The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

2014 Ragtime and Jazz Festival returns with 1920s flare

The roaring 1920s breeze into Mississippi State University this weekend in the form of the Charles Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival. 

The event kicked off Thursday night with the Gatsby Gala, which included Fashion Board models featuring 1920s style, but there is still more to come in the next two days. A full schedule can be found on Mitchell Memorial Library’s website, and every event is free for students.

At the gala, Fashion Board members modeled some beautiful 1920’s fashions, and the School of Human Sciences sponsored a historic exhibit in the John Grisham Room featuring 1920s apparel and accessories. 

In an MSU news release, Leilani Salter, gala coordinator, said the Gatsby Gala was a collaborative effort.

“The gala will showcase talents and skills of MSU students and highlight a few of the many creative opportunities at Mississippi State,” she said. “This event would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and incredible work ethic of these students and department heads.”

This year’s festival features the musical talents of Jeff Barnhart, Mimi Blais, Stephanie Trick, Virginia Tichenor and Martin Spitznagel. 

Heading up the event from Mitchell Memorial Library, Stephen Cunetto, festival coordinator, said the fesvital lineup includes enthusiastic, technically-skilled musicians. 

“I am very excited to have this slate of performers.  They are extremely talented and entertaining,” he said. “I say entertaining because they light up the room with their talent but also with their enthusiasm and passion for music.” 

Cunetto said the audience can expect to hear high energy performances while learning about the history of American music.  

“We hope that students will come to the festival not only to hear these exciting and very talented performers, but also to learn more about America’s early popular music,” Cunetto said.  “This music was the birth of much of today’s music. This is yet another cultural and educational opportunity that will enhance and broaden the MSU students’ university experience.”

While the music is high caliber, attendees will also find a comprehensive view of the 1920s, from fashion and food to music and silent movie showings by Jeff Barnhart, festival artistic director, at 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Barnhart, also a multifaceted performer who played at the inaugural event in 2007 and returned in 2012 and 2013, said even apart from the festival, MSU has become known as a haven for jazz history, as the library houses a large section of jazz memorabilia that traces the music’s history.

“(MSU) is a mecca for ragtime and early jazz historians, musicians and enthusiasts because Mitchell Memorial Library houses the Charles Templeton Sr. Music Museum, which has an extensive collection of early American music and also the world’s largest collection of RCA victrolas and ‘talking machines,’”  he said. “To be able to see such rare memorabilia and hear some of of the items in the museum played is a marvel.”

Although Barnhart plays a larger role in this year’s festival, he said his increased responsibilities will not keep him from playing the piano again this weekend.

He said he developed an interest in ragtime and jazz as early as age seven and has been playing the music ever since. He has played in 60 countries spanning six continents. He is a band manager and now has his own label. 

Barnhart said this weekend’s festival has a multitude of unexpected elements — including a diverse range of jazz and ragtime styles — that may surprise students. 

“The concerts will showcase the birth of American pop music as performed by four of the world’s leading practitioners of said music,” Barnhart said. “The piano-based predecessor of Rock-N-Roll, the blues-tinged boogie-woogie, will be also be showcased alongside the aforementioned ragtime and early forms of jazz piano. There will be something for everyone.”

Each musician comes from different regions with varying styles. Cunetto said newcomer Trick will provide young energy, and Blais is a humorous entertainer. Tichenor is skilled in folk rag, and Spitznagel is versatile while also being a filmmaker, writer and graphic artist. As Cunetto said, this slew of talent will present all attendees with a great variety of experiences. 

The festival continues until Saturday evening, but students can also visit the permanent Charles Templeton Sr. Music Museum located in the library. 

The Charles Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Festival presents a multifaceted opportunity: a great way to learn through an exciting and high-energy series of performances. 

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
2014 Ragtime and Jazz Festival returns with 1920s flare