RAGTIME HAPPENINGS IN THE SOUTHLAND
APRIL 2000 NUMBER 47
The March meeting certainly gave evidence that ragtime is music with appeal for people of all ages.
Two of our pianists made this obvious: nine-year-old Ruby Fradkin, and 95-year old Mildred Stuart. This got me to reminiscing about the early days of the Maple Leaf Club, when we had a similar age spread. Browsing through my files of the Rag Times, I came across an account of the April 1973 meeting, which included young
Raymond De Felita, who was then the same age as Ruby Fradkin is now, and Eubie Blake, who had recently turned ninety. Raymond usually played Fats Waller pieces by ear, but at this meeting, he played Joplin's "Magnetic Rag." Eubie played Jess Pickett's "The Dream Rag," and his own classic standard, "Memories of You." What became of Raymond? He became a movie producer. Eubie, of course, lived long enough to reach his hundredth year, I believe.
A humorous e-mail from Bill Coffman informed us of the February birth of a son to Sandi and Jim Turner, the eminent stride and ragtime pianist. Congratulations to the Turners! Little Eddie Turner has, at least so far, "zero tolerance for the Mighty Wurlitzer," according to Bill.
Darrell Woodruff reports the death of Albert "Garters" Grimaldi, one of the founders of the Maple Leaf Club. He was also known as "Piano Roll Albert," and was the discoverer of "Silver Swan Rag" on a rare roll in his collection. This rag has been adjudged by ragtime scholars to be an unpublished Joplin composition. (The Maple Leaf Club subsequently transcribed and published it.) Grimaldi was a retired photographer for the Los Angeles Times. He used to wear arm garters and a straw hat to Maple Leaf Club meetings and supervised the raffles.
Sue Keller fans may hear cuts from her latest CD, "Those Irresistible Blues," on the Internet from
The "Fats" Waller musical, Ain't Misbehavin', will be presented April 28 through May 7 in Long Beach at Musical Theatre West, P.O. Box 2048, Long Beach 90801. www.musical.org. You can order by phone:
(562) 985-7000. "Electrifying ... a funny, devastating, startlingly beautiful, heart-stopping show." -- New York Times.
Since some of you are songwriters, we're including in this issue a communication from Floyd Levin announcing the Sweet and Hot Songwriting Competition, which promises some substantial prizes.
Susan Erb, our pianist-poet, writes that she has been missing recent RLC meetings because of an injury to her hand, the healing of which is "a slow go." We hope to see you back and playing piano again soon, Susan.
Bill Mitchell, editor. Tel. (714) 528-1534 Internet <email@example.com> Fax (714) 223-3886
ROSE LEAF CLUB MARCH MEETING (3/26/2000)
Gary Rametta got the ball rolling by playing Scott Joplin's "The Favorite." He then welcomed everyone to the Rose Leaf Club and made a few announcements, including a reminder that we have a CD and tape library available, thanks to Lee Roan, who has custody of it. (Members may check out items and then check them in at the next meeting.)
Gary invited Ron Ross up to the piano to play a couple of his own compositions, "Retro Rag" and "Ragtime Song."
Gary performed another Joplin Rag, "Sugar Cane."
Since it was Academy Award Sunday, Bill Mitchell chose a rag that predicted the Oscar-winning film of 1999. It was, of course, "American Beauty," by Joe Lamb. Bill would have chosen something to honor "The Cider House Rules" but couldn't think of a suitable title. (Bill Mintz later suggested that he might have used Percy Wenrich's "Sweet Cider Time, When You Were Mine.") Mitchell then attempted a rag he has been working on for months, a wonderful frisky number by club member George McClellan called "Carefree." He concluded his set with James Scott's "Great Scott Rag."
The piano duo of Lee Roan and George McClellan treated us to three old standards, "Goody Goody," "Limehouse Blues," and "Jada."
A first for the Rose Leaf Club was the appearance of an accordionist, Helen Reese. Helen performed solos on "Louise" and "It Had to Be You."
Jack Christopher, a retired teacher from Monrovia, dedicated his set to the IRS, since the tax deadline was impending. What could be more appropriate than "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "All of Me," and "Everything I Have Is Yours"?
Gary Rametta continued on his Joplin kick with one of that composer's most brilliant and imaginative pieces, "Scott Joplin's New Rag."
