Scenes from the Blues Fest

June 01, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

David Williams and Valerie King

David Williams of Chambersburg, Pa., likes the blues and heard that good food was served at the 13th annual Western Maryland Blues Fest, he said Saturday afternoon as the self-described seafood lover finished a crab-cake sandwich.

Saturday was Williams' first Blues Fest, and he and his friend, Valerie King, intended to return today for the Family Blues Picnic at City Park, he said.

King, 48, also of Chambersburg wanted to get out and do something different this weekend, and the Blues Fest sounded fun, she said.


Williams, 55, wasn't familiar with any of the bands playing this weekend, but he enjoyed them anyway.

"There's always time to get familiar," Williams said.

Chris Dorsey

Chris Dorsey loves music, and volunteers at the Western Maryland Blues Fest every year. On Saturday afternoon, she sat down at a picnic table offering to share a heaping plate of butterfly fries.

Blues music always has spoken to her, and she loves live music, so she's been volunteering at the festival for about five years, Dorsey said.

She went to the Lotta Blues Show Friday and enjoyed Savoy Brown, she said.

"It was a really good show last night," Dorsey said Saturday afternoon.

She arrived at the Downtown House Party Saturday about 9 a.m., and stayed despite a heavy rainstorm early in the day.

"It's a great time to look forward to every year," she said.

Tall Richard

A man who called himself Tall Richard was in Virginia on business last week and traveled to the Western Maryland Blues Fest for the superb lineup, he said.

He missed part of the festival because it was raining so hard, he couldn't leave his hotel room, Richard said.

Saturday's performances were "superior," and the musicians were "tearing the house down," he said.

Because he lives in Boston, Saturday was Richard's first time at the Western Maryland Blues Fest, but he plans to return, he said.

Richard, 52, plays the blues himself, on the harmonica, and has met great people in the blues world, he said.

"The blues is truth," Richard said. "It's always served me well."

Bruce Brong

The high quality of music so near his hometown brings Bruce Brong, 61, of Boonsboro, back to the Western Maryland Blues Fest year after year, he said Saturday night.

He's attended the Blues Fest every year except one, he said.

The festival's lineup this year was "absolutely stunning," and organizers outdo themselves in putting together the event, he said.

He was glad Charlie Musselwhite played, and was sorry the performer's set wasn't longer. Musselwhite was scheduled to play at the Blues Fest several years ago, but his performance was rained out, Brong said.

Brong's only criticism was that at least one of the acts was more jazzy that bluesy, Brong said.

"The crowd is more traditional blues," he said.

Brong explained his love of the blues.

"Inside a simple musical form, there is room for an immense variety of expression," he said. "The artists are very good at expressing all aspects of their emotion."

Rich McQuarrie

Years ago, two friends made a deal to meet up at the Western Maryland Blues Fest every year.

Rich McQuarrie and his wife, Penny, arrived at the festival Saturday with their friends, Mark and Lauren Lewis.

When Mark Lewis and his family moved to Maine several years ago, he and Rich McQuarrie agreed to meet each year at the Blues Fest in Hagerstown and at a blues festival in Maine, McQuarrie said.

Most years, the two men have made good on that deal, although they missed a few festivals when his children were born, he said.

McQuarrie's daughter, 2-year-old Camryn, managed to nap Saturday afternoon despite the loud music.

"Today has been great," McQuarrie said. "I've become a great fan of the blues."

Drew Squires and Sandy Long

Drew Squires and Sandy Long help organize the Chenango Blues Fest in Norwich, N.Y. They traveled to Hagerstown this weekend for the Western Maryland Blues Fest so that Squires could get his harmonica signed by one of the musicians performing this weekend, Charlie Musselwhite.

Squires plays the harmonica himself, and ordered the special Musselwhite-edition harmonica about six months ago.

Musselwhite signed the silver harmonica in red pen.

"The guy is awesome," Squires said of the musician.

Squires, 51, and Long, 53, both of Norwich, said they would rate the Blues Fest high compared to other blues festivals they have attended.

Squires called the crowd "mellow," and Long said the festival's lineup was excellent.

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