Charlie Copeland: Delaware Republican Party Leader

Charlie’s Sheen: The state GOP’s Charlie Copeland may not be seeking office, but he shines in other ways.



When Republicans go to the polls in November and review the ballot, they won’t find the name of the man many GOP leaders figure to be their biggest giant-killer.

Charlie Copeland, 49, is sitting this one out. Taking his time. Picking his spot. Taking care of business.

Copeland, a scion of DuPont Co. founders and, of course, du Pont family wealth, has gravitated toward politics the way his ancestors gravitated toward explosives and chemistry.

“When I grew up, we didn’t talk sports at the dinner table, we talked politics,” says Copeland. “I remember Nixon resigning, and Mom crying, bemoaning chaos in the Republic.”

President Nixon’s resignation—post-Watergate—was August 1974. Copeland was born in February 1963, just nine months before the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  He was 11 years old at the time of his mother’s distress.

It took nearly three decades for the Copeland family passion for politics to translate to action, but for Charlie Copeland, the results have been nothing short of remarkable.

Becoming involved in GOP politics in 2000 on the campaign front, Copeland first ran for the Delaware senate in a post-reapportionment election in 2002, then was re-elected to a four-year term in the state senate in 2004, where he quickly moved into leadership.

In what in hindsight appeared the quixotic “tilting at windmills,” Copeland in 2008 joined the Republican ticket as its candidate for lieutenant governor, facing the headwinds of a historic Democratic ticket headed by Barack Obama and Copeland’s Greenville neighbors, Joe Biden and Jack Markell.

 

Born and raised on Rising Sun Lane in Wilmington, just steps away from the DuPont Co.’s original black powder mills on the Brandywine, Copeland, the third of five children, also lived just steps away from Tower Hill School, which the DuPont family helped found.

“I was a lifer at Tower Hill, pre-K  through 12th, graduating in 1981,” Copeland says. He completed an undergraduate degree in computer science and physics at Duke University in 1985 before joining DuPont and spending seven years in its information systems department—much of it at a plant in DeLisle, Miss.

Copeland earned his MBA at Duke University before returning to Delaware for another family business, Associates Graphics International, now a $10 million printing company that was launched by his father. The company is thriving, and Copeland late last year completed the acquisition of the state’s best-known “Democrat-owned” printing firm, Farley Printing Co.

 

Copeland met his wife, Bonnie, a Brandywine Hundred native, in high school at Tower Hill. They dated during his senior year. After Tower Hill, Bonnie also graduated from Duke University. The couple married in 1987, and their daughter, Stephanie, 17, attends Archmere Academy. Will, their 14-year-old son, goes to The Tatnall School. Bonnie completed law school and works in family law at Cooch and Taylor.

Bonnie was concerned when Copeland began to talk about a career in politics.

“My brother, Chip, had worked for a decade for Sen. Roth, so it was something that always was around,” says Copeland. “When I began to talk about primarying (fellow Republican Sen.) Dallas Winslow, Bonnie saw it as an opportunity and relented.

“Today, Bonnie is a very competitive person, she enjoys the campaigns and the strategizing,” Copeland says, “although some of the silly shenanigans that go on she could do without.”

That comment reinforces the seriousness of Copeland’s approach to politics. His is not the infamous “Delaware way,” not the “let’s go along and get along.”

He raised eyebrows in 2010 when he helped orchestrate campaigns against three powerful incumbent Democrats in the Senate—Nancy Cook, Patricia Blevins, and David Sokola—and managed to help unseat the powerful Cook, who had served in Dover since before Copeland was old enough to drive.

But he really raised eyebrows in early 2012, when he successfully led opposition in the Republican Party to the re-election of Priscilla Rakestraw to the Republican National Committee. She had been its longest-serving member nationally.

“Thirty-six years is enough,” Copeland said in an interview. “I just believe in term limits, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.”

(Rakestraw declined comment when asked about Copeland and his initiative to unseat her.)

Rakestraw stepped down in her campaign for re-election, and the party chose Ellen Barrosse, founder of the pro-life group Rose and a Prayer and an anchor of the party’s religious right.

