Women ragtime composers faced challenges – it wasn’t considered very “ladylike” to write this kind of music, and once they got married, they were expected to give up their career and raise a family. Still, a surprising amount of ragtime was written by young women, and much of it was very successful in its time.
On Saturday, August 14, Isaac Cherry and Jerry Rabushka shared music by May Aufderheide, the Indiana composer who is considered the best of the female composers; Charlotte Blake of Detroit, who was known not only for ragtime but also for popular songs; and Irene Giblin, who got her start demonstrating sheet music in a St. Louis department store. Along with that were some famous singers; vaudeville performer Sophie Tucker had an unusual rag written especially for her.
Based in St. Louis, the duo is also part of the larger “Ragged Blade Band,” and has toured music of the ragtime era throughout a several state area. They’ve found this music is great for good times – brewpubs, wineries, markets, festivals, and more! They’ve appeared in the Big River Steampunk Festival in Hannibal, MO, the Oddities and Curiosities Expo in Chicago and Tulsa, the RAGBRAI bicycle event in Iowa, and the St. Louis World’s Fare in their hometown. A typical performance includes some well-known songs of the early 20th century as well breathing life back into as some rarely played tunes.