Archive for Toronto Music Calendar

Patricia O’Callaghan  

Saturday, December 4th, 2019 | 8:00pm

Patricia O’Callaghan  
$35 Advance / $40 Door *

Patricia O’Callaghan is something of a wandering minstrel. Her fifteen-year career has taken her across genres, continents, and a range of disciplines and passions.

Her recording career spans six solo CDs and many interesting guest collaborations. A speaker of French, Spanish, and German, her early recordings focused on European cabaret, and she is considered a specialist in the music of Kurt Weill. Patricia has performed his Threepenny Opera, Seven Deadly Sins, and Kleine Mahagonny with Soulpepper Theatre Company, Edmonton Opera, and Vancouver Opera, to name a few.

This Toronto soprano can sing a 100-year-old German tune so lustily that you almost don’t need a translation to know that someone’s about to get his throat cut or get laid or both. The National Post

One of Patricia’s most unique talents is the ability to blend a variety of languages and musical genres seamlessly together in her concerts, and completely embody whatever style she is singing at any given moment.

O’Callaghan sings her diverse material as if it was always meant to go side-by-side and by the end of the evening, it’s easy to believe her. Chart Attack Magazine

She has sung with some of the world’s great ensembles and artists (Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Don Byron Quartet, Bryn Terfel), and has performed in venues that range from London’s Royal Opera House to New York’s Noho cabaret Le Poisson Rouge.

Patricia also writes and co-writes songs and has had the honor of premiering many new compositions, from both the classical and pop worlds. It has been her great privilege to work with such creators as R. Murray Schafer, David Braid, Dennis Lee, Christos Hatzis, George Aperghis, Steve Reich, and Steven Page, to name a few.

Patricia’s film, theatre and television credits include her own Bravo! special, The CBC produced Ken Finkleman series Foolish Heart, and the semi autobiographical Rhombus / Westwind film Youkali Hotel, which has won several prizes, including a Golden Sheaf Award to Patricia for best female performance. Ms. O’Callaghan has also received other awards, such as a Chalmer’s Grant from the Ontario Arts Council and a Fleck Fellowship from The Banff Centre for the Arts.

She recently completed a six year stint as a Resident Artist at Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company. Her responsibilities there included conducting, teaching, mentoring young artists, producing, curating and performing in festivals, and developing new work.

Recent projects are Broken Hearts and Madmen; a collaboration with The Gryphon Trio, which blends classical music with traditional songs from Latin America and pop songs from around the world…

“Broken Hearts and Madmen is an exquisite piece of work. The result is absolutely breathtaking in its attention to detail, with every note carved from their love of the songs…” – Vivascene and Matador: The Songs of Leonard Cohen

A truly exceptional blend of natural expressiveness and masterful coloration, her tender versions of Cohen’s “Take this Waltz” and “Hallelujah” are revelatory. – Billboard Magazine

She’s one of the best singers ever to come out of Canada. – Vivascene


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Al Lerman and Northern Bayou

Thursday, November 21, 2019 | 8:30pm

Al Lerman and Northern Bayou
$20 Advance / $25 Door *

Celebrated multi-instrumentalist bluesman Al Lerman is considered among the top harmonica players in the country, and he has been heard on countless recordings and live sessions. His prowess on the harmonica has earned him ten Maple Blues Award nominations, while his engaging and dry wit has earned him a loyal following, building a solid career touring as an acoustic solo act.  Al was the founder and leader of the much-loved band FATHEAD, and worked with them from 1992 to 2016, garnering two Juno Awards along the way. In 2016, his standout “Slow Burn” disc made the esteemed world-wide list of Top 100 Blues Albums Of The Year. That same year he also garnered a Maple Blues Award nomination for “Acoustic Act Of The Year”. In 2017 he received a Recognition Award for “Leadership In Arts & Culture” from the County of Peterborough.  His newest album “Northern Bayou” was released on April 12, 2019.

