JULY 2000 NUMBER 47
Some "thank you's": to Fred Hoeptner for last month's fine review of
the Sedalia Festival; to Darrell Woodruff for locating and procuring a
copy of That American Rag for me; to Eric Marchese for his professional
proofreading of Something Doing each month; to Nan Bostick for her rave
review of the new Tichenor Family Album CD (I agree wholeheartedly with
her assessment), and also for the piece on the upcoming Sutter Creek Festival;
to Susan Erb for her musings on music; and to all you loyal readers who
choose to renew your subcriptions to this newsletter when they come due,
thus making possible its continued publication.
Bill Mitchell, editor. Tel. (714) 528-1534 Internet <email@example.com> Fax (714) 223-3886
ROSE LEAF CLUB MEETING (6/25/00)
In spite of a hot, muggy day we had a fine turnout the last Sunday in June. (Ron Ross counted seventy-one noses.) As this report will show, we had a wide variety of musical presentations, with most of them falling under the umbrella of ragtime in its various manifestations.
Our emcee, Gary Rametta, got the music underway with Joplin's tuneful and march-like "Peacherine Rag," one of the composer's early efforts. Then, reflecting his interest in Jelly Roll Morton, Gary played Original Jelly Roll Blues," the first time this number has been played at the Rose Leaf Club if I am not mistaken. Bill Mitchell was next up, with two of James Scott's lesser-played pieces, "Honeymoon Rag" and "The Ragtime Betty." "Creole Belles" by J. Bodewalt Lampe was sandwiched between them for contrast. To show how songwriters were not averse to "borrowing" from one another, Bill played Charles L. Johnson's "Iola," an "Indian intermezzo" of 1906. The second section of "Iola" was appropriated note-for-note in a 1940 popular song, "Playmates," which Ruby Fradkin has been favoring recently.
Allen Breiman, accompanied by Ron Ross on piano, sang a couple of songs associated with Al Jolson: "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby to a Dixie Melody" and "April Showers."
Ron Ross played two of his own compositions, "Good Thing Going," and "Digital Rag." (Is he going to come up with an "Analog Rag" one of these days? Stay tuned.)
Returning to Joplin, Gary Rametta played the majestic "Fig Leaf Rag," one of the more challenging items in the Joplin oeuvre. Gary did it justice, needless to say.
Making his first appearance at the club, fifteen-year-old Thomas Peters played the lovely "Bethena - a Concert Waltz," by Scott Joplin. Thomas has been studying piano for about three years, discovered Joplin six months ago, and has been on a Joplin kick ever since. His playing was flawless and sensitive. We hope he returns and plays some more of his favorite composer.Les Soper, one of our new members, played one of his favorite Glenn Jenks compositions, "The Black Preacher," dedicated to Martin Luther King. Les then turned to Joe Lamb's "Ragtime Bobolink," and concluded with Chas. L. Johnson's "Dill Pickles" (1906), one of the most popular of all rags, up there with "Maple Leaf" and "Twelfth Street."
Nine-year-old Ruby Fradkin brought down the house with her "Swipesy." She also played a couple of strains of Joplin's "Cascades," which is a very difficult rag. In her set she included "Tell Me Why," and "Baby Face."
We have missed seeing Nancy Kleier at recent meetings, and were delighted to have her back in June to play a "Fourth of July" set. She opened with "Sky Rockets," by E. Philip Severin. She continued with "On Emancipation Day," by Will Marion Cook, and concluded with "Beneath the Starry Flag," by Hartman.
After a 15-minute break and the drawing for prizes, David Allen got the music going again by playing a ballad, "Autumn Leaves." Singing a cappella Janet Klein rendered a trio of humorous rarities: "The Picture Show," "Johnny and Mary," and "At the Moving Picture Ball."
A guest from Massachusetts, John Collin, played a fast, vigorous "Maple Leaf Rag." He had been studying piano for only a year, and sounded like a pro already. Remarkable!
It was good to have Ian Wallace back after a long absence. He played Lamb's "Bohemia," " Nola," and the beautiful David Thomas Roberts masterpiece, "Roberto Clemente." Ian is moving to the San Luis Obispo area, having recently retired. We will miss him, but maybe he can make it down for a meeting once in a while. We hope so, anyway.
Jim Lutz played a Joplin number we don't hear very often, "Combination March." He followed up with the Joplin/Hayden collaboration, "Something Doing."
At eighty-five, Tom Handforth was the senior pianist of the day. A teacher of piano and organ, and a former musician with the circus, he played one of those circus tunes we all recognize but have trouble attaching a title to. It was "Entry of the Gladiators." He also played "Flapperette," a classic of novelty piano by Jesse Greer.
