AUGUST 2001 NUMBER 64
Rose Leaf Ragtime Club May Meeting (7/29/2001)
Reported by Gary Rametta
About 45 or so ragtime fans and pianists ventured into the thick blanket of summer heat at the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains the last Sunday of July in support of the Rose Leaf Club's monthly celebration of ragtime. In spite of the air conditioning system going haywire early on during the meeting and us having to shut it off, the musicale proceeded with its usual bounce, courtesy of the 13 musicians who performed.
Gary Rametta and Nancy Kleier got things going amid the clattering of glasses and silverware with Charles Johnson's signature rag "Dill Pickles." Written in 1906, it's considered one of the pioneer rags to make extensive use of the "three-over-four" syncopation that became best known with the publication of Euday Bowman's "12th Street Rag."
After the duet, Gary continued with "Ragtime Reverie," an unpublished Joseph Lamb rag that ragtime scholar Joseph Scotti notated from a Lamb sketchbook about 10 years ago. As yet, I haven't seen any reference to when it was supposedly composed. Nonetheless, it's a lyrical, flowing and lovely piece in the tradition of Lamb's greatest compositions. Gary wrapped up his set with "Scott Joplin's New Rag" from 1912. Joplin was ever inventive; this is another example of his seemingly endless wellspring of melodic and harmonic creativity.
Fred Hoeptner came up next to play an abbreviated version of Lamb's haunting, richly textured "Ragtime Nightingale" (1915), a staple of the many birdcall rags in the ragtime repertoire.
Yuko Shimazaki took over the keys, treating us to her premier performance of Joplin's great "Fig Leaf Rag" (1908). Subtitled "A High Class Rag," this piece shows the composer's genius in full bloom. "Fig Leaf" bursts with all the trademarks of a great rag: wistfulness, beauty, tenderness, driving rhythm and positively. With Yuko's commanding technique, enviable touch and deep understanding of this rag, these nuances were wonderfully expressed.
Ruby Fradkin was our next performer. She's been steadily "gigging" at Kulak's Woodshed in the San Fernando Valley and her appearances have been reviewed in the local weeklies there. Also, it was announced that Ruby would be making her first appearance at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo this fall along with a harmonica trio. Her first selection was an arrangement of "Playmate," played with bounce and charm. She continued with a promising rendition of the "A" section of Joplin's "Elite Syncopations" rag from 1902. We've come to expect the best from Ruby; she'll no doubt continue on with the rest of the piece in similar fine fashion. Her next choice was Joplin's 1904 classic "Cascades," fingered sans octaves in the left hand, but with precision and a genuine ragtime feel nonetheless. She closed her set with the standard "Baby Face," delighting the audience with her interpretation, which included a nice blues lick at the end.
Club veteran Nancy Kleier was invited up next. Her chosen theme revolved around things that happen in summertime. For instance, our mythical ragtime couple Raggedy Alfred and Agnes venturing out on a romantic picnic. Nothing would spoil the intimate atmosphere more than a threatening hive of bees. Harry Tierney's "Bumble Bee Rag" (1909) surely put a halt to their plans but only whetted our appetites for more ragtime. Unfortunately for our raggedy friends, Mike Bernard's "The Stinging Bee" from 1908 made their afternoon even more unpleasant. We, however, were enraptured. Nancy put the final touches on another of her thoroughly enjoyable ragtime excursions with Charles L. Johnson's ominous, thickly textured "A Black Smoke" (1902). However, I get the feeling that Raggedy Alfred and Agnes went away feeling their party had definitely been pooped.
Tom Handforth endeavored to re-inject our chagrined raggedy couple with a bit of enthusiasm by performing John Philip Sousa's great "Washington Post" march, named in honor of the newspaper of the same name.
Next up at the keys was Ron Ross, who gave us an update on his forthcoming CD. Great news: he expects it to be completed and released by the end of September. We're indeed anxiously awaiting the compendium of Ross-penned tunes and will make sure to have some on hand as part of our club's lending library. Of course, you'll want to have your own personalized copy. I've been fortunate to hear a pre-release copy and I have to report that it's terrific. Ron played a couple of selections off the CD for us: "Retro Rag," and "Mirella." The former is a twisty, humorous piece that really captures the essence of the ragtime renaissance. "Mirella" is an exquisite tango, one of my favorites off the CD.
