Saturday, September 12 at 7:30 PM Rob Kronen, 2020 Emerging Artists Showcase winner plays virtual concert

On Saturday, September 12 at 7:30 PM the Susquehanna Folk Music Society presents guitarist and songwriter Rob Kronen who will perform a virtual concert.

Rob Kronen took top honors at the 2020 Susquehanna Folk Music Society Emerging Artist Showcase in early August. He wowed the judges with his soulful voice, groovin’ blues guitar, and songwriting chops. He wowed the watchers too, as the runaway favorite in the showcase audience poll.

Rob, who hails from Berks County, PA, describes himself as a singer-songwriter and guitarist. He has self-released one full-length album, titled Neanderthal (Blue), as well as an EP, titled American Flood: Part 1. He has a passion for incorporating folk melodies into innovative sonic landscapes, as well as learning and teaching the techniques of hill country blues and Delta-style slide guitar.

A suggested donation of $15 ($20 at the Supporter Level) is requested, although viewers may pay what they can. Registered audience members will receive a confirmation email with an access link to view this performance live.  Access is available for one device at a time and cannot be shared.

Tickets are available at https://sfms.ticketspice.com/rob-kronen

For more information, visit the Susquehanna Folk Music Society website at www.sfmsfolk.org or https://www.facebook.com/RobKronenMusic/

We had a chance to learn more about Rob’s background, influences, and projects during a recent Zoom interview.

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FOLKMAMA: Congratulations on your 2020 Emerging Artists Showcase win! Your set was so impressive that we just had to get you back for a full-length concert!

I’m curious about your musical background and whose playing has most interested you.

ROB: I was around 12 or 13 when I got a guitar. At the time I was listening to what is now known as grunge music. I wanted to emulate those guys but then I started playing in high school with two friends of mine and stated writing original music, Jam Band kind of stuff.

And then I kept going during college, got my music degree [SUNY Oswego], and kept writing there. After college, I began writing even more. I’ve just been doing that since.

As far as inspirations it’s been a mixed bag. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of blues artists. Robert Johnson, Furry Lewis. Then I started going on to Mississippi Fred McDowell and later to Arnold Burnside and Junior Kimbrough.

All these guys have been on shuffle throughout the quarantine.

Lyrically, it could be anything. I’ve been taking some inspiration lately from some science writings, mostly climate change stuff which ties into the American Flood project that I’m working on. But beyond that, whatever piques my interest. I like discovering little interesting factoids that I can fit into my songs.

FOLK MAMA: Tell me about your interest in the blues.

ROB: One of the projects I’m going to try to do before the end of the year is taking a lot of the old blues songs that I’ve been listening to a reworking the lyrics about COVID. I’m planning to play some of these on Saturday night.

I take inspiration from the music itself, but also this feeling that this music has to come out. It was sort of popular then it faded, got popular again. There are people that are always doing it because they have to do it.

The time period is interesting. You get the early blues and then the late 20s and the 30s and you get all these classic recordings. The first wave of recorded blues. And then it kind of tappers off, because of the depression and World War Two. But then you find them again —Leadbelly comes back and Big Bill Broonzy comes back and in the early 60s you get to rediscover all these people.

As someone who is trying to make it as an artist, you take solace at different points of their lives and you say ‘they tried’ and then due to circumstances beyond their control they couldn’t try anymore and 30 years later they get to try again. I mean, Furry Lewis was a street sweeper in Memphis, and then in his 70s he played with the Rolling Stones!

It’s interesting to say in the current climate “What am I doing with this? Why is this appealing in this way? What kind of credit do I owe?” And I don’t know quite honestly. It’s the music that is speaking to me at this moment.

FOLKMAMA: And how has your interest in climate change found its way into your music?

ROB: I read a bunch of science books. One of them was called Eaarth [Bill McKibben] and it had a line about ‘Beaches in Memphis’ Like if all the ice in the world would melt, there would be beaches in Memphis. The imagery of that has stuck with me.

There is a line in one of my songs Jacob about shark attacks on Memphis Beach which doesn’t make sense if you think about it, but in the context of climate change it does. It’s been interesting for me to write on a theme—something as broad as a flood and to write various viewpoints from it. You get a lot of religious themes, and especially around the time of the late 20s and the early 30s was the great Mississippi River flood. So you get a lot of flood songs that are blues songs. I’m just now discovering them.

I started writing these songs in 2013 and am now thinking about the wildfires in California, Climate Change seems so much more real.

It’s still an interesting concept to me and I tend to write about big concepts. My goal is –as it stands now its 3 records and I’m working on the 2nd. The first one was called American Flood Part 1 and it’s a five-song EP (https://robkronen.bandcamp.com/releases) and it was the first attempt of exploring this theme.

FOLKMAMA: How did you find out about the Emerging Artists Showcase?

I went to the Susquehanna Folk Festival last year to see Dom Flemons. As we were walking around we saw about the showcase and my wife said “You should do that.” And I said, “I don’t know, they’re pretty good” But when the e-mail came out about the Virtual showcase, I decided to enter.

FOLKMAMA: So what are you planning for the Saturday night concert?

ROB: I’m excited. I’m going to be playing an electric guitar. Some old blues covers. I always kind of fall back on the guitar because I got a 10 year head start vs. singing.

So I have an electric setup that I kind of enjoy.  A little bit more atmosphere on guitar, Bill Pursell or some of the other advent guard musicians coupled with old blues songs. I like it. We’ll see how it goes.

 

 

 

 

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