‘Blind’ Boone Festival kicks off Saturday with movie showing

Friday, June 1, 2007 | 2:19 p.m. CDT; updated 11:40 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Those tired of hearing the Top 20 over and over can sing to a different tune at the Original “Blind” Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival.

The festival, held in honor of legendary ragtime artist and Columbia resident, J.W. Boone, starts Saturday with a free showing at the Missouri Theatre of “The Sting,” a movie featuring Robert Redford and Paul Newman in the gangster era. The movie also features the music of Scott Joplin.

“There was such a respect for the music of Scott Joplin that when his music is heard (during the scene transitions), no one is allowed to talk over it,” said Lucille Salerno, director of the festival. “It really gives the experience of ragtime.”

The festival lasts until Tuesday and features 33 performers and big names in the ragtime and jazz industry from across the country, such as Mimi Blais, Butch Thompson, Brian Holland and 14-year-old Adam Swanson.

Swanson was discovered last year by Salerno during the festival’s music fair, which takes place each afternoon. During the music fair, anyone can try their hand at the piano with local jazz and ragtime artists, who will also perform.

Salerno remembers hearing Swanson last year when he attended the festival with his parents. “He was such a knockout,” she said. In addition to a marathon of music, the festival includes a tour Tuesday of J.W. “Blind” Boone’s home, gravestone and historical relics located throughout Columbia.

At the end of each day, the festival moves from the Missouri Theatre to the Regency Inn on Broadway. There, performers and spectators mingle and listen to each other play piano. The afterglow, as it’s called, continues well into the night and also includes drinks and dancing.

Tickets to the daytime events are $12 per day, and the night performances are $30. Festival-goers can also buy an all-events pass for $90.00, which allows them to see all of the performances from Sunday to Tuesday.

For more information, visit, or call 573-445-2539. For tickets, or buy tickets at the door at the Missouri Theatre, 203 S. Ninth St.

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