2018 Festival Artists
A boogie woogie and blues piano festival is incomplete without Bob Seeley, whose artistry includes ragtime, Harlem stride, blues and boogie woogie. A Bloomington Boogies favorite who performs around the world, Seeley is "a force of nature - the best boogie woogie player on the planet," according to Dick Hyman. Possibly the greatest living proponent of boogie woogie and a stride piano master, Seeley's greatest influence was Meade Lux Lewis, a giant of boogie woogie and personal friend. Bob first met the maestro in Detroit in the 1940s, and a longstanding friendship developed which greatly influenced Seeley. He also played piano with Art Tatum, who reportedly was duly impressed. Eubie Blake was among Seeley's circle of friends, and he worked as accompanist to Sippie Wallace. He has played Carnegie Hall several times and continues to perform at major venues throughout Europe.
In his book entitled A Left Hand Like God: A History of Boogie-Woogie Piano, author Peter Silvester wrote of Seeley "His solos are notable for their coherence and logical progression, which propels them to a satisfying climax. Of all the contemporary pianists, Seeley reproduces the sound and spirit of Meade Lux Lewis with the most conviction and sometimes even surpasses the master".
At 89 years young, Bob is a phenomenal pianist and one of the greatest boogie woogie players ever.
C. J. Chenier
The son of "King of Zydeco" Clifton Chenier, multi-instrumentalist C. J. Chenier is a Creole born and raised in an indigenous American culture who delivers soulful vocals and accordion. His first instrument was sax, which he began playing with his father's Red Hot Louisiana Band in the late 1970s. C. J. began playing accordion soon after, and as his father's health declined in the 1980s, C. J.'s role as accordionist increased. Upon Clifton's death in 1987, C. J. became the leader of the Red Hot Louisiana Band, famous for its Zydeco, a blend of cajun and creole music with a healthy dose of blues and R & B. C.J. is widely regarded as one of Zydeco’s best singers, musicians and live performers.
C. J. has recorded and toured with Paul Simon and many others, taking Zydeco around the world, receiving numerous awards, and "carrying the tradition forward with reverence and some daring" (Houston Chronicle). C.J.’s music has always embraced the traditions of his famous father, but he continues to push the music to new levels.
Everywhere he plays C. J. sees "shoes flying off...You can’t come to my show and stay unhappy all night long. You’re going to break a smile and stomp your foot before too long. This is happy music, and it makes you dance.” C. J has performed at many large festivals, and loves playing in Bloomington. We welcome him back to his second Bloomington Boogies!
Grammy nominated Judy Carmichael is a leading interpreter of stride piano and swing. Count Basie nicknamed her "Stride" because of her command of this technically demanding style. A native of California, Judy moved to New York in the 1980s and maintains a concert schedule around the world. She toured for the U.S. Information Agency in India, Portugal, Brazil and Singapore, and in 1992 she was sponsored by the U.S. Government to tour China. Judy has played in venues from Carnegie Hall, to the Guggenheim Museum in Venice, to programs with Joel Grey, Michael Feinstein, Steve Ross and the Smothers Brothers. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a major grant to present early jazz greats on film and to discuss the history and development of jazz piano with college students across the country.
Carmichael’s Grammy-nominated recording, Two Handed Stride, teamed her with four jazz giants ofrom the Count Basie Orchestra: Red Callendar, Harold Jones, Freddie Green and Marshall Royal. Along with her wonderful recordings, Judy authored the book, Swinger! A Jazz Girl's Adventures from Hollywood to Harlem.
Judy will perform in the Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center Auditorium on Sunday, Aug. 12. She will also lead a free piano workshop and master class for advanced pianists on Monday, Aug. 13, location to be announced, on ragtime, illustrating what it is and how it grew into stride and influenced later styles.
We are thrilled to have Judy Carmichael at this year's Bloomington Boogies!
Daryl Davis, known for his energetic boogie woogie, earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Howard University, where he was a member of the University Choir and Jazz Vocal Ensemble. Davis was mentored by legendary pianists Pinetop Perkins and Johnnie Johnson, has played with Chuck Berry, B. B. King, Bruce Hornsby, Elvis Presley's Jordanaires, and President Bill Clinton, among others, and leads The Daryl Davis Band.
