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Freddie Long's musical journey making a stop in Hagerstown

Freddie Long's musical journey making a stop in Hagerstown

Freddie Long grew up in Ijamsville, Md., in a house with a piano that no one played.

His mother wanted him to take lessons, but for a long time, he told her, “No, no no. I’m not ready for that.”

“Finally, she said, ‘OK. I’m going to sell the piano,’” Long said. “Once she sold the piano, guess who wanted to take lessons.”

Long, who now resides in Brunswick, Md., said he was around 10 or 11 at the time.

Pleased with his interest, if not with his timing, Long’s mother got him connected with lessons.

“Once I started, I was definitely super into it. I put in the practice time and I was a good student because I was really into it,” he said. “I was around the age when I was starting to find some modern musical tastes, starting to like certain songs on my own.”

Looking back, the 2005 Urbana High School graduate said he always had “a deep connection to music,” from the Oldies stations his parents played to the contemporary sounds he began to explore for himself.

“It chose me,” he said. “I was just always listening to music and it kind of just went from there.”

On Saturday, July 20, at 7 p.m., Long will share his passion for music at the City Park Summer Concert Series at the Hagerstown City Park Band Shell. Attendees are invited to bring a blanket or a lawn chair, or to take a seat on the Band Shell benches as the Freddie Long Band presents its introspective pop, rock and blues blend. Through a partnership with the Washington County Arts Council, the concert is free to the public. Hamburgers will be available before the show beginning at 6 p.m.

At age 13, Long got a guitar for Christmas and started to play by ear. By middle school he was piecing together bands with other players.

“I never needed much external motivation,” Long said. “I have my own drive.”

He took all the music classes he could get in high school — piano, guitar, music theory — and continued playing both instruments on his own.

“I was getting into alternative music and pop at that time,” he said.

He played in jazz band, directed music for the school musical and continued to play gigs with bands outside of school including a swing ska band.

“Anything musical I could get my hands on, I did,” he said.

He continued his pursuit of music at Lebanon Valley College near Hershey, Pa., forgoing bigger schools for a full academic scholarship and a close-knit community.

“I thought I wanted a big school for a while, but I liked the small college vibe. The people were so nice. It was a better fit for me,” he said. “They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Long went on to earn a degree in music recording technology.

“It was great because I got to learn the technical stuff but I also had to take lessons on a primary instrument. So I got both technology and technique,” he said. “For the full spectrum, I minored in physics. There is a lot of physics in music technology.”

Prior to his college graduation, Long was required to complete an internship. He worked with Amy Riley, who was special events manager for the City of Frederick, Md., and who now works as recreation coordinator for the City of Hagerstown.

“Things have kind of come full circle through that connection, in that respect,” Long said.

Through that internship, he made connections with workers at radio’s Key 103 and 106.9 The Eagle. The radio stations were sponsoring Frederick’s In the Street Festival, he said.

“Someone said, ‘Hey. We need a band to fill this slot. Hey, don’t you have a band?’” Long said. “I said, ‘Yes. Sure I do.’”

Though he did not, in fact, have a band, Long assembled one quickly and spent a month or two practicing for the gig.

“That has ended well,” he said. “We had all sorts of tastes. We had a jazz singer/songwriter, classic rock stuff, a little classical. You kind of mixed it all up into the soup, threw some of yourself in there, and see what comes out.”

From that experience came Long’s first album.

Long’s debut album was called “Strangers and Friends,” which was a compilation of songs he had written over the years as well as some new songs.

The first album featured a four-piece band, while the second added horn players with music more in the vein of Bruce Springsteen, Long said. The Freddie Long Band put out its third album in 2011 and has compiled “a ton of material” for another to come in the future.

Meanwhile, the group has established firm roots locally while making a name along the East Coast, opening for acts including Motley Crue, Poison, Bad Company, Jo Dee Messina, Edwin McCain, Blue Oyster Cult and others.

Freddie Long Band has a residency at the popular Seacrets night club in Ocean City, Md.

Long writes and performs commercial radio jingles. The band has been nominated for four Washington Area Music Awards, and was a Finalist Winner and received an Honorable Mention in the annual Mid-Atlantic Song Contest.

“Overall, I would say my biggest success is just the fact that I am at a point where I get to call music my job. I think it was Sting who said that music is its own reward. Music has been very good to me,” Long said. “It has given me a life.”

If you go ...

WHAT: Freddie Long Band at the City Park Summer Concert Series at the Hagerstown City Park Band Shell.
WHEN: Saturday, July 20, at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Hagerstown City Park Band Shell, 501 Virginia Ave., Hagerstown
COST: Free
CONTACT: Visit City Park Summer Concert Series on Facebook; www.freddielong.com; www.washingtoncountyarts.com; or call 301-791-3132.

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