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2010 Santa Barbara Band Guide

Downtown Sound Kicks Off with a Whole Bunch of Music Making


Welcome, music fans. For version 4.0 of our annual Santa Barbara Band Guide, we’re switching things up a little, giving you a lengthy (and certainly incomplete) list of S.B. music makers – as well as some gems we spotted lying just beyond county borders. In the following pages, you’ll find a neat little list of up-and-coming artists, long-standing collectives, and everything in between, as well as a few fresh faces we think have what it takes to make it big.

Band Spotlight:

Alixandra Macmillan-Fiedel

If you’re prone to look for what’s next in music, chances are you’re going to want to keep your eye on Alixandra Macmillan-Fiedel.

Birdfeeder

As their opening slot at last month’s Wavves show proved – and our bands team enthusiastically reaffirmed – Birdfeeder are Ventura’s newest ones to watch.

Wetlands

If you’re in the mood for something to groove to, look no further than Wetlands.

Gardens and Villa

Funky bass chords, loads of synth, a handful of flute flourishes, and an anything-goes attitude have situated Gardens and Villa in a somewhat indefinable genre.

In addition, we’ve strewn these handy little symbols (★) throughout it all to indicate the other stellar acts we think you should check out for yourself.

Still want more? Head on over to independent.com/bands, where you can find profiles, music, links, and upcoming gigs for all the artists we’ve listed here, as well as the first round of our Downtown Sound Competition. It’s there, from now to midnight on Monday, October 4, that you can log on and vote for your favorite musicians. And when the polls close, we’ll tally the scores and give the top eight winners a chance to compete live for the prize package of a lifetime: pro recording time, $6,500 worth of gear, and a spot on this year’s New Noise music fest lineup.

So what are you waiting for? Dig in, listen up, and ENJOY!

Alastair Greene Band

Guitarists should take notes from this Santa Barbara axeman, who puts the gruff and soulful back into blues rock, especially on the ZZ Top-ish number “Cut You Loose.” agsongs.com

Angelo Meatcraft

Funky bass, whimsical guitar, and a hint of bluegrass is what’s behind this self-described “steamreggafunkagrassjam” band. myspace.com/548106031

Anthony Prieto Band

Backed by his nine-piece band, who come equipped with congas and plenty of sax, Prieto’s smooth vocals help create plenty of infectious Latin grooves. myspace.com/theanthonyprietoband

★ Area 51

Not just another cover band, Area 51 possess a fun and enthusiastic Funky Town revivalism that allows them to explore everything from Aretha to Kool and the Gang. area51livemusic.com

Axia

Musically speaking, this San Luis-based hard-rock band employs creative drum and guitar arrangements that will have you thinking you are listening to a different band every time the song changes. myspace.com/theaxia

Back Pocket

Intrepid female vocals with prominent acoustic roots allow this trio to bring a dash of soul to folk music. myspace.com/backpocketband

Bela Lugosi

The punk attitude and classical music backgrounds of Misha Bodnar and his wife, Ingrid, give rise to a provocative and undeniably original sound. myspace.com/belalugosimusic

Bellum

This turbo-charged outfit employs raspy screams and incessant drumming to give new definition to the term “speed metal.” myspace.com/bellum805

Big Jugs

Lewd and suggestive lyrics add a noteworthy comical element to this band’s catchy bluegrass twang. myspace.com/bigjugsmusic

★ Black Judah

Topping Jamaican music charts with their hit “Mercy Please,” Dylan Judah and Sugar Black team up to create a fast-paced reggae sound with surprisingly motivational lyrics. myspace.com/blackjudah

Black Toad

Scratchy guitar riffs, mesmerizing drum sequences, and elusive keys make up this four-piece fusion of hard-rock and jam-band psychedelia. myspace.com/needeepband

Boombox Orchestra

Part Parliament-style funk, part old-school hip-hop revivalists, these I.V.-born multi-instrumentalists know how to bring the party. boomboxorchestra.com

Bossa Blue

The brainchild of guitarist Michael Petracca and flutist Carmen Kuchera, Bossa Blue creates bluesy swing with a jazzy flare all its own. bossablue.org

Bruce Goldish

Goldish mixes the warm and calming feelings of classic acoustic fingerwork with a splash of the fast-paced, percussive style of Spanish guitar. myspace.com/brucegoldish

