Blues and boogie-woogie pianist Mark Lincoln Braun, known as Mr. B, has become one of the premier purveyors of a vanishing art. Having learned his craft firsthand from the early blues and boogie legends like Little Brother Montgomery, Boogie-Woogie Red, and Blind John Davis, Mr. B appeared at the 2002 Festival, and we are delighted to have him back.
Blues and boogie-woogie pianist Mark Lincoln Braun has become one of the premiere purveyors of a vanishing art. Having learned his craft first-hand from the early masters, he is a link to the first generation of blues and boogie pianists. Steeped in the rich legacy of this tremendously exciting music, Mr. B learned directly from blues and boogie legends like Little Brother Montgomery, Boogie Woogie Red, and Blind John Davis.
In demand for both educational programs and concert performances, he has performed coast to coast and throughout Europe, Canada, Mexico, and South America. He was a guest artist at the 2002 Gilmore Keyboard Festival. He is also the organizer of the annual Mr. Bʼs Blues and Boogie Piano Celebration that attracts major figures in the blues and jazz piano world to Ann Arbor for collaborative performances with Mr. B.
Mark Lincoln Braun was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. He gravitated to Ann Arbor in the 70s where the Blind Pig was an important venue for boogie and blues piano. While absorbing the tradition and developing his own approach, Mr. B was also listening to a variety of jazz pianists, especially those with strong blues roots such as Ray Bryant and Horace Silver. This broad range of interests enables him to feel equally at home playing boogie woogie classics with authentic fervor, and expanding the tradition into lively new settings, including jazz orchestra. Today he further promotes his art and breaks down stylistic barriers by frequently collaborating with such world renowned mainstream jazz pianists as Monty Alexander, Henry Butler, Benny Green, Ray Bryant, Sir Charles Thompson, and Junior Mance. He has appeared on numerous National Public Radio broadcasts, including “Mountain Stage,” “Good Evening,” “Our Front Porch,” “The Flea Market,” “At the Bride,” and “All Things Considered.”
Paul Keller is one of the busiest bassists in the Detroit area. He has earned the nick-name “The House Bass Player For The State Of Michigan” as each year, he logs so many miles traveling across the state to perform at various music venues. At his home-base, the Firefly Club in Ann Arbor, MI, Paul leads the 15-piece Paul Keller Orchestra, which plays original, obscure and classic big band material from all periods of jazz history. Under Paul’s expert leadership, the PKO (formerly known as the Bird of Paradise Orchestra) has garnered critical and popular acclaim, accepting Washtenaw Council for the Arts “Annie Awards” and Detroit Music Awards for excellence in performing arts. Their CDs are: Hallelujah Train, Project X, BINGO!, Paris Blues, A Tribute To Count Basie and A Tribute To Benny Goodman. These recordings spotlight Paul’s fine compositions and arrangements. The Paul Keller Orchestra has enjoyed two tours of Europe. The PKO performs every Monday night from 8:00 PM till 11:00 PM at the Firefly Club in Ann Arbor. PKO big band Monday nights at the Firefly Club are a beloved Ann Arbor tradition.
Pete Siers has an international reputation for his “restless curiosity, attention to detail, and mastery of many different styles,” according to Mike Stratton, host of the FM 89.7 radio show, “The Vinyl Side of Midnight.” Siers has played with jazz luminaries such as Russell Malone, Mulgrew Miller, Marian McPartland, Lee Konitz, Benny Golson, James Moody, Kenny Werner, David “Fathead” Newman, Eddie Daniels, Frank Morgan, Scott Hamilton, Bob Wilber, and Barry Harris. In addition to his expansive performance career, Siers has played on over 50 recordings, including Russell Malone’s Black Butterfly on Columbia Records. He recently played Carnegie Hall, has toured Europe several times, and is a long-time favorite at many jazz parties and festivals across the U.S. Pete continues to perform orchestral pops shows such as trumpeter Marcus Belgrave’s Louis Armstrong Tribute and Dave Bennett’s Salute to Benny Goodman.
In addition to his performance and recording career, Pete has taught percussion and jazz drumming for over 25 years. He teaches privately and formerly at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor School for Performing Arts, Emory University, Purdue University and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. He was also an artist-in-residence at Interlochen School of the Arts.