So how did I get into ragtime?

I remember liking The Entertainer when growing up in the '70s (OK, so I'm a youngster compared to most ragtime lovers), but only in retrospect.

What really got my attention, though, was when downloading a bunch of SID-Player files for my C64 one day -- a few things here and there. One of the titles I saw was, sure enough, The Entertainer, arranged by a guy called John Roache. You may have heard of him.

Well, I liked it, so along with files by a few other SID artists, I went on a downloading rampage, and soon was quite familiar with the ragtime greats. I particularly liked the music of Joseph Lamb.

Eventually, I got an Amiga, and it had sampled sounds (better quality than my PC's sound card in some cases) though it only could play four notes at once. Still, that was one better than the C64, and back then (1986) no PC could match that sound.

So I began to enter John's SID-Player files into the Amiga, adding a few notes where the Amiga's extra ability would allow. Unfortunately, my own ability in terms of musical knowledge wasn't good enough and I'd hate to go back and listen to those old files now.

Eventually, I got it into my head to actually buy some sheet music and do some arranging of my own. And so it began... I did about two floppy disks full of four-voice stuff before finding a good deal on a used Korg P3 MIDI piano sound module.

By that time, I'd already tried composing (the initial version of Spontaneity Rag -- yes, it actually was back in about '88 when I wrote the first draft of that, come to think about it).

I never knew there was a ragtime scene. One day in 1993, I was thumbing through the newspaper and saw the word RAGTIME written. It was a phone number in Santa Cruz. I called it, and the guy there informed me of a ragtime radio show that had been on the air in this area since 1978. The people at this (408) RAG-TIME phone number actually are trad jazz fans, and they were putting on a festival nearby (that's what the entry in the newspaper was about). I remember some nice jazz SID-Player files so went to the festival, taking the poor-quality sheet music copies of my rags with me.

There were few pianists there, but Marty Eggers did take a look at what I had composed to that point (not much). I got many strange looks, as the youngest in attendance (other than the performers) by about 40 years. The bands didn't really do much for me, and it was there that I began to realize that "trad jazz" today for the most part is immensely boring. I do like the original "jass" recordings I've heard, and any groups which recreate that sound, though.

I began to listen to the radio show (From Rags to Wishes, now on Sundays from 4-7 on KAZU 90.3 in Pacific Grove, Calif.) and really for the first time got exposed to what actual played ragtime sounded like. For the most part, my only exposure had been through computer files and the sheet music I was buying.

I heard on the radio show about a new ragtime festival starting up here, the Monterey Bay ragtime festival. At about the same time, I was starting to think that there should be a place on usenet for ragtime. I began reading and found a couple ragtime-minded folks, including Mary Haley, whom I later met at the festival.

By 1994, I decided that there simply must be other people like me who loved ragtime but had no idea there was a ragtime scene and performers like Frank French, Scott Kirby and David Thomas Roberts. So I drafted up a Request For Discussion and first sent it to Mary, who sent it to a few others. People agreed with its content, so I posted it to news.groups. There were no disapproving replies, so I arranged an independent votetaker and submitted the Call For Votes on the creation of

There was a low voter turnout, but the group passed, and on February 14th, 1995, was born. After a month or two, who should I see post to the group I created, but John Roache -- the man responsible for my ragtime mania. We'd come full circle.

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