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S O M E T H I N G       D O I N G
RAGTIME HAPPENINGS IN THE SOUTHLAND
OCTOBER 1999 NUMBER 43


PRELUDE

Because the IHOP remodeling will not have been completed by October 21, the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club will meet at the Holly Street Bar & Grill in Old Town Pasadena. It is said to be an excellent restaurant (several members have eaten there and liked it very much). The restaurant has an excellent grand piano. The regular meeting, featuring the pianists who attend, plus a special return appearance of The Chairmen of the Chord, a barbershop quartet, will be from 2:30-5:30 pm in the dining room area. An organizational meeting, open to anyone interested, will be held at 1:00 p.m.in the bar area before the music begins. Food will be available only from 4:30 on, because the kitchen does not open till then. (Of course, if you are dining you can stay after the meeting ends.) The menu will be more expensive than the IHOP, but there will be salads and hamburger (ground sirloin) sandwiches in the $7.50-8.50 price range. Dinners go from $13 to $24. There is no food or drink minimum, but the management would like to know approximately how many will be dining. Therefore, if you plan to attend, please phone Ron Ross (818) 766-2384 and let him know how many will be in your party, etc.

The Holly Street Bar & Grill is located at 175 E. Holly St., Pasadena. There is free on-street parking on Marengo, Holly and nearby streets (watch signs, but mostly free parking on Sat. and Sun. in that neighborhood). There is a paid parking garage across the street on Holly, but tickets are not validated.


HOPPING AT THE IHOP, 9/26/99

The monthly meeting of the Rose Leaf Club got underway at the new meeting time, 2:30 p.m., with Bill Mitchell acting as emcee for the afternoon. He invited Gary Rametta to open the program. Gary suggested “Maple Leaf Rag,” and invited Bill to join him in a duet version, after which Gary soloed on three more Joplin numbers: “Scott Joplin’s New Rag,” “Original Rags,” and “Sugar Cane.”

Susan Erb played “San,” a popular song from 1920, and “Persian Pearl,” a real obscurity.

We honored the memory of P.J. Schmidt with a minute of silence, following which a tape of Jeff Stone’s tribute to P.J. was played. (Jeff Stone’s ragtime show is aired each Sunday evening on KSBR, 88.5 FM, from 8:00 to 10: p.m. Sunday evenings. We were pleased that Jeff and Karen Stone were able to come up from Mission Viejo to attend the September meeting.) Following the tribute, we heard P.J. play “Rose Leaf Rag,” thanks to the fine cassette he made a few years ago. Bob Bramhall brought a white lei to drape over the piano in memory of P.J.

Continuing with the music, Ron Ross played “Ragtime Song,” his most recent composition, composed in September and dedicated to P.J.

Eric Marchese played his own “Valedictory Rag,” dedicating this performance to the memory of the three club members we recently lost: John Roache, Gus Willmorth, and P.J. Schmidt. In a lighter vein was “Kangaroo Hop” (1915), one of the “animal” dances popular with the fox-trotters of that era. Eric’s concluding number was “A Certain Party.” Published in 1910, it was the only rag by a certain Tom Kelley.

Nancy Kleier treated us to three numbers by contemporary composers, leading off with “Kreole,” by David Thomas Roberts. Colorado’s Jack Rummel was the composer of the next tune, “Lone Jack to Knob Noster.” Nancy explained that this title is derived from two small towns between Kansas City and Sedalia, Missouri. Galen Wilkes wrote “The Last of the Ragtime Pioneers,” ostensibly dedicated to Joseph F. Lamb.

Fred Hoeptner chose a couple of winners in Dabney’s “Georgia Grind,” and Scott’s masterpiece, “Grace and Beauty.”

And speaking of masterpieces, “Roberto Clemente,” by David Thomas Roberts, was Ian Wallace’s opener. He followed with a Tin-Pan-Alley novelty, “Hungarian Rag,” one of those “ragging the classics” war-horses. Lamb’s graceful “Patricia Rag” rounded out Ian’s set.

Jim Lutz played “Swipesy Cakewalk,” the Joplin-Marshall collaboration that is a perpetual delight.

“Ragtime Oriole,” one of James Scott’s best, was Bill Mitchell’s opener, followed by “Apple Jack,” by the prolific Charles L. Johnson, who wrote so much that he resorted to two or three pseudonyms. Concluding his set, Bill played a much later Johnson rag, “Snookums.”

Gary Rametta joined Bill on a four-handed “Sunflower Slow Drag,” and then soloed on Lamb’s “Alaska Rag.”

Ron Ross encored with two more of his originals, “Small-Town Private Eye,” and “Sweet Is the Sound.”

Jim Lutz returned to play Marshall’s “Lily Queen.”

Nancy Kleier encored with “Cakewalk in the Sky,” and was joined by Gary and Bill for the concluding number of the afternoon, “Something Doing.” Six hands here really got something done!


P. J. SCHMIDT (1944-1999)
By Ron Ross, Public Relations Director, Rose Leaf Ragtime Club

This is a short biography of P.J. Schmidt, the founder of the Rose leaf Ragtime Club, pieced together from information furnished by friends and family. P.J. passed away on Sept. 14, l999 at Glendale Memorial Hospital following a hepatitis attack and ensuing complications.

P.J. (Phil) Schmidt was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin on August 21, 1944. He attended Northwestern University where we believe he majored in English and earned his BA From an early age however, he was fascinated with the piano and eventually became a professional musician. In the 1970’s he moved from the Midwest to New Orleans, where he became fascinated with ragtime music, eventually working as a piano player in local restaurants, playing ragtime and classical music. In New Orleans he worked with and became friends with David Thomas Roberts, who is considered one of the top contemporary ragtime composers and pianists, and maintained that connection until he died. David has indicated he will record one of P.J.’s compositions, “Matilda,” on his next CD. A few years ago, P.J. hosted a small concert for David and another such concert for Frank French at his home in Pasadena.

In New Orleans, P.J. married and had a daughter, Ilana, who survives him. P.J. broke up with his wife, eventually leaving New Orleans in the early 80’s to return to Chicago. We believe his work in Chicago did not involve music, although he continued to practice the piano. In 1993, he moved to Pasadena, where he went to work at JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) as an administrative assistant. That year he recorded his first and only cassette: P.J. Schmidt Plays Classic Ragtime Favorites, featuring the compositions of the “Big Three” of classic ragtime: Scott Joplin, James Scott, and Joseph Lamb. That year and in subsequent years, P.J. performed at several ragtime festivals, including the Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, and the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Fresno and Sacramento, California.

In Southern California, he appeared regularly at the Maple Leaf Club, but when its fortunes began to wane, he started a new ragtime club, the Rose Leaf, in Pasadena in August of 1995. This club’s first meetings were held at Biscotti and Books, a bookstore/coffeehouse in Old Town Pasadena. P.J. decided the club should meet on the last Sunday of every month, rather than every other month, as the Maple Leaf Club had done. After Biscotti and Books closed in 1996, the meetings were moved to the IHOP in East Pasadena.

P.J., graciously and with good humor, hosted most of the meetings, and also played anywhere from three to eight or nine pieces during each meeting, depending on how many other players were available. Although favoring the “Big Three,” as mentioned above, he would also occasionally play one of his own beautiful compositions, such as “Matilda” or “French Vanilla.”

In 1998, exercising another aspect of his artistic nature, P.J. mounted a one-man show in Hollywood, featuring the poetry of Walt Whitman.

At the August 1999 meeting, the club celebrated its Fourth Anniversary, giving P.J. a much-deserved tribute including a special song composed for the occasion. In retrospect, it served as a farewell party for a courageous, sensitive, extremely talented individual whom we will all miss.

P.J. Schmidt is survived by his father, two sisters, who live in Wisconsin, and his daughter, Ilana, who resides in Springfield, Illinois.


DICK ZIMMERMAN AT OLD TOWN MUSIC HALL

Sunday evening, September 26, 1999, Dick Zimmerman was featured at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo in a comprehensive concert of piano ragtime, enhanced by a few ragtime songs delivered by Tracy Doyle.

Dick chose Charles Hunter’s folk rag of 1899, “Tickled to Death,” for his opener. This number was published in the same year that Joplin’s famous “Maple Leaf Rag” came out.

Illustrating another aspect of early ragtime development, Dick played what he called “Zimmerman’s Grand Ethiopean Success Medley #1,” comprised of some early “coon songs,” such as “Mr. Johnson, Turn Me Loose,” and “Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown.”

Turning to what we know as classic ragtime, Dick performed Lamb’s stately “Topliner Rag,” Scott’s “Quality Rag,” Woods’ “Sleepy Hollow Rag.” and Chas. L. Johnson’s “Crazy Bone Rag,” which perhaps fits better into “popular” rather than “classic” ragtime. Whatever, as they say these days.

That there was a Texas school of ragtime was illustrated by the inclusion of Euday Bowman’s “Tipperary Blues,” Susie Wells’ “The Rattler,” and Clarence Woods’ “Graveyard blues,” which was first interpreted as the composer might have played it, then as an embellished nickelodeon version might have sounded.

Botsford’s “Hyacinth Rag” was given an appropriately flowery version.

Concluding the first half of the program, Dick played two rousers: “Cotton Time,” by Charles Daniels, and “Waiting for the Robert E. Lee,” a popular song from 1912 by Muir and Gilbert.

The music resumed with a Charles L. Johnson piece, “Under the Southern Moon,” which borrowed ideas from “Humoresque,” “Red Wing,” and “Grizzly Bear Rag,” as Mr. Z. pointed out.

A real rarity was “Sweet and Sour Blues,” by Henry Lodge. This was never published, but was arranged by Dick from a lead sheet found in the Library of Congress.

“Smiles and Chuckles,” by F. Henri Klickman, was a Tin Pan Alley rag, jolly and catchy.

Tracy Doyle, colorfully attired in the costume of a ragtime chanteuse, sang “I’m Certainly Living a Ragtime Life, accompanied, of course, by Dick on the Bösendorfer. She followed up with a 1915 novelty, “China, We Owe a Lot to You,” and a couple of WWI songs, “If You Don’t Like Your Uncle Sammy,” and “Don’t Bite the Hand That’s Feeding You.”

Dick then soloed on Lucky Roberts’ “Junk Man Rag,” an example of East Coast ragtime, which developed into what we know as “stride piano.”

Performed next was a composition Zimmerman wrote a few years back, “Lost and Found Rag,” a romantic and soulful piece.

Over the years one of his favorite rags has been Ford Dabney’s “Anoma,” which was his concluding solo of the evening, but not the end of the program, because Bill Coffman cranked up the Mighty Wurlitzer and joined him in a duet on “Dill Pickles,” by Charles L. Johnson.

The grand finale was a trio version (with Tracy on a second piano) of “Maple Leaf Rag.”

The evening was delightfully entertaining. Zimmerman is an impressive pianist who provides amusing and informative commentary between numbers. Doyle’s vocals, delivered with music hall pizzazz, are fun, and add variety.


CALENDAR

Sunday, Oct. 31, 2:30-5:30 p.m., Rose Leaf Ragtime Club, Holly Street Bar & Grill, 175 E. Holly Street, Pasadena.

Sunday, Oct. 31, 7:00 p.m., Frank French playing Ragtime, Gottschalk and Jelly Roll Morton. Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond Street, El Segundo CA 90245. Telephone 310-322-2592.

Sunday, Nov. 7, 3:00 p.m., Bill Mitchell and his Albany Nightboat Ragtimers. Lakeside Jazz Club, Lake Elsinore Elks Lodge in Wildomar: 33700 Mission Trail.

Sunday,. Nov. 7, 7:00 p.m., Kathy Craig and Bill Knopf, Ragtime and marches on piano and banjo. Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond Street, El Segundo CA 90245. Tel 1-310-322-2592.

Monday, Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m., Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, Thousand Oaks Arts Plaza, Thousand Oaks. Concert includes Charlie Chaplin film festival with orchestral accompaniment. For tickets phone box office (805) 449-2787, or contact Ticketmaster.

Tuesday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m., Mimi Blais, Ragtime, blues, and novelty, piano and vocals. Old Town Music Hall.

Friday-Sunday, Nov. 12-14, West Coast Ragtime Festival at the Red Lion’s Sacramento Inn. For information about tickets call (916) 457-3324 or visit the festival’s website; http://www.RagtimeMusic.com/WCRS/

Sunday, Nov. 14, 7:00 p.m., Paul Hurst/Bill Coffman, Harp, piano, and organ play popular, ragtime, and classical music. Old Town Music Hall . Sunday, Nov. 21, 7:00 p.m., Bob Milne, Boogie-woogie, ragtime, blues, and folk music. Old Town Music Hall.

Sunday, Nov. 28, 2:30-5:30 p.m., Rose Leaf Club, details to be announced in November newsletter.

Sunday, Nov. 28, 7:00 p.m., Dean Mora’s Solo Evening, with piano jazz, classics, Gershwin preludes, etc. Old Town Music Hall.


POSTLUDE (THIS AND THAT)

The correct updated URL for the Rose Leaf web page is http://members.tripod.com/roseleafrag/ I was notified that the previously published URL was incorrect. You should have better luck with this one.

I noticed an omission in last month’s report of the August club meeting. Right after intermission, P.J. Schmidt played “Cotton Bolls” by Charles Hunter, and then invited your editor to join him for an ad lib duet on “Pineapple Rag.” Ironically, this was the first duet I ever played with him (Fresno in 1992), and as it turned out, it was to be the last one too.

Some of you attend nearly all the concerts at Old Town Music Hall. I would appreciate any submitted reviews of these, since I can attend only a few of them. Here’s your chance to be a reviewer, or even a critic. Let me know if you would be willing to make some notes and work up a report for Something Doing. Or perhaps you have a CD you are excited about and would like to share your reactions. Maybe you want to sound off on some aspect of ragtime. Your contributions are always welcome.

Latest word is that Paul Asaro, the fabulous young stride pianist, has been added to the list of all-star performers at the West Coast Ragtime Festival. Others who have been booked include Jeff Barnhart, Mimi Blais, Dan Grinstead, Glenn Jenks, Molly Kaufmann, Brian Keenan, Scott Kirby, Terry Parrish, Jack Rummel, Virginia Tichenor, and Richard Zimmerman.

If you can be in St. Louis on Saturday, May 20, 2000, you will have an opportunity to see a production of Scott Joplin’s only opera, Treemonisha. It will be presented by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. For more news phone (314) 961-0644, or on the Internet, http://www.opera-stl.org

--Bill Mitchell, editor (714) 528-1534


RAGTIME STYLE

Merriment and pleasure
In ragtime style
Sounds off the keyboard
Pianists moving, fingers flying
Giving the music with a beat
Syncopated right hand
Rhythmic accents hit
Strong and weak notes
Let the rag shine --
Sounds and silence in time --
Melody, harmony, meter,
Elements of music,
Apart of that music close to our hearts,
The music we love
The music that’s fun
The music that moves out
The music known as ragtime.

--by Susan Erb