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Reported by Gary Rametta

Thanks to all who attended the September meeting of the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club. Even with the events of September 11 fresh in everyone's minds, a near-full house of performers and guests showed up at the Pasadena IHOP to partake in our celebration of ragtime, the music that brings us together and expresses the optimism, ingenuity, fortitude and idealism of America. It turned out to be one of the most satisfying shows we've ever had. Thank you again for your support.

A quick note before the September meeting summary: Our November meeting is scheduled for the last Sunday of that month, the 25th-that's one day after Scott Joplin's 133rd birthday (November 24, 1868). In the past, it's been proposed that we make some of the meetings theme-oriented. If that sentiment still holds, I think it would be worth considering making November's meeting a celebration of Scott Joplin. In short, all the performances would be of Joplin tunes. I'd like to bring this issue up for discussion at our October meeting to see if others are interested in pursuing it. In the meantime, perhaps it would be a good idea for all performers who plan to make the November meeting to dust off their Joplin repertoire and be ready to treat us to their interpretations of works from the ragtime master.


Gary Rametta kick-started what turned out to be a great September meeting by playing "French Vanilla," a great rag composed in 1995 by our founder, P.J. Schmidt. Gary dedicated his performance to the memory of P.J., who passed away in September of 1999.

Phil Cannon took over the mike and played two Joplin rags for us on his guitar/banjo. First was the tricky "Elite Syncopations," then the lovely "Searchlight Rag." As usual, Phil's playing was exemplary. It's unbelievable how he captures all the nuances of the rags with his instrument.

Yuko Shimazaki then gave us another one of her masterful performances, putting her technical and interpretive skills to the test with Joplin's classic "Cascades" from 1904. I have to say that Yuko's classical piano training certainly gives her an advantage. Played correctly, "Cascades" is one of Joplin's more technically demanding compositions to work out. It requires the kind of disciplined fingering that can either give one a permanent crease in their brow, or conversely, be so natural that the music seems to flow joyfully and effortlessly from the fingertips. Yuko's performances fall into the latter category.

Bill Mitchell came up and gave us two solos, first "Bolo Rag," a signature piece by Albert Gumble from 1908. It's a thoroughly enjoyable rag, particularly in the C section. Bill knows this tune probably better than anyone in the ragtime world. If you missed it, you can still find it on his "Ragtime Recycled" cassette, which is in our club lending library or available for purchase from Mr. Mitchell. Bill's next performance was a James Scott rag by request: "Quality Rag." Never one to refuse a request, Bill forged ahead, despite not having played it for a couple of years. His playing was outstanding on this full-handed, thickly textured, octave-jumping rag.

Next up was Nancy Kleier, who chose a "peace" theme for her selections. First was "Pacific Coast Rag," a meditative work from contemporary composer Glenn Jenks of Maine. She followed up with another modern-day ragtime composition, "Pacific Waltz" by Tom Brier of Merced, CA. Nancy played both rags with conviction, grace and heart.

Gary returned to the keys for another solo, this time on the sweetly haunting Joplin/Louis Chauvin collaboration from 1907, "Heliotrope Bouquet."

Next up was Ron Ross. He noted that his CD, titled "Ragtime Renaissance," was completed and a couple weeks away from shipping. We'll make sure to have some on hand in the club library. You can also purchase the CD from Ron directly. Ron's first piece was a new composition, "Fun in the Sun." It has a happy, open sound, the result of Ron's skillful use of sixth and major-seventh chords. Next, Ron played "Moscow Rag," another one of his creative gems, and one that earned a spot on his CD.

Following Ron was Bob Pinsker, who always has rarely heard, brilliantly played rags up his sleeve. His first selection was contemporary composer Bill Rowland's "Elizabethan Rag," an exciting, advanced rag named for the composer's daughter, Elizabeth. Bob kept the standard high with "Old Adam," a selection from contemporary composer William Bolcom's 1971 "Garden of Eden" ragtime suite. Both pieces allowed Bob to display his prodigious talent, much to the delight of the audience.

