Phillip Bimstein’s joyful celebration of baseball, The Bushy Wushy Rag, begins with legendary announcer Jack Buck excitedly calling an historic home run by Ozzie Smith. Bimstein recorded St. Louis Cardinal baseball game sounds—such as cracks-of-the-bat (including Mark McGuire’s and Sammy Sosa’s, as they ended the 1999 season dueling for the home run crown), balls-slamming-into-mitts and grunts of the home-plate umpire—shaping them into a lively percussion track.
The piece most notably features the voice of a lovable veteran beer vendor who calls himself “Bushy Wushy the Beer Man” and is one of baseball’s greatest fans. After interviewing Bushy Wushy, Bimstein composed a score for wind quintet which supports the patterns and pitches of Bushy Wushy’s voice, while also echoing Scott Joplin’s ragtime and “The St. Louis Blues,” music which arose at the same time as baseball became popular in America.
The Bushy Wushy Rag was commissioned by Continental Harmony, a partnership of American Composers Forum and the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Associate Partner of the White House Millennium Council. The Bushy Wushy Rag was premiered by Equinox Chamber Players in St. Louis July 4, 2000 and featured in a PBS special in 2001.
The Equinox Chamber Players’ recording of The Bushy Wushy Rag is included on Starkland Record’s second release of Phillip Bimstein’s music, Larkin Gifford’s Harmonica, Starkland ST-214.