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ForwardEver covers music and life in San Francisco with a heavy dose of reggae. Edited by DJ Tomas, there's links to freelance writing work past and present, plus news and views on culture and politics.

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  • 12/05/10--20:39: Stephenson Interview Up
  • The ForwardEver piece  on Jamaican singer Duane Stephenson is up now over at United Reggae.

    In the interview I ask Stephenson what changed between releasing his previous VP Records album From August Town and his new recording, Black Gold.

    His response:
    I traveled extensively through the Caribbean and new places in America and Europe [to promote] August Town. I experienced many different cultures throughout the world and I try and display that growth on the new album. Without growth you don’t really go forward. Often people do their first album and it works, but then they try and duplicate it. I’ve learned so much on this journey that I want to carry forward. Its not back to August Town – we’ve done that and been there and now its time to move on.
     Read the rest of the interview here... [see great photos too!]

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    In other news, hot gyaal Natalie Storm, a very strong and independent female DJ, singer and producer will make her first SF appearance Saturday December 10 at local club night Tormenta Tropical (inside the Elbo Room venue, 647 Valencia St,). Storm will be appearing with Bersa Discos DJs and Federation Sound's Max Glazer. Listen to a preview of her new tunes on the Federation blog. Oh yeah, you can catch up with Storm herself on Twitter. That woman can tweet something fierce...
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    Catch all the new riddims, hear previews and more at Dancehall Mobi's riddim pages -- a killer place to get current and hear what's bubbling.

    They boost both dancehall and roots offerings like this,  the new Peppery Ridiim!

       Peppery Riddim by dancehallinvestment



     

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  • 12/23/10--22:46: Love For Earth Volume 1 mix
  • In 1995 I was living in a studio apartment on South Cloverdale Street near West 6th St. in mid-town Los Angeles. I had two Techniques decks set up on milk crates, an archaic handed-down Numark mixer and a cassette deck. It was on this set up that I recorded my first formal mixtape, live in one take to cassette, tape hiss and all.

    The original tape copy was brought to Smitty, a rave music tape duplicator based in San Fernando Valley, who I paid to press up around 200 copies.

    At the time I was DJing with DJ Jun from Umoja Hi-Fi at Nova Express (opened '93, closed '08) on Fairfax Blvd, a late-night coffee & pizza cafe. Our night was called Goa Dub, one of the first club nights to feature ambient, trip-hop, dub and downtempo music in an all-ages after-hours space (most weeks we DJed till 4 a.m.).

    The music on the mix I've posted here represents many of the tracks and moods of the time. For whatever reason I don't have a copy of the track listing but I know that some of the artists that I recognize include Mad Professor, DJ Shadow, Manesseh, A Guy Called Gerald, Funki Porcini, Fila Brazillia, Edge Test, Sub-Surfing, Bandulu, Biosphere and others.

    Side One: Liquid is a mostly beatless ambient and dub affair. [60mb, 43 min]

    (download) Password = liquid

    Side Two: Solid is trip-hop, downtempo and jazzy beats.[61mb, 44 min]

    (download) Password  = solid

    Also: Look for Love For Earth Volume 2: Indian Summer Jazz an apparently sought-after mix, to be posted shortly followed by other cassette-only DJ mixes made between '94 and '99.

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  • 12/28/10--16:32: Groove Merchant Story
  • Iconic San Francisco record store the Groove Merchant celebrated 20 years in business in 2010. A new compilation marking the anniversary is out now.

    My piece for the SF Weekly about the shop and its current owner Cool Chris was published today. Read an excerpt below and the full piece on their site.

    After 20 Years, the Vinyl Still Spins -- And Sells -- at Groove Merchant Records

    Chris Veltri stands behind the cluttered wood counter at Groove Merchant record store. Dressed in a navy peacoat and Levis, with sandy blond bangs draped over his blue eyes, he watches three customers browse his small Lower Haight shop. "Not bad for a Tuesday night," he says casually, his tone suiting his nickname, "Cool Chris," as the customers browse bins filled with vintage jazz, rare soul, disco, hip-hop, and collectible Brazilian records.

    Like the vinyl rarities that fill the shop, Groove Merchant is rare survivor -- dozens of old San Francisco record retailers have either closed for good or retreated to largely online sales. But Groove Merchant celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with a compilation album on Ubiquity Records and a whole lot of memories -- not all of them good. Staff members have been robbed at gunpoint, thieves have stolen merchandise, and lean times make the business a barely profitable endeavor. Yet Veltri says he can't complain: People are still buying records. [Read the rest of the piece...]


     

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    Here's the playlist and audio for Saturday Nite Rockers on KUSF 90.3 FM from December 25, 2010.

    Saturday Nite Rockers airs each Saturday from 11 p.m. - 2 a.m. (P.S.T.) on KUSF and streaming live via iTunes.

    Click the link to download the first 90 minutes of the show as an MP3.

    (Cameal Davis, pictured)



