The Sages urge us to live in the moment, but I need something to look forward to — even if it’s nothing larger than that second cup of coffee.
But this post is about something far more expansive: the 37th Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival that will take place in Sedalia, Missouri from May 30 – June 2, 2018.
You can see the enticing list of the people who will be playing, singing, talking, and (if I guess correctly) being lively and funny at the 2018 Festival here. I don’t know every one on the list, because I have never been immersed in ragtime, but those I do know are very exciting artists and good friends: Brian Holland, Danny Coots, Marc Caparone, Steve Pikal, Evan Arntzen (that’s the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet), Carl Sonny Leyland, Jeff Barnhart, Marty Eggers, Virginia Tichenor, and Dalton Ridenhour. There are just as many luminaries I haven’t mentioned here, and I hope they don’t take offense: look at the list to see what heroes and friends of yours will be there also.
The map suggests that the festival is neatly laid out, and it should be a pleasure to be trotting around in the late-Spring sun:
I expect to be dazzled by people I’ve never heard before (although I am no longer obsessed with Seeing and Hearing Everything — that’s for people with more energy) but here are two favorite groups / performers. One is the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, the five brilliant planets that came together for a hot constellation last summer in Nashville. I wrote about my visit here and about the CD that resulted here.
Incidentally, I don’t promote the CDs below as substitutes for the experience you will have in Sedalia — rather, as a way of making the time between now and May 30 seem easier to endure.
Here you can learn more and buy copies.
And if the thought of reading more words makes the room spin, try this:
As Eubie Blake would shout exultantly at the end of a performance, “That’s RAGTIME!” And who would disagree?
The other group also has Brian Holland and Danny Coots at its center, but with the addition of the best chemical catalyst I know — the wonderful one-man orchestra, gutty and tender and rocking, Carl Sonny Leyland. Here are more details. And a few words from me.
OLD FASHIONED refers to two pleasures: music-making the way it used to be, and the cocktail . . . sometimes consumed in tandem. Recordings of two pianos plus “traps” go back to 1941 or perhaps earlier — I am thinking of a Victor set called EIGHT TO THE BAR, featuring Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, and Jimmy Hoskins, which was about twenty-five minutes of locomotion, no matter what the tempo. Having the train come roaring down the track is a pure adrenaline jolt, but eighty minutes of high-intensity, high-speed music could soon pall. So the three wise men have opted for sweet variety — slow drags and old pop tunes treated with affection, originals in different moods. Thus the CD rocks its way to the end before you know it. And the sound is lovely — it’s possible that Carl’s singing voice has never been captured so well on disc.
May your happiness increase!