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January 22, 2009           

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News, photos, reviews, live Blues links & MUCH MORE in this issue! - Scroll or Page Down! quick website links: Reviews    Links   Photos    Videos     Blues Radio     Blues Shows near YOU!    Advertise for FREE!     The Blues Blast Archives

Hey Blues Fans,

We are excited about the 25th International Blues Challenge (IBC) in a couple weeks. We can't wait.  We suggest you don't wait either if you want to attend one of the best Blues events anywhere!

The IBC will bring more than 180 Blues acts from 36 states and 9 countries, including Australia, Canada, Croatia, France, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland and the United States to perform on Beale Street in Memphis February 5th to the 7th, 2009.  This is the largest gathering of Blues performers on the planet with 98 Bands, 64 Solo/Duet acts and 25 Youth Showcase acts scheduled to perform. And this doesn't even include at least 2 artists showcases tucked into the Beal Street clubs during the Challenge including the Roots & Blues Showcase presented by Blind Raccoon which features some great Blues artists like Super Chikan, Billy Gibson, Chris James & Patrick Rynn, Dave Fields, Jon Justice Band and many more.

Of course that is not all this great Blues gathering includes. The IBC also features other events happening at the same time. The "Keepin The Blues Alive" awards, Blues Publicity and Marketing Seminars and more. There are always Blues jams in several of the Beale Street clubs long into the night.  Bob Margolin holds a jam in the Rum Boogie on both Friday and Saturday after the IBC events end. Grab your guitar and come on down!

Don't miss the silver anniversary of this great Blues competition that promises to be one the best ever put on by the Blues Foundation. Blues Blast magazine will be there covering all the action and YOU should be there too! For more information CLICK HERE or see their ad below.

Blues Wanderings

The Wednesday Blues series put on by the River City Blues Society (RCBS) in Pekin, IL featured Central, Illinois favorite Robin Crowe this week. Robin with husband Tony Crowe on bass and guitar wizard Kurt Grey on lead guitar played two sets of music for a crowd of well over 100 fans and Blues society friends.


The Blues series put on by River City compliments the Blue Monday series sponsored by the Illinois Central Blues Club (ICBC) in Springfield, IL. Next week RCBS brings in Blues guitarist James Armstrong and ICBC is bringing in the Juke Joint Duo with Cedric Burnside and Lightnin Malcolm. It may be cold in Illinois but man the Blues is HOT! For more information on these great weekly shows see the Blues Society  news section below.

Blues Reviews and MORE!

Blues Reviews this week - James Walker reviews a new CD from Mitch Kashmar. Belinda Foster reviews a new CD  from Fatback Deluxe. Mike O'Cull reviews a new CD by Chick Willis.  Also, our good friends Mike and Nanci Livermore send us some pics from the 2009 Chicago Winter Blues Tour. Our Blues Video this week is a classic John Lee Hooker clip. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 3

Mitch Kashmar - Live at Labatt

Delta Groove Productions, Inc.

10 songs; 66:07; Suggested

Style: Electric Harmonica Blues, Harmonica Lead Electric Chicago Blues, West Coast Jazz- Blues

“Ethiopian spit-whistle, Mississippi saxophone, tin sandwich, mouth organ, harmonica, harp....” – call it what you will; it is one of the most celebrated instruments in the blues. The pantheon of great players is equally celebrated as true blues fans recognize the harmonica as one of the earliest instruments in the genre, dating in the US to the middle 1800s.

Among modern harp players, California’s Mitch Kashmar has earned a well deserved reputation as a master on both the diatonic and chromatic harmonicas, in addition to being a soulful vocalist. In this live set, the recipient of 2006 and 2007 Blues Music Award nominations is particularly entertaining on chromatic harp.

