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Blues Fest a wailing good time

September 24, 2006

The 2007 Western Maryland Blues Fest will mark the festival's 12th anniversary with a weekend of music and family activities, beginning May 31 with a free lunchtime concert and proceeding through June 3 with the free Family Blues Picnic at City Park.

Carl Disque, founder and co-chairman of the event, said the lunchtime Thursday Blues Prelude at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown park is free and has been a big hit along with the festival's growing popularity.

"It's really become this major community thing that everybody gets involved with," Disque said.

The 2007 event will follow in the footsteps of festivals past with the Lotta Blues concert in downtown Hagerstown's Central Parking Lot Friday night. Saturday's Downtown House Party festival, also in the Central Parking Lot, will feature two stages, and City Park will be the setting on Sunday for the free Family Blues Picnic.

Disque said there are several children's activities, too. Kids Jam Too!, which is sponsored by Citigroup, features harmonica workshops and petting zoos for children.

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He said live animals are displayed and face painting is available throughout the festival. Educational blues workshops are held Saturday and Sunday for children at the Washington County Arts Council and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

The program committee soon will select the slate of local, regional and nationally recognized performers who will participate in Blues Fest. As always, there will be different shades of blues - traditional and acoustic, wild and wailing, old blues and new.

Disque said the Blues Fest committee has expanded hours for the festival and added the Thursday lunchtime concert in response to the festival's popularity and to allow performers more time for their sets.

Although the committee works to attract new artists, there is usually "a sprinkling of some return acts" that have connected with the crowd, Disque said.

For more information, go to www.blues-fest.org on the Web. Disque said the Web site displays photographs from the 11th annual Blues Fest and includes artist rosters for the past 11 years.

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