Copeland is anything but a part of the religious right of the party. Today he would be known by political observers over the age of 40 as a “Rockefeller Republican,” someone who is center-right, rejecting far-right policies, and is culturally liberal.

Add to that a progressive view on social issues, a suspicion of big government and a Calvinist ethic.

That’s Copeland. He’s worked extensively on social justice and criminal justice reform issues, heading the nonprofit advocacy group Stand Up for What’s Right and Just until early this year when he and its board merged it into the Delaware Council on Justice.

The most notable issue for SURJ, founded in part by two other progressive Republicans and former governors, Russ Peterson and Dale Wolf, was elimination of mandatory minimums, particularly for minor drug offenses, which seemed to impact minorities most negatively. It was an issue on which SURJ succeeded before its merger.

Copeland also has been a moving force on the founding of a public safety charter school in Wilmington, which attracts at-risk kids. And he has been a forceful advocate for corrections reform, including health care issues and re-entry.

“These are good people, who, there but by the grace of God, go I,” Copeland says of the people he tries to help. “I hate to see lost human potential.”

In furtherance of his progressive social agenda, Copeland is chairman of the du Pont family’s Longwood Foundation board. He also is instrumental in reconstituting the Challenge Program, which offers a variety of programs, one of them a discipline- and skill-building usage of the Kalmar Nyckel, and another program to rehabilitate city houses.

“Many of the young people with whom we work have been adjudicated at one point,” Copeland says, “and we’re working to prepare them for a trade, to get and keep a job for two years.

“I’ve just been blessed to be in the right position through birth, through serendipity, whatever, to do some of these things,” he says. But Copeland’s thoughts and passion return easily to politics.

“In addition to incumbency, the issues I really care about are education and small business,” he says. He mentions House Speaker Robert Gilligan, who was  first elected 40 years ago and recently announced his retirement. “If you can’t get it done in 40 years,” says Copeland, “it’s about ego.”

Today, Copeland has no official role or title in the Republican Party. John Sigler is its chair, and state Rep. Greg Lavelle is vice chair. Nevertheless, party elders see Copeland as having the gravitas to lead the ticket one day, perhaps sooner rather than later.

 

“I think any discussion of the future of the Republican Party in Delaware has to include four young guys like Charlie Copeland, Greg Lavelle, Tom Kovachs and Jim Ursomarso,” says Basil Battaglia, a lifelong party insider and adviser to Mike Castle.

Copeland is doing another kind of running these days. His daughter has become a road racer, so Copeland runs two to four times a week and logs nearly 10 miles per week. He’s working on an 8:20 mile pace. He does the occasional 5K, and has done a half marathon.

“Will I run (for office) again?” he says. “It’s just too soon to tell. Yes, I’m staying involved. If something happens, it’s great. If something doesn’t happen, that’s great too.”

 

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January 2017

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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Sports Card & Collectible Show at Aetna Fire Hall on Jan. 22—sign up now! -Sports Cards McFarlane Figures Comic Books Non-Sports cards Wrestling Items Vintage Starting...

Cost: $2

Where:
Aetna Fire Hall
400 Ogletown Road
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: A2Z Promotions
Telephone: 302-983-2636
Contact Name: Bob Harper
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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Belly Dance Classes with Zahra Beginner & intermediate classes open to teens and adults Sundays in January starting Jan 8th Beginner: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Intermediate: 1 - 2 p.m (must get...

Cost: $15-$42

Where:
Take the Lead Studio
320 Lantana Drive
Hockessin , DE  19711
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Sponsor: Take the Lead
Contact Name: Zahra
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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

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Ah, typecasting—the baritone is always the bad guy! In Devils, Drunks & Dastardly Dudes, we’ll go on an operatic journey of men behaving badly. We’ll add a tenor to the mix, too… but we...

