festival in cooperation with the Grafton Area Jaycees. The festival will be held on Sept. 23rd, 2006 at Lime Kiln Park, in Grafton. Marshall and her committee have pulled out all the stops in planning the all day event. The festival will feature nationally recognized blues artists and local bands, including: Albert Cummings, Nora Jean Bruso, Hawkeye Herman, David Evans and Joe Filisko, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys, and The Steve Cohen Blues Band with Greg Koch. Educational workshops will be presented by well known blues historian/author Gayle Dean Wardlow, and fellow historian/musicians, David Evans and Joe Filisko. Alex van der Tuuk will be on hand to sign copies of his book and discuss the history of Paramount Records.

Angela and Patrick Mack, Jim Brunquell, Joe Krupski, Melissa Schmitz, and others, founded GIG (Grooves In Grafton), to further support and retain the history of all of the genres of music that Paramount recorded in Grafton. GIGS will present exhibits, park history displays, and educational programs “to educate, increase the awareness of, and preserve the music recorded and pressed in Grafton, Wisconsin by the New York Recording Laboratories.”

Grafton city officials, including Village President Brunquell, had been planning to spur development in the center of downtown by providing tax-incentive financing packages to businesses locating in the downtown area. They already had their eyes on plans for the construction of a downtown plaza which would help bring people back to the area. With the newfound interest in Paramount and the possibility of the Paramount-themed restaurant going in, city officials embraced the Paramount concept for the downtown Paramount Plaza. Paramount Plaza will include a saxophone-shaped fountain spewing water from the horn, and sidewalk decor inlayed to resemble piano keys that will create a Paramount Recording Artists’ Walk Of Fame, featuring the names of artists who recorded in Grafton and the approximate recording date.

Joe Krupski is in the midst of refurbishing the old courthouse building, near the future Paramount Plaza, into The Paramount Restaurant. The building was the Bienlein Hotel in the 1920s where Paramount’s artists may have stayed the night while recording in Grafton. Krupski hopes to have the restaurant up and running before the Sept. 23rd date of the Paramount Blues Festival.

Beginning March 1, 2006, the Ozaukee Bank in Grafton, a major sponsor for the Paramount Blues Festival, will host monthly exhibits presented by Grooves In Grafton (GIG) to enhance visibility for the festival and inform the community about their Paramount Records heritage. The fire of interest in local history and Paramount Records is now lit and beginning to grow. People are excited that Grafton is, at long last, getting an identity and has something to be proud of. Local folks are coming forward begging to get involved. They are excited about the opportunity to participate in something bigger than themselves that educates, entertains, and brings a sense of identity and pride to the community.

The efforts of numerous individuals interested in educating the town about their unique contribution to America’s musical history opened the eyes of many others who immediately recognized the potential to build a theme for Grafton around this important legacy. Within the next year, the face of Grafton will dramatically change. Paramount’s long kept secret legacy will finally have its chance to shine. Coming out of anonymity, the town of Grafton is embracing this legacy and is now passionate about Paramount.

In the March 2 edition of the Ozaukee Press, Steve Ostermann reported, “When blues musician and educator, Michael “Hawkeye” Herman, came to Grafton last fall to perform at schools and in concert, he spoke to local residents about their community as “a sleeping giant.” ‘Grafton,’ Herman told his audiences, ‘has chance to acknowledge its place in American music history and let the rest of the world know about a rich legacy that has long been overlooked by the general public.’ Herman’s words–which echoed the sentiments of area educators who invited him to appear locally–have not fallen on deaf ears. Since his visit last September, a growing number of residents have embraced missions publicizing Grafton’s musical heritage. The result of their efforts is the formation of groups that are organizing a blues festival, park history displays, educational programs, and a variety of other activities they hope will teach, enlighten, and entertain. The collective goal, volunteers said, is to pay tribute to the Paramount blues artists and other musicians who recorded for the former Wisconsin Chair Co.’s music division.”

History, dreams, meaningful coincidences, timing, synchronicity, networking, and the blues, came together to transform a community. For information on Grafton’s Paramount Blues Festival:

For information on Paramount Records history:

Much thanks to Michael “Hawkeye” Herman and the Blues Festival Guide for allowing Ozaukee Talent to re-publish this article.  Angela Mack (now Angie Mack Reilly) can be reached at 

Blues Research Paramount Records

TR Rongstad Interviews Angie for Grave Stories Feature on Blind Blake


Blues Research

Angie Gets Interviewed by Poet Z.M. Wise: Co-Editor of Transcendent Zero Press



About Z.M. Wise

​Long version: Z.M. Wise is a proud Illinois native from Chicago, poet, essayist, occasional playwright, seldom screenwriter, co-editor and arts activist, writing since his first steps as a child. He was selected to be a performer in the Word Around Town Tour in 2013, a Houston citywide tour. He is co-owner and co-editor of Transcendent Zero Press, an independent publishing house for poetry that produces an international quarterly journal known as Harbinger Asylum. The journal was nominated Best Poetry Journal in 2013 at the National Poetry Awards. He has five books of published poetry, including: Take Me Back, Kingswood Clock! (MavLit Press, 2013), The Wandering Poet (Transcendent Zero Press, 2014), Wolf: An Epic & Other Poems (Weasel Press, 2015), Cuentos de Amor (Red Ferret Press, 2015), and Kosmish and the Horned Ones (Weasel Press, 2018). His debut play, Bottles of Emerald for the Demon Queen (Transcendent Zero Press, 2019), was published in late December of 2019. His sixth book of poetry, Illinois Infinitarium (Cherry House Press, 2020), will be published in the summer months of 2020. Other than these books, his poems, lyrics, essays, and book reviews have been published in various journals, magazines, and anthologies. The motto that keeps him going: POETRY LIVES AND LONG LIVE THE ARTS! Mr. Wise will make sure to spread that message and the love of the arts, making sure it remains vibrant for the rest of his days and beyond. Besides poetry and other forms of writing, his other passions/interests include professional voice acting, singing/lyricism/songwriting, playing a few instruments, fitness, and reading.  Besides poetry and other forms of writing, his other passions/interests include professional voice acting, singing/lyricism/songwriting, playing a few instruments, fitness, and reading.

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Additional resources talked about in the interview:




Album: Momentum (Ambient Pop) by Angie Mack Reilly


Listen Here

Here is an instrumental album that I self produced in 2005 called “Momentum”. The goal is to perform this album on a nice stage with live musicians, singers and an orchestra preferably sooner than later. If anyone can or wants to help me make that happen, let me know.  It would entail securing a venue, rehearsing with the musicians and paying the musicians.

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“Just Talking: A Chat With Angie Mack Reilly 2.29.20” Ben Merens and Riverwest Radio



Blues Research Female Entrepreneur Paramount Records public speaker

Angie is Interviewed by The World Music Foundation About Music History


Much thanks to John Gardner of The World Music Foundation for capturing this very important story that has global influence!

Listen to the Music Podcast Here

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Liquid Sunshine: Angie Reviews Immortal Girlfriend 4.22.16


“Liquid Sunshine”

by Angie Mack Reilly written 4.22.16.  Photo taken by Angie in April of 2016 in Grafton, WI

Intentionally delayed publishing until 11.12.18

Will and Kevin are brothers from Milwaukee who are hoping to produce their EP this summer. Will is the older brother who writes most of their original songs as well as performs on keys and lead vocals. Kevin plays the drums and bass as well as arranges songs with his brother.

The two performed a “private concert” for me last Saturday which was quite a gift.

Immortal Girlfriend puts on a private show for Angie Mack Reilly in Grafton, WI before music career takes off.

Their music is highly original with a tight groove, smooth melodies and uplifting lyrics. Listening definitely put me in a better mood. Their performance for me was ambient and fresh yet surprisingly full for two musicians. I couldn’t help but move along to their positive and percussive sounds full of lyrical fluidity. These guys are going places.

