RAGTIME HAPPENINGS IN THE SOUTHLAND
JUNE 2000 NUMBER 46
I was a bit apprehensive about the forthcoming May meeting of the Rose Leaf Club, coinciding as it did with the Memorial Day weekend. I knew that some of our pianists and listeners would be in Sacramento for the annual Jazz Jubilee. Others might be out-of-town on vacation. I needn't have worried, however because we had a record turn-out, several new visitors, and a lively and varied musical menu.
We were honored to have ragtime disc jockey Jeff Stone present. His show can be heard each Sunday evening, 8:00-10:00 p.m. on KSBR, Mission Viejo, 88.5 FM. If you can't receive the signal, try this home page: <www.ksbr.net>
As usual during intermission, the members mingled, talked ragtime, or chose CDs and tapes from our lending library to enjoy between meetings.
After intermission, we had our opportunity drawing, with prizes including a three-month trial subscription to The American Rag, LPs, CDs, or tapes donated by members. (If you have some item to donate, leave it at the door with Bob Kirby. It will be much appreciated.)
Ace drummer and jazz scholar Hal Smith has informed me of a website that will interest Jelly Roll Morton fans. It is called "Ferd "Jelly Roll' Morton, 1890-1941: A Chronicle of Research, by Mike Meddings." There is a lot of newly discovered information about Morton contributed by several researchers, including Robert Pinsker, who has uncovered documentation of JRM's activities in San Diego eighty years ago. Check it out. <http://www.doctorjazz.freeserve.co.uk/page10.html>
A big thank-you to Fred Hoeptner for his coverage of the Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, MO. And congratulations, Fred, for winning first place in the annual ragtime composition competition. That is indeed an honor.
Hoping to see many of you at the June meeting,
Bill Mitchell, editor. Tel. (714) 528-1534 Internet <email@example.com> Fax (7114) 223-3886
ROSE LEAF CLUB MEETING (5/28/00)
Gary Rametta opened the proceedings at the Pasadena IHOP with "Something Doing," the Joplin-Hayden collaboration that gives this newsletter its name.
By request, Bill Mitchell played "Queen of Love" by Charles Hunter. "Scott Joplin's New Rag" (1912) was next, and the set was completed by "Porto Rico," by Ford Dabney.
Gary turned in a commendable performance of "Fig Leaf Rag," one of Joplin's greatest, but also one of his most difficult.
The piano team of McClellan and Roan (Old George and Lee) came up with a rarity, "Under a Mellow Arabian Moon." They found this on a CD of the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra. George worked out a piano arrangement for duet performance.
Helen Reese on accordion joined George and Lee for spirited renditions of "Alabama Jubilee," "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover," and "Any Time."
San Diego's Bob Pinsker played a rare one, "Monkey Hunch," which he transcribed from a James P. Johnson piano roll. Bob then played something in a romantic vein, "Autumn Idyll." The composer, Fred Hoeptner, was present to take a bow.
Making his first appearance at the IHOP was Les Soper, who used to attend the Maple Leaf Club meetings and was a performer at the Fresno Ragtime Festivals. Les opened with a Glenn Jenks composition, "The Wrong Rag," dedicated to the late David Wright. He followed up with the ever-popular "Canadian Capers" of 1915. Composition credits are given to Chandler, White, and Cohen, but according to ragtime historians the tune was stolen from Sid Le Protti, a Barbary Coast pianist mentioned in They All Played Ragtime. Les rounded out his set with "Junk Man Rag," by Luckey Roberts, one of the early Harlem stride whizzes.
Ruby Fradkin played a set that included "Swipesy," "Smiles," "On the Good Ship Lollypop" (a song sung by Shirley Temple when she was about Ruby's age), and "Playmates." Interestingly, "Playmates" was a popular song of 1940, but actually was lifted note-for-note from one of the sections of "Iola," a 1906 intermezzo by Charles L. Johnson.
Judy Senior, accompanied on piano by Bob Pinsker, sang a couple of 1920s numbers: "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," and "He May Be Your Man, but He Comes to See Me Sometimes."
Gary Rametta played the James Scott classic, "Grace and Beauty," one of those rags--like "Maple Leaf"--that never grow old.
Bill Mitchell returned with Jelly Roll Morton's "Grandpa's Spells," Chris Smith's "Ballin' the Jack," and, with apologies to Errol Garner and May Aufderheide, "Musty Rag." He was accompanied on these by Les Soper on washboard. Les has taken up this domestic instrument recently, and his playing is thimbly great. (Groan, please.)
