Get a head - e-mail me. Perfessor Bill Edwards
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musical notes A Brief Biography
William Edwards slid into the world in 1959
'Perfessor' Bill Edwards Caricature
in Southern California at a time when there were 49 states in the USA,†Richard Nixon was starting preparations for his designs on a White House bid, Television was still mostly broadcast in black and white, Disneyland had just added some of their best attractions to date, and the first ragtime revival and honky-tonk craze was nearing an end. At the age of 6, Bill's parents divorced, and his dad left behind some 10 inch discs of the Firehouse Five Plus Two, Frankie Carle, Joe Fingers" Carr (aka Lou Busch), and Paul Lingle, all full of Ragtime, Honky-Tonk, and Dixieland-style music. He immediately immersed himself into these few worn pieces of vinyl and began a journey into the dark abyss of syncopated desires. At a time when The Beatles and Herb Alpert were making it big, Bill absorbed the influences of both Rock and Roll and Traditional Jazz.
At about the same time, young Bill had learned how to make intelligible melodies on the melodeon, a sort of annoyingly shrill mouth-blown keyboard. He was eager to demonstrate each new melody to his mother, who was not always so receptive to such events at 6 a.m. The ultimate solution for channeling this talent was for her to ask Grandpa to get a piano. Being that the Kawai that was purchased outweighed young William by some 250 pounds, it could not be dragged down the long hall into her bedroom in the early morning hours for dawn concerts. It also allowed him a channel for his burgeoning talents and an escape from some of the more harsh aspects of the reality at that time. Eventually the reality of ragtime would become a part of his passion.
Paul Lingle Cover
Original album cover for Paul Lingle on Good Time Jazz.
Honky-Tonk Piano Cover
Original 10 inch album cover for Honky-Tonk Piano on Capitol.
Firehouse Five Plus Two Cover
The Firehouse Five Plus Two's second album on Good Time Jazz.
The budding musician quickly took hold of the instrument (but still could not lug it down the hall), and was soon demonstrating his skills at The Old Mill, Merrily Merrily, and Yes Sir Thatís My Baby. By the age of eleven, Bill was equally versed in Beethoven, Bacharach, Beatles, and Bawdy Ragtime songs. By fifteen, he had learned half of the Scott Joplin catalog and most of Elton Johnís. Bill spent the majority of his secondary school years in front of a piano, and also learned piano tuning and repair to boot.
After receiving a broadcasting degree (AA) from Los Angeles Valley College, Mr. Edwards moved from the increasingly congested,†
Bill at the Diamond Belle circa 1984.
The Diamond Belle Saloon
earthquake-ridden fire-infested San Fernando Valley to Durango, Colorado in hopes of establishing himself as the towns piano technician. While repairing a player piano at a local pizza parlor (then called Cable Car Pizza, the owner heard Bill play and hired him as a draw for the weekends. After a couple of months, The Abbey Theatre, a melodrama-style theater next door, hired him for a season of productions. In the midst of this, the well-established Dick Kroeckel, who played at the Diamond Belle Saloon in the Strater Hotel, asked Bill to fill in for him during a brief vacation. Within a very short time, the "Perfessor" had his own niche at the Diamond Belle, and played there for six years, sharing duties with Mr. Kroeckel, Molly Kaufman, Jim Rowe, and many other talented pianists who helped shape his style and repertoire. Bill still considers Mr. Kroeckel as his mentor, for the invaluable advice and time given to him over those years. As an added benefit, Dick had learned much of his craft directly from the inimitable Johnny Maddox.
The name "Perfessor" was adopted on his behalf in reference to early ragtime piano players. Their official title was often "Professor", but pronunciations routinely aberrated the word into "Perfessor."†
Bill with Jo-Ann Castle in Sedalia, Missouri in 1989.
Jo-Ann Castle
Someone called Bill a "Professor" of ragtime one evening, and with the slight alteration in spelling, the name stuck instantly. People do remember it, even if they (or he) donít know why.
Back to the story. While he had several varying careers in a number of fields, including radio broadcasting a stint as an entertainment reporter for the Durango Herald, Bill had earned a music degree in Durango from Fort Lewis College. He then had an opportunity to play on the East Coast and left for the Washington D.C. area in late 1986. The original opportunity did not pan out quite as promised, but Bill ended up spending eight years playing for the Fish Market restaurant and entertainment venue, and has played everything from Jazz to Classical to Rock in other venues around the Nationís Capitol. This includes a Christmas performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Mr. Edwards has also performed with many prestigious traditional jazz bands, and worked with or opened for a variety of well-known artists, including Dave Brubeck, Al Hirt, Mel Tillis and Jo-Ann Castle.
In the mid 1980ís, the "Perfessor" started making appearances at the World Championship of Old-Time Piano Playing
One of Bill's medals from the World Championship of Old-Time Piano Playing.
Championship Medal
previously held in Monticello, then Decatur, Illinois, which now takes place over each Memorial Day Weekend in Peoria, Illinois. He has consistently placed in the top five, and even won the title somehow in 1991. His continued enthusiasm for this great forum for performers of all ages and abilities has kept him involved in many facets of the contest, including providing some of the definitions used in the rules as well as leading seminars one year. Bill has also made appearances at a variety of other traditional jazz and ragtime events around the country, appearing as a guest, a contestant, or a judge. He was also involved in some live overseas broadcasts to Europe and South America for U.S. Government-sponsored shows on American Musical History. Much of his accumulated research and knowledge have been invested into this website, which many schools have flatteringly cited as a valuable resource for musical and cultural education at all grade levels.
Since 1984, Mr. Edwards has amassed an impressive repertoire of recordings,†
The "Perfessor" with the Ted Lemen (formerly Macon Music) Traveling Trophy.
The Trophy
most of which are still currently available. They cover everything from traditional classic ragtime to early popular song, and even a blues collection. There are always more recordings in the works, and a number of them have been driven and formulated by listener requests, including those generated by his Ragtime MIDI and Sheet Music Covers page. He has also amassed a collection of original ragtime compositions, including an award winning rag in 2001 titled The Necromancer (used with other pieces of Bill's in the 2004 feature Ghosts of Edendale), his 2002 award winner The Wiener Schnitzel Rag, and his first original syncopated piece from 1985, The Hanon Rag, which premiered while he was still at Fort Lewis College. Bill broke his left elbow in an accident early in 2002, and subsequently had surgery to excise the shattered radial head in his forearm. However, with dogged determination, aggressive physical therapy and concentrated practice he has recovered to a level of playing that may eventually eclipse his previous abilities, and is playing well once again. In fact with this injury he took fourth place in the 2002 Old-Time Piano competition in Peoria four months after the surgery, and has placed in the top five continuously for nearly two decades. Not too bad. The future holds more ragtime for the "Perfessor" and his fans!
†Bill with the late "Ragtime Bob" Darch in 2001, a special moment for him (Bill, that is, but Bob said it was for him also).
"Ragtime" Bob Darch
"Perfessor" Bill Edwards is usually available with a little advance warning for Ragtime, Old-Time, Blues, and Stride Piano performances, workshops and seminars around the United States, and is always interested in tours to other countries. His engaging shows both entertain and enlighten, and can easily be tailored to special events, local history, or specific themes. Educational programs are also available making music history both fun and relevant. He also has a large library of silent movies of varying genres and lengths for a full evening of cinematic enjoyment with live accompaniment. For even more fun, Bill can be joined by his piano sparring partner Marty Mincer, and/or tuba player son Zachary and drummer son Alex. More detailed information can be found on the Booking Bill page, or you can contact him directly with questions or requests at .