Will and Kevin consider themselves as being self-taught. However, they come from a highly musical family with their father Ron being a bassist and their mother Leona a guitar player. Thanks to their cousin who lived with them growing up, Will remembers going to sleep to the sounds of Tupac, Biggie Smalls and other rappers. Will has memories of growing up in the 80s listening to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit on his brand new “Walkman”.

Their grandfather, Theodore Franks was a multi-talented man who played the guitar and piano in Texas. Their sisters sing and there are even more musicians on their father’s side. Their uncle, Dehner Franks, is a professional and nationally touring songwriter, pianist and minister.

Will and Kevin also minister in music at Epikos Church in West Allis. Both brothers admit that they have risen to a higher level of musical excellence under the leadership of Michael Morgan at Epikos. In 2006, Morgan was in a band called “Northern Room” that opened for Bon Jovi at the Bradley Center. Musicians wanting to play at Epikos have to perform a successful audition.

Immortal Girlfriend on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Will and Kevin have begun a new tour featuring some of their original titles such as “Portia”, “Avid”, “Temple”, “Adrift”, and my favorite of theirs, “Passage”. They have most recently played at Mo’s Irish Pub and Frank’s Power Plant in Milwaukee with great fan reception. Others have described Will and Kevin’s sound as being somewhat like The Cure’s “Burn” or like Sting from the Police.

Words cannot describe my love and care for the “Bush Family”.  Will and Kevin’s parents and I used to play music together at Spirit Life Church in Mequon in the 2000s on a very regular basis.  I’ve also played with Will and Kevin.   Even though I don’t see them several times a week anymore, they will always be family to me.  Because of this, I am sharing. 

Being ill as a musician can be extremely devastating.  I’ve been there.  I know others who have been there.   There is something special that “I know” about Will.  Not only is he like family to me, doggedly hard-working and an amazing musician.   Above all, Will Bush is a voice.  A voice.  A voice.  A VOICE.  A VOICE.  And his heart is beautifully full of love…..

His voice, his message, is pertinent and life-giving.

Ladies and gentleman, let’s rise to the occasion.  These young men are strong leaders.  Thank you in advance.  


Immortal Girlfriend at Summerfest 

Immortal Girlfriend on JSOnline

Immortal Girlfriend on Soundcloud


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2005: Angie Interviews Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt Descendant



Exclusive Interview with Angie Mack Reilly 

Date:  6/17/05 by phone

Name: Fred Bolden
Born: 1951 Boston, Massachusetts
Retired police officer

A: How are you related to Skip James?
F: Skip married my second cousin (my mother’s first cousin). He’s related by marriage. Skip’s wife’s name was Lorenzo Hurt. I’m really a Hurt.

A: How are you related to Mississippi John Hurt?
F: He’s my grand uncle. (My grandfather’s brother)

A: Do you remember meeting Skip James for the first time?
F: Oh sure….Oh sure….I’ll never forget that…down at Newport. You see, Son House got drunk and was supposed to play that gig in 1964. (Newport Blues Festival) I remember that like yesterday. Skip was so nervous….so nervous…..[laughing] Skip was so nervous that he was shaking like the leaves on a tree.

Reverend Robert Wilkins had to calm him down. He was a performer also. Ever heard of Bob Dylan? He was there, too. Tom Huskins almost threw him out. Howlin’ Wolf was there. They called the tent “Bluesville”. Skip and Misssissippi Fred McDonald were really nervous. When he got on stage that was the highlight of his career. He did this little thing with his left hand. Then he sang, “I’d rather be the devil than to be that woman’s man…..” He did it in that falsetto that sent chills up and down my back. It still does today. The crowd just went wild. He did about 4 or 5 songs.

The highlight of his whole career was the Newport Festival. There were thousands there. I was fascinated by the microphones that picked up his sound. I still have dreams about it. I never saw anything like that before, you know. He had on a preacher’s hat…black, winged tip shoes, a jacket, and a rectangular button with “KIN” on it….meaning he was a performer. That meant that you were part of the staff or a performer.

A: Was Son House there?
F: No. [laughing] Dick Waterman took him somewhere to sleep it off….probably Freebody Park.

A: Who taught Skip how to play?
F: I think Skip taught himself. But there was Little Brother Montgomery and an unknown guy….Henry Stuckey. And don’t forget during WWI, they were in Jackson, Mississippi and he met my Uncle Mississippi John Hurt. I think it’s from my Uncle’s influence. My Uncle used to hang out down there.

A: You mentioned that he didn’t like playing other people’s songs……….
F: That’s right.

A: Do you think it’s because he couldn’t play them?
F: No. No. And I’ll tell you why. You know why? He said, “I can play all those songs, but I want to do my own thing.” Skip said that to me, because we were sitting in the living room. We used to sit in the living room all of the time. He, Lorenzo, and I. I asked him once to play C.C. Rider. He said, “That’s Mississippi John Hurt’s song…….”

A: You said that Son House came to your house and played. What did he play?
F: Well, yes….I remember him and John Hurt doing one song, Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Blind Snake Moan”. They got really tore up. They were drinking that blues. Son House did “Preaching Blues”….it’s one of my favorites. … and there’s “Empire State Blues…” He used to work for that railroad. It’s about the Empire State Railroad.

A: What do you remember about Skip’s personality?
F: He was quite….almost mysterious……full of spirits….He could be both…..He could be lively…..Down in Newport…..he was so nervous….he was scared $#@less. [laughing] That’s probably the quietest I ever seen him. He could rub people the wrong way. But I was on his good side. I never gave him any argument. I tell you the truth, he liked those %$#@houses and drank a lot. He didn’t drink too much at his house when I was there, though. Not like my Uncle John. My Uncle John always had a pint on him even when he was playing. I asked my mom as a young kid what that was. She said, “It gave him the spirit”……[laughing]

A: What made him mad?
F: Yes….there was a young 17 year old kid with a guitar. He said, “Skip, I learned how to play a song just like you play it….” Skip got mad and said, “I done been and gone from places you’ll never get to……” He got mad all of the time… conversation…yeah….like….those guys that found him. They were handling him for awhile. Skip was mad at John Fahey because they took his money and were squandering it at his expense. So Skip got away from them. He said, “They took my money and squandered it.” A lot of those guys they rediscovered….they embroiled them in money problems. The rediscovered blues guys felt cheated. They had no way of assessing what they were really worth. They weren’t prepared to be rediscovered and didn’t know how to deal with it. So they didn’t deal with it well.

When they found Skip in the hospital, he didn’t remember anything. He had to be taught again by blues enthusiasts who mastered his licks.

A: What made him sad?
F: He was a hard hearted man. He had a heart like stone.

A: Did he ever tell any stories?
What kind of stories?

A: Any.

F:  Oh sure…..A lot of stuff he did when he was a young guy….his travels to Texas. (Austin or Dallas?) He said, “With money you can see and buy anything you want”. He told me the story how he got rediscovered. Bill Barth, Henry Vestine, and John Fahey. John went on to be famous, you know. They found Skip in Tunica, Mississippi in the hospital there. A couple of other guys were looking for Son House and they found Son and Skip on the same day. Can you believe that? They came into the hospital and played Skip’s record from the Grafton days.

I did talk to Skip about the Depression. He had to eat at the soup kitchens. Yeah, he went back to his parents. Most black people were hit hard back then and fared the worst I’m afraid.

A: Where did his dad live?
F: I think Bentonia, Mississippi. That’s the place you want to go. Skip had a school down there. He had several musicians down there who were influenced by him and played a lot like him……some great guitar players down there who recorded there.

A: What can you tell me about Skip parents?
F: No…..I tell you the truth…..It’s really really really mysterious……I didn’t think to ask him….I didn’t know how famous he was. I thought he was a regular. He had a lot of recognition. There was a lot written about him.

