A Look Back at the Year in Manitoba Music

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Juno-winning roots trio The Wailin’ Jennys kicked off 2007 with the broadcast of their in-studio performance for CMT's Studio 330 Sessions in Nashville, taped in October 2006. The online broadcast included live renditions of four of their songs and a few brief interview clips. Past Studio 330 Sessions performers include Dwight Yoakam, Kathleen Edwards, The Road Hammers, Rhonda Vincent, and fellow Manitoba roots act The Duhks.

Later in January, plenty of Manitobans spent a week in Cannes, France for the 41st edition of MIDEM, the world’s biggest music market and conference with over 10,000 international delegates. Manitoba had a strong presence this year, including representatives from Smallman Records, Arbor Records, Balanced Records, C12 Records, and Rising Sun Productions along with folks from MARIA and Manitoba Film & Sound. cafesonique.com, the world's first and only 3D global virtual music community, also had a strong presence at MIDEM with one of three Canadian stands at the tradeshow. cafesonique.com also hosted a successful showcase featuring up-and-coming Winnipeg chanteuse Katelyn Dawn as well as several international artists.

The Alternative Press hailed up-and-coming rock outfit Sick City as one of the “Hometown Heroes” for 2007 as well as one of the next 100 Bands You Need To Know.


In February, singer/songwriter J.P. Hoe snagged an opening slot for Canadian superstar Jann Arden’s spring tour, including a performance at the MTS Centre.

Four hometown were nominated for the 2007 JUNO Awards, The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announced on February 6, including nods for two previous Juno winners, The Duhks and The Wailin’ Jennys, both for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year (Group). The Jennys’ Toronto-based producer David Travers-Smith was up for Recording Engineer of the Year for his work on the band’s album Firecracker. Country rock act Doc Walker got a nod for Country Recording of the Year while Christian rock outfit Starfield picked up a nomination for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year. Two Manitoba-based record labels were home to nominees this year, including Aboriginal music label Arbor Records’ release of Susan Aglukark’s latest effort and Singpost Music’s release by Carolyn Arends.

The Duhks also picked up a nod from the Grammy Awards - which took place on February 11 - for Best Country Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal.

Five Manitoba acts went to Memphis, Tennessee to showcase to the folk and roots music industry at the North American Folk Alliance Conference (NAFA). Showcasing acts included some of Manitoba’s best up-and-coming as well as established artists, including award-winning world music a capella septet Madrigaïa, bluegrass outfit The Doug & Jess Band, roots/rock duo Twilight Hotel, eclectic act the Dust Poets, and singer/songwriter Nathan Rogers.

In addition to the conference, the second annual Folk Alliance Awards took place on February 21, including a performance by Madrigaïa, who was nominated for Traditional Release of the Year. The Wailin’ Jennys were up for Contemporary Release of the Year and Contemporary Artist of the Year, James Keelaghan was up for Traditional Artist of the Year and the Winnipeg Folk Festival was nominated for Best Folk Festival.


Local indie label Smallman Records announced two new signings; Vancouver’s Daggermouth and Winnipeg’s own Sick City. Smallman released Daggermouth’s latest effort in mid-March while Sick City fans had to wait until the summer for the band’s full-length debut, Nightlife, which was released on Trustkill Records outside of Canada. Nightlife was recorded at Atlanta’s Tree Sound Studio in March with producers Kenneth Mount & Zach Odom (Cartel, Jimmy Eat World). The new signings come hot on the heels of the release of popular hardcore act Comeback Kid's latest release, Broadcasting, on Smallman's label.

Eight local acts went to Toronto for Canadian Music Week, one of Canada's biggest music festivals and industry conferences. This year’s Manitoba contingent included a diverse roster: roots singer/songwriter Cara Luft, popular hardcore act Comeback Kid, alt.metal act Domenica, funk collective Moses Mayes, alt.country singer/songwriter Romi Mayes, electronic alt.rock band Tele, pop rockers The Details, and blues guitarist Billy Joe Green. Brandon Friesen of 441 Studios, Jack Shapira of Unison Studios and Jarret Hannah of H2 Entertainment also joined the mix, along with representatives from MARIA and MANITOBA FILM & SOUND.

