In early January 2016, newly-minted publisher Andy Senior began to edit and lay out his first issue of The Syncopated Times after buying The American Rag from Don Jones the previous month. This issue, our 84th, marks seven continuous years of publication—indeed a cause for celebration.
“I know, there ought to be a cake or something,” says Senior. “Well, I can’t eat cake—and I don’t much care for it, anyway. You can have cake if you want. Or make it a virtual cake—one of those NFT things. I might have a small dab of ice cream, though.”
Senior says that he initially wound up writing for The American Rag without having applied for the job. “I just woke up one day in May 2015 and there was an email with a writing assignment. I was more or less shanghaied. But I decided not to fight it, since I didn’t have much else going on at the time.”
Senior likens his buyout of the Rag to the recent acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk. “On a much smaller scale, certainly. But there it is. Like Musk, I was entering a field in which I had absolutely no training or expertise. I’m a radio guy and a musician. All I had going for me was determination that surpassed my ignorance. And, spending four figures rather than ten, there wasn’t quite as far to fall.”
Despite its tentative beginnings, Senior’s work with TST has earned him a 2022 JJA Jazz Hero award and the praise of jazz fans and musicians alike. “I’ve received some of the kindest testimonials from people I hold in awe.” He also kept the paper going through the pandemic, covering costs when ad revenues from festivals were nearly nonexistent. “I took COVID as a personal affront. I wasn’t going to give up that easily.”
So is The Syncopated Times a labor of love? “I suppose so—if you take ‘love’ to mean ‘commitment’ and ‘obligation.’ It’s what I signed on for. I’m here until somebody shows up who cares about it as much as I do, and who can take on everything that I do. We’ve built a formidable website, which is Joe Bebco’s excellent work, but I take care of everything on the print end.
“We still exist in print because some readers don’t want to read the paper online. Also, there is satisfaction in crafting a good layout, and pleasure in reading it.” —from staff reports