Ragtime Festival, Boulder, CO
Festival review by Gerald Clark
I have not attended many music festivals — I only have a couple Sacramento Jazz Jubilees, one West Coast Ragtime Festival (Sacramento CA, in November), a couple summers of the Oregon Bach Festival, and a night at the Alaska Folk Festival (Juneau, AK) back in the late 1970s, maybe 1980s. So that makes me an expert... well, at least it emboldens me into thinking maybe I'm not the only one who might share my opinions of the 2003 RMRF.
First off, if you ever get a chance to attend the Rocky Mt. Ragtime Festival, do so! It was wonderful! Actually, attend the West Coast Ragtime Festival too— the two are organized differently. At the West Coast the performer has a time slot to fill; at the Rocky Mountain there are musical themes, and several performers play within that theme. One mode is no better than the other; rather, it keeps the music interesting and vital.
Don't let the name of the festival mislead you — it wasn't devoted only to ragtime, but included related music such as the works of Gottschalk and Nazareth, and music styles like boogie-woogie, the blues, new ragtime, choro and Terra Verde. Attending this festival was a real education!
A small, intimate music festival is not just about hearing and seeing the performance of good music. I also very much appreciated the chance to get to know the performers — who often are the composers — and having the opportunity to talk to them and thank them personally for their efforts.
Alas: for every ointment, its fly! There were a few things I was not happy about. Sophie and her expert fiddle art was a welcome addition to some of the piano pieces, but I think she was used a little too much. The string performers, on the other hand acted as if they had never heard the music, had never practiced their parts, had never practiced together, and didn't know what the others were doing! And they acted indifferent to the audience.