Clubhouse Concert Reviews
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Django Walker
with Matt Powell, Brady Black & Keith Davis
Chris Miller opened
Feb. 8th, 2004

Wow! Grab a cold drink and get comfortable. This show was simply too awesome to put into a couple of short paragraphs!
As everybody ate dinner and got comfortable, singer-songwriter Chris Miller opened with a very entertaining set of original music performed with the accompaniment of his bass player, David Palmer,  on acoustic bass. Very good stuff! His songwriting, vocals and guitar playing were all quite captivating. I hope to see him again soon.
Django & Matt Powell took the stage for a two hour and fifteen minute song swap that was just great. Guitar artist Keith Davis (formerly of Kevin Fowler Band) accompanied Django and treated us with a rare but exciting look at his acoustic picking skills. It's a whole new dimension that those that only know him through his work with Fowler have never seen. Also accompanying both guys was fiddle player Brady Black ( formerly of Dub Miller's band, currently with Randy Rogers). Brady impressed us with his extemporaneous versatility, adding fiddle accents that greatly complimented the artist's music, most of which he had never even heard before! Experiencing artists of this caliber musically interacting with each other so "off the cuff" is truly one of the most enjoyable things about these acoustic song swap shows.
Unfortunately, this was my first experience with Matt Powell, so I am not familiar enough with his music to list what he played. He did give a couple of nods to Guy Clark, playing great versions of Clark hits. And in a really surprising move, Matt played Patty Griffin's "Let Him Fly". It was amazing how natural it sounded coming from a male performer. Matt has a real talent for taking another artist's song and making it his own. I just can't overemphasize how talented Matt Powell is.
Django performed 13 songs in all:
Another Day
                                                  Lighter Shades of Blue (about a year old, and heard at most shows, but not on a CD...yet)
                 Texas Blacktop Highway
                                                Texas On My Mind (Brady totally nailed the fiddle on this song!)
                                                 Life's Great Mystery (Newer song, co-written with Scott Pollard {Jose and Jack})
                                              Lost Songwriter (very rarely performed live)
                                                  Unwind ( another recently written, upbeat song inspired by Scott Pollard)
College Life
                                                  She's Gone (performed a lot live recently, written by Waylon Payne)
                                                  Desperados Waiting For A Train (Guy Clark/The Highwaymen/Jerry Jeff Walker)
                                                  Better Peace of Mind (Oft performed, but not yet recorded. Probably on the next CD)
Modern Day Bojangles
                                          Stoney (old Jerry Jeff Walker classic, very rarely played live)

Great food. Great music. Great atmosphere. And great company, too! Joni, Emily & Cori are not only attentive and gracious hosts, but they are just great people to share an evening with. Making a rare appearance since becoming new parents, Everett and Whitney Harper came out to see and support Django and Clubhouse Concerts for the first time since the summer. It was great to see them again!
Again, I really can't tell ya'll just how awesome these intimate shows are. It's not about the scene or the beer. It is ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC. It is what every concert should be! It doesn't even matter who is playing. Anytime you have an open Sunday night and ten dollars, I strongly encourage you to attend these shows.

