I spent quite a bit of time this week listening to a new album from Eden & John’s East River String Band, and a few minutes yesterday urging you to buy yourself a copy. On Wednesday I also threw in Cephas & Wiggins’ great performance of “John Henry.”
As long as I’m posting about classic American music, I close out the week with the below Ann Charters recording of Joseph Lamb‘s “Ethiopia Rag” (1909). Although ragtime piano has become almost synonymous with the music of Scott Joplin, this obscures the fact that there were many other ragtime composers and pianists who deserve their time in the limelight as well. Lamb is certainly one of these; along with James Scott, he and Joplin form the triumvirate of great ragtime composers. Born in 1887, Lamb lasted the longest, passing on only in 1960, but not before recording this album at his Brooklyn home a year before his death.
Charters studied with Lamb for a short while (her husband was Samuel Charters, who wrote The Country Blues, and she herself went on to write the first scholarly biography of Jack Kerouac); she recorded “Ethiopia Rag” along with several others on this album, released nearly a decade before Joshua Rifkin’s landmark Joplin recordings. I’ll have the melody dancing in my head later today at Cafe Katja. See you there, or here next week.