Texas Bluegrass Has Anybody Seen any Old Settlers ‘round Here Central IBMA Member

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Lloyd Maines
Lloyd Maines

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Raymond Blanc
Raymond Blanc

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Bob Weir
Bob Weir

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Alison Brown
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Alison Krauss
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William J. Brennan, Jr.
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Mike Montgomery
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Texas Bluegrass
IBMA Member
Vol. 33 No. 4
Apr 1, 2011
Copyright © 2011 by Central Texas Bluegrass Association
Has Anybody Seen any Old Settlers ‘round Here
I hope
you have
your rubber boots
and waders...it’s time
again for Old Settler’s Music Festival.
It seems the past few
years the festival has
had more than its
share of “April Showers”. Shucks, the rain
doesn’t stop the picking and the live music. The
2011 lineup includes
The Avett Brothers,
The Richard Thompson Electric
Trio, Sam Bush,
Sonny Landreth, Tim O’Brien,
EmmittNershi Band, The Gourds, Jimmy
Gilmore with the Wronglers,
Jake Shimabukuro, Langhorne Slim, Band of Heathens, Foster & Lloyd,
Trampled by Turtles,
Gaelic Storm, Sahara Smith,
Greensky Bluegrass, Audie Blaylock
& Redline, Jim Lauderdale, David Francey,
Green Mountain Grass, Elliott Brood, beatlegras, Ruby Jane, The
Bridge, Dirtfoot, Warren Hood & the Goods, Suzanna
Choffel, The Hillbenders, The WayneBillies, MilkDrive, Rose’s Pawn Shop,
Youth Competition Winners Sarah
Mueller and Minnie & Ella Jordan.
Central Texas Bluegrass is once again
co-sponsoring this event. Look for
Ben Hodges in the CTBA tent. Buy a
hat! See YOU there?
The Listening Post
The Listening Post is a forum established to monitor bluegrass musical recordings, live
performances, or events in Texas. Our mailbox sometimes contains CDs for us to review.
Here is where you will find reviews of the CD’s Central Texas Bluegrass Association
receives as well as reviews of live performances or workshops.
Michael Cleveland & the Flamekeepers in Elgin
Patty Mitchell
Yes I know. This is an old
CD but I just can’t stop listening to it. Released in
2004, Texan Patty Mitchell
produced a fine quality CD
that is packed with excellent tunes and equally fine
musicians. Patty’s family
used to run the Perrin Festival many years ago. If you
don’t have this CD you are
missing a source of Texas
pride that can only be satisfied by listening to her
version of Susan Werner’s
“Barbed Wire Boys” (by the
way Susan will be at Rice
Fest in November).
Patty’s fantastic voice
rings through on all tracks
so it’s hard to pick a few
of the best. You need to
hear her sing Carter Stanley’s “You’re Still To Blame”
and let her sing you into
dreamland with the lovely
waltz, “Now, That’s Lonely”.
She also has several songs
written by her good friend
songwriter Gail Davies.
It might be a little hard to
find this CD. I got mine by
writing directly to her. If
you can’t find it, contact us
at [email protected]
Pinch me! I’ve now had the privilege of seeing Nashville’s hottest bluegrass
band, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, twice in the last six months. The recent opportunity to see them perform at a small, beautiful country church near
Elgin, Texas stood in stark contrast to having seen them at Nashville’s Ryman
Auditorium back in September at IBMA’s annual award show. While it was a
real treat to see them as they won IBMA’s Instrumental Group of the Year for the
fourth consecutive year, the Nashville experience didn’t begin to compare with
the gut-busting energy of this enormously talented group in an intimate setting out in the middle of nowhere, practically. Hats off to Mark Nygard, pastor
for the last 26 years of the Yegua Creek Evangelical Free Church, for figuring out
a way to get Flamekeeper to detour down to central Texas. Commanding the
respect of both fans and industry elites alike, the band has received numerous
individual awards as well as group awards. At the 2010 IBMA Awards Show, Michael Cleveland was presented his eighth Fiddle Player of the Year award, and
Marshall Wilborn received his second Bass Player of the Year award. Tenor singer/mandolinist Jesse Brock won the 2009 Mandolin Performer of the Year, while
current singer/guitar player Tom Adams is a former three-time Banjo Performer
of the Year winner. Who on earth, you may now be wondering, was playing the
all-important banjo? Although Jessie Baker played the banjo on Flamekeeper’s
newest and much anticipated CD Fired Up, banjo master Charlie Cushman recently joined the band in January and was on hand to lend an especially bright
spark to the Elgin concert. I’ve watched him play Sally Ann on YouTube about
a zillion times (I think about 1,000 of the 23,000 views belong to this self-proclaimed Cushmaniac), and at about 1:25 into the video, he is literally bouncing
while playing this great song....but I digress. The point is, I couldn’t have been
more excited to finally hear him live. Well, the next best thing to being there is
to pick up your own copy of Flamekeeper’s CD that is scheduled for release by
Rounder Records on March 29. Check it out; it should be available by the time
you’re reading this. www.FlamekeeperBand.com or www.Rounder.com.
(By Jami Hampton)
CTBA Members Perform for 50 Texas Schools
Lost Pines CD Release
The celebration of Texas Independence Day on Wednesday, March 2nd, was
an opportunity for nearly 3,000 school children throughout the state of Texas
to get a first-hand look at what bluegrass music is all about. Through the efforts of CTBA member Daniel Kott, KPLE in Killeen, TX, hosted noted music instructor/ CTBA member Eddie Collins and the Upham Family Band (also CTBA
members) for a half-hour program on the history and evolution of bluegrass
music. The show was broadcast live with interactive participation of public
schools from Beaumont to El Paso. CTBA was a co-sponsor of the event.
Brothers Josh, Aaron and Micah played guitar, upright bass and fiddle, respectively and were joined by their mother Tracie on mandolin and Eddie on banjo. Eddie shared pictures of Bill Monroe and old instruments along with some
LP album covers from the Blue Grass Boys and Flatt & Scruggs. After playing
“Liberty,” “Nine Pound Hammer” and “Old Home Place” and talking about the
origins of the music and the instruments, the performers fielded live questions. Some of the questions directed at the Upham boys included, “How did
you learn to play your instrument?” and “Why do they call the violin a fiddle in
bluegrass music?”
