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2018 Bloomington Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano Festival

The Bloomington Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano Festival - known as Bloomington Boogies - features acclaimed piano players, dancers, food and beverages. With free and ticketed performances at multiple venues and free educational components, the 2016 festival was voted one of the top 10 festivals in Indiana! 

The festival presents acclaimed piano players in ticketed and free performances and free educational programs so that young people and young pianists are exposed to world-class artists in Bloomington, Indiana.

The next festival will be Aug. 11 - 13, 2018!  Visit the festival website for more information!

3rd Annual Bloomington Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano Festival

The 3rd annual Bloomington Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano Festival was Sunday, Aug. 13 and Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, with widely acclaimed blues and boogie woogie pianists from around the world!  It was our best festival yet, according to reports from those who attended.  The festival included the following:

•    Ticketed concerts in the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Aug. 13, featuring fantastic musicians and dancers; we gave 20 tickets to Fairview Elementary students
•    Free performances on the Arts Plaza outside the Waldron, with food and beverages available from five vendors
•    Informal free performances “after hours” at Malibu Grill on the Square, hosted by Austrian pianist Katharina Alber
•    Free concerts at Fairview and Templeton Elementary Schools on Aug. 14
•    Free piano workshops after school on Aug. 14 at both Fairview and Templeton

Guest musicians in 2017 included Bob Seeley, C. J. Chenier, Rob Rio, Mitch Woods, Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, Josh Paxton, Bill Sims, Jr., Katharina Alber, Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues, Cassidy Gephart and more. They were tremendous! Many of them play regularly around the world, and we are thrilled to have presented them.

Photos and videos are at https://bloomingtonboogies.com/media. We are receiving feedback from those who attended at https://bloomingtonboogies.com/feedback.
  
We are now working on 2018! We received a 2018 Tourism Grant from Visit Bloomington to advertise outside Bloomington; and we received a Zone Arts Grant from the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association to help present educational activities.  We will present a diverse group of great artists in ticketed and free performances for the public and continue our free educational offerings. Sponsorship opportunities are available at https://bloomingtonboogies.com/become-a-sponsor.

2017 Major Festival Sponsors included VisitBloomington, Ivy Tech Community College, Carmin Parker P.C., Maple Grove Farms, LP, and Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association. Festival Underwriters included Classic Touch Limousine Service, Tim and Cheri DeBruicker, Becky Hrisomalos, Robert Kissel’s Foundation, Mother Bear’s Pizza, Nick’s English Hut, Stumpner’s Building Services, Inc., The Ryder, TravelIN Magazine, Trojan Horse Restaurant & Tavern, and The Uptown Café. Additional Supporters included Bob Arnove, Dr. Steven I. Ball, Michele Brentano, Bloom Magazine, Bill C. Brown Associates, David Carter, CFC Properties, Haldan Cohn & Phyllis Lugger, Curry Auto Center, DATS on Grant, Fourwinds Lakeside Inn & Marina, Chris Gaal & Dr. Beth Florini, Griffin Realty, Ken Grooms & Zain Mackey, Val Haughton & Frank Motley, Sophia Hauserman, David Hummons, Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, IU Credit Union, John & Julie Lawson, Limestone BBQ & More Catering, MainSource Bank, Malibu Grill on the Square, Ed Marshall, MeadowCreek Luxury Homes, Melody Music Shop, David & Louise Michaelis, Millican Realty, MPI Solar, Tanya Mitchell-Yeager, Newhouse Construction, Oliver Winery, Stephen Percy, Pi Kappa Alpha – Delta Delta Chapter, Kevin Robling & Jenny Stephens, Rudolph Wm. Savich Attorney at Law, Phil & Linda Stafford, Rob Stone & Karen Green Stone, Story Insights, Vance Music Center, Martha Wainscott, Marcy & Michael Wenzler, WFHB, WFIU, Mark Wiedenmayer, Gary Wittlich, World Wide Automotive Service, Rod Young, and Charlotte Zietlow.

Bloomington Boogies received a 2017 VisitBloomington Tourism Grant and a Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association Zone Arts Grant.

