Music enthusiasts interested in folk-flavored Ragtime should take a serious look at the work of Minnesotan Brian Keenan, whose The Wagon Wheel is a modern realization of the style typified in Brun Campbell’s Barrel House Rag, with greater attention to melodic shaping.
Piano rags in the key of A-flat major are common; The Wagon Wheel is one that successfully brings out the sweetness inherent in that key. The second section is 20 measures long instead of the traditional 16, taking a brief detour through D major; Keenan forgoes the detour in the triumphant return of this section at the end of the piece.
An energetic live performance of The Wagon Wheel can be seen on the composer’s YouTube channel. A studio recording of the piece (from Keenan’s CD Traditions, cover art by Eric Bombardt pictured here) as well as numerous other recordings can be found at soundcloud.com/brian-patrick-keenan.
Brandon Byrne is a ragtime composer, performer, and scholar. Max Morath said of Byrne, “Brandon’s unique compositions display unparalleled gifts and hidden virtuosity. His music reflects the past and challenges the future. His playing will touch your soul.” For a full list of his compositions, please visit his website.