Fred Hoeptner, recently back from Sedalia where he won first place in the composition competition this year, favored us by playing his prize-winning "Dalliance." He followed with Lamb's "American Beauty."
Stan Long played a trio of popular standards, "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," "New York, New York," and Gershwin's greatest (editor's opinion) ballad, "Someone to Watch over Me." "Rainbows" is based on a classical piano composition by Chopin. (Etude? Nocturne?) Shifting to the ragtime mode, he played Joplin's "Pineapple Rag," He then leaped ahead a few decades to play "Swing Boogie."
Stan invited Ruby to join him in a duet on "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah."
Lee Roan and Bill Mitchell continued in the duet format, bringing the
meeting to a close with "Stumbling," a Zez Confrey popular song of the
early twenties, and "If You Knew Susie."
TWENTY-FIFTH ANNUAL RAGTIME FESTIVAL AT OLD TOWN MUSIC HALL
There were three performances of this always popular festival, two on Saturday, June 24 and a matinee on Sunday, June 25. We attended the Saturday evening show, which was nearly sold out, as I presume the others were too.
Over the years an efficient game plan has been established, with each pianist playing two or three solo numbers, then inviting the next performer to join in a duet before taking over the solo piano. Robbie Rhodes opened the program this year with James Scott's "Frog Legs Rag," played briskly, with a Wally Rose feel.
Robbie followed this classic with something new to most of us, a charming and sunny sounding obscurity called "Milkman's Rag," by one Shep. Camp. Rounding out the solo set was Artie Matthews' "Pastime Rag #5," a gem brought out of obscurity and first recorded over fifty years ago by Wally Rose of the Lu Watters band in San Francisco. Robbie called for the next performer, Alex Hassan, to join him in a duet on Walter Donaldson's "Changes." This old song celebrates intriguing chord progressions ("beautiful changes in every key"), and the team of Rhodes and Hassan delivered a complex and fascinating arrangement.
The State of Virginia's gift to ragtime, Alex Hassan, specializes in novelty piano, the 1920s style that carried ragtime to a new level of urban sophistication and technical demands. Alex opened with "The Sleepy Piano," composed by an Englishman, Billy Mayerl. Roy Bargy's "Jim Jams" was Alex's next offering, one of the classics of novelty piano. He concluded his first set with a curiosity, a medley he put together from forgotten ditties written for the Warner Brothers' Vitaphone musical short subjects of the early to mid 1930s. He called this "The Vitaphone Fantasy, Part I."
Jim Turner, who has been featured in all twenty-five of the ragtime festivals at OTMH, paid homage to Jelly Roll Morton by playing two of his finest compositions. "Buffalo Blues," a.k.a. "Mr. Joe," was a somewhat modernized version, with intriguing chords and progressions contributed by the performer. Likewise, "The Perfect Rag" was "Turnerized" into an elegantly stylized showpiece. Jim then called upon Kathy Craig to join him in a four-hand arrangement of Lampe's "Creole Belles."
Miss Craig selected Lamb's "American Beauty," played with taste and sensitivity, as an opener."Swipesy Cakewalk," credited to Joplin (but probably Arthur Marshall wrote 3/4ths of it), was given a first-class interpretation.
A spectacular eight-handed version of "Hiawatha" brought the first half of the program to a close, and OTMH patrons were invited to visit the "pharmacy" to fill their "prescriptions" for coffee and cookies, or whatever.
Jim began the second half with some music by James P. Johnson, known as "the father of stride piano." "A Flat Dream," however, features an unstride-like boogie bass beneath a lilting melody. Jim followed this with another superb performance, one of his favorite pieces, Johnson's haunting "Lonesome Reverie." He completed his set with a tango by Ernesto Nazareth, "Odeon." A contemporary of Scott Joplin, Nazareth was a Brazilian whose syncopated tangos have become favorites of the terra verde ragtimers (Roberts, Kirby, French, etc.)
Robbie played one you don't hear every day: "Blue Goose Rag," by Raymond Birch (Chas. L. Johnson). Another Johnson, James P. to be exact, was the composer of "Snowy Morning Blues," Robbie's next selection.
He invited Kathy to join him on Frank Himpsl's recent (1997) tribute to the turn-of-the-century, "Millennium Rag." This is a rousing, catchy number that is growing in popularity.