Mitch became curious about blues and live music as a teenager checking out local bands in Santa Barbara. By 1980, he formed his own group, The Pontiax, and performed throughout Southern California. Around the mid-80s, Mitch moved to Los Angeles, and The Pontiax recorded their first CD and soon went on the road touring throughout the US, Canada, Europe and the South Pacific. By 2000, Kashmar had gained acclaim as a solo artist, even touring with the funk-rock band War and appearing onstage alongside legendary British rocker Eric Burdon & War for a reunion concert held on April 21, 2008 at London's Royal Albert Hall.

This live CD is from Friday, August 24, 2007, when Kashmar performed at the 9th Annual Edmonton's Labatt Blues Festival in Canada. Joining Kashmar on this release are ex-Pontiax drummer Tom Lackner, bassist Steve Nelson, pianist Jimmy Calire, and former William Clarke guitarist John Marx. The live concert format allows Kashmar and the band to stretch out instrumentally, running all songs past the five minute mark. It is a fun program featuring fan favorites off his two critically acclaimed Delta Groove releases and additional material including “Lollipop Mama,” a tribute to the late great William Clarke.

The set opens upbeat with “I Got No Reason,” one of three Kashmar originals, and it instantly defines the swinging West Coast sound. He keeps stoking the fire with “Dirty Deal,” another Kashmar original that has the audience audibly grooving along.

Humorously dedicating the third cut to his “ex,” Mitch tweets his way into a slow version of Lou Donaldson and Leon Spencer’s “Whiskey Drinkin' Woman.” Mitch’s emotive vocals explain that she is so bad that she “puts whiskey in her beer” and “whiskey in her whiskey.” The narrator lovers her, but she’d “pawn my wedding ring” for another shot! John Marx’s guitar solo really shines here.

Track five is where Mitch switches to chromatic harp and the West Coast magic kicks in on the nine minute plus, jazz-tinged “Song For My Father,” that features some deft bass work and band interplay highlighted by Kashmar’s scales.

Kashmar next pays tribute to Muddy Waters on “Sugar Sweet” and Jimmy Rogers in the seven minute workout “You're The One.”

A short intro regarding the Southern California harmonica “style of our own” and “good old buddy” William Clarke precedes Mitch's up tempo romp on “Lollipop Mama.”

Mitch’s own CD title track, “Wake Up and Worry” smoothly swings as it deals with bad economic conditions like, “... it doesn’t take a mathematician to see I owe more than I can pay.”

“Castle Rock,” a song Mitch credits having learned from playing with guitarist John Marx closes the set. If there was an encore, it sadly did not make it on the album.

Many will advocate that blues is best heard live. The crowds and cold beer may be missing, but this CD goes a long way supporting that argument!

Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Blues Video of the Week

John Lee Hooker - Boom Boom from 1966

We found a great classic video of the legendary John Lee Hooker.

Hooker was born near Clarksdale, Mississippi on August 22, 1917. By 1940 he had moved to Detroit and began a career that spanned more that 50 years. In 1948  "Boogie Chillun." became his first number-one jukebox hit and sold over a million copies. 

His credits include 4 Grammy awards, induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall Of Fame in 1991 and, in 1997, a star in the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. He went on to become one of the most influential Blues musicians of all time. By the time of his death in 2001 he had toured all over the world, headlining festivals and inspiring generations of Blues artists and fans.

This video is a 1966 clip of him doing his classic song, Boom Boom. To see the video, click the play button below.


To visit the official John Lee Hooker website CLICK HERE

For other videos on our website CLICK HERE.


New CD

'Le Blues Hot'


CLICK HERE to Purchase this CD

To read a review of this CD, CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 3

Fatback Deluxe - Rat Now

Recorded in the Lions Den, Tucker, GA

12 tracks; 44 minutes 17 seconds; Suggested

Styles: Chicago-Texas-Swing Blues, and West Coast Jump with guitar, bass, drums and harp

They say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but when did I start listening to what they say? Hey, I expected (or should I say suspected) something good. The ‘cover’ in this case is the 1930s-40s period picture of a country watering hole and bbq joint on the Fatback Deluxe Rat Now CD. You see a country watering hole like this and know there’s gotta be something good inside, so you go in. And that’s exactly what happens when this vintage photo cover begs you to open up the CD pack, take out the CD and plug it in. The joint was rockin!

