I had an interview with a newspaper today. It made me feel like a rockstar.
One of the music festivals I’m performing at suggested me as a good interview candidate – a risky move, considering that I tend to say crazy things when my mouth moves – but I know it went well because I spent over 50% of it talking about Star Wars.
The interviewer, John, was just a few years older than me, and his voice, a low, warm rasp, coaxed just the right amount of information. That is to say, I didn’t shut up for, like, 50 minutes. Despite my yammering he was respectful, asked good questions, didn’t sigh audibly when I talked for five minutes at a time, and actually sounded interested in the festival, in me, in ragtime. He also admitted to defending George Lucas on occasion, disliked the prequels but loved the OT, and said he felt God more profoundly when Yoda talks than when a priest does which, you can imagine, warmed every cockle in my Star-Wars-laden body.
He asked a number of great questions, but my favorite was about how I make non-ragtime tunes into ragtime and whether I was doing it because I thought it would make me “cool.” The answer is, um, I was playing Legend of Zelda in ragtime before YouTube even existed. I wish I could claim to be the mastermind behind some vast, calculated conspiracy to make ragtime relevant, but honestly I’m still in shock that, A) “Ragtime” and “cool” were used in the same sentence by an intelligent human being other than myself, and B) Combining two nerdy things that I love makes not one massively nerdy thing like I expected, but one frigging cool thing, i.e., “Star Wars” plus “ragtime” equals video with a half-million hits. This is kind of the opposite of what I expected to happen, but damn, it’s a happy surprise.
It was entertaining to sit back in my head listen to myself be interviewed. I’m not a preachy person, but get me talking about ragtime, it’s future, and it’s history, and I start thumping books like the Rev. Billy Graham. I wasn’t “replying to questions,” I was “proselytizing to the unbelievers” – and it’s not like I could help it, either. I went to answer a question and all of a sudden this big elephant stood on its hind legs within me, took a draught of fresh air, and began to blow a giant ragtime horn until its ears turned blue. I unabashedly love this stuff. I do. not. know. why. Scientists have been unable to determine the reason. I’ve confounded the greatest rational minds of our age. It just is, and my only hope is not to scare people with how passionate I am about this thing that I love so damn much.
That said, the interview got me very excited about my upcoming musical adventures. The trek begins on May 27th in Peoria, IL and ends in Sedalia, MO on June 5th. I’ve got, like, 6 concerts to give in that time, not to mention a number of 20-minute sets, and right now I’ve spent so much time listening to myself play on my album that I haven’t physically touched a piano in over two weeks.
I hope people like “Chopsticks” in ragtime, because that’s what I’m going to be able to play unless I get my act together. Ragtime rockstar, indeed.