They [Skip and Lorenzo] had an adopted son named Bobby. I didn’t get along too good with him. He was a homosexual and he tried to hit on me….right there in Skip’s house. I haven’t seen Bobby since 1969 or 1970

A: You mentioned a notebook of songs that Skip had…….Do you know where it is?
F: Skip and his wife are both dead. I don’t know where it is. They let me have his bedroom when I stayed there. I was there for Thanksgiving and Christmas, you know. They were both very nice. His old notebook had all of his songs in it neatly written.

A: Did it have the chords written in it?
F: Oh no. I don’t think Skip could read music. I don’t think any of those guys could.

A: Where was Skip’s home?
F: Philadelphia. I don’t know whatever happened to that house. I’m sure they sold it or something.

A: You said you spent a lot of time in Skip James’ home? What was it like?
F: I was a young teenager then when I visited there. I would visit my other relatives there. He let me take his guitar out. He let me take his guitar to my mother’s cousins.

Eric Clapton bought the house…it was a really nice house….it really was…Clapton bought him the house because he took one of Skip’s songs “I’m So Glad”. He wanted to compensate for it. Eric Clapton wanted to give something back.

The kitchen was very, very clean….long table in the kitchen. Skip’s room was nice and tidy. They liked me so much that they led me have their room. The furniture was very old fashioned from the early 20’s and 30’s.

A: Did he ever make any meals for you?
F: Lorenzo did the cooking. Skip liked ham hocks, cornbread (the real flaky kind), and collared greens, and chitins.

A: Did Skip always want to do music?
F: He wanted to become a minister when he was young. But he had this thing with the blues. Times were hard…..he wasn’t going to get anywhere singing the blues. He knew that. I think his father was a minister. He went to some sort of seminary or religious school and became a minister.

A: Did Skip ever preach to you?
F: Every time I sat down with them for dinner, we had to recite a Bible verse. One time we were there. One of his friends came and Skip really yelled at him because he didn’t know a Bible verse. I have seen him step on a lot of toes and hurt a lot of people’s feelings. One time, when he was in Philadelphia, he played at a place called the “2nd Fret” ( a coffee house). He most frequently played there. He got on stage and preached a lot. But that turned people off. I’m telling you the truth, there would only be 5 or 6 people there. Can you imagine that for Skip James? His preaching turned a lot of people off.

A: So why did he quit for 30-35 years after his Paramount Recordings?
F: It was the Depression. What Skip was doing in 1930’s wasn’t selling. He went to seminary school after Grafton. Grafton was the only place that he recorded.

A: After Grafton, he was missing. It’s was really a mystery. What was doing? Where did he live?
F: Skip told me that he became a born again Christian. He became a minister for a while then. He sang gospel music and traveled with a gospel group. When he traveled with those caravans (those young people), he probably got a better reception.

You see, can I tell you something? Dick Waterman was Son House’s manager and Mississippi’s manager. Son would try to find the nearest liquor store and get lost. So Dick dropped him off at our house once.

Bob Dylan was at our house in 1964 because my uncle had played at the Café Yana. My uncle had 5 nights sold out. My father and mother threw a party for him to celebrate….along with all of the patrons. Bob Dylan was there. I thought he was going to play. He was with some girl. He was hiding in our house making out with that girl. [laughing] I had to go to the bathroom and get passed him and that girl. This was in February 1964. This was just before the Beatles invaded America.

A: Did Skip ever teach you anything about God?
F: Not that I can remember.

A: Skip used to wake you up on Sundays with church songs. What songs did he play? Where did he go to church?

F: “What a Friend We have in Jesus”, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee”, “Rock of Ages”, all of those songs. I don’t remember him going to church when I was there. I don’t know where he went to church. He had a beautiful piano.

A: He enjoyed playing piano?
F: Oh yeah….. Someone wrote a book on Skip, you know. I don’t think any of this information is in it.

A: What was his piano like?
F: Upright. Beautiful. In those days, most of them were used. He had a new one…..light brown, new. I don’t know what he did with his piano.

A: You said that, one night, Skip started out playing “I’m so Glad” for you real slow and then a flamenco piece. You said he was always full of surprises? How so?
F: Oh yeah, full of surprises….

A: What kind of surprises?
F: Musical surprises. Skip, his wife, and myself would listen to him play and talk in the living room. He would play a Broadway show tune, then a spiritual……something like that….

A: What were some of the spirituals he liked?
F: ….. “Jesus, he’s a mighty good leader, all the way, all the way”….., “I Shall Not Be Moved”, “Wade in the Water”….. I think I learned that one from Skip. That’s in my repertoire.

A: What about the woman behind Skip James, Lorenzo. What was she like?

F:  Lorenzo stuck with him all the way. If you asked him, he say, “She’s shaped like a Coca Coca bottle and she wibbles and she wobbles when she walks. Those are lines from a song of his. Very heavy. Not fat. Large woman. Very kind, thoughtful, and supportive. They have a beautiful grave site. She was religious. I don’t know what church.

A: So what about the lyrics, “I’d rather be the devil than to be that woman’s man?” Was that a real person?
F: He had an experience once. That song was a true story. I think we all have.

A: What did Skip say about Grafton or his recordings?
F: Not much…..except that they paid his way up there…..he had to sit still….in the recording laboratory. That’s what they called those then. He said it was uncomfortable. They were advertised in the Chicago Defender. They sold everywhere.

A: How did he record them? Did he like how they turned out? What about the Grafton studio?
F: It was a factory. He said, “They had me up in a factory in this room…..” I think that was a make shift studio.

A: What is a make shift studio?
F: You make your own place to record….they would set up the equipment to record you. The room would have to have good acoustics. (“Room tone” is what they called it in the 20’s)…..this was common…..The Wisconsin Chair Factory was a great place that was hollow…..spacious…..a great place to record…..

A: Yeah. That makes sense. I never heard that. Did he get paid well for his recordings?
F: Naw……No….I don’t think so. I think he got maybe $50 a record….maybe….I’m not sure how they paid him. You did a bunch of songs and they’d give you $40 or $50. They targeted people like Mississippi and Skip. It meant greater profit.

The black community bought them. Those records popped up in Chicago, New York, the south.

A: What can you tell me about “race records”?
F: Well, they had a market that was all part of segregation….they had a market for blacks and a market for whites. Then later, a polite way of saying “race records” was “R & B”. It was the politically correct term.

A: You mentioned that when Skip was ill, he was really “bitter about the guys running Paramount in the 30’s”. Why?
F: I think I was talking about H.C. Spier…..

A: Did Skip listen to his own recordings?
F: Oh yeah…….I had one of his 1930 sessions from Grafton… mother had all of his other albums…..She is, like, 90 years old. I was in Vietnam and I left all my records over there….Blind Lemon Jefferson….all of them….

A: Did Skip ever talk to you about Vietnam?
F: Oh sure….he said things like, “I’m proud of you….be careful…..take it easy…..keep playing that guitar…..If I can do it and John Hurt can do it, you could do it.”

A: Did you play on the ship?
F: Oh yeah.

A: Can you play “I’m So Glad”?
F: Oh God no! I could never play that. It’s too intricate for me. Mississippi John Hurt taught me. I could play his songs like him.

A: What was your favorite Skip song?
F: Al of them…..”I’m so Glad”……I listen to this more than any other. He had a strange way of tuning his guitar. Open E or open D.

Have you ever heard me?

You can hear one of my songs here. This is a song I wrote. Mississippi John Hurt taught me how to play like that.

A: Where did you record it?
F: In my living room.

A: With what?
F: One of those cheap tape players you buy at Radio Shack.
You can also go here. Click on Soundclick. Maybe you’ll see 4 or 5 of my songs.

