RAGTIME HAPPENINGS IN THE SOUTHLAND
FEBRUARY 2000 NUMBER 47
As you will see below, the first Rose Leaf Club meeting of the new century got off to a flying start. Super Bowl Sunday proved to be no deterrent to dedicated ragtimers; in fact, it turned out to be one of our best-attended events, with a roomful of enthusiasts. We even had press coverage. A reporter and photographer from the Pasadena Star-News was on hand, and the following day, Monday, January 31, a feature story on the club appeared in that paper, along with a photograph of your editor performing at the piano. (See the Rose Leaf Club Website for this, or look elsewhere in this newsletter).
Renewals to Something Doing are coming in, enabling us to continue monthly publication. "Thank you's" are in order to our new subscribers, resubscribers, and those of you like Robbie and Carole Rhodes who make extra donations to the cause.
Bill Mitchell, editor Tel. (714) 528-1534 Internet <email@example.com> Fax (714) 223-3886
ROSE LEAF CLUB JANUARY MEETING (1/30/00)
To "kick off" the meeting (remember, it was Super Bowl Sunday), emcee Gary Rametta played "Scott Joplin's New Rag," one of the composer's most intriguing compositions. Gary then called Bill Mitchell up to join him on the other piano for some "Possum and 'Taters," an early folk rag by Charles Hunter.
Mitchell's solo set included Joplin's "Elite Syncopations," "Pride of the Smokey Row" (J. M. Wilcockson), and Jelly Roll Morton's "Frog-I-More Rag."
Ruby Fradkin, who at nine years of age is our youngest pianist, played a set of popular numbers, including "Playmates," "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," "On the Good Ship Lollipop," "Sunrise, Sunset," and "Allouette." This young lady has a great sense of rhythm and plays cleanly. She is going places!
The piano duo of George McClellan and Lee Roan lead off with an amusing novelty from 1920, "Palesteena." They distributed copies of the tune with lyrics so that the audience could sing along. ("Lena is the Queen of Palesteena..." etc. Some of us are old enough to remember the Bob Crosby and his Bob Cats' version of this one, featuring Nappy Lamare on the vocal.) George and Lee continued with "Ma, He's Makin' Eyes at Me," and "Nobody's Sweetheart."
Ron Ross digitally performed his new piece, "Digital Rag," and followed with another original, "Ragtime Song," from 1995.
Something different was provided by a guest from Sierra Madre, Joe Tortomasi. Joe played guitar and sang "Ragtime Cowboy Joe," inviting the audience to sing along. His musicianship was enjoyable, and we hope he will return.
Another first-timer at the Rose Leaf Club was Doug Haise, visiting from Indiana. Doug discovered the Maple Leaf Club back in the mid 1980s through a chance meeting with Brad Kay in Venice, California. Doug was practicing "Grace and Beauty" in his apartment when Brad, walking by, heard him, knocked on the door, and introduced himself. Doug began coming to MLC meetings and, though very hesitant at first, was persuaded to play. He credits that encouragement with starting him on a musical career. Today he is one of the few people who ekes out a living entirely by playing ragtime. Doug played for us three obscure numbers by lady ragtime composers: "That Poker Rag," "Soap Suds," and "Ragged Terry."
Ruby Fradkin encored with a few more favorites: "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," "Smile," "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and "Tom Dooley."
Gary Rametta encored with Lamb's classic "Ragtime Nightingale."
Nancy Kleier; who calls herself "the little old rag lady from Pasadena," played a set with a Super Bowl motif: "St. Louis Tickle," "A Tennessee Tantalizer," and "Beneath the Starry Flag."
Fred Hoeptner chose a couple of fine James Scott rags, which he delivered with appropriate verve and eacute;clat, "Evergreen" and "Victory." He finished with a seldom-heard but delightful rag entitled "Beedle-Um-Bo." Charles L. Johnson wrote this one under the alias of "Raymond Birch."
Stan Long played a version of "Old MacDonald," "The Entertainer," "Maple Leaf Rag," and an original of his, "My Ditty."
