Rose Leaf Ragtime Club-March 1998 Meeting:
by Gus Willmorth
For the end of March the loyal ragtime aficionados carefully
divided themselves into those coming to the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club in Pasadena
and those going to the Old Town Music Hall forty miles away in El Segundo
to listen to the Magnetic Ragtime Orchestra. In view of unreliable
condition of the IHOP piano, John Roache brought his excellent Roland digital
piano to the meeting as a substitute which became the instrument of choice
for most of the day. (Opinion is divided here; some like the keyboard,
some much prefer the piano. I must confess that I find the electronic
marvel sounds mechanical—my DAT recorder agrees!)
P.J. Schmidt opened the festivities from the keyboard with Magnetic
Rag plus his own French Vanilla. P.J. is recovering from
the depressing effects of his life situation and bringing his fingers
up to speed.
Bill Mitchell followed P.J. and switching to the real piano.
Bill brought in a box of a couple dozen CD’s (largely one that he has reviewed
in the Mississippi Rag) and proposed them as the nucleus of a musical
lending library—apparently to the approval of the members since the box
was pretty well empty at the end of the day. Bill gave us Harry Beldings’
Good Gravy Rag, James Scott’s Pegasus, Weeping Willow,
and Bag O’Rags.
Eric Marchese, picking up the MC wand switched back to the keyboard,
picked out our second Weeping Willow, the music written by Scott
Joplin for the song Little Black Baby and topped it off with Leola.
John Roache replaced Eric at the keyboard to play Heliotrope
Bouquet, Something Doing, and his ‘signature tune’ Jack Rummel’s
Lone Jack to Knobnoster.
Nancy Kleier finished off the first portion of the program by
a salute to Time, the shift from Winter to Spring and eminent appearance
of the first of April with a nice rendition of April Fool Rag (1911,
Jean Schwartz), and for April Fool jokesters, Buzzer Rag (1909,
Mae Aufderheide), Confrey’s Grandfather’s Clock, and Percy Wenrich’s
Chimes Rag for the sounds from the clock to mark the time.
During the interval John Roache filled in the time with bits
of Maple Leaf, a slice of Pine Apple, and to relieve his
frustration over having practiced but pre-empted twice by others, Weeping
As a bit of a treat, Eric Marchese played us a couple of his
compositions taped by Tom Brier in simulation of a player piano (i.e.,
with no pedal and extra notes tacked on): Barrel House Ball
and Uncle James before calling Pat Aranda up to continue the program.
Pat warned up (at the real piano) with Maple Leaf, before
giving us Morton’s The Pearls and his own composition, Hawaiian
Star. Eric (on the keyboard) joined pat for a pair of duets:
Pine Apple Rag and Swipsey Cakewalk.
Eric continued, solo, with Eugenia and Joplin’s ragtime
waltz Bethena. He then gave us his Prometheus Rag to
cap his set.
Bill Mitchell encored with Scott’s Climax Rag, Tom Shea’s
Brun Campbell Express (sounding very much like old Brun himself),
and Scott’s very seldom heard Ragtime Betty.
Gary Rameda from Palos Verdes whipped out Joplin’s Cleopha,
Scott’s Grace and Beauty, Sugar Cane Rag, and Elite Syncopations.
Nancy Kleier continued her time theme emphasizing the ‘chimes’
part of her time marking—Chimes (Homer Denney, 1910) and Coon
Town Chimes (Harry S. Wester, 1902).
Eric finished the day with Rose Leaf Rag. Next meeting
the last Sunday in April same place (IHOP), same time (4:00 pm).
BAD NEWS/GOOD NEWS DEPARTMENT John Roache passed on the
information from Bill Coffman: Bad is John Novacek will not be able
to appear at the OTMH Ragtime Festival in June; the very good news is that
Robin Frost has been persuaded by John and Jim Turner to come out of retirement
and take part in the Festival this year.
THE SEARCH FOR A NEW VENUE. After the Rose Leaf meeting
in March, a group of ragtimers traveled the four or five miles down to
midtown Pasadena to inspect the McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant
for a possible alternative venue. We were all suitably impressed
with the decor: vaulted ceilings, paneled walls, much in keeping with the
turn of the century architecture known as "California Craftsman".
Good acoustics. The proposed venue has table seating for 70-some.
Drawbacks include not having a piano in the room (There was a grand on
a mezzanine reachable by ladder; Eric had a ball playing the fine instrument.)
If we acquire a piano, there is a storage space for it. Parking available
in a basement parking lot at $2.50 (a little better than it was at Biscotti’s).
Meals are certainly more expensive than the IHOP, but better quality.
Sandwiches $6-$10’ seafood $12-$20. (A trial was suggested for the
place using the electronic keyboard as a piano.) Drinks. Friendly