Posted by: Larry Royce | April 23, 2014

Hook, Live & Sinker from Chesapeake

Here’s another new CD I just discovered. If you’re a Seldom Scene fan you’ll remember Chesapeake as the band that broke up the Scene when Mike Auldridge, Moondi Klein and T Michael coleman left to form this group.

Looking back, it turned out to be a good thing for everybody since the Seldom Scene of today had its roots with Duffey and Eldridge when the band was reformed in 1995.
Written by John Lawless for Bluegrass Today.

Just as focus has been on Seldom Scene this week with their first new project in seven years, here comes a live album from another DC-based group with roots in the Scene.

Chesapeake got its start when Mike Auldridge, T. Michael Coleman and Moondi Klein, all members of Seldom Scene in 1994, decided to create a side project to play more regularly than was the norm for the Scene. They were joined by Jimmy Gaudreau, who was touring at the time with Tony Rice. Recording three albums for Sugar Hill during their five years together, they were on the forefront of what is now known commonly as Americana, mixing folk, bluegrass, country and rock.

Coleman tells us that Chesapeake was in the habit of recording almost all of their live shows when they were on the road. Many bands have done so, some to critique their shows, others for posterity.

Whatever the reason for these guys, they have compiled a live album from these archives, released as Hook, Live & Sinker. All twenty tracks feature live performances of the band, with some stellar guests, none of which were contained on the three previous Chesapeake CDs.

Complete track listing follows:
Train Of Love
Song For A Winter’s Night
By The Side Of The Road
Ginseng Sullivan
Treasures Untold
Coleen Malone
Song or The Life
California Earthquake
White Dove
Red Georgia Clay
Like I Used To Do
My Window Faces The South
I’m Working On A Building
Bartender’s Blues
The Soul Of Man Never Dies
Cypress Jam
Bill Cheatham’s Tasteless Walk On The Wild Side Of Mission Impossible
Soldier’s Joy
John Hardy

In addition to primary band members (Klein on guitar, Gaudreau on mandolin, Coleman on bass, Auldridge on reso-guitar), guests include Tony Rice, Doc Watson, Sammy Shelor, Sam Bush, John Cowan, Rickie Simpkins, Jeff Little and Larry Atamanuik.

T. Michael says that this project is very special to him.

“I was inspired to put this together after the last time Chesapeake got together to play with Mike. That was not long before he left us, so it’s partly a tribute to Mike, and of course to Doc.”

Hook, Live & Sinker can be purchased online from Chesterbury Records. It will be available soon from CD Baby, iTunes and other digital resellers.

Look for Chesapeake to do so touring in support, with various guests standing in for Mike Auldridge.

Posted by: Larry Royce | April 23, 2014

Seldom Scene…Long Time

An excellent review of the new Seldom Scene CD by David Morris on Bluegrass Today. As David said, the only way to improve this recording would be to hear Duffey and Auldridge singing.


Until the rich history of the Seldom Scene is laid down in book form, the band’s newest CD, Long Time…Seldom Scene will serve as a terrific Cliff’s Notes version of the story and music.

Long Time, released today by Smithsonian Folkways, is the band’s first project since 2007’s Scenechronized, which was nominated for a Grammy as best bluegrass recording. This one is even better. Indeed, it’s one of the best records the band has created during its 43-year history.

Everything about this CD is a winner, including the detail-rich liner notes, spectacular photography by Michael Oberman, the production and, of course, the music. Intentional or not, the 16 songs presented here trace the arc of the band, from its informal start in a Bethesda, MD, basement to the current lineup, which has itself been together for 18 years.

It’s not just the songs themselves that are special, but how they’re arranged and performed. Two of the three surviving founding members, John Starling and Tom Gray, make guest appearances. The third, Ben Eldridge, still plays banjo in the band.

Other guests include Emmylou Harris, Ben’s son, Chris Eldridge of Punch Brothers fame and Rickie Simpkins, who has fiddled for Harris and is the brother of Scene bassist Ronnie Simpkins.

On stage, the Scene’s tight harmonies feature Dudley Connell, Fred Travers and Lou Reid, each taking turns singing lead. They do the same on the record, with Starling, the younger Eldridge and Harris taking lead duties, too, on occasion. The only thing that could make Long Time even better vocally was if we could somehow hear the soaring tenor of the late John Duffey and the smooth baritone of the late Mike Auldridge.

