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Everything Fab Four

Author: Salon

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Everything Fab Four is a podcast from Wonderwall Communications and Salon focused on fun and intelligent stories about the enduring cultural influence of the Beatles.

No other band, or popular entity for that matter, has had the world-wide impact the Beatles have. They are part of our human fabric, they created music that still brings people together, and across continents and generations there are individual Beatles stories to tell. In each episode, renowned music historian, author, and Beatles scholar Kenneth Womack hosts a special guest to share theirs. Support this podcast:
56 Episodes
Author and filmmaker Jamie Bernstein joins Everything Fab Four to discuss growing up with a world-famous father, and why Leonard Bernstein chose Beatles songs to explain musical concepts. Jamie Bernstein’s 2018 memoir, Famous Father Girl, traces the story of growing up with composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein, and pianist and actress Felicia Montealegre in an atmosphere bursting with music, theatre and literature. Famous Father Girl served as the inspiration for the Academy Award-nominated movie Maestro. Over the years, Bernstein has written and narrated concerts about Mozart, Aaron Copland, and Stravinsky, as well as “The Bernstein Beat,” a family concert about her father. She performs concert narrations all over the world, including for Copland’s “A Lincoln Portrait” and her father’s Symphony No. 3, “Kaddish.” Bernstein has also produced and hosted the New York Philharmonic’s live national radio broadcasts, and recently narrated the podcast “The NY Phil Story: Made in New York.” Her other works include co-directing the award-winning documentary film Crescendo: the Power of Music, about children from struggling urban communities who participate in youth orchestra programs, and articles and poetry in Symphony, Town & Country, and Opera News. --- Support this podcast:
On this episode, legendary singer-songwriter Darius Rucker joins Everything Fab Four to share how he first discovered the Beatles at five, and which Beatles album he thinks is the “most perfect album ever made.”  Rucker first achieved multi-Platinum status in the music industry as lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the GRAMMY Award-winning band Hootie & the Blowfish, who have sold more than 25 million albums worldwide. Their Double Diamond-certified (21x Platinum) debut Cracked Rear View remains among the best-selling studio albums of all time. Since releasing his first country album in 2008, Rucker has earned four No. 1 albums on the Billboard Country chart, 10 No. 1 singles at Country radio, and 11 Gold, Platinum or multi-Platinum certified hits. Rucker was also inducted as a Grand Ole Opry member in 2012, and his GRAMMY-winning version of “Wagon Wheel,” has become one of the top five best-selling Country songs of all time. His brand-new album Carolyn’s Boy is available everywhere now and his first book, a memoir titled “Life’s Too Short,” is set for release via Dey Street Books on May 28th. A lifelong philanthropist, Rucker co-chaired the campaign that generated $150 million to help build the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital in his hometown of Charleston, S.C., and has raised over $3.6 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital through his annual Darius & Friends benefit concert and golf tournament. In addition, Rucker has advocated for over 200 charitable causes supporting public education and junior golf programs in South Carolina through the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation and serves as a National Chair for the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, Tennessee. --- Support this podcast:
Grammy-nominated American recording artist Joan Osborne joins Everything Fab Four to talk about hearing “Revolution 9” at a makeout party and how her music career began. Osborne moved to New York City to attend film school at NYU in the late 1980s, dropping out after becoming involved in the city’s downtown music scene. In 1991, Osborne formed her own record label Womanly Hips, releasing her first album Soul Show: Live at Delta 88. She later signed with Mercury Records, and in 1995 she made her major label debut with the album Relish, which reached the Top 10 on the back of “One of Us,” an international hit that propelled Osborne to stardom. Osborne has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards, and has performed duets with such icons as Luciano Pavarotti, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Patti Smith, Emmylou Harris, and Isaac Hayes. She has toured with Mavis Staples, the post-Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead, and Motown's Funk Brothers, while also performing for the Dalai Lama at his monastery in Dharmsala, India. She also regularly records and performs with Trigger Happy, founded by Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman. This summer, she will go on tour in support of her latest album Nobody Owns You. --- Support this podcast:
