Blues is best, profess guests at Fest

June 05, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

Wearing dark glasses and a wide-brimmed straw hat, Wilbur Holmes sat at a table singing along to nearly every song that blared from the speakers during Saturday's 11th annual Western Maryland Blues Fest in Hagerstown.

Holmes, 63, of Newark, Del., said he was born in the blues.

"I know the blues from way back. I know the blues from birth," said Holmes, an Alabama native and retired Chrysler Corp. manager. "I just love the blues."

A member of the Delaware Blues Society, Holmes can fire off the names of performers whose work he admires.

"John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, T-Bone Walker, I know them all," said Holmes, who counts about 300 CDs and more than 400 cassette tapes in his music collection.

Holmes said since his retirement, he enjoys two things - playing golf and attending blues festivals.

"When I have to stop doing that, I'm through," he said.


Aaron Kendall leaned back during an especially plaintive segment of The Holmes Brothers' rendition of Jim Reeves' "He'll Have To Go," and ripped off a mean air guitar solo of his own.

Kendall, 45, of Smithsburg, who also demonstrated he was light on his feet enough to take a few dance turns with his 11-year-old son, Logan, called himself a fan of the Blues Fest because it enlivens the downtown area.

"It's nice to have some revitalization in town," said Kendall, adding he would like to see more such events here.

"We have so much here that we could get going just like Frederick (Md.)," he said.

Terry Maszarose was attending a wine festival in Columbia, Md., when she saw a flier for the Blues Fest.

The 48-year-old resident of Westminster, Md., saw attending the concert as a way of bringing her up to speed on the blues.

"It's a good way to break me in," said Maszarose, adding her boyfriend was a fan of the music and makes a point of attending blues festivals.

Maszarose said the festival made for a good primer because each band played different variations of blues music.

"This way, you get a little bit of the blues from each," she said.

Andrew Humphries went where the crowd wasn't, switching places each time a different band began a new set in a different pavilion.

Humphries, 28, of Westminster, Md., who reclined with a beer among a clutter of empty chairs, said he likes having a little elbow room.

"It's not like you can't hear (the music)," Humphries said. "What, do you have to be 5 feet away from the speaker?"

Humphries said he even was hoping for a little rain to help thin out the crowd.

"That way, it'll be like having your own private concert," he said.

Steph Clark drove for six days as part of a 3,000-mile trip from San Francisco to arrive three days ago in time for the Blues Fest.

Spending her first weekend in the area, Clark, 24, of Hedgesville, W.Va., said she drove with her mother and her cat, Blinkin, through several states, including Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, on a road trip from one end of U.S. 40 to the other.

Clark, who was standing with newfound friends Niki Schlotterbeck, 26, of Waynesboro, Pa., and Malia Panicola, 25, of Long Island, N.Y., said she enjoyed the music, the atmosphere, the cold beer and even the clouds in the sky at Saturday's festival.

"I like the clouds," she said. "But I don't want rain, just the clouds."

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