Rag-time, 12th Street Rag, Jelly Roll Morton, Petticoat Lane
Mr. Euday Louis Bowman was born in Texas, but Kansas City, Mo.? She was his muse. He spent much of his time in the city, and its impact on the ragtime man is quite apparent in his works. A talented pianist from a relatively early age, Bowman wrote what became (and remains) the alleged second place winner of most-famous-ragtime-piece-in-history. Unfortunately, sound recording wasn’t common practice during the genre’s explosive era (roughly spanning the mid-1890s to just prior the new age of the 1920s).
Let’s get to the bottom of Ragtime:
: a type of lively music that is often played on the piano and that was very popular in the U.S. in the early part of the 20th century; or, rhythm characterized by strong syncopation in the melody with a regularly accented accompaniment in stride-piano style.
Here’s a cover of Euday Bowman’s second-most-popular ragtime song, “12th Street Rag.”
You are highly encouraged to listen here.
Interestingly enough, the rights to “12th Street Rag” have many a-time changed hands, a few of those times in Bowman’s own. Because of that, many artists were able to record their own versions with no legal consequence. Some of these big names include Pee Wee Hunt, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong. The song is simplistic, easily allowing varied interpretations.
Ragtime was borne from African-American roots, becoming the preferred dancin’ music in… oh… brothels and the like. A nicer word would be bordello, and Bowman frequently played the fancier ones in Kansas City. But let’s face it – if it’s located in a red-light district, it’s still a brothel, luxe aside. And the red-light district it was for Bowman, who also composed Street Rag songs for 11th, 10th and 6th streets. Word is, each is named for the streets that cut through ol’ Boss Tom Pendergast’s main red-lighter in the North End. Kansas City boasted the largest red-light district in the United States. It is uncertain whether native Missourians should be proud or ashamed.
All jokes aside, the skilled and famed Bowman also wrote “Petticoat Lane,” a tribute to the city’s old shopping district. He found himself here in Kansas City, and that’s definitely something Missourians can take pride in.