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May/June 2006
Voice of the People: Carl Disque
photo: Jamie Turner

Every June, Carl Disque Rallies the Local Blues Community for a Weekend Filled with Music, Food, and Fun


For many, thoughts of June fun in Hagerstown center around one thing — the annual Western Maryland Blues Fest (www.blues-fest.org). It’s understandable, really, since, after 11 years, Blues Fest has become a community fulcrum of sorts — an event that brings municipal government, local businesses, residents and outside visitors together in a weekend of family fun amidst a celebration of The Blues, one of America’s most influential musical genres.

Eagerly anticipated by many, Blues Fest weekend becomes an extended house party, where new friendships are formed, old friends become reacquainted, and superficial social distinctions temporarily disappear. Magically, if momentarily, we are each just equal, fellow human beings. Like Mardi Gras and New Orleans, every community seems to need at least one special event through which it can express its personality.

Many people wonder what led me to start Blues Fest. After jamming old blues music on weekends in a neighbor’s garage, I passionately immersed myself in the music’s history, personalities and lore. The more I read, the more I realized that the story of the blues reflected, in microcosm, the history of post-Civil War America. Then, after attending a Virginia blues festival with my wife and son, I had a revelation about a community blues event in Hagerstown.

While surely the strength of my original vision and guiding passion were critical to Blues Fest’s birth and development, there’s also a mysterious succession of connect-the-dots without which the event might not have become as successful as it has. (I wish the space here permitted recounting those many “what-if’s.”) Bottom line: I guess it was just meant to be. Our story, written together, is full of many chapters and important contributors.

As we enjoy Blues Fest 2006, let’s take a moment to remember how lucky we are to live and work in a community where events like Blues Fest can still happen; where volunteers can invent something that is both substantive and frivolous; where local businesses freely donate goods and funds to enhance those efforts; and where local government generously provides the logistical support for a safe and happy weekend for all concerned.

As we are thankful for our blessings, let us also reflect on the past year of devastation wrought upon the Gulf Coast regions from whose wellsprings The Blues originally was drawn. Consider visiting a donation station during Blues Fest to help those in need.

God bless, and we hope to see you in June at one of Hagerstown’s newest traditions — the Western Maryland Blues Fest.

Carl W. Disque, Founder and Event Chair of the Western Maryland Blues Fest

Each issue, HM will feature commentary from a prominent member of our community.

   view more articles from the May/June 2006 issue >>

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