Winding down on a Friday night

July 24, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

Live music is back at The Maryland Theatre courtyard.

The downtown Hagerstown courtyard hasn't hosted a live concert in seven years, since the 2001 Western Maryland Blues Fest.

Starting tomorrow, the theater will host Wind Down Friday Night every Friday through Sept. 12, and possibly beyond if the response is good.

The theater has a new Circle of Friends, a group of socially, artistically and culturally conscious Tri-State-area residents who volunteer their time to help the theater create new events and fundraisers. This group is presenting the concert series.

The series is intended to showcase local musicians and support Hagerstown's Arts and Entertainment District, said Jenni Hatcher, the theater's executive director.


The Jackson Brothers with Van Showe will kick off the series with traditional jazz, jazz fusion and funk at 5 p.m. Friday.

Theater officials said the Friday series could provide a venue for young and upcoming musicians such as The Greg Dahbura Band, which is performing Aug. 1. The series should offer a cross-section of genres and ages.

Laird and Brenda Bush, circle co-chairs, said they expect word of the series to spread quickly among musicians.

Proceeds from the music series will go toward a new sound system for The Maryland Theatre. The sound system will include new amplifiers, speakers, wiring and a digital soundboard. Parts of the current sound system are at least 25 years old; it has a 10-year-old analog soundboard.

An analog system produces white noise with each device plugged into it, said Garry Kirschman, a musician and sound installer who is a member of the circle. A digital soundboard would eliminate the sound that bleeds from one instrument to another, such as the stereo chorus on a guitar affecting the reverb on the microphone.

Theater officials expect a new sound system to cost from $150,000 to $250,000.

The upgraded sound system can help make the theater a live classroom for students such as those at the upcoming Barbara Ingram School for the Arts down the street, Hatcher said.

Theater officials are considering other fundraising events to help pay for a new sound system. They'd also like to get a new video system, including a projector and screen so the theater can show movies. The theater's projector is from 1936 and a giant sheet of fabric is stretched across the back of the theater for a screen.

If there is a good response, the concert series could continue indoors during the winter, said Brian Marquiss, a circle member who also works with commercial theater and audio.

The concert series will be held in the courtyard in front of the theater, which will have fencing around the front so it's an enclosed area. Participants will enter through the concession stand door. Between people milling around in the courtyard and the concession stand, and coming and going, the area should accommodate 150 to 200 people for the night, Hatcher said.

The concession stand would serve hot dogs, munchies, beer, wine, mixed drinks and soda, Hatcher said. The hope is attendees will dine at downtown restaurants after listening to the band, Hatcher said.

Each band in the series is sponsored by a local business. Tomorrow night's act is sponsored by Always Ron's, where the Jackson Brothers with Van Showe perform regularly.

People interested in joining the Circle of Friends can learn more at

If you go ...

WHAT: Wind Down Friday Nights

WHEN: 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays, July 25 through Sept. 12. Doors open at 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre courtyard, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown. If it rains, the event will be moved indoors.

COST: $5; proceeds go to The Maryland Theatre for a new sound system

MORE: For tickets, call 301-790-2000, or go to the theater box office beforehand or the night of the event.


July 25: Jackson Brothers with Van Showe, traditional jazz, jazz fusion and funk

Aug. 1: The Greg Dahbura Band, alternative/new age, current cover tunes

Aug. 8: KelBoBuJa, blues

Aug 15: Stack O'Blues, blues

Aug. 22: Rudy & the Bluefish, blues

Aug. 29: White Noize, 1970s to present-day top-40 rock

Sept. 5: Flat Stanley, 1970s and '80s classic rock

Sept. 12: KelBoBuJa, blues

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