FEBRUARY 2001 NUMBER 58
ROSE LEAF RAGTIME CLUB JANUARY MEETING (1/28/2001)
Reported by Bill Mitchell
As it was Super Bowl Sunday, we were a bit apprehensive about having a good turnout of musicians and listeners. We needn't have worried, however; apparently it takes more than New Year's Eve or the Super Bowl to deter us ragtimers from getting our monthly fix at the IHOP in Pasadena. Yes, we had another full house and a few newcomers to perform or check us out.
Ron Ross acted as emcee in the absence of Gary Rametta, getting things off to a syncopated start with a rendition of his own "Digital Rag." Ron commented that he gave it that name "…because I use my digits to play it."
Ron invited Bill Mitchell, returning from a two-month absence because of performance commitments, to play. Bill opened with Scott Joplin's "Original Rags," the composer's first published rag. (Carl Hoffman, Kansas City, Missouri, 1899) This piece was remembered and played by Jelly Roll Morton in his "New Orleans Memories" album of 1939. Bill chose "A Bag of Rags" as a follow up. A two-step from 1912 by W. R. McKanlass, this frisky little number is fun to play. Both Terry Waldo and Paul Lingle liked it well enough to record it. Bill concluded with "Climax Rag," by James Scott. (If he'd played it first it would have been anticlimactic, no doubt).
Ron took a few moments to remind new visitors and regulars that the Rose Leaf Club suggests a $2 donation at the door, although performers are exempt from this. The club maintains a lending library of tapes and videos at no charge. It is run on the honor system.
The piano duo of George McClellan and Lee Roan was joined by a first-time visitor, Jim Campbell, on banjo.
The threesome played oldies but goodies: "Second Hand Rose," "My Little Bimbo," and "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans."
Ron introduced a new performer, Martin Choate, who had composed a new tune. Receiving its world premiere at the meeting, this brisk and inventive novelty was entitled "I Done Left My Hip Boots in the Other Car," with lyrics consisting of a repetition of the song's title. Ron Ross joined Martin to give it a duet performance.
Fred Hoeptner was invited to play next, choosing to lead off with his own composition, "Dalliance, a Ragtime Frolic," which had the distinction of being the first-place award winner in the new ragtime contest in Sedalia last year. For an encore Fred chose Joseph F. Lamb's haunting "Ragtime Nightingale," which borrows ideas from Chopin and Ethelbert Nevin.
Our youngest performer, Ruby Fradkin, played "Alouette," "Stardust," "Tom Dooley," and "Swipesy Cakewalk." She is always a favorite. Recent articles about her performances and awards have appeared in U. U. World and Girls' Life.
Nancy Kleier, "The Little Old Rag Lady from Pasadena," came up with some material that she amusingly related to the Super Bowl - "Things you might be hearing echoing out of Tampa." Choosing first a title she thought might apply to both teams, she played "Rufenreddy," a 1922 novelty by Roy Bargy and Charley Straight. Perhaps the teams would try to scare each other, so "The Baboon Bounce" might do it. This 1913 rag was by George Cobb. It was apparently written "…for comedy scenes in eccentric pictures." Nancy concluded her set with "Who Let the Cows Out - A Bully Rag" by Chas. Humfeld. The rationale for this one had something to do with the teams coming down to the wire. The score of the piece provides a break for the player to "Make a noise like a cow," so Nancy obligingly provided a "Moo."
Niles Frank, ragtime pianist and composer from Nashville, Tennessee, paid us a visit to perform his "Illinois Rag," which had a real folk ragtime feel. He encored with a piece he wrote after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill and originally called the "Oiley Bird Rag." He spent some time cleaning it up, however, and now calls it the "Early Bird Rag." It was a pleasing number with a gentle melody. This was Niles's second appearance at the Rose Leaf Club. He attended and played a few months ago on a previous excursion to California.
For a change of pace, Bob Balbert, visiting from the San Fernando Valley, took us on a pleasant nostalgia trip back to the 1930s by playing a couple of medleys of great standard pop ballads. He started with "Body and Soul," then segued into some Duke Ellington: "Mood Indigo," "Solitude," and "I've Got It Bad and That Ain't Good." The second medley included "That Old Feeling," "Darn That Dream," and "Confessin'.".
Winding up the first half of the day's program was a newcomer, Duane Thorne, who sang and accompanied himself on a lute-like instrument he called the "fluke," which sounded much like a ukulele. He invited the audience to join him (if they knew the words) on "Once in a While." Quite a few people seemed to remember the words to this 1937 pop song.
After a ten-minute break, Ron Ross got the music going once again with a recent novelty of his, "Something Old, Something New," written in the year 2000.
Stan Long began his segment with three ballads: "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," "New York, New York," and "Someone to Watch over Me." He called on Les Soper to join him on washboard for a rousing "Maple Leaf Rag," and an original he called "My Ditty," a raggy thing which incorporated several familiar pieces.