After removing his thimbles, Les took over on piano with "12th Street Rag."
Stan Long trotted out a couple of Joplin's most popular rags, "Maple Leaf" and "The Entertainer." He concluded with one of his own compositions, "My Ditty," with a nod to Disney's "Small World."
Stan joined Ruby Fradkin for duets on "Baby Face," and "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah."
Ruby continued with solos of "Turkey in the straw" and "Tom Dooley."
Fred Hoeptner opened his set with "Opalescence," by Hal Isbitz and followed with James Scott's "Efficiency Rag." He concluded with one of his own pieces, "Dalliance, a Ragtime Frolic."
Continuing her exploration of Argentinean tangos, Yuck Shimazaki played "Veiled Creole" (veiled Creole woman), by Domingo Peers.
Tom Hanforth, a member of the Los Angeles Organ Society and a teacher of organ, gave us a piano rendition of Souza's "Stars and Stripes Forever."
George McClellan concluded the meeting by playing and singing "Prohibition Blues," and "Is It True What They Say about Dixie?"
SCOTT JOPLIN FESTIVAL 2000
by Fred Hoeptner
The 2000 edition of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival held annually in Sedalia, MO, opened Thursday evening, May 31, and closed Sunday, June 4, having presented seven formal concerts, a dance, eight symposium sessions, and a "ragtime brunch." In addition, there was a full schedule of free performances at five sites scattered about town. Last Year's furor over replacement of the tent on the side of the Maple Leaf Club by the newly constructed Maple Leaf Park was somewhat moderated by the addition of a new tent site known as the John Stark Pavilion on Fifth Street in front of Starch's former offices. (Stark was Joplin's primary publisher.) The theme rag this year was "Swipes Cakewalk" by Joplin and Arthur Marshall. Attendance was good, with all concerts held in Liberty Center auditorium selling out.
Wednesday evening began with one of the few glitches. A purveyor failed to furnish the tent top that had been ordered to cover the Maple Leaf Park stage and seating area. A last-minute substitute was a nondescript but functional tent that looked as if it had seen one too many circuses, but the scheduled "happy hour" had to be cancelled. Terry Walled organized and emceed the informal concert that night.
Thursday morning a "2000 Kick-Off Concert" featured Scott Kirby, Morten Larsen, Butch Thompson (alternately playing piano and clarinet) and emcee Terry Waldo playing the music of Jelly Roll Morton, often on dual pianos. The afternoon "Cradle of Ragtime" concert featured rags by Missouri composers. Pianists Ragtime Bob Darch, Jan Douglas, Scott Kirby, Bob Milne, and John Petley, and Trebor and Virginia Tichenor as a duo accompanied by Marty Eggers on bass, performed. The Skirtlifters, a string band led by banjoist Clark Buehling and also including a second banjo, cello, fiddle, and guitar, added variety. Petley's readings of Tom Shea's "Little Wabash Special" and Douglas's rendition of "Sleepy Hollow" were memorable. Dick Zimmerman capped the concert with, among others, Wilcockson's "Pride of the Smoky Row," explaining that Smoky Row was once a notorious stretch of Burgundy Street in New Orleans and that the subtitle "Q Rag" referred to the questions that prostitutes and clients ask each other upon being introduced.
Thursday evening's dance was held in the Mo-Ag Theater on the fairgrounds. Elite Syncopation, a classically trained quintet from Connecticut comprising violin, clarinet/flute, piano, cello, and bass, supplied the music. Their broad repertoire ranged from "Cannonball" to Jelly Roll Morton to "Echoes from the Snowball Club." Dance masters Ruth Wolfe and Andy Jewell kept activities moving.
Friday afternoon's "Legacy of Scott Joplin" concert, hosted by Ed Berlin, featured pianists Jeff Barnhart, Roy Eaton, Brian Holland, Nora Hulse, Scott Kirby, and Butch Thompson. Also performing was the trio "Seabiscuits" comprising piano, banjo, washboard, and string bass. Mary Herndon of Sedalia whistled her way through "Swipesy" and "Maple leaf Rag" in an amazing performance that at times sounded like a duet. Hulse's reading of "Paragon Rag" was memorable, as was Kirby's "Weeping Willow." Thompson's performance of the Joplin rag "Elite Syncopations" as arranged by Eubie Blake demonstrated how far an arrangement can stray from the composer's intent.
