Ragtime concert by Village Band will be performed this weekend in Aztec

Pianist Hoyle Osborne will lead all-star group of musicians

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
The Village Band will perform a concert of ragtime music at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9 in Aztec.
  • The Village Band performs at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9 at the Aztec Museum Pioneer Village.
  • Admission is free.
  • The concert will feature performances of obscure ragtime tunes, most of them written more than a century ago.

FARMINGTON — While ragtime music may have hit its peak of popularity over a 25-year period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Hoyle Osborne insists its impact continues to be felt more than 100 years later.

"Ragtime is this amazing movement where the American voice in music really coalesced and came into focus," he said. "It was something so interesting and energetic, and the whole world fell in love with ragtime."

As a professional pianist, Osborne has specialized in performing ragtime music for much of his career. This weekend, he will carry his devotion to that genre a step further with a concert of lesser-known ragtime tunes, backed by an all-star group of local musicians called the Village Band.

Osborne is promising an afternoon of interesting music performed by top-notch musicians. Many of the members of the Village Band — which consists of Tennille Taylor and Cathy Pope on violin, Sandy Kiefer on cello, Mick Hesse on cornet, Connie Schulz on euphonium, Don Allen on trombone and Osborne on piano — are current or former members of the San Juan Symphony, he said.

"They're all really talented musicians," he said.

Hoyle Osborne leads an all-star group of local musicians in a ragtime concert this weekend in Aztec.

Even those well versed in ragtime music might be surprised by some of the tunes Osborne has chosen for the program. He said all of the compositions — aside from two of his original tunes that will be performed — were written between 1898 and 1920.

"I wanted to share them with the rest of the world," Osborne said of the songs he chose. "They're tunes too good to be missed."

Naturally, the program includes a song written by Scott Joplin, who continues to reign as ragtime's best-known composer. The group will perform his "Church-Light Rag."

"It's a great classic Scott Joplin tune that people probably haven't heard," Osborne said.

Also on the program is Jimmie Monaco's "Pigeon Walk," another obscure but essential ragtime tune, Osborne said.

"I've never heard anyone else play it," he said.

Osborne found the sheet music for the song many years ago in an Indiana antique store in a small town on the Ohio River, he said. He described it as a "cute and lopsided tune."

Also on the program is "Echoes from the Snowball Club" by Harry P. Guy, a ragtime waltz. He crafted the tune for Detroit's largest African-American dance club in 1898.

Another highlight will be the group's performance of "Texas Fox Trot" by David Guion, written in 1915. Osborne described Guion as one of ragtime's more fascinating characters, as he grew up on a prosperous ranch near San Angelo, Texas, the son of parents who made sure he had the best musical education that could be found there in that era.

As a young man, Guion eventually made his way to Vienna, Austria, where he studied and performed in the years leading up to World War I. He returned to Texas in 1914, and wrote "Texas Fox Trot," which Osborne ranks as "one of the moodiest, strangest ragtime tunes ever written." He believes the song reflects the atmosphere of despair and fear that Guion encountered in Europe as war broke out.

Guion continued to perform in competitions across the United States as a concert pianist, Osborne said, but he also was an accomplished rodeo rider, specializing in busting broncos.

Osborne has arranged the music on the program to fit the lineup of performers he recruited for the Village Band.

"All that is a matter of synchronicity," he said. " … I had an idealized band, but just as important to me is the musicians I'm making music with. And I couldn't be happier with this group."

The Village Band performs at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9 at the Aztec Museum Pioneer Village, 125 N. Main Ave. in Aztec. Admission is free. Call 505-334-9829.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.