Sedalia Ragtime Archive
          dedicated to the genius of Scott Joplin and the American Music History he made in Sedalia 

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Jake what would you think

Posted by sedaliaragtimearchives on May 7, 2016 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (1108)

“Jake, what would you think about having a Ragtime Festival next year to mark the 75th anniversary of the publication of Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag?” Now even though Papa Jake had been up since 3 AM and it was then after four in the afternoon he came alive like Ragtime Bob Darch beating out a syncopated rag on the old slogan-painted piano he hauled all over the country in his heyday. “Absolutely! Ragtimers will flock to Sedalia to hear the music! You know I worked with Harlin Snow on the 1959 and 1960 Commemorative Concerts with Darch. Marshall and Ireland were still living and we packed the house.” And so the first Sedalia Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival was born on that April, 1973 afternoon in the Chamber of Commerce office on 4th Street. Jake was president at that time and I knew him from my days on the Police Department. He always left the back door of the donut shop unlocked for the officer walking the downtown beat at night. Believe me at 4AM, in cold, blustery weather, after a long night of shaking doors and spooking alley cats, the aroma of fresh coffee and donuts just out of the oven is pure ecstasy and Jake and Stella were saints in white aprons. Their flour dusted faces and arms gave them a kind of angelic persona as well. All this comes vividly to mind as the Festival Board ramps into high gear in preparation for this year’s annual event June 1-4. And, there will be a flashback this year because the Ragtime Archive Project of the Heritage Foundation is funding a reunion of some of the legends of ragtime who appeared at the 1974 event. Max Morath, Terry Waldo, Richard Zimmerman and David Reffkin to name a few will be reminising and telling stories from their amazing careers. Tickets are on sale now so don’t wait to get yours. The Symposia on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings will be extra fascinating this year and the concerts...well the concerts are always outstanding. “Absolutely,” Jake said, and the people of Sedalia are still celebrating 43 years later!


Posted by sedaliaragtimearchives on April 5, 2016 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (68)

You will never be more reminded of Sedalia’s ragtime heritage and of the town’s rich history than when you enter the restored KATY Depot. Just being around the building affords the sensation of going back in time to when KATY Flyers came and went from several directions unloading cargo and passengers...thousands of passengers.

Then walk inside to feel the open intimacy of the place and know you are adding to the almost constant flow of humanity that has wafted through those massive doors for well over a century.

While you are enjoying the unique shop in the lobby with so many delightful and unusual souvenirs and gift ideas, pay the small admission fee and stroll back to the museum on the south end of the building. Scan the latest exhibit just installed for this year’s Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival to be held June 1-4.

The Sedalia Archive Project of the Heritage Foundation is is currently sponsoring museum showcase on the subject of “Sedalia in the Ragtime Years”. Special emphasis is focused on the decade of 1894-1904 to describe what Sedalia was like when Scott Joplin was creating America’s music there and what brought him to Sedalia in the first place.

Joplin was an itinerant musician, almost constantly traveling around North America, but for a decade he made Sedalia his base, living and working there and teaching young Sedalians how to play his uniquely new Classic Ragtime piano pieces.

Perhaps he came and returned because Sedalia was already a musical town and he could add to that spirit and, in fact, add to the rest of America’s popular and classical music as well. August 10, 1899 is a landmark moment in America’s musical history for at 114 East Fifth in the John Stark Music Store, the Maple Leaf Rag contract made history by making Joplin the Ragtime King and Sedalia, a place where America’s music began.

So stop by, look over the exhibits and take in the amazing heritage that belongs to all Sedalians (and we ex-patriots, too!) There is so much to be proud of there.

Larry Melton Coordinator, Sedalia Ragtime Archive Project

Where America's Music Began on the Frontier

Posted by sedaliaragtimearchives on January 9, 2016 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (7)

Where America’s Music Began on the Frontier 

When Scott Joplin arrived in Sedalia in the 1890’s it was a bustling, bawdy, bounding young city ready to burst into the twentieth century. It was only two or three generations from having been founded on the wide open Missouri prairie. In 1895 Sedalia seemed to have one foot on the frontier while the other was progressively stepping into the future.