Ruby Fradkin then stepped up to the Yamaha, first plugging two gigs at which she'd be featured: October 14th at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, performing with the Dave McKelvey harmonica trio, and October 21st, headlining at Kulaks Woodshed in North Hollywood. Ruby's first solo was the A and B sections of Joplin's "Elite Syncopations" from 1901. It will be a thrill to hear her get this rag under her fingers. She closed her set with "Baby Face," wowing us with a total improvisation of the main theme on a repeat.

Visiting from Indiana was Doug Haise, a terrific player who's kind enough to drop by when he's in town. Doug's first performance was a name-that-tune number, an early rag foxtrot that featured several tempo breaks, lots of dynamic variation, and great overall execution. The only one who seemed to know the title was Bill Mitchell (of course, Bill must know at least 500 rags by heart). The piece was "By Heck," composed by S. R. Henry. Next, Doug gave a barn-burning rendition of Charles Straight's "Hot Hands" rag from 1916.

Heading to the break, we welcomed back Brenda Brubaker. For her third appearance at the Rose Leaf Club, she gave us a leisurely stroll through Robert Hampton's great "Cataract Rag," a work that's played all too seldom at our club. It was great to hear her play it. I'm hoping Brenda continues her exploration of this classic. Next, she soloed on a patriotic march entitled "Flag of Freedom," by Mildred Brown. Brenda told us she uncovered the venerable sheet music in her piano bench.

During the break, we conducted our monthly raffle and sang happy birthday wishes to Phil and Ruby.

Stan Long kicked off the second half of the show with a great first run at Joplin's masterpiece "Magnetic Rag," one of his most challenging to interpret. He followed up with a medley of patriotic tunes that he called "American Pride." It was definitely an appropriate choice and expressed our common sentiments.

Les Soper followed Stan, and recalled his first encounter with Glenn Jenks' music. It was some 10 years ago at the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Fresno. Les explained how awestruck he was with Jenks' compositions, especially "The Black Preacher," which Les went on to perform with distinction. He followed with another Jenks solo, called "Elegiac," playing it with restraint and beauty. Les closed with a piano/vocal number from Great Britain, composed during World War II: "The White Cliffs of Dover." He commented that it was written to build up the spirits of the British after the bombardments of England by Germany. It was clearly relevant to what is happening now as we mourn for the victims of September 11 and feel concern about the future. Les' vocal delivery and the song's message brought tears to my eyes.

After a few quiet moments, Bob Pinsker returned to the keys, clutching his music composition notebook. The notebook contained his first ragtime composition, "Alyssum Rag," written in 1975 when he was but a teenager. Bob recalled meeting composer William Bolcom in 1978 and asking the maestro to give him feedback on his rag. Bob said Bolcom reviewed it and was "reasonably encouraging." Bob went on to premier it for us. I found it to be a remarkable composition-spirited and original. Bob finished with another great solo effort, this time on Max Morath's "Bowery Gulch."

Next up was Fred Hoeptner, who chose two ragtime classics, one from James Scott, the other from Joseph Lamb. First was Scott's wonderful "Victory Rag," a work titled by Stark publishing that probably referred to the end of World War I. "Victory" displays the inimitable pianistic brilliance that Scott contributed to ragtime. Next was Lamb's "Ragtime Nightingale." The highlights of this lush piece are its B and C sections. Fred did a commendable job on both!

Nancy Kleier came up for an encore, first with "Goodbye Rag," a 1920 composition by Carlton Colby-another rag I hadn't heard before and am looking forward to hearing again. She concluded her set with Jerome Hartman's "'Neath the Starry Flag" from 1900, a fine tune that reaffirmed our spirit of nationalism. Nancy's sight-reading skills are beyond compare, the result of innate talent and years of dedication.

Bill Mitchell, Phil Cannon and newcomer Mary Ann Sereth on stand-up bass turned in the only combo performance of the afternoon. The ad-hoc trio came forward and did a great job on "Breeze" (1920), then the Walter Donaldson standard "My Blue Heaven," and two from Jelly Roll Morton's playbook, "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say" and "Ballin' the Jack." All four tunes featured excellent soloing, comping and strutting. What a pleasure to listen to! I trust Mary Ann will return again and again…her bass playing was fantastic- it added breadth and depth to the music.

