Bill Edwards Explores Honky-Tonk: the Ragtime Craze of the 1950s

For some time now I have been wanting to write about the prodigious work of Bill Edwards of Ashburn, Virginia. (However, I learned he had at least two massive books planned for publication, so I opted to wait for their arrival. Bill already had a beautiful book on E.T. Paull: America’s Other March King (2011), so I reasoned it would be worth the wait. Well, 2023 is the year of Bill’s Honky-Tonk Piano: The Study of the First Ragtime Revival of the 1950s. As expected, it is a prodigious work, thoroughly covering the topics through his familiar, summative articles about the people and institutions involved. But, first some personal comments about Bill’s career and his most ambitious effort, his website. I first became aware of Bill Edwards while surfing the web for ragtime material back in the late nineteen-nineties and was amazed by what I found. It has been even more amazing to follow his website and watch it evolve into a nearly definitive on-line encyclopedia of ragtime information. (Bill began in June of 1997 and it has grown to be a most valuable research resource. (The amount of information Bill has amassed on the site is phenomenal and it is available free of charge. He only asks for proper professional acknowledgment.) Bill’s professional on-line biography is a delight to read. As a five-year-old child. gifted with rare musical abilities, he
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Larry Melton was a founder of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in 1974 and the Sedalia Ragtime Archive in 1976. He was a Sedalia Chamber of Commerce manager before moving on to Union, Missouri where he is currently helping to conserve the Ragtime collection of the Sedalia Heritage Foundation. Write him at [email protected].

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