Heroes of Parlor Town 1
'The CD...lives up to the promise of the website samples. Watkins plays with a great sense of the ragtime and stride styles, as we understand them. He tends to play his rags on the lively side, with a light, bouncy bass. He makes his rags happy, and they rollick with glee; his rendition of James Scott's 'Hilarity Rag' expresses the title with exuberance. His stride pieces straddle the edges of rag, blues and jazz, merging the elements that make that style so exciting. He is not a purist as far as the notation is concered, but his departures from the score are apt and delight with surprise.' - Ed Berlin, author of 'King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era' as reviewed in the June, 2005 issue of The Mississippi Rag. Brent Watkins studied piano beginning at the age of 8. Trained in the classics, as a young teenager, Brent fell in love with ragtime piano in the early 70's, when music from the motion picture 'The Sting' was played on a local radio station. Acquiring a substantial collection of piano and ensemble ragtime recordings and sheet music, Brent expanded his repertoire and became eager to share his new found love of the music. He began his piano career by performing at the 2nd Annual Sedalia Ragtime Festival in 1975 while only 13. At age 15, he studied at the University Of Missouri Conservatory Of Music in Kansas City. He had the privilege to meet and study with renowned second generation ragtime composer Bill Krenz, who retired in Brent's hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Although discouraged from pursuing ragtime and jazz piano by his classical University piano instructors, Brent continued to perform in coffee houses and restaurants in Kansas City, Missouri through the early 1980's. Throughout his life, Brent has been passionate in his study of African American history and culture, with a special focus on the years between 1890 and 1930. Now Brent Watkins is a frequent performer of ragtime and vintage jazz music, appearing at music regional music festivals, on radio, television and presenting 'The Heroes of Parlor Town' at museums and cultural centers throughout the Midwest.
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