Interview: Michael Cloeren-Pennsylvania Blues Festival

Even Mother Nature loves the Blues
Even Mother Nature loves the Blues

It’s festival season in earnest now and with so many to choose from it’s hard to make that choice. One easy way is to look at our Festival Media Partners Page, all these fest’s have been screened and approved by our travellin’ COE – Chairperson of Everything – you can figure out the rest.

The Pennsylvania Blues Festival has been ongoing for 22 years and still ranks right up at the top of preferred fests by folks from coast to coast. Offering a bucolic setting in the mountains of Pennsylvania, and amenities to suit your needs ya might just want to check this festival out. NOTE: The deadline for ordering VIP tickets is THIS FRIDAY, JUNE 13th, get yours now by calling 610-826-7700 or go to www.skibluemt.com.

So this year we chatted with Michael Cloeren and asked a few questions that might just titillate your travel and blues sensibilities.

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James Cotton
James Cotton

Blues411: Michael, it’s great to talk with you again. We barely got to see each other at the BMAs in May. We’re looking ahead to the 4th annual Pennsylvania Blues Festival on July 25 – 27th. What bands are you most excited to be presenting?
Michael Cloeren: I am excited to present the entire line-up….several legendary artist’s (James Cotton, Cj Chenier, Ronnie Earl And Barbara Carr) many classic fest acts Chris Cain, Heritage Blues Quintet, Tad Robinson, Super Chikan and many acts that even the knowledgeable blues fans have rarely seen (Jarekus Singleton, Como Mamas, Shawn Holt. Rip Lee Pryor, Ursula Ricks and Warner Williams/Jay Summerour/Eric Selby.

Shawn Holt
Shawn Holt

Blues411: Yes, Eric/Warner & Jay otherwise known as ‘Little Bit Of Blues’, happy to be able to see them live. Another great line-up this year for sure. Shawn Holt (son of the late Legendary Magic Slim) won a BMA for Best New Artist this year, so people will get a full serving of his sound. Ronnie Earl also won a BMA and captivated the audiences everywhere he played in Memphis. Oh wait James Cotton also…I could go on about the artists this year but . . .
I know you’re always fine-tuning things at your festival. What are you doing different this year vs last year?
MC: Sunday morning VIP Brunch (11am to 1pm) featuring The Murali Coryell Band with Special guest Dave Keyes, which is open to non-VIP’s for $30.00 per person…full bar and fantastic southern style brunch menu.
This year we are totally “UNDERCOVER” with an expanded Tent Main Stage and The fully air-conditioned Adventure center with full bar as our 2nd stage with performances from early afternoon to the WEE HOURS!!!

Blues411: Dave Keyes and Murali Coryell both nominated for BMAs this year, you’re killing me.
I know some people who used to go to the Pennsylvania Blues Festival when it was in the Poconos, they miss being able to rent condos right on the festival grounds. What are the hotels and B&B choices for people who want to attend?

Camping
Camping

MC: Plenty within 30 minutes, go to www.skibluemt.com for full listing.

Blues411: Yes last year was great to be able to stay rather close to events, had no problem travelling easy to get to and get back! Plus from folks who stayed at the B&B’s. they were also very pleased.
Last year you did some different things with camping, including having tents already set up for rent. What camping choices are you offering this year?

Suburban Camping Tent
Suburban Camping Tent

MC: Yes, We have Suburban Camping again all details are on the web. Specific camping info can be found here with costs etc., as well as general camping and VIP Camping area.We can accommodate Tents , Pop-ups and RV’s.

Blues411: As you know I am a big fan of my nephew, Jarekus Singleton, so I am excited to see him bring his Mississippi shake em on down grooved style up North. I think folks won’t believe the level of talent and engagement they have as a a band. But that’s my surprise band, now every band there is capable of melting faces.

Jarekus Singleton
Jarekus Singleton

Who’s going to be the surprise band this year?
Do you have anybody who you think will absolutely slay everyone? Anyone you can wait to watch from back stage and see the audience just turn into Jello? I think Alexis P Suter’s gospel show on Sunday was the highlight for me.
MC: Over the past 22 years of producing the festival…Magic happens every year…and this year will be no exception…and Yes Alexis and the Choir were quite something!!!

Blues411: So do you have your hand in other things that people might be interested in?

Philadelphia Folk Festival
Philadelphia Folk Festival

MC: I’m the director of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the longest running continuous music festival in the United States – 53 years.

Blues411: Holey-Moley! When is that?
MC: August 14 – 17th on the Old Pool Farm in Schwenksville PA (8 stages over 80 acts and 50 thousand people.
Also “Women in The Blues“ series which we present to Colleges & Universities featuring today’s best contemporary, traditional female band leaders.

Camping In Style
Camping In Style

Blues411: I really hope to make it there one of these years, it’s a historic event that everyone of us should attend.
But in the near future looking forward to being on stage with you and being part of the Pennsylvania Blues Festival, and yes, thank you again for the opportunity to be part of it.

So folks come out for a day or the whole weekend, it’s not to be missed. A great combination of new and established artists who represent the very best of the blues world, and also the fans are right up there too – we are framily!

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
chefjimi
©Blues411.com 2014
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411
courtesy of PFF.

NOTE: The deadline for ordering VIP tickets is THIS FRIDAY, JUNE 13th, get yours now by calling 610-826-7700 or go to www.skibluemt.com.  You can thank me later – a beer is a good way to do so.

4 Comments on "Interview: Michael Cloeren-Pennsylvania Blues Festival"


  1. For the 2014 festival Joe Lub’s post has said it all. No need to add. After many years my friends and I will not be back.

    Reply

  2. Been going to the Pocono Blues fest since ’91 – unfortunately, the new venue is terrible. Gone are the days when any one who wanted to do could get in front of the stage and dance – at Big Boulder. Now folks are packed in chairs behind a large VIP section and view obstructing tent poles – forced to be 50+ feet from the stage and forced to sit. Those that tried to dance near the sound table were shooed away. It really sucked. Blues fest are meant to be outdoors, with standing and dancing as close to the stage as practicable. Introducing class warfare into a Blues fest with the VP concept was a stupid idea. Also, the indoor venue felt like a grammar school dance. Overall – very sad – won’t be back. Miss the good ole Big Bolder days.

    Reply

  3. This is going to be some great fun with awesome music!!
    My first at this festival, and had to do VIP
    See ya soon!

    Reply

  4. This is such a great festival! Michael always brings in a few Blues musicians that I haven’t seen before, and that is a rare treat! SO excited to see full sets from Ronnie Earl, Tad Robinson, Barbara Carr, et al.! A huge thank you to Michael Cloeren for all he does for the Blues! I cannot think of another thing that would get me to leave the beautiful weather in Northern California in mid-summer!

    Reply

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