CMW also includes multiple awards shows, including the Canadian Independent Music Awards, also known as The Indies. Juno-winning folk darlings The Wailin’ Jennys were up for a trophy for Favourite Folk/Roots Artist/Group or Duo of the Year.
Manitoba artists went to Austin, Texas for North America’s biggest music festival and conference, South by Southwest. It was a record year for Manitoba music at the annual festival, which ran March 14-18, with 10 hometown acts hitting Texas stages and showcasing in front of some of the music industry’s most influential players. Local indie label Transistor 66 had its presence in high gear with rockers American Flamewhip and Hot Live Guys, and bluesman Scott Nolan showcasing. Other local acts with coveted official showcases included indie folk/pop quartet Nathan, Cara Luft, pop outfit Paper Moon, rock buzz band Inward Eye, hip-hop act Grand Analog, and mod-rockers Novillero as well as unofficial showcaser Romi Mayes. For the 10th year, MARIA and MANITOBA FILM & SOUND teamed up with SXSW’s Canadian sister conference North by Northeast to host the best industry shingdig of the conference - a BBQ at the Caswell House featuring performances by Nathan, Paper Moon, plus Serena Ryder, and Small Sins.


Accomplished fiddler, Sierra Noble traveled to France to perform at the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Noble, who specializes in traditional Metis fiddle, performed the Metis Prayer/Warriors Lament at the monument as a part of the historic ceremony on April 9. Along with her performance at the ceremony, Noble also performed for the Prime Minister and other dignitaries at an Easter dinner while she was overseas.

Some Manitobans got attention at this year's International Songwriting Competition. Nearly 15,000 songs by both professional and amateur songwriters from 88 countries were submitted in 2006 with entries from as far away as Rwanda, Iran, and Uzbekistan. Two Manitobans made it to the finals, resulting in honourable mentions. Bluegrass songwriter Jess Reimer of family outfit The Doug and Jess Band took an honourable mention in the Americana category for her song "Knockin'." The track appears on the band's latest effort, Slave to This World. UK-born R&B gospel singer Adé got an honourable mention for "Up Up Up." The song, cowritten with Darren Sedor, appears on Adé's latest release 49 54, which received two Covenant Award nods for Urban/R&B/Soul Album of the Year and Outstanding Christian Recording last year.

Manitoba music made its mark in California in April. An unprecedented four bands hit the stages to showcase for some of the music industry’s most influential players at MUSEXPO 2007, which ran April 29 – May 2 at the Bel Age Hotel in West Hollywood. Only 30 acts from around the world were chosen for coveted showcase spots. Two hometown acts, punk/rock outfit Sick City and alt.rock quartet Losing Focus, were chosen by MUSEXPO to join the line-up, counting for two out of the three Canadian acts showcasing at this year’s event. MARIA and MANITOBA FILM & SOUND presented a special luncheon for all the conference delegates with acoustic performances by duo Keith and Renee (Easily Amused) and indie pop quintet Paper Moon on the Bel Age Hotel’s rooftop. The Manitoba hospitality continued with performances by Keith and Renee and Paper Moon at the Manitoba Music Explosion luncheon showcase at the prestigious Hotel Café, presented by MARIA, MANITOBA FILM & SOUND, Manitoba Trade and Investment, and Creative Control. The Manitoba delegation was joined by Sam Baardman and Sara Stasiuk of MARIA, Carole Vivier and Kevin Walters of MANITOBA FILM & SOUND, Jason Smith of Smallman Records, Chris Burke-Gaffney and Jewls Dengl of CBG Artist Development, Brandon Friesen of 441 Studios, Jack Shapira of Unison Studios, songwriter/producer Arun Chaturvedi, artist Kelly Fairchild, and David Kennedy of Manitoba Trade and Investment.


Hometown roots/rock act Twilight Hotel scored a nice career boost and headed south to work with acclaimed producer/musician Colin Linden at his studio in Nashville, Tennessee in mid-May to record its new album, Highway Prayer. Linden, one-third of popular folk act Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, has produced works for big names like Bruce Cockburn, Tom Wilson, and Lucinda Williams. The band will spend time at The Rendering Plant with a host of fine musicians including former Janis Joplin keyboardist Richard Bell. The duo has been picking up steam in the last year since the release of its critically-acclaimed debut Bethune. With several successful showcases at major industry events like Memphis' North American Folk Alliance as well as a lot of time logged on the road, Twilight Hotel has been building a solid following, particularly in the U.S.

