A RAGGED ENDING OF THE YEAR
December Meeting Notes
By Gus Willmorth
On a sunny Sunday between Christmas and the Rose Leaf Parade the faithful members of the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club gathered at the Pasadena IHOP to send an eventful year on its way. P.J. Schmidt opened the meeting with a rousing Efficiency Rag, one of Scott’s most driving compositions. Susan Erb, arriving early and ready to perform, sat down to give us, first, a non-rag, Duke Ellington’s I’m Beginning to see the Light, followed by one for New Year’s Day, Wenrich’s Red Rose Rag, and one for Christmas, Jingle Bells Jubilee.
Next up was a visitor from Arizona, Steve Elliott, who changed flowers to Gladiolus. (I talked briefly to Steve at the West Coast Ragtime Festival; too bad the commute to Arizona is so far!)
Nancy Kleier had her eye on the New Year’s Dancing and gave us a Harry Guy opus on swinging in the Harem, Botsford’s Grizzly Bear, and Sally Pelke (after bribing the Editor with a wee jar of jelly) ragged up a series of short Christmas favorites: Christmas Tree Rag, House Top Rag, Jingle Bells Rag, Merry Christmas Rag and Parade of the Tin Soldiers. (Sally says that when she was a wee lass in cute dresses attending tap dancing classes one of the tunes they danced to eternally was those Tin Soldiers. She hasn’t forgiven her mother yet!)
Gary Rametta followed Sally with some classic rags: Sunflower Slow Drag, Scott Joplin’s New Rag, Sugar Cane and Grace and Beauty. A very nice effort indeed!
Ron Roth next with his latest composition, Impressions, a habenera based, thoughtful piece. Susan Erb encored with Joplin’s Country Club Waltz. Nancy Kleier returned with a variety: Lampe’s Dixie Belle, Snowball Babe, and Tierney’s Rubies and Pearls. Tierney’s piece has some sparkling interludes and he wrote some other quirky numbers that are nice to listen to. Although these rags were not long remembered, Tierney’s Alice Blue Gown. written toward the end of the ragtime era, did endure even up to relatively modern times.
Bill Mitchell came forward to jump the gun a bit on the 100 year anniversary of Maple Leaf Rag and a nod to the holiday seasons with a medley of Santa Claus Is Coming to Town/Santa Claus Blues. He laid on some requests—Morton’s The Pearls, and a pair of James Scott favorites: Evergreen and Honeymoon Rag.
Steve Elliott came forth for a second pass, playing one of Robert Hampton’s rags. (Agitation, I think, I was talking rather than listening and missed it, but it didn’t sound like Cataract when I did.
Gary Rametta encored with Peacherine and Elite Syncopations.
P.J. Schmidt came forward to contrast Joplin’s Fig Leaf Rag with Searchlight allegedly written in the same time frame.
Ron Roth did his Small Town Private Eye.
Bill Mitchell did Morton’s Grandpa’s Spells, Cooke’s Blame it on the Blue, and Ford Dabney’s Porto Rico. Bill was joined by Gary Rametta for two piano versions of Original Rags and Something Doing. Bill finished his set solo with Frank French’s Belle of Louisville and P.J. closed the meeting with a Rose Leaf Rag.