A visiting pianist from Nashville, Tennessee, Nyle Frank, played three of his own compositions: "Earlybird Rag," "Irregardless Rag," and "Salsbury Post March." This march, in the style of Sousa, was named after the daily newspaper in Salsbury, NC. Nyle brought several copies of his CD, "Back in the Big Easy," which contained two of the numbers he played at the meeting.
Ruby Fradkin, our youngest performer (all of nine years of age), played "Playmates," "On a Bicycle Built for Two," "Tom Dooley," and "Jenny Jenkins."
Mildred Stuart, who is, incredibly, 95 years old, performed "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here," and "It's Been a Long, Long Time."
This brought us to intermission, during which we had our monthly raffle. The prizes consisted of a four-month trial subscription to The American Rag, and a couple of ragtime LPs. Our thanks to Becky Todd and Bob Kirby for handling the raffle.
The second half began with a few remarks by Gary Rametta about tangos. He and Yuko, his fiancée, had found a book of Argentinean tangos from 1900. Yuko, also a fine pianist, played two delightful discoveries:
"La Cottorita," by Samuel Castriota, and "Independencia," by Alfredo A. Bevilacqua.
Fred Hoeptner chose to play the challenging "Efficiency Rag," one of James Scott's most brilliant numbers. He followed up with "Opalescence," by Hal Isbitz.
George McClellan came up with three old favorites, "Bye Bye Blues," "I Ain't Got Nobody," and "Second Hand Rose."
Ron Ross returned with two more of his compositions, "Sweet Is the Sound" and "Impressions," both habaneras.
Ruby Fradkin encored with "Baby Face," "Smiles," "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and "Saints."
Helen Reese warmed up the "squeeze box" again on "Just Because," "As Time Goes By," and was joined by George McClellan on "Five Foot Two." (To everyone's delight, Mildred Stuart was moved to do a little dance step or two on this one!)
Gary Rametta played the Joplin-Chauvin collaboration, "Heliotrope Bouquet."
Bill Mitchell contributed another Joplin rag, "Easy Winners." He then did a couple of Jelly-Roll Morton pieces, "New Orleans Joys," (in anticipation of his forthcoming vacation in The Big Easy), and "The Pearls."
Gary and Bill at the two pianos brought the meeting to a close with "Elite Syncopations" and "Sunflower Slow Drag." (Obviously Joplin got considerable exposure at the March meeting.)
DAVID THOMAS ROBERTS AT OLD TOWN MUSIC HALL (3/15/2000)
By Ron Ross
David was in fine form this particular evening, even by his own admission. He mentioned to me at intermission that he "really felt like playing" that evening.
The concert began with "Mio Sotes" (Forget-Me-Not) from 1896. Roberts mentioned this was his favorite from the works of Ernesto Nazareth (pronounced Naz-a-ray), the Brazilian composer who flourished in the same era as did ragtime and whose tangos bear "syncopatic" similarities to it. Next was a superb soulful rendition of Joplin's "Gladiolus Rag" from 1907, which David described as "dense, ambitious, romantic" and clearly, what he considers an example of Scott Joplin at his most creative. It may, too, have been David Thomas Roberts at HIS best; certainly in his interpretation of other composers.
Following was an example of folk ragtime by Brun Campbell "Chestnut Street in the 90's"; contrasted with Roberts' own "Waterloo Girls" (1980), which has a romantic, melodic folksy flavor of its won. Then came the dark romanticism and lyricism of his popular "Memories of a Missouri Confederate," which has also been recorded by Frank French and Morton Gunnar Larsen.
Introducing us to the genre of "Terra Verde," a coined phrase representing a combination of modern ragtime with Latin rhythms and other New World influences, DTR played his 1997-98 "Babe of the Mountains," a lullaby-like romantic reminiscence of the music of the eastern Kentucky region. He wound up the first half of the program with his own "Kreole" (1978-79), a rousing folk-style rag inspired by his birthplace in Mississippi.
In part two, Roberts revisited Nazareth with a "salon walk" called: "Croissant Crescente" (The Heart That Knows). Then a Jelly Roll Morton stomp called "Stratford Hunch," and next, Morton's "The Crave," an alternately dark and tender, Latin-flavored "tinge."
