Lovers Point Jazz Productions is proud to include the following artists in its family of performers (see the Live Performances page for exact dates).
While Jeff Barnhart is now a highly regarded pianist, vocalist, arranger, bandleader, recording artist, composer, pedagogue and entertainer, he had very humble beginnings. Jeff commenced his professional career at age 14 playing and entertaining four nights a week in a restaurant in his home state of Connecticut. Here he began to learn the classic swing, jazz and ragtime repertoire of the early 20th century. Jeff put himself through college playing throughout New England including stints with one of his childhood influences, the Galvanized Jazz Band. In the 1990’s he toured the US and Canada, playing most of the major festivals on the circuit with either the Hot Cat Jazz band or the Draga-Vax Connection.
The 21st century has seen Jeff in demand as a soloist and band pianist at parties, festivals, clubs and cruises in all corners of the globe. He currently manages the Titan Hot 7, one of the most acclaimed bands in the country. In addition, he leads two bands in the UK: the Fryer-Barnhart International Jazz Band, which concentrates on hot music of the 1920’s, and Jeff Barnhart’s British Band, which performs small group swing of the 30’s.
In addition to his widely acclaimed solo and band appearances, Jeff is enjoying great success performing with smaller groups, most notably the trio We Three with clarinetist Bob Draga and drummer Danny Coots and also Ivory and Gold, a duo with his talented wife, flutist Anne Barnhart. Through her encouragement, he is now including classical works as part of his performing repertoire. Ivory and Gold is becoming a mainstay at many jazz and ragtime festivals throughout the US and the UK, while We Three is garnering praise from both audiences and critics at major festivals, concerts and parties.
Jeff enjoys playing dual piano and has done so with such jazz luminaries as Ralph Sutton, Neville Dickie, Louis Mazetier and John Sheridan. He also performs ragtime with Mimi Blais and Brian Holland. In addition to his own label, Jazz Alive Records, Jeff plays piano and sings on the international labels GHB, Summit-World Jazz Records, Music Minus One, and the two largest jazz labels in the UK, Lake Records and P.E.K. Sound. He has recently been signed on to the Arbors Records label. His forthcoming premier Arbors CD is entitled “In My Solitude.” Jeff has been featured as both pianist and vocalist on over 50 full-length recordings.
The scintillating and danceable rhythms of Frederick Hodges are perfect for those who enjoy something new, refreshing, and sparkling in the field of piano music. His dazzling interpretations of classic Ragtime, Novelty Piano Music, and Popular Songs of the 1920s and 1930s are well known to piano music aficionados across the country.
California native Frederick Hodges specializes in the piano music and popular songs of the ragtime era, the 1920s, and the 1930s. Classically trained and groomed for a career as a concert pianist, he was happily lured away from this path after he found a stack of turn-of-the-century sheet music in his grandmother’s piano bench. Repeated exposure to the rollicking rhythms of player pianos and 78 RPM phonograph records sealed his fate, and he set out to master the sophisticated piano playing styles that had captivated him.
While still an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, he was hired as the pianist with the famed Royal Society Jazz Orchestra. Soon, Frederick was playing solo piano for society parties and holding down steady gigs at legendary Nob Hill establishments such as L’Étoile, Masons, and the Ritz Carlton Hotel. For more than twenty years now, Frederick Hodges has performed solo, with jazz ensembles, with the Peter Mintun Orchestra, and with the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra on stage, television, and radio. He has entertained royalty, stars of stage and screen, captains of industry, and even Tin Pan Alley composers.
Frederick Hodges frequently accompanies silent films at the Niles Essenay Film Museum. He gives concerts all around the country, and is a favorite at jazz and ragtime festivals around the country, appearing regularly at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, the Old Town Music Hall Ragtime Festival in El Segundo, The Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival, and the West Coast Ragtime Festival.
For Mimi Blais, ragtime music became a way to discover her many talents as an entertainer, story-teller, communicator, educator, actress and composer. Classically trained (started piano at age 7, then entered the Quebec City Conservatory of Music, L.Mus, B.Mus in performance & Concert Diploma at McGill University in Montreal, where she now lives).
Whatever the style of music she chooses to play, she receives unanimous praise from the public and the media; in Canada, in the United States and in Europe. This gifted pianist, generous to a fault, causes laughter and tears. Her music speaks to the audience, caresses, tickles, charms, dazzles, and surprises….it touches the soul.
