Tuesday, April 10, 2012

America's Favorite...and Second to None

That slogan was taken from a piece of sheet music written by Charles N. Daniels, one of the most prolific composers of the 1890s-1930s period, with songs like "Margery," "You Tell Me Your Dream, I'll Tell You Mine," and "Chloe." (That last one was one of the many he composed under one of his many pen names: Neil Moret.)

And don't forget that he published an 1899 Scott Joplin piece, "Original Rags."

The above slogan's also one that Charles' grandniece, Nan Bostick, adopted.

Nan was no slouch as a composer, either, what with winners like "Ragtime in Randall," "Bean Whistle Rag," and "That Missing You Rag."

I'm one of the many missing her, too. Recently, Nan lost her battle with lung cancer.

Nan was a veteran of many ragtime festivals nationwide, including California's Sutter Creek event (held every August since that get-together's 2000 inception) and that same state's West Coast Ragtime Festival.

She even performed at the Ragtime to Riches Festival, coming to the Omaha/Council Bluffs/Bellevue area in 2006 and 2007. (I remember when, at the 2006 festival, she jammed alongside another of that year's featured performers, Pat Boilesen.)

Nan Bostick really was second to none when it came to giving workshops; hers were some of the most entertaining workshops you'd ever attended.

One of her most famous workshops focused on the work her granduncle put together, starting in his Missouri/Kansas days...when Charles' "Hiawatha" touched off a brief craze for songs about Native American people.

Funny thing about it, "Hiawatha" wasn't about a Native American...it was about a Kansas town that bears said name.

I learned from Nan that during the 1897-1917 period, roughly 350 women composed at least one ragtime tune apiece.

And Charles N. Daniels got some of them published, too.

I've tried some of those pieces myself...and had a ball working on 'em. One of those numbers is "That Poker Rag," by Charlotte Blake. Others include Irene Giblin's "Chicken Chowder" and Nellie Stokes' "Snowball."

By the way...my favorite Nan Bostick composition is "Bean Whistle Rag." (You get to, as the sheet music says, ad lib...and have fun!)

She encouraged me to concentrate on giving workshops; Nan, somehow, liked the ones I'd given. (Well, to tell you the truth, I'd rather put giving workshops and performing together. But still...)

Nan was one of ragtime's best and most tireless researchers; it showed in every concert she gave and every workshop she conducted. I admire how she liked going to different schools nationwide to show children just what old-time piano's really like.

Nan...thank you for helping to show me (and plenty of other people) what old-time piano's really like.

Thank you for being part of my life...and allowing me to be in yours.

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