Most of the songs have been recorded by the Scene before, some of them several times. But one song making it’s debut on a Seldom Scene record is My Better Years. The song was written by the incomparable Hazel Dickens and is sung with aplomb by Connell, who played and sang with Dickens many times over the years. It’s a true story of love and loss about her ex-husband, who tried to come back into her life. Hazel closed her heart, then she opened her notebook: “If you should need a friend, I’ll be there ‘til the end. Just don’t ask me to love you again.”

Some of the best moments in the 54 minutes of music recorded here are dark and bluesy songs about regret and hard times, with the instruments and voices underscoring the emotion. The mood is set with the opener, California Cottonfields, which always brings to my mind John Steinbeck’s tales of the Dust Bowl and struggling sharecroppers, then continues with Wait a Minute, the band’s seminal song.

The band’s first recording of Wait a Minute featured Starling and Duffey on vocals. In the current lineup, Reid and Connell trade verses. This version bridges the gap, with Starling singing the kickoff chorus. He must have learned something at his day job as an ear, nose and throat specialist because his voice still rings years after he stopped singing professionally. Countless songs have been written about the loneliness of life on the road – for both the traveling musicians and those who get left at home – but I’ve heard none better than this Herb Pedersen classic. Here, it’s lifted to an even higher plain by Rickie Simpkins expressive, mournful fiddling.

Another gem of a downcast song is John Prine’s Paradise, punched up to a blistering pace in six-eight time that barely leaves time for Connell to squeeze in all the words. The cautionary tale of big corporations against the little guys includes the memorable chorus, “Oh, daddy, won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I’m sorry my son but you’re too late in asking, Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.”

The previously mentioned My Better Years fits into this dark category as well. This is just one of many powerful songs that Dickens wrote and recorded at a time when women in bluegrass were practically non-existent, and women in general were told their place. I can’t hear this song without wondering when the powers that be in bluegrass will put Dickens in the place she belongs – in the hall of fame. Of course, the same could be said about the Seldom Scene. This record, frankly, is strong enough to add some fuel to that debate.

The Scene, like the Country Gentlemen, always stretched the boundaries of bluegrass, and this album is no exception. There’s a Bob Dylan tune, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, which Duffey performed with the Gents and brought with him to the Scene, John Fogerty’s Big Train (From Memphis), and a George Jones’ standard, Walk Through This World with Me (the lead by Fred Travers may be the best vocal performance on a project filled with good ones). There’s even a song previously recorded by The Monkees, What Am I Doing Hanging Around, written by Michael Martin Murphey and Owen Castleman. Also in this group, Hickory Wind. Co-writer Gram Parsons recorded it with Harris before he died in the early 1970s; Harris reprised it on a solo album and now she shares lead vocals with Reid.

There’s just one instrumental, Lorena, which closes the CD. It was a popular tune for both sides in the Civil War and Mike Auldridge made it his signature tune. Travers nails the dobro here, no surprise, given that he used to play along with Scene records when he was learning the instrument, and his wife’s wedding gift to him was a lesson with Mike.

Travers isn’t the only current member who started out as a fan. In 1995, Auldridge, Moondi Klein and T. Michael Coleman decided to leave the Scene to devote their energies to their other band, Chesapeake, and Bluegrass Unlimited reported the Scene’s apparent demise. Connell called Duffey to ask what had happened. Always a joker, Duffey replied, “We’re not really dissolving the band. We’re just looking for a guitar player, lead singer, baritone singer, dobro player, bass player, bass singer, bus driver.”

Connell worked up the courage to suggest that he and Duffey sing together sometime.

That led to Connell, Travers and Ronnie Simpkins coming aboard. A year later, Duffey suffered a fatal heart attack and was replaced by Reid, back for his second stint with the band.

Like time itself, the Seldom Scene keeps rolling along. Fortunately for music lovers, the band members slowed down long enough to make this gem of a CD.

Posted by: Larry Royce | April 21, 2014

George Shuffler: A Career Overview

George Shuffler passed away when I was in Israel. I just discovered his passing today.