The blues bug bit at a young age when Al was taken to hear the famed duo of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee at Toronto’s Riverboat coffeehouse. His interest in the music immediately skyrocketed, and over the years he saw the duo no less than forty times. He discovered many blues greats that were regularly touring through the city. Moving into his twenties while playing in local Toronto blues bands, Al sought out many of his musical heroes, seeking both advice and inspiration. He considers himself fortunate to have sat in with blues giants such as Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, Sunnyland Slim and many more. A long friendship ensued with Chicago harmonica player Carey Bell who mentored him on the instrument. Hearing him now, there’s no doubt he has learned his lessons well.

Al offers up a tasty acoustic/electric mix of finely crafted blues songs on his third studio album, Northern Bayou. Produced by Alec Fraser and engineered by Grammy Award winner Peter J. Moore, this mostly “live-off-the-floor” recording captures the bluesified spirit created when a bunch of seasoned pros, who also happen to be very good friends, get together to play. It’s a sure-fire winner.


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The Redeemers

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 | 7:30pm

The Redeemers
$25 Advance / $30 Door *

Toronto doo wop institution The Redeemers are bringing their engaging performance to Hugh’s Room for the first time. From the golden days of vocal harmony, the Redeemers celebrate the sounds pioneered by classic groups like The Platters, The Drifters, and The Flamingos. With smooth choreography, superb vocal harmonies and an amazing live band, this high-energy group revives the joy of classic doo wop close harmony singing.

Featuring Andrew Ivens (guitar) and Justin Han (drums).
instagram: @theredeemersto

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Linda McRae, Barry James Payne (String Bone) and Deni Gauthier

Monday, November 18, 2019 | 8:30pm

Linda McRae, Barry James Payne (String Bone), Deni Gauthier
$25 Advance / $30 Door *

Linda McRae
BC‘s Hall of Fame Pioneer Artist Linda McRae is a storyteller with a touring career spanning three decades. Her unforgettable melodies and thought-provoking lyrics, imbued with compassion, love and wonder, carve their way into the heart. Her musicianship on banjo, guitar and accordion distinguish her as one of the true, soulful pioneers of honest roots music. She is also an experienced and empathetic teacher presenting her Express Yourself Writing Workshops in partnership with festivals, youth and adult correctional facilities and recovery facilities.

John Apice, No Depression: There is a Linda McRae sound. This Linda McRae sounds like it’s a bottle of wine that has been hidden in a cool damp cellar for 75 years and only recently was uncorked.

Mike Sadava, Penguin Eggs Magazine: She keeps cranking out great songs, and she’s never sounded better. Great grooves and some killer playing. In three words, this album kicks.

Barry James Payne (String Bone)
Americana to the bone, Canadiana in the heart & soul

File under playlist with: Lucinda Williams, Jay Farrar/Son Volt, Wilco, Calexico, Rodney Crowell, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello.

Heart and home are often elusive for those whose spirits are drawn to the open road.

Sit back, buckle up and ride along with String Bone down winding highways, around sharp turns, on great escapes and daring rescues with searching songs in pursuit of home for an unbound heart.

An unbreakable bone nut creates the essential contact point between a guitar’s strings and the wooden body; String Bone draws the chaotic vibrations of the restless heart closer to its desire for gravity with songs of adventure bearing the weight left behind.

Southern Ontario songwriter Barry James Payne is the architect of String Bone, and brings listeners to a collection of artfully designed songs and stories with “Love & Highways”, his latest full-length recording.

String Bone brings Payne’s true life narratives close to the ear with tender arrangements supporting his gruff sincerity, well worn by the rumble of the road.

In concert, String Bone intertwines with bass, guitar, pedal steel and fiddle accompaniment in a variety of duo and trio combinations, or offers a richly bare solo performance exposing the songs at their core essentials.

Barry James Payne also performs and records with several other musical projects including Celtic powerhouse ‘Rant Maggie Rant’ and alongside Canadian blues veteran Rick Taylor (Willie P. Bennett, Stan Rogers, Colleen Peterson) among others.

Payne’s dedication to music sparked his 10 year long concert series ‘String Bone Presents!’, which sadly ended in 2018, bringing the best of Canadian folk-roots to the stage at Stratford’s Foster’s Inn and Revival House with 12 concerts in each season, concurrent with his “Annual Winter Kitchen Party” series and “Late Night Cafe” series at other Stratford venues.