~ Rob Davis ~
guest reviewer
go to page 2 of reviews

Clubhouse Concerts 2nd Anniversary Party

by guest reviewer, Rob Davis

It is an unfortunate fact that being on the road at shows every weekend has kept me from attending church regularly for the last four years. But I would not say that it has caused me to lose touch with my spirituality. Spirituality is where you find it, and where you practice it. This week, I found it and practiced it at the Clubhouse Concerts 2nd anniversary concert at The Horseman Club. I laughed. I cried. I sang. I shared friendship, fellowship and love with my fellow man. And I listened to others share their lives, loves and spirituality through the God given gift of song. For me, Sunday evening was very truly a religious experience. It doesn't get any better than this.
As we settled in with heapin' helpin's of Cousin's Barbeque and sausage, three members of the Paige-Foreman Band from Bonham opened the evening with a 30 minute set of original music. Josh McGehee, Marty Page and Matt Foreman all played acoustic guitar and each sang a few tunes. Marty especially shined on his song, "Tonight I Made A Bartender Cry", which relates his personal experience of going to a bar so depressed after his girl leaving that even the hardened bartender becomes depressed. Cool twist on an old theme. Matt gave us the "Trailer Park Song", which revisits the ubiquitous white-trash anthem, but with a bluesy take. These guys are good pickers with lots of great songwriting inspirations coming through and they are a pleasure to visit with. When you get the chance to hear them, you will enjoy it.
The main event of the evening was a twelve artist, acoustic song swap that featured some of the greatest names and talents in the Texas music scene today.
Brandon Rhyder has a mature honesty to his lyrics that quickly draws you into the story of each and every song. I was especially moved by his recently written tribute to his grandfather's life and influence on him. I look forward to seeing this on a CD. Brandon is one hell of a good guitar picker, as well as a great guy to meet too.
I cannot say enough about Wade Bowen. He is, to me, representative of everything great about music. His songwriting runs the gamut from the lighthearted to the deeply spiritual, and everything in between. But his true strength lies in expressing the human condition through gripping ballads that paint a picture so vividly that the listener becomes a part of the song. One thing that photographers will quickly notice is that it is nearly impossible to get a photo of Wade with his eyes open during a song. He isn't ignoring the audience, but he is clearly in a different place when he performs. He becomes the song with every bit of his being. No pretension. No attitude. Just pure artistry from an outstanding artist. It is no wonder that Wade Bowen is quickly becoming a major player in the Texas music scene.
Randy Rogers is also becoming one of those major players in the Texas music scene. He possesses many of the qualities and talents of Wade, but with that extra bit of energy that accentuates his music and ignites audiences. Having heard Randy with his full band the night before, it was especially nice to hear the same songs stripped down to the bare, acoustic essentials, allowing for a deeper look into the lyrics.
Matt Powell is the closest person I know to being the perfect artist. Like Wade, he has a very unique vocal style which immediately grabs your attention. The depth of the music he writes, as well as the soul with which he performs it, is far beyond a man of his young age. As if that were not enough, he is quite literally a master of every instrument he chooses to pick up. This night he brought with him his trusty Southpaw Martin D-32, a lefty Weber Bitterroot mandolin, and a lefty Epiphone MB-200 banjo. With this, he contributed more than just his own songs. He contributed awesome instrumental accompaniments and harmony vocals to the music of several other artists throughout the evening. Although I generally hate to ask a songwriter to play the music of another artist, myself and many others in the audience did not hesitate to request him to perform his version of Patty Griffin's "Let Him Fly", which he performs as "Let Her Fly". I have always loved Patty Griffin. And I have always loved this song. I even thought the Dixie Chicks did a decent job on it. But once you hear Matt Powell perform this song, you will know exactly how it was supposed to sound!
This was my first experience with Ryan Bingham, but I was thouroughly impressed. Ryan offers a fresh lyrical perspective with a traditional country sound and a strong voice that draws you into his songs. A very nice combination indeed.
Roger Ray, lead and steel guitar artist for Jason Boland and the Stragglers is very definitely one of the finest pickers in the state. Lead, electric, acoustic or steel, Roger does it all with perfection that makes it look easy. Since moving to Fort Worth, we are now lucky to see him sit in and compliment the music of other artists locally. I have never heard Roger sing. I don't even know if he can. But his fingers make a guitar sing more in one song than some songwriters can produce in a lifetime. It is always a pleasure to see him at work.
Peter Dawson brought his harmony vocalist, the lovely and talented Amanda Brown, with him to perform some of his favourites. Known for his anthem "Willie Nelson for President", he did not dissapoint. In fact, the crowd reaction to a great performance of this song was one of the definite high points of the evening.
Mike Mancy is quickly becoming a crowd favourite in Dallas-Ft Worth. This light hearted, easy going songwriter is one of the hardest working artists in the Metroplex. Whether you want to cry in your beer, or totally rock out, Mike has music that suits the occasion. Having honed his skills and paid his dues both here and Nashville, he is developing a style all his own that is finding a place in the heart of many fans.
Arlington based Kurt South has a unique and powerful voice that is reminiscent of Matt Powell's. His songwriting abilities are equally impressive. Put together with his own talented guitar picking, Kurt has no problems keeping you spellbound with an acoustic performance. I look forward to finally hearing him with his band someday soon.
Jordan Mycoskie reminds me of an early Adam Carroll. He is young and inspired, looking critically at the world around him and finding humour and wonder in all he sees. Then he puts those observations into song, blends in some guitar and harmonica, and the magic begins. An Arlington neighbor of Kurt South, the two frequently collaborate together and it shows. Kurt lends guitar licks to much of Jordan's music, and on Jordan's signature song, "Gate 32", Kurt's harmony vocals add a dimension which turns the song into a good time sing-along.
The last artist to join in the show was Fort Worth born and raised Stephen Pointer. I have to admit that I had heard nothing about this young man before the show except that he had engineered the sound for many of the Clubhouse Concert shows. But I learned long ago to never underestimate a newcomer, simply because you have not heard of them. Stephen commented on stage that he was awestruck to be sharing the stage with Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers and Matt Powell. Indeed, that is pretty intimidating company for an artist to keep! But Stephen did more that hold his own. He impressed the hell out of all of us, including those three artists! His guitar picking is outstanding. He even took the lead on a couple of Randy and Wade's songs without any problem at all. His own writing is very mature with no hint of the roughness his young age would suggest. He has a naturally talented voice that perfectly compliments his songs. Without a doubt, I will say that Stephen Pointer was the pleasant surprise of the evening, and I am confident that all who heard him will want to hear him again.
I don't know what the attendance numbers for this show were, but it was impressive! There was still a line out the door long after the music had already begun. And there were no spare seats to be had. Standing room only. Definitely the best crowd I have ever seen at The Horseman for any show. That's a great thing, but it is also what the crowds at EVERY Clubhouse Concert should be! Spread the word! Bring your friends! Share this wonderful thing we have with others so that they too might know how great it is! Your friends deserve that kind of entertainment, and these artists deserve that kind of support!!

