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Rain falls on Blues Fest's Downtown House Party

June 05, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
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    HAGERSTOWN -- A sea of umbrellas bobbed and pulsed to the music Saturday evening in Hagerstown's City Central Lot as drizzly weather failed to dampen the spirits of fans at Western Maryland Blues Fest's Downtown House Party.

    "What rain?" Greg Nusser, 50, of Hagerstown, asked as his shirt became increasingly soaked.

    Mark Passaro, 53, of Pittsburgh, said the rain was a nice break from the day's heat. He and his wife, Norma Passaro, said they came to see headliner Tommy Castro, who they like because of his shorter song lengths.

    The Passaros said they go to several blues festivals each year, but always enjoy Hagerstown's.

    "I think it's the best-organized event of the ones we frequent," Mark Passaro said.

    Bill Murdaugh, 48, of Mercersburg, Pa., had rave reviews of this year's Blues Fest.

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"This is what the Blues Fest is all about," he said. "In the 15th year, they finally hit a home run."

In contrast to previous years, when Murdaugh felt some of the music was too "jazzy," he said all of this year's performers were excellent.

"The third band on could have been the headliner," he said.

Saturday's show ran from noon to 9:30 p.m. with eight performers alternating between two stages. A children's area, called "Kids Jam Too!" featured puppet shows, magic acts and interactive music and arts workshops.

One guest to get special recognition was Don Donat, who was celebrating his 80th birthday Saturday. Don's daughter, Blues Fest Executive Committee Co-Chair Julie Donat, got on stage between acts to wish her father a happy birthday, and performer Kenny Neal helped sing him "Happy Birthday."

Don Donat said the event was a great way to spend his birthday.

"If I look at this as my birthday party, it was one hell of a blast," he said.

He said he had attended Blues Fest all 15 years and it has gotten better each year.

"It's a good affair for the whole town. It's good, clean entertainment, and it's the best blues music you'll hear anywhere," he said.

Blues Fest continues today with a Family Blues Picnic in City Park from noon to 5 p.m.

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