The players: Ira Malkin on vocals and harp, Chris Kramer on electric guitar, Ben Gettys on Upright Bass, Pete Maier on Drums and additional musician Matt Wauchope on piano and organ. There are 5 originals all written by guitarist Chris Kramer and 8 covers including those by Magic Sam, Buddy Guy, BBKing, Dave Bartholomew & Fats Domino and Johnny Guitar Watson.

I also noted the recording was dedicated to the memory of the late great Sean Costello. After checking out Fatback Deluxe’s Myspace page, I understood why. There were photos of Sean Costello sitting in with them at Northside Tavern in Atlanta. From what I could see in the photos, this must have been one hot jam that night.

Ira has an incredibly soulful voice and delivery. When you can listen to a CD, close your eyes and feel like the singer is in the same blues room as you’re in, singing directly to you, now that’s real. His voice is seasoned, rich and strong and I bet he can really cut lose like a Little Richard or James Brown whenever he takes a hankering to do so. And his harp playing is true blues--musically and emotionally moving.

And the muti-talent doesn’t stop there. Chris Kramer provides the perfect match of talent on electric guitar, strategically laying down each note with just the right amount of gusto, tempo and beat whether they’re playing the early tunes of a Magic Sam or boogie woogie blues. With his song writing talent, guitar licks and Ira’s voice and harp talent, these two are a great match up. And of course, there’s got to be a nice tight pocket to showcase front talent; and there is exactly that with Ben Gettys and Pete Maier on bass and drums.

The Track 1 version of Sam Maghett’s (“Magic Sam”) “You Belong To Me” dishes up some great guitar licks, organ, and soulful early rock R&B. Chris Kramer’s original “Mercy” falls right in place on Track 2 with an up tempo swinging beat that most anyone would want to get up and dance to. “Sitting on the Boat Dock” is the catchy Sonny Thompson song that Ira sings with conviction. Chris lends his own with a great guitar solo. Magic Sam’s back with Track 4’s “She Belongs To Me” – more of the great stylings of both Ira and Chris from vocals, to guitar to harp solos.

Track 5 is “Country Boy (Running Wild)”, a Dave Bartholomew and Antoine “Fats” Domino early boogie woogie beat reminiscent of the ‘50’s era west coast beach rock sounds.

“The Sun Shines Down” is Track 6, another Chris Kramer original sung from the heart by Ira; again the theme’s pretty much the same through out on all the tracks—great vocals and harp by Ira, followed by great guitar solos by Chris all within a cohesive veteran traditional blues music pocket. Track 7 “Jump With You” is a Riley “B.B.King” tune that had everyone who was in the room while I was playing Rat Now ‘a foot tappin and slappin’. And following “BB” on Track 8 is another great song, a Buddy Guy original, “She Suits Me To A Tee”. The title track “Rat Now” is Track 9, a Johnny Guitar Watson original. Ira paints a vocal portrait of a man’s painful lament as he’s blues jonesing for his woman. Next is Johnny’s “Looking Back”—performed with a fun early beach boys rocking groove. The final three tracks are “Darkness Falls”, “Steel Blade Fan”—a Chris Kramer original—and Track 13 “Gawjook Boogie”, a fast jumping blues boogie with more great Ira harp and vocals.

Had I randomly stumbled on this act one night in a blues club, not knowing who they were, I would think it’s my lucky night. I would stick around until last call and lights on. Thank goodness now we don’t have to hope for random ‘good band’ luck to strike—support this group and take in one of their shows as I plan to do. Minimally, go on-line and buy their CD. It’ll make a great blues addition to your collection. All I know is that it’s a good thing these guys are just a couple hours drive away from my South Carolina town…I may be laying down some tracks to Atlanta real soon.