Daryl is also a lecturer, author, actor, and Civil Rights activist. He has been involved in successful efforts to improve race relations. These efforts, which have been documented by CBS, NBC, CNN, The Washington Post, NPR and other media outlets, have included engaging with members of the Ku Klux Klan. Davis summed up his reasoning for doing so by saying "Establish dialogue. When two enemies are talking, they're not fighting." His book, Klan-Destine Relationships, is a powerful and personal report of his encounters with klan members.
Bloomington is fortunate to present Daryl Davis at the 2018 Bloomington Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano Festival!
"Boss of the Boogie" Rob Rio plays the boogie woogie and jump blues of the 1940s and 50s with a virtuosity and elan that has excited audiences around the world for over 35 years. Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, Rob now resides in Los Angeles, where he writes, records and performs at festivals, events and clubs as a soloist or with his 5-piece band, The Revolvers.
Rob Rio's main influences include Otis Spann, Memphis Slim, Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, Jimmy Yancey, and Roosevelt Sykes. He has appeared with blues greats Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Charles Brown, James Cotton, Joe Cocker and more, and he has recorded with Mick Jagger, Canned Heat, Billy Boy Arnold, William Clarke, and Coco Montoya, among others.
Rob's latest recording is Rob Rio - Live in Anaheim, recorded in May of 2017. Inducted into the Boogie Woogie Hall of Fame in 2008, Rob's first appearance in Bloomington was at the 2017 festival. We welcome Rob Rio back for his second Bloomington Boogies!
Nicknamed "Little Boogaloo" by mentor Boogaloo Ames, Eden Brent is much more than her signature boogie-woogie piano and juke-joint blues holler. She is a celebrated songwriter, dynamic performer, and winner of three Blues Music Awards. Her most recent album, Jigsaw Heart, was nominated for Acoustic Album of the Year, continuing a streak of nominations for her last three albums.
Born in the heart of the Mississippi Delta in Greenville, Eden was surrounded by music and learned her first notes at age three. "Grandma could read and play beautifully," Eden explains. "She taught me Middle C and my first simple tunes. I had an ear for music and was pecking out my brother’s recital piece before I was old enough to go to school.” Piano lessons were part of her education from primary school through graduation from the University of North Texas. Eden is featured in three documentary films: Boogaloo & Eden: Sustaining the Sound; Forty Days in the Delta; and 180 Degrees: Changing Lives in the Mississippi Delta. She has been featured on "NPR Weekend Edition," "House of Blues Radio Hour" and "American Routes". Her music delights critics and live audiences alike.
A frequent piano bar host on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Eden has been a special guest on the American Queen Steamboat, showcasing her Mississippi River heritage. She has released four solo albums and is currently on Yellow Dog Records. In addition to her solo albums, Eden recorded The Brent Sisters Party Dress with sisters Jessica and Bronwynne, a collection of songs written by their late mother, Carole Brent.
We welcome Eden Brent to her first Bloomington Boogies!
Alfred "Uganda" Roberts
Alfred "Uganda" Roberts, master conguero from New Orleans, has performed and recorded with some of the most iconic New Orleans rhythm and blues pianists, including Professor Longhair and Dr. John. Roberts was house percussionist in Allen Toussaint's Sea Saint Studios, where he played on recordings such as The Meters' "Afrika" and "Hey Pocky Way," on Toussaint's Life, Love, and Faith (1972), and on The Wild Magnolias (1974). He is featured on recordings by Dr. John, including Goin' Back to New Orleans (1992) and Dis, Dat, or D’udda (2004), and by Craig Brenner, including Play It Again, Professor! (1995), Man At The Piano (1997), and Live At the Old Mint: Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano (2014).
Uganda continues to perform frequently, including with the Sullivan Dabney and Muzique Jazz Band in New Orleans schools, helping educate students on New Orleans music, and with John Mooney, Tom Worrell, JoJo Hermann and others. Roberts appeared and performed as himself on the television series, Treme.
