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Festival fun

Blues bash in Hagerstown

Blues bash in Hagerstown

June 05, 2007|by CHRISTINE BRUGH and ELIZABETH KRAMER

Saturday. Downtown Hagerstown. Blues Fest.

Crowds teemed with people of all ages, from casual blues listeners to fans of specific bands. Most couldn't resist at least tapping a foot to the music, and many of the more extroverted fans danced.

"It really brings out the liveliness in Hagerstown," said Cary Smith, 14, of Smithsburg.

As afternoon approached, the already sweltering temperature increased, as did the number of flushed fans foregoing shade to watch famous blues artists perform.

The Ruby Hayes Blues Band, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, John Mooney & Bluesiana, and other blues musicians played on two stages. Bass lines pounded and harmonicas trilled as artists sang the blues.

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Eric "Ziggy" Ziggler, 15, and Woody Dismukes, also 15, from Frederick, Md., arrived early in the afternoon and stayed all day to see bluesman Joe Bonamassa. When asked about his favorite song, Dismukes replied, "If I had to pick one, 'High Water Everywhere.'" He was referring to the first song on Bonamassa's newest album, "You and Me."

After hearing other teens say they liked Bonamassa's music, we decided not to miss his performance.

We gathered half an hour early to ensure that we would get seats, and we weren't the only ones. The tension in the crowd was almost audible as Bonamassa walked onstage. As soon as the band was in place, the sounds of amazing music began to course through the listeners. The band was made up of guitarist and vocalist Bonamassa, bassist Carmen Rojas, keyboard player Rick Melick and drummer Bogie Bowles.

Bonamassa has shared a stage with BB King, the legendary blues guitarist. Rojas has played professionally with Patti LaBelle, and also with David Bowie. Melick, an Australia native, has not played with Bonamassa for long. Bowles has played drums for more than two decades.

Rojas was full of insights into how to play music successfully: "Truly do it. Do it for real. Do it spiritually."

Melick connected music to quantum physics, saying musical ideas come from a field of possibilities, and anything is possible for a young musician.

Blues Fest was amazing this year, the music was inspiring. You could tell that performers were putting their souls into the music.

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