Daniel Kott is the founder of MECCA, a non-profit education foundation that
promotes the study of international music and dance. The organization has
been organizing, among other things, a monthly bluegrass jam session in the
Killeen area. Check their website http://mecatx.ning.com/ or email Daniel Kott
at [email protected] for more information.
This is Blue Creek String Band doing a
little busking during SxSW (L to R) Tracy
Sloan, Brink Melton, Rixi Rosenberg,
Theresa Tod, & Thomas Chapmond.
The Lost Pines “Sweet
Honey” CD Release Party
is April 2nd at The Scoot
Inn, 1308 East 4th Street in
Austin. The CD was produced by Grammy Award
winner Lloyd Maines.
Lloyd even plays a little
Dobro on “Maybalee”
(which has already gotten
airplay on KUT & KOOP).
The band recently added
Alex Rueb on mandolin,
Jon Kemppainen has anchored down the fiddle,
and Marc Lionetti continues to shine on the six
string. Other musicians
helping out on the CD
were Jerry Hagins and
the lovely voice of Jen
Miori can be heard singing harmonies too.
The title cut is a Christian Ward tune and it’s a
happy tune with the upbeat enthusiasm Christian
brings to every performance. Talia Sekons is
a very impressive singersongwriter, not to mention a very savvy user of
technology and social media to promote the band.
Sit down and give this
CD a good listening to. Relax, and have a little “Cherry Pie” and smile real big.
Picks, Happenings, and Releases
The Texas Pickin’ Park jam in Fayetteville is starting back up every second
weekend of the month. The opening day event is April 9th and will have
bands, workshops, directed jams, food and of course GREAT jams around the
historic courthouse square. Dorothy & Hal have retired but the jam lives on!
The same weekend as the Texas Pickin’ Park opening is the Concho Valley
Bluegrass Festival over in San Angelo. This year’s festival is dedicated to early Texas Bluegrass pioneer Nelson McGee. The lineup features Kody Norris &
the Watuga Mountain Boys (Mountain City, TN), Gap Mountain (Abilene),
The McPherson Family (Nemo, TX), Triple L (NM), and IIIrd Generation
(Norman). The event will benefit the Concho Valley Home for Girls and the
Children’s Emergency Shelter. Ticket info: 325-655-3821
The Open Mic at New World Deli on Guadalupe is still going strong. Eddie
Collins continues to be the gracious coordinating host of the event. Eddie
tells us that in March they had 22 people show up to perform. There’s a lot going on in Bluegrass and Americana Roots music. The newly remodeled New
World Deli has some great food and drink. The Open Mic is on the second
Thursday from 6:30-8:30. This event is hosted by CTBA.
Live Oak is an invitational fiddle camp with a limited number of spaces. If you
are interested in attending the camp, please email a short bio and mp3 or link
to music [email protected] Instructors are Stuart Duncan, Darol
Anger, Wes Westmoreland and Hanneke Cassel! This is advanced fiddle
instruction for players 17 and up by masters of a variety of styles including
bluegrass, Texas-style, old-time, swing, jazz and Celtic. The camp is held in
an intimate ranch setting. Housing and food are included in the camp fee. TR
Ranch in Hallettsville, TX Sunday, May 29, 2011-Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Want to find upcoming shows in your area for all your favorite artists? This
iPhone app lets you browse artist pages with full itinerary, photo & biographies, tap into event pages with venue info, map, ticket links & artist lineup, or
search by artist, venue or location & radius. You can easily find music playing
close to where you are using the built-in GPS functionality. Pretty cool if you
are traveling. You can search for shows happening in your destination FREE!
If you have read past issues of this newsletter you have seen us reference the
Austin Music Foundation before. If you are a performing musician you just
flat shouldn’t miss any of the FREE events, workshops, and classes these great
folks put on. Musician or not, you should consider supporting them too.
CTBA is a co-sponsor of this organization.
Bluegrass From The Edge: Mandola Moods
by George Wilson ([email protected])
I was sitting listening to Steve Smith and Chris
Sanders at a recent house concert in San Antonio.
I have really come to like these smaller more intimate gatherings. Steve and Chris remarked on
how nice it was to see so many campers. (Steve
and Chris are regulars on the Texas acoustic
school scene.) I suppose on a grueling road trip
it would be great to see a venue full of friendly
faces. As much fun as the concert was this note
is not a review, it’s just relevant because Steve is
partially responsible for my latest instrument acquisition.
I just received a new Weber Gallatin Mandola. Over the years I’ve been exposed to several mandolas, some in concert and some in music stores. Initially it was just a curiosity but I’m always interested in new capabilities. Over the last few years I’ve come to the realization that I am a serial
instrument player and having more than one of any specific type is pointless – I’ll play my favorite
and not the others. Given this, short of finding (and affording) something better than what I have,
my only choice is to find new capabilities.
I started this too late to be a hot flat picker so I tend to concentrate on songs. Every time I played
a mandola I thought that tone wise it would fit nicely between my mandolin and my guitar. Paul
Glasse demo’d a new mandola at a San Antonio house concert last year and I loved the melodic
sensibility of it and then Steve Smith used one at a house concert in Gruene. He used it just like I
thought it would fit, slid right between his guitar and mandolin voices for specific tune voicings.
That was tipping point toward getting a mandola.
So once again I’m on the edge of Bluegrass, this time on instrument choice instead of the map. Not
many mandolas to be found but they are not unheard of either. From my initial time with it I find it
really suggests being at home with minor keys and moderately paced tunes and songs, where the
voice gets to talk to the audience. Besides being tuned a fourth down (CGDA) from the mandolin,
this mandola also features a D-hole instead of more usual f-holes on most mandolins.
I used the Weber ‘Build-to-Order’ program to get just what I wanted. The biggest changes were color
to my preference and the aforementioned D-hole. I’m a proponent of playing before buying in general so it was a real leap of faith to go this way. But mandolas are scarce and my faith in Weber is
strong so I took a chance and I am satisfied. BTW, the online mando family hangout Mandolin Café
and Weber have teamed up to let somebody else have the ‘Build-to-Order’ experience. Go to www.
mandolin.cafe by April 15th to enter for a chance on getting your dream mandolin.