    Sat. Nite Rockers Radio (download audio) 92mb

    Saturday Nite Rockers Playlist For December 25, 2010
    ARTIST – TITLE – LABEL – RIDDIM
    Carlton Livingston – There Once Was A Man (Basque Dub Foundation) Far East riddim
    Chronicle – Sweet Sensi (Basque Dub Foundation) Far East riddim
    Basque Dub Foundation – Far East Version (Basque Dub Foundation) Far East riddim
    Gyptian – So Much Love (VP)
    Kari Jess – Show Love (promo)
    Chino – Handwritings (Big Ship-VP)
    Gappy Ranks – Pumpkin Belly (Peckings) 5446 Riddim
    Mr. Williams – In The Club  (Peckings) 5446 Riddim
    YT – Save Me Life (Peckings) 5446 Riddim
    Mikey Spice – Deep In My Soul (Stingray) Lucky Girl riddim
    Marcia Griffiths – Cold World (Stingray) Lucky Girl riddim
    Tenna Star – In The Streets (Stingray) Lucky Girl riddim
    Bushman – Brand New Second Hand (VP)
    Mary J. Blige / Gyptian / Busta Rhymes – Anything You Want (promo)
    Assassin – Bam Bam (Juke Boxx) Stallag riddim
    Chino – Sound Execution  (Juke Boxx) Stallag riddim
    Elephant Man – You Nah Deal With Love (Juke Boxx) Stallag riddim
    Dillinger – Melting Pot (Techniques) Stallag riddim
    General Echo – Flora Lee (Techniques) Stallag riddim
    Stephen Marley ft. Damien Jr Gong Marley – Jah Army (Universal Music)
    Stephen Marley ft. Damien Jr Gong Marley & Buju Banton – Jah Army (Universal Music)
    Lutan Fyah – It Doesn't Matter Any More (Roots Survival) Protection riddim
    Konshens – War Straight (Roots Survival) Protection riddim
    Richie Stephens – Color of Love (Penthouse) Big Stage riddim
    Cameal Davis – My Heart Says Go (Penthouse) Big Stage riddim
    Queen Ifrika – The Will To Survive (Penthouse) Big Stage riddim
    Capleton – When I Come To Town (VP)
    Al Pancho – Dem Fighting (Estudio Manifesto) Baldhead riddim
    Jah Knight – Revolution Time (Estudio Manifesto) Baldhead riddim
    I Jah Bones – Long Time (Estudio Manifesto) Baldhead riddim
    Rebellious – For My Family (Estudio Manifesto) Baldhead riddim
    Bob Marley & The Wailers – Zion Train (Island)
    Norris Reid – Protect Them (Rockers)
    Cocoa Tea – Reggae Man (Skengdon)
    Mighty Diamonds – Never Get Weary (Live & Learn)
    Jah Dan – It All Comes Back To One (Lustre Kings)
    Iyara – Bad Dem A Wish Me (Yardvibe) Badda Don riddim
    Wayne Marshal – Careless (Yardvibe) Badda Don riddim
    Chase Cross – Hate Me If You Want (Yardvibe) Badda Don riddim
    Bling Dawg – Next Level (Yardvibe) Badda Don riddim
    Elephant Man –Shake It - Jester Remix (promo)
    Mr. Vegas – Keep It Real (Armz House) Double Action riddim
    Khago – White T's and Addidas (Sankofa) Rail Up riddim
    Bounty Killa / Doolas – Not Scareed Enough (Sankofa) Rail Up riddim
    Cecile – Mi Tek You Man (Sankofa) Rail Up riddim
    Aldubb & Brother Culture – Thanks and Praises (One Drop)
    Ghetto Priest – Evolution (Reggae Roast)
    Ghetto Priest – Evolution Version (Reggae Roast)
    Al Campbell – Unfaithful Children (Greensleeves)
    Fred Locks – Love and Only Love (Greensleeves)


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  • 01/03/11--09:51: Achis Reggae On The Case
  • Just a quick mention to start the year off: Achis Reggae Blog has a nice, on-point recap of 2010 in this new post.

    Achis is a frequent poster to United Reggae and other publications and writes very astute long-form reggae music analysis with a sharp wit.

    The latest post is a look back at 2010 with a "Best of" focus, made more interesting with surprising  categories such as "Album Title of the Year," "Surprise Label of the Year" and a cheeky pick for "Dancehall Album of the Year."

    (pictured: Surprise Artist of the Year: Khago)

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    The New Year has only just begun and already new riddims, songs and albums are flying out the gate -- literally. 
    First to take flight in 2011 is New York producer Bobby Konders a.k.a. Massive B with Da Eagle Riddim. 

    The riddim features veteran dancehall MCs Mr. Lexx, Jr. Cat, Red Fox and Burro Banton and has a bouncy, 94-bpm mid-tempo arrangement, a formula that will work well for both radio and club formats. Fans of Dave Kelly's early-90s riddims like Pepperseed will like this one.  And if you visit the Massive B site, just click the top banner to download it for free!
    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
    For more free dancehall in the mix, check Umoja Hi-Fi Sound and Los Angeles-based DJ Culture D's new 1-hour mix. Dancehall 2010: Mind Traveling is a great look back at the toppa-top riddims of the previous year -- many of which were released toward the year's end and still sound fresh. Artists featured on the mix include Vybz Kartel, Shawn Storm, Million Styles, Buju Banton and Macka Diamond and juggling includes selections from the S-Class, Brain Freeze, Badda Don, Numbers and Flirtation riddims. Click the link to download the mix or stream it from the page. 
    (pictured right: Umoja Hi-Fi's Culture D & DJ Jun)
    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––  
    In other news, the Jamaica Gleaner reports that rising singer Protoje's new album Seven Year Itch will be dropping soon, produced by his cousin Don Corleon, DJ Karim and musician Danny Bassie

    Dancehall combination fans get their wish with a new Shaggy and Movado single called "Girlz Dem Luv Me." Movado sings the hook while Shaggy DJs over a slow-burning hip-hop-tinged beat. 

    Texas producer McPullish has a new roots riddim with songs by Mark Wonder, veteran roots artist Slyford Walker and a great Lutan Fyah cut. Preview the Lutan Fyah single "Ras Always" here

    An excellent new compilation from 17 North Parade Records chronicles the career of dancehall producers Steely and Clevie.  The release titled Digital Revolution is a three-disc collector's edition that includes 42 of their most influential and biggest hits on two CDs plus a documentary DVD. Ninja Man, Cutty Ranks, Cocoa Tea, Baby Wayne, Tiger and Sean Paul are all featured.
    If you haven't seen the video -- the topic of much discussion in JA -- where Vybz Kartel explains his new "lighter" complexion, check the video interview here.

    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––  
    Lastly, don't forget to download your copy of the new United Reggae Magazine. Just visit the link to get a full PDF version of this "up to the time" color magazine featuring the best coverage of Jamaican music.  The latest issue features interviews with Pablo Moses, Glen Washington, Lloyd Brown and Duane Stephenson as well as reviews and news about Johnny Osbourne, Laurel Aitken, Gappy Ranks, Jahdan Blakkamoore, Israel Vibration, Alpheus, Buju Banton, Konshens and more.





