New concert series rolling at Pen Mar


CASCADE - A fine mist covered the Blue Ridge Mountains from the morning's rain and the wind blew a little cool, but nearly 500 people took their chances on the weather Sunday to hear Big Band music at the kickoff to the Pen Mar Park 2000 summer concert series.

"It was rainy and cold this morning but it cleared up nicely," said Jim Powers, secretary for the American Federation of Musicians Local 770 in Hagerstown, which supplies the bands.

Every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., the park hosts a series of free concerts featuring a variety of Big Band music.

The concerts are sponsored by the Washington County Commissioners and the Washington County Recreation and Parks Department.

The concerts, which are held rain or shine, have been a crowd-pleaser since the 1930s, he said.

"People come from the four-state area (Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia) to hear the bands," said Powers.


This year's series runs from May 21 to Oct. 8 and features music from the Ray Birely Orchestra, Music by Just Us, The Bill Krantz Combo, The Phil Bowers Orchestra, George Simons Quartet, Twilight 3+1, The National Apple Museum Dance Band, Jim Powers at the Yamaha organ, The Holders, Four Easy Pieces, Spectrum, accordionist Cheryl Kataline, Back to Back, Arrow, Easy Listenin, The Couriers, The Dave Baker Quintet, For Dancers Only Swing Orchestra, Jack Frost and the Cosmopolitans and the Richard Bray Orchestra.

On Aug. 27, Bob Clay will perform during "Everybody's Day" at the park, which lies on the Maryland-Pennsylvania border at the Frederick, Md., and Washington County line. The event is the highlight of the concert series, which includes not only music but events for the whole family, said Powers.

Each year about 5,000 people come to the park to picnic, view classic cars and the carousel and other displays.

On Sunday, the 18-piece Ray Birely Orchestra performed before a less-than typical crowd which made up for its size with its enthusiasm for the performers.

"They're very good and it's so lovely up here," said Joanne Hammond of Chambersburg, Pa.

Hammond and her husband, Mark, have been taking dance lessons for years and make Pen Mar's summer concerts a regular Sunday event.

"It's good music, good dancing and a good day," Mark Hammond said.

The couple said they enjoy being able to dance outdoors instead of in smoke-filled bars.

"And I like to be able to sit back and read a book when I need a rest," said Joanne Hammond.

Betty and Dusty Rhodes of Quincy Village, Franklin County, Pa., said they make the Pen Mar concerts a regular Sunday outing.

"It's a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I can't think of a better place to be," Betty Rhodes said.

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