Mike Westcott Band kicks off Blues Fest

Music festival is in its 15th year

June 03, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Patrick Becks, of Hagerstown, takes shade under a large umbrella as he enjoys the music of the Mike Westcott Band at the prelude to the Western Maryland Blues Fest held at University Park Plaza in Hagerstown.
Kelly Hahn Johnson, Staff Photographer

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    HAGERSTOWN --The streets of downtown Hagerstown were filled with the wail of blues guitar Thursday evening as the Mike Westcott Band kicked off this weekend's Western Maryland Blues Fest with a free performance in University Plaza Park.

    Gates opened at 4 p.m. for the event, and by the time the music started at 5, about 100 people had gathered in the courtyard off West Washington Street, filling rows of benches and setting up lawn chairs throughout the available shade.

    "This is a heck of a blues festival right here," guitarist Mike Westcott told the crowd between songs.

    Blues Fest, hosted annually by the City of Hagerstown, is in its 15th year. It continues today and Saturday with paid-admission shows in City Central Lot on North Potomac Street and Sunday with a free Family Blues Picnic in City Park.


While many people at Thursday's concert lounged on chairs or benches, Patrick Becks, 49, of Hagerstown, stood near the stage, grooving to the music under a big umbrella.

"I love blues," Becks said. "It's just in my soul."

Susan Bohrer, 56, of Kearneysville, W.Va., also found herself standing and dancing to the music as the band kicked off a song she described as "good-ole Stevie Ray-style" blues.

Bohrer said she and her husband discovered the free Thursday-evening Blues Fest kickoff last year "by chance" and ended up going to the Sunday event in City Park, too.

"It's a blast," she said. "The talent is unbelievable. What they have available for the free nights -- it's unreal."

Bohrer said she liked the ability to read about the bands ahead of time on the event's website at

Among the crowd, 17-year-old Ben Yellott of Clear Spring and his girlfriend Misty Seaton, 16, stood out as some of the youngest, but they said they didn't feel out of place.

Yellott said he liked blues among many other types of music.

"I'm a music fan," he said. "It doesn't matter."

Westcott, who performed at the 2004 Blues Fest as a teenaged member of the then-Westcott Brothers Band, promoted the event Thursday with custom lyrics.

"Going down to Hagerstown to the Western Maryland Blues Festival," he sang at one point. "No one knows the fun times we're gonna have, buddy."

At another point, Westcott asked for a show of hands of those who planned to attend every day of Blues Fest, and hands went up throughout the audience.

"That's good," Westcott said. "That's good stuff."

Friday, June 4

City Central lot, North Potomac Street, downtown

Limited admission. Advance tickets cost $20 plus $2.25 service charge; $25 at the gate. $7 children 6 to 12; free for children 5 and younger. IDs required.

Gates open at 4 p.m.

o Moondog Medicine Show, 4:30 to 5:15 p.m.

o "Big Daddy" Stallings & The Bluez Evolution Band, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

o Hamilton Loomis, 6:45 to 8 p.m.

o Bernard Allison, 8:15 to 9:45 p.m.

Saturday, June 5

City Central lot, North Potomac Street, downtown

Advance tickets cost $35 plus $2.25 service charge; $40 at the gate. $7 children 6 to 12; free for children 5 and younger. IDs required.

Gates open at 11 a.m.

Blues Fest stage

o The Tonehounds, noon to 1 p.m.

o Eric Byrd Trio with the Brother Ray Band, 2 to 3 p.m.

o Eric Lindell 4 to 5:15 p.m.

o Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Blue Moon stage

o Joanne Shaw Taylor, 1 to 2 p.m.

o Kenny Neal, 3 to 4 p.m.

o Michael Burks, 5:15 to 6:30 p.m.

o The Tommy Castro Band, 8 to 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 6

City Park, downtown

Free admission.

Peter Buys Band Shell

o The Hard Swimmin' Fish, noon to 12:45 p.m.

o Flat Foot Sam & The Educated Fools, 1 to 1:45 p.m.

o Eden Brent, 2 to 3:15 p.m.

o Phil Wiggins and Corey Harris, 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

o Phil Wiggins and Corey Harris -- Lecture, performance and workshop, 1 to 1:45 p.m.

o South Hagerstown High School Jazz Band -- Noon to 1 p.m., and 2 to 3 p.m.

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