Cost: $29-$59

Where:
OperaDelaware Studio
4 South Poplar St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: OperaDelaware
Telephone: 302-442-7809
Contact Name: Mary Wilcosky
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Come give curling a try! At this 2-hour intro-to-curling event we'll provide a basic lesson then coach you through a mini-game.  Whether you just want to cross #curling off your bucket list or...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Pond Ice Arena
101 John Campbell Rd
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: Diamond State Curling Club
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Notbybreadalone Ministries presents Feeding the Hungry Outreach. All are welcome to come and partake of food, fun and fellowship. Those who desire a better way of life through Jesus Christ are...

Cost: Free

Where:
2nd and 3rd Streets
Wilmington, DE  19801


Sponsor: Notbybreadalone Outreach Ministries
Telephone: 442-0440
Contact Name: Ministers Wayne and Stephanie Dumpson
Website »

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Guest speakers Patty Dailey-Lewis, executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation, and Delaware Family Court commissioner Loretta Young will discuss how participation in social media can too...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilmington University - Dover
Building A Auditorium
3282 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
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Sponsor: Wilmington University College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Telephone: 302-295-1164
Contact Name: Dr. Johanna Bishop
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
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Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
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East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmers Market Nov 8, 2016 - April 11, 2017  11 am- 2 pm 25 vendors Location:  East Coast Garden Center 30366 Cordrey Rd Millsboro, DE 19966 302-945-3489

Cost: frr

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Sponsor: East Coast Garden Center
Telephone: 302-945-3489
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East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmer's Marke 25 vendors

Cost: Free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

A four-week series of ballroom dancing classes taught by teachers from the BlueBallroom. Tuesdays starting Jan. 10. Classes are $30 a lesson for Non-Members. Non-Member slots are limited. For...

Cost: $30

Where:
University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

Thursdays from 4:00PM-5:30PM Fall session: December 1st, 8th and 15th Winter session: Starts January 19th, every other Thursday until March 30th This program is based entirely outdoors and is...

Cost: Cost: $30 for TLC members / $40 for non-members

Where:
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
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Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

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MARC BROUSSARD In 2004, Marc Broussard, then a precocious 22-year-old singer/songwriter, released his major-label debut; he called it Carencro, after the Louisiana town where he was born and...

Cost: $22 SRO- $32 SEATED

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tutto Fresco has live entertainment every Friday night from 6:30–9:30 p.m. Call for details. http://tuttofrescode.com/

Where:
Tutto Fresco
514 Philadelphia Pike
Wilmington, DE  19809
View map »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

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Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

January 28 – Saturday – 1 to 4 p.m. Science Saturday – Truss Me, You Won’t Fall! Become an engineer for the day. Design a bridge to hold as much weight as possible....

Cost: Activities are included in regular admission and free for members.

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Hagley Museum
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

GRILLED CHEESE AND CRAFT BEER TASTING We have taken two of the best things on earth and paired them together – Grilled Cheese and Craft Beer – and paired them together in unexpected and...

Cost: $40

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

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Saturday, January 28, 2017 at  7:30 pm at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 763 Valley Forge Rd, Wayne, PA 19087 Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 3 pm at Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square...

Cost: Tickets are $25 online, and $30 at the door. Student tickets $10 at the door.

Where:
Church of the Holy Trinity
1904 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA  19103
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Sponsor: Lyric Fest
Telephone: 215-438-1702
Contact Name: Jessica Nelson
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Fan favorite, Dick Smith, returns to the Dickinson Theatre Organ Society concert stage on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 for a show that is sure to bring the house down! Dick Smith has been a...

Cost: $15 Adults; $10 Students

Where:
John Dickinson High School Auditorium
1801 Milltown Road
Wilmington, DE  19808
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Sponsor: Dickinson Theatre Organ Society
Telephone: 302-995-2603
Contact Name: Bob Dilworth
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The Dickinson Theatre Organ Society presents Dick Smith. For tickets, click here: http://www.dtoskimball.org/events-tickets/ticket-information/ For further information, please call us at...

Where:
, DE

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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

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MOTHERSHIP Mothership is the area's premier Led Zeppelin Tribute show. Composed of seasoned, professional musicians Mario Padovani - vocals, keyboards, Frank Ginocchio - drums, Chris Julian -...

Cost: 15

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Website »

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