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S O M E T H I N G       D O I N G

Again we will be back at the Pasadena IHOP for the December meeting of the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club. But please note that because of the holidays we have moved the date up to December 19. Things will get underway at 2:30 p.m. and ragtime will rule till 5:30 p.m. There will be no preceding organizational meeting this month. Someone out there did not receive your November newsletter, because the Postal service returned an undeliverable copy so damaged that the address part was destroyed. If that someone was you, let me know and I will mail you a copy. Thanks are offered to Lee Roan, Ron Ross, Fred Hoeptner, Darrell Woodruff, and Susan Erb for contributing material to the December newsletter. Your editor missed the November meeting because he was in San Diego at the annual Dixieland Jazz Festival, where he played piano with the New Orleans Wanderers and participated in the Pianorama. Others in the ragtime contingent included Trebor Tichenor, Virginia Tichenor, Marty Eggers and Bo Grumpus, Rose Marie Barr, John Bennett, Dan Grinstead, Tex Wyndham, Ted des Plantes, Ray Skjelbred, and probably some others I have overlooked. It was an exciting festival with lots of good jazz and ragtime. If you have questions about the upcoming meeting(s) or any other questions about the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club, you may contact Ron Ross (818) 766-22384, or Lee Roan (626) 286-4987. If you are on the Internet, the club's website address is: Come January it will be time for most of you to renew your subscriptions. I hope you will want to continue with Something Doing. Here's wishing each of you much holiday cheer and a happy Y2K. Bill Mitchell, editor Tel. (714) 528-1534 Internet

-Reported by Lee Roan

We had a great session back at the IHOP--one of the best I've seen and heard. Gary Rametta had made a very nice greeting sign to be used at the meetings. The restaurant has been remodeled and I think the air conditioning is working now. A much-needed piano tuner arrived shortly before the meeting and got the instruments back in playing shape. (I think the remodelers must have dragged them around the parking lot for a couple of laps!) Gary Rametta and Nancy Kleier opened the 2:30 p.m. meeting with a duet version of "Swipesy Cakewalk." Gary then played solo on "Weeping Willow," "Scott Joplin"s New Rag," and "Grace and Beauty." We can tell Gary's been practicing; his playing has really improved. Several folks commented on how well he played. Bob Pinsker came up from San Diego with his parents (Allan and Frances Pinsker) who are visiting from Pittsburg, PA. Bob did some Joseph Lamb pieces and told an interesting story of How J. Lamb stopped composing for many years. He was later searched for and found. Then, in the 1940s he wrote the "Alaskan Rag." Bob played this and two other Lamb items,: "Ethiopia" and "Cleopatra Rag." He played them beautifully. Then a talented trio from Long Beach performed. Christine Higa sang, Ann Ford played the piano accompaniment, and Stephen Higa sang and played the guitar. Their set included "After You've Gone," "At the Moving Picture Ball," "Oh, You Beautiful Doll," and "Long Lost Moment."Very nicely performed. We hope they return. George MccClellan and Lee Roan played duets on the two pianos: "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover" and a medley of choruses from "Melancholy Baby," "Whispering," and "Mama's Gone, Goodbye." Ron Ross played "Sensation," "Retro Rag," and "How Sweet the Sound." Nancy Kleier's theme was "Thanksgiving and Women Composers." The numbers were "The Flyer," "Fried Chicken," and "Chicken Chowder." It just seems that Nancy's playing gets better every month. A new guest pianist showed up and played beautifully. Peggy Teagarden is a cousin to the famous trombonist-singer-bandleader Jack Teagarden. She says her whole family and relatives are musical. We sure hope she comes back! She played "Who's Sorry Now," "Has Anybody Seen My Gal," and "Five Foot Two." We asked Bob Pinsker to do another number. He said he wasn't prepared, but he borrowed one of Nancy Kleier's music books and sight read "Bohemia Rag" as if he'd been practicing it for weeks. I sure envy folks who can play like that. Bob also plays the violin for an orchestra in San Diego. Such talent! Gary Rametta returned to play "Sugar Cane" and "Heliotrope Bouquet." George McClellan was talked into an encore and gave us "Bye, Bye Blues," "A Shanty in Old Shanty Town," and "Five Foot Two." Ron Ross encored with "Rickety Rag," another of his originals. Nancy Kleier then played "When the Work Is Done, I'll Dance," and "The Turkey Trot." Peggy Teagarden returned with "Tea for Two," "Charleston," "Hello Dolly," and "Yankee Doodle Boy." Little nine-year-old Ruby Fradkin returned to play "When the Saints Go Marching In," "Sunrise, Sunset," "When You're Smiling," "Tom Dooley," and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." She did a great job!! Gary Rametta closed the meeting with "Maple Leaf Rag." After the meeting, I overheard Gary's wife at the piano. She's good! Hope we can talk her into playing at the next meeting.


