Ashburn Magazine

Ashburn man keeps the history of ragtime music alive

Ashburn musician Bill Edwards was a child living in California’s San Fernando Valley in 1964 when he discovered his life’s calling in an unlikely way – listening to a stack of worn 10-inch vinyl records his father left behind when his parents divorced.

“I discovered ragtime music when I was just 5 and have not been able to leave it alone since,” said Edwards.

The old records – including tunes from legendary musicians such as Frankie Carle, Joe “Fingers” Carr and Paul Lingle – brought joy and comfort to young Edwards as he adjusted to family changes.

“To escape the chaos around me, I would go to my room and bury myself in that music. When you listen to those tracks, it’s impossible to not be happy,” he said. “Sometimes I would put on a Disney record or something, but I always went back to those great ragtime albums. By the time I was 7, I decided I was going to be a piano player – that would be my thing.”

It was an unusual choice of music for a boy growing up in the era of the Beatles. Ragtime, which today many associate only with silent films, old cartoons or maybe a Woody Allen movie, is a genuinely American genre of syncopated music that swept the country from the late 1890s into the early 1900s.

To read more about the history of ragtime music, how Edwards became one of the nation’s leading scholars on the musical style, and how he’s fighting tooth and nail to preserve it for future generations — click here and read the rest of the story over at the Ashburn Magazine website.