Friday night's "Easy Winners Concert" at "Joplin Hall," a converted exhibit hall on the Fairgrounds, began with "Elite Syncopation performing five tunes. Notable was Charles L. Johnson's rarely heard "Hen Cackle Rag, A Barnyard Disturbance," a montage of fiddle tunes. Reginald Robinson followed with three original compositions, including his showpiece, "19th Galaxy." The Scott Joplin foundation presented its annual "Lifetime Achievement Award" to Dr. Ed Berlin, author of several books on ragtime and Joplin's biographer. Dick Zimmerman played some real ragtime obscurities from his and Trebor Tichenor's forthcoming folio Gems of St. Louis Ragtime. Notable were "SOS Musicians' Distress" from 1919 and "Schultzmeier Rag, a Yiddisher Novelty." The Skirtlifters, in formal attire, played five tunes including Dabney's "Georgia Grind." Bob Milne closed the concert with five tunes.
Jack Rummel, host of the Saturday afternoon "Ragtime Revelations," began the concert with the winners of the ragtime composition contest. In my opinion, this was a major improvement over previous years when the contest pieces were relegated to the end of the concert and seemed almost an afterthought. The contest judges were Mary Jo Antibus, a ragtime piano teacher from Sedalia; Nora Hulse, former Associate Professor of Keyboard Studies at Central Methodist College and regular performer at the festival, and Dr. Wesley True, Music Department Head, Central Missouri State University. The judges were sent the musical scores and a tape of all the entries with composers' names obliterated. Each judge independently arranged the compositions in preferential order and sent the list to Jeanene Wright of the Joplin Foundation. She then added the numerical scores and the piece with the lowest total was declared the winner. I won first place with "Dalliance: A Ragtime Frolic." Second place was a tie between Martin Jaeger, classical pianist from Switzerland, with his "Arabian Rag," and Hoyle Osborne, professional pianist in the saloon of a hotel in Durango, Colorado, with "Enchantment." David Dana of Bellevue, Washington, took third with "Triple Aught Rag." There was consensus among the judges that the choice among the top seven entries was difficult; however, for the first time, there was general agreement on the winners. Osborne and I were present to play our rags, and Nora Hulse played the other two. Other highlights of this concert were the impeccable performances of six student pianists ranging in age from 11 to 19 for which the Joplin Foundation should be commended. Eleven-year-old Emily Sprague played a Joplin rag with great sensitivity. David Bodine played "Slivers," composed by his great-aunt Maude Gilmore. Marit Johnson and Elise Crain (17) performed a precision duet on Blake's "Chevy Chase." Elise soloed a beautiful reading of Scott Kirby's "Ravenna." Elise was also named winner of the Foundation's annual scholarship. Neil Blaze played Galen Wilkes' beautiful "Creeks of Missouri" with some very appropriate embellishments. Following the student concert, others performing were Tony Caramia who played two of Brian Dykstra's rags, John Petley, Reginald Robinson with his composition "Lightning Strikes Twice," Trebor Tichenor, and Dick Zimmerman.
The Saturday night "Entertainer" concert, also held at Joplin Hall and emceed by Butch Thompson, featured the Tichenors with Marty Eggers, Bob Darch, Mimi Blais, Jeff Barnhart, Brian Holland, Seabiscuits, Morten Larsen, and Scott Kirby. Highlights were Blais' performance of Galen Wilkes' "Last of the Ragtime Pioneers" and Holland's performance of Janza's "Lion Tamer." Blais, a show by herself, brought out her miniature toy piano and played a rag.
The final festival concert, the "Ragtime Music Hall," was held back in Liberty Center after the "Entertainer." Appearing were the Butch Thompson Trio, banjoist Bob Barnhart, and the Skirtlifters supplemented with Dennis Pash on the mandolin banjo. Items of note were Mimi Blais' "Kitten on the Keys" with "Flight of the Bumblebee" inserted, replete with meows and buzzes; bewhiskered Bob Ault singing "What This Country Needs Is Men with Whiskers;" and the repartee between Mimi dressed as a man with top hat and mustache and Jeff in drag. The entire cast joined for the finale "Swipesy Cakewalk."
