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Bluesy reflections on the weekend

June 06, 2006|by CHRISTINE BRUGH and ELIZABETH KRAMER

Blues music rocked downtown Hagerstown on Friday night and all afternoon Saturday, and it continued Sunday at City Park. Artists such as The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, John Lee Hooker Jr. and the Kelly Bell Band traveled to Hagerstown for three days of blues.

The first band we saw was the Kelly Bell Band. The band started playing "My Girl," but the lead singer abruptly stopped them, turned to the audience and said, "If you all wanted to hear that kind of music, you should have gone to a wedding." This was met by cheers from the audience. The band followed that with a medley of well-known standards, regretting each after a few bars. Then the crew announced that it would be playing the blues and swung into its main performance.

After enjoying the Kelly Bell Band we walked around and absorbed the lively atmosphere of the festival. The sweet smell of funnel cakes (which we enjoyed later) and other enticing aromas permeated the air.

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In the audience, teens were in the minority at the Blues Fest.

"I've never been to one before, and I was looking forward to seeing what it was all about, and how many people actually come to it, and how interesting it is," said Rachel Amalfitano, 15, of Hagerstown. Rachael Dealey, 14, of Hagerstown, explained her overall impression of blues with, "It's more soulful and a lot more from the heart than most music."

Speaking of soulful, John Lee Hooker Jr. and his band gave a resounding performance Saturday evening.

Among his talented band members was guitarist Jeffery James, now 20. James has been on tour with Hooker since James was 16. We caught up with him backstage.

"The best thing for young performers is just to keep playing," said James, who started his career playing with his church band.

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band had everyone on their feet and ended Saturday night with a bang. The band's seven members played classic blues on trumpet, trombone, sousaphone, baritone saxophone, alto sax, drum and electric bass.

If you couldn't make it to the Blues Fest this year, reserve a spot on your calendar next year. (Make sure you try the funnel cake.)

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