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Bobby Parker will headline Cabin Fever Blues Bash

February 22, 2012|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Bobby Parker performed at the 2011 Western Maryland Blues Fest. He thrilled audience members during his set by leaving the stage and mingling with fans.
File photo

When Bobby Parker drops names, it’s like a who’s who of rock ’n’ roll royalty.

Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke, Bo Diddley, The Big Bopper. Parker knew them all.

He was a “guitarist for hire”  back in the 1950s, he said, performing with many of the people who gave birth to a new era in music.

He eventually made his own mark in the industry, particularly in 1961 when his rhythm and blues classic “Watch Your Step” became a Billboard hit.

It was a song famous for its creative guitar riffs — the same riffs that John Lennon later admitted The Beatles had borrowed for their song “I Feel Fine.”

But The Beatles weren’t the only musicians influenced by Parker’s talent.

Carlos Santana, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton are among those who have given credit to the man from Lafayette, La., for inspiring their careers.

Six decades after starting out in the music business, Parker, 74, is still going strong — performing, creating and recording from his home base in Washington, D.C.

Last year, Parker was among the headliners at the Western Maryland Blues Fest.

Parker provided the audience with a glimpse of why he has influenced so many rock icons.

When he strode to the microphone on an outdoor stage in downtown Hagerstown, Parker said he wanted to give the audience a show they wouldn’t forget.

Mission accomplished.

His performance was so popular, he’s been invited to do an encore.

The Bobby Parker Blues Band will perform at Cabin Fever Blues Bash 2012, a prelude to this year’s Western Maryland Blues Fest. The event will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at The Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown.

According to organizers, the bash is a way to raise funds and awareness for this year’s Blues Fest.
In addition to music, the mid-winter blues party will mark the unveiling of this year’s Blues Fest schedule, poster artwork and merchandise.

“It’s a fundraiser,” said Blues Fest founder and chair Carl Disque. “But it’s also a ‘fun’ raiser. Where else can you go downtown, maybe go to a downtown restaurant, then go see a great legend at a historic theater and support an event like the Blues Fest. Cabin Fever is a very energizing event.”

Disque said Cabin Fever was brought to life “in the early years of Blues Fest when we had a very limited budget and needed every dollar we could find. We were really beating a lonely drum at times.”

But by the third year, he said, sponsors began to jump on board and support for the Blues Fest grew.

“We got away from doing the annual promo event, partly because of the work involved,” Disque said, “But we brought it back for the 10th anniversary and it was such a hit we decided to embrace it.”

In addition to being an entertaining evening, Disque said Cabin Fever Blues Bash serves two purposes: “It gets organizers ready for the Blues Fest — whips us into shape. And it gets people energized and excited.”

Disque said Bobby Parker will be appearing, not only at the Cabin Fever event, but will be closing out this year’s Blues Fest weekend at City Park.

“To get someone with his credentials, someone who is an old-school legend, is incredible,” Disque said. “Bobby played with some of the early greats like Bo Diddley and Sam Cooke. He performed on the Ed Sullivan Show. He inspired so many musicians and still is making great music with a fabulous band. With all of those qualities, it was a no brainer.”

Disque said those who missed Parker’s performance last year are in for a treat at Cabin Fever.

“He knows how to entertain,” Disque said. “This is an individual who learned his trade by performing with some of the great names in music and was taught by some of the best and it shows in his performance. He truly is old school because that sort of apprenticeship is lost today.”

In an interview with this reporter last year, Bobby Parker admitted that his fame has sometimes rested on the success of others. He does get recognition from some of the top names in the music industry, he said, “but I should get more.”

That’s why Disque looks at the Blues Fest as not only a chance to be entertained but a chance to be educated.

“It’s an opportunity to learn about the different forms of blues and also about some of the great blues legends, many of whom continue to perform, others who have passed on or might not be with us much longer,” he said.

And, like Parker, Disque said he’s glad to see so many different ages and backgrounds represented at blues events.

“Musicians who were part of the British Invasion in the 1960s would often give credit to blues musicians for their inspiration,” he said. “If that hadn’t happened, blues as we know it could have disappeared. Now, it’s being passed to new torch bearers. It’s nice to see this artform continuing into the 21st century.”



If you go ...       

WHAT: Cabin Fever Blues Bash

WHEN: Thursday, March 1, 6:15 p.m. doors open; 7 to 9 p.m. concert

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

COST: $10.

CONTACT: For tickets, call 301-790-2000, or go to www.mdtheatre.org or www.blues-fest.org.

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