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
rec.music.makers.piano 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 rec.music.ragtime.
There was a low voter turnout, but the group passed, and on February 14th,
1995, rec.music.ragtime 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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