Eric Marchese played "St. Louis Tickle," ostensibly by a pair called "Barney and Seymore," but according to ragtime scholars, it was actually written by Theron Bennett. He dedicated the performance to 91-year-old Prentice Bacon, a longtime Rose Leaf audience member who studied piano with Bennett in the 1930s. Eric continued with the graceful "Slippery Elm," by Clarence Woods, and concluded his set with an original from 1993, "The Grape Vine -- a Rag of Good Taste."
Gary returned to the piano bench to play Joplin's "Cleopha -- March and Two-Step," one of the composer's lesser known compositions.
The meeting was brought to a conclusion by trio performances of more Joplin: "Something Doing," "Kismet," and "Pine Apple Rag." ("Kismet," we should add, was a collaboration with Scott Hayden, who probably should get most of the credit.) Nancy, Bill, and Eric gave the pianos a good workout on these.
The meeting was over in time for those interested to catch the end of the Super Bowl game.
ERIC MARCHESE BRINGS RAGTIME TO CORONA (1/23/00)
Playing in the auditorium of the fine new public library in Corona out in Riverside County, Eric Marchese brought an informative and enjoyable presentation to the fortunate citizens in attendance. In a thoughtfully planned program, he included appropriate comments about his selections, which were more or less presented in order of composition, giving a history of ragtime in brief.
The sequencing was as follows: "Smokey Mokes" (Holzman, 1899), "Harlem Rag" (Turpin, 1897), "Maple Leaf Rag" (Joplin, 1899), "Swipesy cakewalk" (Marshall, 1900), "The Entertainer" (Joplin, 1902), "Dill Pickles" (Johnson, 1906), "The Smiler" (Wenrich, 1907), "Pineapple Rag" (Joplin, 1908), "Slippery Elm"(Woods, 1912), "Pastime Rag No. 5" (Matthews, 1918), "The Cheerful Blues" (Olman, 1922), "The Grape Vine" (Marchese, 1993), "Grizzly Bear Rag" (Botsford, 1910), and in conclusion "12th Street Rag" (Bowman, 1915).
There were a few children present, and one of the librarians explained some of the steps and antics of doing the Grizzly Bear to the audience and invited the kids (of all ages) up to claw the air and grimace in an ursine manner while Eric played the rag. It was a delightful finale to the afternoon's entertainment.
A handful of Rose Leaf Club members were in the audience.
The obituary column in the February 15 Los Angeles Times devoted a 21-line paragraph to Guy Waterman, 67, "an outdoor writer whose books included Wilderness Ethics." His name may be unfamiliar to you, but in the mid-1950s, he contributed two significant articles on ragtime ("Ragtime: a Survey," and "Joplin's Late Rags") to The Record Changer, a magazine devoted to jazz and jazz recordings. These were subsequently reprinted in The Art of Jazz, edited by Martin T. Williams in 1959. Another of his articles ("Ragtime") appeared in Jazz, by Nat Hentoff and Albert McCarthy. This perceptive analysis was reprinted in John Edward Hasse's 1985 book, Ragtime.
Nothing of all this was mentioned in the Times article, which focused principally on his nature writings. In recent years, he had been interested in environmentalism, mountain climbing, and farming. The Watermans' Vermont farmhouse was without electricity, plumbing, or central heating.
Waterman worked his way through college as a jazz pianist. He spent the 1950s in Washington, D.C., where he was an economist and legislative assistant. He was also a speechwriter for three U.S. presidents.
Quite a versatile career!
WEBSITES FOR RAGTIME FANS
http.:www.ragtimers.org/ragtimers (Mary Haley's ragtime site)
http://members.aol.com/ragtimers/index.html (John Roache's MIDI Ragtime files)
http://www.ragtimemusic.com/SCRS/ (West Coast Ragtime Society)
http://mp3.com/RealRagtime (American Ragtime Company)
http://www.rag-time.com/cgi-bin/miva?Merchant2/merchant.my+ (Ragtime Store)
Members.tripod.com/RoseLeafRag/ (Rose Leaf Ragtime Club)
http://www.trad-digital.com (Bill Mintz)