2008-02-16 06:56:13 UTC
festivals in the USA. Here in Australia, our population is too small
to even hope for such an event, so we must contend with accepting
ragtime as a (usually small) component of a broader jazz festival.
Having said that, might I suggest that if you want to visit Australia
and wish to experience ragtime as it is here, structure your visit so
you attend the Merimbula (south coast of NSW) Jazz Festival on the
second weekend in June (Friday evening to Monday afternoon). As a
result of the ragtime leanings of one of the organisers, this seems to
have become the festival where most ragtime is performed. One of the 8
venues is even labelled "The Maple Leaf Room", and contains the only
grand piano of the festival. Most ragtime is performed here, even
though this only makes up about 30% of this venue's performances.
Last year's event gives an indication of ragtime performed at the
festival. Solo piano performers were classical organist Harold
Fabricant ("An Organist Takes a Break") who performed mainly early UK
and USA cakewalks; Leanne Suffern, who performed early classic rags;
Adrian Ford, who covered a range of ragtime and early stride; and I
("Ragtime Dave") played classic and lesser known early USA and
Australian rags. Duos were Jim Mills and Stephen Jewell ("The 19
fingers of Mills and Jewell", no, I don't know why), two pianos,
presenting classic rags and stride; "Pianowash" (Jeremy Cookes piano
and Jan Pickering washboard), with mainly straight ragtime; and "Pluck
and Tickle" (Russel Sheridan piano and Peter Millburn banjo) who
presented ragtime and old time sing-along. Larger groups were "The
Elite Syncopators" (clarinet, piano, bass, and washboard, not the USA
band of the same name); "Spirituals to Ragtime" (clarinet, banjo, bass
and drums); "Mothers Ruin" (reeds, viola, flute, banjo, bass, drums,
used to be only ragtime but recently have included Latin-America
music), and "Ragtime Rollers" (piano, tuba, reeds, banjo, drums).
Several of us included our own compositions. In addition to this, some
other bands included ragtime (eg "Gutbucket Jug Band" had some very
nice ragtime featuring mandolin) or ragtime-related material ("Wizard
and Oz" always include quality boogie, and one of the bands at the
Monday picnic, I've forgotten which, played straight honky-tonk).
More details, registration forms etc. at
If you wish to perform there, musician registration closes March 17.
As all performers are treated equally, and the organisation is non-
profit, payment is only nominal. If you do wish to perform, my wife
and I will help defray costs by accommodating a few people at our home
during your stay in Sydney and (perhaps) getting you to Merimbula.
Hoping to hear an overseas accent or two at Merimbula this year.