Born in Valdese, North Carolina, on April 11, 1925, George Saunders Shuffler was a very significant creative force in the bluegrass music world.

Shuffler is best known for his association with the Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys, and later Ralph Stanley, for popularizing the cross-picking style of guitar playing, and for setting a trend with his walking style of bass playing.

He became absolutely intrigued with the guitar from the age of ten, when he learned his first chords from a friend who worked with his father in the local cotton mill. George and his mother took care of the farming and, at night, he would play until he fell asleep.

His love of music was nurtured in church, where he learned to read shaped notes during church singing schools. That was extended into participation with the Shuffler Family in more formal Gospel singing sessions.

Shuffler played and toured with various groups, including a stint on the Grand Ole Opry with the Bailey Brothers (in the mid-1940s), as a member of the rube comic team of Mustard and Gravy, and with the burgeoning duo Jim and Jesse McReynolds. He had two spells with the Melody Mountain Boys (circa 1942 and 1947-1949) also. This last-named band featured his brother John, as well as future Stanley Brothers’ fiddler Lester Woodie.

Around the period 1967 through to 1969 Shuffler played bass with Don Reno and Bill Harrell. They recorded several albums together; three appeared on the King Records label. Other LPs were released by Jalyn and Rural Rhythm.

During the 1970s and 1980s he performed with his family Gospel group, the Shuffler Family.

His first involvement with the Stanley Brothers came in December 1951 when Carter Stanley invited Shuffler to participate in a series of radio programs that the brothers had arranged on KVLK. At the time, the station had their office in Lexington although their studio was in Versailles.

During the following April Shuffler participated in the Stanley Brothers last recordings for Columbia Records. He played bass and sang baritone at the session, actually on his 27th birthday, which produced four songs, one of which, A Life of Sorrow, Shuffler helped the brothers to write.

During a 16 year period Shuffler was an intermittent member of the Clinch Mountain Boys; just as often, perhaps even more so, taking time out from music as working with Carter and Ralph.

In addition to that stint in the Lexington-Versailles area, Shuffler was engaged to work with the Stanley Brothers in Pikeville, Kentucky (Radio WLSI), Oak Hill, West Virginia (Radio WOAY), Live Oak, Florida, among many other locations.

While he wasn’t necessarily a member of their band at the time, Carter Stanley more often than not ensured that Shuffler was with them when the Clinch Mountain Boys went into the recording studio. He can be heard on some Mercury tracks, the vast King collection, Wango and Rimrock.

Shuffler filled in on the recordings for Ralph Stanley’s 1968 Gospel album for King Over the Sunset Hill.

For most of the 1950s he played the upright bass in the band. His driving four-four bass technique has influenced many, including Tom Gray.

In 1961 Curley Lambert, the band’s lead guitar player, left as times got hard and, as a result, the Stanley Brothers could often only afford to work as a threesome, Shuffler introduced cross-picking to provide a fuller sounding guitar style that could keep the rhythm and also play melody. It was at this time that Shuffler came to be affectionately known as the “third Stanley Brother.”

The cross-picking style became part of the signature sound of the Stanley Brothers and subsequently the Ralph Stanley-led Clinch Mountain Boys, with Larry Sparks, Keith Whitley, Ricky Lee, Renfro Proffit, Danny Marshall, Junior Blankenship, Hank Smith and, currently, James Alan Shelton all following Shuffler’s pattern of guitar playing.

Following Carter Stanley’s death December 1, 1966, Shuffler stayed on with Ralph for a few months to help him to re-establish the Clinch Mountain Boys.

Since the mid-1990s George Shuffler has enjoyed a successful solo career with several albums all showcasing his excellent guitar playing. One of these, The Legacy Continues (Copper Creek CCCD 0182), was with his eminent protégé James Alan Shelton. Another, Mountain Treasure (Copper Creek CCCD 0217), was with his occasional musical partner, Asheville-based Laura Boosinger.

In 1996 Shuffler was awarded the IBMA’s Distinguished Achievement Award.

He was a 2007 recipient of the North Carolina Heritage Award and in 2011 he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

Last September (2013) Shuffler was inducted into Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

Thankfully, the legendary bluegrass musician lived long enough to enjoy listening to the recent tribute recording, The Boy from Valdese, by Buddy Melton (lead vocals) and Milan Miller (guitar, baritone vocals), Terry Baucom (banjo), Adam Steffey (mandolin), Ron Shuffler (bass) and Carl Jackson (tenor vocals).

