funk music


Monday, February 20, 2017

Bear Creek Bayou 2016: The Hibernation

Posted by funkatop On October - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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George ClintonBefore you read this, you need to know my stance with the Bear Creek Festival. I love Bear Creek and all of the musicians that are regularly involved, but something had dramatically changed this year. The attention to detail, the audience, the volumes of people, the marketing, and just the whole vibe. The level of talent you expected to see was still present, but the execution was disastrous.

I had been invited to attend Bear Creek Bayou in New Orleans for shows on September 29 and October 1 that brought headliners George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, The Flaming Lips and many of the Bear Creek mainstays including Lettuce, Karl Denson, Soulive, etc. It was too be held at Mardi Gras World to facilitate the large crowds that they had anticipated.

LettuceI should have written this review a week ago because all of the bands were magic, but the festival itself had taken an awkward turn and I debated on even writing this specific opening content.  If I ignored the glaring obvious issues and just wrote about the bands, I would have sacrificed my journalistic integrity. The pieces that literally everyone was talking about.

Fast forward to when the event was over late Saturday night on October 1st. Members of Dumpstaphunk were gathering together to do a benefit for Bernie Worrell at The Howlin’ Wolf with special guests from Lettuce, Soulive and others. It was going to be worth it to make it out.

I called Lyft to take a ride down to the club and during the small talk, she discovered that I was in town for Bear Creek Bayou and informed me that I just happened to land the same driver who had just got done taking the members of The Flaming Lips to another club just minutes before.

Inside CrowdI didn’t share anything about details of the show, but she said it. “They seem like a fun band. But all they could talk about was how it was the smallest audience they had played for in years.” There it was. It wasn’t just internal murmurs anymore.

In essence, the festival isn’t just the bands. It’s the venue, the crowd control, the staff, the vendors, and other intangibles.  However, the most outstanding element on everyone’s mind’s was the attendance to the point where you thought that something may be wrong. The photo above was literally a majority of the crowd to see one of the inside bands.

The Flaming LipsThe Flaming Lips had just played for maybe 2,000 people? While it’s hard to gauge audience numbers, I was able to stand comfortably in the middle of the crowd and move around for photos without any problems.

This is a band that plays to a sea of tens of thousands of people pressed together like sardines. Bear Creek Bayou presented them to a crowd that was more along the lines of 2,000 at best and most were simply milling around enjoying the show. It’s great for the concert fan, but really bad for the festival. So what happened?

The truth is that the marketing was almost non-existent. Funkatopia is a funk website that brings in thousands of people to this website every single day. A targeted audience of funk music lovers. Plus we have an online radio show streaming from the website, as well as on mobile devices via apps for I-Phone and Android that pump out music 24/7 to thousands of listeners every month. And let’s not forget about the social media presence with thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers. All targeted to Bear Creek’s demographic. Music fans who love funk.

Parliament dancerWe offered access to all of the resources to the ordained marketing group that was charged to promote Bear Creek and were met with total silence. We had to send a dozen emails to simply get permission to even attend as press. We sent emails to our marketing contact requesting for them to send us banners, photos, interviews, giveaways, and even offered to do an “all Bear Creek” radio show to do a full blown broadcast promoting the event and its performers. Nothing.

We were apparently “lucky” enough to even be given permission to come in to take photos.

In a town that many have ordained as the roots of funk in the states, nobody in the New Orleans music industry that we had spoken with even knew that the Bear Creek event was happening. Music industry professionals we knew that would have loved to attend, but had no idea it was there.  Our online search for New Orleans concerts when we arrived produced no results with exception to the BandsInTown app. The end result was a fantastic musical event that very few got to experience.

This obviously had an effect on incredible lesser known bands like Smoke N Bones, Gravity A, Pirate’s Choice and others that played to their friends or a crowd of a dozen or less. Bands that should have been enjoying the opportunity to play for fans of the similar bands on the bill, but instead ended up with not much more than they could have gathered at their own local events.

All that being said, it was still great music with amazing performances that we hope is going to be able to continue in lieu of the shortcomings, but this certainly had to be a huge financial hit with the lack of marketing and worse, the lack of any substantial audience to come out and see the performers.

