Dressed in black, they've still got the blues

March 08, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - Ruth Bikle was dancing up the aisle Friday night at the Cabin Fever Blues Bash, a fundraiser and a preview to this spring's Western Maryland Blues Fest.

Bikle was with her fianc, Michael Keefer, at the bash, held from 8 to 10 p.m. at The Maryland Theatre.

Keefer loves the blues, and goes to all the Blues Fests, he said.

"It's the chance to enjoy yourself and let yourself loose," Keefer said.

The 13th annual Western Maryland Blues Fest is scheduled for May 30 to June 1.

"People love a good party," said Carl Disque, Blues Fest founder and event chair.

The Blues Bash offers folks a chance to have a good time during a part of the year that not much is going on, he said.

On Friday night, Blues Fest organizers were raffling chances to win the original artwork for this year's festival. This year's design is by Ashley Holden-Pennesi, a 1999 graduate of North Hagerstown High School.


Her work will appear on advertising and fundraising merchandise, such as T-shirts, said Kevin Moriarty, executive director for the Washington County Arts Council. Moriarty has been involved in choosing the Blues Fest artist for several years, he said.

Holden-Pennesi's art features a man playing a harmonica, with mountains and Hagerstown's City Hall in the background.

Maryland flags and the state flower, a Black-eyed Susan, also adorn the piece.

Blues newcomer Gina Sicilia performed Friday night

Disque described Sicilia as a preview of the Blues Fest. She is scheduled to perform during the first day of the festival.

Larry Banks, Blues Fest emcee, described Sicilia as "real bluesy" and said the singer, who is only 23, has developed her own style.

Banks promised he would, "scream, holler and get involved with the crowd," during Blues Fest.

The Cabin Fever Blues Bash is held in part to recognize Blues Fest sponsors. Antietam Cable, Conservit Inc., M&T Bank, The Maryland Theatre and The Herald-Mail Co. were recognized Friday night.

Scott Rice, of Funkstown, sat with his wife in the theatre, jamming to prerecorded music before the live show began. He never misses a Blues Fest.

"It's just a great time. I look forward to it every year," Rice said.


What: Raffle ticket are on sale for a chance to win the original 13th Annual Western Blues Fest art.

Cost: $5 each or $10 for three.

Where: On sale at the Washington County Arts Council and will be available at Blues Fest.

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