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    This year's Grammy Award nominations in the Reggae category were revealed in early December 2010. The winners will be announced at the ceremony Sunday February 13.  It's another interesting set of choices and among the weakest set of nominations in years.

    The nominations include:
    Buju Banton Before The Dawn [Gargamel Music]
    Gregory Isaacs & King Isaac Isaacs Meets Isaac [King Isaac Music]
    Lee "Scratch" Perry  Revelation [Megawave]
    Bob Sinclair And Sly & Robbie  Made In Jamaica [Yellow Productions/Universal Music]
    Sly & Robbie & The Family Taxi  One Pop Reggae
    [Phase One/Taxi]

    Andrew Tosh  Legacy An Acoustic Tribute To Peter Tosh [Box10/Tuff Gong]

      My colleagues over at United Reggae were quick to comment ("Reggae Grammy is a Joke") on this year's selections, and in general I agree with their analysis.

      The Grammy awards are nominated by members of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences now known as simply The Recording Academy. To become a "voting member" you have to be in the recording industry or music business, join a chapter, pay dues and fill out a ballot. Member labels submit their works for consideration in the voting process.

      Back to this year's nominees: Andrew Tosh is a credible and steadily developing artist who tours often and has decent chops. His Legacy album is a fitting nomination as we all know there has to be a Marley link of some kind at every Grammy Awards. And all the better better if there's more than one Marley nominated. Usually it's Ziggy (for his folky reggae-lite projects) and Ky-Mani for...actually I haven't heard a Ky-Mani Marley album I remember.

      Sly & Robbie's One Pop Reggae is also a credible selection featuring guest appearances from Third World's Bunny Ruggs, Lutan Fyah and Cherine Anderson. The album features covers and originals and a mix of the Riddim Twin revival and future-leaning arrangements. Overall it functions as an overview of what their Taxi studio has been up to lately.

      Bob Sinclair's Made In Jamaica is a cross-over minded roots-n-pop affair with token guest appearances by Tony Rebel, Queen Ifrica and, um, Dollarman? Thanks to Sly & Robbie's musicianship and, frankly, Sinclair's take on his French production counterparts Seven Dub's spacey mixing style there are several worthy moments.

      Lee "Scratch" Perry's Revelation made several "worst of the year" lists, which is a shame after his much lauded live appearances in 2010. (see Sunset Junction performance video) The Gregory Isaacs combination album with King Isaacs has decent modern roots production but the singing, from both Isaacs's, leaves much to be desired. Gregory is best remember by his classic 70s and 80s albums.

      Which leaves Buju Banton's Before The Dawn released on his own Gargamel Music. It features a number of seemingly prophetic songs, including "Innocent," "Bondage," and "Battered & Bruised." From a quality and artistic stand-point, Before The Dawn deserves the Grammy despite Buju's personal transgressions.

      And what a year it has been for Mr. Mark Anthony Myrie a.k.a. Buju Banton. It started with a previous Grammy nomination for his Rasta Got Soul project and ended in fiasco with a trial for allegedly conspiring to purchase kilos of cocaine. The case ended in a mis-trial and will be re-tried this year. Buju has been out on bail (apparently posted by Stephen Marley) and will perform a concert Sunday January 16, 2011 in Miami. Time will tell what the Grammy's and the public will make of this talented but tortured artist.

      Here's a reminder of other recent Reggae Grammy winners:
      2009  Burning Spear - Jah Is Real
      2008  Stephen Marley - Mind Control
      2007  Ziggy Marley - Love Is My Religion
      2006  Damian Marley - Welcome To Jamrock
      2005  Toots and Maytals - True Love
      2004  Sean Paul - Dutty Rock

      Kudos to All Music.com whose end of the year list of Top 10 Reggae Albums was on-point. From their blog:
      The list features representatives from the new guard (10 Ft. Ganja Plant, Wrongtom), some names from the old guard (Dennis Brown, the Uniques), a few crossover artists (Nas, Madlib), and, of course, a member of the royal family (Damian Marley)
      12 others that deserved recognition: 

      Duane Stephenson Black Gold (VP), as and also Toussaint's similarly named album on I-Grade, Tommy Tornado Sunrise (Rude Rich UK), Alborosie Escape From Babylon To The Kingdom of Zion (Greensleeves), Lee "Scratch" Perry Sound System Scratch (Pressure Sounds), Capleton Iternal Fire (VP), Lloyd Brown For Your Consideration (Cousins), Doubblestandart Marijuana Dreams (Collision), Gappy Ranks Put The Stereo On (Greensleeves/Peckings),  Henry "Junjo" Lawes Volcano Erruption (17 N Parade), The Uniques Absolutely Rocksteady (Pressure Sounds) and Horace Andy Serious Times (Minor 7, Flat 5).

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      "Anthony B has to be one of the ten best living reggae artists," I remarked to a friend as the Jamaican singjay launched into "God Above Everything," one of his signature tunes. Since emerging in 1996, Keith Anthony Blair, better known as Anthony B has risen to the top of the touring reggae circuit, playing sold out shows and festivals across North America, Europe and other continents.

      His performance January 12 at San Francisco's the Independent did not disappoint. Bounding two and fro across the stage like a gymnast, Blair ran through his catalog of hits, re-interpreting many of them in different formats, and touched on disparate music styles from U2-style arena rock to soul ballads and even country. In fact, if if his performance suffered from anything it was too much universalism; Blair made certain to appeal to reggae newbies, crossover fans and those seeking an interactive performance "experience." Gripes aside, he made it all look easy.

      Situated in the DJ booth in the balcony, rare Jamaican 45 specialist Revival Sound System (pictured right) from KUSF's Wake The Town opened the show. Highlights from his selection included 7" versions of Alton Ellis's "Let Him Try" on Studio One, Prince Buster's cover of the Beatles "Hey Jude," plus a rare Winston Francis cover of Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang" and early Bob Marley tunes. [Here's a video of Revival Sound in action.]