We welcome Uganda Roberts back to Bloomington for his second Bloomington Boogies!
New Orleans native Cynthia Girtley, who grew up on the west bank of the Mississippi River in Algiers, has been singing gospel since age four. Coming from a family with strong spiritual beliefs and rich musical background, Girtley’s style of gospel singing and piano/organ playing was influenced by listening to recordings of Mahalia Jackson accompanied by Ms. Mildred Falls.
Girtley attended Xavier University on a music scholarship, continuing to sing, play piano/organ and direct church choirs throughout New Orleans. After moving to Washington, DC, she performed and served as Minister of Music in churches throughout DC, Maryland and Virginia. Girtley has performed in Europe and toured Brazil. She has appeared at major festivals and venues, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Cathedral, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and Bourbon Street Festival in Brazil, and she performed at the 2013 Super Bowl Celebration. She has also performed and recorded with jazz historian and clarinetist Dr. Michael White.
In May of 2011, in honor of the great gospel singer, Girtley produced and released her debut CD, New Orleans Tribute to Mahalia Jackson. The following year Cynthia released another CD, It’s In My Heart. While contemporary, hip hop, gospel rap, and urban gospel seem more prevalent today, Girtley is continuing the style of pioneers Thomas Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, and Mildred Falls by performing traditional gospel music.
Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues
Upright Records recording artists Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues met in 1981, married in 1983, and have been a nonstop creative team ever since. Ohio natives based in St. Petersburg, FL, this piano/guitar duo captivates audiences with classic, contemporary and original blues. Pianist/singer Liz began as a soloist in 1975. Undaunted by being born minus two fingers on each hand, Liz developed a powerful piano style. She also plays trombone and was an endorsee for Hohner harmonicas from 1998 - 2011. Guitarist/vocalist Paul “Dr. Blues” Shambarger began his career as a drummer, adding guitar and slide dobro in the 1990s.
Inducted into the Boogie Woogie Piano Hall of Fame in Cincinnati in 2008, Liz & Doc founded the St. Pete Blues Allstars in 2009; and since 2009 the duo has hosted and organized the annual Boogie Woogie/Blues Piano Stomp at the Palladium Theatre in St. Pete. The duo has appeared with John Hammond, Savoy Brown, Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women, Bob Margolin, Pinetop Perkins, Marcia Ball and Leon Russell.
Cincinnati's Ricky Nye is no stranger to Bloomington Boogies, or to blues and boogie woogie festival around the world. Bitten by the music bug at age five. Ricky began performing at age 12 with his family’s band, and his musical journeys on piano, organ and accordion have taken him through jazz, funk, rock & roll, country, zydeco, New Orleans piano, boogie woogie and blues. In his twenties and thirties, Ricky established working relationships and friendships with Cincinnati blues icons H-Bomb Ferguson, Big Joe Duskin and Pigmeat Jarrett. A winner of numerous awards, since 1996 Ricky has been a regular performer on the Arches Boogie Stage at the Cincy Blues Fest, where he was inducted into the Boogie Woogie Hall of Fame in 2013.
Ricky regularly performs around the world with Fabrice Eulry (Paris), Lluis Coloma (Barcelona), Chris Conz (Switzerland), Renaud Patigny (Brussels), Martijn Schok (Netherlands); Julian Phillips (U.K.), Silvan Zingg (Switzerland), and Jean-Paul Amouroux (Paris), all of whom have hosted Ricky at festivals and on touring dates. Since 1998, Ricky has produced the annual Blues & Boogie Piano Summit in Cincinnati, from which CDs have been released from 1999-2010.
We welcome Ricky Nye back to Bloomington Boogies!
Cassidy Gephart is a 22-year-old musician living in Nashville, TN, where she studied piano and commercial music at Belmont University, graduating in May, 2017. Her technique and classical training are evident in her playing, which includes ragtime, boogie woogie, jazz and neo-soul. Cassidy is also a singer/songwriter with her own band, Evergreen.
