Despite the fact that I’m lying under a paisley comforter in a skeevy Ramada, I just had an awesome night.
It’s 3AM. My right wrist is burning hot from the two hours of continuous practicing I just did. I wish someone had been recording me, because after about 30 minutes of practicing I transformed into an entirely different musician and could playing anything I tried to play. It was crazy. I was a monster. Rawr.
I’m at a ragtime festival with Bryan Wright, Richard Dowling, and Stephanie Trick. We had our first concert tonight at 7:30, and I had to play six pieces. I was so nervous, I barely remember the first three. I sat down to play and had a moment of, “Wait, wait… I have to play this instrument? How does it even work?” I barely managed to make it through Scott Joplin’s “Ragtime Dance,” and the ghost of Billy Mayerl helped me through his “Marigold.” I invited Bryan up to play “Red Elephant Rag” with me, but I screwed up the last section so it was kind of an underwhelming end (we’ll try again later). Otherwise, everyone played marvelously. Richard and Stephanie really hit it off, and did some amazing duets. I can’t get over how talented she is. I got the chance to play with her later in the evening, and it was a lot of fun.
After the intermission, I debuted a new piece – the “Newbie Eubie” – which got a good reaction from the audience. I’ll try to post a video of it soon. I muddled through Joe Lamb’s “Hot Cinders,” and then pulled out my “Incandescent Rag” to finish the set. I managed, by the end, to stop worrying about impressing people and just start having fun. I had a lot of rust to shake off, and it took all six pieces to do it. That, and three glasses of wine. Richard has a joke he tells: “The secret to ragtime,” he says, “is alcohol. The more you drink, the better I sound.” I agree, although sometimes the more I drink, the better I sound. At least to a point…
Regardless, I’m having a great time. It’s wonderful to be around other musicians who share a love of this music. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We have two concerts – one at 2 PM and one at 7:30 PM. Hopefully we can draw a little bigger crowd for those.