      Given that the crowd would mostly be modern reggae fans it was a risk for the venue to book Revival for the opening slot. But the crowd didn't seem to miss the incessant Stone Love horn samples that normally blast over the new roots and dancehall riddims at most reggae events. Rather, the audience sang along quite loudly to 'Hey Jude."

      But then it was showtime. Anthony B strode on stage, his dreads wrapped Bobo Ashanti-style in a clean white turban, topped off with a suit jacket and vest, black jeans and polished dress shoes. He opened with "Hurt The Heart (But You Can't Hurt My Soul)" from his 1996 album So Many Things accented by agile leg kicks worthy of a champion hurdler. Next was fan favorite, "Almighty God" (on the famous Studio One riddim "Love Me Forever") followed by "God Above Everything" and a nice minor-key tune, "Ain't No Stopping Us," which rode the Black Roses / Revolution riddim nicely.

      There comes a point about six songs into an Anthony B show where you realize that he's had at least one recognizable if not anthemic hit every year -- usually more than one. That longevity and quality control has helped elevate his profile among longtime reggae connoisseurs, but his connection with crowds equally adds to his popularity.

      "Give it up for roots and culture, give it up for consciousness," Blair implored about midway though his set, receiving an appropriately enthusiastic response from the wall-to-wall packed audience. From there he had the crowd captivated: Swinging arms left-to-right on command, joining him in a sing-a-long to the Bill Withers' nugget "Lean On Me" and shouting approval to his rub-a-dub dance moves on the hit "Waan Back" (his biggest selling song on iTunes). About halfway through his set, Blair shifted from hits to new material from his most recent album Rasta Love . The best of the batch was a ballad that began with a the guitar riff from Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" and lead into a new roots one-drop beat. At the tail end of the number Blair half-heartedly tried to get the crowd to sing "Red Red Wine" over the riddim but they weren't going there.

      The only other hitches came in the aforementioned U2-style stadium rock track and Blair's rework of John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Road," in which "California" replaces "West Virginia" in the lyrics and "mountain mama" is swapped for "marijuana."  The moment was clever but trite. Not so his impassioned rendition of recent single "Sweet Jamaica", "Give Praises" and early career hit "Raid Di Barn" presented for the encore.

      Though he didn't fail his core audience, Blair seemed to be pining for bigger things. With American reggae-rock acts Rebulution, Iration and SOJA outselling Jamaican artists by a wide margin in the US, who could blame Blair for at least courting those fans?

      Anthony B's talent seems as limitless as his hits and despite a few moments that teetered on the edge of rock cliché, it's hard to disdain an artist that breaks the music down do deliver truisms such as "Don't ever look outside of yourself for answers," and "Love yourself, you made it!" So did Anthony B.




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    • 01/17/11--23:59: Blog It Up!
    • Not a day goes by without a crucial tip, news item or other bit of info reaching the ForwardEver gates electronically via blogs and grassroots news websites. The reggae blog 'ting has been big for a minute now -- at least four years strong. Blogs and reggae news sites are where you'll catch up the latest on the Vybz Kartel cake soap saga or find an advance link to new tunes like the Beres/Busy "Tempted" remake.

      Here's a shout to some recent posts that caught my eye and, lets say in general: Big Up Di Bloggers Dem!

      Definitely up to the minute, crucial and straight to your device, which is nice, the folks at Dancehall Mobi serve up fresh news. Currently they feature videos from the much-hyped Buju concert in Miami (which is good 'cause rumor has it the $25 pay-per-view had its share of technical glitches). Mobi also has the i-fficial Vegas/Shaggy/Josie Wales "Sweet Jamaica" video shot by Jay Will. Nice.

      Erin Soundclash has a really thorough 2010 re-cap in two parts. It's her blog's third annual round-up and I find that it always resonates on the right points.

      Also crucial is Kiss My Teeth's take on 2010. It's full 'a "Vybz," if you know what I mean.

      Speaking of sound clash -- Irish & Chin's website has been reigning lately with their video interview series, featuring everyone from Peter Metro to "Mrs Wayne Marshall" Tami Chynn. This is some of the best original Jamaican music interview-style programming out there, 100% grassroots and real.

      And over at Dangerous Minds the always readable Ron Nachmann has a nice muse on MLK and roots reggae. Watch for his ZIon Train in depth post and video soon. Neil Zion Train mashed up a packed out Dub Mission club on Sunday with live digital dub and vocal support from Jah Warrior Shelter crew's Rocker T.

      You'll also learn a thing or too at the (non-hippie) reggae (well, mostly danchall and bashment really...) Seen Site. Props to their edgy humor and stylish posts.

      On the left column you'll see this site's recommended reggae news sites, or as we call them here, the Fire Links!

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    • 01/19/11--14:25: In Memorium: KUSF 90.3 FM
    • On Tuesday January 18 San Francisco non-commerical college radio station KUSF 90.3 FM's broadcast license was sold and forceably taken off air. This came as a shock to its more than 200 volunteer staff and students who were not consulted about the sale beforehand. University officials announced the move yesterday and said that the station would revert to an online-only format.

      ForwardEver was a 15-year volunteer at KUSF on programs including The Friday Night Session and Saturday Nite Rockers. This is a major blow to independent artists, musicians and labels who rely on the station for exposure and promotion. In addition to independent and alternative rock, the station featured programming in eight different languages including Mandarin, Portugese, Armenian and Farsi.

      The university's unilateral move saw  KUSF's license and transmitter (but not the call lettters "KUSF") sold to University of Southern Califiornia's KUSC, a classical radio station, who will use the frequency to broadcast KDFC-FM, a former commerical classical station that was not able to compete in the for-profit market. Read more about the deal in the Bay Citizen's article.

      The FM radio band cannot afford to lose another independent music voice. College radio licenses have been under threat for some time as universityies look for ways to close budget gaps and struggling commerical stations fight for remaining bandwidth. This is mostly due to corporate radio consolidation and the rise of internet broadcasting over the past decade. The SF Weekly is reporting that DJs are organizing actions to restore the station, but that the FCC was likely to still approve the sale.