Bubbling Dead

Self-deprecating lyrics and a grungy sound find this band walking the line between metal and gruff alternative rock. myspace.com/thebubblingdead

Built on Decay

These guys reek of male aggression, thanks to ultra-intense guitar playing and scream-it-like-you-mean-it vocals. Look out for a new album in the coming months. myspace.com/builtondecay

★ Burning Giraffe

Inventive lyrics combine with the seminal licks of early-’70s psych rock to create a sound much larger than your average two-piece. myspace.com/burningiraffe

Callista

Songs that brim with tales of lust and longing make us think these lovelorn boys have mixed just the right amount of emo into their pop-rock sound. myspace.com/callistamusic

Cat OK

This trio gives off a ’90s progressive-meets-alt-rock feel with their own mid-tempo sound, complete with string and some beautiful guitar soloing. facebook.com/pages/Cat-OK/37029810517

Christina Grimm

Powerful and smooth vocals in tandem with shrewd narrative lyrics convey Grimm’s perfect blend of blues-infused guitar and folk structures. myspace.com/christinamgrimm

Cleo Lynx

Lynx’s rustic folk style shines through on songs like “Pierced So Deep,” an intimate tale of affection that’s backed by a bevy of lush strings. myspace.com/cleolynx

★ Coral Sea

Rey Villalobos heads this sometimes-solo, sometimes-full-band indie-rock project that moves from quiet lovelorn balladry to delicately upbeat folk-pop. myspace.com/thecoralseamusic

Cornerstone

These Santa Barbara reggae makers may be playing less frequently than they used to, but they can still bring the good vibes with their modern roots sounds. myspace.com/cornerstoneroots

Crying 4 Kafka

Grainy guitars, kickin’ drums, and a nonchalant punk attitude prove the perfect recipe for this group’s progressive post-punk style. Must listen: the rim-click-filled “Ain’t Always Paradise.” myspace.com/crying4kafka

Dannsair

This eight-piece collective thrives on traditional Irish sounds, but dabbles in the fast-paced and uninhibited on songs like “Sporting Patty” and “Hobart’s Transformation.” myspace.com/dannsair

Dante Elephante

A Craigslist-formed band whose use of unabashed alt-pop arrangements and swift fingerpicking guitar sequences give some clue to their influences, which include Wilco and Radiohead. myspace.com/danteelephante

Dark Lights

Founding Dishwalla member George Pendergast mans the kit in this sometimes-melodic, sometimes-hard-rock trio. reverbnation.com/thedarklights

★ Dave Gleason

A hybrid of country and rock emphasizes the restless spirit and capitalizes on Gleason’s soulful deliveries. dave-gleason.com

Debra Farris Band

Sometimes-funky, sometimes-bluesy guitar work takes a comfortable backseat to Farris’s soulful deliveries, which call to mind Melissa Etheridge at some points, Tracy Chapman at others. myspace.com/debrafarrisband

Derailed

Guitar-driven numbers “I Can’t See” and “Get On with My Life” embody the gruff and heavy sound of this straightforward four-man hard-rock show. derailedmusic.com

★ Dominic Balli

Uplifting lyrics proclaiming “All we need is love” provide the icing on this already delicious musical cake. Balli’s use of driving hip-hop beats and reggae-infused guitar and bass make for an inspirational and catchy sound. myspace.com/dominicballi

Donna Greene & the Roadhouse Daddies

Greene and her Daddies dish up blues that evoke the Greenwich Village nightclub scene of the 1930s. greeneblues.com

DP Fresh

Feel-good vibes surround this group’s rootsy sound and raw lyrical style. dpfreshmusic.com

Eduardo Aispuro

An alt-country feel that culminates in distorted electric-guitar tones. For a taste, check out the track “Don’t Go.” independent.com/bands/eduardo-aispuro

False Puppet

Do not be fooled by these Puppets’ youth; this trio makes up for what they lack in age with heavy drowning bass and an impressively in-your-face, punk-tinged lyrical style. myspace.com/falsepuppet

Flint Westrock and Friends

With a sophomore album (Heaven ’n’ Earth) in the works, Westrock delivers simple lovelorn country numbers. flintwestrock.com

