Inaugural Interstate Brews and Blues Fest comes to the Washington County ag center
Interstate Brews and Blues Fest will bring the blues to audiences in the Hagerstown area, but not just like people are used to having it.
Band members and festival organizers are excited to bring their fresh approach to the inaugural Interstate Brews and Blues Fest on Friday, June 7, at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center. From 4 to 10 p.m., the festival will feature more than 25 local craft beers, blue crabs and live music from three bands. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Girls Inc. of Washington County.
The Western Maryland Blues Fest was a downtown Hagerstown tradition for more than 20 years until increasing costs and decreasing revenue from the event led the city to end its run after 2018.
Interstate Festival Group, which produces events including the Interstate BBQ Festival, Gettysburg BBQ Festival, Quad State Beer Fest and the Quad State Wine Fest, stepped in to keep the blues alive in the area.
With a lineup of Voodoo Blues, Skyla Burrell Band and Twisted Bluez Band, the festival will provide a range of music within the blues genre.
Dale Webber, a guitarist and singer with Twisted Bluez Band, said, “It ought to be a pretty interesting evening.”
Leesburg, Va.-based Voodoo Blues specializes in New Orleans style blues, soul, funk and jazz with influences like Dr. John, The Meters, Tab Benoit, Papa Grows Funk and The Neville Brothers. Skyla Burrell Band is known for high-energy, hard-driving, electric blues.
Voodoo Blues will bring a New Orleans sound to the Interstate Brews and Blues Fest. (Submitted photo)
“We will come in behind two tough acts to follow with a completely different mix of songs,” Webber said. “I would say we are a blues/jazz band, not your every day blues band. There is a difference.”
Webber, 61, of Greencastle, Pa., shares guitar and vocals with Jim Massey, 50, of Shippensburg, Pa. Terry Henson, 61, of Hagerstown, plays drums, and Zach Mongan, 28, of Hagerstown, recently joined the group on bass to round out the Twisted Bluez Band sound.
Webber, who played for many years in Elvis Presley tribute bands, set out several years ago to put together a jazz band with Henson. They worked some blues into their sound, with influences like Eric Clapton, B.B. King, and Buddy Guy, and “twisted” in some originals and other sounds as well.
“We work in some songs that people might not expect,” Webber said, citing Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” as an example.
“It’s doesn’t sound much like his recording, but it seems to go over really well,” he said.
Other twists include the Atlantic Rhythm Section song, “Spooky,” John Mayer’s “Gravity” and “Waiting on the World to Change,” and a song called “Latch.”
“If you listen on YouTube, you’ll find it’s strange sounding. We took it and made it our own. We made a jazz song out of it and it sounds really cool,” Webber said. “Things like that are what we really like to do.”
The band’s “mix of things” also includes a Keb’ Mo’ version of “Folsom Prison Blues.”
“We took that song and “blues-ed” it up,” he said.
Twisted Bluez always incorporates at least one gospel song into its playlist, Webber said. They plan to start off at the festival with a song called “Shelter Me.”
“We feel like we wouldn’t have any talent, we wouldn’t have the chances we have to do these things if it wasn’t for God almighty looking over us. So we try to pay tribute to that with at least one song,” he said.
Webber said he thinks it is fantastic that Interstate Festival Group President Rob Immer is debuting a new blues fest in Washington County.
“When (Western Maryland Blues Fest) went away, it left a huge void for the area. I think it’s great, what he is doing,” Webber said, “and also that’s he’s letting local bands play. That’s really neat. There’s a lot of talented people in the area who play very well but don’t get these kinds of opportunities.”
Top photo: In addition to singing the blues, Skyla Burrell plays guitar, piano and writes original songs. (Submitted photo)