Rock On! Alumni Profile: Samuel Clemens

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This summer, we are taking some time to catch up with former students from the Rock On! band camp. “Rock On Workshop in the Berkshires is a summer rock music workshop for students and young adults.  Our mission is to provide a platform for aspiring musicians to work with professionals in a supportive environment that promotes creativity, collaboration and performance.” We caught up with Samuel Clemens, a vocalist and guitarist from the camp.

Samuel is currently a student at Sarah Lawrence College.

Tell us a little bit about yourself! What are you up to?

I am spending the summer interning at ArtCube.nyc, a startup media company in NYC. I am also working as a contributing writer for The Reading Room, a book review and industry website.

What instrument(s) do you play?

I play the guitar.

What years did you attend Rock On?

I’m not sure of the specific years, but between 2008 and 2013.

What was your role(s) at Rock On?

I was primarily a lead vocalist for the bands I played in, but I played some guitar on the side.

Are you currently in a band and/or working on any projects?

Not currently.

What parts of camp did you enjoy the most?

I enjoyed meeting new people, creating awesome bands together, and performing at the end. I also loved the songwriting workshops.

Did you gain any new knowledge or skill?

I improved as a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and performer.

What did you learn from your experience at Rock On?

I learned that music can change lives.

What would advice would you give to any new students at Rock On?

Learn as much as you can from the incredible faculty and don’t forget to have fun. Also, don’t expect Rock On! to be like the band camps in the movies.

It was great catching up with Samuel, stay tuned for more Rock On, alumni profiles!

Rock On! Alumni Profile: Jared Stalker

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This summer, we are taking some time to catch up with former students from the Rock On! band camp. “Rock On Workshop in the Berkshires is a summer rock music workshop for students and young adults.  Our mission is to provide a platform for aspiring musicians to work with professionals in a supportive environment that promotes creativity, collaboration and performance.” We caught up with Jared Stalker, who was a drummer at the camp.

Jared Stalker is currently studying screenwriting at Point Park University, in Pittsburgh PA.

Here are some of the questions we asked Jared:

Tell us a little bit about yourself! What are you up to?

Besides being a student, I play music with my band or am practicing, watching films, or writing/reading.

.What instrument(s) do you play?

I play the drums!

What years did you attend Rock On?

I believe I started going to “Rock On” in maybe 2010, or 2011 — somewhere around then. And, I think, my last year was 2013.

What was your role(s) at Rock On?

I was put into a bunch of wonderful bands with my time at “Rock On”, and for about a year or so, I played in the “Rock On Orchestra” or “ROO”, which was basically a group of people from the camp put into a band, and we played some cover songs and performed at a few Third Thursdays, and at The Colonial in Pittsfield.

Are you currently in a band and/or working on an projects?

Yeah — I’m in a band now called “Brain Habits”, we have an EP out now called “Wasted Days”, and we’ll be releasing new material this summer, and traveling through the east coast playing shows.

What parts of camp did you enjoy the most?

The parts I enjoyed the most were getting to meet new, and interesting musicians, and getting to make great music in, and outside of camp with them. You never know who you’re going to meet at the camp, and it’s great to try and play with as many different people as you can, and dabble into different genres.

Did you gain any new knowledge or skill?

I gained a lot of great knowledge, as a drummer and songwriter, a lot of great drumming rudiments, techniques, that sorta thing. As a songwriter, I think that I learned more appropriate ways of filling a song, and not overdoing a song, and sometimes putting in fills I wouldn’t normally use, then using the new techniques and incorporating them to my “drumming repertoire”.

What did you learn from your experience at Rock On?

I learned that, besides trying to play with as many people as you can, is that it’s all for the love of music. Everyone is there to feed off of each other, and encourage new skills, and relationships for the future. It’s okay if you think that your skill set isn’t up to par, because no musician believes they’re proficient in every way — and the camp is there to help you become more proficient with new skills.

.What would advice would you give to any new students at Rock On?

For advice, I’d say go in with an open mind, want to learn, and have fun.

It was a blast catching up with Jared. Stay tuned to the Rock On Workshop blog to see what more of our alumni are up to!

