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Top-Notch Springtime Ragtime

OAKHURST – Tickets are on sale now for the Oakhurst Ragtime Festival, in town Friday through Sunday, Apr. 10 – 12.

The three-day event features top-notch talent including pianists Tom Brier, Larisa Migachyov, Jack & Christ Bradshaw, and John Reed-Torres. Instrumentalists include Steve & Robyn Drivon on drums and tuba, with Julia Riley playing flute. Venues include both the Oakhurst Community Center and Oakhurst Lutheran Church.

The community is invited to attend the event and everyone is welcome. The weekend marks the return to Oakhurst of the Ragtime Festival in a new venue for the first time, having been previously held at Fresno Flats and now moved to the Community Center and Lutheran Church.

Ragtime is a musical genre that that was especially popular between 1895 and 1918, and performed by artists including well-known composer Scott Joplin. Though its popularity was replaced by Jazz in the 1920s, Ragtime enjoyed resurgence in the 1970s and remains the go-to fun-time music for many avid fans. Those who are into ragtime know what a terrific series of concerts this event will shape itself into; those who don’t know should join in and find out.

On Friday night, Apr. 10 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. a Homemade Soup & Salad Supper is offered at the Oakhurst Community Center, followed by an Evening Concert at 7 p.m. The cost for dinner and the show on Friday night is $15.

On Saturday, Apr. 11, music-lovers have two opportunities to be entertained: there’s an Afternoon Concert from 2 – 5 p.m. for $7.50 per person, and a full dinner experience, as well. From 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. guests can enjoy a tri-tip dinner with delicious sides, followed by a concert at 7 p.m. The cost for the dinner and show Saturday night is $25 per person.

Finally, on Sunday, Apr. 12, all are encouraged to come to Oakhurst Lutheran Church for a Finale Concert from 1 – 3 p.m., by donation. Oakhurst Lutheran Church is located just off Road 426 at 39255 Black Road.

Bonni Bredesen and her husband Chuck are part of a group of ragtime aficianados who heard the storied Oakhurst Ragtime Festival was in jeopardy of not being sponsored and decided to pitch in and help bring it back. Previously held at Fresno Flats Historic Park, this year marks the first time the Oakhurst Ragtime Festival will be held at the Community Center and the Lutheran Church. Seats are limited and reservations are recommended.

“The event includes a couple of wonderful evenings with very warm, personable people who have day jobs including programming, consulting and law,” says Bonni. “This is a unique opportunity to see first class artists perform. They’re very down to earth people, and outstanding musicians. The idea is to keep the Ragtime Festival going.”

Event organizers include the Marty and Sally Pupka, Bob and Nora Hunting, Ray and Louise Vetter, Bruce and Kae Walker, John and Delores Laustch, and the Bredesens. Members of the group have played and worked together, visiting Ragtime Festivals and doing some line-dancing and square dancing along the wayl. They definitely know how to put on a great time.

“We want it to be an enjoyable evening for people so they don’t have to worry about dinner and they can totally enjoy the ragtime and talent,” Bobbi explains.

Speaking of talent, the resume of the musicians performing at the Oakhurst Ragtime Festival is impressive, alone and especially, together. Tom Brier has over 230 compositions that he’s written and co-written, says Bonni, including fox trots, tangos, waltzes, marches and intermezzos, which in the style of the vintage ragtime era. Pianist John Reed-Torres is an award-winning self-taught musician who is totally inspired by Scott Joplin’s music. The Bradshaws are the veterans of the group and play Ragtime piano duets. Larisa is native to Russia where she received eight years of classical training before she saw her first ragtime show and was jooked. Since then she’s composted almost 40 rags in a traditional style and, interestingly, names most of her rags after food. Each of the artists has a special story.

“If you attend youll notice the difference in technique,” Bonni notes. “Larisa plays almost classical ragtime with a different touch and feeling, whereas Tom Brier is all out fast as can be, creative and full of energy, John Reed-Torres is so steeped in Joplin it’s like going to another era.”

Tickets for the Oakhurst Ragtime Festival are available at Dorsey’s Hallmark and Oakhurst Giftworks in Oakhurst, and Mountain Feed in Coarsegold. Phone (559) 683-7860 for Reservations.

Special offer available for all Friday and Saturday events: $40. A limited number of dinner tickets will be available at the door.

The event is sponsored by Oakhurst Ragtime Association, Gold Dust Dancers, and Oakhurst Community Center, Inc., with the support of the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, Yosemite Sierra Visitor’s Bureau, and Oakhurst Lutheran Church.


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