★ Franklin for Short

These Ventura natives craft heartfelt songs filled with enough genuine honesty and catchy melodies to set them heads above their indie-rock contemporaries. myspace.com/franklinforshort

Goodland

Goleta’s resident fusion rockers dish up a hearty helping of positive vibes, shared vocals, and funky beats à la Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson. myspace.com/thegoodlandmusic

Haddon Cord

At just 17, this Idaho transplant is drawing inspiration from Miley Cyrus and Sheryl Crow, with big, sultry, countrified arrangements. reverbnation.com/haddoncord

★ Headless Household

A jazz institution of sorts, these S.B. experimentalists have been going strong for more than 20 years and are currently riding high on the recent release of their best effort to date, the double-disc Basemento. myspace.com/headlesshousehold

Heart of the Void

Their new self-titled album showcases a metalcore style that ignores genre fads and highlight instrumental skills, creating a hard-hitting fusion of melodic metal and hardcore punk. myspace.com/heartofthevoid

Hero and the Victor

These longtime Santa Barbara rockers may draw comparisons to big-namers like Modest Mouse and Television, but truth is, their aggressive axe work and Afrobeat-tinged grooves are a creation all their own. myspace.com/theheroandthevictor

★ Holdfast Rifle Company

Ralph Lowi spearheads this S.B.-born country outfit, which dishes out some of the most achingly haunting honky-tonk and Johnny Cash-style croons we’ve heard of late. myspace.com/holdfastriflecompany

Honeysuckle Possums

Five all-female players join forces to create this original bluegrass collective. The harmonies sparkle and the instrumentation reminds us of deep-South livin’ circa 1939. reverbnation.com/honeysucklepossums

Howlin’ Woods

This group’s mix of blues-rock and soulful vocals shines through on tracks like “Students of Life,” a seven-minute ballad where frontman Jordan Chetakian’s soothing voice mixes with earnest, folksy arrangements. myspace.com/howlinwoods

★ Idea the Artist

Santa Ynez native Ines Beltranena proves a crusader for singer/songwriters everywhere with her free-flowing, powerful vocals and piano-driven ruminations on life, love, and creating. myspace.com/inesandredemption

Internet

This almost un-Googleable entity plays rock that’s part Meteors-style surf, part Best Coast-esque lo-fi. whatistheinter.net

Iration

The Iration success story started simply enough, with the band playing in and around the I.V. party keg. Nowadays, though, these reggae rockers are living large on Pepper’s Law Records label and touring the country on behalf of their latest, Time Bomb. myspace.com/irationtheband

Iron Curtain

Originally formed in the early ’80s, band founder Steve Fields reemerges with a half-new cast of musicians, playing the same shadowy, synth-infused sounds of their heyday. myspace.com/ironcurtainmusic

IZE

For Ize, it’s all about the organic, reggae-infused hip-hop; material that’s light on the beats, heavy on the positive vibes. myspace.com/izemusic

James Johnson

Johnson does it all, from reggae-inspired piano numbers like “Summertime in December” to the guitar-driven “Glass Factor Nine,” evoking a classic-meets-alternative-rock sound. jamesjohnsonmusic.com

Jaret Campisi

Inspired by strumming masters like Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews, Campisi gives us a refreshing twist on typical acoustic rock, thanks in large part to his candid lyrical style. myspace.com/jaretacoustic

Jazz Project

Sax man Justin Claveria’s Jazz Project is just that, an experimental melding of intensity, precision, and dance floor-ready tunes. justinclaveria.com

Jeffrey Bretz

This singer/songwriter offers acoustic and electric covers of slow-grooving classics, ’80s rock-outs, and Spanish-language tunes. myspace.com/jeffreybretzacoustic

Jon Francis

Carp’s resident Latin-music aficionado specializes (and shreds) the flamenco guitar, but his recent release, A Night in Madrid, is much more, chockful of percussion, flutes, and visions of faraway lands. reverbnation.com/jonfrancis

Josh Mogck

Simple lyrics take you on a ride through deliberate guitar parts and a funky percussive-driven backbeat. myspace.com/joshuamogck

June Recovery

With a slew of new recordings, this trio professes an honest and full sound that draws from an amalgamation of genres, including funk, jazz, and good ol’ rock ’n’ roll. myspace.com/junerecovery

