Each month our panel of experts picks a different National Jukebox selection to highlight. This month’s selection:
"The Smiler," performed by Vess L. Ossman, recorded December 6, 1910
This piece of authentic Missouri ragtime was composed by Percy Wenrich (1887-1952), a native of Joplin, Missouri. Because of his hometown, the publishers subtitled “The Smiler” as “a Joplin Rag,” which no doubt was meant as a ruse to fool the public into thinking that this was a work by Scott Joplin. Vess L. Ossman (1868-1923) was a virtuoso on the five-string banjo player, who began his recording career for Edison Records during the early 1890s. By the end of the decade, known as the "the banjo king" had become an international favorite.