Growing up in a family where every family member played two instruments, JULIA RILEY began taking piano lessons at age five and flute at age eight. Being of a competitive nature, Julia played first chair flute through junior high and high school. She also played in the Wichita Symphony and competed in local and state music contests and honor bands. Although she never quit playing the piano and flute, music had to take a back seat as she raised four children and worked as a medical transcriber and, later, an accountant.
After tending to family and work, she resumed playing in various small flute and woodwind ensembles. She began her ragtime career in the late 1980s as the Porcupine Ragtime Ensemble’s flute player, performing with that group until 2001. Meantime (in the 1990s) she began performing with ragtime pianist Tom Brier; the duo later formed “Tom Brier and the Saloon Sweeties,” with Kitty Wilson and various other female musicians. In the late ’90s she formed a wind quintet and a flute quartet, both groups specializing in ragtime. In 2001, she and Brier formed the Raspberry Jam Band, which performed continuously until 2016. The Raspberry Jam Band morphed into the RJB Trio featuring Raspberry’s remaining band members (Julia, Cheryl Woldseth and John Massey). Julia also performs at ragtime festivals with the “House Afire Flute Choir.” In her debut appearance at RagFest, she’ll be flutist for THE RAGFEST ENSEMBLE.