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.
He also has done ballroom dancing with "Dancing With the Story County Stars". His children Leah, Caleb and Luke are also involved with music and dance and have been involved in the Nutcracker.
Benjamin Loeb is an accomplished conductor, soloist, accompanist, arranger, educator,arts administrator and across the US and around the world including in China, Argentina, Czech, Ukraine, and Bulgaria. His widely varied projects range from concerts of Beethoven and Bruckner Symphonies and Mahler song cycles to recordings with Yo-Yo Ma of Italian 16th century madrigalists to tours with popular rock musicians to world premieres of the most cutting-edge avant-garde contemporary music.
At the invitation of United States Department of State, Loeb toured Argentina and Uruguay as an Artistic Ambassador, performing recitals of the music of Scott Joplin and giving master classes and workshops with youth orchestras and young musicians. He holds a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory in Conducting, as a student of Gustav Meier, a Master in Music from the Curtis Institute and a Doctor in Musical Arts from the Juilliard School in Accompanying and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University. He will also be performing music of other composers and artists.
In addition as an administrator, he has served as Executive Director of the Quad City (Iowa) Symphony Orchestra from 2013 through 2017, as Executive Director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, and as Music Director of the 2011 New Hampshire Music Festival. He is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the International Conducting Workshop and Festival, now in its twenty-second year.
He lives in Plano, TX with his wife, Quyen, his 16-year-old daughter, Anna Sofia Uni, his 14-year-old, Lulu Ladybug, and 11-year-old son Ryan “Taco”. Loeb’s far-ranging interests do not limit him to music; he is a proud Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, has , cooked gourmet meals for 65, tutored over 500 people in test preparation for the Princeton Review, and played and enjoyed almost every sport. Moreover (or most important), he is a lifetime Dallas Cowboys fan.