★ Kimoya

Breezy, lovelorn lyrics and stripped-down acoustic guitar lines typify James Moya’s singer/songwriter fare. independent.com/bands/kimoya

★ Kyle Nicolaides

The one-time Martyrs frontman goes it alone, but continues to churn out the distortion-heavy tunes and soulful speak/sing deliveries. Think Entrance Band meets the Strokes. myspace.com/kylenicolaides

★ Lee Koch & the Grinders

Ventura blues rocker Lee Koch knows his way around the guitar/harmonica combo and is gaining quite the reputation, thanks to some seriously catchy tunes and the help of his twangy backing band, the Grinders. myspace.com/leekochmusic

Legends of Skate

These Summerland dwellers mix a raw lyrical style with minimal guitars to create a restrained rock sound reminiscent of ’60s folk troubadours. myspace.com/2legendsofskate

Leslie Lembo

Backed by a full band, Lembo shines through with powerful and expressive performances that demonstrate her impressive vocal range. leslielembo.com

Lonesome Dub

A seven-piece collective whose vibrant throwback to reggae’s roots reflect a fusion of Sublime-style ska and classic blues guitar. myspace.com/lonesomedubmusic

Loomis & the Lust

This retro-minded pop band makes use of catchy lyrics and melodious power chords to create memorable pop hooks. Want a taste? Check out “A.D.D.” myspace.com/loomisandthelust

Mac Talley Trip

Speak/sing vocals and shoegazey guitars abound in Mac Talley’s Wilco-meets-Pavement-style meanderings. myspace.com/mactalley

Margie Nelson Jazz Group

With more than 10 years of vocal experience, Nelson performs alongside wailing saxophones, bluesy guitars, and plenty of piano to create a classic sultry sound. reverbnation.com/margienelsonjazzgroup

Mike Lopez Band

Santa Barbara-born, Oceano-bred Mike Lopez embraces his twangy, countrified influences with open arms (and chords) on tracks like “Rodeo Cowboys.” myspace.com/themikelopezband

Montecito Jazz Project

As the name states, smooth foot-tapping jazz is what you get from this troupe, whose “Tico Tico” includes a foray into Spanish stylings. myspace.com/montecitojazz

Morganfield Burnett & Da Blues

Santa Barbara’s resident blues and R&B providers are all about the smooth grooves and can nail a mean cover to boot. facebook.com/pages/Morganfield-Burnett-Da-Blues/111371982217409

Mutineers

Guy-girl vocals and classic Americana structures mark this earnest, indie-minded S.B. three-piece. myspace.com/themutineersmusic

Natalie D-Napoleon

Perth-born Napoleon mixes brazen lyricism with a honey-like country inflection to create songs that call to mind players like Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch. myspace.com/nataliednapoleon

Nicola Gordon

Delicate acoustic guitar lines and pointed lyrics mark this longtime S.B. songstress’s folksy catalogue. myspace.com/nicolagordon

One Eyed Willie

This recently formed Santa Barbara four-piece wears their ’80s love on their sleeves. oneeyedwillierocks.com

Orlando Napier Band

Sax, keys, and laidback percussion helps backup this S.B. crooner, who manages to straddle that fine line between Jason Mraz and Jamie Cullum. myspace.com/orlandonapiermusic

★ Paper Swords

On debut album Wax Moon, Wane, these five indie rockers make their presence known with a respectful nod to baroque pop wizards like Sufjan Stevens. paperswordsmusic.com

Paull E. Rubin

Regarded as a fundamental player in some of the best jam bands in the tri-county area, Rubin leads the way with accentuated guitar licks and deep, punctuated bass lines. myspace.com/paullerubinpelikanesis

Phantom Pomps

Pussy Fonatine (drums, vocals) and the Cap’n (guitar, vocals) team up to create accessible guitar riffs and a clean sound reminiscent of psychobilly greats like The Cramps. myspace.com/phantompomps

Playbac

This Santa Barbara-based lyricist has mastered the art of intellectual hip-hop, throwing down rhymes and beats that are as smart as they are fast-flowing. myspace.com/playbac

Pie

Headed by the harmonious combination of four lead vocalists, Pie delivers a unique take on classic rock favorites. myspace.com/piesb