Following Ron was Bob Ross (no relation). Bob fashions himself as a "beer parlor" player. If that description's true, then no pejorative can possibly apply. Bob's timing is impeccable-his rhythms fall into a nice groove. At the same time, his melodic and harmonic treatments are eminently satisfying. He performed three originals for us. First, "Foolin' Around Rag," a loosely-structured two-part composition that follows a boogie-woogie/blues pattern the first half, then segues into a more typical two-step rag. Next was "Country Rag," an excellent piece he composed one day while sitting at the piano, working through some songs from his childhood days. His final number "Sioux City Rag," was his best. Fashioned after the old song "Sioux City Sue," it features attractive minor-second and sustained-fourth voicings.
Rousin' ragger Stan Long took us to the break, starting with his unique arrangements of some timeless standards. First was a medley consisting of "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," "New York, New York" and "Someone to Watch Over Me." Next, he gave an excellent performance of "Maple Leaf Rag," played with true ragtime feel. For his final number, Stan broke out with "Chopsticks Impromptu," a conglomeration of boogie-woogie, stride, ragtime, pop and march figures, featuring passages from "Stars and Stripes Forever" by Sousa and "Go See Cal." As always, lighthearted but fun to listen to and well played.
After the break and our monthly raffle, Martin Choate came up to perform his expansive "Ragga con Dolcezza," an original tune with an original title and beautiful treatment of the ragtime form. I think the sweet melody in the second section is the highlight of the piece. This rag is quickly becoming a showstopper at the Rose Leaf Club meetings.
Next, we welcomed back Annette Given, who came down from Bakersfield with her mom and husband. After only a little coercing, we got to enjoy Annette's playing on three great Joplin tunes: "Weeping Willow"(1903), and two from 1907, "Heliotrope Bouquet" and "Nonpareil." "Heliotrope" was a collaboration between Joplin and the legendary Louis Chauvin, the reputed "King of Ragtime Players" in the Saint Louis music scene in the early 1900s. Chauvin provided the first two sections of the tune, and they bear an individual stamp not found elsewhere in the ragtime literature. They are supposedly the only existing examples of Chauvin's ragtime style. Annette captured the brooding but sweet essence of "Heliotrope" in her performance, and her tender, pretty rendition of "Nonpareil" was a delight to hear.
Les Soper joined us next, treating us to a well-executed and very dance-like version of Joseph Lamb's "Bohemia," the great composer's last Stark-published rag in 1919. "Bohemia's" infectious melody and rhythm belie its technical demands on the pianist. It's actually quite tricky to finger. Next, Les played a contemporary rag, Colorado dentist Jack Rummel's popular "Lone Jack to Knob Noster," a ragtime soliloquy that recounts the composer's travels through Midwestern towns en route by car to the Scott Joplin festival in Sedalia, MO. For his finale, Les offered up Joplin's elegant "Gladiolus Rag," one of his most seamless compositions and one of his best.
Seduced by the ragtime bug, Gary returned to the keys and played the first two sections of William Bolcom's "Graceful Ghost," a masterpiece of contemporary ragtime from 1971. Following Gary was Yuko again, this time offering up a taste of Latin American ragtime-or should I say "Tango Viejo"-with Domingo Peres' lovely and syncopated "Velada Criolla," from about 1900.
Ron Ross played another one of his pieces from the turn of the century-the 21st century, that is: "Sunday Serendipity," a tip o' the cap to the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club and our monthly get-togethers. He was next joined by Allen "The Great Bramanovich" Breiman, who provided the vocals to "April Showers" and "Hello My Baby." Despite his humor-filled antics, Alan has a very good baritone voice and displays good vocal delivery on the (American) standards he sings.