The Folk Alliance
510 South Main Street,
Memphis, TN 38103
901.522.1170 Office
901.522.1172 Fax
Building community one song at a time
Cross Cultural
Arts Association
MECCA is a 501c(3) nonprofit educational organization that teaches music &
dance to adults and children. We provide ethnic/cultural/patriotic music and
dance groups for civic, schools, churches, and club programs events.
Phone: 254-526-9464
e-mail: [email protected]
YouTube channel: mecatx
Teaching the Children of the World to Dance,
Sing and Play Musical Instruments
Caabin10, In
Thee Rice Festiva
& RiceG
Supporting Higher Education
in the Arts
(830) 739.6986
Salmon Lake Park
34th Annual
Bluegrass Festival
Grapeland, TX
September 1, 2, 3, 4 - 2011
From the Mailbox
This is KOOP Radio DJ Ted Branson from the Strictly Bluegrass collective show. If you didn’t already know, the
Quebe Sisters Band have been booked in to Waterloo Ice House 38th and Medical Parkway here in Austin!
8pm-10pm Friday April 1st. This is very exciting as they do perform bluegrass, swing, cowboy music etc plus it’s
been awhile since they’ve played here and likely will
be awhile before they return. Appreciate your support
and all you do! Thanx, Ted www.koop.org PS I also
play and promote Texas Bluegrass and have live bluegrass bands on my Tuesday show Under the X in Texas
Hi...We want to share some exciting news about Sarah
(Jarosz) with you! Sarah’s new record is scheduled for
a May 17th release date on Sugar Hill Records. She’s
calling her second full-length release, “Follow Me
Down.” The new record was Co-Produced by Gary Paczosa and Sarah Jarosz. Sarah wrote 9 of the 11 songs.
The new record is filled with some very special guests
and we can’t wait for you to hear it!
Sarah Jarosz’s Austin record release shows will be on
May 22, 2011 at One World Theatre. Sarah will do
two shows that evening, one at 6:00pm and another
at 8:30pm. She willl be joined for these performances
by Alex Hargreaves on violin, and Nathaniel Smith
on cello. We just found out that tickets went on sale
yesterday and can be purchased by calling One World
Theatre box office at 512-329-6753
KOOP Radio, Austin, 91.7, Strictly Bluegrass Show 10:00AM every Sunday
KPFT Radio, Houston, 90.1, The Bluegrass Zone, 4:00PM every Sunday
KSYM Radio, San Antonio, 90.1, Hillbilly Hit Parade, Noon every Sunday
KEOS Radio, College Station, 89.1, High Lonesome, 7:00PM every Tuesday
Randall’s Good Neighbor Program
The process to get this started is a bit of a pain, but it makes donating to CTBA, your local schools, or
your favorite non-profit organizations very, very easy. Just go to the link below, print the form and fill it
out, enter CTBA’s code 9735, and take to your local Randall’s store:
August 11-13, 2011 Arlington Texas
A three day camp for Bluegrass & Clawhammer Banjo,
Flatpick Guitar, Mandolin, Fiddle, Songwriting, Dobro,
Vocal / Harmony, Bass, Swing/Jazz Guitar
Flatpick Guitar
Kenny Smith
Jim Hurst
Brad Davis
Robert Bowlin
Bluegrass Banjo
Tony Trischka
Jim Mills
Ron Stewart
Gerald Jones
Dan Levenson
Wil Maring
Swing/Jazz Guitar
Kim Platko
Mike Compton
Paul Glasse
Nate Lee
Texas Shorty
Robert Bowlin
Nate Lee
Vocal / Harmony
Amanda Smith
Dennis McBride
Alan Tompkins
Only 15 minutes away from DFW Airport and conveniently
near major malls, Six Flags Over Texas, and water parks. We
chose our talented lineup of instructors because they are
great pickers, great teachers and great people.
or call Gerald Jones: 214-236-0783
Meet CTBA Members:
Bruce Mansbridge &
Elaine Kant
Introduce yourself. Tell us your name, a little bit about
yourself, what city you live in, and why you joined CTBA.
I’m Bruce Mansbridge, and I’m a psychologist specializing in the treatment of OCD. I came to Austin
eleven years ago from Danbury, CT, where they don’t
play much bluegrass. As soon as I got to Austin I was
astonished at how much music was around. Following a great tip on how to get to know people in a new
city (“Get to be a regular someplace”) I started going
to the Sunday jams at Artz Rib House, where I met
Steve Mangold and a bunch of other CTBAers. I soon
started going to the Beginner-Intermediate Group
(“B.I.G.”) jams at Steve and Jacque’s house, and for
the last few years my partner Elaine Kant and I been
hosting them at our house.
play in.
What bluegrass artist do you like to listen to most?
The Greenbriar Boys and Red Allen and Frank Wakefield are probably my all-time favorites, maybe because of their great harmonies. Of folks who are
playing today, I love the Gibson Brothers. For solo
performers, I’d say Eric Weissberg and Doc Watson.
Do you play an instrument?
What is your all time favorite bluegrass song?
I play guitar, primarily rhythm. Since we usually don’t
have a bass at the jams, I try to provide a good bass
line. I used to do more finger-picking, but as I’ve focused on bluegrass, I’ve been mostly flatpicking. I’ve
dabbled in autoharp, banjo, and mandolin over the
years. Over 40 years ago, Frank Wakefield helped me
pick out a mandolin at the Fretted Instruments music store in Greenwich Village. Voice is an instrument,
isn’t it? Elaine and I have been learning to sing some
harmonies, and I really love that. It’s hard to find a
key that’s low enough for me and high enough for
her, and it also helps to be in a key that people can
Unfair question! Like what’s my favorite food! But
Elaine just pointed out that people can pick a last
meal, so what would my last song be? Interesting
concept. OK, if I had to pick just one: “Sweetheart You
Done Me Wrong”.
