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Music by the Lake returns with expanded schedule

July 22, 2004|by Cheryl M. Keyser

Intermittent light rain showers did nothing to dampen the spirits of a good size audience that turned out at Hagerstown's City Park for the opening night of the summer Music by the Lake concert series on Saturday, July 17.

"We've played through rain before, but never had a crowd stick around," said a member of the Old School Freight Train Band. "We are thankful for those of you who are not afraid of a little kiss from God."

The Old School Freight Band, which melds the contrasting and complimentary elements of bluegrass, jazz, Celtic, classical, Afro-Cuban, and rhythm and blues, was the first of several groups that will be performing at the band shell for the next four Saturday evenings.

Blankets or lawn chairs are encouraged for the familial atmosphere with toe-tapping, foot-stomping, music.

"This is a wonderful event for families, no matter your age or where you live," said Kevin Moriarty, interim director of the Washington County Arts Council.

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The free concerts are an annual event sponsored by the council, along with the City of Hagerstown, the Maryland State Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The popular music series has been expanded from three to five programs.

On Saturday, July 24, the South Mountain String Band will present "old-time fiddle and banjo tunes, and spirited, old, back-porch singing," said Mary Dailey, a member of the trio.

Rob Caruthers on the fiddle and Paul Mackrell Jr. on the clawhammer banjo have been performing "old time mountain music" together for 25 years. Dailey plays guitar and lap dulcimer, and sings.

On Saturday, July 31, Johnny Staats and the Delivery Boys will be center stage. Bluegrass fans may have seen these West Virginia musicians around or at least heard of them. Staats, a full-time driver for United Parcel Service, has been a prize-winning performer on mandolin, guitar and fiddle since his early teens. He has performed at the Grand Ole Opry and has been featured on major TV programs. The bluegrass band issued its first CD earlier this year and is preparing a second one.

New this year is "open-mic" night on Saturday, Aug. 7. Several regional bluegrass bands will be performing in a mountain music medley.

"Some people find this to be one of the best components of the concert series," Moriarty said. "If this goes well, we may do more."

On Saturday, Aug. 14, the series will close with the U.S. Navy Band Cruisers. This rock 'n' roll ensemble is the newest specialty music unit of the Navy Band.

Cheryl M. Keyser is a freelancer for The Herald-Mail.

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