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Dock of the Bay: May 17-23, 2018

Bay Blues, Safe Boating, Cow Laser Eyes

The Blues are Back
Good music for good causes at Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival
Blues is a tonic for whatever 
ails you. I could play the blues 
and then not be blue anymore.
–B. B. King
      Born in the Deep South at the turn of the 20th century, blues music has evolved through time and space to reflect the heart and soul of America, Twenty years ago ­— in the pouring rain –— the inaugural Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival brought the blues our way.
      The Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival combines local blues with blues legends. Past festivals have featured Chuck Berry, James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Jerry Lee Lewis. Every May, the crowds at Sandy Point State Park prove the vitality and lasting appeal of the blues.
     This year’s lineup shows how far the blues have spread. Sarah Petska, the daughter of festival founder Don Hooker, likes to keep the lineup inspiring.
“I’m always looking for new talent, someone that will knock the socks off the crowd,” Petska says. “But even when we do find great new artists, we always bring back old crowd favorites.”
      Shemekia Copeland is one of those favorites, having played the event in 2000, 2012 and 2015. An African American country, soul and gospel vocalist, 39-year-old Copeland says she feels most at home singing the blues, which she took by nature and nurture from her blues star father Johnny Clyde Copeland. 
       New this year is Brandon ‘Taz’ Niederauer, who at 14 is likely the youngest musician playing in this year’s Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival. He soared to musical fame when he was cast as the lead guitarist in the Broadway production of the movie that inspired him to play: School of Rock. His talent landed him in concerts with legends like Buddy Guy, Slash and Stevie Nicks. This year Taz brings a little rock and roll to the festival. 
      Mr. Sipp, aka Castro Coleman, was born in 1976 — surrounded by music. Inspired as a kid by B.B. King, Mr. Sipp had a gospel career before transitioning to the blues. In addition to being an award-winning musician, 41-year-old Coleman leads programs in Mississippi teaching people of all ages the history of blues music. 
      With other artists from local saxophonist Vanessa Collier to Zydeco Cajun masters Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, this year’s Bay Blues Festival is a crazy quilt of talent.
        Petska has been there through all 20 years, rain or shine. She started while still in college, cleaning artist’s trailers, and — now with a husband and kids — she helps organize the entire festival.
       Her commitment goes beyond love for the blues.
      All of the net proceeds from the festival go directly to charity.
      The charities supported by Bay Blues reflect the respect Petska has for their causes. Special Love supports children with cancer in the Mid-Atlantic region, operating under the philosophy that every kid has the right to be a kid. We Care and Friends offers aid to the homeless and those in need in Annapolis and surrounding communities. Thembalitsha, which means new hope, provides healthcare and education to vulnerable people in the Western and Eastern Cape of South Africa. 
       Your ticket for the two-day music festival benefits these organizations directly. Find a wide variety of food and drinks, as well as beer and wine, lawn and beach seating and a view of the Bay Bridge beyond the stage.
       Parking has moved this year to Sandy Point State Park ($20 a car and very limited) or for free with a shuttle ride from the Harry S Truman Park and Ride off Riva Road or Matapeake Elementary School in Stevensville:
–Shelby Conrad
National Safe Boating Week
Sail, cruise and paddle away from trouble 
     National Safe Boating Week May 19-25 reminds us that a good day on the water is no accident. Trouble-free boating takes both knowledge and action on your part. The BoatUS Foundation advises three steps to safe boating:
      1. Take a safety course: Only 13 percent of boating deaths in 2016 occurred on vessels where the operator had taken a boating safety education course, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics.
      2. Open up your boat for a vessel safety check: A vessel safety check is a good refresher on required and recommended items to have aboard, such as fire extinguishers, life jackets, distress signals and first-aid kits. Checks by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary ( or U.S. Power Squadrons ( are free with no risk to the boater.
       3. Before you head out, give a safety talk and pass out life jackets. If you don’t have a right-sized life jacket for a youngster, borrow one for free at more than 550 locations nationwide from the BoatUS Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Program at
      It’s Maryland law that kids under 13 wear life jackets, but for safety’s sake everybody should. “Accidents can happen in an instant,” says National Safe Boating Council’s Peg Phillips. “Wearing a life jacket is the simplest way to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones while enjoying a day on the water.”
–Sandra Olivetti Martin
Way Downstream  
       From a British laboratory,  Laser-Shooting Cow Eyeballs headline the newest invention: a laser-emitting membrane attachable to delicate objects.
       “We mounted these on an ­explanted bovine eyeball … an excellent and widely used model for the human eye,” scientists wrote in the journal Nature. In other words, the eyeball no longer was in the cow. 
       “Upon optical excitation with pulsed blue light, we observed a well-defined green laser beam emerging from the eye,” according to the study’s authors.
Affixing these membranes onto the surface of, say, a $100 bill or a security badge, could enable a new level of security.
      Equipping somebody’s contact lens with a laser-shooting membrane might be excellent for ID purposes.
     But your cow probably won’t be wearing them.