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Herndon Gets the Blues

Art Council hosts annual Bluesfest

July 17, 2002

<bt>Frying Pan Park's 4-H building will be echoing with the blues starting at noon July 20. Artists performing acoustic blues and gospel in the Piedmont, Delta and piano traditions will be performing at the 6th Annual Herndon Blues Fest (HBF).

"I enjoy the HBF because it is one of a handful of actual acoustic blues festivals in this country," said performer Mary Flower. "Many blues festivals tend to ignore the acoustic roots of the blues, presenting mainly electric bands."

"I'm very excited about performing at Herndon," said performer Scott Perry. "It has an excellent reputation amongst performers and fans and I'm especially excited about meeting some of the other artists on the bill."

"I've never been to the festival before but I know I'll like it from what I've heard," said performer Pat Donohue.

According to Flower, performer Ray Kaminsky is the producer of the festival. Because Kaminsky is also a musician, he "understands how musicians need to be treated and what needs to happen for a successful musical event," said Flower.

"This will be my third time at the HBF," said Flower.

Perry though will make his debut HBF performance this year. Perry got involved with the festival "through Sheryl Warner and the Housewreckers who played there last year. They put me in touch with Ray Kaminsky who was generous enough to add me to this year's line up," Perry said.

"My favorite thing about being a performer is seeing new parts of the world and meeting people who love this music," said Flower. "Performing to me is about communicating; a call and response between performer and audience. I prefer to perform without a set list, allowing myself to remain open to enjoy the serendipity and spontaneity of playing for new audiences," said Perry. "I love performing when things are right and I'm playing well," said Donohue. "There is a little journey that takes place and the audience goes along for the ride."

Festivals offer a different atmosphere than other concerts. "Most people are in good moods at festivals; you don't have to try to get their attention," said Flower.

Perry added that he likes the "smoke-free and all-ages environment and the opportunity to bring along my family [wife Lisa Kae and sons Spencer, 12, and Emerson, 7]."

"What I look forward to most at this festival," said Perry "is a new region and a new audience, that means I can play old tunes and tell old stories."

The festival is sponsored by the Council for the Arts of Herndon and Frying Pan Park of the Fairfax County Park Authority. Local businesses are sponsors as well. America Online, American Express Financial Services, JCA Architects, The Day Hotel and Conference Center and the D.C. Blues Society help to "defray the cost of the entertainment," said arts council member Linda Cooney. "Their money goes to hiring of the performers, sound company, lights, advertising, hotel stays, signage, and flyers," said Karen Cobb, executive director of the arts council.

WHILE THERE IS no cost for the festival, donations are requested to help with arts scholarships and programs. The money is used for scholarships and programs in various genres of the arts such as, music and visual arts. "We gave out $5,000 in student scholarships this year plus $1,500 in grants to art groups in the Herndon area, but the monies will help with the expense of the Blues Fest, scholarships, grants, arts week celebrations, Annual Meeting, Children's Arts month program, plus new programs that we will hopefully start this coming year," said Cobb.

Music won't be the only entertainment featured that festival-goers will enjoy, there will also be food vendors featuring a variety of foods from restaurants including The Tortilla Factory and Jimmy's Old Time Tavern, hayrides, farm animals and Frying Pan Park's own country store will be open. "They sell various items such as candies. It's an old fashioned country store," said Cooney.

The lineup of performers at the festival includes Ray Kaminsky and Jack Fretwell opening the festival at noon, Eric Freeman performing at 1 p.m., Scott Perry performing at 2 p.m., Jeffery Scott performing at 3:15 p.m., Mary Flower performing at 4:30 p.m., Pat Donohue performing at 5:45 p.m. and John Cephas and Phil Wiggins closing the festival at 7 p.m.

Festival-goers aren't the only ones looking forward to the list of performers. Perry also looks forward to seeing the acts that he will be performing with. "I look forward to seeing all of them, but especially Cephas and Wiggins and Pat Donohue," said Perry.

Cobb said she enjoys "hearing the Blues performers, but also watching the folks as they enjoy the great playing and singing."