Cassidy will perform on the Arts Plaza outside the Ivy Tech Waldron, time to be announced. She will also lead a free workshop for beginning pianists on blues and boogie woogie piano on Monday, Aug. 13, location to be announced.
We welcome Cassidy to her second Bloomington Boogies!
Piano-playing phenomenon Henri Herbert is one of the best up-and-coming boogie woogie men in the world. The former pianist of The Jim Jones Revue now blazes his own trail, racking up an incredible 11 million YouTube hits on the way. Following tours of the UK, USA, Canada, Holland, Spain and France, showcases at SXSW, two critically acclaimed EPs, and live sessions on BBC Radio 6 Music, Herbert has firmly establishing himself as one to watch.
Born in France and raised in the UK, at an early age Henri was drawn to records made by piano-pounding pioneers Jerry Lee Lewis and Albert Ammons. Henri spent many days and nights studying their styles, developing what he calls “Supercharged Boogie”. He cut his musical teeth performing throughout Europe before being invited to join the mighty Jim Jones Revue in 2011, co-writing and recording songs on their album, The Savage Heart. After several world tours, The Jim Jones Revue disbanded in 2014, and Henri decided to focus on his own band and writing for his debut album.
We welcome Henri Herbert to Bloomington Boogies 2018!
Festival organizer Craig Brenner explores the jazzy side of blues and boogie woogie in his compositions, recordings, and performances. Leader of Craig & The Crawdads and a member of The Ragin' Texans, Craig has studied blues and boogie woogie with Bob Seeley and the late Big Joe Duskin. Craig writes, arranges and records solo and group jazz, blues and boogie woogie. His most recent recording, Live At The Old Mint: Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano, was recorded live in New Orleans and features Alfred "Uganda" Roberts on congas and Lori Brenner on rub board. A recipient of multiple Indiana Arts Commission grants, beginning in 2016 Craig has presented summer concerts in many Indiana state parks and historic sites. He began the Bloomington Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano Festival in 2015 after performing at the 2014 Festival de Boogie Woogie in Laroquebrou, France.
Ross E. Martinie Eiler with Joe Donnelly and John Valdez
Ross E. Martinie Eiler often wears gloves when he plays because he gives it all he's got! A sometime Jerry Lee Lewis impersonator, Ross often plays blues, boogie woogie and rock' n' roll with his trio, Martinie's Boogie Three. Co-founder of the Bloomington Catholic Worker, Ross is a member of the Mennonite Fellowship of Bloomington, a husband, father, environmental activist, and beekeeper. He has appeared before at Bloomington Boogies and is back by popular demand. He will perform with Joe Donnelly/sax and John Valdez/drums on the Arts Plaza outside the Ivy Tech Waldron.
Joe Donnelly is a multi-instrumentalist who performs with his group, Joe Donnelly and the Indulgences, with Craig & The Crawdads, and others. Currently teaching at Jackson Creek Middle School, Joe recently wrote and conducted Washboard Blues: The Bloomington Youth of Hoagy Carmichael, featuring a 30-piece orchestra, "hot jazz" band and vocals.
John Valdez has played for Mary Wilson of the Supremes and other top-notch artists. John studied Jazz Performance at IU’s Jacobs School of Music with Steve Houghton and David Baker. He currently plays in over a dozen bands.
Michele Brentano with Zain Mackey and Lee VanBuskirk
Michele Brentano, vocalist Zain Mackey and guitarist Lee VanBuskirk - known as Wake Up Call - have played together in one group or another since 2004. Michele is also a member of the O2R Blues Band, Cliff and the Guardrails, Forest Gras Blues Band, and Swingsmiths. The ensemble will perform on the Arts Plaza outside the Ivy Tech Waldron.
Fort Wayne's Garrett Spoelhof was recently honored by the Indiana State School Music Association for his performances in the Best Rhythm Section at the 2018 State Instrumental Jazz Finals. Along with being a member of the Fort Wayne North Side High School Honor Band, Garrett writes and records his own music. He has been studying jazz, blues and boogie woogie for a number of years, and is coming to the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music this fall to study jazz piano and sound engineering.
