Stride and swing pianist Judy Carmichael. Courtesy photo


The Bloomington Blues & Boogie Woogie Piano Festival bounces back into town August 11–13 for its fourth annual showcase of American keyboard music.

“I just love boogie-woogie and blues piano, whether it’s jazz-based, or zydeco, or gospel,” says festival founder Craig Brenner.

Nicknamed “Bloomington Boogies,” the festival continues to grow with more performers, events, and educational outreach each year. “We don’t have a lot of money to dangle in front of artists,” Brenner says. “But we do have a really good town here, and we try to treat the musicians with a lot of respect.”

As in years past, the festival will offer ticketed concerts at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, plus free performances outside the Waldron on its arts plaza between shows. More free performances will be held at Bloomington Boogies After Hours starting at 8 p.m. at Malibu Grill, 106 N. Walnut.

New this year, WFHB will broadcast an hour-long preview concert from the Monroe County History Center during the August 11 Saturday’s Child radio show.

Festival favorites will be back, including C. J. Chenier, Rob Rio, Alfred “Uganda” Roberts, and Liz Pennock & Dr. Blues. Also returning is 89-year-old Bob Seeley, who Brenner calls “an American treasure.” Pianist, author, and civil rights activist Daryl Davis will make his festival debut.

Local artists Brenner and Ross Martinie Eiler will perform with Bloomington Boogies backup band Gordon Bonham, Joe Donnelly, Dan Hostetler, and Ron Kadish.

In addition to the weekend shows, on Monday, August 13, at several Bloomington schools, stride and swing pianist Judy Carmichael will lead workshops and master classes for advanced players on ragtime and how it grew into stride and later styles. Cassidy Gephart will lead a workshop for beginning pianists on blues and boogie-woogie piano.

“We have tremendous support from the City of Bloomington and, in particular, the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association,” Brenner says. “Many of our sponsors have been there every year. We also get in-kind support from hotels and restaurants that allows us to bring in five or six more artists.”

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