“Ragtime” Jack Radcliffe sings the blues

Posted:  Sunday, August 19, 2018 - 8:15am

“Ragtime” Jack Radcliffe was the featured performer on the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library lawn on Friday, Aug. 17.

Radcliffe played a variety of ragtime, folk and blues numbers using his skills on the keyboard, guitar and fiddle.

“I just started the fiddle four years ago,” Radcliffe told a small but enthusiastic audience.

Radcliffe came from a musical family. His grandfather, Carlton Gordon, was the concert master of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Born in New Bedford, Road Island, at an early age Radcliffe moved to Bristol, Virginia to live with his extended family. That is where in 1927 a relative, Ralph Peer, pioneered the recording of American country artists for the Victor Talking Machine label. Among the recordings were the Carter Family Band and other eventual country notables.

“He offered them $50 to come in,” said Radcliffe.

Radcliffe toured many years then turned to the newspaper business. He was a copy editor for the Brockton Enterprise in Massachusetts for 18 years.

When the paper closed, he sold kayaks for four years and returned to the music business, founding Wepecket Island Records. Radcliffe has traveled across the country to record traditional American music.

“I cross the Mississippi four times a year." On trips to Colorado to visit family, he performs on the way. His trip to Maine and his evening hour-long concert was more like a vacation, he said.