Many of Payne’s songs on ‘Love & Highways’ as well as his debut ‘nadir’ drive through darkness, betrayal and remorse towards love, light, escape and freedom on the road ahead with String Bone at the wheel.

Payne shares struggles with relationships, and wrestles in the aftermath of lost wishes and broken dreams with an eye towards the next adventure.

Unraveling ten melodic originals and two well-chosen covers from Neil Young and Radiohead, ‘Love & Highways’ features a full complement of players including pedal steel by Steve Wood, electric guitar by the album’s producer Shannon Lyon, cello by Ben Bolt-Martin and violins by Payne’s ‘Rant Maggie Rant’ band-mate Lindsay Schindler.

In the passenger seat on “Love & Highways” is a stellar collection of guest vocalists including Sarah Jane Scouten, Mae Moore and longtime String Bone collaborator Ginger St. James, who also co-wrote ‘Where Do You Go’.  Violinist Lindsay Schindler also contributes to trio harmonies on a soaring cover of Neil Young’s “Birds” with Trent Severn collaborators Dayna Manning and Emm Gryner. Roman Tome (New Country Rehab) contributes background vocals to “Somber Eyes”, as well as percussion on five of the album’s tracks.

“Love & Highways” was recorded by Shannon Lyon at Lyon’s Lake Studio in Point Clark and Bayfield, Ontario at sessions through 2015 and 2016, with additional sessions at Stratford’s Knox Presbyterian Church by John Hazen (Loreena McKennitt, Rita Chiarelli, Harry Belafonte).

Resurrected following a lengthy creative blackout for Payne, this music project called String Bone sprung to life in 2006 as an outlet for his reflections on a wealth of life experiences as the foundation for his songwriting.  Payne spent his early days hitch-hiking across the vast Canadian landscape to the west coast where he worked odd jobs to survive, eventually involving himself in Vancouver’s burgeoning indie scene and finally working behind the scenes at Cargo Records in the height of the 90’s alternative and Seattle punk-grunge explosion.  Eventually, the road brought him back to Southern Ontario and when Cargo bit the dust, not deterred, he found work in corporate life for 6 or 7 years, which almost killed his spirit. Leaving that dog-eat-dog environment he focused more on his writing and wrote 50 songs in 2006 and greased the wheels of his burgeoning music career.

Since then, Payne has toured extensively in Canada, the US and Europe. His song “Midnight Train” found regular rotation on Australia’s national country radio station ABC Country.  String Bone was also included in the “Linda’s Playlist” exhibit at the Stratford Perth Museum in 2014 celebrating the region’s music-makers along with Richard Manuel (The Band), John Till (Janis Joplin’s Fill Tilt Boogie Band), Loreena McKennitt, Emm Gryner & Dayna Manning among others.

He has shared the stage with Juno nominees and winners and some among them include Bill Bourne, Danny Michel, Emm Gryner, Luke Doucet, Loreena McKennitt, Linda McRae, Jenny Whitely and has collaborated with the likes of Ginger St. James, Shannon Lyon, Bob Egan (Blue Rodeo, Wilco), and many more.

“…nadir is truly a masterpiece” ~ Music Star (Germany)

Deni Gauthier
“Settle in for the ride – it’s gonna get moody.”

With that playful warning, singer/songwriter Deni Gauthier introduces his ambitious new collection of songs and stories, Passenger.

A true artist, Denis has been creating music as a profession for quite some time. Never heard of him? That’s OK, maybe this will be your little secret now, or maybe you’ll want to tell a few people about this unique, good feeling, rootsy music from the heart of an extraordinary songwriter.

Self-produced in Gauthier’s St. Thomas, Ontario Studio, Passenger is a concept album that weaves Deni’s musings on life, love, and relationships together with stories about characters dealing with change, both positive and negative.

“You live and die a passenger,” Deni explains. “But you can live such a cool and meaningful life. That’s what this record is about.”

Deni is known for his lush but understated songwriting and singing style. He makes effective use of his looping station, as well as ambient guitar noises that add texture to his often haunting melodies. Like his other CDs, Passenger is an ode to beauty and restraint, with insightful lyrics drawn from real experience.

