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Is So-Called Original Music Destroying Festivals?

  • 16-07-2019 9:29am
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 840 ✭✭✭


    I have noticed that modern original music is killing off music festivals. Fair enough, this is a thing for the likes of the Electric Picnic and all them types of things but of late, I have seen this trend seep into bluegrass, folk and trad festivals too. I will be in Wexford in late August 2019 for a break and was considering going to the local Dunmore East bluegrass festival there. As a fan of 1940s country music of the Bill Monroe variety, I'd have assumed there'd be plenty of that at this festival. But checking out the bands at it this year, it is the same old modern original trash. This mentality is ruining festivals. Next thing, one will be going to 'Mozart classical concerts' with original material rather than Mozart's concertos!!

    If one is going to a bluegrass festival, folk festival, classical festival, etc., they should get the proper music of the genre and not some cocky performer of their own material that no one is interested in. There are plenty festivals catering for so-called 'original music' so the other festivals should cater for fans of other music and should provide that for them. Nothing from the albums of the bands coming to this Wexford bluegrass festival are remotely like bluegrass and resemble sometimes either Neil Young type music or else modern Nashville stuff. Again, there is a time and a place for this and it is NOT at a bluegrass festival.


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Comments

  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Politics Moderators Posts: 14,463 Mod ✭✭✭✭johnnyskeleton


    Well to follow your own logic Beethoven would not have been allowed to compose his own music and would have become known as the greatest Mozart coverband of all time.

    Bands are struggling to make ends meet at the moment and they would have to pay royalties if they covered another band. Plus as creative types they want to make their own music.

    I get your point in the sense that youd like to hear your favourite songs and for example Im looking to the Trinity Orchestra doing Leonard Cohen and the London Astrobeat Orchestra doing Talking Heads in All Together Now. But its hard to expect a whole festival to be composed of covers of deceased artists and broken up bands.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,953 ✭✭✭TheIrishGrover


    Music is constantly evolving and is open to interpretation. Your interpretation of what is Bluegrass might be considered rather restrictive to other fans of Bluegrass.
    What would your interpretation be? Does the song have to originate before the 50's? Should the artist be black? Must the artist be from a particular region? Are electric instruments allowed?
    To some, the songs would have to have been recorded before the 50's but southern black men..... You are not going to find too many of them in a festival in Ireland these days.
    Personally I believe that music these days is more diverse than it has been in a long long time:

    Back in the 80's chart music was dominated by Stock-Aikin-and-Waterman cookie-cutter manufactured starlets. Even the bands who weren't sounded quite similarly pop.

    The 90's was dominated by dance music and Seattle Rock which brought some diverse music styles

    The 2000's brought back the manufactured cookie-cutter pop bands.

    From the 2010's we have had an influx of singer-songwriters. The UK grime scene has kicked off in a big way and is making American Hip-hop look a bit stale and cliche. You still have a strong pop scene. Various modern country-inspired bands are rapidly gaining popularity. Scandinavian transcendental pop (Is that a term? :) ) has been around since the Sugarcubes.

    I know. I know. There are some HUGE generalisations there but my point is that I don't think that there ever was a "pure" version of any music. Everything is built on something else but would have been considered "Original" at the time. And everything is open to interpretation and likes and dislikes. You mentioned Mozart. His music was considered shockingly original at the time and I'm sure not everyone was a fan of this new guy :) But I think it is good to see original sounds being given a chance. Even if they are not that original. Diversity in music is a good thing. Without diversity and original thinking we would still be banging rocks together.


  • Registered Users Posts: 218 ✭✭cbmonstra


    Dunmore East is in Waterford, not Wexford, FYI


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,246 ✭✭✭✭Dyr


    Well to follow your own logic Beethoven would not have been allowed to compose his own music and would have become known as the greatest Mozart coverband of all time.


    You're not following his logic though :o


  • Registered Users Posts: 897 ✭✭✭sameoldname


    I think his point is that if you went to an 80's night you'd expect to hear songs from the 80's. Not songs that sound like the 80's.