With the meeting drawing to a close, Nancy came back up and floored us with her performance of Zez Confrey's "Dizzy Fingers," a whirlwind excursion into novelty ragtime. Next, Ruby kept the pulse going with "Camptown Races." Finally, Ruby, Phil Cannon and Les teamed up on the Joplin/Marshall classic "Swipesy Cakewalk." Their ensemble performance was well-played, well-received, and sent everyone home with a bounce in their step and a smile on their face.
Our next musicale takes place Sunday, August 26, from 2:30 p.m.- 5:30 p.m. at the IHOP on Foothill Blvd., in Pasadena. Mark your calendar!
ROSE LEAF RAGTIME CLUB BUSINESS MEETING OF JULY 29, 2001
Attendees: Ron Ross, Darrell Woodruff, Norma Woodruff, Fred Hoeptner, Lee Roan, Nancy Kleier, Bob Kirby, Becky Todd, Gary Rametta, Yuko Shimazaki, Bill Mintz, Roy Shelso, Tom Handforth
Here's a summary of what was discussed at the business meeting that preceded the July 29 monthly get-together:
1. The treasury now has $2,233 per Fred Hoeptner, treasurer.
2. How to reach music teachers re ragtime, our club, promising students.
a. Fred offered to draw up a draft of a form letter to be sent to music teachers. He believes there is a list on the Internet to work from.
b. Lee reminds us that Jim Turner and Les Soper are or have been music teachers. Contacting them might be helpful.
c. Music Stores and piano stores might know how to reach music teachers.
3. Set up an annual Scholarship fund of at least $500 to offer to a promising student of ragtime piano.
a. Raise the money by passing the hat at the regular meetings.
b. Raise the money from the raffle. (This was the method approved by those attending.) Additional funds to reach the $500 amount would come from the treasury.
c. Consider Ruby Fradkin as the first recipient of the scholarship.
d. Use the scholarship to help promote the club and ragtime in the music community.
4, Rose Leaf Email Group
a. Darrell reminded us that anyone wishing to receive or send information about ragtime and related activities should sign up for this group, thus only having to send the message to one email address rather than to several. Email him at email@example.com for further info.
5. New Logo
a. Yuko agreed to create a new, cleaner looking logo rather than the somewhat fuzzy one we have now.
b. This logo could be used for T-shirts, caps, etc. and new membership cards, which would be issued to anyone who subscribes to the Something Doing newsletter.
a. A poll of those present showed very little interest in Rose Leaf Club T-shirts.
b. Alternatively, golf shirts, caps and bags were suggested. No decision was reached.
7. Ragtime Festival for the L.C. area.
a. This is a call for volunteers to do research on venues, costs, performers, etc.
b. Alternately, and as a beginning exercise, we might want to sponsor a concert by a prominent ragtime pianist-possibly a house concert or event at the Brand Library in Glendale, which has a good performing space and excellent grand piano.
Ron Ross, Acting Secretary and Dir. of Public Relations
ORANGE COUNTY'S SECOND ANNUAL RAGTIME FESTIVAL GETS UNDERWAY
By Eric Marchese
As the follow-up to last year's successful first Orange County ragtime festival, dubbed "RagFest," the city of Fullerton will be the site of Orange County's second annual ragtime music festival, this October. The Friends of Jazz will present the event, RagFest 2001, on Saturday, October 6, 2001, and Sunday, October 7, at Steamers Cafe in Fullerton and at the Recital Hall at Fullerton College.
RagFest 2001 will feature four separate and distinct programs of ragtime entertainment, including piano solos, two-piano duets, instrumental ragtime, songs and more. Festival headliners include Tex Wyndham, Tom Brier, Brad Kay, Bill Mitchell and the Albany Nightboat Ragtimers.
From his home in Mendenhall, PA, musician, author and raconteur Charles "Tex" Wyndham criss-crosses the nation performing as a ragtime soloist and as the cornetist and leader of three jazz bands. A prolific author and an authority on ragtime music and early jazz, he has authored dozens of scholarly articles and reviews of the music and has created three educationally-oriented programs that are used in classrooms across the U.S. One of these programs, "A History of Ragtime," will kick off RagFest at noon Oct. 6. Audiences are perpetually amused, entertained and enlightened by Wyndham's unique mixture of education and often mildly bawdy humor, which he brings to Orange County for the first time.