With exception to The Flaming Lips and George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, the lineup for the festival was the expected standard fare for a Bear Creek show. The funky cajun Zach Deputy, the ethereal funk of Lettuce, the hip hop stylings of Jurassic 5‘s Chali 2na, the darkness of The Budos Band, and driving force of Dumpstaphunk. They were all in attendance with exception of The New Mastersounds, but even guitarist Eddie Roberts still made an appearance with Foundation of Funk and bassist Pete Shand sat in with Bernard Purdie.

The bands also took an opportunity to try out their solo projects such as Dumpstaphunk guitarist Tony Hall performing a James Brown Tribute with the Tony Hall Band. Lettuce keyboardist and vocalist Nigel Hall had his own project as well. Drummer for The Nth Power Nikki Glaspie sat in her old drummer position for Dumpstaphunk and didn’t miss a beat. And even Lettuce trumpeter Benny Bloom had his own project with his Horns-A-Plenty.

The FlooziesThere were so many delightful surprises this year such as The Floozies giving a great tech set with amazing energy and bands like Papadosio and Lotus that played jams from alternate plains. Then there were the sleeper bands that caught folks off-guard like Flowtribe, Smoke N Bones, Pirate’s Choice and many others.

This years festival also had some great artists at large including Pee Wee Ellis, Jennifer Hartswick, George Porter Jr., Natalie Kressman, Skerik and others. Not to mention the great John Medeski, Zigaboo Modeliste, and many artists that weren’t even touted as “at large” but that still found their way to many stages including Ivan Neville and pretty much all of the members of Soulive.

The bands were allocated to three stages. Two of which were outdoors next to each other and when one would end, the next was right there to start seamlessly. The third stage, however, was indoors and seemed to be on its own schedule. That created about the only complaint musically which was the consistent overlapping of bands that pitted phenomenal acts against each other. Both vying for the already slim audience.

Why was it necessary to make us decide whether to see the Godfather of funk, George Clinton and Parliament or go inside to see the the formidable Bernard Purdie playing with an all star band featuring Ivan Neville on keys, Pimps of Joytime guitarist Brian J, and New Mastersounds bassist Pete Shand?

Budos BandI spoke at length with many other press members there and we agree that the music was exceptional, but the conversation all ended up in the same place. Will there even be a Bear Creek next year? While we aren’t privy to the politics or financials, we did hear about a management change and we know first-hand that there was a marketing company change.

The end result was a great show, but it left a lot of questions as to the future of the show. We’ve said it before that Bear Creek is easily one of the best funk festivals out there and this year was no exception. The music is almost never a problem even if there were some strange additions that don’t really fit sometimes, but the finished product is always fun.

The marketing very simply was non-existent and probably the primary component to the crowd outcome. Because of our love for Bear Creek, we went way above and beyond to offer our resources to help promote the event, but it seemed that there was a wealth of disconnects and hoops of fire to jump through for their marketing reps to get the approvals they needed in a timely manner. Either way, somebody was asleep at the wheel or possibly even more terrifying is that maybe someone that’s an important link in the chain just doesn’t care.

Either way, if they can’t make enough money to stay afloat, then the fingers will start getting pointed and it could have disastrous consequences. It’s got us very, very worried, but we’re here to help in any way we can. Keep the funk alive!

Check all of the amazing photos via Facebook here.

Review: Prince, Piano & A Microphone – Atlanta

Posted by funkatop On April - 15 - 2016 50 COMMENTS
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Prince Concert - Sold Out

Prince came into Atlanta on April 14,2016 after a 12 year hiatus like a man on a mission to prove that a) he hasn’t lost a beat, and b) to hand deliver audio perfection in the form of 2 shows at 7pm and 10pm at The Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta, GA. Two sold out shows of 4,678 seats each (9,356 total for you math junkies.)

The Prince, Piano and a Microphone tour was here. The tour originally scheduled for the previous week was postponed a week later due to Prince being ill with the flu, but now he was better and to make good on a great show.

