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Thu, Oct 12


Merrimans' Playhouse

Mike Conrad Trio

Award-winning composer Mike Conrad (University of Northern Iowa) leads a dynamic trio featuring Katie Ernst and Cassius Goens III. This group is all about interaction and expression — you won’t want to miss this night of captivating and uplifting music!

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Mike Conrad Trio
Mike Conrad Trio

Time & Location

Oct 12, 2023, 7:30 PM – Oct 13, 2023, 7:30 PM

Merrimans' Playhouse, 401 E Colfax Ave, Suite 135, South Bend, IN 46617, USA


About the Event

TICKETS are $10 General/$5 Student.

Touring from Iowa, Indianapolis, Chicago

Award-winning composer Mike Conrad (University of Northern Iowa) leads a dynamic trio featuring Katie Ernst (Chicago bassist, Twin Talk) and Cassius Goens III (Indianapolis-based drummer). On their fall 2023 tour, funded by a Jazz Road Grant (South Arts), they’ll be revisiting music from their debut album “Reconnect ” (2022), while diving into some brand new compositions inspired by members of Conrad’s family. Among tour stops in Muncie, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Sterling, IL and Bettendorf, IA, the Mike Conrad Trio is excited to be performing at Merriman’s Playhouse. This group is all about interaction and expression — you won’t want to miss this night of captivating and uplifting music!

Mike Conrad - piano

Katie Ernst - bass

Cassius Goens III - drums

Mike Conrad is a composer and improviser currently serving as Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Northern Iowa. His compositions have earned him four ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards, a SONIC Award from the International Society of Jazz Arrangers & Composers, the 2023 Sammy Nestico Award, and many other accolades. Conrad’s music has been performed all over the world, including a 2017 concert by the Metropole Orkest in the Netherlands, a 2014 Carnegie Hall Premiere, and a performance at the US Presidential Inauguration in 2013. Conrad’s wide-ranging creative projects include a a suite of four Iowa-inspired big band pieces recorded by the Iowa Jazz Composers Orchestra, an ambitious reimagination of Beethoven’s 3rd symphony in collaboration with the Berlin-based Stegreif Orchester, and his mixed chamber jazz ensemble the All Angles Orchestra, which released an album of original music featuring Alex Sipiagin in 2017.


       Mike Conrad regularly performs regionally on piano and trombone with Chris Merz’s Quartet, the Bob Washut ‘Emeritet,’ the Max Wellman Big Band, as well as several other groups, and has also performed and recorded with musicians such as Louis Hayes, Alexa Tarantino, and Greg Gisbert. His jazz festival appearances include the Umbria Jazz Festival, the Rochester International Jazz Festival, the Rockport Jazz Festival, the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, and the Iowa City Jazz Festival.

In 2022 the Mike Conrad Trio released “Reconnect,” an album featuring eight Conrad originals brought to life by Katie Ernst (bass) and Cassius Goens III (drums). Conrad plans to follow up his debut trio album with a recording of deeply personal pieces inspired by his father, mother, brothers, sisters, wife, and daughter.  Bassist/vocalist Katie Ernst is described by the Chicago Tribune as "a versatile young bassist who plays in far-flung bands and sings with uncommon delicacy and authenticity." She is co-leader of the adventurous Chicago-based jazz trio Twin Talk and has received widespread critical acclaim for her Dorothy Parker poetry song cycle Little Words, which premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC in 2015.

Katie Ernst is an active sidewoman in the jazz and improvised music communities of Chicago and surrounding areas. Some recent notable performances and awards include performing in Mexico City, MX for a Chicago/CDMX Improvised Music Exchange in 2020; multiple performances at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival and Chicago Jazz Festival; performing with MacArthur Fellow and renown pianist/composer Jason Moran at the Chicago Symphony Center and the Kennedy Center; receiving a composing residency at the Ragdale Foundation; and representing the USA as bassist and vocalist for the 2018 EuroRadio Jazz Orchestra in Riga, Latvia.  

A native of Muncie, Indiana, Cassius Goens III began playing percussion at age 11. He has toured throughout the Midwest, New York, Brazil, and Europe where he performed at the Montreux, Vienne, and Perugia Jazz Festivals. Cassius plays throughout Indiana and Iowa with a host of local jazz artists, including the Indianapolis-based groups Kool's Bazaar, The Matt Wilson Band, The Marlin McKay Group, and Premium Blend. In 2011, he released his debut album “Transition” that features his original compositions as well as his quintet Groove Theory.  In the Mike Conrad Trio, the unique musical personality of each player shines through while somehow simultaneously uniting to create a cohesive and exciting group sound. Conrad’s tunes are engaging and well-crafted with tons of space for improvisation, interaction, and expression.

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from the Wells Fargo Philanthropic Services Private Trust Foundations, which include grants from the Stanley A. and Flora P. Clark Memorial Community Trust Foundation (2020-2021; 2022-2023 seasons), the John, Anna, and Martha Jane Fields Memorial Trust Foundation (2021-2022; 2022-2023 seasons), and the Florence V. Carroll Charitable Trust (2021-2022; 2022-2023 season). Special concert event support provided by the Arts Midwest Grow, Invest, Gather (GIG) Fund grant (2022-2023 season). Activities are made possible in part by the Arts Organization Support (AOS), Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency (2023-2024 season).

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from The Esther and George Jaruga Charitable Foundation (2020-2023 seasons).

The Student and Home Grown Series concerts made possible, in part, with support from the ArtsEverywhere Grant from the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, and the Arts Project Support Grant and the Arts Recovery Grant through the Indiana Arts Commission.


  • Student

    $5 Student/Discount

    Sale ended
  • General

    $10 Advanced or Door

    Sale ended



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