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Local blues band releases CD in time for Blues Fest

May 28, 2006|by JULIE E. GREENE

Pete Lancaster taught himself to play the harmonica - hands free - while commuting an hour to his accounting job in Ohio in the late 1980s.

Then he taught himself to play the guitar, harmonica and a stompin' box that contained a tambourine - all at the same time.

It took two weeks to learn one song, but after that it was easy, says Lancaster, who has become well-known among Hagerstown-area musicians and fans for his one-man act and for performances with local blues bands.

This Friday night at the Western Maryland Blues Fest, Lancaster will show off his ability to play all three instruments at once with 2Blue Ensemble.

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Stack O' Blues, which has the same members as 2Blue Ensemble, will be selling its recently released album, "Scraps of History," during the Blues Fest.

Lancaster's previous albums were 2Blue Ensemble's "Decision Gate" and "Stack O' Blues," an album he did with Alan Mason.

While the first two albums were an even mix of covers and originals, "Scraps of History" has one Jimi Hendrix cover ("Hey Baby") and features 10 songs written by Lancaster.

"Your dream is to get your own style, your own originals," says Lancaster, 45, who lives north of Hagerstown.

Lancaster, a father of four, owns Senior Notes, a downtown Hagers-town business that sells, rents and services home medical equipment.

People want to hear more original blues music, says Carl Disque, Blues Fest founder and event chairman. Disque plays saxophone on the album.

The CD also features a bonus track by Lancaster's daughter, Megan, 12, who put the poem "Walk a Little Slower" to music.

Seven of the band's songs are new, including "Ghetto Job." Lancaster wrote the song after hearing a woman complain about 60-hour work weeks and a vending machine at work that only fills the coffee cup halfway.

"Old Timers Blues" is about his father, Frank, a World War II veteran who was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked and who worked two to three jobs to support nine children.

Lancaster says he wrote "It Ain't Mine" on the way to the studio. In the tradition of blues artists borrowing from one another, Lancaster says the song is a mix of Hendrix's "Country Blues," Muddy Waters' "Deep Down in Florida" and his own music.

Lancaster, long a fan of jam sessions, says there was little rehearsal and lots of improvisation for the album.

"It pushes your creative juices, because you go farther than you would if you were just playing along," he says.

Lancaster was joined by the "best musicians in town" on the album.

In addition to Disque, the album features Arnie Helmick of Hagerstown on electric upright bass, six-string electric bass guitar and a four-string electric bass guitar; Alan Mason of Hedgesville, W.Va., on electric guitar, piano and slide guitar; and Bart Lay, who lives near Keyser, W.Va., playing drums and percussion.

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