Rock On! Alumni Profile: Yonaton Kaufman

Yonaton

This summer, we are taking some time to catch up with former students from the Rock On! band camp. “Rock On Workshop in the Berkshires is a summer rock music workshop for students and young adults.  Our mission is to provide a platform for aspiring musicians to work with professionals in a supportive environment that promotes creativity, collaboration and performance.” We caught up with Yonaton Kaufman, a guitarist from the camp.

Yonaton is currently a junior at Umass Amherst and is studying mechanical engineering. This year he will be teaching DJ mixing during the second week of the Rock On camp!

Here are some of the questions that we asked Yonaton:

Tell us a little bit about yourself! What are you up to?

This summer I’m working at Ramblewild, an aerial  adventure park down in Lanesborough. In my free time I have been producing a lot of electronic music using Ableton Live and DJ-ing whenever the opportunity arises. Other than that I’ve just been hanging out, playing basketball with friends, or going on hikes!

What instrument(s) do you play?

I play the guitar but have picked up a little bit of keyboard as well.

What years did you attend Rock On?

I attended Rock On for three years as a student from 2010-2012. Another year after 2012, I became an intern helping out here and there.

What was your role(s) at Rock On?

My role at rock on was a guitar player. I also helped set up different practice rooms and helped mentor a band one year as well.

Are you currently in a band and/or working on any projects?

I currently have two projects. The first is a solo project called “Lowkey ish”. I recently just released my debut, self-titled EP on Bandcamp and Soundcloud with five original songs. Most of it is electronic, but I also incorporate a lot of live guitar and bass into every song as well. I perform as a DJ as well under that name. My other project is with my long time friend and music collaborator, Cam Burgess. Together we make the DJ duo Kosher Burgers. Our most notable gig was at this years sold out Umass Spring Concert.

What parts of camp did you enjoy the most?

My favorite part of camp was the workshops. Some of those workshops included songwriting and recording. It allowed me access to different aspects of music that I had never given any thought to.

Did you gain any new knowledge or skill?

I gained some valuable introductory information on recording from the Rock On recording workshop. It prepared my band and I to later know what to expect when we went into a real studio and recorded our first song.

What did you learn from your experience at Rock On?

Rock on taught me so many things beyond just playing guitar. I learned how to work with bandmates as a group and not as individuals, I learned how much work goes into setting up a concert, and so many other useful things that you would never think you would need to know about live music and performing.

What would advice would you give to any new students at Rock On?

My advice would be, stay open to all styles of music. It’s really the best way to become a good player because you learn so many techniques that you can apply anywhere. Also, learn from your peers! You are here to share knowledge and grow a community.

It was great catching up with Yonaton! Stay tuned to the Rock On workshop for more alumni profiles!

Rock On! Alumni Profile: Matthew Geyer

Matthew Geyer

This summer, we are taking some time to catch up with former students from the Rock On! band camp. “Rock On Workshop in the Berkshires is a summer rock music workshop for students and young adults.  Our mission is to provide a platform for aspiring musicians to work with professionals in a supportive environment that promotes creativity, collaboration and performance.” We caught up with Matthew Geyer, who started off as a guitarist at the camp.

Matthew Geyer is  currently attending Vermont Technical College.

Here are some of the questions we asked Matthew Geyer and his responses.

Tell us a little bit about yourself! What have you been up to?

I do a lot of hiking and flying planes when I have the time/money. I love spending time outdoors and jamming with people.

What instrument(s) do you play?

I play guitar, bass guitar, a little bit of drums, and mandolin.

What years did you attend Rock On?

I can’t 100% remember the exact years I attended Rock On, but I think it was 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. and then I was an intern for 2014.

What was your role(s) at Rock On?

Mainly I played guitar/bass, but when I was an intern I worked one-on-one with a few kids, as well as helping to set up equipment and filling in wherever I was needed.

Are you currently in a band and/or working on any projects?

I’m always writing music! I’m still involved with Petrichor, although we don’t have much of a chance to play much nowadays what with everyone involved in college and whatnot. Other than that, I toured with Crafter for a bit and filled in bass for them.

What parts of camp did you enjoy the most?

