Sedalia, Missouri bills itself as the “cradle of ragtime music.” The talented pianist, Scott Joplin, arrived in Sedalia in 1894. He studied at the George R. Smith School of music while playing music at the dozens of brothels and saloons that once lined the streets of this former railroad town. It was Joplin who played an important role in the development of a new form of music known as ragtime. Historians say that his work laid the groundwork for American jazz. Each year this small town hosts a four-day ragtime festival.
We’ve never attended a ragtime festival and weren’t really sure about the genre or what to expect. But, without a doubt, the festival was fantastic. And the weather co-operated with sunny skies!
About 30 musicians participated from across the United States including one musician from France. There were free musical performances each day until 5pm at three different venues downtown including the restored Katy Depot. Each musician played a 30 minute set so you got a taste of each of their styles. If you wanted a more focused performance, you could also attend one of the paid performances that were held each day at a restored theatre.
While the focus was Scott Joplin, the musicians were free to inject their own style during the free performances. The French musician, Sebastien Troendle, played outstanding sets of boogie-woogie and blues. He immediately captured the audience’s attention when he went onstage carrying a huge exercise gym ball. He preferred sitting on it instead of a traditional bench. It was quite a performance to watch.
In between the music, we did two bicycle rides along the Katy Trail. At 238 miles, the Katy Trail is the longest rail-trail in the United States. The weather was good so we jumped at the opportunity to cycle two sections of the Katy Trail. We also toured the Bothwell Mansion, now a Missouri State Park. Bothwell was a prominent banker and philanthropist. His 31 room mansion, which sits on a bluff about seven miles from town, was his summer getaway.
As you can tell, we enjoyed our stay in Sedalia. We are now in Columbia, Missouri. We’re here for, guess what, more music. The University of Missouri is kicking off its month-long classical music event and we’ve got a few concerts lined up. We also plan on cycling what has been described as the most scenic section of the Katy Trail.
Oh, we got the boogie-woogie itch! Need to download some music.
Stay tuned for our adventures across Missouri.