|Posted by sedaliaragtimearchives on May 7, 2016 at 12:40 AM|
“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!