Guitarist Steven Hancoff

This month I continue to write about the premier 1974 Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri. Last month I featured Flint Long, piano contest winner. According to Steven Hancoff, he went to the 1974 Joplin Ragtime Festival, entered the String Contest, and was totally surprised when he won. Since that event Steven has gone on to have an amazing career as an innovative performer of traditional American music on the acoustic guitar. Steven was born in Baltimore and in his adolescent years he went to New York City where he discovered the contemporary performers of the 1960s who were playing the folk music of America—specifically ragtime. He wanted to be part of the music scene, but his impoverished situation precluded getting a piano or even taking lessons. Therefore, his new motivation led him to purchase a guitar and teach himself to play. When he was older Steven enrolled in and graduated from St. John’s college in Maryland. The college is known for its unique study of “The Great Books of the Western World” (The Syntopicon). Learning the music by hearing it and then figuring it out allowed him to create his own technique and led to his unique style. His first recording Classic Ragtime Guitar was produced by Big Al Mothershead on Dirty Shame Records because of hearing Steven at the ’74 Sedalia Festival. Steven points out on his website that he didn’t realize
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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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