Bob McNutt, who started a piano tuning business in Clarion, happened upon the town of Randall by chance and fell in love with it. He bought and restored a beautiful old Victorian home in town and filled it with grand pianos. Bob began hosting small concerts and musical gatherings at his home and out around the community; he had a few pianos on rollers and would roll them down the streets of Randall to different performance locations.
Ragtime in Randall began as a small gathering of ragtime enthusiasts in Bob’s home, and then it was moved to McNutt Piano Studio, which he founded in the town.
The festival continued year by year with a small but committed group of music lovers; it became a local tradition.
Each year the festival features special guests who come to the community to perform and lead seminars on ragtime. There are returning artists each year who have an ongoing history with the event.
This event is tied to a strong local musical heritage in Randall that arises from the genuine love of traditional American music. Ragtime in Randall is a chance to see a small Iowa community flourishing through art and culture. It is free and open to the public.
Brian Keenan is a composer and performer of Ragtime and related music of the past and present.
Born in St. Paul, he began taking piano lessons at age ten and started playing and composing classic ragtime shortly thereafter. Brian was introduced to the world of New Ragtime when he met Frank French, David Thomas Roberts, and Jack Rummel in 1991. In 1994 he graduated with honors from the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he studied composition, piano, and harpsichord, and was a member of the school’s Early Music and Electronic Music ensembles.
Brian was a featured performer at the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival in Boulder, the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, the Classic Ragtime Festival in Indianapolis, Ragtime in Randall (Iowa), and the Lake Superior Ragtime Festival in Superior, Wisconsin.
Brian has also performed for several community theatre productions in the Twin Cities, and composed the title song for Woodbury Community Theater’s “The Magic of Christmas”. In 2010 he acted as Khaos in “Oedipus Rocks” at the Minnesota Fringe Festival.
In 2000, Brian presented his compositions on the program “The Wave Project” on KFAI-FM in Minneapolis. Brian’s recording of Trebor Tichenor’s “Deep in the Ozarks” was used by Garrison Keillor on a Mark Twain audiobook in 2001. Another career highlight was a 2004 appearance on “Backstage Pass”, a weekly arts magazine on Twin Cities public radio.
His CD releases, comprising Folk Ragtime, New Ragtime, and Terra Verde, include Solo Piano (1996, Solo Art), Hidden Falls (1998, Viridiana), River Bluffs (2000, Viridiana), and Traditions (2001). In addition, his compositions have been recorded by David Thomas Roberts on Solo Art and Viridiana releases.
Rod Biensen performs ragtime and other musical styles at weddings, funerals, churches, anniversaries, birthdays, adult care facilities, festivals, and other events.
Rod has been performing music since 1974 when he started performing on piano professionally at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Ames. Since then, in addition to local performances, he has performed on the ragtime and Dixieland jazz circuits, including two cruises. He has performed 3 concerts with the Alabama Symphony and 1 concert with the Arkansas Symphony.
Chase Garrett is from St. Louis MO. He will be joined by Brian Keenan from St. Anthony, MN, and Rod Biensen from Nevada, IA. They will begin performing at 2 pm, lunch at 4:30 and resume again at 5:30.pm.
Chase Garrett started playing the piano at age nine and by seventeen he has shared the stage with blues, boogie woogie and jazz performers, he is now including swing in his own mix. He has dedicated himself to music and is as much a performer as he is a preservationist, a teacher and producer. He has performed in seven countries as well as across the US, most notably in New York and Brooklyn.
“Ragtime” Richie Bliesener II is 14 years old and known as “Ragtime Richie” in hometown Burlington, Iowa. He has played piano for 7 1/2 years and plays violin and percussion as well. He has been Hannibals’ Got Talent talent show 1st place winner for his age group multiple times in Hannibal, Missouri and has played in Des Moines, Iowa at the Iowa State fair in Bill Riley’s Talent contest in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Rich is a ninth grade honor student at Burlington Community high school.and loves ragtime music. Each Labor Day weekend for the last 4 years he plays ragtime in the saloon for singing and dancing girls at the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. He plays in his school orchestra, band and jazz band, and high school marching band, as well as church, the local Farmer’s Market, assisted living facilities and other hired events. He has been selected the last 3 years for honor band, honor jazz band and honor orchestra. Rich was the only student in Burlington middle school history last year, to be selected as student of the month twice within the same school year. Rich is a piano student of Faye Ballard, Champaign, Illinois, and has been the 3rd place winner 2018 and 2019, Junior division, at the World Championship Old Time Piano Playing Contest, “Ol’ Miss” University, Oxford, Mississippi, Memorial Day weekend. Rich started his own band named “All That Jazz” with fellow students and friends last year and plays at various functions locally. Rich is currently looking into recording a CD as he has had many requests from followers.