I think it was just really nice to meet people with a lot of the same interests as me. I actually started the first band I was in with someone I met at the camp (Will Matica). I enjoyed how positive of an atmosphere it was, and how much I learned from working with interns/teachers. 8. oh yes, definitely! I think it improved my playing drastically, especially just from being around so many talented musicians and being introduced to a myriad of new techniques/styles of music.

Did you gain any new knowledge or skill?

Oh yes, definitely! I think it improved my playing drastically, especially just from being around so many talented musicians and being introduced to a myriad of new techniques/styles of music.

What did you learn from your experience at Rock On?

This goes kind of hand in hand with the previous question, but I learned a lot about being more open to music and taking inspiration from many different places.

What would advice would you give to any new students at Rock On?

I would say to always expand your horizons. It’s easy to get backed into a corner with writing and performing if you only take inspiration from one specific place. Have an open mind and try to look for inspiration in everything, because you never know what you might learn!

It was great catching up with Matthew! Stay tuned as we catch up with plenty more alumni from the Rock On summer camp!

Rock On! Alumni Profile: Daniel White

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This summer, we are taking some time to catch up with former students from the Rock On! band camp. “Rock On Workshop in the Berkshires is a summer rock music workshop for students and young adults.  Our mission is to provide a platform for aspiring musicians to work with professionals in a supportive environment that promotes creativity, collaboration and performance.” We caught up with Daniel White, who was a vocalist at the camp.

Daniel White is currently attending Cambridge College.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you are up to.

I just graduated from Worcester State University with a double major in music and psychology with a theater minor. I am currently going to graduate school at Cambridge college for Mental health counseling. Later I will go on and get an expressive arts therapy certificate.

What instrument(s) do you play?

I am a vocalist.

What years did you attend Rock On?

I attended Rock On during their 2009 and 2010 seasons.

What was your role(s) at Rock On?

I was in multiple bands as a singer.

Are you currently in a band and/or working on any projects?

I am a member of a local band called Petrichor, every one of us was part of Rock On as kids.

What parts of camp did you enjoy the most?

I loved meeting everyone during camp. Community and networking is a great aspect of Rock On and it has continued to be a great piece to this day. This gave me a way to really be connected to the music community and have fun doing it. Sharing ideas and making music were pretty fantastic too.

Did you gain any new knowledge or skill?

I actually learned about harmony through Rock On. This is a skill that I use to this day and prefer over melody. The skills that I developed through Rock On were long lasting and have continued to be instrumental in my adult life.

What did you learn from your experience at Rock On?

I learned that I am not the only person around that has such a passion for music. If you look in the right places there are treasure troves of opportunity and connections all around us.

What would advice would you give to any new students at Rock On?

Follow your heart and Rock On man!

It was great catching up with Daniel! Stay tuned as we catch up with plenty more alumni from the Rock On summer camp!

Rock On! Alumni Profile: Nathan Sears

Nate Sears Profile image

This summer, we are taking some time to catch up with former students from the Rock On! band camp. “Rock On Workshop in the Berkshires is a summer rock music workshop for students and young adults.  Our mission is to provide a platform for aspiring musicians to work with professionals in a supportive environment that promotes creativity, collaboration and performance.” We caught up with Nathan Sears, a bassist from the camp.

Nathan is currently a sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering at Union College.

Here are some of the questions we asked Nathan:

Tell us a little bit about yourself! What are you up to?

I am just finishing up my sophomore year at Union. Aside from work, music definitely takes precedence in my day to day routine. Whether it’s a band here at school or back home I make sure to playing music every week, if not every day.

What instrument(s) do you play?

    I play bass in most of the groups I’m in. Otherwise I play alto saxophone in most school-related groups, and have played tenor and soprano saxophone in the past. I also play guitar on the side.

What years did you attend Rock On?

I believe I attended Rock On starting the summer after sixth grade and continued attending until my senior year of high school.

What was your role(s) at Rock On?

I started off attending Rock On as a camper and after a few years of getting to know everyone really well and becoming fairly integrated with all the program had to offer, I had the valuable experience of becoming an intern.

Are you currently in a band and/or working on any projects?

Back home in the Berkshires, I am currently in a band, Petrichor. It is comprised of many musicians who also attended Rock On. We are excited that we just came out with our first album, which is the culmination of 4 years of work. Here at school, I play sax in the jazz band and pep band and bass in the gospel choir. I have also recently started playing bass in a newly formed band called 8th Wonder.

