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Feb. 18: New Orleans Piano Legend Jon Cleary

Performance is in Halling Recital Hall.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Music News Release, 1-21-2016

Mankato, Minn.-- Jon Cleary, a New Orleans piano legend and a contemporary of Dr. John, Henry Butler and the late Allan Toussaint, is scheduled to perform on Thursday, February 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Halling Recital Hall of the Earley Center for Performing Arts, 320 Maywood Ave.

The concert event is sponsored by the Bunny Just Piano Festival and the Minnesota State University, Mankato, Performance Series.

Cleary is thoroughly steeped in the classic Crescent City keyboard style, from Jelly Roll Morton to Fats Domino to Art Neville, James Booker, and beyond. Cleary uses that century’s worth of pianistic brilliance as a point of departure to forge his own unique and eclectic style. 

“I love New Orleans R&B, “ Cleary explains. “I’m a fan, first and foremost. But there’s little point in just going back and re-recording the old songs. I think the greatest New Orleans R&B records are the ones that built on what went before but also added something new.  You get to channel all the music you absorb through your own individual set of filters – and the fun is in seeing what comes out.  Funk is the ethnic folk music of New Orleans, and I want to portray a sound that is true to the city I love.”  

At an early age, Cleary worked juke joints and road gigs with Earl King and Snooks Eaglin. Cleary was a sideman for BB King and Taj Mahal, and later with Bonnie Raitt’s band for 10 years. Cleary says, “In a band situation, I have learned to maintain a clear idea of the way everybody has to work together. I’ve learned that from the experience over the years, whether it was in Bonnie Raitt’s band or Taj Mahal’s band or Walter Washington’s band.”

Concert admission is $15, $13 for students with a valid MavCARD. Discount tickets are available online for University students. Advance purchase is strongly encouraged. Those who wish to purchase tickets online should go to For more information, call the Performance Series office, (507) 389-5549.

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