Sedalia’s founder General George R. Smith, had anticipated the phenomenon and moved his little community from Georgetown to Sedville as news of the railroad’s western advance crossed the Mississippi River. It was a very wise and propitious move indeed.

However, only months after its founding in 1857 Sedalia had been torn by the Civil War. The Missouri Pacific railroad had been laid as far as Sedalia and it would be the railhead for most of the fighting. As a result both sides fought to hold and then keep this vital asset under their authority. The 1860’s were not a pleasant time to be here, yet people came; rugged, ragged, roughened pioneers looking for a better life.

As the war ended, an even rowdier rabble came bursting into town really kicking up the dust this time. They were the original cowboys herding Texas cattle to a hungry market in the east. After the war, Sedalia was the nearest access to a rail line supplying that market. The “Rawhide” trail only lasted one season but it put Sedalia on the map and began a succession of economic ventures that grew our little wild west town into a city.

Sedalia grew quickly sort of skipping its childhood and jumping feet first into its adolescence. The town was always about the iron road and as the 1800’s accelerated to 1900 the railroad built the town into a city. The Missouri Pacific barreled across the continent after the Civil War and it soon reached the Pacific coast. Communities along that ribbon of rails prospered. Those still hugging rivers and streams, the early arteries of the new nation, watched as their prosperity literally dried up. Sedalia was booming and I’ll light that fuse next time we visit a place where America’s music began.

Larry C Melton 1-09-2016

Sedalia, Missouri and America's Music

Posted by sedaliaragtimearchives on January 2, 2016 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (51)

Sedalia, Missouri and America’s Music

Welcome to a blog about Sedalia, Missouri, a place where America’s music began. For the first installment I’ve chosen to introduce this fascinating topic with a sort of adult-children’s poem as one of my heroes, Dr. Theodor Geisel might have written.

The phrasing is Seussian but the rhythm is there So don’t be in a hurry; take unusual care to read every word whether awkward or blurred. For…

there Once Was A Man Who Heard Music in the Air… no others could hear it, but to him it was there all around him and in him and he wanted to share. For the music he heard could be defined in two words: contagious, outrageous, bodacious, a third. The man also heard music everyone knew and all of their music was in his head too. All around him and in him but what could he do with this music he heard? It was fidgety, flappity; free as a bird melodious commodious but not very new, There were … Viennese waltzes, and bold polonaises, and hymns that inspired with anthemic praises enlivening tangos and striding fandangos and liturgical chantings o’er Italian Bel cantos.. There was Fugue and Sonata Mazurka Cantata and mourning ex-slaves wailing songs of their days of cruel subjugation in their bondservant cages. So the man who heard music that no one else heard decided to blend it to what he preferred; a creation, sensation and almost absurd and then he disclosed that what he composed was contagious outrageous and tapped everyone’s toes This music he gathered from other locations was new and exciting, such a bright innovation. that he started to brag of his Maple Leaf Rag till everyone noticed his latest creation   Some joyfully exclaimed and others proclaimed Scott Joplin is King for his music will bring him fortune and honor and national fame. So, let it be known throughout this far land that Sedalia’s a place where America’s music began.

Scott Joplin (1868-1917) wasn’t born in Sedalia, Missouri but he lived here off and on for several years in the 1890’s. He was a trained musician and composer. Up until Joplin’s time, our nation really didn’t have a musical form that was uniquely American. So while he was in Sedalia, Scott Joplin took the lilting melodies and lyrical harmonies of the Europeans in his right hand, and the pounding tempos of Latin Americans and pulsing rhythms of African and Native Americans in his left hand and made something new. The result was a scintillating syncopation they called ragtime back then. Joplin’s compositions were dubbed Classic Ragtime because they were so carefully and beautifully constructed here in Sedalia, a place where America’s music began.  

Larry C Melton 01-02-2016