    Or maybe I'm misunderstanding?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,953 ✭✭✭TheIrishGrover


    I think his point is that if you went to an 80's night you'd expect to hear songs from the 80's. Not songs that sound like the 80's.

    Or maybe I'm misunderstanding?

    No, I believe you are right. But my point was that music is ever evolving so, if you want to go to a trad festival, that is going to be different than the same festival 10 years ago or 20 years ago. I'm sure Planxty were met with wails of protest about their version of Irish trad. That every sound out there is that particular artist's version of that particular song given within the popular style of that music at that time.

    Certain acts of course can specialise in a particular style: You have your acts who perform in a very traditional style.

    But I don't think this would work with festivals. People want to go to a festival to experience a bit of variety. Maybe they are there to see this band in particular but, hey, while we are at it, I have heard about that. Let's have a look.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Did he get through a post without mentioning the handmaid's tale?..


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 840 ✭✭✭The Late Late Show


    I take on board all what has been said. A lot of issues to think of here:

    Original music then and now: I think in the old days, the singers and composers definitely were much more distinctive than the ten a penny singer songwriters of today. Of course, Mozart and Beethoven were highly original and composed some of the greatest music ever written. It was distinctive. In bluegrass, the likes of Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs did the same. These compositions are remembered.

    Festivals and what it says on the tin: There are many forms of music out there and fans of them all. Festivals should be advertised according to their content and not called bluegrass, jazz, soul, reggae, trad, folk, etc. festivals if the music clearly is not. Sadly, what I see a lot of the time these days is songs from pop, country and folk all sounding alike. They all tend to sound like Ronan Keating or Westlife.

    Struggling bands and the like: Yes I get it that some bands want to be creative and often do not want to pay royalties but often the real older classics a lot of people want (e.g. in bluegrass Blue Moon of Kentucky) are pretty public domain at this stage. Sometimes, bands are trying to promote their own songs but not many people are interested and it is a major turnoff to fans of a genre who want to hear new interpretations of the classics. Surely, there is a way you could balance a set list between classics and originals?

    The 1980s night example is exactly what I mean. If you go to this, I'm sure people want to hear Prince, George Michael, Duran Duran, etc. songs and they'd be shortchanged if they didn't get them.

    There is a reason why the classics are and remain popular. They were and are good songs that stood the test of time. On the other hand, someone singing an original song that sounds like a country version of Westlife and passed off as bluegrass at a festival in a seaside border town (yes, in Waterford I checked across from Loftus Hall/Hook Head in Wexford) will not be remembered. If this is what the festival is, call it acoustic pop festival or something more fitting.


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,420 ✭✭✭✭The Nal


    You just sound upset that bluegrass has stagnated as a genre. Blues is the same. They're fairly limited forms of music. I love both though.

    But no, there is some great new music out there. The last couple of years have been exceptional.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,953 ✭✭✭TheIrishGrover


    The issue then would be content. Specifically the amount of content. If one wants to be a traditionalist then is anything written after the 1950's really acceptable? Bluegrass itself is quite specific: Its settings and themes are rooted in certain times, locations and situations.
    I mean does a new song have to refer to the industrialisation/introduction of mining and railroads in the midwest or Rocky mountain or Appalachian regions of America? Or can it refer to themes of general hardships especially regarding modernisation/industrialisation, lack of jobs, loss of natural beauty? Would this not be considered "Country"? I'm reminded of that line in The Blues Brothers: "Oh we like BOTH kinds. Country AND Western."
    So, for individual acts who wish to specialise in traditional interpretations of original Bluegrass tunes, there are plenty of tracks. But is there enough for 6-10 acts in a festival without the acts overlapping with eachother? And if they do overlap, if they are sticking to traditional versions of the same songs aren't they just going to sound very similar?
    So you have a choice of a 2-act "Festival" slavishly playing the same tracks as originally cut. In which case you are seeing a tribute band. Or you have a larger festival that accommodates people who are looking for Bluegrass and Bluegrass-related/inspired music/adjacent music such a country or modern Bluegrass.