~Rob Davis~

*** note from Joni...Rob, could you have made this review any longer??? I have "typer's cramp"!!! Just kidding, it's a great review!   Thanks for writing it for us.
Cast Iron Filter
Stephen Pointer

Tonight's music was a little different than anything we've ever had at the Clubhouse before. Let me tell you...different is good!! We started off the evening with a Clubhouse favorite, Stephen Pointer. Stephen was added to the lineup earlier in the week, not allowing for much time to get the word out that he was playing. He had a great set, as always. Cast Iron Filter is a bluegrass band from North Carolina. They had driven 17 hours to get to the Clubhouse gig. Everyone in attendance agreed, we were all glad they came! They were awesome! Unfortunately for them, we had a rather small crowd. As everyone knows, originally we had an acoustic show by Jason Boland & The Stragglers booked on this date. Cast Iron Filter would have been opening for them. After the Stragglers had to cancel, we decided to leave CIF on as the headliners. Had JB&S been playing, we would have probably had a larger crowd, which would have been great exposure for the guys from North Carolina. We are hoping to get them back sometime when we can count on a larger crowd. They deserve to have a bigger audience and all of the "Clubhouse regulars" need to make it a point to see these guys. I can't stress enough how good they were. They sold lots of cd's, even to the small group in attendance, and I guarantee, everyone that was there enjoyed the show.
Max Stalling & Matt Martindale
with Jared "Pete" Gile

