Joakim Stenshäll

July 7, 1962 - September 23, 2009

Joakim Stenshäll Joakim Stenshäll (1962-2009) was born in the windy city of Karlskrona, the city where the wind blows right into your face from every possible direction. Karlskrona is also known as "city on the water". There was no music in Joakim's home, but the family owned a piano. He started to play the piano at the age of 10. For several years he played Czerny at the local music school, which had almost killed him musically.

Around 1973 he heard some kind of music on the radio. He didn't know what it was, but somehow he was caught by it. What was it that was so appealing about this music? Was it its blend of happiness, melancholy, sorrow and playfulness? He didn't really know. And he didn't know what kind of music that was.

It wasn't until a few years later, during his confirmation time, when a fellow played the piano in their parish house, that Joakim heard this music again. This time it also got a name. Ragtime. He's been listening to ragtime and collecting it ever since, he's traveled to the ragtime places in Missouri - Sedalia, Carthage and St. Louis. At early stage he began to write his own rags. His first ragtime piece was called "Milk Shake", written in 1976, at the time when a milkshake was something of the most exotic that people could enjoy in the blowy city of Karlskrona.

After unfinished studies in Lund and Cologne, he entered the world of theatre, as a musician, actor and eventually as a playwright. Later he tried to include some ragtime music among the theatre's activities, he made a program for Radio Blekinge, in which he played ragtime and talked about it, and he's been a bar pianist on a skerry boat where he also played some ragtime. He continued with this even after he'd moved to Gävle and "Folkteatern i Gävleborg", where he worked as a playwright for some time. At least once a year he arranged a nightly event with ragtime music and old whorehouse ballades on the program. Later Joakim moved to Stockholm, where he continued to work with theatre until his sudden and untimely death in September of 2009.

Reflecting about ragtime he said: "I still don't know why I was caught by this music. Something in this strange music was so damn familiar. Sometimes, when I hear a new rag I recall hearing, what I today believe was "Pine Apple Rag" from my parents' transistor radio some 25 years ago".

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