Cobbler John doesn't perform his blend of folk covers on stage very often anymore, but if you give him a microphone, an audience and some lights - and if he knows what he wants to do - he'll shine.
The Ohio River Museum is banking on it. At 7 p.m. Saturday, John and fellow musicians Todd Burge and John Gifford will play a free acoustic concert to benefit the river museum and Campus Martius Museum.
"I've had some health problems and there was a coffee house I was going to do and I had my teeth extracted and I hadn't gotten my teeth yet, so I wasn't getting on stage till I had my teeth," said John Bolen, 62, also known as Cobbler John. "But I'm excited about (Saturday). I think it'll be a nice thing. I'm doing it for the museum and just to entertain folks."
Photo submitted by Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society
Cobbler John performs a song. Cobbler John is one of three artists slated to perform Saturday at the first ever “Jammin’ on the River,” a concert to benefit local museums.
Despite being the man responsible for booking two of the prominent blues festivals in Marietta, John's songs are more folk-oriented, with a focus on American roots music.
"I know my way around the blues," said John, who's also the president of the Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society, "but I'm just not a blues performer."
Accompanied with a six- and 12-string acoustic guitar, John will play songs with an historical bent, often stopping to tell the stories behind each of the songs.
If you go
What: Jammin' on the River, a concert featuring Cobbler John, John Gifford and Todd Burge
Why: To benefit the Ohio River and Campus Martius museums
Where: Outside the Ohio River Museum, 601 Front St., Marietta
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
How much: Free
Todd Burge is perhaps the most well known of the three musicians and he'll play his typical repertoire of original singer-songwriter tunes.
A full-time musician for more than 20 years, Burge has performed all over the East Coast and often performs as a guest on NPR's Mountain Stage. Additionally, Burge hosts his own radio show on Z-106 and has six albums to his credit.
John Gifford, meanwhile, will perform acoustic blues music. Gifford has been performing since the age of 13 and the Saturday show will be his first solo appearance in Marietta, where he has played many times with bands, including The Blues Cannibals.
Bill Reynolds, an historian with Campus Martius Museum, came up with the idea for the concert as a way to give back to the community for supporting the museums.
"We'll pass the bucket and ask for some donations to help out," Reynolds said, "but we're doing this to offer something back to the community from the museums for the great community support we've had."
With museums increasingly receiving less public funding, Reynolds said they're having to rely more and more on community donations.
"We hear about the library funding being pretty sever and next year's state allocation funding will be awful," he said. "I don't know how it affects us because we're kind of on our own hook. Most museums depend on the local community to keep open and this is one way we're trying to make it work."
In addition to holding the concert, Jammin' on the River, the Ohio River Museum will be open from 6:30-9 p.m. at a discounted rate.