Featured Performers

Brian Holland

Brian Holland, having performed ragtime, jazz and stride piano for over 30 years, continues to be one of the most sought after artists in the country. Classically trained, but with a keen ear for improvisation, Brian’s approach to the piano is marked by a dynamic, driving style that has been described as clear as Waterford crystal.

Beginning his musical existence at the age of three, Brian grew up living a “Ragtime Life.” His grandparents raised him to love all kinds of music; however, styles from the early 20th century became his passion. He quickly learned his way around an organ keyboard and had a repertoire of old standards that would shock most professionals—all before the age of six. It was then that he turned his attention to the piano. During twelve years of intense classical studies, Brian decided that it wasn’t a concert stage he wanted to perform on, but the ragtime stage. Since then he has performed all across the US, first on majestic pipe organs in pizza parlors, and then on the uprights and concert grands at ragtime concerts and festivals.

Brian has the distinction of being a World Old-time Piano Playing Champion (1997-1999), winning his third title at only twenty-seven years of age. He is a retired champion; having won the event three times, and has subsequently served as a judge twice since retiring. In 2007, Brian earned a Grammy nomination for his work with Bud Dresser as B-Square with their “Ragtime-Goodtime-Jazz” CD, and continues to play locally in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area with Bud. Brian also took his love of music globally to the International Stride Summit in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2007, and was lured back in 2009 to play exclusively for the 100th anniversary of the Balgrist Association, held at the Balgrist University Hospital. His latest global adventure landed him in Kigali, Rwanda, Africa, playing with international artists Ben Ngabo and Mutzar’s Jazz Band, good friends Jeff and Anne Barnhart, and the craziest man to ever pick up a set of drum sticks, Danny Coots. Since that time, Brian and Danny have recorded two CDs, and have enjoyed playing concerts from coast to coast.

Brian currently lives in Dallas, TX with his wife Amy and two children, Shane and Lindsey.

Paul Asaro

Paul Asaro is known worldwide as one of the finest interpreters of the ragtime and jazz piano styles of Harlem Stride, Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin and Eubie Blake. Asaro plays them all with a fine ear for detail, blending the elements into his own personal style. Paul has appeared at concerts and festivals worldwide and has performed onstage with such musical legends and luminaries as Leon Redbone, Steve Allen, Marian McPartland, Butch Thompson, Jeff Healy and Vince Giordano. He was one of the featured pianists in the Obie award winning Broadway production of Vernel Bagneris’ and Morten Gunnar Larsen’s “Jelly Roll! The Music and the Man”. Asaro has had long runs as house pianist aboard the legendary New Orleans steamboat “Delta Queen” and in Chicago with Jim Beebe’s Chicago Jazz band.

Currently Asaro tours the country as accompanist to Leon Redbone, playing concerts as a duo as well as appearing on NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Mountain Stage” and recording for Leon’s latest studio album. Paul’s piano can also be heard on two recent albums by singer and guitarist Loudon Wainwright III including the 2010 Grammy Award winning “Charlie Poole Project”. Recent appearances include solo and two-piano duets with Butch Thompson and Jon Weber for the Twin Cities Jazz Festival’s “Stride Piano Night”, an extended solo tour for Allied Concert Services, and onscreen with Vince Giordano’s band in the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire”. When not on the road, Paul performs weekly with the jazz band “The Fat Babies” at the long established Chicago jazz club The Green Mill. The band plays a wide variety of jazz from the 1920s through the 1940s and has released four albums to critical acclaim with their Delmark Records release “Chicago Hot” being named one of the best jazz album releases of 2012 by the Chicago Tribune.

Peoria, Illinois
May 22–26, 2014