    Of course this is the same for ALL music: What is Rock and what is Metal? Is Nu-Metal part of Metal or some new Metal/dance hybrid (Or should it all be burned?) Is band X Rock or metal? If X is Rock then why not Y?

    Same with movies: What constitutes Film Noir? Does it have to be in black and white? Does it have to have a Femme Fetale?

    tldr: Given the amount of content you are limited to a couple of acts playing the music note-for-note the same as originally recorded or you broaden your acceptance of what you would consider Bluegrass and have more acts with differing versions.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 840 ✭✭✭The Late Late Show


    The issue then would be content. Specifically the amount of content. If one wants to be a traditionalist then is anything written after the 1950's really acceptable? Bluegrass itself is quite specific: Its settings and themes are rooted in certain times, locations and situations.
    I mean does a new song have to refer to the industrialisation/introduction of mining and railroads in the midwest or Rocky mountain or Appalachian regions of America? Or can it refer to themes of general hardships especially regarding modernisation/industrialisation, lack of jobs, loss of natural beauty? Would this not be considered "Country"? I'm reminded of that line in The Blues Brothers: "Oh we like BOTH kinds. Country AND Western."
    So, for individual acts who wish to specialise in traditional interpretations of original Bluegrass tunes, there are plenty of tracks. But is there enough for 6-10 acts in a festival without the acts overlapping with eachother? And if they do overlap, if they are sticking to traditional versions of the same songs aren't they just going to sound very similar?
    So you have a choice of a 2-act "Festival" slavishly playing the same tracks as originally cut. In which case you are seeing a tribute band. Or you have a larger festival that accommodates people who are looking for Bluegrass and Bluegrass-related/inspired music/adjacent music such a country or modern Bluegrass.

    Of course this is the same for ALL music: What is Rock and what is Metal? Is Nu-Metal part of Metal or some new Metal/dance hybrid (Or should it all be burned?) Is band X Rock or metal? If X is Rock then why not Y?

    Same with movies: What constitutes Film Noir? Does it have to be in black and white? Does it have to have a Femme Fetale?

    tldr: Given the amount of content you are limited to a couple of acts playing the music note-for-note the same as originally recorded or you broaden your acceptance of what you would consider Bluegrass and have more acts with differing versions.

    I see your point but the problem arises when there is no traditional bluegrass (or whatever in other festivals) or even much relating to the genre it is supposed to represent. I and plenty others find singer/songwriters who cannot and will not sing anything bar their own compositions to be ultra boring and often come across as totally full of themselves. You know the types who say they 'write albums' as if they were book authors. Plenty good music recorded after the 1960s too.

    Now you look at some good singer songwriters. Bill Monroe in bluegrass, Hank Williams in country, Roy Orbison in rock 'n' roll/pop and Sam Cooke in soul. Each one wrote great songs themselves, they also were open to recording great interpretations of standards and other covers, and no one could mix these 4 great artists up! They were distinctive and weren't going around saying they 'write albums' and other such modern singer/songwriter mumbo jumbo.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Dude, while I'm largely in agreement with you.. complaining about it is almost as futile as giving out about RTE.. Like it or not, the signal to noise ratio has gone way down when it comes to music..it's easy to approximate the sound and knock out a cheap pastiche of whatever genre, while lacking the essence of it..
    There's no point complaining about it..
    What good bluegrass would you recommend just out of curiosity?..


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 840 ✭✭✭The Late Late Show


    CQD wrote: »
    Dude, while I'm largely in agreement with you.. complaining about it is almost as futile as giving out about RTE.. Like it or not, the signal to noise ratio has gone way down when it comes to music..it's easy to approximate the sound and knock out a cheap pastiche of whatever genre, while lacking the essence of it..
    There's no point complaining about it..
    What good bluegrass would you recommend just out of curiosity?..

