Festival-goers learn the blues

June 06, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - An evergreen and a big white tent obstructed Jomar Tussing's view of the City Park Bandshell, but the obstacles couldn't color her enjoyment of Hagerstown's 10th Annual Western Maryland Blues Fest.

"We always like to support it because we live in Hagerstown, and we always like to come out to make sure things like this continue," Tussing said before Mose Allison performed the last set of the weekend series.

Thousands of people jammed City Park on Sunday for the free event. People lounged on park benches, folding chairs, inflatable mattresses and picnic blankets.


According to Todd Bolton, a member of the Blues Fest programming committee, performers played to big crowds all weekend.

"We're tickled with the response this year," Bolton said.

As Tussing and her family discovered, a good view - with shade - came at a premium on a day temperatures neared 90 degrees.

"So, we decided to be in the shade and just hear than sit in the sun and see and just melt," said Tussing, who sat with her children, husband, friends and in-laws on a hill above the bandshell.

Brian McGuigan, of Charles Town, W.Va., sat in a chair on a sun-soaked hill above food vendors' trucks.

"I grew up on rock 'n' roll and a lot that stuff in the house, and it was interesting to go back and see where a lot of those guys got their influence from," McGuigan said.

Other festival-goers say they still were learning the blues.

Zach Zeger, 13, who lives near Williamsport, wore a Metallica shirt to the festival. The guitarist for a rock band called Defiance, Zeger said he was listening to the sounds of the guitars.

"I like playing the blues. It's actually a lot harder than rock," Zeger said, as he and his family and friends watched the concert from a hill overlooking the crowd.

Behind the bandshell, children and parents learned some blues stylings of their own as part of Kids Jam Too! workshops.

"I've always had a thing (where) I liked to play music, I liked to hear music," Butch Kenote, 13, said before coaxing the first few notes of "When the Saints Go Marching In" from a blue harmonica.

Kenote, of Greencastle, Pa., and other workshop participants jammed on maple syrup jugs and washboards as professional musicians explained their craft.

Tom Borum of Rudy & The Bluefish, a Hagerstown-area blues band, asked Anthony Pappas, 6, what kinds of songs he preferred.

The ABCs, the little boy replied.

"He likes the ABCs of music. Well, that's good, that's three notes of music," Borum said as he and harmonica player Shane O'Neill turned Pappas' story into a song.

"Well, I went to a blues fest in Hagerstown today where I met this boy, he could play that harmonica all day," Borum sang.

Tom Stoner, of Hagerstown, and his family sat on the side of the bandshell near a sidewalk where festival-goers walked past with ice cream cones and slushies.

"For me, it was - in the beginning - definitely the music," said Stoner, who has attended every Blues Fest. "But today, for me, it's just a way to get out and enjoy the weekend."

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