MuchMusic and local label Smallman Records teamed up to present the annual Much Does Winnipeg showcase at the West End Cultural Centre. On the bill this year were experimental electronic act Blunderspublik, DJ Co-Op and DJ Hunnicutt, rock/pop outfit The Details, rock act Hot Live Guys, and punk/rock quartet Anthem Red. All five acts got a chance to show off their talents on national television and expose new audiences to their music.

Three local acts went to Vancouver for one Canada's important music industry conferences, NewMusicWest. Taking the stage this year at NMW are rock outfit Floor 13, indie rocker Scott Hinkson, and pop/rock act The Details as well as Unison Studios' Jack Shapira.


Toronto’s North by Northeast (NXNE), the largest music conference in Canada, featured showcases by 12 local acts, including rock acts Floor 13 and Mad Young Darlings, metal quartet Domenica, instrumental metal outfit Red Blanket, alt.country singer/songwriter Romi Mayes, roots duo Jacob and Lily, singer/songwriters Ann Walton and Cat Jahnke, pop/rock bands The Details and boats, acoustic popsters J.P. Hoe & The Truly Richards, and hip-hop act Grand Analog. Jack Shapira of Unison Studios also be traveled to Toronto for NXNE. MANITOBA FILM & SOUND and MARIA hosted the 13th annual Manitoba BBQ on atop the Drake Hotel. The BBQ provides Manitobans at NXNE with the opportunity to network with some of the biggest names in the industry. This exclusive, invite-only party is one of the hottest events of the conference.


Winnipeg-based rock trio Inward Eye performed a couple of Canadian dates with the Warped Tour, and as well three dates with major U.S. rock act Hinder. Known for their blistering live shows, the young brothers Erickson - Anders (drums), Kyle (guitar), and Dave (bass) also geared up for a trip to Chicago in August to play one of the biggest music festivals around: Lollapalooza..


Hometown favourite Doc Walker went up for a stunning nine awards at this year’s Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA). The nationally-televised awards show, one of Canada's annual entertainment highlights and part of the Canadian Country Music Association's annual Country Music Week, took place in Regina September 7-10, 2007 with the awards gala on the final evening. Manitoba artists and industry professionals were up for a total of 14 awards, which is more than twice as many nominations as last year. The band was up for the Fan’s Choice Award, Single of the Year, Group of the Year, and Album of the Year as well as nods for Website of the Year, Album Design of the Year, Video Director of the Year, and Country Music Program or Special of the year for its CMT performance. Doc Walker's guitarist, Murray Pulver, was also been selected as a nominee for All-Star Band Award. Also getting some industry attention was Kelly Berehulka of Casinos of Winnipeg for Talent Buyer of the Year, Dauphin’s Countryfest for Country Festival, Fair or Exhibition of the Year, Paquin Entertainment for Booking Agency of the Year, and CKDM’s Bruce LePerre for Music Director of the Year. Corb Lund guitarist Grant Siemens, a Winnipeg native, was also up for the All-Star Band Award. The strong showing for Manitoba music at this year’s awards is a good indication for next year, when Canadian Country Music Week and the CCMAs will be coming to Winnipeg.

Three local acts were up for trophies at the Native American Music Awards (Nammys), an American music awards show. Juno-winning rock outfit Eagle & Hawk and blues acts Slidin’ Clyde Roulette Band and South ThunderBird were up for awards at the 9th annual celebrations. Eagle & Hawk, which was nominated for 2006 JUNO Award for Best Aboriginal Recording, was up for Best Pop/Rock Recording for its album Life Is... The band picked up a trophy in this category at the 2006 Nammys for its recording, Mother Earth. The Slidin’ Clyde Roulette Band was up for Best Blues/Jazz Recording for Let’s Take a Ride while multiple-Canadian Aboriginal Music Award nominated group South ThunderBird was up for the same award for its latest release, Tough Go. Two Manitoba-based labels specializing in Aboriginal music had nominated recordings this year. Sunshine Records’ multi-artist compilation CD, 20 Aboriginal Hits, was up for Best Compilation Recording. Internationally-acclaimed singer/songwriter Susan Aglukark’s Blood Red Earth, released on Arbor Records, was up for Best Female Artist and Best Pop Recording.

