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Blues artist Rory Block appearing this weekend

June 04, 1997

By Kate Coleman

Staff Writer

In planning this year's Western Maryland Blues Fest organizers decided to keep the same format as the 1996 premiere. One change they wanted to make was to include more women performers, said Carl Disque, festival founder and chairman.

Rory Block will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, June 6, at Hagerstown Junior College's Kepler Theater. Her Blues Fest performance will be presented in conjunction with Mountain Green Concerts.

Block is hardly on the program just because she's female. She comes with a unique perspective, and she comes with credentials. Block was named winner of the 1996 W.C. Handy Award - a Grammy equivalent in the blues world - for Best Acoustic Blues Album of the year for "When a Woman Gets the Blues." She was honored again last month with the '97 W.C. Handy Award for Best Female Traditional Blues Artist.

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Block learned her blues guitar in the 1960s in New York when acoustic masters, including Son House, Mississippi John Hurt and Fred McDowell frequented her father's sandal shop in Greenwich Village. But she doesn't only play and sing covers of the blues classics. "Tornado," Block's latest CD, includes nine original compositions that display a wider spectrum. Folk, country and pop influences color her writing as well as her playing and singing.

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