What parts of camp did you enjoy the most?

 It’s hard to say what I enjoyed most at Rock On, however what I think sticks out the most were the concerts which the staff put on at the beginning of each day. I loved seeing the staff or guest artists showcase a style of music, while completely improvising. It was inspiring to see how much fun it looked like they were having while working so fluidly together, on top of the fact that the music always sounded great.

Did you gain any new knowledge or skill?

I certainly learned plenty from the instrument lessons and the band rehearsals. There was usually at least one thing each day: maybe it was breaking down a song into its elements and writing out the different parts for band practice, or it was suggestions I’d received about how to improvise over a certain song. Over the years the daily tricks and tips I learned from instructors and interns have greatly improved my playing.

What did you learn from your experience at Rock On?

I definitely had lots of valuable experience while at Rock On. In the daily instrument lessons, I was exposed to new music and learned from great mentors. During band rehearsals, I got to work with a new group of musicians, building a band from nothing and getting songs ready to perform in 4 days. Even just playing onstage in front of an audience was a great experience.

What would advice would you give to any new students at Rock On?

I think one of the biggest pieces of advice I’ve received is to not limit yourself to a genre of music. Rather than saying I only play *insert genre*, say you’ll play any genre. I love playing across genres, and especially at Rock On which brings together such a diverse selection of music, you can gain valuable experience playing or even listening to music you’re not normally exposed to. This has led me to be able to join lots of different groups, like here at school, where I can usually pick up new music fairly quickly despite the genre. The other largest piece of advice stems from seeing how both the interns and instructors acted towards each other. Having played with lots of different bands, I have without a doubt had the most fun, and the groups excelled the most when all the musicians were mutually respectful. This is one thing I witnessed among faculty at Rock On. Never mind skill, if everyone in a group treated everyone else well, it created an atmosphere that was much nicer to work in. In one sentence, I would advise new students to “play across genres” while showing mutual respect to everyone they work with.

It was great catching up with Nathan! Stay tuned as we catch up with plenty more alumni from the Rock On summer camp!

 

 

 

Rock On! Alumni Profile: Will Matica

Rock On Almuni Will This summer, we are taking some time to catch up with former students from the Rock On! band camp. “Rock On Workshop in the Berkshires is a summer rock music workshop for students and young adults.  Our mission is to provide a platform for aspiring musicians to work with professionals in a supportive environment that promotes creativity, collaboration and performance.” We caught up with Will Matica, a bassist from the camp.

Will is currently attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Here are some of the questions we asked Will and his responses:

Tell us a little bit about yourself! What are you up to?

Since Rock On I have been in several bands. I’ve played countless shows all over the east coast with amazing locals and internationally known bands as well as recorded music with awesome musicians, engineers and producers. I recently graduated from Greenfield Community College with
an associates degree in business, and am now continuing my education at Isenberg Business School at UMass.

What instrument(s) do you play?

I play guitar, bass and I do some vocals.

What years did you attend Rock On?

I think I was 14, so maybe 2009?

What was your role(s) at Rock On?

I played bass in the band And Death For His Amphibian.

Are you currently in a band and/or working on any projects?

I’m always working on projects! I haven’t been in a band for over a year because I’m so busy with other aspects of my life, but I am a studio musician and consultant for several local bands.

What parts of camp did you enjoy the most?

Meeting boatloads of amazing musicians and people. I met several musicians at Rock On that I would go on to form bands with and would help change my life forever.

Did you gain any new knowledge or skill?

Rock On helped me learn how to collaborate with other musicians, as well as figuring out how to play to every musician’s strength. When you’re playing someone else’s song, making it way more than just a cover is key.

What did you learn from your experience at Rock On?

As a teenager, the best way to find other passionate musicians to begin your career with is immersing yourself in an environment of positivity and community that Rock On provides perfectly.

What would advice would you give to any new students at Rock On?

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! Even if you aren’t proud of your current level of musicianship, Rock On will help you improve immeasurably if you’re ready to learn. Don’t be intimidated. Everyone, even the world’s biggest rock stars started somewhere. Rock On was a great place for me to start, and I’m positive it will be a great place for you.

