Monday, December 06, 2010

Farewell Pocono Blues Festival

2010-0725 Pocono Blues Day 3-1688, originally uploaded by NoVARon.
Mavis Staples was the closing main stage performer at the 19th Pocono Blues Festival July 29, 2010. Like others who have been making to trip to Lake Harmony PA, I was looking forward to attending the 20th Festival in July 2011. It was an event I regularly looked forward to each year as it brought together the best blues acts as well as blues performers who were lesser known. The connection between them was that they were blues acts, not some blues-rock performer who headlined lots of glitzy festivals, but folks like Jody Williams, Jimmy McCracklin, Jimmy Johnson, the late Robert Lockwood Jr., the late Ruth Brown, Shemekia Copeland, Alabama Mike, Denise LaSalle, Floyd Taylor, Latimore, Long John Hunter, Lowell Fulson, Sugar Pie DeSanto, James Cotton, Eddie Clearwater, the late Johnny Jones and Charles Walker, Roy Roberts, Barbara Carr, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, James Peterson, Theodis Ealey, Charlie Musselwhite, Pinetop Perkins, Bob Margolin, Eddie Shaw & the Wolf Gang, Koko Taylor, Johnny Copeland, Guitar Shorty, and Wanda Jackson. One thing you did not find were the popularizers, imitators or the latest Stevie Ray Vaughan wanna be.
Theodis Ealey at 19th Pocono Blues Festival

I have many memories of great performances at the Pocono Blues Festival. Johny Copeland sitting in the back of the stage with a big smile while Clarence Holiman and Carol Fran were performing, or James Peterson singing and playing while riding down on a ski lift to teh stage. Then there was the time when Eddie "The Chief' Clearwater, rode to the stage on a horse with full regalia or Shemekia Copeland taking a ride on a Harley before her performance.

Michael Cloeren on left with photographer Dusty Scott
And there were the people,the folk in the photo pit as well as simple fans, who came back year after year. One made friends with the staff and folks one saw every year. It was a festival but also felt like a very large family at times.

I thank Mike Cloeren and all the folk who worked with him to put on what was heaven for blues fans in the Pennsylvania Mountains for all these years. It is unfortunate that the festival is a victim of the economic times and couldn't at least make it to the 20th Festival so we could come together one last time. The memories from the festival will last us for our lifetimes.

No comments: