I found a vein of mid-19th century "Honky Tonk" piano LPs at a junk shop yesterday, and I want to know everything about the person whose collection they were from.
I brought home a few and as I expected, they've got that Shakey's Pizza Parlor vibe to them; ragtime era music distorted through the lens of 1950s/60s nostalgia, conflated with early jazz and mashed into an old-timey pastiche. /
The playing on this Knuckles O'Toole album is stellar but it was deliberately recorded using an out-of-tune spinet piano that sounds like shit. I don't doubt that many of the venues where ragtime originally rose to popularity had crappy pianos, but this album was recorded in a professional studio in 1958 and to use a bad piano was a very deliberate (and unfortunate) choice. /
All of that being said, this a good album in a double-nostalgic Disneyland Main Street USA sort of way; 2020 nostalgia for 1950s nostalgia for 1900.
"Knuckles O'Toole" recorded a bunch of this stuff, have a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBdHAiXZK4c /
also, I was very surprised to learn that he is still alive, 92 years old and still performing in Florida. His real name is Dick Hyman, and I'm going to drop him a line:
Holy smokes, Arthur Shilstone, the artist who painted the evocative cover of Vol. 4 is also still alive (I think? He was in 2017) in his 90s and still painting. He is an absolutely incredible watercolorist (https://www.google.com/search?q=arthur+shilstone&tbm=isch)
There are of course also Joshua Rifkin's excellent recordings of Scott Joplin's rags, originally released in 1970, also played solo on a nice piano, in stately fashion:
There is something about this music that gives me great big enormous feels; it's got one foot still in the victorian world but it also feels strikingly progressive for its time, a precursor to the comparative chaos of jazz, on the cusp of the whole modern world that eventually followed
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