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Remembering Liberty Hall - Concert venue on Chenevert in downtown Houston


icepickphil

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  • 5 months later...

I knew a guy named Ron who managed it in some fashion or another. He ran that and a place call the Jubilee Hall (?) sometime in the late 1960s/early 1970s. ZZ Top used to play at the Liberty Hall back in the early days, too, from what I heard.

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I only went there once, and that was to see Doug Kershaw. He was so strung out on coke that his eyes reminded me of Marty Feldman. He would start every song normal enough, but would always end up in some wild adlibbing that was actually painful to listen to.

The highlight of the night was when he got into it with one of the guitarists who he booted off the stage. Kershaw was one of my idols growing up, but that ended that night.

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I never went there, but I think an old friend of mine used to manage it at one time. His name was Roger Ruffcorn, and he died 5.5 years ago of a brain tumor. Really nice guy. Anybody remember him and if he managed the place or not. I may have it confused with Anderson Fair.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Anyone remember or have any stories to tell about Liberty Hall which was located at 1610 Chenevert? All sorts of performers played there...Jimmy Reed, Ted Nugent, Bruce Springsteen, NY Dolls, Velvet Underground, Gram Parsons, just to name a few.

I believe it had formerly been a movie theatre.

I played there twice: Once opening for Cheech and Chong on their first tour, and another time opening for big Mama Thornton. This would be about 1971 or 72.. great room..big nice stage..Cheech and Chong got us totally wrecked in the Green Room, and then stood offstage, pointing and laughing at us like a caricature of themselves..I'll never forget it..

stu

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  • 4 months later...

As someone who was a regular customer at the old Liberty Hall from its time of estbalishment up until about 1975, I have a very warm place in my heart for this historical venue. It was a safe and pleasant place to visit in those days, with easy access right off the Gulf freeway coming into Houston from the south. There was a group of us who worked at NASA, and played and enjoyed listening to alternative/folk bands). I used to bring my children there for musical "education". Since the Liberty served food, it was possible to bring in under-aged children (with a guardian); our whole family would eat red-beans and rice there (that was standard meal offering) it was an incredible opportunity to see bands that were one their way to national prominence, but who were still open to playing relative small venues. The place had a very intimate feel to it, and it seemed almost as though the performers werein your living room.

I remember one night in particular when Lightning Hpkins played there with Big Momma Thornton, and by the end of the set, Lightning (who seemed intent that night on impressing Big Momma) ended up playing his guitar lying flat on his back on the floor...something you wouldn't probably see in other venues.

I saw up-close and personal, many wonderful performances of the well-known and the obscure (for instance, anyone remember the numerous highly popular appearances of "GooseCreek Symphony"?). I have been trying to track down Liberty's historical development, and more importantly any pictures (inside or out) of the old venue. Some have said it was a theatre, while others have said it was an old VFW hall. Does anyone have authoritative info on this?

There was another Houston venue around the same time, that was located downtown (near the Bayou) close to the "farmer's market", called "The Old Quarter". Again, a very cozy place (much smaller than Libtery) where one could see performances of many great players (Lightnin Hopkin's...I had a drink with him at the bar during a break, ZZ Top before they became nationally aclaimed, Townes Van Zandt, etc, ....then the obscure.....a friend and I even played there one time).

I am seeking historical info about the looks and appearance of both these venues.

Thanks for any help.

Dave Lang

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I too was a frequent patron of Liberty Hall. The place had vibes like no other concert venue I have ever attended. I attended HSPVA in the early to mid 70's and that was where we saw music. I saw Kinky Friedman, David Bromberg, Jerry Jeff Walker, Michael Murphey, Willis Alan Ramsey, Goose Creek Symphony, Lightnin' Hopkins, Freddie King, Loudon Wainwright III & John Lee Hooker to name just a few!

I recorded many Liberty Hall concerts that were broadcast on KPFT. I am always looking for recordings from this venue. If you have any you want to share, please don't be bashful.

I would love to hear your Liberty Hall memories as well.

If you remember the sangria, red beans & rice & Roberto then you know what to do,

Gregg

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I never went there, but I remember Bruce Springsteen used to play there. Of course , this was before he made it big. Until he released his third album "Born to Run" and ended up being on the cover of both Time and Newsweek the same week (?!), he had kind of a cult following. Houston was one of the places where he developed a small following, thanks in part to Liberty Hall and former Houston Post music critic Bob Claypool, who was a big admirer.