Five Manitoba artists were nominated for the 2007 Indian Summer Music Awards (ISMA), held in Milwaukee. This year’s nominees included JC Campbell in the Alternative Rock category and Tracy Bone in the Pop category. Country crooners Ron Loutit and Don Constant were both up in the Country category, and instrumental act Longhouse was been nominated for the Native Spirit category. Arbor Records and Sunshine Records also netted three nominations for non-Manitoba artists. Arbor acts Stevie Salas and Derrick Miller are up for trophies along with Sunshine’s Jared Sowan.


One of the world's most prestigious guitar-oriented magazines profiled one of Manitoba's best guitarists in September. Guitar Player - which has been in publication for 40 years and has featured the likes of Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen – ran a two-page spread on Art Turner for the fall.

Nathan was nominated for one of Canada's most prestigious national songwriting prizes: The ECHO Songwriting Prize. The Juno-nominated act's song "Scarecrow," off its latest Nettwerk Records release Key Principles, stands against songs from Chad VanGaalen, Feuermusik, Abdonminal, and The Besnard Lakes.

The West End Cultural Centre got one step closer to its redevelopment goal. Cliff Penner -- President of Ventura Custom Homes -- announced a $250,000 donation towards the West End's project, called Take Centre Stage. As a result, the concert hall will be named the Ventura Theatre when the new West End opens in 2008. The new West End is intended to be North America's first "green" performing arts centre. Complete with geothermal heat, a high-efficiency roof, and recycled materials from the old building, the new hall will meet LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) Gold standards. It will also have a larger concert hall, a hall for community programming and intimate concerts, full wheelchair access, and improved patron services. With Ventura's donation, the West End has achieved 75% of its $3.3 million goal. Construction is planned for Spring 2008. The West End's regular concert schedule isn't expected to be interrupted.

Doc Walker won Album of the Year at the 2007 Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA) in Regina. The awards show, which took place on September 10, was the culmination of the four-day long Canadian Country Music Week.

Manitoba artists and industry received 32 nominations in 20 different categories at the 2007 Western Canadian Music Awards (WCMA). This year’s nominees include five nods for roots quartet Nathan, for Outstanding Roots Recording ~ Duo/Group, Outstanding Independent Album, Songwriter(s) of the Year, as well as two nominations for Video of the Year. Recent Canadian Country Music Award winner Doc Walker is up for both Outstanding Country Recording and Outstanding Independent Album. Singer/songwriter Romi Mayes is another double nominee, for Outstanding Roots Recording ~ Solo and Songwriter(s) of the Year. Also nominated this year is top-selling hardcore act Comeback Kid, Grammy-nominated neo-Celtic quintet The Duhks, singer/songwriters J.P. Hoe, Sheena Grobb and Monica Schroeder, hip-hop act Shadez, Aboriginal blues act the Slidin’ Clyde Roulette Band, Christian Rapper Fresh I.E., composer/pianist Alexander Tselyakov, funk collective Moses Mayes, Christian singer/songwriter Kerri Woelke, rock band The Harlots, and bluegrass misfits The D. Rangers. Three local acts -- Ginette Roy, Johnny Cajun, and Pertinence Négligée –- dominate the Outstanding Francophone Recording category. Industry professionals from Manitoba are also a force at this year’s Industry Awards, to be held at a brunch on October 20. Local talent buyers, managers, and, graphic designers, venues are up for seven awards. Nominees include Gilles Paquin and Paquin Entertainment, the West End Cultural Centre, Ron Sawchuk, Arbor Records, CBG Artist Development’s Chris Burke-Gaffney, and Casinos of Winnipeg’s Kelly Berehulka.

