Tag Archives: Mary Matalin

Love & War ~ Airlift Productions Records James Carville & Mary Matalin

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James Carville & Mary Matalin on Meet the Press, along with former BFF, the late Tim Russert

Opposites attract. No, huh?

In “Love & War: 20 Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters & One Louisiana Home”, James Carville and Mary Matalin detail a life few could imagine, let alone live!

A life lived at the intersection of Power, Politics and a Changing America … and while in the middle of it all, trying to keep a relationship together and raise two daughters – all at the same time.

And, boy, does politics ever make for strange bedfellows! James steered the Clinton presidential campaign both times (even steered him through the Lewinsky scandal), and Mary, who served under both Bush presidencies, was IN the White House the fateful morning of the 9-11 attack in the skies over Manhattan. Bush wasn’t. Mary was.

Their stories, their first-hand accounts, their front-row seats to some of America’s most fascinating recent history are palpable, riveting, and most remarkable.

And capturing it all through the Airlift Productions microphones for posterity in the audio book version of “Love & War” simply has to be one of my most remarkable gigs so far this century.

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Mary Matalin and James Carville tell it like it is one Sunday morning on Meet the Press … and later on, at the Airlift Productions studios in the audio book “Love & War”

The sentiment, the candor, the forthright honesty, the raw emotion. Admittedly, I felt alternately like a coach, a cheerleader, a psychiatrist … and even a priest in a confessional!

One of my fave stories from James was of his trip to Miami for the Saints SuperBowl win, wherein he details being on the field with Drew Brees, then off to the shuttle bus for transport back to the hotel. On the bus, he re-connects with the legendary Archbishop of Orleans Phillip Hannan. Then, who steps on the bus but Kim Kardashian, who’s “seeing” Saint running back Reggie Bush at the time. Imagine, if you can, James – now sitting in between these two and facilitating the introductions! Oh my. Comedy ensues…

** Airlift Productions’ Micheal Ziants reflects on his first-of-many recording sessions with James Carville, along with some classic James quips and thoughts … oh my! **

The very first day I recorded with Mary Matalin, she showed-up dressed to thrill! All dolled-up and made-up, decked-out for a night on the town – ah, to record with me in a dimly lit studio all afternoon? H-m-m…, I said, whaddup with dat? Well, after four arduous hours at the mic (a quite impressive feat, I might add), she stands up and says, “Well, gotta’ go, Bill’s in town!” And just like that, she & hubby James were off to dinner in the French Quarter – with Bill Clinton!

I could go on and on about our collective twenty-some hours of recording and working together, but you get the idea.  One of the – if not THE – most fascinating sets of recording sessions I’ve ever logged at the Airlift studio and witnessed.  Let alone orchestrated!

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Candid shot of James Carville taking a break from the Airlift mics, in the Airlift ‘Green room’ on the cell with Stephanopolous ~ and with his feet on my ping-pong table!

The News, it has been said, is History – the First Draft. And two ‘Wrongs’ don’t make a ‘Right’. But three ‘lefts’ will!  

As a profound political atheist, I don’t have a dog in this hunt.  But in the case of these two, I was certainly thrilled to be saddled-up and along for the ride.

JamesCarvilleAndMaryMatalinRecordLoveAndWarAtAirliftProductions

Airlift Productions is proud to have served as the audio launch pad for “Love & War”, available as an audio book via all the usual outlets. Preview it, or grab a copy – CD or download – from Amazon here.

And the next time you hear that old line, “Politics sure makes for strange bedfellows!” – now you know the rest of the story.

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Micheal Ziants and Political Firebrand James Carville at the Airlift Productions Studios in 2012, after recording James’ “It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!”

“I have been in studios from the Bayou to the Beltway, and I can say after recording my last two audio books with Mike, that there is no better place than Airlift Productions.  The quality of the production, the studio, and frankly, the comfort, make it the only place I want to record now or in the future.” ~ James Carville, Tulane professor and Campaign Strategist behind the most dramatic political victories of our generation.

** Airlift Productions – Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984 **

Woof! Airlift Productions Goes To The Dogs

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Airlift Productions NOLA’s Micheal & Ben Ziants along with The Shadeaux – his first Christmas 2006
The only problem with dogs is … that they don’t live forever!
 
And spelled either frontwards or backwards … Dog is still man’s best friend.
 
The Shadeaux, with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal dogs, came to the Airlift Productions Studios and became our official mascot and ‘talent herder’ over Christmas 2006.
 