The ambiance was palpable from the moment you arrived as those that were close to the stage were greeted with a light wave of incense that filled the air.  On stage, a single piano spotlighted by two purple stage lights that sat in front of a large screen showcasing kaleidoscope style graphics.

Each side of the stage had its own candelabra and a stool with three candles. Occasionally, the setting was breezed with a small dusting from fog machines and you knew something special was going to happen.

The 7pm Show

IMG_20160414_173627As the lights faded for the 7pm show, the crowd swept into a screaming frenzy as the large screen displayed the brightly colored graphic of the afro’ed Prince with his eyes closed and his 3rd eye. Slowly the graphic begins to fade only to be eventually replaced by a grid of similar colorful graphics that  you’ve seen around the web similar to the Hit N Run album covers.

Then a blast of color and you witness the silhouette of Prince and his now notorious cane. The screen rises and out walks Prince awash in bright yellow light. The crowd screams intensify for what seems like minutes, and finally as the screen closes, he struts the stage and it’s official. He’s arrived.

He starts the show with a slow instrumental tune that serves as the background for his apologies for the cancellation and then the setlist begins;

Little Red Corvette
Dirty Mind
back into Little Red Corvette
Linus and Lucy (The Peanuts theme)
B-side Song (Nobody Do It Like I Do)
Nothing Compares 2 U

As he finishes the song, he walks around the stage as if he can’t stand it and the crowd stands in agreement with him and they don’t sit again until he does. The entirety of the show, the screen behind him dances with kaleidoscope graphics. Some dizzying and some just plain mesmerizing to watch.

He then begins to share a story about his father and how he taught him piano. The back cover of the program offered at the merchandise table also dedicates the tour to his father. He reflects a bit and then the setlist continues;

Chopsticks
Joy in Repetition
Muse 2 The Pharaoh
U Got The Look
Pop Life
Elephants & Flowers
Never Take The Place Of Ur Man
A Case Of You (Joni Mitchell)
I Feel 4 U
Controversy
The Most Beautiful Girl In the World
I Would Die 4 U
Baby, I’m a Star

He thanks Atlanta and leaves the stage. Not so fast.

Encore 1
Heroes (David Bowie)

He tries to leave again knowing that there’s a crowd gathering outside for an oncoming 10pm show. The 7pm crowd isn’t having it.

Encore 2
Diamonds and Pearls
Adore
The Beautiful Ones
back into Adore
Do Me Baby
I Wanna B Ur Lover

Realizing that time has run out, he gets up to leave one more time, but walks back to the piano for one last song,

Encore 3
Kiss

Then Prince grabs his cane and exits the stage.

The 7pm show lasted about 1 hour, 20 minutes, but it was a lot of show and there was still one show to go.

The 10pm Show

IMG_20160414_185743The 10pm appearance started off in the same way, with his entrance exactly the same, but this was a very different show and we knew it would be.  The dancing colorful kaleidoscopic images still made an appearance from time to time throughout the show, but for the 10pm show, there were photos being displayed.

To start the set, the lights dimmed and we see a pair of hands bound at the wrists. The music begins;

When Will B Paid
The Max
Black Sweat
Girl
I Would Die 4 U
Baby, I’m a Star
Ballad of Dorothy Parker
Dark
B-side Song (Indifference)
I Love U But I Don’t Trust U

Little Red Corvette

It was a non-stop onslaught of songs;

Dirty Mind
Linus and Lucy (The Peanuts theme)
back to Little Red Corvette
Nothing Compares 2 U

He thanked Atlanta and left the stage, but everyone knew it was way too soon and the library of hits hadn’t even been scratched. The show continued;

Encore 1
Cream
Black Muse

He begins a song that everyone knows and claims “Y’all ain’t ready.” and begins to walk away. The screen then shows a screen capture from the Under the Cherry Moon movie of Prince holding a phone. They know what’s coming.

