Cool sounds, hot time

Summertime Blues Festival brings music, food and more to Havre de Grace

outside

June 21, 2007|By Matt Vensel | Matt Vensel,Sun reporter

The Summertime Blues Festival at Steppingstone Museum in Havre de Grace is back Saturday for a sixth year of music, food and fun. And with an impressive lineup of local musicians, this year's installment has the potential to be the best yet.

"We have a following," said Linda Noll, the museum's executive director. "People look forward to the festival every year."

Blues music is the festival's main ingredient. Baltimore blues staple Mary Lou and the Untouchables are headlining the festival. The eight-piece band has been playing around the state since 1993, and has performed with Ray Charles, the Four Tops, and KC & the Sunshine Band.

Noll decided to bring in Mary Lou and the Untouchables after seeing them play a show in the area, she said. The band takes the stage 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

"Mary Lou was awesome," Noll said. "I had to get her for the blues festival. Her voice is so unreal."

The band's frontwoman, Mary Lou Magee, matched Noll's anticipation for the festival.

"I think [the festival] will be entertaining and a good time for everybody," Magee said. "We play something for everyone."

Local quartet Just Foolin' Around Band kicks off the show at 1 p.m., followed by blues veteran Charles "Big Daddy" Stallings at 2 p.m.

Stallings, a Baltimore by way of Hobbsville, N.C., musician, brings a taste of New Orleans to the event. His 2004 debut release, One Night Lover, featured the single "4x4 Woman," which reached No. 1 on the Bluesville channel on XM Radio.

The band Night Street takes over from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Night Street is a Harford and Cecil County quartet that's been performing together since 1989. This is Night Street's fifth performance at the Summertime Blues Festival.

"They're kind of our signature act," Noll said. "They're not your traditional blues band. We try to pick bands with different sounds."

Night Street will be joined on stage by jazz/blues pianist Matt Wigler. Though only 13, Wigler recently released his debut CD, XIII.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing this up-and-coming kid play," Noll said.

Music is the focus of the festival, but there are other activities as well.

Vendors will be on hand providing various festival food such as pit beef, ham, lemonade and pretzels. Wine from Baltimore County's Boordy Vineyards and beer will also be for sale.

Festival-goers can bring in their own food and nonalcoholic beverages, too.

While checking out the musicians at the festival, visitors are encouraged to tour Steppingstone Museum. Free tours feature demonstrations from period artisans such as blacksmiths, woodworkers and potters.

If some fine blues musicians, tasty festival food and a bit of history aren't enough to get you to the festival, maybe the scenery and some fresh air will do the trick.

"A lot of blues festivals are outdoors, but we just have such a beautiful setting out here," Noll said. "It's a great way to get away from the rat race."

matt.vensel@baltsun.com

Steppingstone Museum is at 461 Quaker Bottom Road in Havre de Grace. Festival hours are noon-8 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Free museum tours are 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Call 410-939-2299 or go to steppingstonemuseum.org.

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