For families interested in some summertime fun, check out the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest in Oxford, May 26-29. From blues and boogie to ragtime and jazz, it’s a music lover’s four-day dream.
“If you come, it’s contagious,” Ian Hominick, event organizer and professor of music at the University of Mississippi, said. “We have some terrific artists coming. For example, Carl Sonny Leyland has never been to Oxford before and he brings a stylistic slant that’s rooted in old-time rock and roll, blues and boogie-woogie.”
For the first time, the contest heads outdoors in the evenings at the Oxford Pavilion. Events will also feature food trucks and a bar for those who want to make it a night out on the town.
“You can expect a wide range of playing ability, ages and musical styles,” Hominick said about the event. “We have people coming who are professionals who make their living playing music and others who have another full-time vocation and this is something they do on the side. The range of abilities makes it interesting but still competitive.”
Individual tickets for events throughout the weekend range in cost from $10-20 and Hominick has a recommendation for people who don’t know where to start — the Junior Division Contest featuring piano-playing competitors who are aged 17 and under.
“Of course, I want to tempt someone to come to more than one event, but for families, I would start with watching the kids compete on Saturday morning to whet their appetite and then come back for more.”
You’ll have the opportunity to cheer on at least one local competitor — jazz pianist Bill Perry, Jr. will be taking the stage during the festival. Another highlight is the Silent Movie Luncheon on Saturday, with four-time champion Adam Swanson playing along with two classic films from the early 1900s.
The contest went virtual for the past two years but now Hominick says it’s great to be back live and in-person. The plan is to follow any masking protocols set by the university, which currently does not require masks or proof of vaccination.
“We are encouraging people to do what they feel comfortable with,” Hominick. “They should feel comfortable wearing masks if they prefer.”
The community is invited to all of the events, but Hominick points out veterans are especially welcome to take advantage of free admission to the Red, White and Blue Salute to Veterans at the Pavilion on Sunday night.