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Screaming-Brian-TinyBrian von Ahsen is a singer/songwriter based in Eagan, Minnesota who arrived there in 2022 after spending over twenty years in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. He was most often seen in performance fronting his band Social Smokers at Kainoa’s Pancake House and Sports Bar in Haleiwa (“Where the North Shore Drinks”).

Despite his folk and rock major influences, Brian’s introduction to music was as a classically trained singer, studying voice at The University of Iowa. At age 17 he sang baritone in the Universal Academy for Music’s Bicentennial National Choir in 1976 which toured Europe and performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Independence Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Notre Dame Cathedral. Everything changed when he picked up an acoustic guitar in 1980 and started learning Bob Dylan songs and his voice teacher told him he could not do both folk music and opera… so Brian chose folk.

Over the years Brian has performed in a wide variety of situations… from singing for an 80’s top 40 cover band called Stryker in bars and at school dances all over the Midwest, to playing his solo act at open mics, bars and even once he played a two and a half hour afternoon set in front of a 5,000-strong festival crowd in rural Wisconsin.

Before coming to Hawai‘i, Brian lived in Osaka, Japan for six years and during that time played in clubs regularly. It was in Osaka where Brian first formed his own band and began writing songs more prolifically. By the time he left, he and his band had received notoriety, appearing on radio programs and large music festivals.


Brian plays a large selection of classic folk rock and other music by noted musicians such as Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Loudon Wainwright III, Neil Young, and Tom Waits along with a selection of his original material, best described as contemporary alternative joke-folk. He also has a great set of love ballads as well as catchy songs in French, Chinese and Japanese!

Brian’s debut album The Brian Show features some of Hawai‘i’s finest local musicians including Alika Lyman (Alika Lyman Group), Charley Myers (Hamajang), Elijah Oguma (Sing The Body), Ginai Hill, Ian Chames (The Chames Gang), Leslie Klein (Saloon Pilots), Pierre Grill, Reggie Padilla, Stephen Inglis and Steven Howells (The Space Kadets). For more information and track previews, view the album page.

Some of the songs that Brian plays include:

Across The Universe
The Beatles 1970

After You’ve Gone
Turner Layton And Henry Creamer 1918 (Ukulele)

Ain’t Misbehaving
Fats Waller, Harry Brooks And Andy Razaf 1929

At Seventeen
Janis Ian 1975

Paul McCartney 1968

Chanson François
James Taylor 1979

Crazy Love
Van Morrison 1970

Heart Of Gold
Neil Young 1972

Helplessly Hoping
Crosby, Stills And Nash 1969

Hesitation Blues
Traditional 1915

Steve Hackett 1972

I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You
Tom Waits 1973

I Will
The Beatles 1968 (Ukulele)

Bread 1971

Jesus Joy Of Man’s Desire
J.S. Bach; Arrangement By Leo Kotke 1969

Like A Rolling Stone
Bob Dylan 1965

Long Long Time
Linda Ronstadt 1970 (Ukulele)

Penny For Your Thoughts
Peter Frampton 1975

Poems, Prayers And Promises
John Denver 1971

Scotch And Soda
Unknown 1932

She’s Got A Way About Her
Billy Joel 1971

Nagabuchi Tsuyoshi 1994

John Prine 1972

The Leader Of The Band
Dan Fogelberg 1981

The Water Is Wide
Traditional 1906

Till There Was You
Meredith Wilson 1957

Tonight You Belong To Me
Billy Rose And Lee David 1926 (Ukulele)

You’ve Got A Friend
James Taylor 1971

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