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16th Millennium Music Conference, Night One (Sort Of...)
February 17, 2012 - Jim Price
The 16th annual Millennium Music Conference is happening in the Harrisburg area this weekend. I’ll continue to bring you updates from the conference through the course of the weekend.
In past years, the first showcases of the conference kicked off on Thursday nights. However, such was not the case this year. The only Millennium activities happening on Thursday night this year were the volunteers stuffing conference buzz bags in advance of the daytime conference that begins on Friday. No conference-related showcases were scheduled for Thursday night this year.
After checking into my hotel room at the host hotel, the Radisson Penn Harris Hotel & Convention Center in Camp Hill, I was in search of live music to check out. However, in addition to no showcase performances, the Harrisburg area was mostly devoid of any live music action at all on this Thursday night. To find live music, I had to head a short distance out of town.
I had learned via Facebook that Carlisle bluesman Gary Brown and his band Bushmaster were advertising an appearance this night at the Market Cross Pub in downtown Carlisle. So I did the nearly 30-minute roadtrip southward along Route 11 to find out what was going on.
Missing a crucial turnoff along Route 11 en route southward delayed my ultimate arrival at the venue by about 20 minutes. But I did arrive in time to catch at least the last half hour of the musical activity at the Market Cross Pub.
What I found was a blues jam night hosted by Gary Brown. Playing guitar and singing, Gary led a group of mostly younger and aspiring musicians on several blues jams. He directed the jams, calling out breaks, breakdowns, solos and more. Gary and the young musicians showed their chops on versions of Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying,” the Dave Edmunds-popularized “I Hear You Knocking” and more. Gary – who some Altoona Mirror readers may have seen last summer when Bushmaster performed at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College – sounded great on vocals and guitar, and it was good to see him encouraging a future generation of blues players this night at the Market Cross Pub.
Gary Brown of Bushmaster (on left) leads bassist Alex "Lou" Smyser and guitarist Chris Smucker during one of the blues jams at Carlisle's Market Cross Pub on Thursday night.