      The sale of KUSF is especially distressing to fans of 20-year broadcaster Brixton Hitman, whose programs Saturday Nite Rockers and English Pound Radio were the only programs West of the Mississippi to regularly feature British lovers rock music on a regular basis. Likewise, I will miss broadcasting with the Friday Night Session crew to a live FM radio audience; the show's four hosts connected regularly with local listeners via the show's happy hour events and weekly broadcasts.

      If you care about the station's future or wish to support it in it's new format, visit www.kusf.org regularly for upates or search Facebook for the Save KUSF fan page.

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    • 01/21/11--22:35: Opinion: The Two Jamaicas


    • The two Jamaicas are always present.

      The Jamaica that is gives us innovative music, gorgeous scenery and world renowned athletes is there.

      To some, in fact,  Jamaica is the third coolest country in the world.

      But the other Jamaica is there too.

      The Jamaica where a Blackberry phone is more precious than life. And where every day gunmen run the streets with abandon and innocent civilians taking the bus are caught between their bullets and the police firing back.

      Not that other nations don't have their share of tragic dualities. The US especially leads in this category as the "Land of the Free" with a prison population of nearly 2.3 million. But America is large and unwieldy, a nation of many states that nearly broke apart a century ago.

      Jamaica, on the other hand, is only 40-some years into its independence with a population less than that incarcerated in the US and more churches per capita than nearly anywhere on earth. Yet as cool as CNN rates JA, Yard cyaan cool. And anyone who cares about Jamaican culutre, and who indulges in its music, food, athletic prowess and other positives must consider and take to heart the underlying problems of income distribution and governance that result in it's daily deluge of gunfire.

      Though the national motto may still be "Out of Many, One People," its clear from the today's headlines that two Jamaica's persist and the slogan won't ring true until the guns fall silent.

      [Update: More on the murder of Coper Cat, referred to in sentence 5 above.]

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      THIS FRIDAY JAN 28:

      DJs Tomas (Umoja Hi-Fi) Dougie & Tim (Young Offenders / Bricks-and-Mortar) & Doug Pagan (Afrocubist)

      Spinning punk, 2tone, Oi, noWave and reggae.

      Koko Cocktails 1060 Geary at Van Ness. 10 p.m. - 2 a.m. No cover, 21 w/ID!

      Booze • DJs • punky reggae vids

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      Dubs Alive Radio Presents:

      MIX 002 - THE SPIT BROTHERS

       
      FREE To download on their Soundcloud page!





      Tracklist:
      00:00 The Spit Brothers - Some of the Time (forthcoming Dubs Alive)
      02:40 Moldy ft. Preston Murphy - Embrace the Filth (Embassy Recording)
      02:50 Max Romeo - Protest to the M1 (Pachecko Remix) (Senseless Recording)
      08:30 Bukkha - Drift (free@www.soundcloud.com/dubsalive)
      10:15 JKenzo - Nocturnal Feelings (forthcoming TUBA)
      12:10 Bakir and Dubsworth - Soul Job (Dubsworth's VIP)
      14:24 Bakir and Vinja - Untitled (dub)
      18:00 ???? - Reggae Ambassador (WAR015A)
      19:40 Matty G - Sensimillia (forthcoming FullMelt BAD3)
      21:30 The Spit Brothers - By The Fire (Nate Mars Remix) (forthcoming DA)
      23:40 Bakir - Going Down Slow (forthcoming FullMelt BAD3)
      27:00 Antiserum & Rozanski - The Bridge (forthcoming FullMelt BAD3)
      30:40 Dubsworth - Willing to Lose (dub)
      33:20 The Spit Brothers - Beg to Differ (DJG Remix) (forthcoming TUBA)
      37:05 Cosmic Revenge - Drift (forthcoming FullMelt BAD3)
      38:40 Dubblestandart - Chrome Optimism (Antiserum Remix ft. Bakir)
      40:30 The Spit Brothers - Violet Dub (Dubs Alive 007)
      43:15 Bukkha - Black Angels (Dubs Alive 007)
      46:55 Vinja - Flute Loop (dub)
      50:05 JazzSteppa - Chauchesko Part 2 (forthcoming TUBA)

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      A recent mix for Dublab.com in LA.

      Listen or download here.

      And if you like it or other mixes on the site, please consider sending a donation to keep Dublab dubbing on the air with its mix of eclectic programming!
       
      Dub I.D. – Major Mass Mind Expansion Mix
      Tracklisting:
      Scuba – Before (After)
      Fulgeance – Glamoure
      Jose James – Blackmagic
      Onra – Lying Besides You (Original Mix)
      Take – Warm_Ruin
      Electric Wire Hustle – Longtime
      J-Live – Calcuations (featuring Oddy Gato)(Radio)
      Kaya Project – Desert Phase (Hibernation Remix)
      Shigeto – And We Gonna (Samiyam Chopsticks Remix)
      Tycho – From Home (Mux Mool Remix)
      Arp 101 – Warriors Galactic (MP3)
      The Funk League – The Boogie Down Bombers Feat. Diamond D & Sadat X
      Letherette – In July Focus
      Letherette – Blad
      Mux Mool – Teal Trim
      Miedlev – Jernau Gurgeh
      The Detroit Experiment – Highest
      Deela – One Eyed Captain (Radio Citizen Remix)
      Buddy Satva – Peripecia_masterBLK
      Fatima – Soul Glo
      Shlohmo – Spoons (Shigeto Remix)
      Teedra Moses – Kisses Never Taste So Sweet
      Fudge Fingas – Its About Time
      DJ Center – Center’s Groove (Captain Planet Remix)
      Double Identity – Jah Arise 

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      UK 2Tone ska is alive – as you can see from the video below. Well, 2Tone with a little grimey rap mixed in for a perfectly 21st century stylistic mash-up!

      Below is the first video from Gentleman's Dub Club courtesy of Ranking Records and filmed and edited by The Odyssey Media Collective. The good folks at Ranking are also offering a special drum & bass remix from the mighty Octane & DLR -- FOR FREE! 