Aboriginal artists from Manitoba nabbed 33 nominations in 16 of the categories of the second annual Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards (APCMA). Leading the pack with five nominations for Best New Artist, Best Folk/Acoustic CD, Best Songwriter, Best Album Cover Design and Best Producer/Engineer was newcomer Don Amero, while No Lies earned three nominations for country chanteuse Tracy Bone. Juno-winning rock act Eagle & Hawk was up for Entertainer of the Year and Single of the Year. Eagle & Hawk guitarist Vince Fontaine was also for Best Producer/Engineer for his work on Life Is... Other double nominees included rap outfit Da Skelpa Squad, blues singer/songwriter J.C. Campbell, metal act X-Status, and X-Status frontman Jesse Green. The competition for Best Fiddle CD was a four-way Manitoba race between Darren Lavallee, Ryan D’Aoust, Cliff Matwayashing, and Harv Settee Jr. Other Manitoba nominees included Pow Wow acts Whitehorse and Dakota Hotain, blues bands South Thunderbird and Slidin’ Clyde Roulette Band, hip-hop act Team Rezofficial, rock band Highway 373, and country singers Ron Loutit and Gabby Taylor.

More award nominations came in, including 14 nods for 10 Manitoba artists at the 2007 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (CAMA). Folk act Little Hawk – a.k.a. Troy Westwood -- lead with three nominations. His latest Arbor Records release, Home and Native Land, was been nominated for Best Folk Album, Best Producer/Engineer (Westwood and Chris Burke-Gaffney), and Best Album Cover Design (Westwood, Darren Johnston and Adriana Capozzi). Manitoba acts controled the Best Fiddle Album category, snagging all three nominations. Darren Lavallee’s Backroad Fiddlin’ and Ramsey Rae’s Fiddlin’ Buckaroo topped the list with double nominee Ryan D'Aoust and his new release, York Boats & Legends, which was also up for Best Album Cover Design (CIMN Network and Chronic Creative). Country act Buddy Gouchie was up for two awards, including Best Male Artist and Best Country Album, for Things That Matter. Tracy Bone was up for Best Female Artist for her debut release, No Lies. The Slidin’ Clyde Roulette Band’s Let’s Take a Ride was nominated for Best Blues Album while Da Skelpa Squad’s A New Beginning was up for Best Rap or Hip-Hop Album. Pow wow groups High Noon and Chi-Key-Wis Sons were up for Best Pow Wow Album Contemporary and Best Pow Wow Album Traditional, respectively, for their albums Generations and Giibimokaan. Two Manitoba-based recording labels, Sunshine Records and Arbor Records, also had acts up for trophies.


MANITOBA FILM & SOUND, MARIA, and the Manitoba Motion Picture Industry Association (MMPIA) celebrated their 20th birthdays in October with a variety of events, including concerts and galas. In recognition of this outstanding achievement and success Eric Robinson, Minister of Culture Heritage and Tourism has proclaimed the week of October 1 to 7, 2007 as Manitoba Film and Music Week.

Eight Manitoba acts went to London, Ontario to take part in the annual Ontario Council of Folk Festivals (OCFF) Conference. This year’s performers included acoustic pop duo Keith and Renee, folk duo Jacob and Lily, Americana duo Twilight Hotel, fiddler Sierra Noble, and singer/songwriters Cara Luft, Don Amero, Ann Walton, and Nathan Rogers. Noble and Rogers both had official showcases while Rogers will also performed with the six other Manitoba acts as part of MARIA’s annual showcase. A handful of local industry professionals joined the artists, including Arthur Pearson and Jim Stewart of Personal Artist Management, Rosalie Goldstein of Goldstein and Associates, and Chris Frayer of the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