Near as we can tell, he’s twelve years old today and, truth be known, he picked us out at the SPCA that day.  Kind of like the Ziants boyz – a mutt; part German Shepherd, part Chow, part Border Collie … and all Love.
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Airlift Mike and The Shadeaux – ears back – after a long walk. Gee, this totally Zen dog doesn’t even return a bark for a bark! But he loves to give that mailman hell. 🙂
No, this is not his obituary (and even he’d appreciate the humor that the word ‘bitch’ is in that word), it’s more like a mid-life opus and testament to his otherworldly powers.
 
After all, the recording process can be somewhat intimidating to some, and capturing a stellar on-mic performance can feel a bit daunting at times – even to the pro!
And the Shadeaux has an uncanny way of throwing a ‘chill-out’ factor into the entire equation.
 
Little Quvenzhane Wallis (of ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ fame) wanted to take him home with her (no chance), and James Carville’s ‘missus’ – Mary Matalin – could hardly tear herself away to get back to work on her audio book.
 
With a woof, a lick, and an appreciative tail wag – coupled with more fur than Liz Taylor at a pre-PETA-days holiday bash – the Shadeaux  has an amazing talent for making anyone feel comfortable, relaxed and right at home.
 
And when trying to record a stunning on-mic, on-point performance … what more could you ask for?
 
Except maybe that he’d live forever.
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  Airlift Productions … where EVERY day is ‘Take Your Doggie to Work Day’…  Airlift Mike with his fave, furry four-footed friend – and uncharacteristically shy, The Shadeaux  

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“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” ~ Will Rogers
 
“I care not for a man’s religion whose dog & cat are not the better for it.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
 
“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” ~ Andy Rooney

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Micheal Ziants & Sean O’Shea, navigating the twists & turns of AudioBook production, Airlift Productions New Orleans, June 2017

“Airlift Mike was a saint, and ridiculously patient and supportive (and helpful!!) for this audio book virgin. In another environment, without the support, and with pressure to perform “right”, I probably would have completely fallen apart. So the MVP for this getting done goes 100% to Mike and the chilled out environment he’s cultivated…personally and within his studio.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to get this audio book out to you guys!! As challenging as it all was, the end result, I think, is amazing! 

Once again, a big heartfelt thanks to Mike and the years of expertise he brought to this project to ensure I sounded my very best. If you’re ever in Nola and need the best audio dude, and the best dude dude, holler at my man Mike with www.airliftproductions.com

Thanks for the great week my friend! :)”

— SEAN O’SHEA, Los Angeles-based Dog Trainer & AudioBook Producer

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984  … and going to the dogs since 2006

President George H W Bush, Mary Matalin… and Me

Mary Matalin, husband James Carville, along with the president and his Barbara in 2012

With the passing of President George H W Bush this weekend, allow me to tap the brakes just a second, and pause for some rather remarkable personal reflection.

Hired by AudioBook producer John F. McElroy in October 2013 to record Mary Matalin & James Carville’s “Love & War” for Penguin Audio in Manhattan, it fell on me to host James & Mary for a few weeks at the Airlift Productions Studios here in New Orleans.

That October morning Mary showed up to record –  and dressed to thrill – little did I know at first but, after the session, she was off to the French Quarter with hubby James for dinner and drinks with Bill Clinton!

Mary Matalin on-phone in the Bush Oval Office, along with Karl Rove and the “Think Tank”

Really.

Her tireless on-mic performance that day was really something… one bathroom break in four straight hours of recording.

Through that session Mary was a real firecracker!

LISTEN as she details her love for the president, while she vehemently defends a then-maligned one-term George Herbert Walker Bush at the Airlift microphones

** Mary Matalin “Love & War” excerpt, courtesy Penguin Audio **

Yes, indeed, Mary, along with her kids, always called and referred to this president as “Poppy”. A term he enjoyed and relished.

And this recording was but Day 1!

In Mary’s subsequent Airlift recording sessions we had many a laugh and bonded, at least as much as an audio engineer and a highly-respected and quoted public figure can.

One of my favorite memories from those October days was Mary’s nickname for me – “Zen Master”.

Of course, the goatee I was sporting at the time, along with some of my coaching tips & philosophical ramblings, probably contributed to that cutesy moniker.

But what a thrill and honor it was for me to play a part, however small, in capturing this now-classic part of America’s oral history, with the audiobook recording of “Love & War”.

As Mary got her opportunity to set a few records straight, while shedding some light on the warm, genuine side of George Herbert Walker Bush that but few would ever really know.

Rest in Paradise, President Bush, and, on behalf of all of America, we thank you for your unending and tireless devotion and service to the USA.