We finished off a memorable September meeting with Yuko Shimazaki at the Yamaha in a dazzling rendition of Joplin's "Magnetic Rag." Kudos to Yuko for her performance, and to all the players who helped make our gathering a three-plus hour highlight reel.

Thanks once again to all of you who came out to support the club and enjoy the music. It's you who make it all worthwhile. Let's do it again in October…that would be Sunday the 28th. See you there.


Reported by Bill Mitchell

The second annual Orange County RagFest, sponsored by Friends of Jazz, Inc (a non-profit educational corporation based in Fullerton, California), was a far more ambitious venture than last year's. It consisted of four different programs over the weekend of October 6 and 7. The roster of players was much more extensive and two venues were employed: Steamers Café and the Fullerton College Recital Hall. Masterminded by pianist/composer Eric Marchese (a Rose Leaf Club member), RagFest 2001 covered a wide spectrum of syncopation.

At noon Saturday, master of ceremonies Eric Marchese opened the proceedings by welcoming the audience and, with Tom Brier at the second piano, ushered in RagFest 2001 by playing "Thus Spake Zarathustra," then intoning into the microphone, "2001 -- A Rag Odyssey." Program A got off to an appropriate start with the star performer, Tex Wyndham, presenting "A History of Ragtime," a 90-minute one-man show that included narration, pianistics, and singing, everything from "Mr. Johnson, Turn Me Loose" to "Yellow Dog Blues (rag)." The two-piano duo of Brier and Marchese played their own "history of ragtime" with seven well-chosen examples of the idiom, opening with the early "A Warm Reception" (1899) and "Harlem Rag" (1897) and concluding with a recent (1998) Brier-Marchese Novelty-style rag, "Crunchin' the Keys." Next on stage were the Albany Nightboat Ragtimers (Bill Mitchell, piano; Hal Groody, banjo; Dave Wright, tuba; Frank Sano, percussion), who offered further examples of ragtime's diversity, with half a dozen numbers, from "Grace and Beauty" to "Red Wing."

Program B began in mid-afternoon and ran till the dinner hour with short sets by Tom Brier, Bill Mitchell, Patrick Aranda, Bob Pinsker, and Tex Wyndham, and included guest pianists Doug Haise and Paul Kosmala. Longer specialty sets were provided by Mitch Meador, who impersonated Brun Campbell for an exploration of Oklahoma ragtime, and Brad Kay, whose set concentrated on Bert Williams, the black comedian/singer. The program was brought to a rousing conclusion by a ragtime jam session with Brier, Mitchell, Marchese, and Meador on the two pianos, Groody on banjo, Sano on drums, Wyndam on cornet, and Pinsker on violin. This improbable aggregation charged ahead, without rehearsal, into "Tickled to Death," "Swipesy," "Dill Pickles," and "The Darktown Strutters' Ball."

At 8:00 p.m., Program C, "The Ragtime Special" Cabaret Show, got underway with the most ambitious and inclusive lineup of the weekend. Tex Wyndham kicked it off with a Harlem stride number, "My Blackbirds are Bluebirds Now." Yvonne Cloutier played the Confrey Novelty "Dizzy Fingers," then accompanied vocalist Lori Ascani on Berlin's "I Love a Piano." A student of Yvonne's, 13-year-old Brett Torres, played an original composition, "Ocean Rag." Eric Marchese accompanied Bob Pinsker's violin interpretation of Joplin's "Bethena." Phil De Barros followed with a patriotic medley of George M. Cohan favorites, including "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "You're a Grand Old Flag." Mitch Meador played two blues rarities by Jack Randolph and John Carroll, "The Oklahoma Oilfield Blues" and "Jamaica Ginger Blues." Bill Mitchell played two Eastern Seaboard rags, "Music Box Rag" and "Baltimore Todalo," by Luckey Roberts and Eubie Blake, respectively. Erika Ceporius, accompanied by Marchese on piano, sang "A Real Slow Drag," the finale to Joplin's opera "Treemonisha." Brad Kay did two numbers from Fats Waller's "Hamburger Suite," "Variety Stomp" and "St. Louis Shuffle." Tom Brier contributed an original Novelty, "Frisky Fingers." An eight-handed, two-piano version of "Black and White Rag" with Brier, Wyndham, Mitchell and Marchese, brought down the curtain on the first half.

