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Albert Cummings concert kicks off Blues Fest

May 30, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- University Plaza Park was transformed into a sea of folding chairs, wagging feet and bouncing beach balls Thursday as dozens of blues fans got an early start on their weekend with a free blues show.

The concert, featuring blues guitarist Albert Cummings, was the official kickoff for the Western Maryland Blues Fest, the four-day string of concerts that runs through Sunday in downtown Hagerstown.

"I think it's great to have the kickoff like this," said Paul Mackrell, 50, of Hagerstown, as he listened to Cummings from the shade of a neighboring building.

Mackrell, who had seen Cummings in Hagerstown a few years ago, said he was a good pick for Blues Fest's opening act.

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"He's awesome," Mackrell shouted over the music. "A real polished guitar player."

Anthony Chaney, also of Hagerstown agreed, saying he became of fan of Cummings when he saw him at Cabin Fever Blues Bash in 2006.

"The one thing that stood out the last time I saw him was that he gets a lot of grief from critics because he plays cover songs, and he said, 'That's what got me into the music, and I'm gonna play it,'" Chaney said.

Chaney's daughter, 6-year-old Hailey, said the highlight of the concert was when a beach ball sailed her way and she hit it back into the crowd.

Thursday's show was better than last year's Blues Fest, Hailey said.

"It's not as hot," she said.

Still, with the sun beating down and the display across the street at Hagerstown Trust showing temperatures in the mid-80s, vendors did a brisk sale in icy bottles of beer.

Blues Fest continues today with four bands playing at Central Lot on North Potomac Street, including headliner Savoy Brown. Gates open at 4 p.m. and tickets cost $25 at the gate.

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