The final words Mary had for me on her last day of recording as she walked to her car?

“Til next time, Zen Master!”

You got it, Mary.

In the meantime, tell James “Howdy” from Airlift Mike, the studio mics are always open to you… and let’s not make it too long until ‘next time’, OK?

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Airlift Productions Proprietor Micheal Ziants shoulder-to-shoulder with JAMES CARVILLE at the Airlift Studios

“I’ve been in studios from the Bayou to the Beltway and I can say after recording my last two audio books with Mike that there is no better place than Airlift Productions. The quality of the production, the studio, and frankly the comfort make it the only place I want to record now or in the future”​ ~JAMES CARVILLE, Political Commentator, Tulane Professor & Campaign Strategist behind the most dramatic political victories of our generation

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Airlift Productions – we’ll leave the mics hot… and the light on for you.

Airlift PROductions, telling America’s Greatest Stories from New Orleans since 1984

 

 

What Does John F McElroy Know That You Don’t?

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New York-based Award-Winning Audio Book Producer John F McElroy records with Airlift Mike at Airlift Productions

If a thirty second radio ad is a sprint, audio book recording would have to be the marathon.

To capture the spirit, essence & dedication of an author is without question a meticulous, pain-staking and arduous ( do you like these words? ) task.

With four Grammy awards on the shelf – for  Best Spoken Word (3X) as well as Best Comedy Album –  Audio Book producer John F. McElroy knows the task well.

John has personally worked with and recorded ( for hours on end ) Jon Stewart, Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, Jason Alexander,  Stephen Colbert, along with scores of other notables.

And just imagine, if you can, working with, directing & producing President Bill Clinton through his personal reading of his triumphs & tribulations in the Grammy Award winning autobiography “My Life”.  I mean, really.

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James Carville Mouths-Off at Airlift Productions, New Orleans

Now, all that being said, Airlift Productions & I are honored and thrilled to count this guy among our clients. Together, hour after hour, John & I steered  James Carville through two entire audio book recordings.  “It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!” and “Love & War”, along with his lovely wife, Mary Matalin.

The amazing thing?  All of our work was conducted via Skype and a Symetrix phone patch. John & I have never personally met.  Similar to the set-up of a radio talk show host, we did all of this work, every second of every hour with John F. coaching and directing long distance from New York!

JamesCarvilleAndMaryMatalinRecordLoveAndWarAtAirliftProductionsQuite a remarkable feat.  Quite amazing sessions.  Quite a Marathon indeed.

Mr. McElroy, thanks for the vote of confidence, sir.  I’m certainly gratified to know that Airlift and I did not misplace your trust.

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“Micheal Ziants and I have worked on a number of celebrity productions together. He’s a cool head in tight spots, keeping the talent moving ahead happily.  He has a wealth of experience at the controls and behind the mic and knows what he can and can’t get–a valuable and rare sense of proportion. Working at Airlift remotely via Skype or phone patch is seamless. It’s like being in the next room.”

~ John F. McElroy, New York based Grammy Award winning Audio Book Producer                       

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Airlift Productions Proprietor Micheal Ziants shoulder-to-shoulder with JAMES CARVILLE at the Airlift Studios during the “It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!” sessions, 2012

                    To communicate is the beginning of understanding.

                                   Airlift Productions communicates.

Christmas 2016 Reflections & What Most Don’t Get About Airlift Mike

frenchquarterfogWith Christmastime in New Orleans, together with all its trappings and sentiment in everyone’s windows and on their minds, allow me to tap the brakes for a second, reflect, and unpack a few things.

As a lifelong learner, and student of philosophy, world religions, and mystical thought, it would be safe to say that I’ve lived  what could best be termed an unconventional and totally unorthodox lifestyle.

While most of my peers have chased money and jobs, I learned years ago to instead pursue passion and purpose. And simply allow the dollars and opportunities to then fall in line. 

1407-nighttime-pomonacrateOne illustrative case in point is this one I share with you here: In my 32 years of owning and operating Airlift Productions here in New Orleans, I have NEVER commuted!

Ever.

As the great souls Emerson & Thoreau taught me, “Build a better mousetrap – and the world will beat a path to your door.”

They have.

Imagine, if you can, the colorful characters, historical heroes, fascinating personalities and captivating individuals who’ve knocked at the Airlift Studio doors to come “work” with me.

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The Airlift Productions Studios on Pomona in 2016

I’ve been fortunate enough to have recorded and worked closely together with (deep breath) and in no particular order….