The symposia, held Friday and Saturday in the United Methodist Church as last year, drew large audiences. Jack Rummel led off with "Xylophone Ragtime." The first xylophone recording of a rag was Chris Chapman playing "St. Louis Rag," 1906. George Hamilton Green revolutionized the field in the early teens. Dave Jasen followed with "Ragtime: Coast-to-Coast" based on his recently published book (with Gene Jones) That American Rag (Schirmer Books). He showed how most ragtime composers were ordinary people often from small towns. Clark Buehling followed with "Ragtime Era Composers for Banjo," using his string band to demonstrate. Dick Zimmerman and Trebor Tichenor presented "The Unknown Rags of John Stark." Stark published sixty-five rags by composers other than the "big three." He established Syndicate Music Co. to publish pieces which he believed didn't meet his standards of quality but which he thought would sell. Nan Bostick covered "Harry P. Guy and Detroit Ragtime." Ed Berlin presented "A Scott Joplin Update," reviewing many of the interesting details of Joplin's life discovered since publication of his biography. After the death of his second wife Freddie, Joplin joined Samuel Reed's Orchestra in St. Louis. Kevin Sanders, guitarist with the Etcetera String Band, presented "Ragtime's Influence on Early Country Music." He theorized that the "walkaround" common to minstrelsy became the cakewalk. Country musicians were exposed to ragtime in numerous ways. Pianos and sheet music were fairly common. Records, for example, by banjoist Fred Van Eps, were influential.
This year's festival seemed to run smoothly without any obvious major glitches. "Dill Pickle Park" (informally dubbed thus last year after a sculpture near the entrance) seemed more inviting and festive with the tent cover. Even the weather cooperated, with temperatures in the nineties only on Wednesday and Thursday, and no rain. The Foundation should be pleased. The 2001 festival is scheduled for Jun 6-10.
WEBSITES FOR RAGTIME FANS
http://www.ragtimer.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/ (Ragtime Store)
http://members.tripod.com/roseleafrag/ (Rose leaf Ragtime Club)
http://www.trad-digital.com (Bill Mintz)
http://www.nswest.com/organ/oltmhl.html (Old Town Music Hall)
http://members.aol.com/midimusic (Irwin Schwartz -- rag, stride, swing, novelty)
http://www.doctorjazz.freeserve.co.uk/page10.html (Jelly Roll Morton research)
http://www.rtpress.com (Sue Keller)
http://homepages.go.com/~galenwilkes/ (Galen Wilkes)
http://www.scottjoplin.org/ (Scot Joplin Foundation - Sedalia Festival)
http://RagtimeMusic.Com/WCRS/SPECIAL.HTM (Listing of many ragtime events)
http://RagtimeMusic.Com/WCRS?RADIOTV.HTM (Listing of ragtime on the radio
http://www.fourhandpiano.com (Stan Long for duo piano team of Miller & Thompson)
THE RAGTIME MACHINE
David Reffkin reports that the 19th anniversary of his ragtime radio show, "The Ragtime Machine," will air July 3. The program is broadcast Mondays, 9-10 p.m., from KUSF, 90.3.MHzFM, from the University of San Francisco. In addition to ragtime music, David often features extensive interviews with ragtime personalities. These are published from time to time in The Mississippi Rag. (To subscribe to this monthly newspaper of traditional jazz and ragtime, send your check in the amount of $22/year to The Mississippi Rag, P.O. Box 19068, Minneapolis, MN 554419.)
David says, "Anyone is welcome to send their recordings (in any format) to me at the KUSF address. I'm always looking for new material." His address is David Reffkin, KUSF-FM, 21130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117-1080.
THE LANGUAGE OF MUSIC
by Susan Erb
Music is the language of the heart
Which flows through love songs
Of the tenderness kind
For the lovers who love
And the lovers who part.
Heartache and heartbreak are a part
Of music close to the heart.
In the search for love
Music leads the way
Through lyrics sung
To the ballads as they play
The heartstrings sing
As the music plays.
Music the language of the heart
Exhausts the range of emotion
From exaltation to deepest sorrow
Let the music play --
And live along the way.
Music can speak words we cannot say.
Have any of you been lucky enough to find the recent book, That American Rag, by David Jason and Gene Jones (Schirmer Books), mentioned by Fred Hoeptner in his report? It came out in late 1999, but local bookstores don't have it, and when I asked a clerk at Borders to look it up in the computer, he found that the first printing was sold out, and it had not as yet been reprinted. The Fullerton Library has it "on order." In the meantime, I'm impatiently fretting.
Just a reminder that the 25th Annual Ragtime Festival at the Old Town Music Hall is this weekend (assuming you get this newsletter by then). Featuring Kathy Craig, Alex Hassan, Robbie Rhodes, and Jim Turner, this concert is THE ragtime event of the year at OTMH. Performances are Sat., June 24, 2:30/8:15 p.m., and Sunday, 2:30 p.m. You can find out if there are any tickets left by calling OTHM at 1-310-322-2592.