A Brief History of Nashville Ragtime
Many people today don’t realize that Nashville, Tennessee is a major source in the development of the happy, frolicking, syncopated rhythms of the ragtime tunes.
As ragtime music was being developed by composer Scott Joplin in the St. Louis area, Charles Hunter, (1876-1906) a Columbia, Tennessee native and graduate of the Tennessee School for the Blind was composing major folk rags in Nashville. His rags have today become one of the most important works by a Southern Folk Ragtime composer.
H. A. French published the first known Nashville Rag in 1898 by Thomas Broady. Today Broady is considered by many scholars to be the other ragtime great. Both Hunter and Broady’s rags were published by H.A. French. During this period Nashville ragtime was beginning to become more popular through other Nashville publishing companies known as Fite Music Publishers, O.K.Houk, and Lew Roberts Publishing.
As ragtime was developing in Nashville, a lesser known composer, W.H. Petway was publishing his own music. Petway was pictured on all the covers of his music with a missing leg. He played in homes of the most affluent in Nashville and sold his music at parties and on the downtown streets. In 2004 Jon Weaver III recorded on the Stargold Music Label three of W.H. Petways lesser known rags. This is a premier recording of the Petway rags. The rags can be heard on the CD, JON Weaver lll plays THOSE LONG GONE DOG GONE NASHVILLE RAGS.
W.H. Petway’s THAT DOG GONE RAG, published prior to 1912 (the title is listed on the cover of one of his other rags, WHEN YOU DANCE THAT LOVIN’ RAG, published in 1912), was dedicated to an unknown Mr. John T. Landis of Nashville, Tennessee and arranged by Rudolph Moehl. Mr. Moehl was one of the first organizers of the Nashville Association of Musicians, the American Federation of Musicians Local in Nashville.