After intermission, headliner Tex Wyndham opened the second act with the Van and Schenk Prohibition tune "All the Boys Love Mary." Terence Alaric played "Wall Street Rag" and Gershwin's "Rialto Ripples." Bill Protzmann played two rousers: Northup's "Cannon Ball Rag" and Morton's "Tiger Rag." Erika Ceporius sang the vocal version of the "Pine Apple Rag," accompanied by Eric Marchese. Bob Pinsker played two Eubie Blake piano solos: a rare, untitled foxtrot from 1913, which Pinsker discovered in manuscript; and "Blue Thoughts," c. 1936. "Goodbye to Paradise," a ragtime song/lament by Marchese, was sung by Joyce Hackett, accompanied by the composer. Tom Brier on piano and Bob Pinsker on violin played the latter's arrangement of Lamb's 1959 masterpiece "Alaskan Rag." Tex Wyndham encored with the comical song "He's in the Jailhouse Now" and Brad Kay encored with Duke Ellington's "Jubilee Stomp." Brier and Marchese duetted on "Humpty Dumpty," by proto-Novelty composer Charley Straight. Brier played the finale, Bowman's "Twelfth Street Rag," which served as the background for the performers' curtain calls.

Concluding the festival was Program D, "Ragtime Casual," back at Steamers Café Sunday morning during brunch time (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.). This more informal stint featured short sets by Brier, Marchese, Protzmann, Meador, Aranda, Wyndham, Pinsker, and Mitchell. Brier and Marchese belted out some duets, including the Marchese original "Winnin' Time." The pair were joined by Aranda on several tunes, making for some exciting six-handed piano. Randy Woltz, appearing for the first time, playing "Never Swat a Fly," "Kitten on the Keys," and "Black Bottom." Wyndham (cornet) and Mitchell (piano) did impromtu duets to illustrate the ragtime/Dixieland connection. The festival concluded with another ragtime jam set with Brier, Mitchell, Marchese, Woltz on the two pianos; Groody on banjo; Aranda on tuba; Pinsker on violin; and Wyndham on cornet and vocals. This unlikely aggregate of talent walloped out "Frog Legs," "St. Louis Rag," "Bohemia," "Maple Leaf," and the grand finale, "Alexander's Ragtime Band," with Wyndham on the vocal.

RagFest 2001 was lots of fun for both the participants and the audiences. It was remarkable that there was almost no repetition of material, thanks to the planning and foresight of Eric Marchese, who cannot be praised too highly for his work in promoting this event. RagFest 2002 is already in the planning stages, with many returnees and several first-timers on the bill.


By Eric Marchese

Putting together this year's RagFest was even more daunting than a year ago -- and the results were well worth the challenges. Like last year, I was festival organizer and coordinator, Master of Ceremonies, performer, chief, cook and bottle-washer.

For RagFest 2000, we had a total of 8 musicians, who played for six hours at one venue. This year, by comparison, I had 22 musicians (including myself) over the entire weekend, which stretched to some 12 hours of performance time, utilizing two venues -- a jazz club and a recital hall.

This year's festival headliner was Tex Wyndham, who proved his musical mettle time and again, whether at the piano, singing, blowing the cornet or delivering a seminar. Tex is a charming, exuberant stage personality, and his love of performing comes through every second he's around. His presence made a difference of several orders of magnitude over last year's festival.

Backing him up were RLRC members Bill Mitchell, Patrick Aranda, Bob Pinsker and Brad Kay, all first-rate performers, each of whom hit a grand slam every time up on stage. Like Tex, who ventured here from the east coast, featured performer Tom Brier came from afar (although Merced County is just a few hours by car). Guest performer Mitch Meador also came from afar (from Oklahoma), and his playing of both vintage and original compositions charmed the crowds. These three guys aside, all of the talent was from Southern California.