George Shuffler passed away on Monday afternoon, April 7, 2014.

Posted by: Larry Royce | April 21, 2014

Jim VanCleve exits Mountain Heart

I just read this today on Bluegrass Today.

It’s the end of an era. Fiddler Jim VanCleve has announced his departure from Mountain Heart, a group he helped found some years ago.

At its onset, Jim, Barry Abernathy, and Steve Gulley started the band when they left Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver in 1998. Also founding members were Adam Steffy and Johnny Dowdle. They started as a contemporary bluegrass band, but began to drift towards more progressive bluegrass and alt-country sounds, especially after Gulley left and Josh Shilling took on the lead vocal spot with his blues-inflected voice and piano.

Currently, the band is Abernathy on banjo, Aaron Ramsey on mandolin, Jason Moore on bass, and Shilling on guitar and keyboards.

Here is the statement VanCleve released this morning.

Today, after nearly 16 years of touring and recording, I am publicly announcing my decision to leave Mountain Heart. We have discussed this together, and I leave on what I think must be considered the absolute best of terms. These fine gentlemen are much more than co-workers, they are family. While it’s been a very difficult decision to reach, I feel that the timing is right and that God has been tugging me to explore a number of different opportunities that have presented themselves over the last few months, as well as be open to new ones I’m not yet aware of.

As some may already know, I’ve been very blessed to become deeply engaged in the Nashville studio scene: from producing full projects in a variety of genres, to A & R, session work, mixing/mastering/editing, and a myriad of other tasks. Between all this, and my intent to freelance with a number of various artists, teaching online and at various camps, my goal is to be as busy as ever, which is just the way I like it. So, I am looking forward to collaborating with many new faces in a variety of situations moving forward!

My time with the Mountain Heart boys has been an amazing adventure. It’s no small thing to be able to create and perform your own music with literally some of the very best musicians in the world, who – as many of you know – are also some of the finest people you’ll meet as well. From the very first iteration of the band, almost 16 years ago, to today’s band, the hallmark we created with Mountain Heart has been a positively-charged, energetic, and highly personal approach to American Music. We poured ourselves into what we created. We took a lot of chances, broke a few rules, even took some lumps. But, ultimately we excelled and succeeded in many things we weren’t sure could be done. Mountain Heart has afforded me the opportunity to grow as a musician, as a producer, as a writer, as an arranger, and most importantly, as a teammate and person. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished, and I am heartily wishing these boys the VERY best as they move forward, and continue to set new musical standards for us all.

I feel that I am leaving Mountain Heart as strong as ever, and that they are on the precipice of entering yet another great season. At present we have agreed that, though I will begin appearing with a variety of musical ensembles immediately, I will also be playing the remainder of the calendar dates Mountain Heart has scheduled for 2014 as well. It is my hope to be able to visit with many of our long time friends and fans during this time – and I’ll admit – to “throw down” with with these particular guys a few more times!

I look forward to seeing everyone, either with Mountain Heart over the next few months, or wherever our paths may cross from here forward!

Please visit me at to stay up to date on whatever is next!!

Posted by: Larry Royce | April 20, 2014


Hi Folks:


Thanks for listening.


The Hammer Atkinson Family
Friday Atkinson Family
In The Garden Clifton & Gaudreau
Old Rugged Cross Blue Highway

He Took Your Place Bluegrass Band
The Carpenter Shop Bluegrass Cardinals
Via Dolorosa Honi Deaton
Born Again Born Again


Six Hours On The Cross Bluegrass Patriots
Nails & Thorns Cedarhill
Two Men A Walkin’ Country Gentlemen
Every Scar D & B Aldridge

The King As A Babe Cherryholmes
This Is My Son Cherryholmes
The Hand Song Nickel Creek
In The Garden David Johnson

The Carpenter Nu-Blu
Rock Of Ages Osborne Brothers

From The Manger To The Cross Patrick McAvinue
Who Rolled The Stone Away Weary Hearts