Les Soper remained on stage for some further washboard workouts, accompanying some Robin Frost piano pieces taped from Midi. Frost called them "Temperature," "Roger's Favorite Toy," and "Jelly Fish Omelet." Les, also an excellent pianist, has been experimenting with washboard percussion for the last six years.
Introduced as our elder statesman, Tom Handforth chose to play three old-time songs: "Bye Bye Blues," "The Birth of the Blues," and "Sleepy Time Gal." He was accompanied on banjo by Len Bergantino, a friend and first-time visitor. Len provided some nice single-string work to complement Tom's lead on piano.
Ruby Fradkin and Stan Long teamed up for peppy duets on "Baby face" and "Old Zip Coon."
Alan Bramer (The Great Bramovich), accompanied by Ron Ross on piano, sang "You're the Cream in my Coffee" and "Hello, My Baby." As is his wont, he offered choruses in both English and Russian (or whatever).Ron sang with him on "My Old Kentucky Home," which sounds quite comical as an a cappella duet in a Slavic tongue.
Returning with more Super Bowl fantasy, Nancy Kleier paid tribute to the Baltimore Ravens by playing "Baltimore Rag," a number written by Galen Wilkes as a tribute to Eubie Blake, a native of that city. Some of Eubie's characteristic figures are detectable in this number. Not to neglect the New York Giants, Nancy played "Harlem Rag" by Tom Turpin. And to wind it all up, she played a song probably descriptive of both teams after the game -- "Black and Blue," by Fats Waller.
Ron Ross honored a request for a reprise of his "Good Thing Going," complete with vocal.
Bill Mitchell wound up the meeting's proceedings with Joseph F. Lamb's "Bohemia," and at a listener's request, "Dill Pickles."
For those of you on the Internet, you can find a list of informative ragtime websites by visiting the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club's webpage at http://roseleafrag.tripod.com/links.html
For back issues of Something Doing, you can access the archives at http:roseleafrag.tripod.com/archive.html
RAGTIME ON INTERNET RADIO
By Fred Hoeptner
Ragtimers who have computers with sound capability have available five radio stations that stream their signals over the Internet and feature ragtime programs; however, for those of you unfamiliar with streaming media, I have several caveats. Streaming is an emerging technology. Access to a particular station's stream at a given time is never assured, because many technical problems can occur with the various servers between the station and your computer. Then each station has a maximum number of connections that it can serve concurrently. When you connect, the fidelity of the signal can range from terrible to nearly, but not quite, equivalent to that of a high quality FM stereo system. A process called buffering, wherein the stream is suddenly interrupted only to start again at the same place several seconds later, can disrupt reception. Sound packets can arrive out of sequence or be totally lost resulting in a strange garbling. Despite the occasional flaws, a satisfactory listening experience is usually possible.
Three of the programs air on Sunday, and it is possible to listen to ragtime much of Sunday afternoon and evening. All times will be given in Pacific Standard Time. From 2:05 until 3:30 p.m., KDHX, St. Louis, MO (www.kdhx.org) broadcasts "Syncopation Station" hosted by Jan Douglas, Director of Scott Joplin House and frequent performer at ragtime festivals. Douglas programs a variety of ragtime and even has guests performing live occasionally. A classically trained pianist, he is highly knowledgeable about the technical aspects of ragtime performance. Then from 4:00 until 6:00 p.m. ragtimers can access KAZU, Pacific Grove, CA (www.kazu.org) for "Rags to Wishes". Mike Schmitz offers a variety of ragtime and stride interspersed occasionally with "mouldy figge" Dixieland jazz and related music. From 8:00 until 10:00 p.m. ragtime reappears, now on KSBR, Mission Viejo, CA (www.ksbr.net). KSBR offers several streams, but I have found the Winamp stream to be the most reliable and to have the best fidelity. Host Jeff Stone, occasional visitor to the Rose Leaf Club, programs a variety of piano and orchestral ragtime and related vocal music, including much Ian Whitcomb material.
Ragtime devotees also often favor the 1920s and early 30s pre-swing orchestral music of the style performed by Mike Henneby's Crazy Rhythm Hot Society Orchestra. You can fill in the two Sunday evening hours between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m., when ragtime is not available, with just this type of music, from WFUV, New York, N.Y.(www.wfuv.org) where Rich Conaty hosts "The Big Broadcast" from 5:00 until 9:00 p.m. Lists of each week's selections are available the preceding Saturday afternoon at the newsgroup "alt.fan.rich-conaty".
David Reffkin, a classical and ragtime violinist, takes to the airwaves at KUSF, San Francisco,CA (www.nibblebox.com/public/radio/kusf.shtml or, if not successful there, try www.kusf.org/) Monday nights from 9:00 until 10:00 p.m. with "The Ragtime Machine". Never hesitant to express his own perceptive opinions about the direction that contemporary ragtime is heading, David also plays much obscure material from earlier years. He interviews composers and performers, most recently Brian Keenan, recent performer at the Old Town Music Hall. Unfortunately the KUSF audio has an overmodulated quality about it.
