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The blues cure cabin fever

March 06, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

When most teenage girls were into the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, Gina Sicilia was listening to Bobby Bland and Otis Redding.

"I was 13 or 14 when I discovered classic R&B," said Sicilia, now 23, from her suburban Philadelphia home. "I saw a commercial on TV for soul music, so I ordered it."

She's had a case of the blues ever since.

Sicilia is the featured performer at the Cabin Fever Blues Bash, a fundraiser and prelude for the Western Maryland Blues Fest. The concert will be at The Maryland Theatre on Friday - her first time performing in Maryland.

Sicilia will also join blues veterans at this year's Blues Fest. Buckwheat Zydeco, Guitar Shorty, and Scofield, Medeski & Deitch are a few of the artists in this year's lineup.

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As a new artist, Sicilia is off to a good start.

Her debut album "Allow Me to Confess" (Vizztone, 2007) is up for a Blues Music Award, given out by the Memphis, Tenn.-based Blues Foundation. She's already started writing songs for her second album.

All of this comes from an artist who's only been performing on stage for a little less than three years.

"I never imagined I'd have a label for my first CD, that I'd be signed to a major booking agency or that I'd be nominated for a blues award," Sicilia.

Sicilia's first gig was in the summer of 2005 at a place called Warmdaddy's, a blues club that used to be in Philly's Old City district, a trendy strip with more lounges and live DJs than live blues venues.

At the time, she was a sophomore journalism major at Temple University. Getting to Warmdaddy's meant taking a half-hour train ride alone. Sometimes she wouldn't leave until after 1 a.m.

"I had class the next day," Sicilia said. "Usually in the morning."

Later that year, she met Dave Gross, a blues artist from Northern New Jersey. Sicilia said Gross, who is now her guitarist and boyfriend, introduced her to the New York blues scene, where she does the bulk of her shows, and produced her first album.

She said branching out from Philly's music scene was what helped launch her career. Today, she is living her dream.

Growing up, Sicilia listened to doo-wop and Italian music - her father is from Italy. "Basically, the stuff my parents listened to."

She says she was always singing and knew deep down that she wanted to pursue music as a career. Several of the songs on her current album were ones she wrote when she was a teenager.

"I used to brag when I was 8 years old that I would go on a world tour." Sicilia said. "Nobody believed me."




If you go ...



WHAT: Blues singer Gina Sicilia will perform at the Cabin Fever Blues Bash, a prelude to the 13th annual Western Maryland Blues Fest later this year

WHEN: 8 to 10 p.m., Friday, March 7. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

COST: $10 general admission; $15 reserved seating

MORE: For tickets, call 301-790-2000. For more information about Blues Fest, call 301-739-8577, ext. 116, or go to www.blues-fest.org.

Hear it for yourself



Check out an interview with Gina Sicilia online.

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