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Blues Fest 98 ends on high note

June 07, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

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Blues Fest ends

Threatened by a faint chill and a raindrop or two in the early afternoon, the final day of the 1998 Western Maryland Blues Fest hit a resounding crescendo Sunday with performances by nationally known musicians and children's activities.

"I'm going to leave my coat on. Maybe I should have brought my parka," said Paul Watson, a member of BluesWorks, the first act on Sunday.

Many spectators were subdued by the chill early on. But by the time David "Honeyboy" Edwards performed at 1 p.m., the sun had come out and the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

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"He's getting on in years. It's a good opportunity to hear him perform," said Kevin Jay, who made the trip from Philadelphia to see the 82-year-old musician.

Jay, 34, said he tries to see two or three jazz festivals a summer. He said he heard about the Blues Fest from a friend.

"It's as good as any I've been to. The weather has been great, too. I think that has a lot to do with it," he said.

Jay's friend, Neil McCarthy, said he came down from South Jersey for one day last year.

"I wish I had stayed for the second day. This is the first time I've been to the park," he said. "The people are great."

Len Williams is another avid blues fan who made a return trip to the festival. He said he thought the Blues Fest was better organized than last year's.

Williams, 42, of Cecil County, Md., said he goes to as many as five events a year. He said Blues Fest compares favorably to any of them.

"It's a little smaller. But I like the way it has different locations each day," he said.

The design was popular with many in the audience as well as the performers.

"One thing that's really neat is the contrast between the street party and this more laid-back, acoustic thing today," said Evan Price, who performed with the Blue Comets on Saturday.

Price, who lives in Smithsburg, said it was thrilling playing before throngs of people lining the streets on Saturday.

"Yesterday was unbelievable. Hagerstown is not used to seeing this kind of thing," said Price, who was a spectator with the rest of the crowd on Sunday.

Ralph and Sue Regan, of Smithsburg, said they thoroughly enjoyed the entire festival.

"Besides the music, food and alcohol, what more could you want?" Ralph Regan said.

Larry "B" Banks, a disc jockey on WKMZ radio in Martinsburg, W.Va., struggled with a hoarse voice on Sunday.

"It's becoming my trademark," he said. "On Sundays, I lose my voice."

Banks' promotion of the festival on his Sunday night radio program piqued the interest of some audience members.

"We were listening to the radio. We've been looking forward to this for three weeks now," said Cathy Wilson. "It's been great. It's a nice day and very nice music."

Wilson, 32, of Great Cacapon, W.Va., brought her children, ages 1 and 3. She said it was the first time her work has not prevented her from attending.

Donna Mason, who lives on West Franklin Street in Hagerstown, said she does not usually listen to blues but enjoyed the atmosphere Sunday.

"I like it. It's something for the kids, to get away from the house," she said.

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