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The Hillbilly Gypsies draw a crowd during Music by the Lake summer concert series

July 27, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK | holly.shok@herald-mail.com
  • Hillbilly Gypsies perform Saturday during the Music by the Lake summer concert series at the Peter Buys Band Shell at City Park. From left are, Ryan Cramer, Jamie Lynn Buckner, Ty Jaquay, Trae Buckner, and Dave Asti.
By Kevin G. Gilbert / Staff Photographer

Sprinkles had some speculating Saturday night that the outdoor amphitheater at City Park in Hagerstown was no place to be in a summer storm, but the promise of bluegrass had the crowd braving the threat of rain.

Some shared umbrellas and others sat under trees during the Music by the Lake summer concert series at the Peter Buys Band Shell, where West Virginia-based bluegrass band The Hillbilly Gypsies played Saturday night.

“It ain’t that old yelling stuff. Bluegrass is good music. It really is,” said Ginger Bishop, 68, of Hagerstown. “You know it has to be when we come down in the rain.”

Bishop and her friend, Jane Shirley, 76, of Williamsport said they had not seen The Hillbilly Gypsies play before, but they had been to last week’s concert when a different bluegrass band performed.

About 80 people were situated on the amphitheater’s benches and throughout the lawn by 6:45 p.m., but by the 7 p.m. start time, the number had increased.

Laura Myers, 32, of Williamsport brought her 4-year-old daughter, Anabelle, to the show for some bluegrass influence.

“It reminds me of my grandfather growing up,” Myers said of the music.

Her grandfather was a DJ at a bluegrass radio station, she said.

“Reminds me of childhood — that’s why I want to get her listening to it,” Myers said, motioning to her daughter, both of whom were situated on a picnic blanket.

The Hillbilly Gypsies, a five-member string band, specializes in its “own homegrown style of Appalachian old time music, mixed with a hard drivin’ bluegrass sound,” according to the act’s website. 

With fiddles, guitars, banjos and more, the band played both original songs, such as “West Virginia Line,” and more traditional tunes, such as “John Henry, Steel Driving Man.”

Dotty Knight, 66, of Dargan said bluegrass tells a story about “how you grew up.”

She and her husband brought their 9-year-old grandson, Butchie, who Knight has been teaching to dance to bluegrass rhythms.

“Like you’re stepping on ants and you just keep stepping,” she said.

The summer concerts are sponsored by the city of Hagerstown, Washington County Arts Council and Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Hagerstown resident Marlene Shafer, 72, and her husband attended the outdoor concert because they “hate to watch TV every night.”

On Sunday nights, the two commonly attend the musical performances of the Hagerstown Municipal Band at the band shell. The band is in its 99th year of performances, said Preston Shafer, 77.

“You wouldn’t believe it, at least 1,500 people, at least,” he said.

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