Peoria Symphony Orchestra - Romance with the Romaniacs


with the Romaniacs
February 13, 2021 · 8:00 PM
Broadcast on WTVP World 47.3

George Stelluto · conductor
The Romaniacs
Masha Lakisova · violin
Michelle Areyzaga · soprano

Take Roma culture and mix in equal portions of Jazz and romantic music… it’s the perfect musical recipe for Romance. Come explore the Roma world of Jazz great Django Reinhardt and experience the magic of Hot Club Jazz in 1930s Paris!


About The Romaniacs

John Miller started playing at the age of nine. During the 1970’s, John toured with Chicago crooner Jimmy Damon, and later toured with pop star Dobie Gray (“The In Crowd” and “Drift Away”). For years he was well known in Peoria as a private lesson teacher and performer. Credits include performing in orchestral settings with Bob Hope, Tom Jones, Rich Little, and Cab Calloway. He was a regular performer for years on acoustic bass with Sally Weisenberg and the Famous Sidemen, and also at the Juvae Jazz Festival in Decatur, IL, with the late Rachael Lee, the Dixie Daredvils, Billy Rogers, and Diversity. John was an adjunct faculty member from 2005-2012 at Knox College in Galesburg, IL, teaching Jazz guitar. During those years, John became interested in the Gypsy Jazz style and formed the Romaniacs with his then-student Joe Park (guitar), Tim Brickner (contrabass), and—later—Professor Perry Rask (soprano and baritone sax). Since then, the group lineup has changed, and in addition to Joe Park now includes Andy Crawford (bass) and Professor Larry Harms (clarinet). John still enjoys performing with the Romaniacs, the Boss Trio (a jazz organ trio), and multi-talented artist/guitarist Preston Jackson.

Larry Harms is a native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He graduated from University of Tennessee in 1985 with a degree in Jazz Studies and Studio Music where he studied with Jerry Coker. He earned a master’s degree in Saxophone Performance from Illinois State University in 1988. Larry has taught at Illinois Central College since 1989 where he is a Professor of Music. His performance credits include The Four Tops, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, the Mills Brothers, and Harry Connick Jr. Locally he plays clarinet and saxophone with Nathan Taylor & Friends, the Romaniacs, the Jazz Train, and leads the Central Illinois Jazz Society house band.

Joe Park started playing in Peoria as a student of John Miller. Eventually the two formed their group, the Romaniacs. Joe is based in St. Louis now where he teaches private lessons and leads his own groups, The Hot Club of St. Louis and The Joe Park Trio. He hosts the annual Django Reinhardt Guitar Summit in St. Louis featuring the area’s top players. Joe continues to perform regularly with the Romaniacs, as well as a number of other Gypsy Jazz and Swing Jazz ensembles across the Midwest.

Andy Crawford is the managing director of the Rootabaga Jazz Festival/Knox Jazz Year and Instructor of music at Knox College, where he directs Jazz combos and the Jazz bass and guitar studios. He performs regularly with multiple groups throughout the state, performed on dozens of recordings and has been featured multiple times with the PSO, including with The BraziLionaires, Judy Page, the Todd Kelly Quartet, the Claude Bolling Suite for Chamber Orchestra and Jazz Piano Trio, and the PSO’s performance of La La Land. Andy also organizes the San Pancho Music Festival in Nayarit, Mexico, an annual 3-day festival in its 21st year that welcomes over 5,000 attendees and features 30 musical groups over 3 days every February.  Crawford is a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala and returns annually to lead student immersion groups.