It was great catching up with Will! Stay tuned as we catch up with plenty more alumni from the Rock On summer camp!

Rock On! Alumni Profile: Sophia Cruz

 

Sophia Cruz

This summer, we are taking some time to catch up with former students from the Rock On! band camp. “Rock On Workshop in the Berkshires is a summer rock music workshop for students and young adults.  Our mission is to provide a platform for aspiring musicians to work with professionals in a supportive environment that promotes creativity, collaboration and performance.” We caught up with Sophia Cruz, a vocalist from the camp.

Sophia has just graduated from Perpich Arts High School where her area of study was music. She plans on taking a gap year before attending college.

Here are some questions that we asked Sophia:

What instrument(s) do you play?

I mostly sing, but I also play clarinet, drums, and ukulele.

What year(s) did you attend Rock On?

2013 and 2014.

What was your role at Rock On?

I was a singer.

Are you currently in a band and/or working on any projects?

I am in a band! This year some friends and I created a funky, R&B band called Lola Redd and the Risk.

What parts of camp did you enjoy the most?

I enjoyed working with other people, making new friends and putting on a performance.

Did you gain any new knowledge or skill?

I gained confidence and learned how to start harmonizing. I’ve gotten way way better at both since then.

What did you learn from your experience at Rock On?

I learned that sometimes you have to step up to be a leader and sometimes you have to step back and let others lead as well.

What would advice would you give to any new students at Rock On?

Don’t be afraid to approach someone and spark a conversation!! Everyone is kind and willing to meet new killer musicians!!

It was great catching up with Sophia! Stay tuned as we catch up with plenty more alumni from the Rock On summer camp!

Rock On! Alumni Profile: Brendon Lennon

Brendon Lennon

This summer, we are taking some time to catch up with former students from the Rock On! band camp. “Rock On Workshop in the Berkshires is a summer rock music workshop for students and young adults.  Our mission is to provide a platform for aspiring musicians to work with professionals in a supportive environment that promotes creativity, collaboration and performance.” We caught up with Brendon Lennon, who started off as a guitarist at the camp.

Brendon recently graduated from the College of Saint Rose, where he studied Music Industry. He is currently working as a live sound engineer.

Here are some of the questions we asked Brendon and his responses

Tell us a little bit about yourself! What have you been up to?

I juggle different projects, either mixing recordings for live DVD/CD releases or live sound reinforcement. I try to teach when I can and play around in musicals in the pit band if possible. As of the current moment I am going to be moving to D.C to work with the Navy Band as one of their A/V and sound reinforcements specialists.

What instrument(s) do you play?

I play guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums.

What years did you attend Rock On?

I wanna say I was a student around 2008 or so.

What was your role(s) at Rock On?

I taught from 2011-2012.  I was a guitar instructor more or less at Rock On. I would help with lessons in the morning being more of a 1 on 1 aid to people who struggled with concepts.

Are you currently in a band and/or working on any projects?

I’m working on a couple CD releases at the moment but nothing I can say in detail haha.

What parts of camp did you enjoy the most?

I enjoyed the atmosphere the younger I guess “sub” teachers had. It was a very strong bond for most of them.

Did you gain any new knowledge or skill?

I felt it helped my teaching skills improve.

What did you learn from your experience at Rock On?

I learned how to better communicate my ideas on music and theory to people who thought and had a concept on the subjects that were different from my own.

What would advice would you give to any new students at Rock On?

New students? It’s two weeks, relax and make some friends.

It was great catching up with Brendon! Stay tuned as we catch up with plenty more alumni from the Rock On summer camp!

 

 

 

Artist Spotlight – Ben Kohn with an upcoming CD in the works

Benny Fingers KohnRock On is so lucky to have a great variety of talented performing artists as mentors for our students. Ben Kohn is one such artist. You can catch him playing often throughout the Berkshires in jazz trios, duets, and as an individual artist. He is also a member of the Rev Tor Band and Chris Merenda and the Wheel.

‘Benny Fingers’ is a scorching keyboard player who started playing back in 1998.  Per his Facebook, his genres are Jazz, Blues, Folk, Rock, and ‘Outer Space’, covering just about everything. A Berkshire native, Benny first started playing piano at age 6. As 2015 comes to a close, we are looking forward to Ben Kohn’s first CD which he funded as a Kickstarter project.

