Wishing Well to play at firemen's carnival


July 26, 2002|By Lesa Jansen | Lesa Jansen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ALLEN BROWN and the Wishing Well are as familiar at the Mount Airy volunteer firemen's carnival as the savory aroma of pit beef barbecuing or the twinkle of lights on the rides.

The country and bluegrass band founded by local resident Allen Brown returns to the fair today as the featured entertainment with a performance at 7:30 p.m.

"I'm just pleased to be able to help my fire company," said Brown, who for 20 years was a firefighter in the Mount Airy company. "They're a phone call away 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and this carnival is their big fund-raiser."

More than thirty years ago, Brown was a founding member of the Countrymen, a local country music band.

"I started the Countrymen with Don Barns, and we were very successful from 1967 to 1972," said Brown. "But I wanted to do my own thing."

Brown founded the Wishing Well in his spare time while raising his family and working in the construction business. The name came from a song Brown wrote and later recorded as a single, "The Wishing Well."

"When we started, we were playing four to five nights a week throughout the state, mainly locally in nightclubs, fairs, that kind of thing," said Brown.

The band maintained that demanding schedule for 15 years. Brown continued to write material for the band. The group performed in honor of Vietnam veterans on the presidential yacht, USS Sequoia, during the Nixon administration.

Some founding members have left. Current members are: Ron Widman, bass and vocals, from Hyattstown; Buddy Griffin, steel guitar and vocals, Rockville; Roy Ledford, drummer, Frederick; Bill Lebherz, guitar and vocals, Woodsboro; and occasional member Warner Blair, fiddler and vocalist, Baltimore.

According to Brown, the band performs five or six times a year. "We do it now just for the love of it," he said.

"We, of course, play at the fire hall, dances, benefits here and there for my local fire company, but that's about it," said Brown. "We haven't had a rehearsal in 14 years."

Brown looks forward to playing his rhythm guitar before a familiar audience at the carnival grounds on Route 27 tonight.

"I know I'll see faces that have been following us since 1972," he said. "It's a great feeling seeing loyal and dedicated people like that.

"And the band," he added, "they're like brothers. In 20 years, we've never had an argument."

Fire-prevention queen

Mount Airy's newest fire-prevention queen continues a family tradition in the firefighting field.

Sixteen-year-old Kelli Kipe, a senior at South Carroll High School, was elected queen at the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company's carnival Monday night. "I've wanted to be queen for the past six or seven years - just watching my family who is so involved in firefighting," she said.

The Mount Airy resident is an emergency medical technician with the fire company. Her mother, Janet Woodfield, is a firefighter and EMT with the company, and 14-year-old brother Joe is a junior firefighter.

Kelli received a $200 savings bond and will travel to local schools and appear at fire company open houses to educate the public about fire prevention.

She plans to attend college after graduation, majoring in teaching or firefighting.

Concert in the park

Music will fill the summer night again at Mount Airy's Wildwood Park.

A free concert by Bob Fields Jazz Ensemble will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at the venue on Park Avenue.

Those who plan to attend are encouraged to take lawn chairs or blankets.

Information: 301-829-1424.

Lesa Jansen's Southwest neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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