A: Why didn’t you ever become a performer?
F: Because I didn’t want to go through what Skip and my Uncle John went through. I decided to go to school. I went for 4 years and then became a police officer for the Boston Police Department. I’m retired now.

A: I read somewhere that Skip died of lung cancer. Is that what you remember?
F: He didn’t die of lung cancer. He had his testicles removed. We all in the family knew that. A lot of these people write a lot about these people and they get the facts all wrong. That’s why he had such a high voice because he had his testicles removed. He had that happen in the 60’s.

A: I am also looking at this photo of him taken at his 1964 Newport. He looks so mad. Why?
F: He had a good reason. He was a sick man. When that picture had been taken, he had just gotten out of the hospital.

Fred,  Thank you for very much for taking this time to interview.  And thank you for your enthusiasm, compliments and support when I released my first album, “Comfort My People”.  You have been a great friend to me at Blindman’s as well.  God bless, Angie

Rare Audio Interview of Paramount Record Factory Employee Ed Kleist of Grafton, WI by Live from the Grafton House of Blues

Interview with TennJim

Interview with Calvin the Hoy Hoy Boy

Interview with Kevin Ramsey

4.22.16 Review of Immortal Girlfriend

Female Entrepreneur music history Public Art

“A prophet is not without honor except in his own town”


“You can’t keep a good #musician down. You can attempt to erase them from history. But they come back.” -Angie Mack Reilly 10.6.18

“….A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”  – Mark 6:4

Strategic Pitching Began in 2005

Intentional Event Planning to Raise Funds for the Etching in the Paramount Walk of Fame

Educating and Public Relations

Angie volunteered huge amounts of time educating (or paying someone to educate)  about Paramount Records History and lecturing at places like:

Wisconsin Historical Museum, Kiwanis Club in Port Washington, Cedarburg Cultural Center, Village of Grafton Planning Commission Meetings, Village of Grafton Historical Preservation Commission Meetings, Paramount GIG (Grooves in Grafton) Meetings, PBS History Detectives Production, Holy Vessels Baptist Church (Chicago) My Fox Television, Kennedy Elementary School, Grafton High School, Grafton Jaycees (Peter Raymond and Kris Marshall at the time),  Blindman’s Blues Forum(paramountangie), Weenie Campbell’s Forum,  Grafton Area Live Arts NPR “At 10” Radio Show, various MATC classes at the Mequon Campus, Ozaukee County Historical Society, Girl Scout Troops, Boy Scout Troops, The North Shore Academy of the Arts

Father of Gospel Music’s Niece Invites Angie to Chicago to Perform

FATHER OF GOSPEL MUSIC:  Thomas A. Dorsey (aka “Precious Lord)

NIECE:  Dr. Lena McLin, Pastor and Vocal Coach of many famous artists

"Balm in Gilead" demo by Angela Mack by Live from the Grafton House of Blues

Many magazines, newspapers, personal emails, personal meetings…..all for the purpose of educating and networking so that when the time came,

the Village of Grafton and festival organizers would have had a lot of the groundwork already laid out for them to help ensure success.

Angie’s skills as a large scale producer and team builder were working……recruiting key players, giving pep talks, educating, PR, groundbreaking online educating before that was a thing.

In addition, was set up in 2004.  The website was Angie’s idea.  She wanted to see information that was available in Alex van der Tuuk’s Book was made more accessible by the international online community.   The more people who knew about the artists who recorded in Grafton (and Chicago, New York and Richmond), the better chance we had at long term success.

What was the goal?

Educate the online community during a time when the Internet was newer and void of much information about Paramount Records. was THE LEADING SOURCE for people to go to in order to find information about the artists and the history.

Thousands upon thousands of hours were put in by Angie Mack Reilly, Alex van der Tuuk and Patrick Mack archiving material and talking to people in the Paramountshome forums.   Their fore running efforts were officially recognized by (then) Governor Doyle’s wife Jessica (D), Mark Gottlieb of the Wisconsin State Assembly (R), Ralph Zaun of the Wisconsin State Assembly (R) as well as The Wisconsin Historical Society.

GRAFTON RESIDENT:  “Did the Village of Grafton hire you as a marketing or branding consultant?”

ME:  “No.  I have not been compensated for any of my work.”

And this is what a leader does.  Steps in.  When something needs to be done.  And acknowledging this important piece of music history is pretty important, right?

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”

Intangible Assets: The Value of an Idea

by Angie Mack Reilly, published in 2007

“Angela is a passionate visionary who has the ability to articulate, set and attain high goals for a greater cause. It has been a pleasure working with her to bring the Paramount Records history of Grafton, WI to the forefront.”  — International Blues Legend, Michael “Hawkeye” Herman

Angie can be contacted at for interviews, consulting, project managing, public speaking engagements, Blues in the Schools programs and special music performances

PUBLIC SPEAKING RESUME and more references available upon request

Please strongly consider supporting Angie as a talented and pioneering female.

God Bless You….

To Thine Own Self Be True.


Thomas A. Dorsey, “Georgia Tom” photo credit:

music history public speaker

Angie in New York Writer’s Book


About Amanda Petrusich

Petrusich has written for The New York TimesPitchfork Media and Paste.[5] Petrusich has been a staff writer at Pitchfork since 2003.[6]She is the author of Pink Moon, a book on Nick Drake‘s album of the same name for the 33 1/3 music series,[5] and a 2008 book called It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music, which Joe Boyd described in The Guardian as “a terrific piece of travel writing…a tour through the roots of American rural music.”[7] Petrusich also wrote a book on record collecting called Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records.[8]

Petrusich serves as clinical assistant professor at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU.[8] She began teaching at NYU in 2010 and joined the full-time faculty in 2015.[1]

Naming her to its 2016 list of “100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture,” Brooklyn Magazine described Petrusich as “a towering force of grace and encouragement in New York music and criticism circles. Between mentoring emerging voices and writing with discernment about music’s most important figures, Petrusich is helping shape Brooklyn culture from the ground up.”[9]


public speaker




By Angie Mack Reilly © 4/3/16 Grafton, WI 

When I think of the word “fluidity” I think of smooth.



Without restraint.







Full of grace.


Not stuck.

Not rigid.

Not hard.

Not strict.

(An antonym for fluidity is jelly.)


As in, “he got himself in a jam”.

So the next time I am asked,

“Why are you doing this?  Or, why are you doing that?”

Or, the next time I am judged or asked how or why,

I will respond,

I am simply.

Yes, simply.


Being fluid.


See More Photography by Angie Mack Reilly on Pinterest

music history Public Art public speaker

2000-2008: Leaving Legacies


This was taken from a former website of mine (no longer in existence) called  This is the raw and unedited version.  2008-2018 need to be filled in.  (When I have a spare moment….ha!)  I will go in and fix and re-check the links later…..  —   Angie

“Chronic Creativity: A Diagnostic Look at the Condition and How to Become Infected” Published as an E-Book on
Poetry published on Nerve House
“The Value of an Idea”,
Poems and Writings on
Historical articles on
Co-Author of “Paramount Walking Tour Booklet”
“So You Want to Be a Singer”, Hooter Newsletter 2008
“An Interview with Kevin Ramsey”, Milwaukee Rep Theatre Playbill Prologue

2006 Wisconsin Historical Society Website Award for MATC Poetry Awards
Juanita Schriener Vocal Scholarship
2006 “103 People in Ozaukee County”, through News Graphic/Conley Publishing

MARKETING DIRECTOR, North Shore Academy of the Arts and ParamountsHome

“Disney’s Aristocats”, NSAA 2009 “Disney’s 101 Dalmatians”, NSAA 2008
“Tom Sawyer”, North Shore Academy of the Arts (NSAA), 2007
“Disney’s Jungle Book”, NSAA, 2007
“I Have a Dream”, NSAA, 2007
“Emperor’s New Clothes”, NSAA, 2006
“Go Fish”, NSAA, 2006
“Broadway Santa”, NSAA 2005
“Do You Hear What I Hear?” Ozaukee Christian School (OCS), 2004
“A Pioneer Christmas”, OCS, 2003
“Go Joe!” OCS, 2002
“A Multicultural Christmas”, OCS, 2001