by guest reviewer, Rob Davis

This week's Clubhouse Concert began with a great opening set from Jared "Pete" Gile. Pete opened for Jason Boland and the Stragglers  the previous night in his hometown of Manhattan, Kansas. Then he drove all the way to Ft. Worth just for this show, and the priviledge of opening for one of his idols, Max Stalling. Although Pete claimed to have been battling illness and sleep deprivation, you would never have known it. His voice was smooth and captivating and his interaction with the audience was enthralling. Pete gave us an 8 song, half hour set of song and story which showcased his versatility as a singer, a songwriter, and a musician on the guitar and the harmonica. The first three songs were all twists on the classic "love lost" theme, leaving us to believe that was Pete's forte. We were wrong. Although he is indeed masterful in the art of the love ballad, he slips just as comfortably into autobiographical tunes, and good time drinking songs. Standouts from his set included
1) Running Low On Angels - a fictional ballad of a family man who loses his wife to a drunk driver. Although he says there was no particular inspiration for this song, you will truly believe he wrote it from personal experience. It brought me to tears. 2) Modern Day Mountain Man - His title track and defining autobiographical song, which characterizes him as a loner, having traded in his horse for a Harley and his rifle for a guitar. Great comparison and contrast. 3) Back 40 Lover - Another self-descriptive ballad which chronicles his realization that he was meant for the country, and not the city. Reminiscent of John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy", but with the flavour of a ballad. 4) Just How Drunk - Asks the age old question "Just how drunk would you have to be to go home with a guy who looks like me?", but with a new twist!
You may have to drive to Kansas or Oklahoma to catch this young singer-songwriter, but it will be well worth it. Check him out at
It was a minor miracle that the evening's main event even happened. Headliner Max Stalling was battling the same seasonal crud that many of us are suffering through right now, and his voice was but a shell of it's normal self. He credits his ability to finish the show to a "snake oil" concoction of "melted butter and diesel fuel" that Matt Martindale made him drink before the show, as well as a steady input of Miller Lite during the show. Max perservered like a trooper to put on a great two hour song swap with Matt (of Cooder Graw). Each songwriter brought a lead guitarist with him to fill in with some great licks. With Max came Dale Clark, picking an awesome sounding nylon stringed Gibson classic. Accompanying Matt was Cooder Graw's lead guitar artist, Kelly Turner, in a very rare acoustic role. Both men set the bar high and displayed some of the best acoustic picking I have seen at a Clubhouse Concert.
Max excited us with many of his original favourites, including "Runnin' Buddy", "Dimebox"and "Blue Eyes". We all know those songs from their airplay on The Ranch and The Range. Early into "Blue Eyes", Max realized that his voice simply was not going to be able to hit the high notes this evening. He simply lowered his pitch a few octaves to an almost baritone narration style, which he dubbed "The Charlie Robison version of the song." It worked well! As always, the best part of the show was hearing the artists tell us the real stories and inspirations behind those songs. We also were treated to a couple of new songs from Max. Most notable is a good-time tune called "Six by Nine", a reference to the car stereo speakers of his first car. Through this song, almost anyone can smile, relate, and relive those innocent yet defining years when the world revolved around life and love inside that first car while listening to Boston, Van Halen, Cheap Trick, AC/DC on cassette tapes. This is one song that I really look forward to hearing on the radio. I predict it will quickly become his most popular song.
Like Max, Matt also performed many of his popular favourites from his Cooder Graw shows. These hits included, "Shiftin' Gears", "Better Days", "Motel Lights" and ""Loves Too Much", which featured some particularly impressive Spanish fingerpicking from Kelly on the acoustic guitar. By request, Matt gave us a great rendition of Ryan Adams' classic sing-a-long "Come Pick Me Up", which continues to be a favourite from their live shows. Matt gave us the news that Cooder Graw is currently in the studio working on a new CD for release in the summer.
The grand finale of the evening was a group sing-a-long of The Band's classic, "The Weight" (aka "Take a load off Fanny") which featured a five minute bridge of dueling guitar solos from Dale and Kelly that defined the excellence of the entire evening.
All five of the evening's artists stayed around long after the show ended to visit with the over sixty music lovers who came to hear them. Each artist, including Pete Gile, brought CD's and merchandise and all sold very well. This was a great turnout for a great show. Anybody who was unfamiliar with these artists before tonight certainly walked away with a new favourite artist or two. Or three!

~ Rob ~
Guy Forsyth with Brandon Jenkins

Too bad there was hardly no one at the show last night, to hear two really talented singer songwriter's. This was probably our worst attendance at a Clubhouse show ever. Don't know why... but I'm thinking it might be because we had two relatively "unknown" musicians (at least unknown in the Ft Worth area). Unfortunately for those that chose to stay home, this was a really good show. Brandon Jenkins, originally from Stillwater, Oklahoma - now residing in Austin, was great!! We can't wait to have him back on May 2nd, when he will be doing a song writer swap with Stoney. I told Brandon last night that I am certain that we will have a bigger crowd that night...I sure hope so.
Guy Forsyth had a very "eclectic" sound. He even played a few songs and accompanied himself on the SAW!!! It had a very eerie sound, sort of like haunted house music. It was really an interesting night. Wish there had been more of our "regulars" to experience it. Hopefully, next Sunday will have better attendance.
The Burtschi Brothers
Rodney Branigan

