Galen Wilkes
Van Nuys, California
Added 10/29/2015

Galen Wilkes has been fascinated with the turn of the century years since he was about three! A friend of his father’s owned a player piano to which he connected a vacuum hose so it would play itself! The music and mechanical operation was something to behold and Galen has never stopped being drawn to the era. 
When the ragtime revival of the 1970s was ignited, he began playing rags, then composing them, and reading about its history. He was asked to turn his knowledge into a radio show while at college in New York. He set out to interview and meet the ragtime figures in NY: Max Morath, Rudi Blesh, Dave Jasen, Amelia Lamb, to name some of them. After moving to Los Angeles, jazz musician and radio host Bob Ringwald (yes, Molly’s dad) insisted he go back on the air and made it happen. Galen then took to spotlighting all of the ragtime talent through out the City of Angels. He continued interviewing people even after he went off the air, preserving whatever he could uncover for the future. He also contributed to The Rag Times, the journal of the Maple Leaf Club in Los Angeles.

Finding the ragtime revival a bit too single-sided (it was virtually all about piano rags and pianists), he formed the Palm Leaf Ragtime Orchestra to present more facets of its history. One of these was to revive dancing to ragtime, which he did with the Ragtime Ball. One of its highlights was the cakewalk contest, complete with a grand, prize cake.

He continued writing - Chris Ware’s terrific Ragtime Ephemeralist, Pearl Records’ CD on Novelty pianists, and massive notes for Basta’s series on Joseph Lamb, James Scott, and Scott Joplin. He has been giving illustrated lectures and other programs for over 25 years. Many will mostly recognize him as a composer of rags and related works which have become part of the ragtime repertoire. He publishes his own works and is a member of ASCAP.