Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

Blues fest leaving county

Capital Blues Festival moving to District; officials say financial hit will be minimal, but businesses in the area concerned

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A blues festival that drew thousands of music fans to Show Place Arena last year is returning — but not to Prince George’s County.

The Capital Blues Festival, which brought eight acts and about 4,000 fans to Upper Marlboro last March, has been booked at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., this time around, promoters for the event said.

Promoters said the quality of acoustics at the Upper Marlboro arena was a factor in the switch.

Nancy Weiman, a spokeswoman for Show Place, said the financial loss from losing the event will be minimal.

‘‘It’s another date to book, but it’s only a one-night event,” she said.

But local business owners expressed more concern.

‘‘Anything there that gets cancelled, we lose business,” said Jeff Wyvill, owner of Ledo Pizza on Main Street in Upper Marlboro.

Wyvill said his restaurant gets roughly 75 to 100 extra customers on evenings there is an event at Show Place.

‘‘For a small business like us, that’s a lot of customers,” Wyvill said.

The blues festival will be at Constitution Hall on March 28 before heading to Baltimore on March 30, said Sarah Cornelius, a promoter with North American Entertainment Group Inc., which is helping to organize the tour.

Constitution Hall seats about 3,700, while Show Place seats 4,500 for concerts.

Promoters are still arranging the festival’s lineup, but performers will include Mel Waiters and Latimore, both of whom were at last year’s event.

Last year was the first time the 5-year-old tour came to Show Place Arena, Cornelius said. It was called the D.C. Blues Festival in previous years.

North American Entertainment Group is holding another event, called ‘‘70s Soul Jam,” at Show Place this Friday.

E-mail Andy Zieminski at azieminski@gazette.net.