For bookings
[email protected]
The BIG jams are fun for any level of musician and are
held on the first and third Thursday of each month
from 7 to 9 pm. If you are interested in attending the
jam please email Bruce at [email protected]
Artist Profile:
Sierra Hull
This month we don’t have
the standard Artist Profile. No, sadly, I didn’t get a
chance to interview Sierra Hull for this article but I may have something just as
sweet. CTBA was fortunate enough to get an article written by Berklee Songwriting Professor Mark Simos. Mark shared with this handout given to his
Berklee students. In it, he dissects the song “Easy Come, Easy Go”. The song has
recently been released on Sierra’s newest release from Rounder Records entitled Daybreak. “Easy Come, Easy Go” was written by Kevin McLung (who also
wrote the title track for Sierra’s Secrets CD). The CD recording features Ronnie
Bowman, Shawn Lane, Stewart Duncan, Bryan Sutton, Randy Kohrs, and
Barry Bales backing Sierra.
David McClister recently worked with Sierra to produce a video that you may
have already seen on the CMT network and can be found running now at CMT.
com. It is an excellent video and Sierra really shines.
Sierra recorded her first CD at age 15 and has performed at many festival and was invited to the stage of
the Opry by Alison Krauss. She has played on the stages of Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the National Prayer Breakfast. She now attends Berkless where she is the first bluegrass artist to be awarded
the prestigious Presidential Scholarship. She could have easily hit the road after high school but opted
to accept the award and expand her musical education. She has been nominated for five awards by IBMA’s
voting members and may become the first woman to win the mandolin category one of these years. As a
songwriter Sierra wrote seven of the twelve songs on her first CD.
This is a bit of a twist but if you happen to be a teacher you should contact Nancy Cardwell over at IBMA
and get a copy of the DVD “Discover Bluegrass”. The DVD is an instructional introduction to bluegrass music and features none other than a very young Sierra Hull. The handout isn’t printed in the paper edition of
this newsletter as it is five pages. Go out to the CTBA web site at www.centraltexasbluegrass.org and click on
“Newsletters” to view the complete version.
Instruction for Banjo,
Guitar and Mandolin
Online and Private Lessons
Eddie Collins
Song Analysis: ÒEasy Come Easy GoÓ (Kevin McClung)
Mark SimosÑ[email protected]
In this handout I offer an example analysis of a song off the new album from BerkleeÕs
own Sierra Hull, Daybreak (Rounder Records). The album is SierraÕs sophomore effort
(meaning itÕs is her 2nd album, not that sheÕs a sophomoreÑcÕmon folks!). This handout
is written to be comprehensible mostly to Berklee songwriting students, so I wonÕt take
the time to explain terms used here. (As a special one-time offer, though, if you know
other songwriting students or musicians you think might be interested in this handout,
you can distribute the PDF to them, as long as my copyright notice stays intact.) This is a
nice way to see the approach to song analysis
SierraÕs in my Lyric Writing 1 class this semesterÑso she owes me, as a midterm song
project, a trailing rhymed verse-refrain song. Sadly, this song isnÕt that form of verserefrain; but it does combine a refrain technique with a more conventional chorus. This is
instructive to us, since my goal is to get you excited about the whole range of verserefrain structures. (Unfortunately for Sierra, since this isnÕt a rhymed trailing verserefrain song, she still has homework to do over Spring Break. OhÑand I forgot to
mention she didnÕt write this songÑKevin McClung didÉ)
Start by giving the song and her beautiful rendition of it a listen here:
Then take a look at the Nashville chord chart on the last page of this handout while you
listen for a 2nd time. (Every listen, by the way, helps a fellow Berklee student and helps
promote better representation of bluegrass and acoustic music on CMT!) Now letÕs look
at a few lyrical and harmonic aspects of the song.
Lyric Structure. So where is the refrain here? The verses have a simple structure:
(rhyme scheme, line length of 7 primary stresses)
ÒIÕm not a child anymoreÓ
ÒIÕm not afraid anymoreÓ
(in verse 3, ÒIÕm not that girl anymoreÓÉ)
The first half of this verse, a three-line verse (AAX) section, is inherently unstable. Our
ear wants to hear it matched Ð as it is, in this first verse, by the second 3-line section. This
sets up the varying phrase ÒIÕm notÉ anymoreÓ as a refrain line within the verse.1
1 Notice
my rhyme scheme notation shows ÒRÓ and ÒRÓ because this is a refrain coming in the middle and
the end of the verse; so the refrain end-rhyme syllable is repeated rather than rhymed. IÕd show a set-up
line rhyming the refrain with a RÕÑthough thatÕs just my preferred notation. So if you are feeling tired
writing in other verse forms, remember that this form can provide you a little R and R. (Ouch!) Song Analysis—“Easy Come Easy Go” ©2011 Mark Simos. All Rights Reserved. 1 13 COPYRIGHT © CENTRAL TEXAS BLUEGRASS ASSOCIATION
The two different line lengths parallel the rhyme scheme. The third and sixth lines are
shorter lyrically (from 7 to 5 stresses), but stretch across twice the musical phrase length
of each of the previous lines; so the overall affect is one of deceleration.
Hear how this form generates a lot of familiar and comforting structure for the ear, before
you ever get to the chorus? The second half of the verse, repeating the refrain or at least
the lyric formula, creates a strong balance point of stability. Thus the first entrance into
the chorus section is relatively gentle, not a flying leap but a hop from a stable point.2
But now notice how this same form works differently in verse 3. (Or call the first 6 lines
Verse 1a / 1b if you prefer.) Here we have only the first half of the verse, the part I said
created instability. Now, as we move to the chorus, even with no pre-chorus section, what
was a balanced verse section becomes unbalanced merely by taking something away. It
still works and sounds not too fragmented, because our ear can remember the structure
from the first two verses; but it changes our perception of the chorus by moving to it with
a different energetic quality. ItÕs like musical sleight of hand!
This is a great technique to remember: you can use asymmetrical structures in your
songs. I call this a ÒspiralingÓ moveÑin this case spiraling from longer to shorter
structure, creating an overall feeling of acceleration, perfect for the midpoint of a song.
If you donÕt learn and consciously apply this technique, your habitual tendency will be to
continue a song that starts V1 V2 CH with V3 V4 CH. Here is a nice example of how
breaking that ruleÑreally, not a rule but a pre-conceived too-rigid structureÑcan
produce strong results. You can also spiral by adding material to a section, a better move
for later in a song, especially the end.
