Ragtime Festival in Starkville: Tickling the ivories

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

Pop music’s ancestor is getting a celebration in Starkville. Ragtime music, which was most popular in the early 1900s, is the focus of the Charles Templeton Ragtime Jazz Festival at the Mississippi State University Campus. Now in its fifth year, the festival has found its magic formula, which combines ragtime performances with talks and discussions about the genre.
“If you have a little idea or if you know nothing (about ragtime), you really leave the weekend with a lot of knowledge,” said Lyle Tate, who helps organize the event each year.

Old school sounds
Ragtime could be called pop music’s great-grandfather.
“It really was the first American music form, even before jazz,” Tate said. The festival is a “crash course in the culture and style of the time.”
The performers at this year’s festival will give two performances: They will perform in concerts, and then in “living room sessions,” in which they are able to converse with the audience.
“It’s very light-hearted and very conversational and fun,” he said.
Sue Keller, Brian Holland, Frederick Hodges and Jim Hession will all give these “talk at the piano” performances. Each of the performers are well-known in the ragtime scene.
“Brian Holland is one of the most entertaining performers that we’ve ever had,” Tate said. “He’s dynamic and amazing to watch.”
Keller has performed ragtime music all over the world.
“She is very entertaining and wacky and fun. She has a different style than the other guys,” Tate said.
Hession has recently relocated to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He performs many styles of early jazz such as ragtime, boogie woogie, swing, stride and Harlem shout.
Hodges, who is a world-renowned silent film accompanist, will also accompany a selection of classic silent comedy films starring Laurel & Hardy and Charley Chase.
On Friday night, Keller and Hession will perform together, and then on Saturday, Hodges and Holland will take the stage.
The variety of performances means there’s something for everyone, Tate said.
“It’s all very interactive and relaxed – it’s not like you’re sitting in class,” he said. “These performers really know how to share the message of what they love.”


– Featuring: Jim Hession, Frederick Hodges, Brian Holland, Sue Keller

– When: March 25-26

– Where: Daytime events are at the Charles Templeton Music Museum on the 4th floor of
the Mitchell Memorial Library on the MSU campus in Starkville. Evening events are at the
Lee Hall Auditorium.

– Cost: $10/Friday or Saturday night concert only badge, $30/Friday or Saturday only
badge, $50/all events badge.

– For complete event schedule and more info: http://library.msstate.edu/ragtime
/festival/index.html or (662) 325-2559

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