Mimi loves the theatrical. She often uses costumes to present or invent characters, making her piano concerts more visual and animated. Sometimes, when she steps out on stage, the audience may not even be sure that it’s actually her.
Nicknamed the New Queen of Ragtime, at her first visit to the Scott Joplin Festival in June 1990, by musicologist and historian Ed. Berlin, Mimi Blais is in high demand because of her charming personality, her deep musicality and her flawless and precise technique at the piano. Mimi received several other nicknames: the Celine Dion of the Keyboard, The Female Victor Borge and the Quebec Liberacette...
A concert artist, Mimi is touring a lot in the United States and Canada, playing, explaining and showing people why ragtime is so important in the history of American Music: Ragtime is the trunk of the tree.
Mimi just re-visited Hungary for the 5th time in May 2007. In March 2006, she completed a successful concert tour (her third visit in Hungary: 1993, 2004, 2006), she was invited to return in August to play at the famous Sziget Festival (in Budapest) and a week after she played at the Oslo, Norway Jazz festival as a special guest with the Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra.
In 2005-06, Mimi received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to do a research on Canadian ragtime; a great music folio and CDs will come out from that research in a near future. Mimi has recorded several CDs since 1992: Ragtime (1992), Geraldine (1993), Taxi (1998), Old Rags - New Rags (2000), Made in Quebec (2002, with participation of violinist Sophie Rivard), Sunday Morning (2004), Mimi Blais plays André Gagnon (ADISQ-2004), Once Upon a Rag Time (ADISQ-2005, with participation of pianist John Petley), Life is a dream (2006), her newest one, which features a lot of Mimi's newest compositions (non-ragtime) and classical music.
Sue Keller began her ragtime obsession in 1974, after graduating from DePauw University with a degree in Music and Theater. Since then, Sue has treated audiences to her piano and vocal performances throughout the world. Her appearances have ranged from the grand opening of Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston Harbor, to the fabled Mikado nightclub in Tokyo, across the continent of Australia, and even to the Great Wall of China.
Back in the USA, Sue has been recognized as one of the world's top ragtime pianists. Appearances have included the prestigious Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, the Alexandria Bay Ragtime-Jasstime Fest, Lake Superior Festival, the Indianapolis Classic Ragtime Festival, and Zehnder's in Frankenmuth. Sue is a member of the board of directors for the Old-Time Piano Championship in Peoria, Illinois, having also judged for several years. Sue has once again been chosen as artistic director for the Scott Joplin festival for 2008, having also performed that function in 2007.
Sue has also been active in promoting the ragtime form. Sue's recording projects have employed a unique and exciting digital process. Her first project produced in this manner, KeLLeRIZED, released in 1992, includes both contemporary and traditional ragtime, old-time, novelty, and stride pieces. Her second, Ol' Muddy, continues in this regard. In her last three recordings, Nola, Ragtime Sue, and I Got What It Takes, she mixes some exciting vocals together with the more traditional repertoire. All are available on Compact Disk as well as cassette, and feature contemporary rags by Glenn Jenks, Christopher Seppe, Jon Jensen, Galen Wilkes, Frank French, George Schneider, and Ross Petot. The sixth recording. entitled "Those Irresistible Blues", containing tunes written from 1912 to 1927, has received favorable notice in BLUES REVUE magazine, EUPHONY REVIEW, the MISSISSIPPI RAG and the RAG TIMES. She has released a follow-up blues CD, Wild Women Don't Have the Blues.
The latest additions to Sue's recorded works are two Christmas CDs: She Loved Christmas, dedicated to her mom, Betty Keller, and My Reindeer Don't Like to Fly, as well as a two new ragtime CDs: AKA Charles Johnson, containing works by her favorite ragtime composer, and Ragtime Reflections, dedicated to friends past and present. And for the first time, a live CD is available, Live in Kalamazoo, recorded on a Fazioli 9-ft. concert grand.
In pursuit of her endeavor to bring to light the work of original ragtime composers, Sue has established the Ragtime Press, whose sheet music offerings include two folios: The Music of Robert Russell Darch, 28 pieces by Ragtime Bob Darch, and A Little Lost Lamb, a volume of eighteen previously unpublished Joseph Lamb pieces. A companion CD is available.