Benefit concerts bring good luck to the fight against cystic fibrosis


Last year, just before the second annual Hard Travelers . . and Friends Concert for Cystic Fibrosis, researchers discovered the gene that causes CF, one of the most common, fatal genetic diseases of children and young adults in the United States.

This year, only a week before the third annual Hard Travelers . . . and Friends benefit concert, researchers announced they have found a method of therapy that replaces the abnormal CF gene with a healthy copy of the gene.

"I do believe strongly that the concert is our good luck charm," says Larry Kushner, director of development for the Maryland Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Tomorrow night, a caravan of performers, headlined by EmmyloHarris, perform gratis at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, which is also donating its facilities to further the fight against CF. The Hard Travelers of Maryland, Schooner Fare, Charlie Byrd & Pete Kennedy, Donal Leace and Fat City also perform.

"The beauty of this whole endeavor is that the proceeds we raised have produced obvious tangible results in the past," Kushner says. "We hope with this year's concert, we can [come] even closer to [another] breakthrough."

The Hard Travelers happened on to the CF cause shortly before their legendary reunion at the King of France Tavern in Annapolis in 1985. To warm up, the folk group, known for their emotional versions of folk hits such as "Where Have all the Flowers Gone?" performed at a CF benefit concert at the Millersville Inn.

Since then, the Hard Travelers have become synonymous with the effort in Maryland to find a cure for CF. Tomorrow night, they hope to raise $100,000 toward that goal.

The Hard Travelers, a popular University of Maryland folk group in the mid-'60s, abandoned their music career for jobs and families. They have returned full-time to music, performing regularly at the King of France Tavern, and have recently released a second album, "Sailin' On a Second Wind," that sings the praises of the Chesapeake Bay.

In the midst of a frantic tour, Harris, whose parents live in Maryland, brings her sublime voice to the Hard Travelers concert. Schooner Fare, a Maine folk group that routinely sells out at Wolf Trap and the Birchmere, will perform. And another reunion will take place: that of Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, who performed as Fat City in the '70s. This D.C.-based duo co-wrote "Take Me Home, Country Roads," and as central figures of the Starland Vocal Band, penned the enchanting "Afternoon Delight."

Charlie Byrd & Pete Kennedy add a little jazz to the evening. Allen Damron knew the Hard Travelers in the old days, and in Texas has become well known as a balladeer and storyteller.

Donal Leace, featured at Georgetown's Cellar Door in the '60s along with the Hard Travelers, sings folk, pop, blues and gospel.

The concert begins at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $20, $15 and $10. They are available through Ticketron or at the door. Call (800) 543-3041.

V.I.P. tickets are also available for $100 and entitle the bearer to prime seats and a reception. All proceeds go to the Maryland Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

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