Springsteen plays tribute to Liberty Hall in his song "This Hard Land": "Hey Frank won't ya pack your bags, And meet me tonight down at Liberty Hall"

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As someone who was a regular customer at the old Liberty Hall from its time of estbalishment up until about 1975, I have a very warm place in my heart for this historical venue. It was a safe and pleasant place to visit in those days, with easy access right off the Gulf freeway coming into Houston from the south. There was a group of us who worked at NASA, and played and enjoyed listening to alternative/folk bands). I used to bring my children there for musical "education". Since the Liberty served food, it was possible to bring in under-aged children (with a guardian); our whole family would eat red-beans and rice there (that was standard meal offering) it was an incredible opportunity to see bands that were one their way to national prominence, but who were still open to playing relative small venues. The place had a very intimate feel to it, and it seemed almost as though the performers werein your living room.

I remember one night in particular when Lightning Hpkins played there with Big Momma Thornton, and by the end of the set, Lightning (who seemed intent that night on impressing Big Momma) ended up playing his guitar lying flat on his back on the floor...something you wouldn't probably see in other venues.

I saw up-close and personal, many wonderful performances of the well-known and the obscure (for instance, anyone remember the numerous highly popular appearances of "GooseCreek Symphony"?). I have been trying to track down Liberty's historical development, and more importantly any pictures (inside or out) of the old venue. Some have said it was a theatre, while others have said it was an old VFW hall. Does anyone have authoritative info on this?

There was another Houston venue around the same time, that was located downtown (near the Bayou) close to the "farmer's market", called "The Old Quarter". Again, a very cozy place (much smaller than Libtery) where one could see performances of many great players (Lightnin Hopkin's...I had a drink with him at the bar during a break, ZZ Top before they became nationally aclaimed, Townes Van Zandt, etc, ....then the obscure.....a friend and I even played there one time).

I am seeking historical info about the looks and appearance of both these venues.

Thanks for any help.

Dave Lang

This is from "The last of the past : Houston architecture, 1847 to 1915": an inventory and architectural stylistic history of remaining early commercial buildings, Houston, Texas, 1980 / by William Scott Field for the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, the Harris County Heritage Society.

Liberty Hall was definitely an American Legion Hall and not a theater.

Old_Quarter.jpg

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  • 1 month later...
I played there twice: Once opening for Cheech and Chong on their first tour, and another time opening for big Mama Thornton. This would be about 1971 or 72.. great room..big nice stage..Cheech and Chong got us totally wrecked in the Green Room, and then stood offstage, pointing and laughing at us like a caricature of themselves..I'll never forget it..

stu

I saw that show. They were great.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I never went there, but I think an old friend of mine used to manage it at one time. His name was Roger Ruffcorn, and he died 5.5 years ago of a brain tumor. Really nice guy. Anybody remember him and if he managed the place or not. I may have it confused with Anderson Fair.

I remember Roger. He and others (including Houston Chronicle music editor Marty Racine) were regulars at Fitzgerald's happy hour in the early to mid 80's. He WAS really nice. I believe he managed Anderson Fair? And before his death, ran a Comedy Defensive Driving business.

Also... hi y'all.. as you can see, I'm a "newbie" to this group..

I'm interested if anyone has any memories of this small folk club on Richmond that was called Sand Mountain? I believe Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt played there (among others).

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I remember Roger. He and others (including Houston Chronicle music editor Marty Racine) were regulars at Fitzgerald's happy hour in the early to mid 80's. He WAS really nice. I believe he managed Anderson Fair? And before his death, ran a Comedy Defensive Driving business.

Also... hi y'all.. as you can see, I'm a "newbie" to this group..

I'm interested if anyone has any memories of this small folk club on Richmond that was called Sand Mountain? I believe Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt played there (among others).

Guy and Townes did play there but it was before my time. It was located near where El Pueblito and the Menil annex is today. It might even have been one of those places.

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I saw Billy Cobham/Eric Johnson & The Electromagnets there, and took some great pictures I'll have to dig up. Great show!

I saw Robert Klein around 1973. My buddy & I got up the courage to go backstage to talk with him as we were EAGER to get into the entertainment biz. He did everything in his power to change our minds. He failed...I've spent all but 8 years of my working life in music! My buddy is one of the top artist managers in the world.

