Bob Milne is considered by many to be the world’s foremost ragtime piano player, the most accomplished and artful practitioner of that wildly rhythmic, joyous and purely American music. A heavy schedule of concerts, festivals and academic commitments has taken him everywhere from the Far East to the Library of Congress, and he’s been acknowledged as an official “Musical Ambassador” by the US State Department.
By a happy coincidence, this internationally acclaimed virtuoso is also the cousin of coast-side resident Bill Hall, whose wife, Kathleen Manning, heads up the Pacifica Historical Society. And, happily for the rest of us, Kathleen is persuasive enough to prevail upon Cousin Bob to include in his annual West Coast tour a local fundraising concert in support of Pacifica’s budding museum, the historic Little Brown Church. The show will be held at the Pacifica Moose Lodge on Wednesday, July 18, at 7 pm.
Mr. Milne was recognized at an early age as a natural musician with an uncanny “ear”. He attended a prestigious music school and, by the age of 19, was playing French horn in a Philharmonic Orchestra. Luckily, some instinct turned him in a different direction. He learned ragtime piano the old-school way: playing seven nights a week for several years in a boisterous barrel-house saloon (where he also picked up a pretty good game of pool).
“Ragtime” first appeared in the 1890’s when innovative musicians working in rowdy bars and bordellos infused the ordinary orchestral music of the day with a lively, rollicking exuberance and a unique syncopation. Such luminaries as Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller and Scott Joplin popularized the form, laying the groundwork for jazz and much of our modern music. Joplin’s classic tune, “The Entertainer”, was featured in the 1973 movie “The Sting”.
As you might expect, a Bob Milne concert is as far from the usual high-brow piano recital as the Moose Lodge is from Carnegie Hall. Mr. Milne is not only a confident, powerful performer of unusual ability, he is also a preeminent authority on ragtime music and its legendary artists. In concert, he delights in sharing this knowledge with casual, insightful comments as, his fingers dancing across the keyboard, he shepherds his audience on a fascinating journey back to the roots of American music. It’s quite a ride.
Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, with a no-host bar and complimentary hors d’oeuvre. Contact the Pacifica Historical Society at email@example.com or 650 359 5462. The Moose Lodge is located at 776 Bradford Way in Pacifica, just off Hwy. 1.