       

      Rankin Records also have a very deep (pun intended) EP forthcoming by Bristol's Dub From Atlantis. The "SIlly Little Things" EP (out Feb 14) blend authentic reggae dub vibes with UK bass music in the tradition of Bristol greats Smith & Mighty, Massive Attack, Pinch, etc.


      Hear a preview on Soundcloud -- and trust me, you want to hear this!
      Tracklist:
      1. Silly Little Things (ft. Celestine) – Dub From Atlantis
      2. Silly Little Things (ft James Gardiner Bateman and Josh...) – Dub From Atlantis
      3. Silly Little Things (Cymantic Remix) – Dub From Atlantis
      4. Silly Little Things (Khan remix) – Dub From Atlantis 

      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      I've written previously about great British Jamaican historical and fiction writer Colin Grant. His new book I & I: The Natural Mystics (Jonathan Cape press) examining Bob Marley & The Wailers just came out, and it's likely to be a must-read! 

      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



      Speaking of innovative UK things: Lets take it back to 1977! That what BBC4's Reggae Britannia does, a crucial documentary about how reggae transformed British popular culture in the '70s & '80s. Lovers Rock, The Clash, The Specials, Steel Pulse, Misty In Roots, Soul II Soul, Jah Shaka, yes even Culture Club all came out of the Jamaican influence in British popular music. And February 11 at the Barbican in London UK reggae legend Dennis Bovell will lead a live performance with some of Britain's best reggae singers.
      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      And hopefully by now you've caught the truly amazing live figure animation series Rastamouse, a reggae crime fighting hero that your kids will love.

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    • 02/13/11--14:15: Afro Funk Comes Forward
    • Los Chicharones are back. The international duo of Ramon Santana and Morten Hansen present their fourth album and mark their return to Tim "Love" Lee's Tummy Touch label, home to Groove Armada and The Phenomenal Handclap Band.

      Roots of Life is a cracking 11 song collection that sews together African and Latin percussion with funky dancefloor beats, but eschews any Fat Boy Slim "big beat" cliches. The album's grooves are closer to 1975 Lagos than 1999 Bristol . That's partially due to Morten recording in Mali before putting the finishing touches on the productions in London.

      Tummy Touch has authorized a few freebies to whet your appetite. Check the free track and killer DJ mix below. And trust us, the full album, which dropped on January 25, does not disappoint. Look for it on CD and digitally in all your favorite shops now.

      Download funky, Fela-inspired album track “Ma Do Nar

      Download the  The Los Chicharrons Afro DJ Mix

      1. Intro: Wilfredo Stephenson vs. Los Chicharrons: Mali Brass
      2. Tropical Treats:  Afriken Riddims
      3. Thony Shorby:  No Wrong Show
      4. Manu Dibango:  Super Koumba
      5.  Los Chicharrons:  Timbuktu vs. Big Daddy Kane Mashup
      6. C.K. Mann & His Carousel: Medley
      7. Fela Kuti: 7" Mashup vs. Los Chicharrons: Ma Do Nar Acapella
      8. Fela Kuti:  Ako vs. Los Chicharrons: Ma Do Nar Mashup
      9. MAW feat Wunmi:  Ekabo vs. Los Chicharrons: Ma Do Nar Mashup
      10. Afefe Iku:  Mirror Dance vs. Los Chicharrons Koundadi Mashup
      11. Los Chicharrons: Kounandi outro.

      And for further inspiration check this forthcoming documentary about a DJ's quest for funk's roots in Africa.


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      United Reggae published ForwardEver's interview with lovers rock crooner Courtney John. John talks about his new song on Itation Records (released Valentine's Day) and the latest runnings in his busy career.

      Here's an excerpt:

      When Angus Taylor interviewed lovers rock reggae singer Courtney John for United Reggae in April 2010 he was riding on the success of his album 'Made In Jamaica' and the Peckings-produced hit single Lucky Man. Since then interest in Courtney John has only increased. The singer and producer formerly known as Yogi whose uncles Boya and Beres Hammond introduced him to the music business now has a solid international following. One of those global links is with California’s Itation Record who are promoting Courtney John’s new single Never Keep You Waiting, which features sparkling music arrangement by the Tune In Crew. With both a love of Jamaica’s rocksteady sounds and modern international music of all sorts, Courtney John balances a career based on quality over quantity. He spoke to United Reggae about his recent recordings and how to be a successful artist in 2011.

      And read the rest of the interview here.


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      Reggae vocalist Bushman, the musical alias of St. Thomas, Jamaica native Dwight Duncan, has spent the past 15 years using his strong voice to convey socially conscious messages over suitably cultural rhythm tracks. Songs like “Fire Bun A Weak Heart” and “Cannabis” have become staples at roots sessions around the world, while Bushman’s appearance on riddims like Cousins Records 2008 Fort Augustus version are treasured for their quality. His albums include Nyah Chant, Total Commitment, Signs, Higher Ground and Get It In Your Mind and he’s also founded a music company, Burning Bushes music.

      Bushman now turns his attention to one his main influences, Peter Tosh. Produced by Penthouse Records’ Donovan Germain, Bushman Sings The Bush Doctor features notable Tosh songs “Equal Rights,” “Bush Doctor” and “Legalize” as well as collaborations with Tarrus Riley and Buju Banton. Bushman’s aim was to bring Tosh’s music to a new generation and celebrate his legacy while Tosh fans will discover the wonder of Bushman’s smooth baritone delivery. 

      ForwardEver caught up with Bushman at the VP Records offices in New York and he offered thoughts on the Tosh project, his next album Conquering Lion and sharp opinions about some fellow Rasta artists. Watch out, this man is a razor, he’s dancgerous!

      ForwardEver: Hail Bushman! Where is your base of operations these days?

      Bushman: Well, [my location] is unstable as water! I’m mainly based in Jamaica but for the last six months I’ve been [in America] getting back in front of the people, promoting and doing as much as I can for myself and reggae music. I’m mostly in America and Europe. I’m working with a promoter named Giovanni who puts on Rototom Splash, one of the biggest festivals in Europe called. We’re planning to go to Argentina and Uruguay on February 17 for 10 days to do some promotion in South America. It’s a new market for me to play in and a chance to make some new people aware of [my work].

