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'Phat blues' performed

March 05, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Getting to Hagerstown was no easy task Thursday night for Cabin Fever Blues Bash performer the Kelly Bell Band.

"We blew a tire and had just about everything that could happen to us happen, just to get here," Bell told the crowd at The Maryland Theatre.

But once the Baltimore "phat blues" stars arrived, they were ready for the party to last all night, and so was the audience.

About 750 people attended the Blues Bash, which is held each year to raise money and drum up excitement for the Western Maryland Blues Fest, said Karen Giffin, community affairs director for the City of Hagerstown. Tickets cost $10.

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This year's Blues Fest is May 28 to 31, with events in downtown Hagerstown and City Park.

Blues Fest founder and event chairman Carl Disque said this year's lineup includes a diverse mix of national, regional and local musicians, including award-winners.

The headliner for May 30, The Derek Trucks Band, is one of the most high-profile artists the Blues Fest has ever featured, Disque said. Trucks recently was named a "new guitar god" by Rolling Stone.

Disque said he was excited about some of the more eclectic acts, such as Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band and Bonerama.

Blues Fest organizers used Thursday night's Blues Bash to unveil this year's Blues Fest poster artwork, an image of a man in a straw hat bent over a guitar, created by Frederick, Md., photographer Jamie Turner. The man's face is hidden and his body is washed in a blue photo-negative effect.

"To me, that speaks of the sort of anonymous blues man in all of us," Disque said. "The blue of it just jumps out."

The Washington County Arts Council selected Turner to create the poster after putting out a call for artists and reviewing artists' portfolios, arts council gallery manager Lindsay Weaver said.

Turner's work will be on display at a gallery exhibit starting the first night of Blues Fest. The original artwork will be raffled off, Weaver said.

Fans at Thursday's Blues Bash said they were looking forward to the late spring event and happy that organizers chose the Kelly Bell Band to kick things off.

"They just have a really good sound," said Janet Bowman, 51, of Hagerstown. "They have a lot of instrumentation as well as vocals."

The Blues Bash was sponsored by Antietam Cable Television, M&T Bank, Conservit, The Herald-Mail Co. and The Maryland Theatre.

More information about Blues Fest is available at www.blues-fest.org. The event also has pages on Facebook and MySpace, Disque said.

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