    Bill Monroe, Stanley Brothers (later Ralph Stanley as Carter Stanley died young), Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin.


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,351 ✭✭✭✭bodhrandude


    Bill Monroe, Stanley Brothers (later Ralph Stanley as Carter Stanley died young), Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin.

    Late Late I recommend you listen to Roscoe Holcomb, sadly passed away a long time now, but he's one of my favourites and genuine hard travelling hobo. :)

    If you want to get into it, you got to get out of it. (Hawkwind 1982)



  • Registered Users Posts: 256 ✭✭eoinzy2000


    Jaysus, I hope this thread is just a pure troll. It's the exact equivalent of giving out about a band in a pub not playing brown eyed girl or summer of 69. Absolutely no difference. You can argue saying there is, but there isn't. God love any musicians or bands struggling to survive with minds so closed.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 840 ✭✭✭The Late Late Show


    eoinzy2000 wrote: »
    Jaysus, I hope this thread is just a pure troll. It's the exact equivalent of giving out about a band in a pub not playing brown eyed girl or summer of 69. Absolutely no difference. You can argue saying there is, but there isn't. God love any musicians or bands struggling to survive with minds so closed.

    Bands and musicians do need to believe a whole lot of people are just not into a 100% diet of original material they wrote themselves. Pub bands play those songs you mention because this is what the audience want. I can imagine what would happen in a rural pub if some singer/songwriter went in and performed a top heavy set of songs they wrote themselves. Singers and bands DO need to show more versatility and need to be able to perform the right material for the right occasion. There are PLENTY places for pluggers of original only material and there are PLENTY places where this does not go down at all. Simple as. The STANDARD of the material makes a difference too of course: bland, soulless ballads with little melody and lyrics hard to figure out will leave many people of all ages cold.


  • Registered Users Posts: 256 ✭✭eoinzy2000


    "There are PLENTY places for pluggers of original only material"

    I wish what you said was true, but you clearly have no idea. Your attitude is quite the norm, and everywhere wants to hear the songs they heard at home before they went out. But that's ok. Such is the way. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that. It just stiffles creativity and the next Scruggs or Monroe haven't much chance of getting through the forest. I have a different attitude, and festivals of covers,IN MY OPINION, stiffles creativity and defies the spirit of creative festival atmosphere. You quote many singers that played covers. I believe that a lot of them didn't happily do it, but an industry may have had some influence in financial gain derived from playing a commercially viable hit. I would hope that a creative musician would prefer to play their own material. Nothing wrong in just liking what you like.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 840 ✭✭✭The Late Late Show


    eoinzy2000 wrote: »
    "There are PLENTY places for pluggers of original only material"

    I wish what you said was true, but you clearly have no idea. Your attitude is quite the norm, and everywhere wants to hear the songs they heard at home before they went out. But that's ok. Such is the way. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that. It just stiffles creativity and the next Scruggs or Monroe haven't much chance of getting through the forest. I have a different attitude, and festivals of covers,IN MY OPINION, stiffles creativity and defies the spirit of creative festival atmosphere. You quote many singers that played covers. I believe that a lot of them didn't happily do it, but an industry may have had some influence in financial gain derived from playing a commercially viable hit. I would hope that a creative musician would prefer to play their own material. Nothing wrong in just liking what you like.

    The same argument would hold if a festival was named a singer/songwriter or original music festival and there were bands doing all covers! That would be the same. I am tuned into what audiences want a sizeable audience DO want Bill Monroe/Flatt & Scruggs songs at bluegrass festivals. In rural pubs, Irish ballads are required. At a jazz festival, songs and tunes from the jazz greats would be required. Nothing wrong with mixing in original music into the mix in these too as long as they are of the genre and are not these ten a penny bland boybandish ballads we all too often see get written.

    I AGREE 100% the music scene in general is a mess and that festival organisers are NOT really good at what they are doing. There should be outlets for ALL types of performers and marketed to the right type of fan. There is no point having performers of (good) original material performing to a pub of Irish ballad and trad lovers for example and there is no point someone imitating Elvis at an original music festival.

    Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Bill Monroe are examples of creative singer songwriters who wrote classic original material but could also interpret other material too and mix it all into a good show. That is what all musicians, singers and bands should aspire to. Even the Beatles were known to be able to turn their own songs and covers of songs they grew up with into hits. So much so that everyone called their covers like Money and Twist and Shout Beatles songs!!


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    What sort of bluegrass do you expect to be hearing in Ireland in 2019 too really though..
    Like, really, it's going to be derivative anyway..


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 840 ✭✭✭The Late Late Show


    CQD wrote: »
    What sort of bluegrass do you expect to be hearing in Ireland in 2019 too really though..
    Like, really, it's going to be derivative anyway..

    Every type of bluegrass from Bill Monroe to Westlife!! There is plenty good stuff but there are also these bands who are not even remotely like bluegrass. Was at a few festivals closer to the part of Ireland where I live in and overall, there was something for everyone at them. E.g. Westport.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 256 ✭✭eoinzy2000


    [

    Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Bill Monroe are examples of creative singer songwriters who wrote classic original material but could also interpret other material too and mix it all into a good show. That is what all musicians, singers and bands should aspire to. Even the Beatles were known to be able to turn their own songs and covers of songs they grew up with into hits. So much so that everyone called their covers like Money and Twist and Shout Beatles songs!![/quote]

    True. It's hard to get bluegrass festivals in Ireland. The usual way is having the luck that one or two authentic groups can coincide with said festival time. Impossible otherwise. Most bands cut their teeth playing covers, and I suppose that seeps into their sets, when they become associated with said covers. I'm personally not a fan of it, with the occasional exception. Particularly when you get introduced to new music that they cover that you never heard before. But that's my jam! I'm going to kick off a Ween cover band in earnest, and eat my words. You'd hate it though 😂


  • Registered Users Posts: 256 ✭✭eoinzy2000


    Young/Dylan sang circle be unbroken at weekend. Wasn't too pleased!!!!! Ha.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 840 ✭✭✭The Late Late Show


    eoinzy2000 wrote: »
    [

    Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Bill Monroe are examples of creative singer songwriters who wrote classic original material but could also interpret other material too and mix it all into a good show. That is what all musicians, singers and bands should aspire to. Even the Beatles were known to be able to turn their own songs and covers of songs they grew up with into hits. So much so that everyone called their covers like Money and Twist and Shout Beatles songs!!

    True. It's hard to get bluegrass festivals in Ireland. The usual way is having the luck that one or two authentic groups can coincide with said festival time. Impossible otherwise. Most bands cut their teeth playing covers, and I suppose that seeps into their sets, when they become associated with said covers. I'm personally not a fan of it, with the occasional exception. Particularly when you get introduced to new music that they cover that you never heard before. But that's my jam! I'm going to kick off a Ween cover band in earnest, and eat my words. You'd hate it though ��[/QUOTE]

    That is true. Another point is when the word 'covers' is mentioned, people AUTOMATICALLY think those played out songs that every single band or singer seem to have to play: Galway Girl, ABBA covers, Eagles covers, John Denver covers, The Boxer, American Pie, Garth Brooks' songs, etc, etc, etc. Now, I know some people want them but they are not what I would want a diet of either. Well chosen rare songs often not known in Ireland are the way to go. I got into a lot of the Bill Monroe, etc. songs via bluegrass festivals in Tyrone and the like in the late 1990s and thanked the bands that gave me a taste for the music. Same with Elvis: he covered a lot of those type of rare songs and brought them to a whole lot people who otherwise would not have heard them or the singers who did them first.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    Yeah, but they were all originals in their own right..they weren't apeing some style, which any bluegrass band you hear now will be doing..
    Like, it's a product of where and when it came from..

    Two lads with a guitar and banjo singing a song about some yoke they met on tinder..I dunno..it will lack something..even if they're putting on the bluegrass voice..