Kathy soloed on James Scott's masterpiece, "Grace and Beauty," a title which just happens reflect the characteristics of her playing. She then performed a number by E. T. Paul, who is known for the grandiose and colorful covers of his sheet music, dramatic titles, and bombastic marches and gallops. "The Ben Hur Chariot Race" had it all. Kathy called on Alex to join her on an early Joplin rag, "Peacherine."
Alex played a Gershwin rarity, "When Do We Dance?" (1925), an arrangement transcribed from a 78 record. He concluded his solo stint with Part 2 of the "Vitaphone Fantasy" begun during his early solo segment. This culminated in a dazzling show of virtuosity. As is the tradition at OTMH ragtime festivals, all the performers joined forces to wind things up. The finale commenced with eight hands on "Oh, You Beautiful Doll," with Bill Coffman joining in on the Mighty Wurlitzer to make it ten. As an encore, the ensemble played a mystery rag, title unknown, transcribed by Robbie Rhodes from a recording of a Dutch street organ. The versatile Robbie left the piano bench to play a baritone saxhorn on this one.
Thus ended the 25th annual Ragtime Festival. This year a souvenir program
was provided for the audience, and it will go into at least one scrapbook
as a memento of this memorable occasion.
MIMI BLAIS, VIRGINIA TICHENOR, AND RICHARD ZIMMERMAN TO BE SPECIAL GUESTS AT THE 2ND ANNUAL SUTTER CREEK RAGTIME FESTIVAL AUGUST 11 - 13
-- by Nan Bostick
Organizers of the 2nd Annual Sutter Creek Ragtrime Festival are simply blown away by the ragtime royalty gracing this year's event. Montreal's Queen of Ragtime, Mimi Blais, has just announced she'd be delighted to return to California's Gold Country as a special guest artist along with the Princess of Ragtime, Virginia Tichenor, and the Royal Wizard of Ragtime (and birthday boy) Richard Zimmerman. Whoa! But that's not all, folks. Tom Bopp (who hardly ever gets to attend a festival), Elliott Adams and the Porcupine Ragtime Ensemble (with Bub and Petra Sullivan, Julia Riley, Bob Dashiell, and Ray Bauer), Pete Clute, Keith Taylor, Bill Kenville, Nan Bostick, Stevens Price, Sue Larsen, and who knows who else will also be performing throughout this quaint, historic town in five different venues along main street, including the Sutter Creek Ice Cream Emporium, the Festival headquarters, at 51 Main St. (Hwy. 49).
Join in the fun of seeing what happens when unwitting history-loving Mother Lode tourists suddenly discover ragtime. Plan to be there by Friday, August 11, at 2:00 p.m. for a rip-roaring Festival kick-off -- a Ragtime Birthday Party for Richard Zimmerman at the Ice Cream Emporium. That evening at 9:00 p.m. plans are afoot for another party at the Parlor, this one to celebrate the release of two new, and fabulous, CDs: the "Tichenor Trio Family Album" and Mimi Blais' "New and Old Rags." Other special events include Nan Bostick's symposium on "Uncle Charlie" (composer Charles N. Daniels/Neil Moret) and two Ragtime Melodrama performances Saturday at the Main Street Theater; a Celebration of Ragtime Concert, Saturday evening, 7:30 p.m. at the Sutter Creek Auditorium (also on Main St.); a strolling barber shop quartet, plus open piano Friday through Sunday and a Sunday Ragtime Jam Session at the Ice Cream Emporium. Except for the 7:30 Saturday evening concert at the Auditorium, which is $15 payable at the door, all events are free of charge. This year's Festival is sponsored by the Sutter Creek Business Association, the Ice Cream Emporium, and the recently formed Mother Lode Ragtime Society, which holds its next get together Friday, July 21 from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. at the Sutter Creek Ice Cream Emporium.
Information on the Society's meeting, the Ragtime Festival, the performers,
the scenic town, and where to stay during the Aug. 11-13, 2000 Festival
can be found via the West Coast Ragtime Society's web site at <http://www.ragtimemusic.com/SCRF/>
Queries may also be directed to Stevens Price, festival director, from
10 to 6 daily at: (209) 267-0543 or you may contact Nan Bostick (650) 328-5792
THE NEW TICHENOR TRIO'S "FAMILY ALBUM": A SUPERIOR CONTRIBUTION TO RAGTIME
By Nan Bostick
At June's Sacramento Ragtime Society meeting I made Virginia Tichenor a little nervous by announcing I had a bone to pick with her and her musical family. You know how you come to cherish one CD over all others? Then somebody comes along and tops it? That's just what the Tichenor Family Trio has done. Their new CD, "The Tichenor Trio Family Album," has replaced "Virginia's Favorites" as my number one best loved ragtime CD, not that I'm really complaining.