Belinda Foster is a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She currently books blues-rock-jam musicians and is a devoted promoter and supporter of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to “The Crossroads” and Clarksdale Mississippi, birthplace of the blues. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report can be found on line at

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

Benefit Concert - March 1, 2009

The Atlanta School of Performing Arts (Sean Costello's high school) will host a benefit concert to raise funds for the Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bi Polar Research on March 1st, 2009 in Atlanta, GA.

The concert features Lurrie Bell, the Wood Brothers, King Johnson, Felix Reyes and the Cats with Jon Liebman, and the Soul Shakers. Tickets are $30.00. The fund is a 501 C3 IRS approved Charity.

There will be a silent auction of donated items from Delta Groove Music, Levon Helms other blues memorabilia. To donate to the cause or volunteer call 770 422-0100

For tickets and further information CLICK HERE

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Blues Music Reviewers wanted

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for reviewers to review new Blues CD's and live music shows. If you have a background and experience with Blues music and like to write we can provide new CD's for you to review. Must be willing to write a minimum of one  to three reviews a month. Reviewer keeps the CD's for writing the review.  If interested please send a sample of your writing and a short bio of your Blues background to


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 Live Blues Review - Chicago Blues Tour

The Winter 2009 Chicago Blues Tour - January 17th, 2009

Review by Mike & Nanci Livermore

Hello fellow Blues Fans,

Nanci and I, with a few friends drove up to the Blues City (formerly called Chicago) to get a fix on the Blues scene there. Although we regularly make it up to the Chicago Blues Festival in June, we haven’t had much of an opportunity to go to the different Blues establishments in the City of Chicago.


The Chicago Blues Tour gave us an organized and easy way to be able to get our Blues club fix. We purchased our advanced tickets from the website which got us out and about early. We stayed at the Club Quarters Central Loop Hotel which was within walking distance from our designated starting point at Alcock’s Inn. There we were entertained by Deak Harp who is a one man band of sorts playing his harp with ease and giving us that old front porch style Blues.


We had a departure time of 6:40 to Lee’s unleaded Blues. There we got a chance to see Johnny Drummer & the Starliters.

Great set, man right off the get go I could have stayed there all night. But, time to move. This tour was our first, and I must say it was very well organized. Folks came through the venue holding up a sign making you aware of the next bus departing and it was up to you to get moving on or stay until the next one. The bus ride was always an adventure too. On one trip the whole group sang songs together from the beginning to end.

I do not wish to write this article to critique any one band or group playing at the local venues. All the bands that played at the various venues were playing the great art form we like to call the Blues. I would like to say thanks to all the performers at all the venues for entertaining us and keeping it alive. And whoever the sax guy was at Checkerboard , man that was some cool playing there. Also thanks to the guy I believe was the owner of Wallace’s for the hospitality and treating us strangers like we were regulars.


We got back to Alcock’s by 2:00 a.m. and met some old friends for some more conversation and laughs. If you could not make it this year I would put this on your blues calendar that I know we all have hanging somewhere and give it a ride. That’s it. See ya at another Blues adventure down the road, maybe Memphis?

Mike & Nanci Livermore are lifetime members of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society in Davenport, IA. They are strong supporters of the Blues and won the Society's award for volunteers of the year in 2008 for their work on the entertainment committee and board of directors.

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 3

Chick Willis - The Don Of The Blues

CDS Records

Chick Willis is an old-school blues and R&B performer whose career goes all the way back to the 1950?s and who has worked with many notable artists, including Elmore James. He released a few semi-obscure singles on his own as a bandleader until striking pay dirt with his infamous 1972 hit "Stoop Down Baby" which has sold somewhere in the neighborhood of three million copies to date. That hit set Willis on his course as a master of risqué or "blue'" material, which he still continues to record.

His latest CD release, The Don Of The Blues, features cuts like "Bootie Call", "Your Cat Is Killing My Dog", 'Undercover Hootchie', and "Big Leg Woman", leaving no doubt as to what is on Willis' mind. Underneath all the innuendo, however, is a solid singer and guitarist.  Willis is a bit more R&B than straight up blues here and he fronts an excellent band. It is obvious he is still capable of rocking any house in the world, even after many decades in the business.