“I wrote these songs with an old campfire guitar, walking up and down the street watching my kids last summer,” he says. “Lyrically, they’re definitely the strongest songs I’ve written.”

Deni’s previous full-length CDs include Quiet Town (2014), i (am) hope (2012), and Man About Town (2011). His songs have been played frequently on CBC Radio 1, and singles including Into the West and All I Really Want have reached top-10 status on radio stations across Canada. He has been nominated for several awards, including the prestigious 2016 Jack Richardson Music Award in the Contemporary Singer/Songwriter category. He plays close to 200 shows per year, and has shared the stage with artists including Jason Collett, The 77s, Craig Cardiff, Kerosene Halo, and many others.

* Advertised pricing excludes taxes and ticketing fees

Dave Woods Presents: Storytellers

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 | 8:00pm

Dave Woods Presents: Storytellers
$20 Advance / $25 Door *

Podcast & live music event host Dave Woods brings together 8 popular country acts to perform in two songwriting rounds to perform & share the stories behind their songs. Dave will start off each round on stage with the acts to have a conversation about their careers and songwriting approaches. This is a great evening for fans, fellow artists and the industry to gather, connect and enjoy a night of intimate acoustic performances. Performers will include:

Genevieve Fisher |
Don Amero |
Kelly Prescott |
Leah Daniels |
Kansas Stone |
Jamie Warren |
Stacey Lee Guse |
Josh David |

*Advertised pricing excludes taxes and ticketing fees.

The Songs of Nick Drake

Saturday, November 9, 2019 | 8:30pm

The Songs of Nick Drake
$40 Advance / $45 Door *

The Songs of Nick Drake has been Luke Jackson’s labour of love project for the last fifteen years. Luke was friends with Nick’s string arranger Robert Kirby, working together on one of Luke’s albums before Kirby’s untimely death in 2009. Luke performed at Kirby’s memorial concert in London and has been one of a handful of people to be entrusted with his legendary string arrangements for the songs from Nick’s albums Five Leaves Left and Bryter Layter.

The show toured Ontario and Quebec in 2012, garnering ecstatic reviews everywhere it went, and it has played over the years in Toronto at Trinity St. Paul’s, The Bathurst Street Theatre and The Church Of The Holy Trinity. After the show sold out at Hugh’s Room Live last fall it has been fortunately expanded to two nights.

Featured performers include Patricia O’Callaghan, David Celia, Elizabeth Shepherd, Marla, Mitch Girio, Lisa Boudreau (Lost and Profound) and more to be confirmed. The rhythm section is the superlative pairing of drummer Mark Mariash and bassist Maury Lafoy. The string quartet includes well known Toronto players Sahra Featherstone, Wendy Solomon, Johann Lotter and Alex Cheung.


* Advertised pricing excludes taxes and ticketing fees

The Songs of Nick Drake

Friday, November 8, 2019 | 8:30pm

The Songs of Nick Drake
$40 Advance / $45 Door *

The Songs of Nick Drake has been Luke Jackson’s labour of love project for the last fifteen years. Luke was friends with Nick’s string arranger Robert Kirby, working together on one of Luke’s albums before Kirby’s untimely death in 2009. Luke performed at Kirby’s memorial concert in London and has been one of a handful of people to be entrusted with his legendary string arrangements for the songs from Nick’s albums Five Leaves Left and Bryter Layter.

The show toured Ontario and Quebec in 2012, garnering ecstatic reviews everywhere it went, and it has played over the years in Toronto at Trinity St. Paul’s, The Bathurst Street Theatre and The Church Of The Holy Trinity. After the show sold out at Hugh’s Room Live last fall it has been fortunately expanded to two nights.

Featured performers include Patricia O’Callaghan, David Celia, Elizabeth Shepherd, Marla, Mitch Girio, Lisa Boudreau (Lost and Profound) and more to be confirmed. The rhythm section is the superlative pairing of drummer Mark Mariash and bassist Maury Lafoy. The string quartet includes well known Toronto players Sahra Featherstone, Wendy Solomon, Johann Lotter and Alex Cheung.