“Disney’s Aristocats”, NSAA 2009 “Disney’s 101 Dalmatians”, NSAA 2008
“Disney’s Jungle Book”, NSAA, 2007
“I Have a Dream”, NSAA, 2007
“Emperor’s New Clothes”, NSAA, 2006
“Go Fish”, NSAA, 2006
“Broadway Santa”, NSAA 2005
“Do You Hear What I Hear?” Ozaukee Christian School (OCS), 2004
“A Pioneer Christmas”, OCS, 2003
“Go Joe!” OCS, 2002
“A Multicultural Christmas”, OCS, 2001

“Pirates of Penzance”, NSAA 2009 “Willy Wonka”, NSAA 2008
“Annie”, NSAA, 2008
“High School Musical”, NSAA 2007
“Tom Sawyer”, NSAA, 2007
“Disney’s Jungle Book”, NSAA, 2007
“I Have a Dream”, NSAA, 2007
“Wizard of Oz”, NSAA, 2006
“Alladin Jr.”, NSAA, 2006
“Emperor’s New Clothes”, NSAA, 2006
“Go Fish”, NSAA, 2006
“Seussical”, NSAA, 2005
“Broadway Santa”, NSAA 2005
“Do You Hear What I Hear?” Ozaukee Christian School (OCS), 2004
“A Pioneer Christmas”, OCS, 2003
“Go Joe!” OCS, 2002
“A Multicultural Christmas”, OCS, 2001
Spirit Life Worship Team 1997-2001
Portview Christian Center Worship Team 2004-05

Ozaukee Idol Initial Auditions, 2008 “Pirates of Penzance”, NSAA 2009 “Willy Wonka”, NSAA 2008 “High School Musical”, NSAA 2007
“Tom Sawyer”, NSAA, 2007
“Seussical”, NSAA, 2005
“Wizard of Oz”, NSAA, 2006
“Alladin Jr.”, NSAA, 2006

“Embrace the Legacy Concert Series”, 2005 with Grafton Area Live Arts
“Blues in the Schools” with Michael Hawkeye Herman, 2005
“Dance With an Early Jazz”, Walk of Fame Fundraiser 2006
“Embrace the Legacy Concert”, 2006
“2008 Ozaukee Idol and Junior Ozaukee Idol”, 2008
Programming Team, Spirit Life Church

FOX 6 interview/feature story with Mark Concannon, 2008
“2007 Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony”, Grafton, WI
“Giro d’ Grafton Bike Race, 2007, Grafton, WI
“Wisconsin Blues Connection” and Powerpoint Presentation, Wisconsin Historical Society, 2006
“At 10” Radio Interview, National Public Radio, 2006
“Paramount History” and Powerpoint Presentation, Port Washington Kiwanas Club, 2005
“Paramount History” and Powerpoint Presentation, MATC-Mequon Campus, 2004
“Passionate about Paramount and the Blues” Children’s Educational Performance, Grafton Library 2006
“Paramount Blues Festival Panel Discussion”, Cedarburg Cultural Center WI, 2005
St. Mary’s Care Center Chapel Services, Madison, WI 1990-1992

2006 – present Chairperson for the Paramount Walk of Fame Committee
2006 Chairperson for “A Dance With Early Jazz” fundraiser
Paramount GIG, Board Member
Grafton Historic Preservation Commission, Member
Paramount/Five Points Plaza Ad-Hoc Committee Member

“Pirates of Penzance”, NSAA 2009 “Willy Wonka”, NSAA 2008
“Annie”, NSAA, 2008
“High School Musical”, NSAA 2007
“Tom Sawyer”, NSAA, 2007
“Emperor’s New Clothes”, Hartfor Schauer Center, 2006

Original Christian Album, “First Love”, 2009 Original Intrumental Album, “Momentum”, 2006
Children’s Christmas song, “It’s The Pioneer Way”, performed at “A Pioneer Christmas”, OCS, 2003
Multiple Congregational and Special Songs, Spirit Life Church in Mequon, 2006-2001
Original Christian Album, “Comfort My People”, 1999

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” Ozaukee Christian School (OCS), 2004
“A Pioneer Christmas”, OCS, 2003
“Go Joe!” OCS, 2002
“A Multicultural Christmas”, OCS, 2001
Various short skits for Spirit Life Church in Mequon

Private Voice, Piano, Guitar, Theory, Composition, and Percussion at NSAA
Private piano, Spirit Life Church in Mequon
Private Voice, Piano, Guitar, Theory, Composition, and Percussion at OCS
Private Voice, Piano, Guitar, Theory, Composition, and Percussion at OCS
Vocal coach for 2006 Ozaukee Idol Winner, Jessica Dybul
Team vocal song coach for 2007 final Ozaukee Idol Contestants

“Disney’s Aristocats”, NSAA 2009 “Disney’s 101 Dalmatians”, NSAA 2008
“Tom Sawyer”, North Shore Academy of the Arts (NSAA), 2007
“Disney’s Jungle Book”, NSAA, 2007
“I Have a Dream”, NSAA, 2007
“Emperor’s New Clothes”, NSAA, 2006
“Go Fish”, NSAA, 2006
“Broadway Santa”, NSAA 2005
“Do You Hear What I Hear?” Ozaukee Christian School (OCS), 2004
“A Pioneer Christmas”, OCS, 2003
“Go Joe!” OCS, 2002
“A Multicultural Christmas”, OCS, 2001

Milwaukee Repetory Theatre, with Playwright Kevin Ramsey regarding “Grafton City Blues”
ParamountsHome, about Paramount history
CreativeConnectionArts, about music history and creative people

Created “demo” CDs for dozens of performers at NSAA
Recording engineer for 1 original allbum
Created a group Christmas CD for NSAA

Spirit Life Church (SLC) Worship Team
Built up large student worship team at OCS
Portview Christian Center Worship Team
Stagekids Vocal Performers Group, NSAA
Stagekids Team Elite Performers, NSAA
Paramount GIG

Creativity-Portal “365 Pictures” Prompts

“Grease” themed party, NSAA
“Drama” themed party, NSAA
“Pre-K” themed party, NSAA

Lighthouse Church, Madison, WI
SLC Mequon, WI
Portview Christian Center, Port Washington, WI

Multiple weddings in Southeastern, WI
(Contact me for wedding repetoire and pricing)

“A Taste of Cedarburg” Chamber/Business Event “4 Hope” Vineyard Community Services Event “Nerve House” Benefit NSAA Showcase LightHouse Church, Madison, WI
SLC, Mequon, WI
Portview Christian Center, Port Washington, WI
Piano player for recordings, productions, etc…
Worship Leader 10+years
Wedding Singer
Christmas performer
Outreach Minister to SE Wisconsin Nursing Homes and Institutions

Volunteer music teacher/Christms Program Director, Covered Bridge Christian School, Cedarburg
Pre-K and K Music Teacher, St. Paul’s Lutheran School, Grafton
K-8 Music Teacher, OCS
Music Teacher, NSAA
Pre-K Music Teacher, Mequon Jewish Preschool, Mequon

Music With Baby and Me
Audition Classes
Ozaukee Idol Prep Camp
Stagekids Team Elite Performers
Let’s Jam
Stagekids Vocal Performers
Seniors Sing!
Mini Mozarts
Pizza Productions

Willow Creek Child Care Center, Germantown
School of Humanities, Milwaukee
School of Genesis, Milwaukee

