JIM BOSTON was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1955 and spent all of his childhood in the Hawkeye State. After an elementary school Suzuki-method "false start" on the piano he didn't touch one again until he attended Iowa State University. In 1976, after an attempt to enter that school's talent show failed, he wandered inside Lord of Life Lutheran Church on the edge of campus...and found a Haddorff upright from the early 20th Century. He figured since it was an old piano, why not learn some old songs? He started messing around, and in no time at all, he was hooked.
For the next 17 years, he went to different churches in Ames, Des Moines, and the next two cities he'd call home -- Omaha, Nebraska, and Sioux City, Iowa -- seeking practice time on older uprights in church basements. He had no real musical direction until he found out that the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest was very much alive. (He had remembered that in college he'd seen a news report about the contest's reigning champ, Dorothy Herrold.)
So, in 1993, Jim started competing at the contest. He finished dead last. But other contestants encouraged him to stick with it. He did and became a Regular Division finalist in 1994. When he moved to Omaha in 1997, he began performing at one of the city's nursing homes, ran off a nine-year stint playing at the Omaha Children's Museum, and regularly competed in Iowa's Old-Time Country Music Festival, becoming a seven-time finalist, most recently in 2007.
In 2005, Jim helped organize the Ragtime to Riches Festival, held at first in Council Bluffs, Iowa, but now at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The next year, he founded the Great Plains Ragtime Society. When he's not into music, Jim is a machine operator at an Omaha plastics factory. His hobbies include sports, computers, history, trivia, and reading...to say nothing of blogging. (You can find his musings at Boston's Blog.) Jim's one of the most enthusiastic supporters of ragtime and old-time piano around...and he'd love to come to your town and demonstrate why.