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Wrecks Bell that was one of the owners of teh Old Quarter downtown (along with Dale Soffar) owns a club on 20th near Post Office in Galveston. It is called teh Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe. Very cool guy. He has a small shrine to both Townes Van Zandt and Lightnin Hopkins in the club. Wrecks played bass for both guys.

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  • 1 month later...
Anyone remember or have any stories to tell about Liberty Hall which was located at 1610 Chenevert? All sorts of performers played there...Jimmy Reed, Ted Nugent, Bruce Springsteen, NY Dolls, Velvet Underground, Gram Parsons, just to name a few.

I believe it had formerly been a movie theatre.

I believe the incarnations of Liberty Hall were:

1. A church

2. An American Legion Hall

3. Liberty Hall

4. A Chinese Movie Theatre

5. Demolished

The first show I saw there was a play "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" that someone else mentioned. I think that was 1971 and I would have been 16. I would try to go see Lightnin' Hopkins whenever he played there. I saw Bonnie Raitt and Little Feat, Flying Burrito Brothers, Dr. John, Taj Mahal (a few times), Bruce Springsteen, Clifton Chenier (anyone remember him playing Juneteenth at Miller Theater in 1985 or 86?), Cheech & Chong, Townes Van Zandt. The last show I saw there was the Ramones in 1977. It is the only show I still have a ticket from...too bad.

The folks that created Liberty Hall were many of the same folks that created The Family Hand Restaurant on Brazos. Mike Condray and Lynda Herrera along with Ryan Trimble.

I remember it as looking like an small Art Deco Theater with an overhanging awning/marquee. It had a row of windows running across the front of the building above the marquee. Someone, somewhere must have a photograph of the place. I had several at one time, but they were lost about 1980.

From the American Legion Hall Days:

1610_Chenevert.jpg

Edited by isuredid
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I believe the incarnations of Liberty Hall were:

1. A church

2. An American Legion Hall

3. Liberty Hall

4. A Chinese Movie Theatre

5. Demolished

The first show I saw there was a play "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" that someone else mentioned. I think that was 1971 and I would have been 16. I would try to go see Lightnin' Hopkins whenever he played there. I saw Bonnie Raitt and Little Feat, Flying Burrito Brothers, Dr. John, Taj Mahal (a few times), Bruce Springsteen, Clifton Chenier (anyone remember him playing Juneteenth at Miller Theater in 1985 or 86?), Cheech & Chong, Townes Van Zandt. The last show I saw there was the Ramones in 1977. It is the only show I still have a ticket from...too bad.

The folks that created Liberty Hall were many of the same folks that created The Family Hand Restaurant on Brazos. Mike Condray and Lynda Herrera along with Ryan Trimble.

I remember it as looking like an small Art Deco Theater with an overhanging awning/marquee. It had a row of windows running across the front of the building above the marquee. Someone, somewhere must have a photograph of the place. I had several at one time, but they were lost about 1980.

From the American Legion Hall Days:

1610_Chenevert.jpg

This guy orig. from Houston, now in Austin.. a country guy named Roy Heinrich.. says he opened for the first punk show in Houston.. He wrote me once, but I ended up having my e-mail crash and lost his note, but I believe he said his band opened for Tuff Darts.. in the mid 70's maybe? .. at Liberty Hall.

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This guy orig. from Houston, now in Austin.. a country guy named Roy Heinrich.. says he opened for the first punk show in Houston.. He wrote me once, but I ended up having my e-mail crash and lost his note, but I believe he said his band opened for Tuff Darts.. in the mid 70's maybe? .. at Liberty Hall.

trying to remember that e-mail. Actually Roy Heinrich states that he was in the first punk band in Texas.. maybe not opening at the FIRST punk show in Houston.. but they did open for Tuff Darts and it was at Liberty Hall.. around the mid 70's.. maybe 1977?

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I do remember Liberty Hall. Liberty Hall 'replaced' Jubilee Hall which was near or on Bagby & McGowen, downtown. The Family Hand Cafe (?Restaurant?) was a block or so away.

And of course, it seems light years ago in a galaxy far far away... I was going thru a few boxes of packed away memories & I found multiple flyers for John Lee Hooker playing at Jubilee Hall on Sunday, Feb 1...but it doesn't say the year... 7-11pm. My guess is that it was '67 or '68? Maybe '69? hmmm. Opening act was Sherwood, a Houston group...