We were then treated to Edgar Settle's marvelous 1903 essential folk rag entitled "X. L. Rag." We were reminded that Settle was finally acknowledged, in recent years, as the true composer of "The Missouri Waltz," although he had not officially copyrighted it and others had recorded it as their own.
We then heard a habanera-flavored section from Roberts' "New Orleans Suite" titled "Fountainbleau Drive," and "Shoo Fly," DTR's adaptation of an Appalachian folk tune. Now came the piece de resistance, "Roberto Clemente" (1979), probably DTR's best-loved and most-requested piece, which he played with great love and caring.
The program ended with one encore, "Kentucky," a partly-improvised version of a bluegrass mountain standard.
A small but thrilled and enthusiastic audience attended the brief program, and I for one, could have listened for another hour had we been so fortunate.
THE SWEET AND HOT SONGWRITING COMPETITION
By Floyd Levin
The producers of the Annual Los Angeles sweet and Hot Music Festival have proudly announced the inauguration of their First Annual "Sweet and Hot Songwriting Competition."
The Golden Age of American popular music occurred during the Jazz and Swing Eras. Skilled composers and lyricists during the '20s, '30s, and '40s created an amazing body of music that is still enjoyed by fans around the world.
Discussing the forthcoming competition, Wally Holmes, Director of the Sweet and Hot Music Festival, said, "The single common denominator usually found at the center of a great jazz performance is a great song. It has the power to connect the listener with a specific time or place, a special romance, even and entire era or decade. We have decided to honor the writers of those wonderful songs in a very meaningful way -- by encouraging the creation of new material."
At thriving jazz festivals, jazz parties, and concerts, hundreds of jazz bands are currently entertaining thousands of devotees at sites throughout the country. We hope the new Songwriting Competition will generate a compositional revitalization, producing fresh material that will continue to be played by jazz groups in the future.
A panel of prominent composers and musicians has been selected to judge the songs. Cash prizes will be awarded for the top three songs chosen by the panel. World-wide press announcements will publicize the winning compositions.
The following prizes will be awarded:
1st Prize - $1,000.00
2nd Prize - $600,00
3rd Prize - $400.00
Additional prizes include a professional recording of the winning songs and All-Events Badges to the Sweet and Hot Music Festival. Copies of the winning songs will be available to bands participating in the festival.
Anyone can enter the competition. Any number of songs may be submitted. Each must be accompanied by an official entry form, which lists all the contest rules. To receive the form at no charge, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:
The Sweet and Hot Songwriting Competition
The Sweet and Hot Music Foundation
Box 642269, Los Angeles CA 90064-2269
(Or down-load from website - sweethot.org)
This year's Los Angeles Sweet and Hot Music Festival will take place on the Labor Day Weekend, September 1, 2, 3, and 4, at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel.
For additional information, contact The Sweet and Hot Music Festival, Box 642269, Los Angeles CA 90064-2269 or call Martha at (310) 325-6696.
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)
http://RoseLeafRag.tripod.com/ (Rose Leaf Ragtime Club)
http://www.trad-digital.com (Bill Mintz)
http://www.nswest.com/organ/oltmhl.html (Old Town Music Hall)
A RAGTIME CONFLICT AND RESOLUTION
It has been pointed out by a couple of observant Rose Leaf Club members that the last Sunday afternoon of the month of June is the 24th, which is also the time scheduled for the Sunday performance of the Annual Ragtime Festival at the Old Town Music Hall. A solution to this problem would be to schedule the June Rose Leaf Club meeting for the 17th. What do you think? Let's vote on it at the April meeting.
AN INTERNET TIP FROM DARRELL WOODRUFF
There are two ways to participate in the ragtime newsgroup. The easiest way is to go to the website http://www.deja.com/group/rec.music.ragtime
and read and post messages from there. This is slow. You can also go to the newsgroup section of your ISP (usually in the same place as Email) and go directly to rec.music.ragtime. That is much faster and easier to organize, but you must "subscribe" which just means that you sign up to receive that newsgroup. It is free either way.
MUSIC - SOMETIMES
Sometimes music makes me glad
Sometimes music makes me sad
It depends on the music played.
Music can send me on my way
It can make me dance
It can make me sing.
Music can take me on a trip
Through memory lane
Or hope for what has yet to be.
Music can speak of the future
Or of the past
And today brighten and guide me
On my way.