It was an evening of celebration at Wolf Trap last night. The festivities began with a panel of the International Year of Disabled Persons honoring the Wolf Trap Foundation with an award for its series of artsrelated workshops for the handicapped. Ambassador John McDonald, co-chairman of the Federal Interagency Committee, presented the award to Catherine Filene Shouse, the founder of Wolf Trap, and praised the foundation's continuing services to the handicapped population.

After the ceremony, there was a celebration of a different sort -- a celebration of this country's most enduring and unique musical form, the blues. c

Big Mama Thornton opened the show with stirring renditions of blue classics such as "Rock Me Baby" and "Walking the Dog." Smoking and sipping away at her "Budweiser milk," Thornton sent out wrenching vocal outbursts that were matched in intensity by her wailing harmonica.

Bobby "Blue" Bland countered Thornton's forceful performance with singing that was light and lilting. His high, sweet voice seemed at times to reach to the rafters grabbing for notes, and it wrapped itself around "Stormy Monday" and never let go until at long last, his soft moans evaporated into the air.

The crowd was on its feet by the time B. B. King reached center stage. The singer-guitarist proceeded to wow everyone with his remarkable singing and playing style. On "Everyday I Have the Blues" the slashing guitar solos that are his trademark gave way to his delicately husky vocals. Backed by a tight and soulful band, B.B. King proved that he is indeed the king of the blues.

In Thornton, Bland and King, the blues never had it so good.