Brad Kay is a versatile musician -- a pianist, singer and a skilled ragtime composer with an endearingly quirky, entertaining manner. From San Diego, Bob Pinsker presents some of the less-explored corners of the ragtime repertory, including pieces from the "Harlem stride" and "Novelty" schools of ragtime.
Patrick Aranda and Bill Mitchell are veteran ragtime musicians with contrasting styles. Aranda's fast-and-flashy keyboard work wowed last year's audiences, while Mitchell is a steady proponent of classic and folk ragtime and the era's pop and jazz tunes. Mitchell also heads up a three-man combo called The Albany Nightboat Ragtimers, with Hal Groody on banjo and Dave Wright on tuba joining Mitchell at the piano. The trio will be making its second appearance at the festival, joined by Frank Sano, the man who gave them their name, on percussion.
Eric Marchese, the festival's director, is an Orange County-based ragtime pianist who has composed more than three dozen piano rags. He and Tom Brier have co-written 12 rags since 1994. A ragtime phenom, the 29-year-old Brier, from Merced, Ca., has written more than 125 rags and ragtime-related pieces. The pair will perform together in two-piano duets and separately as piano soloists.
A special guest all the way from Lawton, Oklahoma, is pianist and composer Mitch Meador, who will perform much of Oklahoma's rags and rag-blues numbers from the vintage era. Meador has been documenting and playing his home state's ragtime music for the last several years. He has written nearly 40 piano rags as well as a complete, two-act ragtime opera, complete with 20 ragtime numbers, called "Snake Oil."
Numerous local musicians, including Yvonne Cloutier, Bill Protzmann, Terence Alaric and Randy Woltz are also slated to perform, and several surprise guest artists are scheduled to appear.
Like last year's festival, the focal venue will be Steamers Cafe, a jazz nightclub and restaurant in downtown Fullerton. This year's festival, however, is being expanded over two days. Several different "packages" of entertainment are available to the public, each providing a different combination of programs. Three different programs are being presented at Steamers on Saturday and Sunday, and a fourth, "all-star" program at Fullerton College on Saturday night.
Two separate performances will be held at Steamers on Saturday afternoon, October 6. The opening program, at noon, will feature Tex Wyndham, the Albany Nightboat Ragtimers and the duets of Brier and Marchese. During the second program, which begins at 3:30 p.m., several performers will take turns at the piano doing sets ranging from 20 to 30 minutes.
On Saturday evening, a special Cabaret Show called "The Ragtime Special" will be held at the Recital Hall on the campus of the nearby Fullerton College. During the event, essentially a variety show, headliners, featured performers and guest artists will have the opportunity to showcase one or two outstanding numbers. The Cabaret show begins at 8 p.m.
Sunday's event will be a "Ragtime Brunch" back at Steamers, a more casual event during which patrons will have the opportunity to dine while listening to live ragtime performance. Performers will meet and greet audience members during the brunch. The event begins at 10 a.m. and winds up at 1 p.m.
RagFest's sponsoring group, the Friends of Jazz, is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to promoting the continued growth and development of jazz performance, appreciation and education. All proceeds from the festival are used to provide jazz education, school programs and scholarships.
Steamers Cafe offers full lunch and dinner menus and has a bar. Refreshments will be served at the Recital Hall for the 8 p.m. "Ragtime Special" evening concert. The "Brunch" session is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. Food is not included in the price of the ticket but can be ordered separately from Steamers' extensive menu.
Steamers Cafe is a noted local jazz club located in downtown Fullerton, at 138 W. Commonwealth Ave, one block west of Harbor Blvd. and three blocks south of Chapman Avenue. The Recital Hall is located on the grounds of Fullerton College, on Lemon just north of Chapman Avenue. Free parking is available in a lot just north of the Music Department building and in several surrounding lots. The largest of these is a two-story parking structure along Chapman Ave. at Lemon just south of the Recital Hall.
Package price for the entire weekend is $60. Individual ticket prices are $15 (for the Sat. noon or Sun. brunch events), $20 (for the Sat. 3:30 p.m. program) and $25 (for the Sat. evening cabaret show). Discounted package prices are also available.