The Tichenor Trio (Trebor Tichenor, Virginia Tichenor, and her multi-talented spouse, Marty Eggers) has produced one of the finest collections of ragtime era music your ears will ever hear, including exquisitely performed ragtime standards (Blake's "Chevy Chase," Joplin" "Peacherine," etc.), some wondrous blues, and a couple of delicious jazz numbers to play for those know-it-all types who insist that ragtime had no influence whatsoever on the development of American jazz.
They begin with a smashing rendition of Brun Campbell's "Chestnut Street in the ?x2018;90s," both Tichenors on piano, Eggers on bass. This piece immediately transports you to Missouri - the ragtime flavor of this entire CD - and may have you turning off your loudness control. No bass boosters needed for the Tichenor Trio. Finally, a ragtime CD you can crank up on your car's stereo to compete with assaults from the rapper/funk set. (If you don't get ?x2018;em with "Chestnut," head for the last cut, a fabulous rendition of Trebor Tichenor's own "Bucksnort Stomp - an Arkansas Hell-Raiser.") Several individual selections, particularly Virginia's and Marty's exhilarating piano duet of "Blind Boone's Southern Rag Medley No. 2" are worth the price of the entire CD. This cut has me pushing the "repeat" button over and over. "Blind Boone's Rag Medley No. 1" is also included, played by Marty and Trebor.
Another highlight is Virginia's solo piano performance of David W. Guion's "Texas Fox Trot." She plays it so beautifully you'd think you were listening to a Joseph Lamb composition. Marty "gets down" with a solo version of "Tin Roof Blues" that could make an invalid strut, followed by Trebor/Marty dual piano renditions of "Nancy Jane," a lesser know jazz piece, and Jelly Roll Morton's "Kansas City Stomp." Add in the trio's performance of Joplin's "Easy Winners," the second cut on the CD, and you'll more than feel you've received your money's worth, but that's less than half of this fabulous CD.
Recorded live at the home of collectors Phil and Phyllis McCoy in Santa Clara, CA, the "Tichenor Family Album" brings you that warm, wonderful feeling you get when watching this illustrious family play together at festivals, but the sound production is far superior to most live performance recordings. Occasionally you'll hear a strange tapping that's right on the beat. No, it's not percussionist Pete Devine knocking on the window wanting to be let in on the action. It's Marty slapping that upright bass with grand gusto, only a slight distraction from an otherwise well miked, near studio quality session. The soft-bound, fold-out cover and liner notes, designed by Chicago's comic strip wizard Chris Ware (of "Ragtime Ephemeralist" fame), are attractively and cleverly rendered, words in tiny, tiny print (Ware's specialty). Also, you may feel you need a refresher course in Algebra I to decipher the letter code used to explain who's playing what on which cut, but who cares? Best to start from the beginning and simply enjoy this marvelous new contribution by the Tichenor family who, once again, deserve high praise for their extraordinary talent and lifelong dedication to ragtime.
The Tichenor Trio Family Album: Chestnut Street in the ?x2018;90s (B.
Campbell); Easy Winners (S. Joplin); Texas Fox Trot (D. Guion); Blind Boone's
Southern Rag Medley #2 (J. W. Boone); Tin Roof Blues (New Orleans Rhythm
Kings); Nancy Jane (unknown); Kansas City Stomp (F. Morton); Blind Boone's
Southern Rag Medley #1 (J. W. Boone); Swipesy cake Walk (S. Joplin/A. Marshall);
Stompin' the Grapes (T. Tichenor); Deep in the Ozarks (T. Tichenor); Chevy
Chase (J. H. Blake); Jinx Rag (L.P.Gibson); Friendless Blues (W. C. Handy);
Tickled to Death (C. Hunter); Peacherine Rag (S. Joplin); Bucksnort Stomp
(T. Tichenor). Playing time - 58.13.
Ragophile CD 1002 (Compact Disc only) available for $17 postpaid from Marty Eggers, P. O. Box 5724, Berkeley, CA 94705-0724. Please make checks payable to : Marty Eggers. For more information, write to the above address. Call (510) 655-6728, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
TYPES OF MUSIC
There is so much you can say about music--
So let's begin --
So many types of music exist
From classical to pop
From jazz to rock
From ballads to rag
From Latin to country
From Spanish to hymns --
From the minuet to the disco dance
From the tango to the ballroom waltz
From the polka to the fox trot
From the square dance to the Charleston.
So you can see
That music can impart.
Types of music are not limited
As music is an ongoing art.
--by Susan Erb