      What is your record label Burning Bushes all about?

      We’re an independent company established about five years ago. We put out the last Bushman album Get it In Your Mind but we’re not signed to any major distribution company, we do it all ourselves. Right now Burning Bushes is mostly promoting my music. We’re looking forward to promoting some young artists that we’re working with. We’re about the real roots side of the reggae. We want to water that root and let it grow and flourish.

      Lets talk about your current project, Bushman Sings The Bush Doctor. What was your goal in recording an entire album of Peter Tosh cover songs?

      My goal was and is to get the awareness of Peter Tosh’s music to the new world of reggae who might listen to my music but might not know his music. I’m not saying that everyone who listens to Bushman doesn’t know about Peter Tosh, but you do have some who don’t know that man’s work. You also have people who listen to [Tosh] but don’t know about Bushman. I also think Peter Tosh is less spoken of [compared to Bob Marley or Bunny Wailer]. Some people only know Bob Marley as a reggae artist. [Tosh] was very influential to my career. So I said ‘This is one of the ultimate goals’, to do a tribute to Peter Tosh. I’m mostly about albums projects, no matter how many singles I put out. Albums like this really help reflect the inner man.

      How much awareness of Peter Tosh’s music is there among young Jamaicans these days?

      Most of the young people who know about Peter Tosh’s music in Jamaica are those who have been raised in a Rasta family. The music has changed drastically in Jamaica; we’ve seen dancehall take a great toll on the music. Dancehall is a great movement but sometimes for me, I feel like dancehall music invokes evil. “In the beginning was the word and the word take on the flesh and manifest” – I think that’s one’s of the greatest teachings when it comes to music, especially when you have people indulging in certain things that the music subliminally is saying.

      But for me, for the last decade within the roots part of the music, it’s been like one rhythm repeating – that’s just my opinion. It’s just the same riddim being made over and over again. I haven’t heard any form of crafted artwork or anyone doing something different or new. If one man does something and it works than everyone follows. I’ve seen less creativity in the music, which also contributes to the deterioration of the roots music.


      "We have bigger issues to talk about that afflict people every day, things that need to be addressed."

      You did a version of “Stepping Razor,” which goes back to Tosh’s early days, right?

      “Stepping Razor” shows the agility of a man. People can relate to the lyrics, and who feels it knows it. [Quoting the lyrics] “I’m like a walking razor, don’t watch my size, I’m dangerous!” So it was a joy to be able to express these things that Peter Tosh was feeling, knowing that I was feeling them too. Now, Donovan Germain chose some of the tracks and other people put in their own input. “Glass House” was one of the tracks chosen by me that didn’t make the final cut. There were other tracks I really wanted to do and never got the chance too -- I thought more attention should be paid to the artist and his vision. “Nuclear War” is one of the songs I feel is a “now” song with the kind of wars that we’ve seen, the crumbling of the Twin Towers, fighting in Afghanistan -- North Korea, Iran and all of those places on the edge. Another track I wanted to do was “The Day The Dollar Die” [from Tosh’s album Mystic Man]. These tracks are significant to me and I thought they should be on the album but we never got a chance. But the album is great and the project is out.

      The digital release version of the album contains a lesser-known Tosh song called “Bumoclaut,” which is a Jamaican curse word, right?

      If it were up to me that would have been on the CD version too! You know, because it’s an expression but it’s also a word of power. And if you notice in the song [Tosh] sings, “What kind of evil spirit is holding me down, I could not make one single sound, one thing Jah told me, son use these words, now I’m free, free as a bird…” It’s a thing that people should know!

      You worked at Penthouse studio with a stellar crew of musicians. What did the band and studio add to the project?

      Initially when speaking to [Penthouse Records producer] Donovan Germain and we outlined the project I told him that I wanted to be in the studio with the musicians when the tracks are being laid, which didn’t happen, and that’s one my disappointments about the project. I just felt that it would have been an even greater album if that meeting happened. I mean reggae is based on five to twelve souls coming together to make music. That’s the feeling I wanted to bring back to the project. It didn’t happen but it went well because had great musicians -- some of them had played with Peter before. Robbie Lyn, Mikey Chung, Dean Fraser and Glen Browne knew Peter for a while. Lymie Murrey, Pam Hall and Nadine Sutherland did a great job on backing vocals. The experience was great – seeing the vision become reality was awesome.

      Some of Peter Tosh’s songs have a Jamaican folk song quality, incorporating local phrases and sayings. Did you grow up with some of these folk sayings in St. Thomas?

      Yes I! These are called Jamaican proverbs. Like “sorry fe mawgga dawg, mawgga dawg turn ‘round bite you.” Things like, “brand new second hand,” these are things we heard. It even inspired one of my songs coming out on the next album, a song called “Jungle Proverbs,” which consists of Jamaican proverbs like “you never miss the water ‘till the well run dry,” “can’t judge a book by it’s cover without looking inside,” “the older the moon, the brighter it shine” or “the higher the money climb, the more him exposed.”

      "We all have to be careful of what we do and say in the music."
       
      Many of your songs seem to be about natural living and educating people on diet and social concerns. Why is that important?

      If it’s not good, why sing it? For me it’s more like edu-tainment than entertainment. If I have the platform to speak for a world of people who have been oppressed why should I speak of the negative or personal things that I possess? Like, how many cars I have, how big my house is, how many chains I wear… We have bigger issues to talk about that afflict people every day, things that need to be addressed.

      This next [album] we have coming now called Conquering Lion has songs on it that wonder if the leaders are educated fools or educated evil workers. There’s a song [on the new album] called “Time To Know” [sings]

       “In this world of modern technology, where education is the source, I see mystery Babylon a use them force… And the people fid it so hard to live, the system is so negative, got to be strong to stay positive…Parents be careful of what the youths eat – the genetic chickens and bacons and beef, ice creams and sweets are like vinegar to the teeth… ”

      You did a song called “King Selassie I” on the Fort Augustus riddim. That sounds very heartfelt and personal. Tell me about recording that one.