* Advertised pricing excludes taxes and ticketing fees

Diane Roblin CD Launch

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 | 8:00pm

Diane Roblin “Life Force” CD Launch
$20 Advance / $25 Door

All ticket holders receive a FREE copy of the new CD, Life Force, upon entry.

Performer, pianist, composer and band leader Diane Roblin takes the stage to celebrate her latest CD “LIFE FORCE.” She will be surrounded by some of Toronto’s most celebrated players: bassist and producer George Koller, EVI artist Bruce Cassidy, trumpeter/flugelhorn player Kevin Turcotte, Jeff LaRochelle on tenor/bass clarinet, and Ben Riley on drums. This is the electrifying band that also joined her in the studio for the album. Throughout the years Diane has lead and played with many diverse groups from Rough Trade, to renowned avant-garde improviser Charles Gayle. Influenced by McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, and her time at Ornette Coleman-Karl Berger workshops, Dutch Improv Academy and her exploration of world music, Diane’s original compositions are groove oriented and encourage enthusiastic improvising across the ensemble, creating as much fun as possible for both the musicians and the audience. Toronto DJ, Jaymze Bee’s honoured Diane’s debut CD “Reconnect” on his top 3 list . It was top of the charts domestically and internationally in Asia and Europe. She has performed throughout Europe, Mexico and USA …from Ronnie Scott’s, London to Antibes-Juan les Pins, France. This CD release party is guaranteed to be a night of original exciting music, great improvisers, reflective duos and a room full of joy.  Diane Roblin plays high energy music from the heart.

“She is a facile and deeply emotional keyboardist who establishes her musical territory with muscular performance and technical skill.” Leslie Mitchell-Clarke, The Whole Note

“Roblin’s piano work dazzles.” – 

Diane Roblin : Composer, Piano
George Koller: Producer, Bass
Bruce Cassidy: EVI
Jeff LaRochelle: Tenor Sax, Bass Clarinet
Kevin Turcotte: Trumpet, Flugelhorn
TBA: drums


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Johnny A

Saturday, November 2, 2019 | 8:30pm

Johnny A
$25 Advance / $30 Door *

Lots of folks throw around the phrase “let the music do the talking,” but only a few have the fortitude to really do it – to just go out there and play, shunning flash, shrugging off image and reeling in the listener on the strength of the songs alone.

Johnny A. is that kind of performer. For the better part of three decades, the Massachusetts-based guitarist and bandleader has proven himself capable of generating heat at venues from working-class bars to international amphitheaters – and every sort of venue in between. And when the house lights are turned up, he’s just as adept at captivating serious students of the six-string with a virtuosity that earned him the rare honor of having his name placed on a signature Gibson® guitar.

“I want to create instrumental music and deliver it like a vocalist,” he says “You can be a great player, on any instrument, and people will take notice for a while…but what people really remember is someone who brings them a great melody.”

On Driven, his fourth outing as a solo performer – which is due for release this June — Johnny serves up plenty of that, in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins and Ben and Jerry’s combined. From the Motown-inflected party-starter “C’Mon, C’mon” to the introspective “A Mask You Wear” (a song that’s flecked with subtle slide playing redolent of George Harrison’s vintage work), he paints vivid landscapes, scenes that create an emotional connection without words.

Nowhere is that more evident than on the album’s sole cover, a languid take on the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody,” which fuses the original’s mournful poignancy with a gentle jazziness – not to mention an underlying swing that’s all the more impressive when you consider that it, like the rest of Driven, is the product of a one-man band.

While Johnny has been a bandleader for most of his career, he opted to work alone on this outing. That meant playing all the album’s instruments himself, but it also meant producing and engineering the songs – which he recorded in a studio that he invested plenty of blood, sweat and tears in building.

“It was different, but it wasn’t all that difficult,” he says of going the solo route on this outing. “I started out as a drummer, so I knew what I was doing there, and I just built the songs on my own. I just visualized myself as the band – I could see myself playing everything, and doing it all at once.”