"Perfessor" Bill Edwards has appeared one or more or even numerous times in the following venues:

Scott Joplin Festival, Sedalia, MO
World Championship of Old-Time Piano Playing, Peoria, IL
Eau Claire Ragtime Festival, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Grand International Ragtime/Jasstime, Alexandria Bay, NY
Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Washington, DC
Kennedy Center Christmas Show, Washington, DC
Carthage Ragtime Festival, Carthage, MO
Orange County Ragfest, Fullerton, CA
Hot Piano Society of New York, Brooklyn, NY
New Oxford Ragtime Festival, New Oxford, PA
Diamond Belle Saloon, Strater Hotel, Durango, CO
The Fish Market/Il Porto, Alexandria, VA
Northwest University, Maryville, MO
Summer Arts Festival, New York Mills, MN
Harley Owner's Group (H.O.G.) National Rally
Disneyland, Anaheim, CA
Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound, Seattle, WA

Zehnders Ragtime Festival, Frankenmuth, MI.
Northern Virginia Ragtime Society, Falls Church, VA
Rose Leaf Classic Ragtime Society, Monrovia, CA
Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, IA
Scott Joplin House, St. Louis, MO
Maple Leaf Club, El Segundo, CA
Old Town Music Hall, El Segundo, CA
Greenfield Village Ragtime Street Fair, Dearborn, MI
Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO
Annual Ragtime Bash, Toronto, Ontario
Missouri State Fairgrounds Arena, Sedalia, MO
Potomac River Jazz Club Festival, Arlington, VA
Boot City Opry, Terra Haute, IN
Educational Broadcasts to Europe/South America
The Ragtime Machine with David Reffkin on KUSF
Jack Rummel's Ragtime America on KGNU
Syncopation Station with Vann Ford on KDHX

Plus numerous concert appearances in towns and cities across the United States.

concert information document††††concert information web page



Ragtime Webring-Dedicated To Scott Joplin

The Ragtime Webring-Dedicated to Scott Joplin and the music of the Ragtime Era, this ring is an invaluable resource for jazz music lovers, musicians and historians. Sheet music, midi files, afro-american history, record collectors...

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There are lots of great ragtime recordings by top artists available from
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Including some of my recommended favorites:

Max Morath Dick Hyman Dick Zimmerman
Paul Lingle Wally Rose Lu Watters
James P. Johnson Tony Caramia Squirrel Nut Zippers
Marcus Roberts Butch Thompson Jelly Roll Morton
Glenn Jenks Sue Keller Fats Waller
The Good Time Jazz Catalog and Bill's personal favorites, The Firehouse Five+2!

And don't miss these movies which include some ragtime music:

The Jazz Singer The Sting
Alexander's Ragtime Band Scott Joplin
The Legend of 1900 Ragtime
For Me and My Gal Meet Me In St. Louis
In the Good Old Summertime Take Me Out to the Ball Game
The Jolson Story Jolson Sings Again
Cheaper by the Dozen San Francisco
Somewhere in Time Titanic (1953)
The Other Pretty Baby
42nd Street Reds
The Son of Kong Story of Vernon and Irene Castle
Cheyenne Social Club The Shootist
How To Dance Through Time - Dances of the Ragtime Era

Or just search their site using the search engine below!

     

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