We tend to use the word "artist" rather loosely in the musical community. Not to take away anything from the talent of any of them, but many of those whom we call "artist" are really just very accomplished musicians. They are technicians who have mastered a specific musical craft as done by many others before them. A true artist does more than simply recreate that which has been similarly created by others. A true artist creates something unique and beautiful that we have not seen before. Every now and then, somebody comes along who not only earns the title of "artist,"  but also contributes to the definition of the word. Such a person was Sunday's first artist, Rodney Branigan.
Like the first man who transformed his Italian violin into an Irish fiddle, Rodney Branigan has redefined the role and limits of his instrument; the guitar. The evening began with Rodney walking onto the stage, rolling up his pant legs and sitting on a chair, center stage. He then picked up two Martin acoustic guitars.  He clenched a carbon fiber bodied six-string upright between his calves, and held a spruce twelve-string (specially strung and tuned with only 7 strings) traditionally in front of him. Then the extravaganza began. Unfortunately, there is simply no way to adequately describe this performance with mere words. Only seeing it for yourself will do the trick. Strumming the body of the twelve-string, while picking the neck of the six-string, Rodney creates music by himself that sounds like it is coming from a trio. Not surprisingly, the title of that song is "One Man, Two Guitars," and it appears on his third CD, "Broken Guitars".
Later Rodney performs with two guitars while standing. One lays horizontally, Dobro style, across the top of a traditionally strapped guitar. And, again, the results are amazing from both a technical and artistic viewpoint. Mid-performance, in a move that takes only a split second, he goes from the standing position, back to a seated position, continuing to play both guitars masterfully during the transition.
During those songs that Rodney performs with only one guitar, he still does so in a way that is unique to him. Even then, his right and left hand frequently seem to be disassociated from each other, performing rythym and lead parts, independently. And in many occasions, one or both hands become percussionists, utilizing different parts of the guitar as drums. Although the short time allotted him this evening did not allow for it, Rodney is also known to perform with two guitars and a mandolin simultaneously. He acknowledges that we may not want to know which part of his body he uses to play the mando!
These almost acrobatic guitar performances are quite obviously the reason that Rodney calls his style "Full Contact Folk Music". It is indeed a very physical performance. And the duct tape patches covering the bodies of his guitars - as well as a couple of scars on his face - are silent testament to the "full contact" nature of his performances. But dont think for a second that Rodney Branigan is a mere sideshow freak. When he steps up to the microphone, he displays a mastery of the "folk music" nature of his art. Although I hate to compare artists to artists, for fear of slighting the originality of either artist, Rodney's musical style reminds me quite a bit of a male Tracy Chapman. His vocal cadence is quite similar, as is the way he takes lyrical inspiration from the seemingly mundane occurrences of everyday life.
Rodney's original songs included "Middle Class America," a non-political observation of the almost narcotizing, predictable mediocrity of suburban American life that many can identify with. "She Bled" is a heart wrenching musical tale of abuse that touches the audience, and then grips them with a twist of the final verse. Also thrown in is a humorous musical reflection on a night in jail, which qualifies his performance as "country music". Rodney played two well chosen cover songs, Radiohead's "Creep," and The Beatles, "Come Together".
If even one line of this review has caused you to grin, widen your eyes, drop your jaw, or back up to re-read it, then I encourage you to check out the tour schedule at to find a Rodney Branigan show coming to a town near you. At the very least, you MUST check out his DVD, "Full Contact Folk Music," available at
A little over two years ago, while on the road with Pat Green, I returned from the hotel to our venue for the night, the Red Dirt Cafe, in Norman, Oklahoma just in time to catch the tail end of the opening act. Although I had no idea who they were at the time, I was floored by this magnificent musical artistry coming from the stage. I hoped that someday I would be able to relax and see an entire performance by those guys. Last night, that hope came true as I saw The Burtschi Brothers perform at the Clubhouse Concert series. It was well worth the wait! The Burtschi Brothers are very hard to classify. They are a smooth combination of folk lyrics, jazz soul and rock music, performed with bluegrass instruments. Performing without percussionist Chris Foreman, the abbreviated Burtschi Brothers gave us two and a half hours of mostly original music with a variety of styles and instruments. Lead vocalist-songwriter Travis Linville does it all. He writes songs of depth, as well as light hearted sing-alongs. He sings with a unique, yet soothing, "folky" voice of great range, that is totally absent of pretense. His guitar playing is a continuum of intricate fingerpicking that reminds you of a banjo player's style. When later in the set he picks up a banjo and starts playing, it begins to make sense. Although he did not last night, Linville is known to also dazzle with both the mandolin and the lap steel guitar in Burtschi Brothers shows.
Featuring Kevin Webb on Dobro and lead Stratocaster guitar, and Rick Fogarty on electric bass and harmony vocals, The Burtschi Brothers performed many of their original songs. Requests flowed from the audience as a testament to their growing popularity. Originals included "Ain't Being Treated Right," "Wishing Well," "Ridin' The Road," "Low Down Livin,'" "Go Easy On Me," and Uncertain Texas." Much of their original music has a turn-of-the-century flavour, reminiscent of a simpler, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" time.
Particularly impressive, as well as illustrative of their musical roots, was the repertoire of cover songs they chose to include. Paying reverent homage to the greats, we heard performances of John Prine's "Paradise," Hank Williams "Lost Highway," Roger Miller's "King of the Road," and closing the evening with a sing-along of The Band's "The Weight."
With two CD's currently out, the greats of Texas and Red Dirt music like Jason Boland, Stoney LaRue and Pat Green are all singing the praises of The Burtschi Brothers. Catch one of their shws and pick up their CD's and you'll know why!
-Rob Davis-
Larry Joe Taylor, Mike McClure, Matt Martindale & Keith Sykes
with TJ McFarland

