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Blues Fest gets off to sizzling start

June 02, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Hundreds of people braved the heat and humidity for some cool blues Friday afternoon.

The fifth annual Western Maryland Blues Fest in Hagerstown officially began Friday, with lunchtime performances by Mr. Downchild and Rudy & The Bluefish in the Maryland Theatre courtyard.

"I'm real excited," said Steve Blackstock, a Hagerstown native and guitarist for Rudy & The Bluefish.

"I'm just astounded Hagerstown is doing this," he said.

"The city I used to make fun of is closing off the streets and having good music in the square. It's great to be a part of it," said Blackstock, who in addition to performing Friday is conducting children's harmonica workshops this weekend.

Gloria Crawford, 62, of Hagerstown, hasn't missed a Blues Fest yet and was there for the Friday concert.

"I like the beats and he sings good," said Crawford, who took shelter from the hot sun and 90-degree heat under the overhang in front of Faith Chapel.

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Donna Wishard, who also attended the Friday concert, said: "I think it's great. The music slows everything down. It gets you out of the fast lane."

Debbie Brezler, a legal secretary at a downtown law firm, took her lunch break on the sidewalk across from the concert.

"This is a great event for the downtown area. It's a wonderful thing," Brezler said.

"It's good clean fun," said Millard Bolyard, 68, of Hagerstown, who was attending his first Blues Fest concert.

More than 200 people attended the Friday lunchtime concert. Blues Fest continues today with a concert in Public Square, and wraps up with performances Sunday in City Park.

"It's wonderful, and with the weather forecast in the last day or so we should have ideal weather," said Carl Disque, Blues Fest founder and chairman.

Temperatures reached the low 90s for Friday's concert, but cooler temperatures are forecast for today and Sunday.

Friday's high was 92, reached at 3:21 p.m., according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer.

The National Weather Service forecast highs in the upper 70s today and highs in the lower 80s Sunday.

Staff Writer Scott Butki contributed to this story.

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