How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore

He thanks Atlanta again. Not enough;

Encore 2
Waiting In Vain (Bob Marley)

If I Was Ur Girlfriend
back to Waiting In Vain

He breaks to tell the story of the movie The Way We Were and how Barbara Streisand‘s character had to call Robert Redford even after after he’d been mean to her. The screen shows the famous photo of the Hollywood duo to accentuate the song further.  “Would you run to me if somebody hurt you? Even if that somebody was me?”

back to If I Was Ur Girlfriend

Prince tries to leave again, but it’s the 10pm show and there’s no crowd waiting outside. He gives them one more dose. The screen shows a snowy street at night and the crowd knows what’s coming.

Encore 3
Sometimes It Snows In April

Purple Rain (the crowd goes nuts)
The Beautiful Ones
back to Purple Rain
Diamonds & Pearls
back to Purple Rain

This time, it’s over. And what was accomplished?

After 12 years of his absence, if anyone learned anything that night, it was that Prince is still just as incredible of a performer than he’s ever been. Who else can be in this volatile music industry for over 40 years and still sell out almost 10,000 seats in under 40 minutes within a week notice? You should have also learned that if it comes through your neck of the woods, you better get there.

And if Prince learned anything, he got a first hand look at just how badly we’ve missed him.

Y’all come back now hear?!

IMG_20160414_210340

 

 

Prince Finally Hits Atlanta

Posted by funkatop On March - 29 - 2016 2 COMMENTS
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PRINCEThe last time that Prince performed in Atlanta was 10 years ago playing guitar as a backup musician for Tamar. As the headlining artist, the last time he came through was almost exactly 12 years for the Musicology tour on April 30, 2004.

Needless to say, Prince fans in Atlanta have been going crazy trying to plead for his funky majesty to come back. They watched as he made appearances all over the world including Australia, Canada, London, France, Belgium and many others and then even revisited some of those locations again. If it wasn’t for the horrendous terrorist attacks on France, they too would have experienced a second visit from his highness.

Of course, we at Funkatopia were at the helm of making a whole bunch of noise about Atlanta being left out for all of these years. Whether all of the incessant whining paid off or if it was finally planets aligning, Prince finally has agreed to step foot back in the Southeastern United States bringing his Prince, Piano and a Microphone tour for a two show stay at The Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta on April 7, 2016.

Reserved seating starts at $100 and upwards to $375. While they go on sale on March 30 at noon via the Fox Theater website, it’s sure to sell out extremely fast since who knows when he’ll grace us with his presence again.

Funkatopia founder Mr. Christopher is scheduled to be out of town in Florida the entire week and abruptly changed his plans to come back for the show. “There was no way I was going to miss him. I’ve waited over a decade to see him live again, which will be my 27th time counting concerts and afterparties. The wife is definitely not happy about cutting the vacation short, but she knows that I’m obsessive when it comes to all things Prince and wouldn’t even bother arguing about it. She knows it’s a pointless battle. ”

Everyone in attendance will get a copy of Prince‘s Hit N Run Phase Two CD after the concert adding to his brilliant strategy that adds to his CD sale count and surges him back onto the charts.  The massive song lists that he has been documented playing during the previous Toronto shows included 57 songs and and was just a taste of what Atlanta can expect for this momentous event.

All we can say to Prince is THANK YOU for finally coming back to the Peach State. The Atlanta concert world without you has truly been the pits.

 

2016 Prince, Piano & A Microphone Tour

Posted by funkatop On February - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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Prince Piano and a Microphone tour

Prince‘s new solo tour called Prince, Piano and a Microphone tour is back on the books after a long awaited pause. Set in 2015 to start in Paris, the tour was abruptly canceled due to the terrorist attacks.

The tour kick-started at Paisley Park on January 21st that jumped a weekend long party. The set list was pretty intense and you can find more details on our Prince Tour page about that fun-filled adventure.

When the tour started back up however leaving the Minnesota home base, it did not start back in Paris. Instead, His Purple Highness decided to start in Australia and New Zealand in late February.

Fans can expect to hear all of the hits, plus a lot of rarities, B-sides and even never before heard material according to Doc.