Musical/phrase structure: Back-heavy phrasing. Okay, letÕs look at another aspect of this
song. As it happens, this is the aspect IÕve asked my Songwriting 1 students to address in
their midterm song projects: using a combination of front-heavy and back-heavy phrasing
to create sectional contrast in a song. So Sierra, at least youÕre good with this project.
(Oh, I forgotÑyouÕre not taking Songwriting 1É and thatÕs right, you didnÕt write this
songÉ sorry!)
Listen to how all the phrases in the verses begin: with the first stressed syllable of the line
(in most cases the first syllable) on the first downbeat of the measure. This is what weÕre
calling front-heavy phrasing. It gives a stable, deliberate feeling, suited for the reflective
tone and emotion with which the song begins. But we want to get things moving forward
in the chorus. And back-heavy phrasing is a perfect way to do that: listen to how every
line of this section begins on beat TWO of its respective measure or phrase. It creates the
right emotion for its section, and it creates a clear differentiation between the sections.
2 You can build whole songs out of some version of this unrhymed trailing refrain form; although if you
want this verse form to work without a chorus, then AAAX BBBX is better than this shorter form. ThatÕs
the form I used in my song ÒCrazy Faith,Ó cut by an artist many are now calling Òthe previous Sierra
HullÓÑAlison Krauss.
Song Analysis—“Easy Come Easy Go” ©2011 Mark Simos. All Rights Reserved. 2 14 COPYRIGHT © CENTRAL TEXAS BLUEGRASS ASSOCIATION
It also creates a lovely counterpoint between vocal and the instruments. The empty beat
at the start of the measure is a perfect place for the chord to hit without competing with
the vocal for your attentionÑwhich means the vocal can be more prominent without
being oversung or boosted dramatically in the mix. In bluegrass you always have to
remember that the band is part of the scenery!
Asymmetrical phrasing. Back-heavy phrasing is one way of creating movement,
instability and dynamic tension. There are other ways, and several are used here. First,
look at the Nashville chart, play the song and listen to the way the phrasing shifts at the
end of the chorus. The chart shows us that we have a 5-line rather than a conventional 4line chorusÑor, expressed in musical terms (with the chart showing chords moving on
the half-measure), 10 measures instead of 8. This is not the most irregular or
asymmetrical of optionsÑnot an odd time signature like a 5/4 or 7/8, or a dropped or
added beat. ItÕs an added phrase, fairly gentle on our ears: still accessible, yet creating an
unexpected closure; when we think itÕs going to end, it fools us and stretches the chorus
out a bit on Òeasy come, easy go.Ó
How else is the chorus differentiated from the verse? What tells our ear almost at the start
of the section that weÕre in a new section? ItÕs not that the first phrase starts on a 4 chord;
weÕve heard that twice before in fact, once almost immediately before the chorus. But
besides the switch to back-heavy phrasing, we change two other aspects. First, we depart
the 4 chord for not the 1 (the Òfalling backwardÓ move we heard in the verse) but the 5
chord, a forward-moving, progressing harmonic move. And we change the pace at which
the chords arrive, the harmonic rhythm. In the verse weÕve moved at the pace of two
chords to the measure; and weÕve held a chord for two measures. Now we move at a
steady, one chord per measure pace for almost the whole chorus. That feels slower than
the start of the verseÑsignaling a kind of decision, resolve, in contrast to the pensiveness
and anxiety in the verse; yet it feels faster than the pace at the end of the verse, signaling
a kind of quickening of the will. HereÕs another musical sleight of hand, where a change
in one element of the song can have two simultaneous qualities or effects, both of which
somehow suit the emotion and meaning of the song. Land sakesÑHow does he does it?
Use of color chords. IÕll pick just one other thing to talk about in the musical structure of
the chorus, because itÕs a subtle thing to appreciate when the materials are so seemingly
simple. Notice that the entire song uses only your basic 1, 4 and 5 chords, with only a few
exceptions. The b7 chord is so ubiquitous in contemporary songwriting (and especially in
bluegrass) that, even though technically not diatonic to major, itÕs become part of a de
facto expanded diatonic palette.3 Aside from that ÒdarkeningÓ b7 chord there is exactly
one minor chord in this whole song, the 2 minÑand it is used exactly one time in the
form, in the middle of the chorus (though of course, the chorus is heard multiple times).
LetÕs look at how and why that chord is used, and why it is so effective.
3 This palette arguably also includes 2 majorÑespecially when not used with a 7th voicing as a
conventional secondary dominant heading to the 5 (e.g., when the 2 maj returns straight to the 1 or moves
back through the 4. Song Analysis—“Easy Come Easy Go” ©2011 Mark Simos. All Rights Reserved. 3 15 COPYRIGHT © CENTRAL TEXAS BLUEGRASS ASSOCIATION
We know the 2 min is the relative minor of the 4, and so can serve as a substitute for the
4, also playing a sub-dominant role in the harmony. We also know that as a minor chord,
it has a more pensive quality than the stronger 4 major chord. Relative to the tonal center,
the root of the chord is an ascending step from the tonic (1 chord). So a move from 1 to 2
min has a dual quality: a rising quality in terms of intervallic motion in the root of the
chords; but a shift from major to minor in the chord quality. When we depart the 2 min
for the usual destination, the 5 chord, we get a more emotionally shifting change than the
4 -> 5: movement of the root up a 4th rather than up a 2nd; and shift from minor to major.
In this song, though, we donÕt approach the 2- from a chord with a tonic function (1 or 6-)
but rather from a 4 chord. So here it functions not merely as a substitute for the 4. LetÕs
look at a condensed version of the progression of the chorus:
CH: 4 2-­‐ 5 5 1 1 4 b7 CH: 4 4 5 5 1 1 4 … 4 5 We start the chorus with a loop through the chords: 4 -> 5 -> 1 -> 4. Up until the 1, this
pattern moves in a functional direction. But by continuing around the circle until we land
on 4 again, this harmonic resolution is left unbalanced at the end of the first phrase on the
relatively unstable 4 chord. To have the second phrase echo that looping gesture we could
simply repeat the loop, starting from the 4 chord where we had landed. But to do this
from the 4 would create a problem:
Note with this version we would hang on the 4 chord for 2 beats, changing the harmonic
rhythm with the held-over chord at the start of the 2nd phrase. By using the 2 min instead
at the start of the 2nd phrase, we get a continuing steady harmonic rhythm, while also
preserving the sub-dominant feel of the original 4 chord with its closest substitute, the 2
min. Also, we approach the 2 min via a descending minor third in root motion, adding to
the feeling of softened energy compared to the first phrase. Overall, as we listen to the
chorus, when that lone 2 min comes along we feel as if we are diving a little deeper into
the shadows, on the way to the ironic acceptance Ð easy come, easy go.
