- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
At the La Plata branch of the Charles County Public Library on Saturday, there was more than just reading going on.
Down in the basement, in the library’s small conference room, the Archie Edwards Blues Ensemble gathered to spend the late afternoon playing what was described as “roots blues.” The band’s frontman, Bill Leebel, who also serves as the public information officer for the Charles County Department of Health, said the band has been playing together for about four years.
“We emphasize for people who are blues fans the difference between acoustic and electric blues,” Leebel said. “The roots blues, it has more emotion and more feeling to it. We like to say electric will get you up and dancing, but this hits you in the heart.”
The band played an hour-long set for a packed room, full of guitars and harmonicas and less-common instruments like clapping bones and spoons. When the band was finished playing, audience members who had brought instruments were invited to jam for as long as they wanted.
This concert, the first in a series to be performed at all branches of the library in the county, marks the beginning of the second year of the series.
Library Director Emily Ferren said they chose to continue the series this year after having success with it last year.
“We’ve had them before, and they’re very popular,” Ferren said. “The people who come like the concert, but the ones who bring their instruments and come to jam after the show like that just as much. I like that they’re from Southern Maryland, as well, because we get to showcase local talent.”
Ferren said she and Leebel met two years ago while working at one of the semiannual Homelessness Resource Days at Health Partners in Waldorf. Through a conversation, Ferren found out about Leebel moonlighting as a musician, and a year later, the two were able to organize the concert series, which began last year.
“We had been highlighting local authors and artists, and I just thought it was time to focus on musicians,” Ferren said.
Leebel said he was pleased with this year’s inaugural concert.
“I think it went well,” Leebel said, adding that he was “pleasantly surprised” at the big turnout the concert received. “All in all, I think the performance was good.”
Larry and Donna Stirling of Waldorf, who came to the concert together, both said they were impressed with the show.
“It was great. It’s nice to see these kinds of events in Charles County,” Larry Stirling said. “I’m glad that they’re behind this. More people need to be exposed to things like this.”
“It was really enjoyable,” Donna Stirling added. “I’m looking forward to the others.”