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'Everybody gets the blues'

Blues Fest fans talk about attraction of event

June 04, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS

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    HAGERSTOWN -- Blues fans from across the region converged on Hagerstown Friday for the first paid-admission night of Western Maryland Blues Fest in Hagerstown's City Central Lot.

    Friday's lineup of local and national, emerging and seasoned blues artists delighted Blues Fest regulars and attracted first-time attendees who said they would take home rave reviews of the event.

    "I'll be here every year," Sandy Kiefer, 56, of Richmond, Va., said as she let her dance moves loose to the rhythms of "Big Daddy" Stallings & The Bluez Evolution Band.

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Kifer said she heard about the event from friends at other blues festivals and was impressed by the "wonderful lineup."

Joe Burger, 55, of Hagerstown, said he had been to Western Maryland Blues Fest every year it had been held.

"Why would you miss it?" Burger asked. "They bring all this great talent to Hagerstown, it's a fair price -- it's a great time."

Near the stage, 5-year-old Madelyn Palank was all smiles as her mother, Allison Palank, twirled and boogied with her.

"She's come the last several years," said Allison, 29, of Hagerstown. "She loves it."

Tony Lundy, 39, of Falling Waters, W.Va., also brought young children to the event. He said his son Arthur, 2, and daughter Anna, 4, were having a good time.

"She was dancing earlier," Lundy said of Anna.

Lundy said he was looking forward to Saturday's performance by The Tommy Castro Band.

"I like his singing style," he said. "He has a soulful voice."

Blues Fest regular Welton Brown, 47, of Hagerstown, picked Bernard Allison, the final performer in Friday's lineup, as the act he was most interested in Friday, and said he was looking forward to returning Saturday to see Michael "Iron Man" Burks.

In her Lady Gaga T-Shirt, 17-year-old Kayla Durboraw of Hagerstown was one Blues Fest attendee who stood out from the crowd.

Durboraw admitted she was "not really" a blues fan and normally more likely to listen to rock music, but she went to Blues Fest to see her father, Michael Brady, play the drums in Moondog Medicine Show, Friday's opening act.

"It was pretty cool," Durboraw said.

Moondog Medicine Show also featured Hagerstown-area vocalist Lana Spence, also known for her performances in the local band Thique.

Rocky's New York Pizza employee Doug Railing, 52, of Hagerstown, said he requested time off work this weekend specifically for Blues Fest.

"This is my first time coming to the main event," he said.

Railing said he went mainly to see Moondog Medicine Show because he has friends in the band, but he enjoyed the other acts, too.

"Everything's been great," he said.

For some fans, the event was not just about music, but about making new friends or seeking out familiar faces from other blues festivals.

Friends Larry Jackson, 54, of Baltimore, Tom Malanowski, 50, of Dundalk, Md., and Steve Lucas, 58, of Church Hill, Md., said despite diverse lives and the miles between their homes, blues had brought them together at concerts and festivals over the years.

Jackson said it was the "real" quality of blues music that allows it to bring people together.

"That's no disrespect to any other music, but blues gets down to your very core," he said. "And plus, it doesn't matter who you are -- everybody gets the blues."

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