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Blues fans say music transcends all barriers

Thousands expected at 16th Annual Western Maryland Blues Fest

June 03, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Duffy Kane, hops offstage to perform a number for the front row at the 16th Annual Western Maryland Blues Fest Friday afternoon.
By Chris Tilley, Staff Photographer

It speaks on a spiritual level. It speaks on a human level.

"It's has emotion," said Linda Lay of Fernandina Beach, Fla.

"... That transcends race, gender, middle income, upper income, lower income," said Carl Disque of Hagerstown. "It's this great leveler that brings people together."

It even transcends the senses.

They call it the blues.

And in Hagerstown this weekend, it will bring together thousands of people for the 16th Annual Western Maryland Blues Fest.

Blues fans from all over converged on the city Friday for the first paid-admission night of the festival in Hagerstown's central lot.

It truly is a weekend of camaraderie, said Kathy Butler, a retired drummer from Greencastle, Pa. .

"Maybe you don't see them (certain people) during the year that much, but you do know them, and now you can come together, and you share one bond of the music," she said.

Music has the power to break down barriers, even barriers to the senses.

For 16 years Cindy Mease and Nancy Verdier have interpreted Blues Fest for the deaf as contractors with Deafnet.

They might not be able to hear the music, but deaf individuals can feel it, Mease said. They feel the vibrations.

Ask anyone at the festival about the blues and their answer is likely the same.

"I love the blues," Butler said.

"Oh yeah, I love the blues," said Dale C. of Hagerstown. "If you don't have the blues, you're bad news."

"I never really took a liking to it, but listening to what I am hearing now, I love it," said Krystofer Lomax of Hagerstown. "You can definitely kind of move to it."

Friday's lineup of national and international, emerging and seasoned blues artists had regulars and first-timers like Lomax, an event volunteer, swaying to the music.

"I've never heard it played like this," said Jimmy Lay of Fernandina Beach of the performance Friday by Duffy Kane & The Freedom Train.

And not just because his son, Bart Lay, is the band's drummer.  

"The enthusiasm here is unparalleled," Jimmy Lay said. "And the talent is superb."

Disque, the event's founder, said his committee went beyond its usual borders, drawing not just local, regional and national artists, but also drawing international artists to the  festival.

Some of the acts have strong followings, others are on the cusp of renown, he said.

"To me it is journey of discovery, and I like to take audiences on that journey with me," he said.

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