That take-no-prisoners attitude has been ingrained in Johnny A. since he first set foot on a stage, whether as leader of locally-acclaimed Boston acts like Hearts on Fire or in the company of acclaimed artists like J. Geils frontman Peter Wolf – whose band he anchored for more than seven years. It fully came to the fore in 1999, when he independently issued his first solo album, Sometime Tuesday Morning – a disc that eventually went on to sell 100,000 copies and spawn “Oh Yeah,” a single that topped the AAA charts (a feat no instrumental song had accomplished in more than a decade).

“When I was in my early bands, I sang, but when I was with [Peter Wolf], I came down with a really bad bronchial infection and never recovered my voice completely,” he says. “I made a conscious decision at that point to focus on instrumental music. I re-evaluated how I played, redefined my approach completely.”

That new approach won plenty of accolades from outlets like the Boston Phoenix, which dubbed him “a singular presence on the Boston rock and pop scene, winding jazz, blues, popular tunes, rock, and flourishes of psychedelic improvisation into a tight, passionate ball.” The success of Sometime Tuesday Morning led to a second release, Get Inside, which brought forth a radio hit in the form of the title track – and drew the folks at Gibson®, who approached Johnny to collaborate on a custom guitar, the second best selling signature model in the company’s illustrious line of instruments.

Ever the restless spirit, Johnny A. continues to glide across genres effortlessly, exploring elements of jazz, soul and even a bit of Chet Atkins-styled country on his instructional DVD Taste, Tone, Space, which was released in 2006.

That stylistic fluidity got front and center placement on Johnny’s 2010 release, the live CD-DVD package One November Night, which captures just such a riveting evening for posterity and proves that , in the words of Premiere Guitar Magazine, “ Johnny A.’s magic crosses over because, like [Bill] Frisell, he doesn’t just play guitar – he plays music.” That year he earned a Blues Artist of the Year award at 2010’s Boston Music Awards.

The journeying continues on the appropriately-titled Driven, a veritable sonic travelogue that takes the listener from the mists of the hypnotic opener “Ghost” through the rough-hewn terrain of “The Arizona Man,” before fading out in the mysteriously lovely sepia tones of “Gone (Like a Sunset).”

“My goal was to make a really lyrical album that would stay with people, not an album that would make people think ‘wow, that guy’s a great guitarist,’” he says. “I’m not interested in blowing someone’s head off with my playing, or showing how I can shred. With my favorite guitarists, I always tried to put my finger on how I could pick them out of a crowd. You can have all the chops in the world and be voiceless – I always want to have a voice.”


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The Al Purdy Songbook

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 | 8:30pm

The Al Purdy Songbook
$25 Advance / $30 Door *

A celebration of our most famous poet, featuring a rare screening of the 2015 feature documentary Al Purdy Was Here, as well as live performances from two (2) of the artists featured in the film: Doug Paisley and Snowblink.

Doug Paisley
Doug Paisley is a Canadian alternative country singer and songwriter with record label No Quarter Records. He was born in Toronto. Paisley’s “What About Us?” was featured in Mojo magazine as part of a complimentary CD entitled New Harvest. Paisley has previously toured with Bonnie Prince Billy under the name Dark Hand and Lamplight with artist Shary Boyle. Boyle would illuminate her art in the background while Paisley played the guitar and sang his songs. The pairing received recognition when they were selected to showcase at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2008. Doug performed for ten years alongside Chuck Erlichman as a duo entitled Russian Literature and as a tribute act entitled Stanley Brothers.

Paisley’s 2010 release, Constant Companion, received major accolades through reviews in major publications such as The New Yorker and Spin. His 2014 album, Strong Feelings, featured guest appearances by Mary Margaret O’Hara and Garth Hudson. It again received rave reviews from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork.

His latest album, Starter Home, will be available on November 3 for the world to hear. It was also in this year that he contributed the sing “Transient” to album we are here to celebrate this evening, The Al Purdy Songbook.


Snowblink is an indie pop band based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Snowblink is now a duo of singer/songwriter Daniela Gesundheit and multi-instrumentalist Dan Goldman. The band has opened for Feist, Jeff Tweedy, Owen Pallett, Timber Timbre, Ohbijou, Great Lake Swimmers and The Hidden Cameras.


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