Local band to play blues at inaugural

January 16, 1997


Staff Writer

When Carl Disque and his band 2Blue Ensemble perform at an inaugural party Friday night, the Hagerstown attorney plans to take two saxophones, just in case the president drops in and feels like jamming.

2Blue will play at Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., for the Maryland Democratic Party gala, one of the events celebrating President Clinton's second inauguration.

While Disque is trying to keep his expectations low, he said he'd be thrilled if Clinton showed: "I've never met a president in person."


The five-member blues band includes Hagerstown residents Pete Lancaster on harmonica, amplified acoustic guitar, vocals and "stompin' box," Arnie Helmick on bass and Alan Mason on electric guitar and keyboards. Drummer Bart Lay of Monrovia, Md., joined the group about five months ago.

A July 1995 gig at a Keedysville reception of Plowmen and Fisherman, an organization that promotes the local Democratic Party, led to the group's date in D.C.. Richard Parsons, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party, was there and heard them play.

"I thought they were hot," Parsons said.

Organizers were looking for bands that would convey a sense of excitement about the inauguration and provide some Maryland flavor, Parsons said.

2Blue's repertoire includes Southern foundation works from the 1920s and '30s. The band plays acoustic arrangements of Chicago blues artists of the '50s and '60s and contemporary blues-based rock artists.

Disque believes it was no accident that Bowie, Md., native Lancaster moved to Hagerstown - a house away from Disque. The neighbors started jamming in late 1993.

2Blue expanded in mid-1995 when Helmick and Mason joined the group. Disque cited the power of providence again. Mason moved into the duplex between the homes of Disque and Lancaster.

The band's evolution has been an adjustment, said Lancaster, who previously performed solo. He said playing together is like riding with the wind: "It just feels right."

Family responsibilities make it tough to find the time to perform. The group plays at weddings, parties and in "reputable" bars. It performed at the Western Maryland Blues Fest in Hagerstown last spring. It averages about four gigs a month.

The group was chosen for a Kennedy Center audition, and it hopes to record a CD this winter.

Disque said the group's music is a passion.

"Few things are more enjoyable than being in a band that's cookin'," Disque said.

Tickets will be available at the door for $75.

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