Ahh, memories are sketchy... but I'd give anything for a bowl of beans & rice from the Family Hand.

I found this website forum by googling . This is the first post I've done. I'm hoping to hear from some ole Houstonians...

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I do remember Liberty Hall. Liberty Hall 'replaced' Jubilee Hall which was near or on Bagby & McGowen, downtown. The Family Hand Cafe (?Restaurant?) was a block or so away.

And of course, it seems light years ago in a galaxy far far away... I was going thru a few boxes of packed away memories & I found multiple flyers for John Lee Hooker playing at Jubilee Hall on Sunday, Feb 1...but it doesn't say the year... 7-11pm. My guess is that it was '67 or '68? Maybe '69? hmmm. Opening act was Sherwood, a Houston group...

Ahh, memories are sketchy... but I'd give anything for a bowl of beans & rice from the Family Hand.

I found this website forum by googling . This is the first post I've done. I'm hoping to hear from some ole Houstonians...

Can you scan the flyer and post on this thread? I believe Jubilee Hall and The Family Hand opened in 1969 and closed in 1971, so the flyer is probably from 1969.

Edited by isuredid
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I saw Tuff Darts (from NYC) play in Denver in the spring of '78. They were touring to support their LP on Sire.

My guess is they must have played at Liberty Hall around that same time.

trying to remember that e-mail. Actually Roy Heinrich states that he was in the first punk band in Texas.. maybe not opening at the FIRST punk show in Houston.. but they did open for Tuff Darts and it was at Liberty Hall.. around the mid 70's.. maybe 1977?
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Hey, there. I can scan that flyer... & others... but didn't want to post something that mighta been copywritten. ???

I have several flyers: Let me see what I can get going. I even found a couple of books of matches from Family Hand...

Who is this um, elderly woman in the mirror, staring back at me?... ???

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Please post them. Check out the ones I've got on flickr here. There are several from the Family Hand, etc.

Hey, there. I can scan that flyer... & others... but didn't want to post something that mighta been copywritten. ???

I have several flyers: Let me see what I can get going. I even found a couple of books of matches from Family Hand...

Who is this um, elderly woman in the mirror, staring back at me?... ???

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Please post them. Check out the ones I've got on flickr here. There are several from the Family Hand, etc.

You have soooo many posters! I want to drop everything & start scanning. I don't have that many, but man! SOOO many memories come up from seeing yours!

I'm too pressed for time (travel coming up) to dig in as deep as I'd like. But to be sure, this is facsinating & wonderful. I'd just started a couple topics, before I took a look at your posters: Catacombs - the ORIGINAL not the Village... & also, Bellaire Gym.

I don't know how to put a scan in this to have it show, rather than be an attachment?

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This is a picture of the Jubilee Hall flyer. It was too large to scan. Not sure I know how to attach a pic, but here goes.

I just noticed on the flyer that it says "Family of Hands Production" which was the original name of that operation, later shortened to The Family Hand.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Man those are great. Makes my few posters look pretty pitiful. Brought back some great memories.

I would like to put a link to your photos on my site if you don't mind.

http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~tannahil/index.html

As I'm listening to these guys right now, wondering if anyone saw Steely Dan at Liberty Hall?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Roger managed Anderson Fair for a while. One of the folks I remember from Liberty Hall was named Roberto. Another was a guy named Mike Condray.

Roger the dodger Ruffcorn is sadly missed. He was a nice guy and a good friend.

I never went there, but I think an old friend of mine used to manage it at one time. His name was Roger Ruffcorn, and he died 5.5 years ago of a brain tumor. Really nice guy. Anybody remember him and if he managed the place or not. I may have it confused with Anderson Fair.
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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...

I stumbled upon this posting and it is bringing back good memories. I saw Bruce Springstein, BB King, Kinky Freidman, and many others at Liberty Hall. God, I was so young, and so were they.

But the one that stands out, and one that no one else has mentioned, is Taj Mahal. That man's voice could melt anything in his path. I still, after all these years, have a clear image of him alone on stage w/his guitar. He was probably the most unique musician I heard at Liberty Hall.

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  • 2 months later...
I do remember Liberty Hall. Liberty Hall 'replaced' Jubilee Hall which was near or on Bagby & McGowen, downtown. The Family Hand Cafe (?Restaurant?) was a block or so away.

