The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band Profile

Glen Moffatt
25 Jun 2016

The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band became overnight stars in New Zealand as the resident band on the NZBC’s The Country Touch in the late 1960s. That show’s host Tex Morton lured them to Australia where they toured for two years with the massively popular Slim Dusty.

In the middle of their stay across the Tasman they travelled to Nashville and appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, and on their return to Sydney recorded the Kersbrook Cottage LP, still a touchstone of Australian bluegrass music.

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The original Hamilton County Bluegrass Band line-up, 1967. Left to right: Colleen Bain, Len Cohen, Dave Calder, Sandy McMillin, Paul Trenwith, Alan Rhodes.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band photoshoot for the Yesterday’s Gone LP, 1969. Left to right: Lyndsay Bedogni, Alan Rhodes, Dave Calder, Colleen Bain, Len Cohen, Paul Trenwith.
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - Take It Easy
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The Country Touch (1968)
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band circa 1970. Left to right: Paul Trenwith, Colleen Bain, Dave Calder, Lyndsay Bedogni, Alan Rhodes.
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The 2014 Hamilton County Bluegrass Band double CD anthology. This is the only release to feature the group across all 5 labels they recorded for. It reached No.4.
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National Film Unit Pictorial Parade No.204 - Hamilton County Bluegrass Band (1968)
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Lyndsay Bedogni, 1969
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - Orange Blossom Special
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band Recorded Live At The Poles Apart album, released on Kiwi, 1967
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Yesterday’s Gone album, released on Kiwi, 1969
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band photoshoot for the Yesterday’s Gone LP, 1969. Left to right: Colleen Bain, Len Cohen (front), Lyndsay Bedogni, Alan Rhodes, Dave Calder, Paul Trenwith
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The July 1968 Country & folk spectacular with Hamilton County Blue Grass Band, Band of Hope Jug Band, John Hayday, Frank Fyfe, Phil Garland, Jae Renaut, Christine Smith and Beale Street String Stretchers at Christchurch's Theatre Royal
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band perform Kersbrook Cottage on Australian TV show GTK (1972)
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Alan Rhodes, 1969
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s David Calder in 2004
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Colleen Trenwith in 2004
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Alan Rhodes in 2004
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band after performing and signing autographs at Smith & Browns Store, Gisborne, June 10, 1969. Left to right: Colleen Bain, Dave Calder, Alan Rhodes, Paul Trenwith, Lyndsay Bedogni and Len Cohen with Smith & Browns staff members Mike Ivess, Allan Aylward and Nolan Jeffery with Cohen’s dobro.
Photo credit: Gisborne Photo News
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - Behind the scenes (Palmerston North 2014)
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Paul Trenwith, 1969
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s 1970 release was their first for EMI. Produced by Peter Dawkins and engineered by Peter Hitchcock.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band on stage at Putaruru College, 1969. Left to right: Colleen Bain, Paul Trenwith, Dave Calder, Lyndsay Bedogni (obscured), Alan Rhodes.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Alan Rhodes, 1969
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - Blue Ridge Mountain Girl (Wellington Bluegrass Society 16 June 2012)
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band circa 1968. Left to right: Dave Calder, Len Cohen, Colleen Bain, Alan Rhodes, Lyndsay Bedogni, Paul Trenwith.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band backing Australian Slim Dusty during the recording of his Live At Wagga Wagga album, released in 1972. Left to right: Colleen Trenwith, Paul Trenwith, Slim Dusty’s son David Kirkpatrick on drums, Slim Dusty, Miles Reay, Alan Rhodes.
Photo credit: Photo by Paul Bailey
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band on the road in 1969. Clockwise from top left: Dave Calder, Len Cohen, Colleen Bain, Paul Trenwith, Lyndsay Bedogni, Alan Rhodes.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Lyndsay Bedogni, 1969
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Dave Calder, 1969
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The band’s third EMI album and the first of two recorded in Australia. Originally released in 1971 'For You' was laid down at EMI studios in Sydney with producer Eric Dunn and engineer Dave Woodley-Page at the controls.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Live At The Wynyard Tavern album, released on HMV, 1970
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band photoshoot for the Yesterday’s Gone LP, 1969. Clockwise from bottom left: Len Cohen, Lyndsay Bedogni, Colleen Bain, Alan Rhodes, Dave Calder, Paul Trenwith.
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - Every Time You Say Goodbye (2012 Redlands Bluegrass Festival)
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - There Is A Time (Wellington Bluegrass Society 16 June 2012)
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - Hip High Panty Hose jingle (circa 1970)
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Colleen Bain, 1969
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band circa 1973. Left to right: Miles Reay, Colleen Trenwith, Paul Trenwith, Graham Lovejoy, Alan Rhodes.
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - Listening To The Rain (Wellington Bluegrass Society 16 June 2012)
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band performing an onstage trick where each member would play their own instrument with one hand and the bandmate next to them’s instrument with the other, Tennant Creek, Queensland, 1972. Left to right: Graham Lovejoy, Alan Rhodes, Colleen Trenwith, Paul Trenwith, Miles Reay.
Photo credit: Miles Reay collection
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band in 2004. Left to right: Paul Trenwith, David Calder, Colleen Trenwith, Alan Rhodes.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Paul Trenwith and Alan Rhodes at Bill Monroe’s Beanblossom Festival, Indiana, USA, 1971.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band face the TV camera with Indiana Secretary of State Larry A. Conrad (far left), Indianapolis, 1971
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s self-titled debut album, released on Festival, 1967
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Alan Rhodes, 1969
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band at Vern’s Stage, California Bluegrass Association’s Father’s Day Festival, Grass Valley, 2008. Left to right: Colleen Trenwith, Paul Trenwith, David Calder, Jeremy Trenwith, Alan Rhodes.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Len Cohen, 1969