Aranda and Brier were their usual, phenomenal selves, and Kay, Mitchell and Pinsker were stellar. You could build an entire weekend just on the marvelous showmanship of these five performers. Aranda is flashy, Mitchell steady and precise, Brier businesslike yet amazing. Kay's entertaining style combines great keyboard work with a self-deprecating sense of humor, and Pinsker's wry-and-dry stage presence belies his terrific musical skill.

In addition to all the headliners, we had Bill Mitchell's wonderful combo, The Albany Nightboat Ragtimers. Various Nightboat members joined in on our two spectacular jam sessions. Guest performers included guys like Terence Alaric, Randy Woltz and Bill Protzmann -- outstanding pianists not known as ragtime performers but who have always included ragtime in their repertoires.

The Steamers sessions were relaxed and fun. Guys like Paul Kosmala (from La Habra) and Doug Haise dropped in and did a few numbers. From Indiana, Doug was visiting his parents in San Diego. He stopped by on Saturday afternoon with his mom and was sensational when he hit the beautiful Kawai grand piano to do a few tunes.

The highlight of the weekend was our Saturday night Ragtime Variety Show, which featured all of the headliners plus ragtime festival veteran Yvonne Cloutier. We had loads of guest performers for this show, too: Yvonne brought a fellow music teacher, vocalist Lori Ascani, with her from Temecula, and Brett Torres, a young student of hers, who played one of his own rags. I also brought in three guest performers from the Orange County theater scene: Veteran stride and show-tune pianist Phil DeBarros; and Erika Ceporius and Joyce Hackett, two ladies of the theater who sang while I backed them on piano. Erika brought the house down with her superb rendition of Joplin's "A Real Slow Drag."

The synergy that occurs when you put this many talents together onto one stage is truly magical, a fact borne out by the Saturday night show, which offered true variety: We had classic-style ragtime, folk tunes, lots of Harlem stride and Novelty piano, Tin Pan Alley rags, slow drags and more.

The entire weekend offered tremendous variety. Bob Pinsker admittedly stretched the boundaries of ragtime by coming up with one obscurity after another -- pieces from the teens through the '30s. We had Dixieland-style stuff, a delightful stoptime session courtesy Bill Protzmann, bizarre obscurities by Tex, and lots of contemporary rags -- mine, Brier's, Meador's, Aranda's, and a surprise rendition, by Brier, of a great Wyndham rag. All weekend long, the musicians had more fun than our audiences, who were demonstrative in showing their appreciation for the talent before them.


Relevant to my article in the July issue, Sue Keller has informed me that she, and not Scott Kirby, articulated the denouement at the Ragtime Music Hall. The last sentence in the second-to-last paragraph in my article should therefore read: "Suddenly awakening and finding some stray feathers on the floor, Sue Keller ad libbed the funniest line of the evening: "She molts, you know." -Fred Hoeptner


Reviewed by Gary Rametta

Though American music has undergone numerous transformations since the ragtime era, ragtime has never gone away. Today, its spirit lives on, in the many ragtime clubs, societies, festivals and concerts across the country, and through the contributions of new composers like Californian Ron Ross.

In Ragtime Renaissance, Ron builds on the traditions of the ragtime form and infuses it with his 21st century sensibility, full of inventiveness, wit, romanticism, charm and rhythmic vitality.

By day a stockbroker, Ron is a life-long musician and composer. Born in Detroit, he began formal schooling on the piano when he was only five. By his 13th birthday, his ear had already developed to the point where he could take songs he listened to on the radio and reconstruct them on the piano without the aid of sheet music.

Soon after, he started writing his own pieces and eventually left formal training. In the intervening years, Ron continued to foster his gift for composing. A self-described musical chameleon, he's absorbed and written in a variety of styles along the way. His compositional portfolio includes pop tunes, folk, country, comedy and movie music.

Interestingly, Ron didn't try his hand at ragtime until 1980, when he attempted, with unremarkable success, to learn some of Joplin's rags. He lost interest for several years but, in 1989, at the suggestion of a friend,

attended his first meeting of the Los Angeles Maple Leaf Club. It was then that he caught the proverbial ragtime bug.