Craig Awarded 2018 "Arts in the Parks and Historic Sites" Grant

Craig received a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission for Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2018, for the project "Craig Presents Music in Indiana State Parks and Historic Sites". The grant funds five performances in 2018, where Craig will explore the jazzy side of blues, boogie woogie and other music, focusing on Indiana composers and musicians. Craig will bring percussion instruments and invite young people to play along at each location. Performances will include Craig and members of Craig & The Crawdads. These activities are supported by the Indiana Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. For dates and times, see the calendar.

The Indiana Arts Commission is providing funding for more than 170 activities at Indiana's State Parks and Historic Sites in 2018.  See all 2018 Arts in the Parks & Historic Sites activities.

If you attend any of Craig's 2018 "Arts in the Parks and Historic Sites" concerts, scroll down to the "Arts in the Park and Historic Sites Survey Form" below and submit your comments and suggestions!

Craig received similar grants from the Indiana Arts Commission in 2016 and 2017. During 2016, performances were at Brown County, Clifty Falls and Spring Mill State Parks, Paynetown at Monroe Lake, and Fourwinds Lakeside Inn & Marina; during 2017, performances were at Brown County, Clifty Falls and Spring Mill State Parks, Paynetown at Monroe Lake, and T. C. Steele State Historic Site. 


    
       





 

Photo at left is from the 2018 performance at Clifty Falls State Park

 

 

 

 

 

Photos immediately below are from 2017 grant-funded performances at Brown County (left) and Clifty Falls State Parks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos below are from 2016 Arts in the Parks performances at Paynetown at Monroe Lake. 

Click here to see additional photos on the Media page.
             

Arts in the Parks and Historic Sites Survey - Please complete and submit if you attend an Arts in the Parks & Historic Sites concert!

Bloomington Boogies 2016 Voted into Top 10 Festivals in Indiana!

Bloomington Boogies: The Bloomington Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano Festival, the annual festival in Bloomington, IN, featuring outstanding blues and boogie woogie piano players, dancers, food and beverages, takes place at several venues and has multiple educational components. The first festival, held in August, 2015, featured Bob Seeley, Marcia Ball, Carl Sonny Leyland, Sunpie Barnes, Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues, and Craig, a rhythm section and professional swing dancers. See photos and videos from the first Bloomington Boogies.  

The second festival, Aug. 14 & 15, 2016, featured Seeley, Barnes, Brenner, Henry Butler, Bill Sims, Jr., Mr. B, Cynthia Girtley, Ricky Nye and others, with ticketed performances on Aug. 14 at the Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center and informal performances that evening - "Bloomington Boogies After Hours" - at Malibu Grill on the Square and GRAZIE! Italiano, concluding Aug. 15 with a concert attended by 550 students, faculty and staff at Templeton Elementary and a free piano workshop. 

Go to the festival website for photos, videos and more!  

Bloomington Boogies 2016 was voted one of the top 10 festivals in Indiana!  

6th Annual Indy Winter Blues Fest

Craig returned to the 6th annual Indy Winter Blues Fest on Feb. 12, 2016, at Birdy's Bar & Grill, Indianapolis, IN. Craig played solo blues and boogie woogie piano. Andra Faye & Scott Ballantine, Mike Milligan & Steam Shovel, and Dwight Edwards Band also performed.  

More information about the Indy Winter Blues Fest on Facebook.

Craig Awarded 3rd Individual Artist Grant from Indiana Arts Commission

Craig received his third Individual Artist Program (IAP) grant from the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) for fiscal year 2016 for his project, "Bloomington Boogies: The Bloomington Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano Festival." The grant helped Craig to produce the festival, which took place on Aug. 9, 2015. This activity was made possible, in part, with support from the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.  Read about all the individual artists and projects receiving FY 2016 IAP grants. 

Craig received his second IAP grant for fiscal year 2012 for his project, "High School Jazz Musicians Pay Tribute to New Orleans, the Birthplace of Jazz."  The grant enabled him to arrange his composition "Homage to New Orleans" for performance by students in Bloomington High School South's Jazz Band, and record the students' concert performance of the piece using equipment and software purchased with grant funds. The music was also made available for other school bands.

