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18th Annual Western Maryland Blues Fest: Family, Fun and Learning

18th Annual Western Maryland Blues Fest: Family, Fun and Learning

Great music, great fun and great value - it's all part of the Western Maryland Blues Fest slated for May 30 through June 2, 2013. The Western Maryland Blues Fest serves up an annual community celebration centered on one of America's most enduring musical forms. Set amidst raw-boned guitar riffs and emotionally charged vocals, Blues Fest represents a unique partnership between City government, event volunteers and local business sponsors as they team together to present four incredible days of musical entertainment and family fun.
Over the extended weekend of Thursday, May 30 through Sunday, June 2, 2013, the 18th edition of Hagerstown's annual summer "house party" will feature an impressive lineup of national, regional and local blues and jazz musicians. Blues Fest 2013's festivities commence at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 30 with the free "Blues Prelude" concert in University Plaza, a beautiful, City Center green space located beside the University System of Maryland-Hagerstown. Popular Maryland metro regional band, Bad Influence Band, will perform a free concert from 5-7 p.m. Available seating is limited, so Blues Prelude attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. From 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, May 30, the Washington County Arts Council (WCAC) will host the opening reception for an exhibit featuring the art of Blues Fest 2013 poster artist Erin Mettille. The winning entry, together with 14 "honorable mention" entries from Blues Fest's 2013 Children's T-Shirt Contest will also be on display. The Washington County Arts Council Gallery has recently located to 34-36 W. Washington Street, just a short walking distance from the Blues Prelude venue, so Blues Prelude attendees should be sure to visit the WCAC during or after the concert and enjoy the beauty of this new gallery.
Beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 31, Blues Fest kicks off its first day of multi-artist entertainment with its popular evening "Lotta Blues Show" in the City's Central Parking Lot. Four bands will provide entertainment on Friday. The Frederick-based roots blues sounds of Hard Swimmin' Fish will begin Friday's fun, followed by Hagerstown's own classic Chicago-blues-influenced large ensemble, Rudy & the Bluefish, featuring guitar, harmonica, horns and more! Friday's fantastic music offerings shift into yet another gear when Moreland & Arbuckle, one of the Midwest's hottest new stars of the blues, merge traditional and modern blues forms - think "Little Walter meets The Black Keys." Friday's "Lotta Blues Show" concludes with the encore return of the sensational trio of Kansas City siblings, Trampled Under Foot, who have been literally taking the world by storm since winning the 2008 International Blues Challenge, and whose return appearance to Hagerstown was demanded by Blues Fest fans after the group's inspirational mid-afternoon Saturday set at Blues Fest 2012!
On Saturday, June 1, Blues Fest 2013's excitement ramps up still further with the event's signature "Downtown House Party." From noon until 9:45 p.m., alternating stages showcase back-to-back sets by eight regional, national and international acts, beginning with Hagerstown's own, The Rhythm Kings, featuring local "guitar god" Lewis Palladino, followed by the exciting blues sounds of young Myersville, Maryland native Paul Pfau, and the Blues Fest debut of D.C.'s popular Clarence "The Blues Man" Turner. Saturday's musical action ramps up another notch when Australian blues harmonica ace Peter Harper combines traditional harmonica-led blues with the exotic sounds of the didgeridoo - an instrument of the indigenous Australian Aborigines. Fans will quickly be brought back to traditional electric guitar blues - in the exciting, high-energy style of Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix - as internationally proclaimed, 22-year-old Eric Steckel (the youngest guitarist ever to share the stage with John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers) takes over, before in turn yielding to the blues-based "Bayou Americana" sounds of New Orleans' own, Honey Island Swamp Band with special guest saxophonist, Jimmy Carpenter! The sound of Louisiana will then continue as the world's best slide guitarist, Sonny Landreth will mesmerize guitar fans with his spellbinding tapestry of sound. Finally, we will get funky and dance the night away to the charmingly energetic sound of international saxophone star, Maceo Parker, as he blends blues, funk, soul, and even a tribute to Brother Ray Charles, into one delightful extended set!
Blues Fest attendees are invited to enjoy specials and entertainment at City Center restaurants and venues throughout the weekend. A wristband will be provided at the entrance gate that will allow attendees to leave the festival and re-enter.
On Sunday, June 2, Blues Fest once again "gives back" to the community with its free "Family Blues Picnic" from noon to 5 p.m. in Hagerstown's City Park. After beginning with a solo acoustic set by Delta Blues and authentic Robert Johnson guitar technique interpreter, Scott Ainslie, fans will be treated to the harmonica-led sounds of Leesburg, VA's Fast Eddie Galvin and the Fast Lane Blues Band, followed in turn by the twin-guitars and soulful female vocals of Chambersburg, PA's Skyla Burrell Blues Band. Capping off Sunday's entertainment is none other than the classic blues, roots and American music of D.C.'s The Nighthawks, led by Mark Wenner's powerful harmonica! Sunday will also boast education entertainment at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts with separate lecture/performance workshops by Scott Ainslie, as well as music from the Washington County Public Schools All-County Jazz Ensemble.
As always, Blues Fest 2013 is family-friendly, featuring free Saturday and Sunday "Kids Jam Too" children's activities. Please visit Blues Fest's web site: or its Facebook page at for more details.

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