We welcome Garrett to his first Bloomington Boogies!
New England native Veronica Lewis, age 14, is an emerging blues talent who really knows how to boogie woogie. Her piano playing is described as having “the power of a thunderstorm in the Delta.” Veronica performs as a soloist, showcasing her piano chops and vocals in the style of her idols Katie Webster, Marcia Ball, Otis Spann and Meade Lux Lewis. Veronica writes juke joint songs that get audiences stompin’ and feeling good! She is planning her first studio album for release later this year. Veronica performs in festivals throughout New England and beyond. She won the Granite State Youth Blues Challenge in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, and performed at the 32nd, 33rd & 34th International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
Guitarist/leader of The Gordon Bonham Blues Band, co-founder of The Ragin' Texans, and member of Craig & The Crawdads, Gordon has played with Pinetop Perkins, notably with Robert Lockwood, Jr., at the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Gordon played for years with blues mandolin man “Yank” Rachell and with Chicago pianist Jimmy Walker. Gordon has worked as band leader with Bo Diddley and rang in the 2000 New Year at the Slippery Noodle Inn with "Blues Brother" Matt “Guitar” Murphy. A Bloomington Boogies rhythm section regular who can lay back and comp or cut loose and solo with abandon on cue, Gordon's guitar playing is a bonus for listeners, dancers and musicians!
Multi-instrumentalist Joe Donnelly has taught music in schools while playing sax professionally in Bloomington, Indianapolis, and Chicago for over 20 years. He performs with his group, Joe Donnelly and the Indulgences, with Craig & The Crawdads, The Klezmorchestra, and others. Currently teaching at Jackson Creek Middle School, Joe recently wrote and conducted the premier of Washboard Blues: The Bloomington Youth of Hoagy Carmichael, featuring a 30-piece orchestra, "hot jazz" band and vocals. A recipient of a Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship, Joe recently attended a film-scoring workshop at New York University and subsequently created, recorded and performed an original film score with a 20-piece orchestra. Joe's soulful baritone and tenor harken back to juke joints and barrelhouses of old!
Dan Hostetler has a long history of drumming with some of the biggest names in blues and New Orleans R & B. Having performed annually with the late guitarist Earl King, Dan has spent time in The Butanes, Craig & The Crawdads, and The Ragin' Texans, and he has toured and performed with the Dallas Brass, Boston Brass and other ensembles. An in-demand percussion clinician and drum-line instructor, Dan is at home playing blues, jazz, pop and classical music. We welcome Dan, a mainstay of our rhythm section!
Bassist, educator, composer and bandleader Ron Kadish has been a staple of the Bloomington music scene since 1993, having played with everyone from the Jerusalem Symphony to John Mellencamp. Since 2010, Ron has performed nationally with Robert Shaw and The Lonely Street Band. Lonely Street Productions presents nostalgic acts featuring music of Elvis, Johnny Cash, The Rat Pack and more. A versatile bassist who is comfortable and fluid in many styles, Ron is not content to merely play bass - he is also Lonely Street's Tour Manager.
C. J. Chenier
Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne
Bill Sims, Jr.
Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues
Ross E. Martinie Eiler
Michele Brentano with Zain Mackey & Lee VanBuskirk
Barbara Leininger, Matt Brand, Fiona Schlegal, and MotionArts Dance Academy dancers were featured at the festival in 2017.
The following musical artists performed in 2016:
Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes
Bill Sims, Jr.
Mark Braun, aka Mr. B
Alfred "Uganda" Roberts
Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues
The following musical artists performed in 2015:
Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes
Carl Sonny Leyland
Bill Sims, Jr.
Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues
Michele Brentano with Zain Mackey and Lee VanBuskirk
Ross E. Martinie Eiler with John Valdez
Booking Information for Performers
If you are interested in performing at the Bloomington Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano Festival, please note:
1. We book solo piano players who play blues and boogie woogie piano. We also book an occasional accordionist and/or percussionist. But we do not book bands.
2. To contact us, please use the Contact form. Thank you!