  • February 16 – Melbourne State Theater (2 shows) – Melbourne
    Ticket info here. Tickets on sale at 12 noon AEDT Feb. 9th
  • February 17 – Melbourne State Theater (2 shows) – Melbourne
    Ticket info here. Tickets on sale at 12 noon AEDT Feb. 9th
  • February 20 – Sydney Opera House (2 shows) – Sydney
    Ticket info here. Tickets on sale at 12 noon AEDT Feb. 9th
  • February 21 – Sydney State Theater (2 shows) – Sydney
    Ticket info here. Tickets on sale at 12 noon AEDT Feb. 9th
  • February 24 – ASB Theater – Auckland (maybe 2 shows?)
    Ticket info here. Tickets on sale at 12 noon AEDT Feb. 11th

More details were made available in the Brisbane Times and The Dainty Group.

Review: Kendrick Lamar (Atlanta, GA)

Posted by funkatop On October - 28 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
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Kendrick Lamar Atlanta Crowd
There is no denying Kendrick Lamar and The Wesley Theory. Every album he’s released has been instant magic. His style, his flow, his lyrical content, the grooves he’s rhymed over, and just everything. His explosion on the scene started with the incredible
Overly Dedicated which was his warning shot, then Section.80 was the loud gunshot in the crowd proving that it wasn’t a fluke, followed by the award winning good kid, m.A.A.d city which further proved he was just getting major traction and then the release of To Pimp A Butterfly earlier this year was the nuclear explosion heard around the world.

One thing you can’t deny is that Dr. Dre knows how to spot major talent and Kendrick Lamar is the absolute real deal. So how do you further separate him from the virtual ocean of hip-hop artists? You start by putting him out on tour to showcase his talent and then back him up with a collection of some of the most talented music artists on the planet instead of the standard (and more cost effective) DJ.  

Such is the tour called Kunta’s Groove Sessions which features Kendrick Lamar with his band The Wesley Theory and opening act Jay Rock. It’s an intimate 8 show tour that Atlanta was blessed enough to be included on.

Opening act Jay Rock brought the standard hip hop performance you would expect, but Kendrick added him to the bill if for no other reason because Jay Rock lives and breathes by the same consciousness and delivers the same messages as Lamar. Focusing on racial tensions and the unfortunate ignorance of the general public who are misinformed by the forces that be and have far too much control in steering the future.

Jay Rock performed for about 30 minutes to support his new release 90059, but made no effort to upstage Kendrick as his opening act and sat comfortably back in the passenger seat as a perfectly able artist and delivered an expert flow. And in the process gained a lot of new fans who got to see his work up close and personal.

Kendrick Lamar hit the stage shortly after 10pm backed by a roster of prolific musicians and a sold out crowd of well over 2000 at The Tabernacle in downtown Atlanta. The band started first performing an instrumental cover of Earth, Wind and Fire’s Can’t Hide Love briefly. Then Kendrick came onto the stage and sat on a white couch that was positioned center stage.

He played with the audience for a couple of minutes approaching the mike and then going back to the couch without uttering a word before finally breaking the silence and starting the show with For Free? (“This d*ck ain’t free”).

What proceeded afterwards was a literal onslaught of music lasting over an hour and a half and covering To Pimp A Butterfly in its entirety with exception to You Ain’t Gotta Lie. He also managed to get in the fan favorites from good kid, m.A.A.d city including Swimming Pool (Drank), Backseat Freestyle, Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe, Money Trees, and M.A.A.d city.

The energy was for lack of a better term “off the chain” with a majority of the crowd on the floor singing and bouncing for the entire show. The band collectively put together a very well rehearsed structured show that didn’t lend itself well to much off the cuff performance off ramps, but in a show that is as tight as this was, it certainly wasn’t missed.

Lamar has proven that even with a majority of his show being from his newest album, that his impact on his fans is impactful since his audience sang along to every song from an album that’s not even 8 months old.  It was next to impossible to not get swept up with the high energy of the show in both performance and audience participation.

Kendrick announced several times during the night that this particular version of this tour would not be replicated and was an exclusive type of event that would be the “livest and loudest event you’ve ever heard”.  And in no stretch of the imagination did he sway from that promise.

The end result? An absolutely incredible live music full band hip hop extravaganza that can’t be rivaled by any hip hop act on the road right now. None. Easily the best show we’ve seen this year and so spiritually fulfilling that if Kendrick Lamar + The Wesley Theory are anywhere within 100 miles of where you are, get in your car and get there immediately.