Teachings on Creativity, SLC, Mequon
Teachings on “The Heart of the Artist”, SLC, Mequon
Teachings on “Shattered Dreams”, SLC, Mequon
Teachings on “Chronic Creativity”, NSAA

Blues Foundation Historian
Co-Founder of ParamountsHome Music Historian
Co-Author of Paramount Walking Tour Booklet

“Sirius Talent Booking Program, NSAA 2008
Creativity Portal worldwide
“I’ll also add that I’ve been greatly influenced in recent years by other creative souls such as yourself, and those who’ve freely shared their work on the Creativity Portal. Susan M. Brackney, Joy Sikorski, Roberta Allen, Michele Pariza, and Angela Mack are a small representation of the hundreds of authors and artists who’ve left a mark on the site that promotes the exploration and expression of creativity worldwide. These people have contributed greatly to the success of the Creativity Portal and have given it more life than I could ever have done on my own. “–Chris Dunmire, Founder of Creativity-Portal

“Lost Musical Treasure” National PBS Segment of the show, “History Detectives”, 2006
Paramount Blues Festival, Grafton, WI
Paramount Plaza, Ad-Hoc Committee Member, Village of Grafton, WI
“Grafton City Blues”, Milwaukee Repetory Theatre, Milwaukee
“Embrace the Legacy” concert series
“Paramount Revival” in Grafton, WI
“Village President Jim Brunnquell originally learned about Paramount Records’ connection with Grafton in spring 2004 when Mack approached him about starting the Paramount Blues Festival, which will debut on Sept. 23 at Lime Kiln Park. Although the idea intrigued him, Brunnquell wasn’t able to grasp Paramount’s importance in American music history until coming across a considerable amount of material that had been published about the label, including a book by Scandinavian author Alex van der Tuuk.

“It appears that everyone knew about the history of Paramount and Grafton except for the village of Grafton,” said Brunnquell. “It involved a matter of somebody opening my eyes to it. Once that happened, it was like ‘Holy cow, this is amazing. We played an amazing part of Americana here.’”

The revelation couldn’t have come at a better time, as the village was in the early stages of creating a redevelopment plan for the downtown area.” — “Grafton’s Blossoming Blues Business” by Tim Carpenter

Vineyard Church, Grafton
Spirit Life Church, Mequon
Ozaukee Christian School, Saukville
North Shore Academy of the Arts, Grafton
Grafton Area Live Arts, Grafton
Cedarburg Performing Arts Center, Cedarburg
Grafton Blues Association, Grafton
Paramount GIG (Grooves in Grafton), Grafton
Historic Preservation Commission, Grafton
Portview Christian Center, Port Washington
Vineyard Community Church, Cedarburg/Grafton

Blues Festival Guide, International Publication

PDF Document

American Profile Magazine, National Publication
Exclusively Yours, Regional Magazine

News Graphic, Regional Newspaper, Journalist Tim Carpenter:

“103 People in Ozaukee County”
“In Tune With Grafton”
“Rediscovering the Past, for the Very First Time”
“In Search of Buried Treasure”
“Grafton City Blues to Hit Theatre”
“Grafton’s Blossoming Blues Business”
Ozaukee Press, Regional Newspaper, Journalist Steve Ostermann
“Spotlight on Grafton City Blues”
“Musical Heritage On Tour”
“Embracing Grafton’s Blue Legacy”
“Detectives Show Has Eye on Grafton”
“Blues in Town”
“Saturday Panel Discussion to Focus on Paramount Records”
“Grafton Tunes into Blues Next Week”
“Music Legends Chosen For Walk of Fame”

Chronic Creativity creativity expert keynote speaker on creativity public speaker

Chronic Creativity by Angela Mack Published on Creativity Portal


Angie Mack Reilly has been a long-time creativity coach and advocate for musicians….both dead and alive.  She is passionate about issues that affect musicians and creative people such as mental health issues, economic hardship and pirating.  Angie has spoken to various groups of people about the creative process and how to embrace it.   To book Angie as a public speaker, email

View Chronic Creativity:  A Diagnostic Look at the Condition and How to Become Infected

keynote speaker on creativity

Three Giants Who Recorded in Grafton, WI


Three legends who recorded for Paramount Records.

Yes.  This is a big deal.


keynote speaker on creativity

Students from Milwaukee Interview Angie for School Project on Paramount Records


The students titled their video project,

Paramount Records:  The Key to Understanding Black History and the Foundation of American Music

Contact music educator

Students from Milwaukee Interview Angie for School Project on Paramount Records

More links of interest:

Embracing the Legacy of the Blues

Angie is a lifetime arts advocate and leader with proven and documented success who is looking for benefactors to help her keep launching forward.  Contact

Some of the podcasts, television appearances, radio interviews, articles and videos that feature Angie and her work:


keynote speaker on creativity

Music legends chosen for Walk of Fame 2006 Article


Music legends chosen for Walk of Fame
Landmark artists selected for Paramount Plaza honors include only living bluesman who recorded in Grafton

Ozaukee Press staff
Posted 6-8-06

Six of the most important figures in early 20th-century American music have been chosen as the first inductees for the Walk of Fame in Grafton’s soon-to-be-built downtown Paramount Plaza.

The honorees — Charley Patton, Ma Rainey, Blind Lemon Jefferson, SkipJames, Thomas Dorsey and Henry Townsend — were announced this week by Paramount Grooves in Grafton.

The GIG group was formed last fall to promote awareness and preservation of music recorded and pressed in Grafton by the New York Recording Laboratories, the music division of the former Wisconsin Chair Co. The firm’s Grafton factory, which stood at the northeast corner of what is now Falls Road and 12th Avenue, manufactured records from 1917 to 1932 and operated a recording studio during its final four years.

Among the many artists who came to Grafton to record music or had their records pressed at the local factory were legends in blues, jazz and gospel genres.

“There are many giant musical figures who have connections to Paramount, but these six were chosen as the first inductees because of their tremendous influence,” said Angela Mack, chairman of a nine-member nominating committee that considered hundreds of artists before forwarding its selections to the GIG board for final approval.

“It was a difficult task, but there are many other musicians who will be recognized in the future.”

Construction is expected to begin in July on the Paramount-themed plaza at the intersection of Wisconsin and 12th avenues and Bridge Street that will help commemorate Grafton’s musical legacy. The 14,190-square-foot area will have a performance stage, fountain, information kiosk, benches and other amenities, including a keyboard-styled walkway containing stone etchings for Walk of Fame inductees.

The plaza area is bordered by several historic buildings, including the Grafton Hotel and former Bienlein Hotel, which is being converted into the Paramount Restaurant.

An induction ceremony is expected to be held in late summer, following completion of the plaza.

Each of the six honorees is recognized as a landmark musical figure, and all but Rainey and Jefferson recorded in Grafton.

Townsend, 96, is the only living blues musician who recorded in Grafton. Known as the Patriarch of St. Louis Blues, the Shelby, Miss., native is one of the few artists who has recorded in every decade for the past 80 years.

The Grafton Blues Association is negotiating with Townsend to perform at the Paramount Blues Festival that will debut Saturday, Sept. 23, in the village’s Lime Kiln Park.

Patton, known as the Father of Delta Blues, recorded many of his most popular songs in Grafton. He was a 1999 Grammy Hall of Fame recipient for his song “Pony Blues.”

Gertrude Rainey, known as Mother of the Blues, recorded more than 100 songs for Paramount and was the label’s biggest-selling artist during her peak years.

Jefferson, the founder of Texas blues, was Paramount’s top-selling male artist. His classic compositions included “See That My Grave is Kept Clean” and “Matchbox Blues,” the latter of which was recorded by dozens of artists including Carl Perkins and the Beatles.

Nehemiah James, one of the most original and influential of blues musicians, wrote and recorded his most famous songs in Grafton. He is best remembered for works such as “Devil Got My Woman” and “I’m So Glad,” which was later recorded by the rock group Cream.

Dorsey, also known as Georgia Tom, is acknowledged as the Father of Gospel Music. His work combined Christian praise with the rhythms of jazz and blues.

Dorsey’s best-known composition is “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” which has been recorded by Mahalia Jackson and scores of other gospel singers.

Mack said each committee member chose five artists based on criteria such as recognition and acclaim by music aficionados, importance to music history and development, musical virtuosity and number of recordings for NYRL labels. In addition to the top five vote-getters who became automatic inductees, Townsend was unanimously chosen by GIG members for his unique place in Paramount history, Mack said.

Several other famous musicians received votes, including Louis Armstrong, Son House, King Joe Oliver and Blind Blake.

“There are so many important artists, we won’t have any trouble finding more to choose each year,” Mack said.

In addition to Mack, the nomination committee included Paramount author Alex van der Tuuk, blues performer and educator Michael “Hawkeye” Herman, award-winning jazz musician Norrie Cox, Milwaukee artist Mutope Johnson, Paramount Restaurant owner and blues collector Joe Krupski, educator and musician Robert Perry, educator and blues fan Marlene Pechura, and music producer and blues/jazz enthusiast Jeff Domann.

Mack said GIG is developing fund-raising plans to pay for the Walk of Fame etchings, each of which will cost about $2,500. Individual, group and corporate donations are encouraged.

Donors who cover the full cost of an etching will be recognized as a sponsor of that artist.

Updated  Sunday, February 18, 2007    Written by Admin    187  reads

Links of Interest

Staked Upon a History it Didn’t Understand

Embracing the Legacy


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‘Detectives’ show has eye on Grafton November 3, 2005


‘Detectives’ Show Has Eye On Grafton – 11/03/2005
‘Detectives’ show has eye on Grafton
November 3, 2005Popular PBS series takes close look at community’s Paramount Records legacy

Reprinted with the permission of the Ozaukee Press and Steve Ostermann

Ozaukee Press staff

A burgeoning interest in Grafton’s role as a centerpiece in blues music history could land the community on television screens across the country next year.

A spokeswoman for the “History Detectives,” a popular Public Broadcasting Service series, confirmed that program
producers are seriously considering doing a show on Paramount Records and the musicians who recorded for the label in Grafton in the 1920s and ’30s.

“We’re definitely looking at it. We’re working on ideas on how it can be developed,” said Courtney Engelstein, associate producer of “History Detectives.”

“Part of what makes this story so interesting is that it wasn’t widely reported for so long. If we do a program on it, we would look at starting with someone or something in Grafton and work our way through the history of Paramount .”

“History Detectives,” a weekly show that recently completed its third season on PBS, explores historical mysteries; throughout the United States. In each episode, the show’s history experts research folklore, family legends and artifacts to separate facts from myths and tell a more complete and accurate story.

Engelstein said she was first contacted in spring by Grafton resident Angela Mack, who asked her to consider Paramount Records for the program.

Mack, a music teacher at the North Shore Academy of the Arts in Grafton, is trying to generate interest in the village’s often-overlooked musical legacy, with a focus on blues. In recent months, she has helped organize concerts, school programs and other events that pay tribute to the Paramount years.

Arguably, the most important of those years were 1929 to 1932, when legendary blues artists such as Charley Patton, Blind Blake, Son House, Skip James and Willie Brown journeyed to Grafton to be recorded at the Wisconsin Chair Co.’s factory studio near the northeast comer of what is now Falls Road and 12th Avenue .

In addition to blues musicians from the Mississippi Delta and other regions in the South, the studio recorded hundreds of artists in genres ranging from ethnic folk to dance band music. The company discontinued its music division in 1932, and the factory was eventually razed.

How the musicians traveled to Grafton, where they stayed locally and what happened to many of their rare 78-rpm records now sought by collectors around the world are among the questions surrounding the Paramount story. One of those 78s — a Son House record not seen since the 1930s — reportedly surfaced this fall.

“I wrote to them in March but actually forgot all about it for awhile,” Mack said of her first correspondence with “History Detectives.”

“It was like Fishing because I was throwing ideas out for anyone who might be interested and didn’t know what I might hear back.”

Mack said she was encouraged by the early response from the show’s producers. Like other Paramount enthusiasts, she’s
anxiously awaiting their decision, which she said would help give Grafton’s musical legacy national exposure.

“It would be great for the community,” Mack said. “People are finally beginning to learn about what Grafton has here, and there are a lot of people that would be reached by the show.”

If Grafton’s Paramount story is chosen, Engelstein said, the story would be researched and filmed between December and June 2006.

The fourth season of “History Detectives” is scheduled to air next summer.

Updated  Tuesday, November 15, 2005    Written by Steve Ostermann    226  reads>>> Browse archive for this topic

This article was published online at with permission.  Thanks to the Ozaukee Press, Steve Ostermann and!

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Saturday Panel Discussion to Focus on Paramount Records, Steve Ostermann 2005, Ozaukee Press


This article was originally published in the Ozaukee Press and then on with permission.  Thank you to for saving a copy!

More links of interest……

Historical Consultant

Embracing the Legacy of the Blues

Detectives Show Has Eyes on Grafton


Saturday Panel Discussion to focus on Paramount Records – 11/29/2005
Saturday panel discussion to focus on Paramount Records

Ozaukee Press staff

Five experts on Grafton’s Wisconsin Chair Co. music studio, which during the 1920s and early ’30s produced more than one quarter of the blues recordings in the United States, will participate in a panel discussion Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Cedarburg Cultural Center.

The event, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., is part of the center’s “Paramount Studios Blues Strut” and will precede an evening concert by nationally known blues artists Fruteland Jackson and Ann Rabson.

Members of the panel will be Mike Hatfield, one of the first researchers into Paramount Records’ rise as an offshoot of the chair company; Alex van der Tuuk, author of the critically acclaimed book “Paramount’s Rise and Fall: A History of the Wisconsin Chair Company and its Recording Activities”; Jim Van Drisse of the Wisconsin Blues Society, a blues historian who has interviewed people associated with the Grafton studio; Angela Mack, a musician and teacher with North Shore Academy of the Arts in Grafton who has initiated efforts to educate people about the studio; and Michael “Hawkeye” Herman, an internationally known blues musician and educator.

Herman will also perform in a 7:30 p.m. concert Friday, Sept. 30, at the North Shore Academy, 1111 Broad St. The concert will be the first of three shows in the “Embrace the Legacy” series presented by Grafton Area Live Arts.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public.

As part of the center’s “Blues in the ‘Burg” concert series, Jackson and Rabson will perform classic blues music as it was recorded at the Grafton studio.

Jackson is an award-winning acoustic guitarist and oral historian who has performed at blues festivals and in concerts throughout the United States.

Rabson is considered one of the world’s finest barrelhouse blues pianists and has released three acclaimed solo albums that showcase her instrumental work and keyboard prowess.

Tickets for the Saturday concert are $20 in advance, $22 at the door and $5 for students.

The center is at W62 N546 Ave. For more information, call 375-3676.

The “Embrace the Legacy” concert series will also include 7:30 p.m. Friday shows by the Greg Wessel Band on Oct. 14 and Norrie Cox on Oct. 28.

Advance tickets are $25 for the series or $10 per show. Admission at the door will be $16.

For more information, visit the Web site or call 377-5308.

Updated  Tuesday, November 15, 2005    Written by Steve Ostermann    223  reads>>> Browse archive for this topic

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Embracing Grafton’s Blue Legacy by Steve Ostermann 2005, Ozaukee Press


This article was originally published in the Ozaukee Press on August 4, 2005 then posted with permission on

More Links of Interest…..