Archie Manning, Dr. John, Chef John Besh, Quvenzhane Wallis, Deuce McAllister,  Charles Guggenheim, Mayor Marc Morial, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Stacy Head, David Menasche, Carrie Nye, Bo Walker, Buddy Stall, John Lee, Luno Bordelon, Jerry Christopher, Ronnie Lamarque, Anders Osborne, Theresa Andersson, Lee Zurik, Zak George, James Carville, Mary Matalin,  Alden Ehrenreich, Toby Kebbell, John “Spud” McConnell, Morris Bart, P.H. Fred, Mike Weldon, Reverend Avery C. Alexander, Brad Edelman, Rich Lenz, Norman Robinson, Heath Allen, Greg DiLeo, Donald Surtain, the Right Lane Bandits, Bishop Paul Morton, Senator Jon Johnson, Congressman Bill Jefferson, Edoardo Ballerini, Oliver Thomas, Morgus the Magnificent, and… well, a host of multi-talented voice-over artists.

Not up to speed on some of these folks? Let the Googling begin.

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Airlift Productions Studio’s custom-designed Mayan “Gift of Life” Stained Glass Window

Point being? Through all the crazy weather – storms, hurricanes, blisteringly brutal summers – each and everyone of these folks came to me, to Airlift Productions, to “the better mousetrap”.

Mind you, this is no brag, no empty boasting, but simply an observation as to a much richer and fulfilling way to live one’s life.

And what a life.

Marching to the beat of one’s own Walkman, instead of following the crowd, has always led to experiences few will ever get to taste.

Having discovered my first tape recorder at age 12, and after many years of stage-acting and then a rewarding radio career, how cool is this?

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Micheal Ziants and the new “Annie” Quvenzhane Wallis, recording for Chrysler and sharing a few laughs at Airlift Productions in 2014

I now get to live out the rest of my life here in NOLA from what was once only a dream in my head, from my Airlift Productions… and I now get to spend the rest of my days dancing with the muse that first brought me to the party!

My hopes and prayers during this Christmastime in 2016 is that you, the reader of these words, one day, find … yours.

Merry Christmas & Feliz Navidad from way down yonder in New Orleans – and Airlift Mike.

AirliftProductionsNewOrleansColorLogoAirlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy & Digital Magic from New Orleans… since 1984

Notes On Recording James Carville at Airlift Productions

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James Carville & Mary Matalin on Meet the Press, along with former BFF Tim Russert

In my thirty-plus years of recording voice overs & musicians at Airlift Productions in America’s most fascinating and interesting city, you could say that I’ve encountered quite a few characters.

 
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Dr. John ‘da Nite Tripper records at Airlift Productions NOLA

Doctor John (aka Mac Rebennack) has spent hours with me, recording voice-over tracks for awards shows, and even cartoon voice tracks for Quincy Jones’ Take it Back Foundation.

I still can’t get over that, not even asking if he could smoke, at the Airlift Productions Iberville location, he pulled out a cheroot at the mic and lit it up! (We rushed an ash tray in to his rescue.)
** Dr. John at the Airlift mics telling the story of N’awlins’ bawdy, infamous Red-Light District, known as  “Storyville” **
Archie Manning records with Airlift Productions
Archie Manning recorded  radio spots with Airlift Productions

For several years in the 90s, Peyton & Eli’s dad Archie Manning had the Gold’s Gym franchise here just outside NOLA in Metairie, and I served as a one-man ad agency, writing, voicing & producing all the radio ads for the gym, which brought Archie & his partners regularly into the Airlift Productions Studios.

** Archie Manning’s Golds Gym Christmas Radio :60 Classic  – with Airlift  Mike as Santa, along with Archie, at the Airlift mics **

 
The cast of characters – from the mayors (both Morial & Landrieu), to all the city council members, Morgus the Magnificent, stand-up/fall-down comics, radio rebels, misfits, in-laws and outlaws  – has become the stuff of legend.
 
JamesCarvilleAndMaryMatalinRecordLoveAndWarAtAirliftProductionsBut I would have to say the most memorable and colorful of them all is none other than James Carville!
 
We’ve spent dozens of hours together one-on-one – with only a producer, long distance on a phone-patch Skype connection – recording two separate audio books, ‘It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!’ and, along with wife Mary, ‘Love & War’.
 
Now, by his own admission, James has untreated ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).  He’s tried the drugs but didn’t like how they made him feel, so he and Mary just ‘deal with it’.  Add (ADHD) me to the list.
 
