A fascinating musical and socio-economic trip through a bygone era!
Raised by his black grandmother in turn of the century New Orleans, mixed-race pianist Fitzgerald Delacroix struggles through poverty and racial discrimination while determined to make his living in the music business.
In exploring Fitz's day to day life, we are reminded of how far we've come as a society since those early days of the 20th century, when open prejudice and unthinkable discrimination were the law. The author weaves a rich tapestry of not only the realities, but also the popular musical genres, environments and influencers of the time. Music lovers and performers alike will appreciate the vivid and accurate descriptions of Fitz's performance style and technique throughout the book, as well as its colorful and well developed characters. From the formidable 'Gramaw' to the drug-addled friend Jed and the enigmatic fellow musician Hampton Lindsay, each contributes significantly to the story and to the shaping of Delacroix's life. It is also pleasing to note the many references to the piano works of composer Scott Joplin, whose ragtime tunes caught the attention of a new generation when used in the 1970s film 'The Sting'. Some minor drawbacks in that the story is rather drawn out longer than necessary, and as an ARC manuscript needs a thorough editing and spell check. After Dark Rag is a rare and unvarnished look into the New Orleans Rag and Jazz scene, where people of color found joy and inspiration in their music despite the stigma of slavery and the ever-present obstacles of racism, addiction and poverty.
Perhaps not so different from today, after all.