 
BHSS Band Director Robert Dubinski directed the performance by the BHSS Jazz Band in Carmichael Auditorium at Bloomington High School South.  Scroll down to view photos of the band rehearsing and performing "Homage to New Orleans."  Watch a video of the performance.  You can also watch a video with introductory comments by Band Director Robert Dubinsky.

This activity was made possible, in part, with support from the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Craig Plays "Piano Hour" at Old U.S. Mint

Craig explored the jazzy side of blues and boogie woogie on April 20, 2016, at the Old U.S. Mint in New Orleans, in a concert presented by the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. Craig's performances there in 2012 and 2013 were recorded by engineer Danny Kadar and are available on the CD Live At The Old Mint: Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano, with "Uganda" Roberts on congas and Lori Brenner on rubboard.  Roberts, a native of New Orleans, has performed and recorded with many New Orleans greats, including Professor Longhair, Dr. John, the Meters, the Wild Magnolias, Willie Tee, John Mooney, and others. In 2005 he received the Sidney Bechet Award for Innovation presented by the New Orleans International Music Colloquium. Lori is lead vocalist on Live to Love by Craig Brenner & The Crawdads, and also plays accordion and percussion with the band and in a duo with Craig. 

Read a review of Live At The Old Mint: Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano written by Rex Bartholomew in the July 27, 2014 issues of Blues Blast.

Craig and Uganda Roberts at the Old U.S. Mint.
             Lori and Uganda rehearse for a performance at the Jazz National Park.

Older News

Grant Street Festival Now B'Town Jazz Festival 

The B'Town Jazz Festival, formerly known as the Grant Street Jazz Festival, takes place annually in downtown Bloomington. The free festival, presented by B'Town Jazz, has showcased some of the musical talent in Bloomington, including outstanding high school, college, and professional musicians.  Craig played in each of the first four annual festivals, most recently with Joe Donnelly (sax) in August, 2015. Other performers have included Jamey Aebersold, Wayne Wallace, Mayo Jazz, Paul Kirk and Dave Bruker (bass/guitar duo), Monika Herzig, Janiece Jaffe, Jazz Fables, Postmodern Jazz Quartet, Café Cubano, the Matt Shugert Jazz Quartet, Peter Kienle, Tom Clark, Mike Lucas, Rachel Caswell, Carolyn Dutton, Mitch Shiner, and IU Jazz Faculty including Pat Harbison, Tom Walsh, Luke Gillespie, Jeremy Allen, Steve Houghton, Michael Spiro and others.

Watch a video of part Craig's performance with Joe Donnelly in Media.

Craig & Lori in Concert - Evanston, IL 

Craig & Lori perform frequently at the Fountain Square Art Festival, Evanston, IL, the largest and oldest fine arts fair on Chicago's majestic North Shore. Featuring the eclectic works of more than 225 juried artists, this arts showcase epitomizes words like "cosmopolitan" and "sophistication." The festival takes place in downtown Evanston, steps from the eponymous Fountain Square. It also features a popular children's art tent with activities overseen by the acclaimed Evanston Art Center, food, and an eclectic music lineup.  http://www.chicagoevents.com/event.cfm?eid=123

Craig plays in New Orleans at the Old U. S. Mint during Jazz Fest! 

Craig explored the jazzy side of blues and boogie woogie piano on May 2, 2015, at the Old U.S. Mint, 400 Esplanade, New Orleans, in a concert presented by the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.  Craig's 2012 and 2013 Mint performances were recorded by Danny Kadar and are available on the CD Live At The Old Mint: Blues & Boogie Woogie Pianofeaturing "Uganda" Roberts on congas and Lori Brenner on rubboard.  Uganda, a native of New Orleans, has performed and recorded with many greats in the history of New Orleans music, including Professor Longhair, Dr. John, the Meters, the Wild Magnolias, Willie Tee, John Mooney, and others. In 2005 he received the Sidney Bechet Award for Innovation presented by the New Orleans International Music Colloquium. Lori is lead vocalist on Live to Love by Craig Brenner & The Crawdads, and also plays accordion and percussion with the band and in a duo with Craig.