Imagine working through hour-after-hour with someone in this situation and condition.  Add to that, someone very highly opinionated (ya think?), outspoken, given to tantrums … and ‘caged’ for an extended length of time!  Yowza & Yikes!
**  Airlift Mike reflects on 1st sessions, along with classic James Carville musings and rants, captured at Airlift Productions NOLA **
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Micheal Ziants and Political Firebrand James Carville at the Airlift Productions Studios 

But we worked through it all and laughed, bonded, and created two very memorable and collectible audio books, now available from that amazon crowd.

James’ take on his experiences at Airlift?

“I’ve been in studios from the Bayou to the Beltway and I can say after recording my last two audio books with Mike that there is no better place than Airlift Productions.  The quality of the production, the studio, and quite frankly, the comfort, make it the only place I want to record now or in the future” ~ James Carville
And, needless to say, but I will anyway, the out-takes are simply priceless!  Perhaps a tale for a blog for yet another day.
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JamesCarvilleRecordsAtAirliftProductionsA candid shot – through the studio door into the Airlift ‘green room’ – of Carville on the cell, taking a needed break, talking to George Stephanopolous in DC, with his feet ON my ping-pong table! Really, James?

 

Morgus & Me + Marriage Insurance? WTH?

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Morgus the Magnificent – aka Sidney Noel Rideau – Records VoiceOvers at Airlift Productions … for over a Quarter of a Century! Really.

I guess it would be safe to say that in operating a recording studio in America’s most colorful city –  New Orleans – for what is now THIRTY years, that I’ve worked with some pretty colorful characters.

From setting microphone levels for Dr. John and Archie Manning to recording projects with all of the city’s mayors ( Morial-2X to Landrieu-2X), verbally jousting with Mary Matalin & James Carville, even coaching ‘Annie’ Quvenzhane Wallis through tough V/O copy for Chrysler … my most unforgettable – and beloved – character would have to be Morgus the Magnificent!

Sidney Noel Rideau & I go back over 25 years together now; he has the distinction (?) of being the only person who has recorded at every recording studio I’ve ever built, every incarnation of Airlift Productions; He is the eccentric uncle I never had! I love this man.

We first met in 1986 while I was producing radio ads for and operating as the Voice of WGNO-TV/Channel 26 here in New Orleans, and he was reviving his ‘Morgus Presents” TV show. Our first gig together was in my closet-studio Airlift iteration where we recorded all the E.R.I.C. (the talking skull) heavily-reverbed V/O tracks for use in the shows.

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E.R.I.C. the talking skull records VoiceOver at Airlift Productions

Our relationship continues to this day. I almost feel as though I’ve become his real-life Chopsley, in that I’ve operated as his behind-the-scenes henchman all these years.

Together we’ve produced everything from radio ads for Cajun seasonings products to public service announcement campaigns for his Internet Story Club teacher-family outreach … but among my favorite sessions with my fave ‘Uncle Sid’ would have to be the one that is the subject of this post – ‘Marriage Insurance’.

As fate would have it, Sid’s Morgus character is also one of nationally-broadcast Coast-to-Coast late night radio host George Noory’s favorites too! And Sid stopped by the Airlift Studios in February 2006 to record a few ‘pilots’ for segments to possibly be used in Noory’s nightly broadcasts. I kid you not.

The proposed segments never did materialize (radio marketing in the 21st century is a very tricky thing), but this never-before-heard audio is just way too-funny and priceless.

It’s for the “Morgusian Marriage Insurance Company of America”, protecting your marriage from divorce, and includes not only Sid’s outrageous take on the state of marriage in America today – but I’ve also left in all the out-takes! I particularly love the way he slides in/out of character, and oh, that laugh …..

**** Sidney Rideau – aka Morgus the Magnificent – takes on the perplexing problem of marriage & divorce for the Airlift Productions microphones in February 2006 ****

Today, Uncle Sid is enjoying retirement on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in a tiny hamlet known as Covington, LA  with his bride of all these years Dainya. They met in the late 1950s in NYC where Sid was being considered as a side-kick to Johnny Carson, and she was an interpreter at the United Nations.

For true!  No, I could not make up a story as unique as theirs. 

What a character, and truly fine & gifted, spirited human being this man is. Lucky to have had him in our lives we all are, and to have been able to bask in his light and genius.

Because, at the end of the day (as the white man is often wont to say), in the mythology of the American Tribe – Superman will always have his Clark Kent, the Batman his Bruce Wayne … and Morgus the Magnificent will always be remembered as the man who gave him Life – Sidney Noel Rideau.

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Sidney Noel Rideau Records VoiceOvers and More at Airlift Productions New Orleans

Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from New Orleans since 1984