And of course, it seems light years ago in a galaxy far far away... I was going thru a few boxes of packed away memories & I found multiple flyers for John Lee Hooker playing at Jubilee Hall on Sunday, Feb 1...but it doesn't say the year... 7-11pm. My guess is that it was '67 or '68? Maybe '69? hmmm. Opening act was Sherwood, a Houston group...

Ahh, memories are sketchy... but I'd give anything for a bowl of beans & rice from the Family Hand.

I found this website forum by googling . This is the first post I've done. I'm hoping to hear from some ole Houstonians...

I seem to remember Lightnin' Hopkins playing at the family Hand. The Beans and Rice were to die for...

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I went to Liberty Hall a few times in the early '70's while still in high school. Missed Springsteen (although I did see him at the Music Hall right after Born to Run broke), Kinky Friedman, Doug Kershaw, etc...My most vivid memory was having the doorman inspect the contents of my paper bag (I was only 17), a bottle of Wild Turkey. He looked at it, looked at me, said "gobble, gobble" and let me in. :rolleyes: Going off on another tangent, remember Rock Island aka The Island? I think that might qualify as Houston's first mostly punk venue.

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Sure I remember The Island very well. It was on South Main right?

Early Houston punk venue. Many touring national acts came through there as well as other Texas bands. Great place.

I went to Liberty Hall a few times in the early '70's while still in high school. Missed Springsteen (although I did see him at the Music Hall right after Born to Run broke), Kinky Friedman, Doug Kershaw, etc...My most vivid memory was having the doorman inspect the contents of my paper bag (I was only 17), a bottle of Wild Turkey. He looked at it, looked at me, said "gobble, gobble" and let me in. :rolleyes: Going off on another tangent, remember Rock Island aka The Island? I think that might qualify as Houston's first mostly punk venue.
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Yep, the island was on South Main, around where all of the flower places are now I think.

[/quote

The original name was Paradise Island . Patrons simple called it the Island . It was supposedly a struggling Latino bar when around 1977 a local group of punk rock promoters convinced the owner he could draw new customers by booking live bands . It think it lasted until around 83 or 84 .

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The Island was just a tad before my time, but I did make it to Cab. Voltaire and a few other mid 80s Punk clubs (e.g. Pic 'n Pack, Consolidated Arts Warehouse, Lawndale, Cafe Mode)

Wasn't the Omni another?

The Ramones at Liberty Hall:

The Ramones at somewhere in Houston in '78

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-yDdwLDjMU

Really Red at the Island

Edited by nyc_tex
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RIP Ramones.....I got to see them a number of times both here and in Austin. Most interesting show was around '90 or '91 when they played at The Unicorn Ballroom. It was a converted Safeway supermarket on East Crosstimbers, mostly used for Latino Quincineras (sp?). A new act from Chicago, Smashing Pumpkins, opened the show, middle act was co-headliner Social Distortion, followed by the Ramones. Gabba Gabba Hey!

Edited by Scott08
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Spent a few New Year's Eves at Liberty Hall as well as catching Kinky Friedman and the Jewboys. Before one concert he and the Jew Boys performed a whole set on KPFT for Huey Meaux which I recorded on an old reel-to-reel that I need to find. The Kinkster spent a good amount of time kidding several Baylor Med students who showed up at the studio.

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RIP Ramones.....I got to see them a number of times both here and in Austin. Most interesting show was around '90 or '91 when they played at The Unicorn Ballroom. It was a converted Safeway supermarket on East Crosstimbers, mostly used for Latino Quincineras (sp?). A new act from Chicago, Smashing Pumpkins, opened the show, middle act was co-headliner Social Distortion, followed by the Ramones. Gabba Gabba Hey!
Great show. I think I saw the Surfers, Sonic Youth and the Bad Brains at the Unicorn as well. I fortunately got to see one of the last Ramones shows here in NYC in '96. I saw Joey on the subway about 6 months before he died. Hard to miss him.....
Spent a few New Year's Eves at Liberty Hall as well as catching Kinky Friedman and the Jewboys. Before one concert he and the Jew Boys performed a whole set on KPFT for Huey Meaux which I recorded on an old reel-to-reel that I need to find. The Kinkster spent a good amount of time kidding several Baylor Med students who showed up at the studio.
I saw Kinky here in NYC with one of the Jewboys at one of the old Bleeker Street bars in Greenwich. Probably 98 or 99. He did his tribute to Dylan, Kinky style. Quite funny. Edited by nyc_tex
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