★ Quiet Giants

Abby Rickertsen provides the vocals for this S.B.-based four-piece that’s part alt-rock, part indie folk, and all good listenin’. myspace.com/quietgiants

Rash

The solo project of guitarist/singer Troy Coulon, Rash is heavy on the power chords, and chockful of low, speak/sing vocals. independent.com/bands/rash

★ Ray Fortune

Taking cues from greats like Tom Waits and Jim James, Fortune delivers deeply personal, delicately orchestrated folk that’s twangy one moment, starkly simplified the next. myspace.com/rayfortune

★ Rebelution

Santa Barbara’s resident reggae rock superstars may spend most of their time on the road, but these UCSB-bred dub lovers still spout the local love loudly and proudly. myspace.com/rebelution

Richard Wahd Trio

Funky bass lines fuel this upbeat pop-rock act, which features plenty of chugging guitar, bass, and drum work. independent.com/bands/richard-wahd-trio

★ Rising Son

These Ventura-born reggae makers specialize and succeed in crafting authentic, heartfelt roots tunes and have even played alongside greats like Lee “Scratch” Perry. myspace.com/risingsonmusic

Robert Steffen

A wellspring of spacious, acoustic-tinged folk-pop that combines with Steffen’s bright growl of a voice to create something special. myspace.com/robertsteffenmusic

Rusty Lindsey Band

Lindsey’s Southern roots run deep on tracks like “Let You Down”; the perfect example of his gruff vocals and bluesy guitar picking. myspace.com/rustylindseymusic

Salt Martians Bluegrass Band

Tupelo Junction’s house band is more than just a sonic accompaniment to your shrimp ’n’ grits; they’re churning out authentic bluegrass jams like true Southern gentlemen. judithgeiger.com/saltmartians

Sean McCue

Propelled by his acoustic roots, McCue gives new definition to the singer/songwriter shtick, thanks to undeniably honest vocals and top-notch guitar compositions. myspace.com/seanmccue

Senior Year

Word on the Facebook street is that this beloved, quasi-dormant cover outfit will be back in full swing sometime soon. Fingers are crossed for some big-band Lady Gaga numbers. myspace.com/senioryr

Seth Pettersen & the Undertow

A near-perfect mish-mash of jangly, Beach Boys-inspired progressions and Harry Nilsson-esque vocal leaps that’s as catchy as it is nostaligic. myspace.com/sethpettersenmusic

Shanghai’d

Josh Misery’s screamo vocals demand your undivided attention, while bassist Bob Dickson and drummer Ethan Graton provide the necessary, swirling rhythmic accompaniment. myspace.com/shanghaidmusic

Shepherd’s Pie

This group will have just about anyone busting into an Irish jig with their mix of fiddles, mandolins, and guitars. independent.com/bands/shepherds-pie

Silent Meow

Fast-paced, in-your-face punk style, with just the right amount of aggression, this band will make you want to beeline for the circle pit with tracks like “Moral Police.” myspace.com/silentmeow

Skip James and Project 41

This Los Osos five-piece takes its cues from rock greats like ZZ Top and the Doobie Brothers, churning out top-down, breezy classic rock. myspace.com/project41band

Snakefist

You would never be able to tell that this metal quartet just got together earlier this year with the amount of melodic chemistry they have on their hard-hitting and explosive single “Take a Ride.” myspace.com/snakefistmusic

So What Kombo

A six-piece jazz collective that’s willing to travel, So What mixes bossa nova and blues standards with something decidedly funky. gigmasters.com/jazzband/sowhatkombo

★ Soul City Survivors

Their name says it all; they have enough soul for the whole city of Santa Barbara. Soulful renditions of classics like Creedence Clearwater’s “Proud Mary” have enough big-band horns to make it all sound super uplifting. soulcitysurvivors.com

Soul Mates

These ambitious youngsters (under the watch of some skilled elders) are churning out ’60s soul that would make Mom and Dad (and Grandma and Grandpa) proud. independent.com/bands/soul-mates

★ Spencer the Gardener

Whether it’s classic covers or Latin-flavored originals, onstage at Fiesta or jammin’ at a backyard bash, Spencer continues to bring the party, one groovy guitar line at a time. myspace.com/spencerthegardener