Conclusion: the power of genre. You may have listened to this simple, beautiful song and
then read my analysis and scratched your head in puzzlement. After all, could the writer
possibly have worried about any of this stuff when he put this song together? Well, yes
and no. This is a song in the genre of contemporary bluegrass. One powerful benefit of
writing within a clear genre is that the very conventions of the genre embed a great deal
of musical wisdom. The twelve-bar blues is an archetypal form of tremendous power;
you donÕt have to understand it completely to play it, feel it, write to it. So it is with the
harmonic moves in contemporary bluegrass. And yet: this genre was also shaped and
influenced by some very knowledgeable writers and composersÑsuch as the great John
Pennell, whose work is also featured on SierraÕs album. I guess that means youÕll have to
get the whole album now to see what I mean!
Song Analysis—“Easy Come Easy Go” ©2011 Mark Simos. All Rights Reserved. 4 16 COPYRIGHT © CENTRAL TEXAS BLUEGRASS ASSOCIATION
Easy Come Easy Go
© Kevin McClung Nashville Number Style Chart (1 chord = ½ measure or two beats) (written by Mark Simos after one listen – forgive any errors!) INTRO: 1 5/1 1 1add2 1 5/1 1 1add2 4 / / / 1 / / / V1: 1 5/1 1 1add2 1 5/1 1 1add2 4 / / / 1 / / / V1b: 1 5/1 1 1add2 1 5/1 1 1add2 4 / / / 1 / / / CH: 4 / 5 / 1 / 4 / 2-­‐ / 5 / 1 / b7 / 4 / 5 / MID: 1 5/1 1 1add2 V3 CH BR: b7 / 4 / 1 / / / b7 / 4 / 5 / / / V4 CH OUTRO: 1 5/1 1 1add2 1 Song Analysis—“Easy Come Easy Go” ©2011 Mark Simos. All Rights Reserved. 5 17 COPYRIGHT © CENTRAL TEXAS BLUEGRASS ASSOCIATION
Banjo Revolution by Tom Nechville
The banjo of Earl Scruggs survives nicely in the unchanging world of traditional bluegrass, but has
not been a big part of the pop scene until recent groups like Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons
have given it some popular attention. While coolness has recently adopted banjos, the challenge I
see for players is to continually find new ways for the original Americana instrument to fit into today’s
live performances. The old banjo is a bucket of nuts, bolts, hoops and rods, something like a tambourine on a stick. Just what the doctor ordered for a jingle-jangling old time jam, or in the context of an
intense jam-band crescendo, to produce the acoustic substitute for a fuzzy distorted electric guitar.
Lou Meyers, executive director of the Folk Alliance conference reports that a new banjo is emerging within the quickly expanding world of roots, acoustic and jam bands music. Nechville has been
quietly building their brand of re-engineered banjos for over 20 years. Tom Nechville has been trying
to let the banjo out of its cage ever since the 70’s when he first heard Earl do the boggie-woogie on
the banjo. Nechville has always felt that the banjo needed a new thicker voice to gain acceptance in
more popular music. His designs facilitate a wider range of tonalities and choice for banjo playing
artists. His “Banjo Revolution” is more than a slogan that hints at his original patented designs, but
is the Nechville sponsored format by which more players can connect within the exploding world
of Folk, Americana and Country music through membership in these trade associations. Nechville’s
Revolution encourages growth of musical connections by facilitating membership to one of the major folk or roots associations with purchase of a banjo from their factory. Working musicians can become associates of the Banjo Revolution to receive discounts on Nechville products and gain rights
to represent and distribute them while on tour.
Nechville instruments have been built since 1986 and have received exposure in the hands of players
like Bela Fleck, Alison Brown and Emily Robison of the Dixie chicks. Recently country music is beginning to embrace Nechville designs, especially his new class of Electric banjos for guitarists. Keith
Urban and crew have their own model called the Urban Meteor. It’s look is unmistakable for a banjo,
but has power to rock the house. Jam band veteran Mike Gordon, young bands like Chicago Cornmeal and SanFrancisco’s Hot Buttered Rum and even dead-head icon, Bob Weir were early adopters
of Nechvilles cutting edge instruments. Now country/roots superstar Zac Brown is jumping on stage
with his own co-branded Nechville Turbo-charged Heli-mount 6 string.
The future of the banjo is clearly here. We will continue to see and hear the nostalgic, primitive old
charm of tradition through collectors and reproducers of music from former times. All other forms
of music will benefit from the lingering charm of America’s instrument as long as the instrument itself can rise to the challenge. Progressive playing techniques coming from players like Alison Brown
and Bela Fleck and Noam Pickelny challenged Tom to supply a banjo tone that better fit their “New
Acoustic” music. Early recordings from these masters ring with a familiar shrillness that is lacking in
their more recently adopted “modern” sound. Fleck, Brown, and more recently even Tony Trischka
have undergone transformations in tone, lending a fuller, rounder edge to their notes. They have arrived at their jazz-friendly tone by a variety of means, Which Nechville explains as a combination of
setup factors like bigger bridges, and tasteful playing technique. Tony’s sound seemed to transform
most dramatically when he first tried Nechville’s 3/4” Enterprise compensated bridge. Little things
in banjo set up can make a big difference in tone. Players are generally willing to experiment with
bridges, heads, even tone rings and rims sometimes, but to change the whole concept of how a
banjo works is a different story....
Tom Nechville takes pride in saying his company is the world’s leader in innovative banjo design.
Nechville has 2 patents on his helical mount; Heli-mount banjo and adjustable neck connection.
The Nechville banjo replaces a combination of seventy odd pieces of hardware with an innovative
one-piece cast metal frame. You tighten or loosen the head of the Heli-mount by rotating a threaded
flange ring encircling the banjo’s drum pot. A pair of geared T wrenches similar to a chuck key on a
drill, moves the flange ring around until you reach hide-busting tension. It’s a little like operating a
lid of a jar. The Heli-mount system perfectly produces an even tension across the head of the banjo.
