With Bob Seeley, Bob Baldori, Mark Braun, Craig Brenner
1001 S. Henderson, Bloomington
Saturday, June 2, 5-8:30 p.m., free, all-ages
Bloomington pianist Craig Brenner has created a festival of boogie-woogie piano blues that’s worth the trip south. Brenner received a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission to spend time with blues piano men Big Joe Duskin and Bob Seeley — an experience that led to the creation of this concert. Unfortunately, Duskin died on May 6; the concert will be dedicated to Duskin, and Brenner will perform solo as well as with his band, the Crawdads.
“Joe was a really great blues shouter. I can’t do that,” Brenner says. “He showed me how to play ‘Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie.’ He showed me some of his licks, but he wanted me to show him how I played ‘One Mint Julep’ (laughs). He was very inspirational and supportive — a wonderful man.”
Also performing is Ann Arbor pianist Mark Braun (aka Mr. B). Braun learned blues piano directly from Boogie Woogie Red, Little Brother Montgomery and Blind John Davis. He’s toured the globe for more than 30 years.
Also on the bill are Bob Seeley and Bob Baldori. Their motto is “Two Bobs, four hands, 20 fingers, 100 years of boogie.” Seeley became known for his boogie woogie and stride playing, recording several albums. Baldori played piano and harmonica with Chuck Berry in the late ’60s. The two met at a tribute to Berry’s original pianist Johnnie Johnson. They recorded Boogie Stomp! (Spirit) last year, which features solo and duo performances. Expect the same in Bloomington.
“This music is very important,” Brenner says. “There’s an unbroken string of tradition of piano playing going back to the start of the 20th century, when piano was the featured instrument. This can’t be forgotten.”
If you’re up for a festival doubleheader, Rolling with the Blues will take place that same day at Ft. Harrison State Park (5753 Glenn Road, Lawrence). This all-ages event will benefit Hospice Veterans Partnership. It starts at noon and will feature music by Katphish & Da’ Bottomfeeders, Governor Davis and the Blues Ambassadors and Duke Tumatoe and the Power Trio.
Mark your calendars: Kim Wilson’s Blues Revue at the Slippery Noodle Inn takes place June 4. The Fabulous Thunderbirds leader will bring his serious harmonica and fun blues.
Matthew Socey is host of The Blues House Party, Saturdays at 10 p.m. on WFYI 90.1 FM.