Q&A with Cletus and Lori
To hear their music go to: www.cdbaby.com/cd/cletuslori
We are delighted that local favorites Cletus Kennelly and Lori Kelley are returning this year for another TPFF gig. With beautiful vocal harmonies blending seamlessly with graceful guitar playing, it’s no surprise that they have been named Washington Area Music Award (WAMMIE) winners a dozen times. In this Q&A, Cletus and Lori talk about what fans can expect at the Grove Stage performance at 4 p.m.
Question: Do you have any idea how many times you’ve performed at the Folk Festival?
Cletus: I performed solo a couple of times before I met Lori. Since then, I would guess this will be our fifth time as a duo.
Question: What’s your favorite aspect of performing at the Folk Festival, or your favorite moment?
Cletus: We love many aspects of the festival. One of the best things is that we get to see so many of our musician friends whose paths we don’t cross at other gigs. The wide range of genres represented allows us to see our friends who play music in Klezmer, Bluegrass, Children’s, World, Blues, etc. Also, there’s always a great spirit at the festival. The fact that so many people volunteer their time and talent to present the festival free of charge is remarkable.
Lori: I really appreciate how the DC area folk community, more than other music genres, works hard to present opportunities for artists to perform.
Question: You will be performing outdoors at our Grove Stage. How is that different from a coffee house or concert venue?
Cletus: It’s not too different from coffeehouse or concert venues in that it’s a listening audience. People don’t generally come to the Grove Stage to dance or talk; they come to listen to songs by songwriters. It’s a very affirming place to play. And I’ve always loved music outdoors, both as a listener and a performer.
Question: Your music is beautiful, but you sing about serious things that aren’t always pleasant. How do you blend social activism and music?
Cletus: I’ve always loved music that makes me feel something, that moves me in some way. So when I write, I often end up writing about various aspects of the human condition. There are certainly people who like only music about lighthearted subjects. But I think lots of people, especially people who like acoustic music, want to be moved by songs, they want to feel something. Songs I write about heavy aspects of the human condition are not meant to make the listener feel depressed; they’re meant to make the listener feel understood, and to show how we’re all in this life together.
Question: You and Lori Kelley are established as solo performers. What’s different when you sing together?
Cletus: The vocal harmony, first and foremost. For various reasons, our voices seem to work well together. Part of that is because we work hard on the harmonies, part is just nature. We also have more stage banter when we play together. Lori and I have different styles that seem to work well together. Our solo shows probably bring out our individual styles more than our duo shows.
Question: Where can people find out more about you?