Moreover, the patented Helimount frame stands to be the chief structural component, rigidly attaching the neck while still allowing adjustment. This eliminates the need to have sound-choking
coordinator rods inside the resonating chamber of the banjo. Nechville’s patented solid neck connection to the frame allows for easy raising and lowering of string height and interchangeability
among necks and bodies. The sound quality from a Nechville banjo has been called “musical”, “balanced” and “thick” due to the absence of dozens of metallic parts and coordinator rods that are normally clamping the whole thing together. The tone ring and rim assembly, most commonly made
from bell brass and 3 ply hard maple, is literally suspended inside the framework of the Helimount
insuring the most purity to the banjo sound.
Nechville’s Phantom banjo combines contemporary engineering with the old English tunneled fifth
string idea. The absence of the fifth peg on the Phantom allows unobstructed left hand maneuvering, particularly when using your thumb to fret the fifth string. Because no hole is drilled in the middle of the neck, it is stiffer, lending a dense woodiness to the tone. The neck profile is a bit wider, but
with a slim feel for great playability. Even more radical, but useful, is Nechville’s patented Nuvo neck.
The neck is more guitar-like and all 5 strings are playable to the nut. A sliding 5th string capo can
be placed anywhere from the zero fret to the top of the neck, and a main rolling capo is built right
into the neck for rapid key changes without the need to retune between settings. Innovations from
Nechville seem to never cease. He has pioneered in synthesizer banjos, electric/ acoustic banjos
and guitars, and a new class of Hybrid instruments he calls “Flux-tones”. Nechville uses his recently
patented “Flux capacitor” to marry an old style banjo pot to his modern, comfortable engineered
necks, lending better tone, easy adjustability and portability to the old banjo. Look for more to come
from Nechville. This is one little company working behind the scenes that has the determination to
change music for the better.
More information on Nechville products and ideas is available at www.nechville.com and at www.
Reply to
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feel free to call if I don’t reply promptly
Office 952-888-9710
Cell 612-275-6602
Membership and Advertising Rates
CTBA’s Volume 2
(includes shipping costs to anywhere in the United States)
Central Texas Bluegrass still have a few T-shirts remaining.
They are 100% pre-shrunk cotton, high quality shirts with
CTBA’s logo on the front. Available in Navy Blue and White.
Sizes are S, M, L, XL, and XXL. Only $10.00
Take $5.00 off the advertising rates if you are already ad business member. Copy deadline is the 15th of the month. Publication
is on or about the 1st day of the each month. Send electronic notices to: [email protected] Send payment to:
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Attention: Editor
PO BOX 9816
Austin, TX 78766
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Central Texas Bluegrass Association Bluegrass Newsletter
is published by the Central Texas Bluegrass Association, a
501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Texas Non-profit Corporation. Contributions are deductible as charitable and educational
donations. Work published in this Bulletin is used by
permission of the writers, artists, and photographers, who
retain all copyrights. Tom Duplissey, Editor
Board Members:
Sam Dunn, President
Eddie Collins, Vice President,
Mike Hurlbut, Secretary
Rixi Rosenberg, Treasurer
Tracy Sloan, Janice Rogers, Coleman Stephens, Ben
Hodges, Gloria Brayshaw,
Past President - Jami Hampton
CTBA provides a link between clubs, restaurants, and other
venues and Central Texas Bluegrass musicians.
Our members range from listeners and lovers of bluegrass
music to world-class professional musicians who all have the
same desire: to promote the music.
CTBA sponsors jams, workshops, provides scholarships to
needy musicians, donates to other non-profit organizations,
supports radio stations that promote bluegrass music & musicians, and provide festival venues for our listeners and fans of
bluegrass music to enjoy. KEEP ON PICKIN’
(Month & year of articles in Newsletter follow name)
Dave Seeman
(512) 357-6154
Alan Munde Gazette
Bill Honker
(214) 693-1620
[email protected]
Austin Lounge Lizards
Mike Drudge, agent
(615) 262-6886
Autumn Walkers (Brenham)
Lou-Lou Barbour
(979) 836-4165
Bee Creek Boys
Jim Umbarger
(512) 329-8443
[email protected]
Better Late Than Never
Duane Calvin
(512) 835-0342
Blacktop Bend
George Rios
(512) 619-8536
[email protected]
Blazing Bows
Mary Hattersley
(512) 873-8925
The Bluebonnet Pickers (Marble Falls)
Brooks Blake
(830) 798-1087
Bluegrass Vatos
Danny Santos
(512) 218-4141
[email protected] .com
Brian Byrne and Borrowed Time
(512) 422-8088.
[email protected],
Christy & the Plowboys
Christy Foster
(512) 452-6071
[email protected]
David & Barbara Brown (Jul ‘10)
Corpus Christi, TX
(361) 985-9902
[email protected]
BuffaloGrass (Jun’08)
Don Inbody
(512) 295-6977
[email protected]
The Carper Family (May’10)
Jenn Miori
(281) 682-8174
[email protected]
Out of the Blue
Jamie Stubblefield
(512) 295-5325
[email protected]
Piney Grove Ramblers (Jan, Apr’08)
Wayne Brooks
(512) 699-8282
Ragged Union
Geoff Union
(512) 563-9821
[email protected]
Ranch Road 12
Elliott Rogers
(512) 847-7895
[email protected]
Randy’s Rangers
Sigi Field
(512) 869-8076
Chasing Blue (Sep‘10)
(512) 963-7515
[email protected]
Rod Moag and Texas Grass
Rod Moag
(512) 467-6825
[email protected]
Eddie Collins (Dec’07, Nov’09)
(512) 836-8255
[email protected]
The Sieker Band
Rolf & Beate Sieker
(512) 733-2857
The Grazmatics
L. Wayne Ross
(512) 303-2188
Steelhead String Band
Sharon Sandomirsky
[email protected]
(512) 619-8705
The Lost Pines (Jun’10)
Talia Sekons (512) 814-5134
[email protected]
Manchaca All-Stars (Nov’07, May’08)
Ben Buchanan
(512) 282-2756
[email protected] email.com
One Came Bak
Rebecca Graham
[email protected]
String Beans
Mike Montgomery
(512) 394-5471
[email protected]
The Wimberley Bunch
Marilyn Lumia
(512) 557-2112
[email protected] vownet.net
Where to go for a BLUEGRASS JAM!!!
