Blues411: Michael, it’s great to talk with you again. We’re looking ahead a few weeks to the Pennsylvania Blues Festival on September 16, 17 and 18th.
First off, congratulations on 25 years of bringing the blues to the people. Your festival is always a welcoming, open and fan friendly experience, and it is truly appreciated by us all.
So, this is your second year at Split Rock Resort in Lake Harmony, PA. How has it fared?
Michael Cloeren: The Split Rock Resort is a great location with plenty Of On-Site and nearby lodging, spacious grounds and The Galleria Complex, a huge indoor facility where we host The Showcases, late night jams, Sunday Brunch and the Guitar Masterclass.
Blues411: We missed last year, some lame excuse about a knee replacement bah…So why has the date shifted to September this year?
Michael Cloeren: The Pocono Raceway is two miles from The Pennsylvania Blues Festival and they changed their dates from The 1st weekend in August to the last Weekend In July. We chose September 16th – 18th weekend because September is a beautiful time of the year in The Pocono’s and we wanted to make sure that we didn’t conflict with other Regional and National Blues Festivals. We want to have Blues Fans attend as many great events each year as possible.
Blues411: Great thought on being part of a one blues world approach, very cool. So every year you always adjust things to make it better, and also include special events of sessions within the framework of the festival itself.
What are we looking at this year? Rumor has it that there will be an artist masterclass with a very talented guitarist?
Michael Cloeren: We are excited to Present a Masterclass with Award Winning Guitarist Ronnie Earl. Ronnie will be giving pointers to all attendees and talking about his 40 year music career and his many mentors in the business. The Galleria Complex is an air conditioned facility within walking distance to The Festival Grounds.
Blues411: So should folks bring their guitars to Masterclass?
Michael Cloeren: YES ! Bring those guitars, that’s the whole point of it.
Blues411: The opportunity to sit and learn with Ronnie Earl is an amazing opportunity, even if it’s just a little bit, how cool is that gonna be?
You always have a band or two that are new to the PA festival, and that must be getting harder, but who might they be this year?
Michael Cloeren: This year we have several bands that have never performed at The Pocono/Pennsylvania Blues Festival Toronzo Cannon, Blackburn, Vanessa Collier, Andy T Band and Beareather Reddy.
Blues411: This will be our first time to see or hear Blackburn and also for Beareather Reddy, we are psyched.
Once again there will be two stages, with overlapping performances. Does this make it difficult for attendees to catch all the bands or is it set up for ease of viewing by staging them at different times during the day?
Michael Cloeren: I try to program the Festival lineup so that if the attendees arrive early in the day they can see just about every act on The Main Stage and many acts on The Tent Stage perform two sets so if the fans miss one set, they can catch the other set. These acts deserve the fans attention!
Blues411: Who’s going to be the surprise band this year? Do you have anybody who you think will absolutely slay everyone?
Michael Cloeren: I feel all of these acts on this year’s bill are extremely compelling! It comes down to the attendees personal taste in music. If they like guitarist’s ..we have ‘em-If They like Female Band leaders..we have ‘em..If they like Harmonica Players..we have ‘em etc
Blues411: Speaking from our end, we have seen most of these bands and artists so it will be a very ‘compelling’ (as you say) event. Having just seen Vanessa Collier in SC she wowed the crowd, and Toronzo Cannon deserves all the accolades he is getting. Andy T Band will surprise many also. Indeed a great line up (I’m not leaving out anyone really – just recent memories here).
Anything else we need to know about this festival, and any of the others that you are putting on this year? I know you have quite a few things going on, please tel us about the other events.
Michael Cloeren: The Pennsylvania BLUES Festival has plenty of free parking, Food and Non Food Vendors and Plenty Of Lodging—Our guests travel from 25 states and many come from Canada to witness real deal Blues in an up close and personal setting!
My Staff are also excited about The Pennsylvania MUSIC Festival at Split Rock Resort On October 29 & 30, 2016 featuring Royal Southern Brotherhood, Devon Allman, Paul Thorn, CJ Chenier, Seth Walker, Alexis P Suter & The Ministers Of Sound and many more. pamusicfestival.com
We are producing BLUZIN’ In The CATSKILLS OF NY March 24th-26th, 2017, which is an all inclusive BLUES Cruise On Land featuring Shemekia Copeland, The Bobby Rush Revue, John Primer, Teeny Tucker, Guy Davis, Slam Allen and more. Our website is: michaelcloerenproductions.com.
Blues411: Thanks Michael! What’s that interweb address for folks who might be wanting to see in detail all the goodness you got going on?
Thanks for supporting The Pennsylvania Blues Festival and we look forward to welcoming you with open arms over the September 16-18th, 2016 Weekend!
Be sure to tune into Blues411 Internet Radio starting Monday Sept. 12, 2016 as we feature artists from the PA Blues Festival on our Baker’s Dozen of Blues Radio Show (the second hour or Amuse Bouche portion).
Blues411 Radio http://listen.samcloud.com/w/71723/Blues411
TuneIn Radio http://tunein.com/radio/Blues411-Radio-s261461
Blues411 will be at the Pennsylvania Blues Festival taking and posting pictures, plus, as always, honored to be on stage presenting some of the finest blues talent out there to the blues framily, so be sure to follow us on Facebook.
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411