One wonders if Greg Rahn would have been extra in his ingredient if he had been born a century or so in the past.
Positive, he wouldn’t have had all the advantages of recent expertise in recording his music. However then, ragtime and boogie-woogie masters would have been the 61-year-old American Canyon musician’s friends as a substitute of merely inspiration.
From Fat Waller to Professor Longhair and Scott Joplin, Rahn’s palms transfer swiftly up and down his “low cost, German-brand child grand” he purchased practically 40 years in the past. Not that he doesn’t thoughts a stellar Steinway, used to document “Hire Events,” a tribute to the all-night performances in houses and flats within the Twenties and ’30s.
“In American cities like Harlem, New Orleans and Chicago, they might maintain ‘hire events’ for folks,” Rahn mentioned. “They’d let folks are available, pay just a little, put cash within the tip jar and have an all-night social gathering. Actually, all night time.”
Pianos “had been tremendous vital in these days,” Rahn continued. “Each residence, each condo, had a piano of some type. Different musicians would take part and the factor would go till daybreak.”
With the COVID-19 hire eviction moratorium expiring in June, these “hire events” may make a comeback, Rahn lamented.
“That will surely be a driver for any such factor. The entire vibe is related immediately,” he mentioned.
An invite would sometimes embrace the musician of observe and sure, Rahn mentioned, the legendary Waller usually did hire events.
“These ‘hire events’ would occur each Saturday night time,” mentioned Rahn, researching what he may, “which hooked me into this entire idea.”
So, within the model of Waller, Professor Longhair, et al, Rahn wrote, organized and carried out many of the 13 tunes for the Might 1 launch, including his personal model of “Wonderful Grace” plus Joplin’s traditional “Maple Leaf Rag.”
As a lot because the solo launch was a tribute to the style, it’s additionally a tribute to the Black artists of the Twenties and ’30s, Rahn mentioned.
“They not solely raised this craft to an unbelievable degree, they did it in instances of intense racial violence,” Rahn mentioned. “Should you thought it was dangerous through the Civil Struggle, it was worse within the Eighteen Nineties. And Scott Joplin was making on this lovely, comfortable music within the midst of all that.”
“They laid the muse for a lot music that got here later,” Rahn continued, believing that “would have by no means had funk with out Joplin and all of the music that got here afterward.”
Rahn thinks he first heard of those “hire events” from a documentary, maybe Ken Burns’ acclaimed “Jazz” movie “when he talks in regards to the early starting of jazz.”
Bearded and bespectacled, Rahn has change into an aficionado of ragtime, “doing a number of all the things —all the things I may discover about ragtime music within the Eighteen Nineties.”
Although the pandemic allowed Rahn to rearrange and document “Hire Events,” he mentioned he’s able to hit the street once more, notably with acclaimed Bay Space guitarist Chris Cain.
“The gigs are beginning to trickle in a bit,” Rahn mentioned. “In September, we’re taking a look at it getting again to a full-time factor with festivals throughout. It has been exhausting. We’re all looking for methods to earn an earnings.”
Rahn figured he’s executed 13 live-streamed exhibits, together with Friday nights final summer time from his residence.
“It was a blast. Folks appeared to actually get pleasure from it,” he mentioned, with the variety of weekly viewers starting from within the 20-50.
“Slightly neighborhood,” Rahn mentioned. “It was fairly cool. I had my very own little present.”
Stay-stream has been effective, however “it’s undoubtedly time” to get out and play in entrance of actual folks, Rahn says.
“That’s the rationale you do that,” he mentioned, including that live-streaming from a theater devoid of individuals “is the weirdest vibe.”
Rahn realizes the music is just about a misplaced, if merely unappreciated, treasure.
“I notice what I’m doing here’s a area of interest of a distinct segment. Blues is a tiny sufficient area of interest already,” Rahn mentioned. “It’s not a preferred factor in any respect.”
Rahn feels maintaining the style alive is his legacy.
“That’s one of many causes I do it,” he mentioned. “I really feel prefer it’s disappearing.”
For extra details about “Hire Events” and Greg Rahn, go to gregrahn.web.