Read a review of Live At The Old Mint: Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano by Rex Bartholomew in the July 27, 2014 issue of Blues Blast.

Bloomington Boogies: The Bloomington Blues and Boogie Woogie Piano Festival 

The first Bloomington Blues and Boogie Woogie Piano Festival was Sunday, August 9, 2015, in and outside the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, Bloomington, IN! The festival featured pianists Marcia Ball, Bob Seeley, Carl Sonny Leyland, Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes, Liz Pennock and Dr. Blues, Craig and others, with rhythm section and professional dancers. Josh Davis taught East Coast Swing and Blues Dance styles before the festival. Click here to see photos and videos from the first Bloomington Boogies.  Tickets to performances in the Ivy Tech Waldron auditorium sold out.

After the Ivy Tech Waldron concert, music continued at Bloomington Boogies After Hours at Malibu Grill, on the Square in downtown Bloomington, where the pianists performed with no cover charge. On Aug. 10, Marcia Ball, Carl Sonny Leyland,and Bob Seeley played an additional concert at Fairview Elementary for 360 students and 30 adults.

The Uptown Cafe offered Bloomington Boogies specials - dinner entrees on Aug. 7 and 8, and brunch specials on Aug. 8 and 9. 

Major Event Sponsors included   

Ivy Tech Community College       Carmin Parker P.C.      Bloomington Arts Commission       Indiana Arts Commission 

Festival Underwriters included   VisitBloomington.com      IU Credit Union      Trojan Horse Restaurant & Tavern   
Oliver Winery & Vineyards   Mother Bear's Pizza   Nick's English Hut  Tim and Cheri DeBruicker   Robert Kissel  Maple Grove Farms, LP

Media Sponsors included WFHBWFIU and Bloom Magazine

Additional supporters included  Malibu Grill   Thomas Gallagher   Function Brewing   Downtown Bloomington Inc.   Indiana Institute on Disability and Community   Owen County State Bank   Griffin Realty   Royale Hair Parlor LLC   World Wide Automotive Service   Newhouse Construction  
Bill C. Brown Associates    Nature's Way   Curry Auto Center    Andrew Davis Clothiers​    Renaissance Rentals    MainSource Bank
Bloomington Council for Community Accessibility   Adrian and Linda Eversoll    The Uptown Cafe    Bob Arnove    Jawn and Karen Bauer Family   Michele Brentano    Val Haughton and Frank Motley   Chris Gaal and Dr. Beth Florini     Rob Stone and Karen Green Stone    
Kevin Robling and Jenny Stephens    Marcy & Michael Wenzler   Phil & Linda Stafford   Story Insights   Rod Young    Stephen Percy  
Monroe County History Center   Fourwinds Resort & Marina    Ken Grooms & Zain Mackey   Springhill Suites by Marriott Bloomington  
Melody Music Shop, LLC     Mark Wiedenmayer

The festival was awarded a 2015 Visit Bloomington Tourism Marketing Grant - read about the grant at VisitBloomington.com. The festival was supported in part by the Bloomington Arts Commission's Arts Project Grant Program - read about the grant at bloomington.in.gov/arts. This activity was made possible in part,with support from the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The festival received a Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association Zone Arts Grant. 

For information about the 2nd Bloomington Boogies Festival coming in August of 2016, go to the festival websitehttp://bloomingtonboogies.com

"Live At the Old Mint" Reviewed in July 24, 2014 Blues Blast Magazine 

Read the excellent review of Live At The Old Mint by Rex Bartholomew, Los Angeles-based writer and musician whose blog is at http://rexbass.blogspot.com. The entire review is below and also at http://www.bluesblastmagazine.com/craig-brenner-live-at-the-old-mint-album-review/

Craig Brenner - Live at the Old Mint - Self Release - www.craigbrenner.com

14 tracks / 53:15

There is just not enough good boogie-woogie music being recorded anymore, and fortunately the drought has ended with Craig Brenner’s first new album since 2009, Live at the Old Mint.   He has assembled a collection of blues and boogie-woogie tracks from his live shows that will surely lift your mood!  Craig is one of the best-educated pianists around; after attending college in Florida he moved to the Hoosier State in the mid-1970s to study at the Indiana University School of Music and he never left.  Since then, Brenner has studied classical, jazz and boogie-woogie piano with the masters of each genre, and has received multiple grants from the Indiana Arts Commission.  He is serious about his craft, and it shows in his performance.