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 840 ✭✭✭The Late Late Show


    CQD wrote: »
    Yeah, but they were all originals in their own right..they weren't apeing some style, which any bluegrass band you hear now will be doing..
    Like, it's a product of where and when it came from..

    Two lads with a guitar and banjo singing a song about some yoke they met on tinder..I dunno..it will lack something..even if they're putting on the bluegrass voice..

    Someone actually once sang one of the older songs bringing in things like texting, mobile/smart phones, the internet, etc. into the lyrics at an Irish folk festival one time. It was done as a comedy relief and it worked!!!!!!!!!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 840 ✭✭✭The Late Late Show


    And another factor in today's music festivals is a whole lot of the audience are 'only here for the beer'! They come to drink alcohol, meet friends and smoke. They really don't care what type of music is being played, who wrote it, what genre it is and what story the lyrics tell. Sadly, a lot of promoters and festival managers KNOW this and will pick the most convenient or cheapest outfit they can find. I asked a few friends of mine who were at the Dunmore festival about it and they told me it was best to visit it Friday night and/or the daytime on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday and Sunday nights they said was all about drunkenness, some vandalism of cars, the odd fight and lots of Gardai around the place. Will be giving it a miss so.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20 yaguhu cloud


    the late late country special, rock me momma


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,953 ✭✭✭TheIrishGrover


    You keep going back to the same 4 or 5 names. None of which are with us anymore. If you are limiting yourself to acts who are gone or not recording then how can you expect them to be at a festival?

    So really, in answer to your original question: No, So-called Original Music is NOT Destroying Festivals. It is the life and, indeed, the whole POINT of festivals. Is so-called original music causing their root songs to be abandoned by previously traditionalist musicians? That's another question and it goes to demand: If the demand was there for traditionalist versions of original songs then they would be played. The Bootleg Beatles make a killing playing faithful versions of The Beatles (Right down to the look and banter between the performers)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 840 ✭✭✭The Late Late Show


    You keep going back to the same 4 or 5 names. None of which are with us anymore. If you are limiting yourself to acts who are gone or not recording then how can you expect them to be at a festival?

    So really, in answer to your original question: No, So-called Original Music is NOT Destroying Festivals. It is the life and, indeed, the whole POINT of festivals. Is so-called original music causing their root songs to be abandoned by previously traditionalist musicians? That's another question and it goes to demand: If the demand was there for traditionalist versions of original songs then they would be played. The Bootleg Beatles make a killing playing faithful versions of The Beatles (Right down to the look and banter between the performers)

    These 4 or 5 names I mention may not be with us anymore but they are still and always will be remembered just like the music of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Puccini or Verdi is. Many people are 100% fed up today of singer songwriters whose songs all sound the same and whose lyrics are difficult to understand.

    No, I am NOT tarring all singer songwriters with the same brush but it would not be truthful if one was to just say 'all original music is good just because it is original music'. A lot of bad stuff exists and being a songwriter is not a gift everyone has (but sadly is a gift a lot of people think they have). Those singer songwriters and composers I mention are good at what they do and had talent. Ed Sheeran, George Ezra and others like them are also good at what they do too.

    There is only one thing essentially demanded at many festivals. Drink. I take a drink yes but I am not going to festival just to hear any type of music accompanied by a drink but others do. My friends said this festival in question is all loud talk with drink and no one really cares what music is played. ad but true.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,712 ✭✭✭zoobizoo


    When I go to a jazz festival, I expect to hear jazz.... I know that there'll be many different types of jazz being played - could be jazz funk, could be Rag Time, could be modern or whatever. The thing is, each one of them is jazz.

    I'm no jazz expert btw.

    What I thought the OP was getting at was festivals putting on bands who don't play the type of music that the festival is meant to be playing.


    The Cork Jazz Festival often throws in music that isn't jazz - this year Martha Reeves and the Vandellas… that's Motown.

    When I was at tit the other year, the jazz trail was basically pub bands covers - again, not jazz.


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