We’re giving Kendrick Lamar’s tour, Kunta’s Groove Sessions with his band The Wesley Theory a firmly and well deserved 5 out 5 afro award.

5 out of 5 afros

Setlist

Can’t Hide Love Instrumental Intro (Earth Wind and Fire Cover)
For Free?
Wesley’s Theory
Institutionalized
Backseat Freestyle
Swimming Pools (Drank)
These Walls
For Sale?
Hood Politics
hard rock segue
Complexion (A Zulu Love)
Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe
Money Trees
Can’t Hide Love Instrumental Segue (Earth Wind and Fire Cover)
m.A.A.d city
u
Band jam
Chat
King Kunta
crowd play
Momma
i
How Much a Dollar Cost
The Blacker The Berry
Mortal Man
crowd noise and chants
 encore
Alright
Every Ni**er Is A Star outro

 

Review: Lianne La Havas – Atlanta – 10/25/2015

Posted by funkatop On October - 26 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
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Lianne La Havas - Atlanta - 2015

British songwriter and now part of Prince’s growing collective of amazing new artists he actively supports, Lianne La Havas hit Atlanta to the tune of a sold out show at Center Stage with opening act Keenan O’Meara.

Keenan O’Meara is a ballad-heavy performer in the vein of Vance Joy that played for about 35 minutes to an extremely welcoming crowd. He went solo with an acoustic guitar and then migrated to electric midway through the set. His songs are along the lines of the aforementioned Vance Joy with brooding lyricism and slightly darker tones layered with thought provoking topics. While his music was a bit removed in style for Lianne La Havas, the crowd made him feel completely welcome. He was the original vocalist on Lianne’s track Wonderful from her new album Blood.

By the time Lianne hit the stage, the crowd was ready. This was one of the first sold out shows I’ve witnessed at Center Stage which holds just over 1000 and the crowd was insanely enthusiastic and energized to see her. The energy and hype was mind-blowing as you can see in the video below and when you have such an over the top reception to your performance, the delivery just gets increasingly better.

The setlist (shown below) was a perfect mix of new and old material. There were a lot of great moments including Lianne showing off her mastery on acoustic guitar and doing solo work on songs like Tease and No Room For Doubt. Even briefly forgetting the lyrics to Au Cinema which was segued into a great slowed down version of Happy was incredibly endearing and real and made the evening that much more magical.

Nearing an hour and 15 minutes, Lianne apologized for not having a lot of material to play all night, but this was truly one of those nights where she left them wanting more. Even if she had played all of her material from both albums, the crowd was insatiable enough to have demanded more and easily would have stayed until the wee hours just to hear her voice.

Lianne still managed to return for an encore to solo with an electric guitar on her songs Age and Ghost. She then was joined by the rest of the band for a closing rousing ode to her ex-boyfriend to blaze out Forget with huge crescendos.

This was one of the best caffeinated performances we’ve seen at Center Stage and her recent alliance with Prince over the past year or so has created a literal audio landslide that will catapult her into top 40 status in the very near years to come. Pay attention. It’s coming.

Meanwhile here is the setlist and a taste of what you missed and you missed plenty.

Lianne La Havas Setlist
Atlanta, GA 10-25-2015
Green and Gold
Is Your Love Big Enough?
Au cinema/Happy
What you don’t do
Wonderful
Tease
No Room for doubt
Lost and Found
Unstoppable
Grow
Midnight
Elusive
Never Get Enough
Tokyo

Encore (Lianne solo with electric guitar)
Age
Ghost
(Full band)
Forget

The Liv Warfield & Blackbird Tour

Posted by funkatop On June - 30 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
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The beautiful Liv Warfield and her band Blackbird is hitting the road to do their tour in Europe. Mr. Christopher chats with Liv about the upcoming leg, the band, Jimmy Fallon and much more.

Google Hangout technical issues caused a loss of the first couple minutes, but there’s still plenty of interview along with special guest Ryan Waters (guitarist for Blackbird)

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