★ Spires

This beloved Ventura-bred duo-turned-three-piece excels at churning out short, sweet, distortion-filled pop rock, à la a breezier Pavement or a stripped-down Belle and Sebastian. myspace.com/thespires

★ Springtime Is Wartime

Unconventional epicness from one of Santa Barbara’s longest-standing experimental acts. Brothers Josh and Tim Eymann lead the charge in this delightfully off-kilter math-rock trio. myspace.com/springtimeiswartime

Sprout

These Santa Barbara fusion rockers are not afraid to give credit where credit is due, namedropping and paying a solid homage to blues greats like T. Bone Walker and B.B. King, even as they cover classics like “Turn on Your Love Light.” myspace.com/sproutsb

Switchbak

This spinoff from four fledging bands closely resembles the classic rock greats before them. This high-energy cover band will have everyone “doin’ a little dance.” myspace.com/switchbak

★ Tall Tales & the Silver Lining

Like past albums, Tall Tales’ recently released Fall In is brimming with folksy meanderings, each tied together by frontman Trevor Beld-Jimenez’s warm, thoughtful lyrics. myspace.com/talltalesmusic

Ted Hoagland

Veteran Santa Barbara singer/songwriter graces us with his signature sound, composed of blues, country, and funk-rock elements. myspace.com/thehoaglandconspiracy

ThreadSpinner

Piano-driven indie pop meets slick rock ’n’ roll deliveries when these Santa Barbara locals take the stage. Frontwoman Sarah Corum might just be S.B.’s answer to female powerhouses like Vanessa Carlton and Sarah McLachlan. myspace.com/threadspinner

★ Todd Hannigan & the Heavy 29’s

This Ventura surfer-turned-singer is a far cry from Jack J. And his “Thicker” is a beautiful folkish number that showcases some seriously haunting vocals. myspace.com/toddhanniganmusic

★ Tommy & the High Pilots

Fresh-faced frontman Tommy Cantillon can hit the high notes, and we get them aplenty — along with soaring guitars and sparklingly crisp drum work — on the band’s soon-to-be-released offering American Riviera. myspace.com/thehighpilots

Tripdavon

With the upcoming release of their second studio album, these rockers produce a growling, resonant, pure rock sound. myspace.com/tripdavon

Two Headed Boy

Don’t be fooled by their name, because there ain’t very much Neutral Milk Hotel in Two Headed Boy’s tunes. Instead, we get buoyant, catchy indie pop à la Rooney or The Format. myspace.com/2hbmusic

Verna Beware

If you like your music loud, look no further. Crunching guitars, hard-hitting drums, and rockin’ vocals make songs like “Hour of the Wolf” the quintessential headbanger’s ball. myspace.com/vernabeware

Vienna Boa

One-time New Yorker brings her trippy neo-new wave tunes to the Left Coast. Think Roxette meets Ziggy Stardust. myspace.com/justboa

Vincent Zorn

A refreshing blend of rumba and flamenco marks this highly contagious, acoustic-driven form of contemporary gypsy music. myspace.com/vincentzorn

Waiting Around to Die

Distortion-filled riffs and languid vocals are just part of these shoegazers’ introspective, Joy Division-inspired project. myspace.com/waitingaroundtodieband

★ Watercolor Paintings

Goleta-bred twee pop from two of the Santa Barbara scene’s biggest champions. Bro and sis Josh and Rebecca Redman craft lo-fi ditties on uke and harp that are as poignant as they are precious. myspace.com/watercolorpaintings

Wil Ridge

This Santa Ynez singer/songwriter may sound a hell of a lot like Dylan, but once you get past the gruff vocals, you’ll find the whiskey-soaked Americana that’s all Ridge’s own. myspace.com/wilridge

Winchester Rebels

A mix of fist-pump-worthy guitar riffs and big, ballady vocals that call to mind Muse one moment and Stone Temple Pilots the next. myspace.com/winchesterrebels

★ Windmill Vandals

Never mind that these four rockers aren’t yet out of high school — their hook-filled, White Stripes-esque tunes have already made the big-time, with guest spots on TV shows like 90210 and Entourage. myspace.com/thewindmillvandals

Wrong Again

Never mind their name, Wrong Again is everything that’s right about jam bands: earnest lyrics, spiraling guitars, and groovy bass licks. myspace.com/wrongagainsb

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