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Neptune's Keep

is the married musical duo of Diane Rains and Stu Janis along with a
music-making crew of clever fishies.

Neptune's Keep presents concerts at a variety of venues nationwide. In collaboration with Smart Small Fry , we also offer lectures, demos, and workshops about the science behind fish music. Book our Sounds Fishy educational program along with a Neptune's Keep concert and get Sounds Fishy for half price!





        Once upon a time in the days of her youth, Diane Rains was poised to begin a career in classical music performance. (This was after her "CIA Agent" and "First Female Astronaut on Mars" career aspiration phases.) Diane was accepted into the prestigious Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (CCM) baccalaureate program as a harpsichord/piano major. But Diane was also an animal lover, endowed by upbringing and by genetics (her great-uncle was a famous Hollywood lion trainer ) with a desire to know how animals think. The roaring allure of music was quite suddenly muted when Diane learned that one could make a career Vulcanesquely mind-melding with wild critters. She told CCM "Thanks, but no thanks." Which was something CCM didn't hear everyday. Music was subdued on short reins as Rains trotted through B.S. and M.S. degrees in Wildlife Management/Animal Behavior and most of a PhD in Veterinary Physiology. She worked as a zookeeper and then a chemistry technologist for awhile, until she again heard the siren song of an arts career. Freshwater Pearls Puppetry was born.

       For 25 years, Diane and her husband, Stu Janis, toured the U.S. presenting puppet shows to venues of all descriptions in over 600 performances. It was quite a lovely gig. But the latent animal behaviorist in Diane would not be repressed. She began training animal actors to appear among the puppets in Freshwater Pearls' shows: first a small dog, then goldfish. To Diane's surprise, fish turned out to be intelligent, personable, willing students. When Diane decided to teach a goldfish to ring a bell, an amazing revelation surfaced: fish are truly musical creatures! Once taught the mechanics of how to play an instrument, goldfish can compose and perform music without further human direction. And their pitch, harmony, rhythm, and tempo all sound perfectly correct and pleasing to the human ear! This pretty much blew Diane's mind and changed her career direction. Again.

      Diane is now fully immersed in her current (pun intended) business, Smart Small Fry, showcasing the extraordinary musical abilities of fish. Through the wizardry of digital audio and video, Diane and Stu bring performances by their goldfish musicians and seahorse dancers to venues around the country. Neptune's Keep, Smart Small Fry's music quintet, is perhaps the only human-plus-fish band in the world!

        BTW, at Neptune's Keep gigs, don't be surprised if a puppet occasionally makes an appearance. It's been known to happen.

       One of the nicest fringe benefits of Diane's latest career is this: her fish have rekindled her own musicianship. With her piano skills rehoned and comfy, she has taken up button accordion. And, thanks to vocal training, "singer-songwriter" is now a happy entry in her diverse list of career journeys.

       And so, Diane's life work has come full circle. Thanks, fishies!






    Stu Janis is a wizard of musical diversity. Any instrument that he decides to try quickly falls in love with him. He is drawn to eclectic instruments like bowed psaltry, tinwhistle, and tsimbl, and from them he draws sounds both lively and lyrical. Hammered dulcimer is Stu's specialty. He has been tapping those many, many strings for over 30 years (and has spent at least that much time tuning them). Stu launches his hammers across the dulcimer like rockets on fast tunes and melts your heart with expressive beauty on slow ones. His precision, speed, musicality, and coordination with the hammered dulcimer are remarkable to witness. And he's really good at Angry Birds, too.

        For nearly 30 years, Stu has been half of the popular duo, Greenwood Tree, along with guitarist-singer Bill Cagley. With expert, tightly knit craftsmanship, they play music from around the world, from Celtic jigs to Swedish waltzes. (And speaking of knitting, Stu does that really well, too. Ask him about his sweaters.) Stu also plays tsimbl with a klezmer group, Eisner's Klezmorim, and he is the "go-to guy" for choirs seeking hammered dulcimer accompaniment.

Stu with Lumi

        In addition to all this musical versatility, for 25 years Stu made quite a splash as puppetry front man, Mr. Bottles, in Professor Freshwater's Punch and Judy Show. He was ragingly popular among 5-9 year olds. (Ask him about his formerly removable front tooth.)

        He is wildly popular with Professor Freshwater, aka Diane Rains, too, who, immediately recognizing Stu's value to her puppet theatre, married him forthwith. Stu turned out to be a priceless husband, as well. Twenty five years later, Diane considers this the best business decision she ever made.

        Speaking of business, Stu is also quite comfortable in the corporate realm. His degrees in Statistics propelled him into a position with 3M in the 1980s, and he remains a faithful employee to this day.

        Like Diane, Stu has an innate affinity for animals, having grown up in a family of avid birders. Playing music in a fish band is a natural feather in his musical cap.


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