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Blues begins at Miller House

June 01, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

There was a light breeze blowing the branches of the cherry trees in the garden of the historic Miller House Thursday and the sounds of laughter, conversation and blues could be heard.

The evening marked the informal start to the fifth annual Western Maryland Blues Fest, which features three days of blues performers.

The Washington County Historical Society hosted Thursday's performance by Carl Disque and Koko Blue at the Miller House, where nearly 130 people gathered to hear the local band.

"This is great. I look forward to hearing all the different performers," said Danny Orndorff who traveled to Hagerstown with Nicci Burnett from Straussburg, Va., for the Blue Fest.

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Orndorff, who described himself as a major blues fan, said he was excited at the prospect of hearing Koko Taylor and Her Blues Machine perform at the Maryland Theatre Friday.

Midge Teahan and Jane Krumpe attended the Thursday night kickoff to get their first Blues Fest experience.

"I kept hearing about the Blues Fest and thought this was the year to experience it," said Teahan.

The Blues Fest will officially begin Friday at 11:30 a.m. when Mr. Downchild performs in the Maryland Theatre courtyard at 21 S. Potomac St. He will be followed by Rudy & The Bluefish at 12:30 p.m.

Featured performer Koko Taylor and Her Blues Machine will take the stage at the Maryland Theatre at 8 p.m.

Koko Taylor, who is known as the Queen of Blues, has won more than 14 W.C. Handy Awards and is a six-time Grammy nominee.

Ticket sales for Taylor had been sluggish but Disque said he was hopeful they would pick up.

"She's an exceptional performer," he said.

Today's weather was expected to be muggy with highs in the 90s and a chance of late afternoon or evening thunderstorms. The prospect of rain shouldn't put a damper on Friday's Blues Fest events, said Disque.

"We'll be indoors for Koko Taylor by the time the rain hits," said Disque.

Last year's three-day event drew more than 20,000 people, and Disque was expecting bigger crowds this year because of cooler temperatures predicted for Saturday and Sunday.

Forecasters said both days will be mostly sunny with highs in the mid-70s.

"The humidity is going to blow out and it's going to be great," he said.

Saturday's performances begin at 11:30 a.m. when the Bobby Flurie Band takes the stage.

Duffy Kane & Black Manhattan, Byther Smith with 2Blue Ensemble, The Nighthawks, Clarence Spady, Deanna Bogart and Bernard Allison will perform throughout the day.

Singer Shemekia Copeland will take the stage Saturday from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

The blues band Bonedaddy will perform at the ballfield at Municipal Stadium from 8 to 10 p.m.

On Sunday, the blues will move to Hagerstown's City Park, where the David Bennett Cohen Trio, John Jackson, Tracy Nelson, Robert Lockwood Jr. and Rolling Fork Revue featuring Pinetop Perkins will perform.

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