Tonight's show got started off a little later than usual. Drew (our sound guy on Sunday evenings) was late getting in from a weekend trip to Austin. As soon as he got there, he got the show rolling. It was a great show! TJ McFarland (another red dirt musician) started things off with a great set. He has a new EP (shorter than a full CD), and we got to hear most -if not all -of the songs on it. He was very good and we look forward to having him back at the Clubhouse. The 4 guys that followed were an interesting bunch! Larry Joe and Keith, being a little bit of the "older generation" and Mike & Matt, bringing some of the "new generation" to the mix. It was a great mix, for sure! The crowd was very attentive, as always. We got to hear some older stuff (Great Divide songs) from Mike, as well as a very funny song that Keith Sykes did (I think he called it "I'm Sorry", and he said it will be on his upcoming CD). Everytime Matt got a turn, the crowd started yelling out requests. Then, Matt had to decide which one to sing. It was funny to see him think it over.. a new one? an old one? a cover? and then make his decision. Larry Joe was great, as always. It was the first time for LJT and Keith Sykes to play at the Clubhouse, but after last night's performance, I hope they will both return.
Keeping with the Larry Joe Taylor Festival "camping" theme, dinner tonight was chili-cheese dogs, hot off the grill. Although it wasn't "Johnny Carino's" (as Mike has gotten used to getting fed at these shows), I think everyone enjoyed their hot dogs, potato salad, cole slaw and cupcakes. As of now, we're not sure about next Sunday's show. The boxing match that had been scheduled has been cancelled, but due to a BIG benefit in Luling on Sunday, many musicians are unable to perform at The Clubhouse and as of this writing, we are still trying to book a guest or two. Keep watching the calendar. I'll update it as soon as I know what we're going to do.
Bleu Edmondson,Matt Powell, Brian Rung, Chris Miller & The Lost Trailers
This Sunday's show was really great! We started out the night expecting to have Bleu, Matt & Chris and ended up having special guests, Brian Rung and members of The Lost Trailers. We had a great "listening" crowd and after the show, talking to both Bleu & Matt, they mentioned how much they love playing at The Clubhouse because everyone listens!! Thanks to everyone that comes to the shows and makes our "venue" one of the best acoustic, listening venues in the state... all of the musicians are talking about it and many have told me that it is their favorite place to play. I think that is one of the reasons that we tend to have "special guests" show up for our shows... even though they are usually "off" on Sunday evenings, it is such a laid back, fun place to hang out and pick some tunes with their peers.Tonight's show was no different. It was a great evening of entertainment.
We've gotten behind on our reviews, which brings up the question...does anybody read them anyway? And should we continue reviewing the shows or discontinue our review section??
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