Born somewhere in Ohio, Clarence Woods grew up in Carthage, Missouri. This put him right smack in the middle of ragtime territory, as it were. He studied with the same individual that gave piano lessons to James Scott. In 1903, Woods published something called the "Meteor March." Hitting the road and appearing throughout Oklahoma and Texas as a noticeably capable pianist, Clarence found employment accompanying silent movies and vaudeville entertainers. His "Slippery Elm Rag" was published out of Dallas in 1912. In the January 1917 issue of The Ragtime Review, an incidental and somewhat hyperbolic description survives as this tantalizing shred of documentation: "An Austin, Texas paper has the following to say of a former Carthage, Missouri boy: Clarence Woods, the new pianist at the Majestic, is called the 'Ragtime Wonder of the South' and well deserves that title because he just makes that piano talk." In 1918, Emil and Isadore Seidel published two numbers by Clarence Woods: "Graveyard Blues" and the "Sleepy Hollow Rag," which is considered to be his very best piece of work. This rag, was named after a predominately Afro-American community existing along the banks of the Spring River, appears to contain a premonition of Walter Donaldson's hit of 1928, "Makin' Whoopee." Woods composed a handful of other songs, performed on the radio and fronted an orchestra. Throughout the '40s and early '50s, Woods composed material specifically tailored to the presentational needs of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. The last time anyone heard him in public he was pounding away on the steam calliope. Clarence Woods passed away on September 30, 1956.
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