Jack Rummel, composer, pianist, frequent concert emcee at Sedalia, and tireless ragtime promoter when he isn't practicing dentistry, hosts "Ragtime America" Thursdays except the second Thursday of each month from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. on KGNU, Boulder, CO (www.kgnu.org). Jack plays a wide variety of ragtime and usually focuses on specific aspects. A recent program featured ragtime waltzes, for example. He imparts much of his extensive store of knowledge about the ragtime scene during each program.
Those of you who listen should know that the stations streaming ragtime are all educational stations affiliated with universities or nonprofit foundations. Streaming costs a station about $10,000 to $20,000 annually. If we want to keep ragtime on the air and on the Internet, we need to heed their pleas for donations at fund drive time. This is true even if we give only small amounts, because the number of donors counts as much or more than the total raised. Most have "800" numbers available for pledging. Be sure to call during the ragtime program so that ragtime gets credit.
Mondays, 9-10 p.m. The Ragtime Machine, KUSF-FM 90.3, San Francisco. Host: David Reffkin.
Sundays, 8-10 p.m. KSBR-FM 88.5, Mission Viejo. Host: Jeff Stone.
CD REVIEW: THE DAWN OF THE CENTURY RAGTIME ORCHESTRA
By Bill Mitchell
The Dawn of the Century Ragtime Orchestra was formed in 1967 by David E. Bourne, an organizer of the Maple Leaf Club, founded that same year in Los Angeles and "dedicated to the preservation of classic ragtime." Richard Zimmerman, the band's pianist and MLC co-founder, discovered and purchased a library of several hundred orchestrations that had been used early in the century by an eastern orchestra. Included were many rags and ragtime-related pieces. Bourne's orchestra proved to be a hit at MLC meetings, and in 1971 they made their first LP, which was followed by a second in 1972. These releases received critical and popular acclaim. Trebor Tichenor characterized the nine-piece ensemble as "…probably the best of the ragtime orchestras, playing authentic arrangements from the ragtime age." Both LPs have been reissued recently on CD (Merry Makers Record Company, CD-20).
The selections: Dixie Blossoms; Portuguese Rag; Sweetmeats; Ma Pickaninny Babe; Slavery Days; Silver Bell; Miss Dixie; Cubanola Glide; I Want to Be in Dixie; Peaceful Henry; Alexander's Ragtime Band; Repasz Band March; America, I Love You; Coon Hollow Capers; Hyacinth Rag; Friendship Café Rag; Cotton Time; King Crap; Bombasto March; Yankee Girl; Ramshackle Rag; Silks and Rags Waltzes; Eli Green's Cakewalk; Raggy Trombone; Bohemia
Much, but not all, of the program is ragtime. Bourne chose the numbers to give the flavor of a turn-of-the-century orchestra playing for a dance or a concert in the park. The music is tuneful and exciting, played with great gusto.
The orchestra on tracks 1-13 is composed of two cornets (David Bourne and Jack Langlos), clarinet (Mike Baird), trombone (Dave Kennedy), two violins (Jack Malek and Donna McClure), tuba (Art Levin), percussion (Roy Roten) , and piano (Richard Zimmerman). On tracks 14-25, the personnel remains the same excepting that Victor de Veritch (violin) replaces Malek, and Holly Ulyate (flute) replaces McClure.
Richard Zimmerman wrote the liner notes, providing interesting information on each of the numbers played. Early ragtime composers whose works are represented include Percy Wenrich, Charles L. Johnson, Ted Snyder, E. Harry Kelly, George Botsford, Charles L. Daniels, Fred Stone, and Joseph F. Lamb. Most of the material dates from 1895-1919, but there are two modern rags (Portuguese and Friendship Café) composed by the band's clarinetist, Mike Baird.
If you like band ragtime, you will certainly enjoy The Dawn of the Century Ragtime Orchestra. The vintage arrangements are played crisply and brightly, and you will probably discover a tune or two new to you. Discovering such a gem as Charles L. Daniels's "Cotton Time" is alone worth the price of admission.
The price of this CD is $17.00 postpaid. Make your check payable to David E. Bourne, and mail it to him at 30645 Mainmast Drive, Agoura, CA 91301.
CONTINUING GIGS AND UPCOMING EVENTS
Brad Kay Sunday afternoons, 2-4 p.m. at The Unurban, 3301 W. Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica.
Jerry Rothschild Fri. and Sat., 7-10 p.m. at Curley's Restaurant, corner Willow & Cherry, Signal Hill
(562) 424-0018 .
The Night Blooming Jazzmen Dixieland concert and hymn sing-along at 8 p.m. Tues, 2/27/01 at the First United
Methodist Church of Santa Monica. General admission $10, seniors $8. Call church office for advance tickets and information. (310) 393-8258.
Crazy Rhythm Hot Society Orchestra Sun. Feb. 25, 7 p.m. at the Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo
Admission $20. Phone 310-322-2592 - Email email@example.com