Music series dedicated to ‘Cobbler John’

Cobbler John Bolen may no longer be with us, but the founder of the Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society won’t soon be forgotten. The first Cobbler’s Coffee House, part of a BJFMS-sponsored music series, is scheduled to take place April 5.

Acoustic blues musician Paul Geremia, who has performed across the U.S., Canada, England and Europe, will be the featured artist for the coffee house event at Over the Moon Pizzeria on Front Street in Marietta.

Geremia is known for his finger-picking and slide styles on both six- and 12-string guitar, covering musicians like Tampa Red, Blind Willie McTell and Lemon Jefferson. He also performs on harmonica and piano.

Although he’s primarily known for spearheading the effort that brought two major blues performance events to Marietta-the annual River City Blues Competition and River City Blues Festival-Cobbler John himself enjoyed playing acoustic-based music.

“I know my way around the blues, but I’m just not a blues performer,” he once told a Times reporter.

John’s widow, Peggy Bolen, said he liked to play and listen to a variety of domestic musical styles.

“His main music interest is American roots music, which includes old-timey, bluegrass, folk, early acoustic blues and more,” she said.

Cobbler John died on Feb. 25 at age 66.

Michael “Moon” Mullen, owner of Over the Moon Pizzeria and a longtime member of the Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society, said John played there several times over the last couple of years. And Mullen, also a musician, noted he and John had often played together in the past.

“We would get together in various coffee houses, at Marietta College and in other locations,” he said. “A coffee house event is a great way to showcase local and national talent. It’s a more intimate and affordable experience for the audience, too.”

Mullen noted the building in which his pizza shop is located was where the Blues, Jazz and Folk Music Society was initiated 27 years ago.

“So it seems somewhat appropriate that the first Cobbler’s Coffee House event will be held here,” he added.

Peggy Bolen is also a longtime BJFMS member and continues to help coordinate society events, including the coffee house series which she noted has traditionally been held at Daydreams Cafe on Putnam Street.

“We had to move the event from Daydreams temporarily,” she said. “I believe we’ve done five of these concerts at Daydreams over the last two years. And we hope to do three this year.”

As for putting Cobbler John’s name on the coffee house series, Bolen said there had been some talk early on about renaming the annual River City Blues Festival “The John Bolen Festival.”

“But I told them that John, being the businessman he was, would object to that because (River City Blues Festival) is already a great name that people relate to,” she said. “I suggested that we call the cafe concerts ‘Cobbler’s Coffee House.’ It has a nice sound to it. And I think he would approve.”