On this episode, acclaimed actor and Beatles fan Jeff Daniels joins “Everything Fab Four” to discuss his experience filming a movie scene with George Harrison and getting his guitar signed by the Quiet Beatle. Across his five decade-long career, Jeff Daniels has worked with some of the world’s most revered filmmakers. He made his screen debut in Miloš Forman's Ragtime, and followed with James L. Brooks's Terms of Endearment, Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, and Mike Nichols's Heartburn. Daniels has been nominated for numerous Golden Globe and Screen Actors Awards for his dramatic turns, including such films as Jonathan Demme's Something Wild and Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale. In 2012, Daniels joined the cast of HBO’s political drama The Newsroom, which earned him a Prime Time Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Playing Will McAvoy, Daniels’ monologue about American exceptionalism in the series pilot has been viewed more than 22 million times on YouTube. His acclaimed television work also includes his portrayal of John O'Neill in the Hulu miniseries The Looming Tower and FBI director James Comey in Showtime’s The Comey Rule. In May 2024, stars in the new Netflix limited series A Man In Full, based on Tom Wolfe’s novel of the same name. --- Support this podcast:
English-American music icon Billy Idol joins Everything Fab Four to discuss the exhilaration of being a Beatle fan “in real time” and how his voice was mistaken for Paul McCartney’s. Billy Idol began his rock n roll career as the guitarist for Chelsea, subsequently achieving renown on the London punk rock scene in the 1970s, when he performed as the lead singer for Generation X. His career truly exploded in the 1980s when he moved to New York City to pursue a solo career working in collaboration with guitarist Steve Stevens. His eponymous debut LP yielded monster hits in “White Wedding” and “Dancing with Myself,” while his 1983 sophomore album Rebel Yell achieved double-platinum success on the heels of “Eyes without a Face” and the sizzling title track “Rebel Yell.”  Over the years, he has continued to burnish his star on the shoulders of such albums as Whiplash Smile, Charmed Life, Cyberpunk, Devil’s Playground, and, most recently, Kings and Queens of the Underground. In 2024, Rebel Yell was remastered in a deluxe new edition to celebrate Billy’s incredible 40-year run as one of music’s most beloved, and most notorious, artists. --- Support this podcast:
To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, our guests revisit the evening that the Beatles graced their living rooms for the first time, on this special episode of Everything Fab Four. These Beatles lovers include Steven van Zandt from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, R&B singer Darlene Love, actor Billy Bob Thornton, and even one lucky audience member from that first Ed Sullivan performance. It's almost impossible to imagine what it was like to be at ground zero of American Beatlemania on February 7, 1964, when the group landed at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, which had been renamed some fifty days earlier in honor of the fallen leader. The band’s Pan Am flight was met with the screams and fanfare of some 5,000 people, whom the Beatles claimed to have heard—incredible as it may seem—even as the plane was taxiing along the runway.  As writer Stephen Glynn presciently remarked, “The spirit of Camelot, shot down in Dallas, Texas, had flown over from Liverpool, England, and the unprecedented euphoria that greeted the group seemed part of an expiation, a nation shaking itself out of its grief and mourning.” There is little question that the Beatles’ timing in the history of the United States was uncanny, as well as a welcome respite from the national malaise, but one cannot overlook the power of marketing in a new media era unlike any that the postwar world had ever seen.  Capitol Records had saturated the city with posters announcing, “The Beatles Are Coming,” while New York’s WMCA and WINS radio stations had given away T-shirts—and, rumor has it, $1 each—to thousands of teenagers who greeted the Beatles that Friday afternoon on the JFK tarmac. Released in December 1963 by Capitol, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” had sold more than one million copies by mid-January, an astounding feat for a group that had been largely unheard of on American shores scarcely a month before.  On Sunday, February 9, the Beatles launched into a spirited rendition of “All My Loving” to begin their set on the Ed Sullivan Show before some 73 million television viewers, a figure that accounted for nearly 40 percent of the population of the United States at that time. It was popular music’s big bang, and like that incredible instance in the birth of the universe some 13 billion years ago, it is still resonating. --- Support this podcast:
Brian Ritchie, bassist for the folk punk band the Violent Femmes, joins host Kenneth Womack on this episode to chat about his first Beatles records and the 40th anniversary of the Femmes’ debut album. Ritchie co-founded the Violent Femmes with percussionist Victor DeLorenzo in 1981, and the duo were later joined by singer-songwriter Gordon Gano. Ritchie came up with band’s distinctive name on a whim, employing it during their early days playing in Milwaukee’s coffee houses. In August 1981, the Violent Femmes were discovered performing on a street corner in front of the Oriental Theatre by James Honeyman-Scott, the guitarist for the Pretenders, and Chrissie Hynde invited the Femmes to play an acoustic set prior to the Pretenders’ show that night. In 1983, the Violent Femmes released their self-titled debut album, which emerged as a key soundtrack for the burgeoning alternative and college-oriented rock movements. The inaugural LP featured many of the band’s best-known songs, including “Blister in the Sun,” “Kiss Off,” “Add It Up,” and “Gone Daddy Gone.” The album became the Femmes’ most successful LP, eventually earning platinum status from the Recording Industry Association of America.  Over the years, the Femmes have recorded 10 studio albums, including Hallowed Ground (1984), The Blind Leading the Naked (1986), and Why Do Birds Sing? (1991). The group is widely considered to be a key influence on the 1980s and 1990s alternative rock scene.  --- Support this podcast:
On this episode, Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter and activist Joan Baez joins host Ken Womack to share her memories of meeting the Beatles for the first time and witnessing their final live concert. Baez's time-eclipsing folk music often champions songs of protest and social justice. Over the years, she has recorded 30 albums in genres ranging from folk rock, pop and country to gospel music. As a performer, Baez has specialized in interpreting the work of other composers, recording songs by such luminaries as the Beatles, Woody Guthrie, Bob Marley, and many others. Baez began her recording career in 1960, producing a trio of successful LPs in Joan Baez, Joan Baez, Vol. 2 and Joan Baez in Concert. During her early years, Baez was one of Bob Dylan’s first major collaborators, steadfastly working to popularize his impact upon folk music. She was also a featured performer at the 1969 Woodstock Festival, singing fourteen songs on that vaunted stage. In addition to her musical career, Baez has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to political and social activism in the areas of nonviolence, civil rights, human rights, and the environment. In 2017, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2023, Baez was the subject of the acclaimed documentary "I Am A Noise." --- Support this podcast:
Sophie B. Hawkins, the Grammy-nominated American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and painter, joins host Kenneth Womack on the season five finale episode of “Everything Fab Four.” Hawkins started her Beatles journey as a kid with “Revolver,” and remembers playing along with tennis racket guitars and couch cushion drums. “Even as a non-musician, you can sing basically every part.” In this conversation, she digs deep into the unique ways Beatles fans come together through the music, and how being a Beatles fan pushed her toward excellence in her own songwriting.  Born and raised in New York City, Hawkins pursued her studies as a percussionist at the Manhattan School of Music before embarking on a music career. She exploded into the international consciousness in 1992 with her debut album “Tongues and Tales.” A massive critical and commercial success, the LP spawned the hit single “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover.” Her second album, “Whaler,” featured additional hit singles in “Right Beside You” and “As I Lay Me Down.” As an actress, she has portrayed Janis Joplin in the play “Room 105,” while also performing as herself on the NBC TV series “Community,” for which she sang renditions of “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” and “As I Lay Me Down.” Her latest album “Free Myself,” on the independent label she founded, Trumpet Swan Productions, features such standout tracks as “Love Yourself” and “Better Off Without You.”  --- Support this podcast:
This week's guests are Margo Precht Speciale and Andrew Solt, who join host Kenneth Womack for a special episode devoted to celebrating the 75th anniversary of The Ed Sullivan Show and its lasting impact on American culture, including Beatles fandom. The granddaughter of Ed Sullivan, Precht is a documentary filmmaker, as well as a UCLA graduate with a degree in Sociology. Her latest project traces her grandfather’s life and work as a television pioneer who reigned as the medium’s longtime tastemaker. In particular, Precht’s documentary explores a little-known aspect of Sullivan’s legacy, which involves his radical dedication to diversity that would act as an inflection point for igniting conversations about race in America. Andrew Solt is an Emmy- and Grammy-winning, producer, director, writer and documentary filmmaker. Over the years, Solt has released a number of documentaries on the history of rock and roll. His collaboration with television documentarian and producer David Wolper included their work together on “Imagine: John Lennon” in 1988. In 1990, Solt purchased the rights to The Ed Sullivan Show library, which consists of 1,087 hours of kinescopes and videotapes that CBS broadcast between 1948 and 1971 on Sunday nights. Included in the archive are over 10,000 live performances by virtually every popular entertainer of the post-war era, highlighted by appearances from Elvis Presley and the Beatles.  --- Support this podcast:
On this episode, the Boxmasters — an American rock band comprised of Grammy Award-winning recording engineer J.D. Andrew and Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton — join host Ken Womack for a spirited discussion of songwriting, recording, and what Thornton says is "the most difficult thing about being a Beatles fan." Formed in 2007, the Boxmasters have recorded a diverse catalog of music that touches on their shared love of the rock and roll of the 1960s. Listening to The Boxmasters, one can hear obvious odes to the Beatles, Byrds and Beach Boys, but also The Mothers of Invention, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Big Star. Since the formation of The Boxmasters, several long-time friends have contributed to the sound of the band, but the core of The Boxmasters has always been Andrew and Thornton. As primary songwriters, the sound of the Boxmasters has been an evolution as the duo constantly strive to find new inspiration, new sounds and new means of expression. As a touring band, The Boxmasters have cultivated a rabid fanbase across the United States and Canada. Opening for the likes of ZZ Top, Steve Miller, George Thorogood and Kid Rock, their touring highlights include appearances at Levon Helm’s “Midnight Ramble” in Woodstock, New York, a performance at “Ramble at The Ryman” in 2008, and “The Grand Ole Opry” in 2015. Their 14th and latest album is entitled ’69, with an ensuing tour that includes a stop at Monmouth University’s Pollak Theatre in June 2023. --- Support this podcast:
Ken Womack's guest this week is Grammy-nominated American jazz guitarist Dan Wilson. Hailing from Akron, Ohio, Wilson made his recording debut with pianist Joe McBride and performed to worldwide acclaim with Joey DeFrancesco and Christian McBride’s Tip City, eventually recording his debut as a band leader with "To Whom It May Concern" in 2012. Over the years, Wilson has shared the stage with a host of jazz greats including Eric Marienthal, Russell Malone, Les McCann, René Marie, Jeff Hamilton, David Sanborn and Dave Stryker. In 2017, Wilson earned a Grammy nomination for his work on DeFrancesco’s "Project Freedom" album. He also served as a guitarist on Van Morrison’s recent albums "You’re Driving Me Crazy" and "The Prophet Speaks." In 2021, Wilson released "Vessels of Wood and Earth," which includes the standout cut “Who Shot John.” The album was produced by McBride for his Brother Mister Productions label. In 2022, Wilson was named a Letter Rising Stars Jazz Winner. His latest LP, "Things Eternal," features his innovate take on the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” --- Support this podcast:
In this episode, Ken Womack talks with Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Madison Cunningham. She made her recording debut in 2014 with the self-released gospel album “Authenticities,” which reflected her exploration of faith. In 2017, Cunningham joined the cast of American Public Media’s “Live from Here.” In 2019, she released her breakthrough LP "Who Are You Now," nominated for the Best Americana Album Grammy. Her 2020 EP, “Wednesday,” featured cover versions of songs by Tom Waits, Radiohead and the Beatles, while also earning a Grammy nod for Best Folk Album. In 2022, she released her follow-up LP “Revealer,” which enjoyed extensive critical acclaim. “Revealer” was nominated for two Grammy Awards and won Best Folk Album.  --- Support this podcast:
Legendary singer-songwriter, author, and rock ‘n’ roll star Ian Hunter's illustrious career is now in its seventh decade. His rock ‘n’ roll life has long been marked by collaboration, from the golden age of Mott the Hoople to his fabled partnership with Mick Ronson and 21st-century renaissance with his crack backing combo, the Rant Band. Over the years, Hunter has enjoyed numerous chart successes, especially Mott the Hoople’s international hit “All the Young Dudes,” the David Bowie composition that emerged as a countercultural anthem in the 1970s. Hunter would later recount the trials and tribulations of his life with Mott the Hoople in his autobiography "Diary of a Rock 'n' Roll Star." During his solo career, Hunter’s best known work includes the song "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", later covered by Great White, and "Cleveland Rocks,” (originally “England Rocks”) the popular theme song for "The Drew Carey Show." With his latest album DEFIANCE PART 1, Hunter takes creative solidarity to an unprecedented new level with accompaniment from a truly awe-inspiring roster of special guests, famous fans, and lifelong friends. DEFIANCE PART 1 sees backing from luminaries such as Ringo Starr, Jeff Beck, Todd Rundgren, Joe Elliott (of Def Leppard), Guns N’ Roses’ Slash, Jeff Tweedy and – in one of his final recordings – the Foo Fighters’ late, great drummer Taylor Hawkins. --- Support this podcast:
This episode’s guest is Barbara Feldon, a model, author and actress best known for portraying “Agent 99” on the classic ‘60s sitcom “Get Smart.” Feldon was born Barbara Anne Hall in a suburb of Pittsburgh and studied drama at Carnegie Mellon University. Soon after, she departed for New York City to pursue a career in acting, where a stint as a showgirl led to her appearance on the game show, “The $64,000 Question,” where she took home the top prize for her knowledge of Shakespeare. The next year, Barbara married Lucien Feldon-Verdeaux, a handsome European she’d been dating, and took “Feldon” as her last name personally and professionally. Working as a fashion model led to a few TV ad spots before landing the one that would make her a household face, lolling about on an animal rug and daring all the male “tigers” out there to try Revlon’s Top Brass hair tonic. That led to securing the plum role of Agent 99 in the spy spoof “Get Smart” opposite comedian Don Adams. The role became Feldon’s biggest break, leading to an Emmy nomination and several film roles to boot. In more recent years, Feldon has written two books: 2003’s “Living Alone and Loving It: A Guide to Relishing the Solo Life” and, in 2022, “Getting Smarter: A Memoir,” which recounts for the first time the true story of her marriage and the many lessons she’s learned since. --- Support this podcast:
On this episode, host Kenneth Womack welcomes Grammy winner Kenny Loggins, whose songs have left a musical imprint on “the soundtrack of our lives.”  Over the last four decades, his chart-topping songs have included “This Is It,” “I’m Alright,” “Footloose," “Danger Zone,” and so many more. “Danger Zone” was featured once again in Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” the biggest theatrical release of 2022, earning over $1.5B in box offices globally. “Danger Zone” earned over 1 million streams per day across streaming services at its peak. On June 14, 2022, Hachette Books published “Still Alright,” Loggins’ long-awaited memoir. In “Still Alright,” Loggins gives fans a candid and entertaining perspective on his life and career as one of the most noteworthy musicians of the 1970s and ’80s. In addition to his string of successful recordings, both solo and as a member of the famed duo Loggins & Messina, Kenny became the first major rock star to dedicate himself to recording music for children and families. His album “Return to Pooh Corner” remains the best-selling children’s album of the last 20 years. His gift for crafting deeply emotional music is unparalleled, and it's been a part of his life as long as he can remember. His generous support of countless local organizations has made a lasting impact on the causes that are close to his heart. And in 2016, he was a recipient of the ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award at the annual Chapin Awards hosted by WhyHunger. --- Support this podcast:
Pattie Boyd is an English model, photographer, and an eyewitness to key moments in rock ‘n’ roll history, particularly in terms of the lives and times of the former members of the Beatles, especially George Harrison. In 1962, Boyd began her modeling career, later appearing on the covers of Vogue and other leading magazines. In 1964, she met Harrison while working as an extra on the set of "A Hard Day’s Night." After moving in together at Harrison’s Kinfauns home in Esher, Boyd and Harrison married in January 1966. Boyd was a regular fixture in the Beatles’ lives, attending the June 1967 Our World live simulcast and joining them in Rishikesh, India, for the group’s February 1968 visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram. In 1970, Boyd and Harrison relocated to Friar Park, the former Beatle’s enormous Victorian mansion in Henley-on-Thames. By 1973, the Harrisons’ relationship was disintegrating. In 1974, the couple separated, with Boyd later marrying Harrison’s longtime friend and collaborator Eric Clapton, who had nurtured a long-running passion for the model. Over the years, Harrison had written numerous songs for Boyd, including the top-charting Beatles hit “Something.” In 1970, Boyd was the subject of the legendary Derek and the Dominos’ album "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs." The album’s title track describes Clapton’s unrequited love for Boyd. Clapton later composed the Top 20 U.S. hit “Wonderful Tonight” with Boyd as his inspiration. In 2007, Boyd published her best-selling autobiography entitled "Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me." In 2022, she published her latest book, "Pattie Boyd: My Life in Pictures." --- Support this podcast:
Today’s guest is Hayley Orrantia, an American singer and actress known for her role in the hit TV show "The Goldbergs." The show follows the hilarious and awkward lives of a colorful, suburban family in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania in the 1980s. Orrantia is a scene stealer as Erica, the eldest Goldberg sibling, who fans have watched transform from a socially awkward, nerdy high schooler to popular, college-aged beauty who drops out of school to form a band with her girlfriends. In film, Orrantia most recently starred in Amazon/Lionsgate’s holiday comedy “Christmas is Cancelled” alongside Dermot Mulroney and Janel Parrish.  Born and raised in Texas, Orrantia discovered her love of performing at nine years old, performing impromptu concerts in her bedroom. Now Orrantia is widely recognized as a successful independent music artist, who draws on inspiration from all genres to create soulful country-pop.  In 2018, Orrantia conducted her first headlining tour, the Strong, Sweet and Southern Tour, hitting 22 cities across the United States.  On this episode of "Everything Fab Four," host Kenneth Womack and Orrantia discuss covering iconic songs like “Maybe I’m Amazed,” her search for authenticity as an artist, working with the late George Segal, and how Lindsay Lohan’s “The Parent Trap” introduced her to the Beatles. --- Support this podcast:
In this episode, bassist Dougie Payne of Travis joins host Kenneth Womack to talk about his Beatles influence, the 20th anniversary of "The Invisible Band" and why "everyone needs their own Mal Evans." The Scottish band, originally named Glass Onion after the famous “White Album” song, was formed in 1990 and later took its name from a character in the movie “Paris, Texas.” Payne learned to play bass and joined the band, also providing background vocals. Growing up, he says the Beatles were “always there,” having had three older sisters who loved music and one who was a “Beatles obsessive.” As he says, the Beatles’ music “has a way of becoming part of your DNA.”  --- Support this podcast:
Ken Womack's guest this week is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Darlene Love (born Darlene Wright). Best known for her holiday hit “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” in addition to her vocals on records by “girl group” The Crystals and her acting roles such as in the “Lethal Weapon” film series, Love's beginnings were modest, having started out singing in the Los Angeles church choir where her father was the pastor. She began working in 1962 with notorious producer Phil Spector (who’d given her the “Love” surname for recording, and who also worked on several Beatles-related projects). In light of his later troubles, Love explains to Womack, “I will say this: He was not the same guy to me back then that he later came to be.” In this conversation she dives deep into her storied career, opens up about working with Phil Spector, and answers a complex question: Were the Beatles influenced by Black musicians, or did they steal from them? --- Support this podcast:
Comments (1)

Greg Barnett

Thanks, Ken. Great series. I've sent feedback via email to save my thumbs 😊

Apr 15th