At the West Coast Ragtime Festival last November I met for the first time Ray Skjelbred (pronounced SHELL-bred in case you haven’t heard it before), pianist, poet and teacher who should be familiar to this paper’s readers. He has been the leader or participant on over 50 CDs. He was featured about three years ago in a two-part article, and he has been on the scene—mostly on the West Coast—for over 50 years as a musician. Not recalling what had been written about him before in these pages, I asked if he would consent to an interview. When he reminded me of the ink he had previously received, I was not discouraged. Because of his history I knew he had much interesting information to impart, so I asked him to suggest a topic.
He did not recall talking about his film in the earlier pieces, and he was interested in talking about the young musicians he likes. So those will be the topics of this treatise. Ray graciously sent me the following report/reminiscence, leaving nothing for me to add to enhance the piece. I am deeply grateful to Ray for, again, sharing his formidable knowledge, experiences and love and respect for this music and the people, past and present, who are performing and preserving it.
BH: Let’s talk first about your film. Your website has no mention of it.
RS: A couple of years ago, with the support of my friend and producer John Ochs, we made a film about my