It is a shame that despite a long musical life and great talent Willis hasn't attained the name recognition of performers like Buddy Guy and B.B. King. The adult-oriented material he specializes in is much tougher to get airplay with. The fact that the modern blues audience seems to favor more straight-ahead material than Willis' smoother R&B sounds doesn't help. Still, Willis is a national treasure

Willis just keeps moving forward and doing things his way and that is great news for those of us who are hip to what he does. If you get a chance to catch him in your town or at a festival, make the most of it. You may find Willis' smoother flavor quite appealing..

Reviewer Mike O'Cull is a noted Chicago music writer and Blues Blast contributor. Visit his MySpace page at:

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.


The River City Blues Society presents

Wednesday Blues featuring

James Armstrong

January 28, 2009 - 7:00pm

The Dragons Dome
3401 Griffin Ave, Pekin, IL.

To see Map- CLICK HERE

 Admission $3 or free with new Society membership

 The BEST Way To Promote YOUR Next Blues Project!

BANDS, BARS, AND LABELS: Is your promo material getting you the gigs and business you desire? If not, call music journalist and copy writer Mike O'Cull for all your promotional needs. Mike is a veteran music journalist and musician and writes for the Illinois Entertainer,, and  and can deliver the highest quality promotional writing around quickly and at a reasonable price.

Mike's specialties include bios, press releases, liner notes, and web content. Full press kit design, including graphics, is also available. Clients include The Joe Moss Band, Carl Davis, TruSoul Entertainment, B.A. S. Entertainment, and many others. Samples available on request. Email , call Mike O'Cull Music at 847-608-0357, or visit us online at  for more information.

Mention the Blues Blast for a $10 new customer discount.

 Blues Society News

 Send your Blues Society's BIG news or Press Release to:  

Please submit a maximum of 175 words or less in a Text or Word format ONLY.

The Magic City Blues Society - Birmingham, AL

The Magic City Blues Society is proud to present Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials on March 3, 2009 at the fabulous Workplay Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama. Tickets available for $10 and are available at or at Workplay at 205-380-4082.

River City Blues Society- Peoria, IL

The River City Blues Society's Wednesday Blues Series in Central, Illinois are early shows each Wednesday at 7:00pm, featuring the best traveling regional and National Blues musicians. The shows feature a budget priced cover charge of $3. The shows are held at the Dragon's Dome, 3401 Griffin Ave in Pekin, IL.

Shows scheduled are:  Jan 28 - James Armstrong, Feb 4 - Blind Dog Willie, Feb 11 - Bill Lupkin, Feb 18 - Sean Kellerman, Feb 25 - TBA, Mar 4 - Lil Dave Thompson, Mar 11 & 17- TBA, Mar 25 - Sally Weisenburg & The Famous Sidemen, Apr 1 - Reverend Raven & The Chain Smoking Alter Boys, Apr 8 - TBA, Apr 15 - Too Slim & The Tail Draggers 

Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL

Blue Mondays- Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover Jan 26 - Juke Joint Duo / Cedric Burnside and Lightnin Malcolm, Feb 2 - Big Jeff Chapman, Feb 9 - Jim Suhler, Feb 16 - Shawn Kellerman, Feb 23 - Deak Harp

Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents the Daddy Mack Blues Band, from Memphis, on Sunday, January 25 at Creekside Bar and Grill, 3303 N. Brady St. in Davenport. Show time is 5 to 8 p.m.; admission is $6, $5 for Mississippi Valley Blues Society members. For more information Contact: Karen McFarland, (563) 508-6596

