I turn 29 in less than a month. This is simply unacceptable. I demand a recount.
To my credit, I still have a few dreams. One of my very real dreams is to be nominated for Grammy. I don’t care for what or in what category – if I win Best Use of a Alliteration in a Ragtime Title, that’s fine – I don’t have to win, I just want to be nominated.
See, being a ragtime pianist kind of sucks. You spend half your time declaring the legitimacy of your music, and the other half worrying whether you are or are not legitimate. Your chance of dying in obscurity, forgotten but for a few enlightened diehards, is literally 100%, and you often wonder if you’re making a remote amount of difference with your music.
Which is why I’ve wanted, ever since I was 16, to win a Grammy award. It would mean some public acceptance, would make it irrefutable that I had produced something musically worthwhile, and it would make me feel all shiny in my dull places.
To that end, Bryan has been helping me submit Handful of Keys to the Grammy nomination process. It’s this weirdly secretive, whisper-and-skeleton-key process that he just fortunately has access to, and we’re going for it. Why not? The album has been created. It’s just sitting here, being all album-y. Why not send in some copies and see which way the dice fall?
Now, there is no “ragtime” category, nor is there even a “traditional jazz” category. A ragtime album has to go up against either the jazz world or the classical world, so the numbers are not remotely in my favor. Even so, we’re submitting it in four categories:
Best Jazz Instrumental Album
Best Jazz Improvisation (for “The Entertainer (blues)”)
Best Jazz Composition (for “The Smoky Rose”)
Best Liner Notes (for… well… the snarky, fun liner notes I wrote)
It’s got a snowball’s chance in Hell, but you can’t win if you don’t play. And who knows? Maybe my music will reach some appreciative ears.
Other than that, it’s been a pretty slow month for me. I’ve been taking a break from all things piano. I was writing a new rag earlier this month but petered out on it, growing weary of the same old syncopations, and have been enjoying picking up a few other interests of my muse – working on my novel and doing some freelance video production – that fell by the wayside in the spring and early summer.
Sometimes I get worried that when I put ragtime down I’m not going to want to pick it up again.
Happily, October is bringing a couple lovely engagements, including the First Annual Stride Piano Summit at which I’ll get to feel like a fanboy again. And it all starts to make sense when I’m around my friends Brian Holland and Jeff Barnhart, who epitomize the spirit and joy of the music.
In the interim, I’m planning a for-reals bash here in DC to celebrate the release of Handful of Keys. I’m inviting everybody who’s anybody, and since you’re somebody, you should totally come! More details as I have them…