Hammer New – Blu
Broken Stone Paul Adkins

Drivin’ Nails Rarely Herd
Whispering Hope Reno & Smiley

His Name Is Jesus Fox & Tolbert
Search Inside An Empty Tomb Rarely Herd

30 Pieces Of Silver Re Smiley
Barabbas Greenbrier

My Name Is Judas Claire Lynch
Were You There Seldom Scene

Man In The Middle Skyline
It Was His Love Dale Ann Bradley

Posted by: Larry Royce | April 13, 2014


Hi Folks:
I retuned from a 10 day trip to Israel last night.
I’m unable to describe the emotions that I’m feeling from having visited this part of the world. To see where Jesus and the OT prophets taught and lived was incredible.
Enjoy and thanks for listening.

Crossing Of Jordan Bluegrass Cardinals
Praise The Lord Dan Tyminski
Say Hello To heaven Doyle Lawson
Big Hands Jim & Jesse

Worry For Tomorrow Driven
Gonna Get There Soon Adcocks
Father, Son & Holy Ghost Ernie Thacker
Somebody Touched Me Larry Sparks


The Old Fashioned Preacher Bluegrass Cardinals
Way Down Deep In My Soul Bluegrass Cardinals
One More Time I Must Rise Gibson Brothers
A Gospel Light Traditional Grass
Cover Me Donna Ulisse

Jerusalem Tomorrow James King
Heaven Dave Evans
March Around The Throne Bluegrass Cardinals
Circuit Rider Nothing Fancy

Giving My Soul Back To Him III’rd Tyme Out
Beyond The Sunset III’rd Tyme Out/Doyle
Angels Rock Me To Sleep Bluegrass Cardinals
Oak Grove Church Dry Branch
By The Side Of The Road Country Gentlemen

Daddy Talks To Jesus Marty Raybon
Jesus Made The Wine Rowan/NBB
He’s Holding On To Me Ron Block
The Touch Balsam Range

The Touch Of God’s Hand Bluegrass Cardinals
Seven Sundays In A Row Blue Highway
He Loves To Hear You Shout Daughters
The King As A Babe Comes Down Cherryholmes

Bring Your Vessels Isaacs
It’s Me Again Lord J.D. Crowe
Sweet Hour Of Prayer Bluegrass Cardinals
I Hear A Sweet Voice A Calling Bill Monroe

Posted by: Larry Royce | April 13, 2014

SANCTUARY 4/6/2014

Hi Folks:

This week’s show features a variety of bluegrass gospel music.
Enjoy and thanks for listening.

The Man In Need Volume Five
What Have You Done For Him Williams & Clark Exp
Shall We Gather At The River Stony Point Quartet
I Can’t Sit Down Steep Canyon Rangers
God Loves His Children Bluegrass Band

Big Wheel Skaggs & Whites
His Promised Land Rhonda Vincent
Summer’s Gone Fox & Tolbert
You’d Better Get Right Seldom Scene

Heaven’s Bright Shore Allison Krauss
Resting Place American Drive
A Grandmother’s Love Audie Blaylock
Peace In The Valley Nothin’ Fancy

Take A Moment And Live Barry Scott
Sail On Toward Home Doyle Lawson

I Can Hear Them Singing III’rd Tyme Out
Rocked ON The Deep III’rd Tyme Out

Posted by: Larry Royce | March 30, 2014


Hi Folks:

I will be traveling to Israel for the next two weeks and will not be able to post a show next week.

Enjoy and thanks for listening,






My Foot Is On The Rock Randy Waller
Along The Way Country Gentlemen
At The Final Destination Continental Divide
I John Saw Paul Adkins

Run On Pine Mt Railroad
Know That You Know Cockman Family
Children Of Abraham Claire Lynch
Wicked Path Of Sin Old & In The Way
Light On The Mt Melvin Goins

Long Black Train Bobby Osborne
I’m Going Up Blueridge
Six Hours On The Cross Bluegrass Patriots
The Seventh Angel Blue Highway

Is That You Bluegrass Gospel Project
When I Take My Vacation In Heaven Blue Sky Boys

Lifting Up The Cross Grasstowne
Old Fashioned Preacher Moore & Napier

Cryin’ Holy Bill Monroe
Wondrous Love Bill Evans
Hide You In The Blood Dry Branch
One Hundred White Horses Churchmen

