Hard, fast and crazy 

Ragtime Millionaires leave the Gnu at home

WHO: Ragtime Millionaires

WHERE: The Boot

WHEN: April 30th

Take four friends with innumerable influences and a lot of extra time to jam and you’ve got The Ragtime Millionaires.

To sum up their sound in one word is impossible. The Victoria quartet has settled on "acoustic gypsy and swing jazz, with ragtime and fingerstyle, and a soul full of tequila and sombreros" as their official description. For those with a diverse and obscure musical ear, you may detect a bit of Django Rheinhardt, Charlie Christian, Blind Lemon Jefferson, George Gershwin, Tom Waits and Blind Blake. What it basically amounts to though is a flavour all their own.

And while that flavour offers so many interesting possibilities, audiences are still trying to figure out what exactly it is they’re tasting.

"Wake the fuck up!" laughs keyboard player Stephen Franke. "That became our motto at one of our gigs. People don’t really know what to make of us and sometimes they just sit there."

In response, Franke says they’ll encourage the crowd to boo them, just as long as they’re getting some kind of reaction. That reaction, however, quickly turns to interaction and playful banter that usually wins over the crowd. In fact, Franke says he’s been surprised by the support for the band – rounded out by Budds on drums, Pablo on guitar and Cliff on bass – by total strangers. After a show in Edmonton, one audience member took it upon himself to take a short demo tape to CKWY, one of the city’s largest radio stations. Station managers liked what they heard and added the Ragtime Millionaires to their rotation. Those spins were heard by a prominent booking agent in the Edmonton area who has invited the band back for several performances.

And if acoustic just isn’t your thing, the Ragtime Millionaires have taken on alter egos called Gnu, playing similarly influenced music but with electronic instruments. The result is dance-inspired jazz, rock and funk. Gnu won’t be making an appearance this time around in the resort, but listen for them this summer as both bands/sounds embark on a cross country tour. The group is hoping to break out of the smaller clubs and into the summer festival scene.

"If you play 200 shows a year in bars, you don’t always get people that are there for your music. They’re there for the booze," Franke says. "But in festivals or halls, we have more chance to put on a real presentation and every single person is there for music. It gives us more of a chance to captivate our audience."

Regardless of the size of The Boot and musical tastes of Whistlerites, The Ragtime Millionaires are coming to the resort with a simple mission that they hope all can relate to: "We’re gonna play as hard and as fast and as crazy as we possibly can."

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