Seating is limited at all events, so the public is encouraged to obtain tickets in advance.
Checks or money orders should be made payable to Friends of Jazz Inc. and mailed to: P.O. Box 5671, Fullerton, CA 92838-0671. Each order should include a list of all guests’ names, the total number of seats required and which programs you'll need tickets for.
All tickets will be Will Call at Steamers on October 6 and 7 and, if purchasing only the Saturday night show, at the Recital Hall entrance.
For tickets and more information, call (800) 690-6684, or access the RagFest website at ragfest.com
Sundays, 2:05-3:30 pm PT, "Syncopation Station,” KDHX St. Louis MO 88.l and www.kdhx.org, host, Jan Douglas.
Sundays, 4-6 pm PT, "Rags to Wishes.” KAZU, Pacific Grove CA 90.3 and www.kazu.org; host, Mike Schmitz.
Sundays, 8-10 pm PT, "The Ragtime Show,” KSBR Mission Viejo CA 88.5 and www.ksbr.net; host, Jeff Stone.
Mondays, 9-10 pm PT, "The Ragtime Machine,” KUSF San Francisco CA 90.3 and www.kusf.org/; host, David Reffkin. A higher fidelity stream is also sometimes available at www.nibblebox.com/public/radio/kusf.shtml.
Thursdays, 7-8 pm PT, "Ragtime America,” KGNU Boulder CO 88.5 and www.kgnu.org; host, Jack Rummel.
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
Mondays, 9-10 p.m. The Ragtime Machine, KUSF-FM 90.3, San Francisco. Host: David Refkin. Also on the Net at KUSF.ORG
Sundays, 8-10 p.m. KSBR-FM 88.5, Mission Viejo. Host: Jeff Stone. Also on the 'Net at KSBR.ORG
CONTINUING GIGS AND UPCOMING EVENTS
Brad Kay Sunday afternoons, 2-4 p.m. at The Unurban, 3301 W. Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica. Coffee, etc. No cover charge
Jerry Rothschild Tues. and Wed., 4:30-7:00 p.m. at Gunter's Place, 16258 Whittier Blvd., Whittier. (562) 947-3683
Fri. and Sat., 7-10 p.m. at Curley's Restaurant, corner Willow & Cherry, Signal Hill.
Crazy Rhythm Hot Society Orchestra. Aug. 26, 7:00 p.m. Orchestrations of Ellington, Whiteman, Dorsey, etc.
Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St, El Segundo, Admission $20. Phone 310-322-2592. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric Marchese and Bill Mitchell. Sept. 11, 8 p.m.-12 a.m. An evening of ragtime piano solos. Steamers Café, 138 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton. (714) 871-8800. No cover charge.
Mews and the Small Band Sept. 16, 7:00 p.m. Mesmerizing and evocative ballads. Old Favorites and turn-of-the-century. Old Town Music Hall. (See above)
Dick Zimmerman Sept. 23, 7:00 p.m. The king of ragtime, with guest vocalist Tracy Doyle. Old Town Music Hall. (See above)
RagFest 2001 - Orange County's second annual ragtime festival. Sat.-Sun., Oct. 6-7. Steamers Café and Fullerton College Recital Hall, Fullerton. Featuring Tex Wyndham, the Albany Nightboat Ragtimers, Patrick Aranda, Tom Brier, Brad Kay, Eric Marchese, Bill Mitchell, Bob Pinsker. Guest artists Yvonne Cloutier, Mitch Meador, Terence Alaric, Bill Protzmann, Randy Woltz, and more. $60 for all events; tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis for individual performances. Phone (800) 690-6684 or access the website ragfest.com.
Fifteenth Annual West Coast Ragtime Festival, Nov. 16-18, Fri. thru Sun. Red Lion Hotel, 1401 Arden Way, Sacramento. Stellar lineup, more details in upcoming issues, but for more information now, call (916) 457-3324 or www.RagtimeMusic.com/wcrs/ or e-mail bubpetra@yah
Bill Mitchell, Editor (714) 528-1534 Fax (714) 223-3886 E-mail<email@example.com>