Ron says it took nine years of frequent ragtime listening (1989-98) in order for him to finally "get the rhythm." His resulting first rag, "Rickety Rag," contains the trademarks he employs in all his rags: clever turnarounds, tempo breaks, chromatic scales, moving tonal centers and changing moods.

Just as the spirit of ragtime impassions Ron Ross, so his artistry will capture you. Whether it's the upbeat, show tune-like feel of "Digital Rag" and "Sunday Serendipity," the lovely and evocative "Joplinesque," "Mirella" and "Sweet is the Sound," or the whimsical vocal numbers "Studio Sensation" and "Good Thing Going" (featuring an impeccable performance by 20's song stylist Janet Klein), you'll likely find yourself returning to Ragtime Renaissance and discovering something new and pleasurable each time.

This CD may be ordered from Ronross Music, P.O. Box 5465, North Hollywood, CA 91616. Phone (818) 766-2384. Email: Price: $16 + $1 shipping. (CA residents add 8% sales tax).


Sundays, 2:05-3:30 pm PT, "Syncopation Station", KDHX St. Louis MO 88.l and; host, Jan Douglas.

Sundays, 4-6 pm PT, "Rags to Wishes". KAZU, Pacific Grove CA 90.3 and; host, Mike Schmitz.

Sundays, 8-10 pm PT, "The Ragtime Show", KSBR Mission Viejo CA 88.5 and; host, Jeff Stone.

Mondays, 9-10 pm PT, "The Ragtime Machine", KUSF San Francisco CA 90.3; host, David Reffkin. The KUSF stream is temporarily down because of the current dispute over licensing fees for Internet broadcasting.

Thursdays, 7-8 pm PT, "Ragtime America", KGNU Boulder CO 88.5 and; host, Jack Rummel.


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.

Lake Arrowhead Early Jazz Band, Oct. 28, 7 p.m. Early American dance music programmed by Dr. Koenig, formerly jazz musicologist for Louisiana State Jazz Museum. Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo, Admission $20. Phone 310-322-2592. E-mail:

Sidewalk Strutters Dixieland Jazz Band, Nov. 4, 3:00 p.m. Old Town Music Hall (see above).

Kathy Craig - Bill Knopf, piano and banjo duo (Joplin, Sousa and Ellington), Nov. 11, 7:00 p.m. Old Town Music Hall (see above).

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 or e-mail bubpetra@yah

Bob Milne, piano (ragtime, jazz, boogie-woogie, and novelty), Nov. 18, 7:00 p.m. Old Town Music Hall (see above).


Reported by Bill Mitchell

Miss Ruby Fradkin, the eleven-year-old wunderkind of the Rose Leaf Club, made her Old Town Music Hall debut

the evening of October 14, 2001 when she was one of the "surprise guests" at the Dave McKelvey Harmonica Trio

Concert. Ruby opened the program with three beautifully performed Scott Joplin rags: "Elite Syncopations," "Swipesy Cakewalk" (Arthur Marshall/Scott Joplin), and "The Cascades." She was joined by Freebo (a folk singer, instrumentalist) on tuba for a medley of George M. Cohan tunes, "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "You're a Grand Old Flag." Ruby continued with several of her favorites, "Camptown Races," "Playmates," "Stardust,"

"Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Pick a Bale of Cotton," "You Are My Sunshine," "Tom Dooley," a Leadbelly tune whose title I did not catch, and "Baby Face." Freebo sang a short set of his original compositions, accompanying himself on guitar.

After intermission the Dave McKelvey Harmonica Trio entertained with some truly virtuoso ensemble playing.

Their program was colorful and varied, ranging from big band favorites to the classics. The trio was fun to watch as well as listen to, and McKelvey's patter was amusing and informative. It was amazing how much music the trio was able to extract from what are usually considered rather humble instruments.


If you plan to attend the October 28 Rose Leaf Club meeting, please remember that clocks will be set back one hour the night before; otherwise you will miss the first hour of music.

Bill Mitchell, Editor (714) 528-1534 Fax (714) 223-3886 E-mail<>