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band in Australia, 1972. Left to right: Paul Trenwith, Alan Rhodes, Colleen Trenwith, Graham Lovejoy, Miles Reay.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Country Road album, released on Kiwi, 1974
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band on stage at Putaruru College, 1969: Left to right: Paul Trenwith, Colleen Bain, Alan Rhodes.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band and partners in the bluegrass state, Kentucky, 1971. Left to right: Alan Rhodes, Julia Rhodes, Colleen Trenwith, Paul Trenwith, Miles Reay, Catherine Reay, Graham Lovejoy.
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - I'm Gone (Wellington Bluegrass Society 16 June 2012)
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Colleen Bain, 1969
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band at Bill Monroe’s Beanblossom Festival, Indiana, USA, 1971
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - Way Down South (2011)
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band perform Barefoot Nellie at the 1969 Loxene Golden Disc awards
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band on the set of Country Road, 1973. Clockwise from left: Paul Trenwith, Graham Lovejoy, Miles Reay, Alan Rhodes, Colleen Trenwith.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band on stage at Putaruru College, 1969. Left to right: Colleen Bain, Paul Trenwith, Len Cohen, Dave Calder, Lyndsay Bedogni, Alan Rhodes.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, 1969. Left to right: Len Cohen, Colleen Bain, Alan Rhodes, Dave Calder, Paul Trenwith, Lyndsay Bedogni.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band feature in Bill Monroe’s spot in the programme for the Grand Ole Opry, June 12, 1971
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Bill Clifton and The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Two Shades Of Bluegrass album, released on Kiwi, 1970
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PIctorial Parade 204 - Hamilton County Bluegrass Band
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band circa 1970. Left to right: Alan Rhodes, Dave Calder, Colleen Bain, Paul Trenwith, Lyndsay Bedogni.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band in 2004. Left to right: David Calder, Alan Rhodes, Paul Trenwith, Colleen Trenwith.
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Alan Rhodes and Colleen Bain in the camping grounds at the National Banjo Pickers’ Convention, Hamilton, 1970
Photo credit: Alan Rhodes collection
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Len Cohen, 1969
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Val Elliott performing with The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band. Left to right: Colleen Bain, Dave Calder, Paul Trenwith, Alan Rhodes, Val.
Photo credit: Val Elliott collection
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In 1971, the State of Indiana made Alan Rhodes and all of The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band Honorary Secretaries of State
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Way Down South, released on Kiwi Pacific, 2008
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - Seen and Heard (live at Depot Sound, May 2016)
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band perform for the TV camera, Indianapolis, 1971. Left to right: Indiana Secretary of State Larry A. Conrad, Colleen Trenwith, Miles Reay, Graham Lovejoy, Paul Trenwith, Alan Rhodes.
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - Way Down South (Wellington Bluegrass Society 16 June 2012)
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, 1969. Left to right: Len Cohen, Colleen Bain, Alan Rhodes, Dave Calder, Paul Trenwith, Lyndsay Bedogni.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band at Rosine, Kentucky, in the 2000s. Left to right: Colleen Trenwith, Paul Trenwith, Jeremy Trenwith, David Calder, Alan Rhodes.
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The band’s fourth and final album for EMI. Recorded in Australia with Rod Coe producing and released in 1972
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band mandolin player David Calder (right) with American folkie Mike Seeger at the National Banjo Pickers’ Convention at Ngaruawahia in 1969. Seeger was instrumental in getting the band to the United States in 1971, by which time Calder had left. 
Photo credit: David Calder collection
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Alan Rhodes and Lyndsay Bedogni, 1969
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Colleen and Paul Trenwith's Back On The Road, an Australian EP from 1975 
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, 1968. Left to right: Dave Calder, Paul Trenwith, Colleen Bain, Lyndsay Bedogni, Len Cohen, Alan Rhodes.
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - Carolina In My Mind
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band lead vocalist and guitarist Alan Rhodes and wife Julia, 1970
Photo credit: Alan Rhodes collection
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s The Country Touch album, released on Kiwi, 1968
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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band - Duelling Banjos
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Alan Rhodes and Colleen Bain in the camping grounds at the National Banjo Pickers’ Convention, Hamilton, 1970
Photo credit: Alan Rhodes collection
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band circa 1970. Left to right: Alan Rhodes, Dave Calder, Colleen Bain, Paul Trenwith, Lyndsay Bedogni.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, late 1969. Left to right: Paul Trenwith, Dave Calder, Colleen Bain, Lyndsay Bedogni, Alan Rhodes.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band with members of the Slim Dusty Show tour party, 1972. Back, left to right: Paul Trenwith, Miles Reay, Slim Dusty, Joy McKean, support act Bobbi Barron, Joy's mother Millie McKean, Alan Rhodes, Slim’s guitarist Barry Thornton, Graham Lovejoy. Bottom, left to right: Colleen Trenwith, Catherine Reay, Joy's father Mac McKean, support act Bill Barron, Thornton's children Brian and Meryl Thornton, Julia Rhodes.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Paul Trenwith, 1969
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band in 2014. Left to right: Alan Rhodes, Keith MacMillan, Victoria Trenwith, Pam Crowe, Tim Trenwith, Paul Trenwith.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band performing at the Toronto Folklife Festival, Canada, 1971. Left to right: Colleen Trenwith, Graham Lovejoy, Paul Trenwith, Alan Rhodes, Miles Reay
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band circa 1970. Left to right: Alan Rhodes, Lyndsay Bedogni, Colleen Bain, Paul Trenwith, Dave Calder.
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Dave Calder, 1969
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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s Paul Trenwith, 1969
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Labels:

Festival


Kiwi


RCA


HMV


EMI


Columbia

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Trivia:

In 1969, The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band recorded the Wayne Senior-penned Hip Hi Pantihose jingle that became popular when released as a single. After requests for it at shows, they wrote a take-off called ‘Neck-high Long Johns’.

In the 1970s, David Calder wrote music for films, including Roger Donaldson’s Sleeping Dogs.

Hamilton County Bluegrass Band mandolin player David Calder is the older brother of Peking Man bass guitarist Tim Calder.

In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 2016, Paul Trenwith was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in recognition of his services to country music.

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Members:

Alan Rhodes - guitar, occasional banjo, mandolin and fiddle, lead and harmony vocals

Paul Trenwith - banjo, occasional guitar, autoharp, baritone harmony and occasional lead vocals

David Calder - mandolin, occasional guitar, tenor harmony and lead vocals

Len Cohen - mouth-harp, dobro, occasional guitar, bass harmony and occasional lead vocals

Sandy McMillin - bass

Colleen Trenwith - fiddle, occasional mandolin, occasional percussion, occasional harmony vocals

Lyndsay Bedogni - bass, harmony vocals

Miles Reay - bass, tenor harmony vocals

Graham Lovejoy - mandolin, baritone harmony vocals

Jeremy Trenwith - bass, occasional guitar, harmony vocals

Tim Trenwith - bass, harmony vocals

Pam Crowe - guitar, lead and harmony vocals

Keith MacMillan - mandolin, occasional lead and harmony vocals

Victoria Trenwith - fiddle

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