Ragtime enthusiasts celebrate the past while moving into the future

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 | 6:52 p.m. CDT; updated 9:37 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Musicians gathered Tuesday at the Missouri Theatre to perform sets during the Blind Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival.

COLUMBIA — Tom Warner began filming performances of ragtime and early jazz music and posting them to his YouTube channel, tdub1941, in 2006. Now, he has more than 1,000 subscribers and is approaching 3.5 million views.

"It's just the best music in the world," said Warner, an amateur washboard and trumpet player from Kansas City, Mo.

If you go

What: 2012 Blind Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival, celebrating historical and contemporary ragtime and early jazz music

When: Through Wednesday evening

Schedule: Music fair, from 10 a.m. to noon, Missouri Theatre, 203 S. Ninth St.; tour of partially restored home of J.W. "Blind" Boone, starts at 1:30 p.m., 10 N. Fourth St.; seminar of the team that brought about the republication of Fuell's biography, Mary Barile, Christine Montgomery, Mike Shaw, Greg Olson, and Max Morath, 2:30 p.m. at the Missouri Theatre; master class and staging techniques for pianists, 3:30 p.m., Missouri Theatre; "The Stride, Boogie and Blues Concert," 7:30 p.m., Missouri Theatre.

Admission: Free afternoon events; tickets $30 at the door for evening concert

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Warner films performances at events such as the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, Calif. This week, he's in Columbia filming part of the annual Blind Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival based at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. 

The three-day festival celebrates the life and influence of J.W. "Blind" Boone, one of ragtime's innovators who called Columbia his home in later years. He is buried at the Columbia Cemetery. Plenty of other music is performed, but Boone is at the heart.

The festival is a mix of free and ticketed events. Free events primarily occur in the morning and early afternoon and include:

  • A presentation and performances on Boone’s personal oak Chickering Concert Grand Piano, currently housed in the Boone County Historical Society Museum.
  • A seminar on the republication of Melissa Fuell’s early 1900s biography, "Blind Boone: His Early Life and His Achievements."
  • A tour of Boone’s partially restored home.

The festival culminates in "The Stride, Boogie and Blues Concert" at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, $25 in advance and $30 at the door. 

Performers featured include The Sedalia Ragtime Orchestra of Thousand Oaks, Calif. and pianists Richard Dowling, Frederick Hodges and Morten Gunnar Larsen.

The performance roster includes multiple generations, including this year's emcee, Steve Standiford, who has been playing piano for more than 40 years , and 15-year-old Benjamin Anderson.

On Monday, which was the first day of the festival,, ragtime pianist Dalton Ridenhour, who is on this year's program, played Boone's piano at the museum. It was an informal concert as audience members rose to take their turn at the piano. 

Ridenhour, 30, said he has played for 22 years. He started out learning ragtime, and considers it a good foundation because it is both rhythmic and lyrical, he said.

Ridenhour's said more and more young people are getting interested in ragtime because they're seeing it on YouTube.

"I think it particularly piques a young person’s interest when they hear somebody else their age playing music and playing it well," he said. 

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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