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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

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!

Craig's live CD! 

Craig's first CD since 2009, Live At The Old Mint, is now available! The CD features Craig playing blues and boogie woogie piano recorded live, including eight tracks with Alfred "Uganda" Roberts on congas recorded at the Old U.S. Mint in New Orleans in April of 2013.  Other tracks feature Craig solo at the Old Mint in 2012 and at the Artsgarden in Indianapolis, and one track with Lori Brenner on rubboard. 

A native of New Orleans, Alfred “Uganda” Roberts is an in-demand percussionist whose relationship with record producer Allen Toussaint led to Roberts becoming house percussionist at Sea Saint Studios. Roberts played on the Meters’ “Afrika” and “Hey Pocky Way,” on Toussaint's Life, Love, and Faith (1972), and on The Wild Magnolias (1974). In 1972, Roberts was introduced to pianist Henry Roland Byrd, better known as Professor Longhair, at the 2nd annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival by Jazz Fest producer/founder Quint Davis, and Roberts toured and recorded with Fess for eight years until Fess’ death in 1980. Roberts is featured on Professor Longhair's Rock N Roll Gumbo (1977) with Snooks Eaglin and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and on Fess' last studio album, Crawfish Fiesta (1980). The London Concert (recorded 1978) is a duo performance by Longhair and Roberts. Roberts toured with Willie Tee and the Wild Magnolias from 1980 until 1986, when he took a hiatus from the music industry, occasionally coming out of semi-retirement to tour and record on Dr. John's album Goin' Back to New Orleans (1992), Craig Brenner’s Play It Again, Professor! (1995) and Man At The Piano (1997), and Dr. John’s Dis, Dat, or D’udda (2004).

Primary recording engineers for Live At The Old Mint  were Danny Kadar at the Old U.S. Mint and Jeff Mountjoy at the Artsgarden, with mixing and mastering by Jacob Belser of Primary Sound Studios, and graphic design by Merridee LaMantia.

Live At The Old Mint is available in Bloomington, IN at Landlocked Music - http://www.landlockedmusic.com and in New Orleans at the Louisiana Music Factory.

Read the complete review of Live At The Old Mint by Robert Fontenot in the June issue of OffBeat.

Craig & The Crawdads at Ethnic Expo 

Craig & The Crawdads performed Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, at the Columbus, IN Ethnic Expo on the First Street Stage.  Ethnic Expo was founded in 1984 as a celebration of Columbus, Indiana's varied ethnic heritage as well as its current cosmopolitan population.  Home to people from all over the world, as well as those with rich cultural traditions, Columbus is proud of its diversity.  Annually, Ethnic Expo hosts more than 35,000 people who enjoy international food and marketplace, continuous entertainment, children's activities, parade, and fireworks.  

To see videos from the 2012 Ethnic Expo, click on Media.

For more information, visit http://www.ethnicexpo.org/