 

Ben took some time out of his busy schedule about a month ago for a chat and we talked about his songwriting and the recording process.

You have been playing for a while, what was it that inspired you to make a cd now?

It was a long time goal. I was also inspired by my Dad who was a successful songwriter, and alot of people have been asking me.

Did you have a set of songs ready to go or did you write new material just for this?

I have always written fragments, hundreds of parts of tunes and ideas,  completing some pieces. For this project, we had two studio sessions. The first was with Bill Chapman and Andy Wrba (bass).  It was challenging. We worked together on ideas and I had provided some recordings to them in advance so they had heard them before coming in.

The second session was with Dan Broad on bass and Andy Crawford on drums. I have played with both of them in the Rev Tor Band.  For that, we had Darren O’Brien come with his mobile recording studio. These were some simpler tunes. They had a whole different sound and it gives the CD variety.

So are they instrumental or are there also lyrics?

There are lyrics and they come about in different ways, usually after the music. There was one song ‘I Just Want’ where the lyrics came first. They just came all in one sitting. It was alot of what I was dealing with and thinking at the time.  The process of writing it actually allowed me to explore what was feeling as I was writing.

How do you record your ideas?

Usually recorded on Garage Band and more recently another program called Reaper.

What was your writing process? Did you work primarily on piano?

Some were started on guitar and we recorded some guitar but piano is my main instrument.  My father, Ed Kohn wrote in a folk style and was a lyricist and guitarist. It is hard for me to compare myself to him. I have always looked up to him.

How has playing in bands affected your songwriting?

It has helped me to come up with cool riffs and rhythms. I have been playing a lot of different styles in many bands. I studied jazz since college and that opened up other styles, blues of course.  I think musically it has helped to make it easy for me to play with many jazz groups, where it’s more musical than an actual message – progressions etc. But lyrics do draw in certain listeners. In the process of doing the CD I got into Bob Dylan and others where lyrics matter more. I started listening to more of the balance between the lyrics vs. the music.

Are there any songs on the CD that are just instrumental.

I have one instrumental so far and at this point still debating whether to add lyrics.

How has creating your first CD been a learning process for you?

I realized when trying to complete songs with lyrics how personal and real it is. you have to confront yourself. Also, my perfectionism makes it hard to finish a song, how do you know when it’s done?  I have had to learn to allow a song to be done and get over the imperfections. They may not be perfect.  It’s hard thinking that the you will be judged on your stuff, your personality and intelligence. I am just letting that go.  I have been reading books by or about about songwriters. It will be good to fininsh and to clear and get started on the next one. As the process of making this CD has gone a year and 1/2, many of the songs don’t represent where I am now.  I am already feeling that I am in a new place.  Maybe the next one will be a faster process.

How was your experience with Kickstarter?

Using a funding site raised $3k. That goes pretty quickly with studio costs. I am looking forward to finishing the project and getting copies of the CD out to all the supporters. We are working on the final mixes and mastering and tweaking some parts. I don’t want to over master it though, just keep it clean and clear. I worked with Charlie Tokarz on several tracks. I am fortunate to have great players to work with, it feels really good hearing them do the stuff.

What are the next steps?

I will be going to Jack Waldheim’s studio to finish the project. He added some parts on guitar and I will add some guitar. Jack has a lot of experience in recording and mastering his own projects. He is fluent in the programs.

Is it all digital?

Yes, all digital recording. The programs are simulators of consoles. Everything is available to you, like for example, a 60’s Beatles sound if you wanted.

We are looking forward to the release of Ben’s innaugural CD. As of our conversation he had not decided on a title yet, but we will report back with the details in the coming weeks. When released, the CD will be available for sale online and at gigs, as well as in download form from iTunes.

Here is a sample of one of the songs featured on the CD, ‘It Ain’t Over’.


Besides his father, Ben Kohn gained inspiration from listening to Keith Jarrett, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Muddy Waters, Leadbelly, Buddy Guy, Loudon Wainwright, Bob Dylan and The Band. For more information, you can visit his website : bennyfingers.com

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