October 1998 Meeting
By Gus Willmorth
Jerry Rothschild provided a warm-up of the pianos while musicians and aficionados straggled in. Fragments of rags and blues burbled out to clusters of folks gathered here and there swap tales of recent activities and bits of business. Bill Mitchell set up the lending library and subscribers carried away prizes.
P.J. Schmidt kicked off the 39th meeting of the Rose Leaf with, appropriately, The Rose Leaf Rag. He then summarized the issues raised by the recent ‘organization’ meeting, essentially those encapsulated in the September SOMETHING DOING.
He next called on Bill Mitchell who came up with Jeff Stein and his banjo/uke to play a few old favorites: Hunter’s Possum ‘n Taters, ye gold old Maple Leaf Rag and
James Scott’s Sunburst Rag. Jeff, a very infrequent visitor these recent years, was for quite a few years a member of the Bill Mitchell Trio with bassist Buster Fitzpatrick during the years the Maple Leaf Club met at the Mayfair Theater in Santa Monica and The Variety Arts Center downtown L.A.
Next up was Eric Marchese who gave us Clarence Wood’s masterpiece, Sleepy Hollow, and three 1909 Joplin pieces: Country Club, Paragon and Euphonic Sounds. Nice pieces but I thought Eric’s playing was a little ragged, especially since he, Mitchell and Kleier all practiced up last weekend at a country fair!
Jerry Rothschild followed Eric with a quite slow temp Elite Syncopations. That he followed with Joe Lamb’s Bohemia with "improvements" and a very creditable Trombone Rag, one of Turk Murphy’s excursions.
George McClellan and Lee Roan, our piano repair persons, occupied both pianos pick out three popular tunes: Whispering, Who’s Sorry Now and Shine On Harvest Moon. George’s recent illness has trimmed off a lot of flesh and a loss of energy, but the duets were received with such enthusiasm that it ought to pick him up quite a bit. (At the break, George and Lee escorted their wives off to Old Town Music Hall to catch the Magnetic Ragtime Orchestra.)
Bringing us back in step with the times, Nancy Kleier’s theme was, of course, Holloween. Leading off with Black Cat Rag, Calvin Woolsey’s Funny Bones and Botsford’s Old Crow. (There’s a lot 1909 stuff going down today!)
Susan Erb stepped up to play a nicely done Apple Jack, one of Charlie Johnson’s popular rags, and a Joplin March.
Before the break, P.J. Schmidt called on himself for a pair of rags: Ford Dabney’s Haitian Rag (Dabney was Court Musician to the King of Haiti, along with being a lot of other things like being pianist for James Reese Europe’s orchestra.) and, James Scott’s Suffragette, one of P.J.’s favorites.
During the interval, Charles Carpenter moved that we officially declare ourselves to be the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club, that Eric Marchese be requested to design a membership card, that we operate on a fiscal basis, and that a membership fee of $35 be solicited, fees to be prorated for the residual term between joining and the end of the fiscal year. The membership fee would include a subscription to SOMETHING DOING, thus establishing that publication as the official organ of the Club. The gang objected to this last proviso since most of them are subscribers to SOMETHING DOING already and were reluctant to donate any remaining amounts of their subscriptions to the Club. [Some subscriptions are in effect until 2001. ED] The final agreement was to put membership dues at $25; subs to SD to be resolved later. (Since the bulk of subscribers to SOMETHING DOING will be coming due around the March time period, some of the objection might be resolved by starting memberships at a later date.) Admittance for non-members would remain at $3 per person; only members would have the voting franchise on club issues. (Unofficially, it would appear that Becky Todd is Treasurer, Gus Willmorth Secretary and P.J. Schmidt and Eric Marchese Co-Directors, but no formal elections were held.)
Jerry Rothschild returned after the break to play a pair of Jelly Roll Morton tunes: Froglegs and Original Jelly Roll Blues, capped by an assault on Charlie Johnson’s Dill Pickles. Bill Mitchell and Jeff Stein encored with a couple of Ford Dabney’s best: Porto Rico and George Grind. Then one of Bill’s favorites, Wilcockson’s Pride of the Smoky Row, plus one of my favorites, Charlie Johnson’s Porcupine Rag.
Eric Marchese and Nancy Kleier teamed up for some duets: Percy Wenrich’s The Smiler, James Scott’s tribute to the 1994 World’s Fair, On the Pike, and Artie Matthews’ Pastime No. 5.
Susan Erb encored with Eubie’s Chevy Chase.
P.J. harked back to the rose garden to finished off the meeting with Joe Lamb’s American Beauty and repeated his own composition from last time, Father Martin’s Blues, to finish off. See you all in November if you survive the West Coast Ragfest.