      That track was recorded in England, Stingray Records. It’s more like a testimony, what you feel is what you speak, [quoting the song] “from the rising to the setting it's the same.” The same man who trod through triple darkness, through stages and changes is the same man now. From then till now. from David to King Solomon to Christ to Christ in His kingly character.


      [The conversation turns to a discussion of the current state of Jamaican music and the pressures of outside influences in dancehall music. Bushman also had some pointed thoughts for his Rasta peers…]

      Music is the greatest teacher in the world and it’s up to us to regulate the music. [We could] have all the derogatory music played at dancehalls and clubs where under-age kids cannot go. It’s a situation that needs to be addressed.

      And I can say this for myself, and this is my opinion, I don’t care what Capleton or Sizzla believe, but they break down the music by [doing songs like] “Tek Off The Drawers” and “Pump Up Har Pum Pum.” Rasta was moving strong until some people feel to falter. Sizzla is one of the bigger influences on young Rastafarians inna this generation. And when he said “Pump Up Har Pum Pum” and “Big Long Gun A Run Out” most a Rasta youth dem waaan long gun fi run out. If the leader a say dat a weh you a think the followers a go do? A lot of youths became Rasta because of] Sizzla, through the message of him music. Sp I say, defile yourself, don’t defile a million people with you. Your personal thoughts nuh have nothing fi do with the platform you get to express yourself.

      We all have to be careful of what we do and say in the music. And I wouldn’t even care if Capleton or Sizzla a see this article and say ‘A wah Bushman a say?’ because it needs to be addressed too. [What these songs are saying] is a mixed message, it’s contrary from the Rasta message. And that is Babylon. If you look in the dictionary for the definition of Babylon, [it] means confusion. So when you are contradicting yourself you are confused literally

      What do you have planned in the near future?

      The next album I’ll release is called Conquering Lion on Burning Bushes music. As usual Bushman deals with social commentary and stating the state of the world. You know how some say the world is going to end in 2012? Well the Conquering Lion comes out in 2012!. We’re working with the likes of Earl “Chinna” Smith, Robbie Lyn, Chris Merdith, Squidley Cole, Dylan White, my original drummer from the Grassroots Band and my original keyboard player Phillip James. We’re still recording and mixing the tracks but it’s coming along well and while we’re doing that we’ll be touring Bushman Sings the Bush Doctor both in America and Europe and the rest of the world. And remember one countenance brightens the other – the whole of the I dem inna the fraternity also helps to make the whole vision become a reality. Give thanks.

      Bushman Sings The Bush Doctor
      1. Creation
      2. Bush Doctor
      3. Legalize It
      4. Buck-In-Ham-Palace
      5. Stepping Razor
      6. Mawga Dog “Gal go weh from me”
      7. Brand New Second Hand Gal
      8. Don't Look Back Ft. Tarrus Riley
      9. Johnny B Goode
      10. Mamma Africa Ft. Buju Banton
      11. Equal Rights
      12. Igziabeher
      13. Bumoclaut (Digital Exclusive) “
      14. Downpressor Man (Digital Exclusive)
      15. Mystic Man (Digital Exclusive)

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    • 02/23/11--10:03: Soul Rebel SF Debuts!
    • FRIDAY FEBRUARY 25!   a new club night called...

      SOUL REBEL! 
      hear reggae « punk « 2tone « oi « noWave

      With DJs Dougie & Tim (Young Offenders SF, Bricks & Mortar)

      DJ Tomas (Umoja Hi-Fi) & special guest DJs

      BEER-N-BOOZE •  NO COVER • 21 W/ID • 10PM-2AM

      Every 4th Friday > Koko Cocktails  > 1060 Geary. SF
      Read more on Facebook!

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      The life of Jamaican reggae producer Lee "Scratch" Perry is the subject of a documentary screening in US theaters this spring. Narrated by Benicio Del Toro, The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee Scratch Perry (trailer) features almost 90 minutes of interviews, rare studio film, live performances and commentary. Known for his pioneering dub music mixing as well as burning down The Black Ark, his personal studio, Perry, 74, has continued performing and recording ceaselessly.

      Filmmakers Ethan Higbee and Adam Bhala Lough weave music and fittingly psychedelic film and music effects throughout the interviews, which depict chronologically  Perry's early career at Studio One, through producing Bob Marley and his classic Black Ark recordings.

      From the film's press release:
      Seven years in the making, the film features musical tracks and iconic archival footage selected from throughout Perry’s extensive career. These video footage gems and extraordinary photographs taken span nearly five decades and feature the likes of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Paul McCartney, The Clash and Beastie Boys, all of whom Perry produced, and speak to the breadth of his influence as a producer, artist and icon. The Upsetter is not only a fascinating character study of an artist who revolutionized music through the invention of dub, the predecessor to hip-hop, techno and modern electronic music, but a documentation of 30 years of Jamaican music and culture.

      The following are the schedule US film screening dates:

      March 25-April 1st                Los Angeles, CA @ Downtown Independent
      April 1-8th                             Portland, OR @ Clinton St. Theatre
      April 2nd                               Long Beach, CA @ Art Theatre
      April 3rd                                New York, NY @ Maysles Cinema
      April 5-6th                             Boulder, CO @ Boulder Theatre
      April 8-10th                          Columbia, MO @ Rag Tag Cinema
      April 10th                             Taos, NM @ Taos Center for The Arts
      April 13th                             Houston TX @ Alamo Draft House
      April 13-14th                        Boston, MA @ Regent Theatre
      April 15-17th                        Detroit, MI @ Burton Theatre
      April 15-17th                        Eugene, OR @ Bijou Art Cinema
      April 15th                             Sante Fe, NM @ Center for Contemporary Arts
      April 16th                             Providence, RI @ Cable Car Cinema
      April 20th                             Portland, ME @ Space Gallery
      April 22-23rd                       West Hollywood, CA @ Dem Passwords Gallery
      May 13-14th                        San Francisco, CA @ Red Vic Movie House

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