This certainly is a live album, but this is not just a recording of one show at the Old US Mint in New Orleans (and it really is an old mint, in case you were wondering).   This CD is actually a collection of 14 songs culled from 5 different performances spanning seven years.  Included are 10 songs from two shows at Old US Mint, three more from two shows from Artsgarden in Indianapolis, and a track from a radio show that he and his wife did in 2013.  This set avoids being a hodgepodge thanks to the wonderful job of mixing and mastering done by Jacob Belser of Primary Sound Studios in Bloomington, Indiana – for the most part there is a very consistent sound, feel and flow to the music.

Brenner produced this album himself, and it includes six compositions that he wrote as well as a nice collection of songs that could easily be the final exam for a musician that is seeking a doctorate in blues and boogie-woogie piano.  One of these is the first song in the set, “I Stepped in Quicksand” written by the legendary jazz and blues pianist, Charles Brown.  Craig takes this one on his own, and there is a fun jazz influence on this one that goes well with his thin, yet pleasant, tenor vocals.  The piano sounds clear on this one and there is only a hint of hiss and sibilance, which is to be expected on a live recording of this type.

From there he heads into one of his own compositions, “To Boogie or Not to Boogie,” one of the eight songs on this disc that he recorded with Alfred “Uganda” Roberts on congas.  I would never think of combining congas and hard-hitting piano music, but it works on this straight-up boogie-woogie tune, probably because of the talent behind those drums.  Roberts is a Crescent City native who turned his percussion work into a career that included performing and recording with heavyweight artists that  include Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint, The Meters, Snooks Eaglin, Gatemouth Brown, Willie Tee and Dr. John.

The covers are all super-cool!  They include gems like “Train Blues”, a faithful rework of Lux Lewis’ “Honky Tonk Train Blues” which has a glorious saloon piano sound.  Or Brenner’s version of Pinetop Smith’s 1928 seminal hit “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie,” his joyous hammering of Professor Longhair’s “Hey Now Baby,” and the familiar sounds of Jimmy Forrest’s “Night Train.”  But the standout of these has to be “Mess Around,” a song  written by Atlantic Records president and founder Ahmet Ertegun which was one of Ray Charles’ first hits in 1953.  The audience really gets into this song and claps along as Craig hoots the vocals and Roberts keep the beat with his congas.  This must be something to see live, and of course everyone can commiserate that they don’t want their little girl to mess around.

One of the more fun tunes is Brenner’s original “Crawdad Shuffle” that he performed with his significant other, Lori, at the Indiana University Radio-Television Center in Bloomington in 2013.  This instrumental features Mrs. Brenner on a rubboard which is placed far forward in the mix, and Craig almost takes a supporting role to its hypnotic scrapings.  The rubboard and congas are not ordinarily leading instruments, and it is fascinating that Brenner can pair up with these percussion instruments and allow them to shine.

The tunes on this CD go by quickly, and before you know it the final track, “Carolina Shout,” will be coming through your speakers (or headphones).   Recorded at Artsgarden in 2011, this James P. Johnson song from 1921 has no vocals or accompaniment, just Craig showing incredible timing on what has to be one of the most difficult songs to play correctly.  This ragtime song has some jazz influence with a tremendous dynamic range and rhythms that are as tricky as they come.  Craig totally nails it, and it is the perfect way to close out the set.

Live at the Old Mint is a good effort from Craig Brenner and a fine showcase of his piano and songwriting skills.  If you are not a fan of boogie-woogie, do not let this one scare you off.  There is still plenty of blues, ragtime and even jazz to be found on this disc, and you will certainly find something that you like!

Bloomington High School South Jazz Band