Ragtime, or “ragged time” as it was called in the 1890s, was a folk music style played on guitars, mandolins and banjos long before becoming popular as a piano style. Scott Joplin himself played fiddle when he was younger at various instrumental gatherings of this type. When ragtime expanded into the saloon piano playing style which made it famous, the music often varied greatly from the printed piano scores.
Bob never took piano lessons. He’s self-taught. He has a music degree in French horn performance and played horn with two major east coast symphonies earlier in his career.
Bob has never practiced a day in his life. He thinks playing the piano is easy and for many years couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t just get up and start playing one.
Bob was a musical ambassador for the United States for six years, traveling overseas many times on goodwill tours of other nations.
Bob was interviewed and filmed by the Library of Congress for four days in October of 2004, and declared a “national treasure” at the completion.
Bob is the subject of neurology “brain wave” studies, now in its 9th year, by Penn State University, Hershey, Pennsylvania, of what they describe as Bob’s “unusual musical abilities.” These tests were famously featured on the NPR RadioLab program “A 4-Track Mind” in 2011. The show is still running on podcast.
For many years Bob performed 250 concerts a year across the nation and world.