Worry For Tomorrow Driven
I Saw Him Walk Out Of The Sky Doyle Lawson
Who Will Sing For Me Donna Ulisse
Far Better Than This Paul Adkins

We’ll Work Til Jesus Comes Doc Watson
I’ll Put On A Crown Del McCoury Band
Back To The Cross Flatt & Scruggs
Joshua Larry Stephenson
Little Community Church Boys From Indiana

Close My Eyes To Heaven Larry Stephenson
A King For Me Larry Sparks
The Master’s Call Mickey Harris
The Black Sheep Osborne Brothers
No Vacancy Bob Paisley

Posted by: Larry Royce | March 22, 2014

Sanctuary 3/23/14

Hi Folks,

Maybe Spring is here? At least the date on the calendar says it came this week.

I want to thank Hugh and Rhonda from Indiana for donating a new computer for recording Sanctuary. Thia week’s post is still on the old PC that is limping to the finish line, held together with duct tape and rubber bands.

Enjoy the music and thanks for listening.


It’s Never Too Late Rhonda Vincent
Let The Light Shine Down Country Gentlemen
If I Stand Rescue Junction
A Song & A Prayer III’rd Tyme Out

Somebody Touched Me Rodney Dillard
Searching Ron Block
When The Angels Come For Me Spinney Brothers
The Lifeguard Marshall Family
Paul & Silas Stanley Brothers

The Messenger Bell Traditional Grass
Heaven Is Waiting Now Valerie Smith
Key To The Kingdom The Whites
Get In The Boat Daughters of Bluegrass

That Same Spirit VA Cross Ties
God Can Doyle Lawson

He Put A Breeze In Me Don Rigsby
Baptism Of Jesse Taylor Lost & Found
I’ll Look To Him Forbes FAmilr

Eternal Vacation Dailey & Vincent
More Than A Name On A Wall Damascus Ridge
Jesus Walk Beside Me D & B Aldridge
Black Sheep Brad Davis

Keep Me In Your Prayers Daughters of Bluegrass
Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand Davis Grisman
Moses Set My People Free Joe Mullins
Heaven Seldom Scene

I Brought You To Jesus Isaacs
Sea Of Galilee Jeff Tolbert
Angels Are Singing In Heaven Tonight James King
I’ll Be No Stranger There Red Smiley

What A Time In Heaven Mt Heart
I’m Rolling Through This Unfriendly World Nashville Bluegrass Band
God’s Heavenly Shore Nothin’ Fancy
The Black Sheep Osborne Brothers
No Vacancy Bob Paisley

Posted by: Larry Royce | March 16, 2014


Hi Folks:

This week’s show feature a variety of bluegrass gospel music including Del McCoury. J.D. Crowe, Bill Monroe and many more.

Enjoy and thanks for listening.


Led By The Master’s Hand Del McCoury
Mansions For Me Bill Monroe
Waiting On A Mt Bass Mt Boys
A Good Day Lord Valerie Smith

In That Land Barry Scott
Anchor In The Storm Audie Blaylock
Angels Rejoiced Last Night Appalachian Express
Heavenly Light Goins Brothers

Buildings Ain’t Churches Daughters
Old Country Church Darren Beachley
If You Don’t Believe The Bible Darrell Webb
The Carpenter Nu-Blu

Praise The Lord Dan Tyminski
I’m Gonna Build On That Shore Honi Deaton

Hear Jerusalem Moan Hot Rize
Diamonds In The Rough Hylo Brown
Angel Band R Stanley

Light At The River III’rd Tyme Out
Oh Heaven J.D. Crowe
Happy I’ll Be James King
Power Of Prayer Jay Armsworthy
Gone Away Doyle Lawson

God Did It J Salley & S Isaacs
Grandpa Was An Old Time Preacher Gabeharts
Great Master Plan Joe Isaacs
Jesus Help Me To Stand A Krauss

Walking In Good Company Jr Sisk
Remember The Cross R Skaggs
Uncle Bob Got Religion Larry Cordle
Changed In A Moment Cherryholmes

Saved By The Blood Larry McPeak
Dust On The Bible Larry Rice
My Lord Keeps Me Satisfied LRB
Into The Master’s Glory Circuit Riders

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