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Cabin Fever Blues Bash begins countdown to summer festival

March 16, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - As a youth, Marsh Townsend, 30, wanted nothing to do with her Appalachian roots.

She considered speech lessons to kill the homespun drawl in her voice, and when she was old enough to leave her small town and go to college, she chose Atlanta.

On Thursday, Townsend took a step toward embracing her heritage. She joined hundreds of others jamming to the sounds of the blues, a genre that reminds her of the past.

"So, I just, I really wanted to get more involved, so the blues helps me really embrace my heritage that I ran from for so long," Townsend, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said above the strains of the Deb Callahan Band, which performed at Clarion Hotel and Conference Center as part of Cabin Fever Blues Bash.

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Carl Disque, who founded the Western Maryland Blues Fest, said the blues ties together for him the events of the past, including the Reconstruction era and civil rights struggles. While the blues is an American art form, it strikes a chord with people all over the world, he said.

"I started thinking, 'Well, if you're American, and you like contemporary music, you love the blues, even if you don't know it,'" said Disque, a saxophonist who believes the music belongs to everyone.

Inside the conference room, some people swayed in their seats as the Deb Callahan Band played.

Larry Banks introduced the group.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you want to feel the blues, you're going to feel it right now," Banks said.

Once he was offstage, Banks introduced himself.

"I go by Larry B, and I always say B is for the blues because that's what I'm doing," Banks said.

Cabin Fever Blues Bash started as a fundraiser, but it has become a way to kick off the countdown to the summer festival, Disque said.

"It's just like the beginning of the first drum beat. Here it comes, getting ready for June," Disque said.

The 12th annual Blues Fest is June 1-3, featuring artists including Joe Bonamassa, Walter Trout & The Radicals, and the Mary Ann Redmond Band.

Karen Giffin, community affairs director for the City of Hagerstown, said event organizers sold 12 tickets Monday, the first day of sales. She said she did not know sales figures for the other days this week.

Townsend, who said work obligations always have kept her from attending the Blues Fest, plans to be in the crowd this year.

"I'm definitely going to call in sick that weekend. I'm not going to miss this," Townsend said.

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