Why NOT a Ragtime to Riches Festival?
Omaha, NE really does have a proud history of creating- and supporting- ragtime music, beginning with the efforts of a composer named Clifford Adams. In 1900, he wrote what turned out to be his most famous tune, "Ink Splotch Rag." The publisher of that piece was tops in the city, and he was none other than A.S. Hospe...who sold pianos when he wasn't publishing songs.
Much later came Gil Lieberknecht (1931-2008), a Bay Area native who made the Big O his home for good in 1947, the year his father, Henry, decided to move back to Nebraska after the death of his wife and Gil's mother, Roberta, the previous year.
Gil- better known as "Gil Lieby-" grew up to pen sixty different rags, all of them composed between 1960 ("Deer Park Rag") and 2000 ("Sutter Creek Strut," honoring a California festival that takes place each August).
Lieberknecht's most famous numbers were 1964's "The Carter Laker" and a 1966 entry called "Goldenrod Rag."
Ragtime to Riches is a way to honor Omaha's rag history...and, at first, to raise money for a different nonprofit organization every year. In the latter regard, it's modeled after Wisconsin's Eau Claire Ragtime Festival, a weekend event that took place in mid-January each year from the first one in 2000 until the final one in 2014. (The Wisconsin event, the brainchild of ragtimer Jim Radloff, helped five different nonprofit groups in the western part of the Badger State.)
Since its 2005 inception, R to R has helped the Council Bluffs chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the Omaha Children's Museum, an organization called Music in Catholic Schools, Food Bank for the Heartland, the 2010 Haiti earthquake relief effort, and the Omaha Street School. Since 2012, R to R proceeds have gone to the very group putting on the festival- the Great Plains Ragtime Society.
Here in the Omaha/Council Bluffs/Bellevue area, we've never stopped playing/listening to/enjoying the first major form of popular music to come out of the United States...and we want to tell the world that.
That's where the Great Plains Ragtime Society comes in. Launched on July 11, 2006, its purpose is twofold: (1) To promote old-time piano here in the Omaha metro area, and (2) to facilitate the Ragtime to Riches Festival.
Here's the word from the late Nan Bostick, one of the performers at the 2006 and 2007 Ragtime to Riches Festivals:
"So happy to hear the Great Plains Ragtime Society got started; hope you have a great turnout and wish I were there! Anyway, would you mind adding my email to your message list for the Society? I've been telling folks all about it in my travels and do feel I have a little something to do with putting a bee in your bonnet about this.
"Hope you're doing well." Thanks so very much, Nan!