Also Blues guitarist and educator T. J. Wheeler will conduct workshops at eight schools, one university, and the Putnam Museum for the week of February 2-6, during Black History month, as part of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society’s Blues in the Schools program. He will also conduct three FREE, open-to-the-public performances at the Bettendorf Family Museum on Monday Feb. 2 (6:00 p.m.), at Borders in Davenport on Tuesday Feb. 3 (7:00 p.m.), and at Mojo’s in the River Music Experience in Davenport on Wed. Feb. 4 (7:00 p.m.). For more information Contact: Karen McFarland, (563) 508-6596

Phoenix Blues Society - Phoenix, AZ

The Blues Blast 2009 will be held on Saturday, February 21st, 2009 at the Mesa Amphitheatre. The 20th anniversary of this Blues festival sponsored by the Phoenix Blues Society will start at 11:00 AM. Headlining the show is Janiva Magness. Other artists appearing at Blues Blast are: Omar & the Howlers, The Juke Joint Duo of Cedric Burnside & Lightnin' Malcolm, The Mikel - Meridith Band, Kathy Mabry, Kevin Casenhiser and a special Phoenix Blues Artist Showcase and Retrospective featuring many of the Valley's finest Blues Musicians. Here's a partial listing of the line-up: George Bowman, Bob Corritore, Terry "TD" Davis, Nancy Delessandro, Jim Dorholt, Brian Fahey, Jim Glass, Chuck Hall, Mario Moreno, Hans Olson, Big Pete Pearson, Jimmy Peyton, Johnny Rapp, Rochelle Raya, Paul Thomas, Scotty Spenner. For more info contact or check out the website at

Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL

The Crossroads Blues Society along with Big Cities Lounge is proud to present Kim Wilson Tuesday, February 3, 2009, at 8:00 PM at Big Cities Lounge in Rockford. Appearing with Kim will be Doug Deming and Jewel Tones. Kim is best known for his work with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and was recently was called on to put the band together for the movie Cadillac Records and it was his harmonica that you heard throughout the film. His solo and T-Birds CDs have sold millions of copies over the last 30 years of performing and recording.

Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at Big Cities or from Steve Jones or Mark Thompson. Call 779-537-4006 or 414-416-1884 for tickets or information.


New CD

Mighty Mighty

CLICK HERE to Purchase this CD



Blues Blast Magazine is proud to be a media sponsor of the 25th International Blues Challenge. The silver anniversary of this great Blues competition promises to be one the best ever put on by the Blues Foundation.

In case you are not familiar with this event, it is an international search for the best undiscovered Blues band on the planet.  Each year the Blues Foundation's 160 affiliate Blues societies from all over the globe hold "local" or "regional" Blues challenges.

They send the winners to compete in the semifinals in Memphis in February. There are categories for both bands and solo/duet acts.

In 2008, 100 bands and 60 solo/duo acts filled the clubs up and down Beale Street for the semi-finals on Thursday and Friday. This is a Blues show you do not want to miss. It is literally the worlds largest gathering of Blues Bands!

Beale Street is the legendary Blues Mecca in Memphis. Each club on Beale has 6 or 8 acts competing in the semi-finals. By the rules of the competition, each act plays exactly 30 minutes all using the same stage setup for a panel of judges and a packed crowd of Blues fans. They are judged on Blues content, vocal and/or instrumental talent, originality and stage presence by a different panels of judges each night (See scoring criteria HERE).

The scores are averaged and the top scoring act from each club advances to the finals that are held at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday.  (To see some photos of last years fun CLICK HERE)

Tickets to this historical event are just $75 and include entrance to all the clubs on Beale Street both Thursday and Friday and the finals on Saturday. CLICK HERE to get yours now.

Be sure to get your hotel reservations NOW too as some of the host hotels are already sold out! CLICK HERE for hotel info

Live Blues Calendar

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Performance dates were submitted by Musicians, Club Owners, Blues Societies and Blues festivals. is not responsible for errors or omissions.

CLICK HERE - for the Latest Complete Blues Calendar on our website at:

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Performance dates submitted by Musicians, Clubs, Blues Societies and Blues festivals. is not responsible for errors or omissions.

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