Bluegrass Beginner/Intermediate JAM (CTBA Sponsored)
1st. & 3rd Thu. 7-9 PM, (call for location)
Contact: Steve Mangold (512) 345-6155
Bluegrass Beginner/Intermediate JAM (CTBA Sponsored)
2nd & 4th Sat 4-6 PM; Slow Jam starts at 2:00PM ArtZ Rib House
Contact: Steve Mangold (512) 345-6155
Bluegrass Intermediate/Advanced JAM (CTBA Sponsored)
Sunday’s 2-6PM, ArtZ Rib House, 2330 S. Lamar
Bluegrass All Levels Jam
2nd and 4th Monday 7-11PM Waterloo Ice House (38th and Medical)
Contact www.waterlooicehouse.com
BELLVILLE (Spring Creek Club Sponsored)
Bluegrass All Levels JAM & SHOW
Jan. thru Sept 4th Sat; 4pm JAM, 6:30 pm SHOW, Coushatte RV Ranch
Contact: (979) 865-5250 [email protected] www.springcreekbluegrass.com
Bluegrass All Levels JAM
2nd Sat, 1-4 PM, April-November, Houston Railroad Museum,
Contact: (713) 319-8906 www. houstonrrmuseum.org
Bluegrass All Levels JAM & SHOW 3rd Sat: Jam 5 PM (BABA Sponsored)
Show 6:30 PM Jan- Nov.
Contact: Rick Kirkland (President) (281) 488-2244
Bluegrass All Levels
Manchaca Railroad Bar-B-Q, FM 1626, Every Thursday 6:30-9:00PM
Contact: Dave (512) 680-4433
1st Sat: Jam all day
Contact: Ronald Medart (254) 865-6013 www.pearlbluegrass.com
Bluegrass All Levels
Danny Ray’s Music, 12 Chisholm Trail, RR, Third Saturday 2:00 PM
Brazos Country Grass
Monday’s 6-9PM, JJ. Cody’s, 3610 S. College
Contact: www.brazoscountrygrass.com
Bluegrass Beginner/Intermediate JAM
Grady’s Barbeque at 7400 Bandera Rd. San Antonio. Monday’s 6-8 PM
Contact: Clifton Bowren (210) 602-5544 [email protected]
Bluegrass All Levels JAM (Texas Pickin’ Park Sponsored)
2nd Sat, April—November, starts at 6 PM, on the Courthouse Square
Contact: [email protected] www.texaspickinpark.com
RV Park Community Center 1st & 3rd Tuesday, 6:30-9:00PM
Contact: Loretta Baumgarten (979) 743-4388 [email protected]
Bluegrass Jam All Levels
every Thursday at Duke’s BBQ Smokehouse, 6-8 PM,
Contact: 512-869-8076 or [email protected] (www.sigi.us/rr)
Bluegrass All Levels JAM
Saturday, March- Nov, 7:30PM between Main & State St at 6th,
Bluegrass/Swing/Country JAM & Stage Show (Pot Luck too!)
3rd Sat, 2-9 PM, 9 mi. E. of Luling, Hwy 90
Contact: Tony Conyers (512) 601-1510 or (512) 940-3731
A Musical Instrument Lending Program
Contact me if you know a child between the
ages of 3-17 that needs a bluegrass instrument
TILL, PO Box 426 Fayetteville, TX 78940
Tom Duplissey (512) 415-3177
Bluegrass All Levels Jam
Fri 8-12 PM, Rolling House Clubhouse
Contact: Mike Bond
1st Friday each mo., Hondo Hootenanny, starts at 11 AM- Hondo Community Center,
1014 18th st, Hondo, Tx Info 830 426 2831
1st Sat each mo, Field Creek Music - 6: PM field Creek is between Llano and Brady on Hwy 71, Info call Bill Tuckness 325 247 3223
2nd Tuesday - Each Month, All Gospel Jam 6: PM,
first Baptist Church - Medina, Tx, Call Linda Barton for info, 830 589 2486
The Austin Center for the Treatment
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Bruce Mansbridge, PhD
6633 Hwy 290 East, Ste 300
Austin, TX 78723
(512) 327-9494
Visit our website: http://www.centraltexasbluegrass.org for a complete listing
Apr 1
The Carper Family, Driskill Hotel, 9:00pm
Apr 2
Piney Grove Ramblers, Green Mesquite, 7:00pm
Apr 2
The LOST PINES CD RELEASE, Scoot Inn, 9:00pm
Apr 3
Piney Grove Ramblers, Iguana Grill, 6:30pm
Apr 3
Bluegrass Vatos, Threadgills North, 11:00am
Apr 6
The Carper Family, Threadgills North, 7:00pm
Apr 8
Blacktop Bend, Ross’ Old Austin Cafe, 6:30pm
Apr 9
John McEuen of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Uptown Marble Theater (Marble Falls)
Apr 10
The Lost Pines, Arthouse at the Jones Center, 11:00am
Apr 10
The Sieker Band, Threadgills South (Gospel), 11:00am
Apr 14
Bluegrass OPEN MIC, New World Deli, 6:30pm
Apr 14
Apr 16
The Carper Family, Central Mkt Westgate, 6:30pm
Apr 16
The Sieker Band, Artz Rib House, 7:30pm
Apr 16
The Carper Family, Continental Club, 10:00pm
Apr 17
The Sieker Band, Red Poppy Festival, Noon
Apr 24
The Sieker Band, Black’s BBQ (Lockhart), 1:00pm
Apr 27 Piney Grove Ramblers, Patsy’s Cafe, 7:00pm
Apr 29 Blacktop Bend, Simplicity Wine Bar & Eats, 7:00pm
Apr 30
Blacktop Bend, Austin Farmer’s Market Downtown, 10:00am
Central Texas Bluegrass Association
P.O. Box 9816
Austin, Texas 78766
[email protected]
Phone: (512) 415-3177

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