Early discussion at the Cedarburg Cultural Center

Embracing the Legacy of the Blues

Grafton Wisconsin History


Embracing Grafton’s blue legacy – 08-04-2005
Music teacher’s quest to acknowledge village’s role in music history leads to concert series, programs
Photo by Vern Arendt

Ozaukee Press staff

(Reprinted with the permission of Steve Ostermann and the Ozaukee Press)

When Angela Mack moved to her Falls Road residence in Grafton eight years ago, she had no idea her home was just up the road from a landmark site in American music history.

More than 70 years ago, blues artists from the deep South journeyed to Grafton to record tunes at a studio in the Wisconsin Chair Co. factory near the northeast corner of what is now Falls Road and 12th Avenue.

The studio years didn’t last long — from 1929 to 1932 — but the sessions for Paramount Records yielded dozens of classic performances by blues legends such as Charley Patton, Son House, Skip James, Blind Blake, Willie Brown, Louise Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy.

In addition to blues music, the studio recorded hundreds of artists in other genres ranging from ethnic folk to dance band music.

“I was astounded at what I found out,” said Mack, a composer and music teacher with the North Shore Academy of the Arts in Grafton. “It was amazing to think this happened in our town, and that so many people are not even aware of it.”

Mack, who first heard of Grafton’s Paramount connection from a record collector hunting for rare 78-rpms three years ago, has learned much about the chair company’s role in early recorded blues. The knowledge was not only intriguing, but it inspired her to spread the word.

“At first I was just mad that this wasn’t being acknowledged,” Mack said. “I was bound and determined to find out as much as I could and get something done.”

Mack talked to village officials, business people and civic leaders and eventually struck a chord with Barb Krause, one of the founders of Grafton Area Live Arts. The group, established in 2001 to bring music and other live performances to the community, has presented a variety of concerts, including a popular summer series at Veterans Memorial Park.

It didn’t take long for Krause to buy into Mack’s idea of creating a musical tribute to Grafton’s record-making role.

The result is “Embrace the Legacy,” a concert series featuring popular blues, jazz and rock artists that will debut this fall at the North Shore Academy, 1111 Broad St.

“I thought it would be a great way for people to learn about the history of Grafton through music,” Krause said. “I’m hoping we can make it an annual event.”

The series, presented by GALA in cooperation with the academy, will include three concerts in the Timothy Wooden Building, which is only a few blocks from where the chair company factory once stood.

The Sept. 30 opener features Michael “Hawkeye” Herman, a nationally known blues performer and educator who will also talk about Grafton’s often-overlooked role in the recording industry and the musicians who came here.

The series, sponsored by Grafton State Bank, continues Oct. 14 with the Greg Wessel Band, which will perform blues, rock and jazz, and concludes Oct. 21 with New Orleans jazz musician Norrie Cox and his band.

The day of his concert, Herman will also present a program on local blues history to students at Grafton’s three public elementary schools.

Although the focal point of the “Legacy” series is blues, the shows will present a variety of music, Mack said, to underscore the influence blues has had on other forms of expression.

“Hawkeye has a song that says, ‘Blues had a baby, and they called it rock ’n’ roll,’” she said.

“American blues has it roots in the Mississippi Delta, but it has influenced so many other types of music. That’s something everyone can appreciate.”

Mack’s effort to share the village’s blues legacy extends to other venues, as well. She will teach a three-class workshop, “Grafton’s Paramount History,” at the academy from 6 to 7 p.m. Fridays, Sept. 9, 16 and 23.

Designed for students ages 10 and older, the workshop will give participants a chance to hear and learn about blues legends in Grafton, write and play blues songs and take a field trip to the site of the chair company factory, which was razed in the late 1930s. The fee is $40.

On Oct. 1, Mack will be part of a panel discussion of Paramount studios at 3 p.m. at the Cedarburg Cultural Center.

The program, which includes a slide show, will precede a 7:30 p.m. blues concert at the center featuring Fruteland Jackson and Ann Rabson. The musicians will perform 1920s and ’30s blues as it was recorded in Grafton.

Since Mack began exploring Grafton’s music history, she has talked with and met a number of musicians and authorities, including Dutch author Alex van der Tuuk, whose award-winning book “Paramount’s Rise and Fall” was published in 2003.

She and van der Tuuk have created the Web site

“When I first started learning about the blues in Grafton, it amazed me that it took someone to come here from Holland and write a book about our history,” Mack said.

“Hopefully, what we’re doing here now will make a difference by letting people know what we had.”

Updated  Thursday, August 04, 2005    Written by Steve Ostermann    293  reads

Blues Research Chronic Creativity creativity expert Female Entrepreneur keynote speaker on creativity music history Paramount Records public speaker

Today’s Interview with the New York Parrot Literary Magazine


Thank you Dustin Pickering and Mutiu Olawuyi for listening.  Hence caring.  We need more like you in this world of ours.

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The Best Thing Anyone Has Ever Said to Me


Spiritual Musing

by Angie Mack Reilly @2021

For speaking engagements contact

To the Audience

What do you think is the best thing anyone has ever said to me?

Can you break it down to one word?

How about breaking it down to four letters?

What do you think the word is?

On the count of three, please say your word out loud.

One. Two. Three.

OK. One of the words that I heard was…..Love?

OK. Who said “love”?

No. It is not love.

So What Was the Word?

The best word that any other human being has ever said to me came from another multidisciplinary artist named Kevin Ramsey. I don’t think that he even knows this. But he will soon find out!

Soar. S-O-A-R.

Kevin said, “Soar”. I can’t quite remember when he first said it. It might have been in a Facebook birthday message or an email. Maybe he said it when I saw him at the Milwaukee Rep on the eve of the pandemic.

I spontaneously hear this word during times that I feel alone or discouraged. Upon hearing it, I find immediate comfort and courage. Hope begins to flood in. I encourage myself to think bigger. I feel myself straightening up my shoulders and standing taller.  I am reminded that I am a pioneer and that feeling alone and discouraged is part of the territory.

Personal Accounts

Oddly, I have only had an eagle fly over my head three times in my life. Those three times were within the last year.

A spiritual friend of mine once had a vision of me as an eagle. Rather than flying, as eagles do, I bobbled along in the ocean on a small square piece of wood. My mate was floating on the piece of wood with me. However, my mate was not an eagle. He was another type of bird. The message was that I needed to quit bobbling in the water and fly.

When I hear the word, “soar” I am reminded that God has a calling on my life. That calling is personal. I need only to follow God’s lead on this dance of life. I am a spiritual being with a spiritual calling and God knows how much time left. The deeply spiritual walk is solitary. The creative walk is solitary. For me, solitary is best.

Tell Someone to Soar Today

When I hear the word, “soar” I feel like someone is cheering me on. Someone. Oh yes. One. Do you know how much courage and confidence that gives me? Maybe he is an eagle, too. Perhaps he has known the lonely and discouraging road.

In my opinion, cheering someone on to soar is what the highest form of love is all about.  If we love someone, we will want what is best for them even if that means letting them go.

Not Everyone Has this Mentality

As a lifetime leader and mentor in the arts, I operate in this ministry of encouragement without even thinking about it.   In all honesty, I want those around me to soar.  And many of them have.  I live, breath and operate with this mentality for others.

Sometimes I forget that not everyone has this mindset and it has caused me much grief and disillusionment at times.  I have sometimes felt used, abused and discarded.  I have seen others feel used, abused and discarded.  My efforts have legitimately been sabatoged and ignored at times.  Sometimes I feel that people would rather pirate my talent for their personal gain rather than encourage and support me to flourish as a creative.  I know that I am not alone in this.


So when someone like Kevin says to me, “soar”, it means more than anyone can ever know.  So thank you, Kevin.  This has been a critical message to me during a very difficult time in life.  I pray that you keep soaring as well!  I am thankful for genuine people like you!

Just Fly!

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The Orchestra of the Night by Angie Mack Reilly

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