After four nights of incredible music and excitement in Moose Jaw, SK, the fifth annual Western Canadian Music Awards (WCMA) culminated with 11 trophies awarded to some of Manitoba’s top artists and industry professionals. Doc Walker, who performed at the awards gala, picked up two trophies for Outstanding Country Recording and the Outstanding Independent Album Award. Romi Mayes was also a double winner, taking home awards for Outstanding Roots Recording (Solo) and Songwriter of the Year. Nathan kept the roots awards in Manitoba by picking up Outstanding Roots Recording (Duo/Group) while Fresh I.E. won Outstanding Christian Recording for the second year in a row. Johnny Cajun’s debut album was named Outstanding Francophone Recording and Moses Mayes picked up Outstanding Instrumental Recording. Three of Manitoba’s industry professionals came away with awards for categories they had previously won in 2006. Paquin Entertainment was named Agency of the Year for the second year in a row and Ron Sawchuk kept his Best Album Design title, this year for his work on The Wailin’ Jennys’ Firecracker. The West End Cultural Centre was named Live Music Venue of the Year for the second year in a row, and the fourth time since 2002. Showcasers at the 2007 Western Canadian Music Awards included Johnny Cajun, J.P. Hoe, The Nods, Inward Eye, The Waking Eyes, Patrick Keenan, Alverstone, Sheena Grobb, D.Rangers, Quinzy, Twilight Hotel, American Flamewhip, Johnny Cajun, and Grand Analog.

Three hometown acts were nominated for five trophies at the third annual Canadian Folk Music Awards (CFMA). The Duhks landed two nominations -– for Best Ensemble and Best Album-Contemporary while Nathan was up for Best Vocal Group and Best Songwriter-English. Up-and-coming duo Jacob and Lily was been nominated for Best New/Emerging Artist.

Manitoba music continues to make waves south of the border. MSN.com featured a special on the "Canadian music invasion," entitled "Whoa, Canada!" The feature included a gallery and accompanying info on 19 top acts. Alongside international big names like Sarah McLachlan, Arcade Fire, and Feist are Winnipeg-based bands The Wailin' Jennys, The Duhks, and The Weakerthans.


In other WCMA news, the Western Canadian Music Alliance announced the appointment of a new executive director, Rick Fenton. Fenton, who has been in the industry for 25 years, is no stranger to producing large-scale events. In addition to his work as a record producer, media consultant, and partner in a television production company, Fenton spent several years as the artistic director of the Winnipeg Folk Festival as well as event producer for the 2005 JunoFest and 2006 WCMA Festival in Winnipeg. Fenton officially started his duties on November 1.

Manitoba artists brought home two awards from the second annual Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards. Darren Lavallee picked up an award for Best Fiddle CD. Singer/songwriter Little Hawk won for Best Aboriginal Music by a Non-Aboriginal.

Manitoba Film & Sound announced that Barbara Sedun is the new Manager of Sound Recording Programs for the provincial agency, leaving her position as the VP, Creative for EMI Music Publishing in Toronto as Kevin Walters passes the torch to take on new challenges as the Executive Director of Homecoming 2010.

Keri Latimer, who is most often seen with her acclaimed indie roots quartet Nathan, spent some time in New York City collaborating on a film score for indie feature The Frozen River. The Frozen River has recently been accepted into the Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival, where it will have its world premier. One of the most recognizable sections of the Festival, this year’s 16 films were selected from 1,068 submissions.

Fiddler Darren Lavallee picked up Best Fiddle Album at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. Other winners included singer/songwriter Little Hawk, a.k.a. the Blue Bombers’ Troy Westwood, who won Best Folk Album, Tracy Bone won Best Female Artist, Slidin’ Clyde Roulette and his band won Best Blues Album, Da Skelpa Squad nabbed the Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album and CIMN Network and Chronic Creative won for Best Album Design for Ryan D’Aoust’s York Boats & Legends.

Over in Gatineau, Canadian Folk Music Awards were handed out at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. The Duhks landed Best Album (Contemporary). The Duhks were also on hand to perform at the celebrations.

The year ended with the announcement that MARIA’s Executive Director, Sam Baardman, will go on a one-year leave effective January 1, 2008. Baardman, who has been in his position for nearly eight years, will continue to work with MARIA as a special program consultant to help create a new multi-year development plan for the Manitoba music industry. Baardman intends to work as a consultant on other projects that will impact on the development of the music industry on a national level. During Baardman’s leave, current MARIA Programs and Operations Manager Sara Stasiuk will serve as Interim Executive Director. Stasiuk has been with MARIA for over six years, and has been a key factor in every aspect of MARIA’s success. Among Stasiuk’s many duties, she has managed the creation, development and implementation of the successful Manitoba Music and Motion Pictures (M3P) Development Project.

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