Versatile pianist Bob Milne made his second concert appearance at OTMH the evening of November 21, 1999. Milne, a resident of La Peer, Michigan, is a roving ambassador of ragtime who frequently appears at festivals, performing arts centers, universities, schools, libraries--just about anywhere there is a piano and an audience--from coast to coast. His ever-growing popularity is well deserved, as he puts on a good show, combining a variety of piano styles with interesting and amusing commentary on the material he is presenting. He opened with "Dixie Queen," an early rag by Robert Hoffman. This number incorporates some "floating folk strains," little melodies commonly played but impossible to trace back to an original composer. After giving us some background on Tom Turpin, one of the pioneer ragtimers from St. Louis, Milne played this composer's "St. Louis Rag." As is his wont, he did not adhere strictly to the printed score, but embellished the lines of the rag with some ideas of his own. (This seems to be the way of many early ragtime performers. They would render a Joplin rag, say, by ear, thus personalizing it.) Milne told us about Blind Boone, the brilliant pianist who could hear a piece once and then sit down and play it note for note. In 1901 Boone made a piano roll of "When You and I Were Young, Maggie," playing it in several styles. Milne recreated that performance for us. He followed up with the way Boone might have interpreted a hymn, "In Gloryland," first straight and then in country rag style. Another specialty of Bob Milne is boogie woogie. He gave a little history of the style, which can be traced back to the Southern logging camps of the 19th century and the crude bars (barrel houses) that provided entertainment for the loggers. He illustrated the style with a slow blues and a fast one, both with the characteristic repetitive bass figures of boogie. James P. Johnson's syncopated waltz, "Eccentricity," offered a bit of contrast. While in the waltz mode, Milne performed the famous "Missouri Waltz" in a piano roll version. Winding up his first set Milne played Euday Bowman's "12th Street Rag" and a 1917 popular song, "Do You Ever Think of Me?" The second half of the evening began with a tender interpretation of Charles Hunter's "Queen of Love." Milne commented on the mania for sentimental tear-jerkers during the 1890s and gave us a sample by playing and singing "Break the News to Mother" from 1897. Truly heart rending! Back to boogie, Milne played something in the style of the great Jimmy Yancey, who always jumped suddenly into the key of E flat to conclude a piece. During his long career Milne has been faced with a variety of pianos which he cautiously describes as PSOs ("piano-shaped objects"). He found a way to test PSOs by playing an original number called "Sunday Blues," which involved every key on the board. In this way he could discover which keys (if any) were disfunctional. (Naturally he discovered none such in the OTMH.) One of the most original and popular boogies of all time is Meade "Lux" Lewis's "Honky Tonk Train Blues." Milne gave a powerful and creative interpretation of it. To illustrate the impact of gospel music and hymns, he played "Just a Closer Walk with Thee," and "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder." An interesting feature of the program was Milne's invitation to the audience to ask questions about his playing or his career. The questions elicited some amusing anecdotes about his gigs and colorful customers. He concluded his regular program with "Le Overture du la Grande Rodent," which turned out to be a spectacular workout on the Mickey Mouse Club song, a la Beethoven and on through ragtime. Encores consisted of duets with Bill Coffman (manning the Mighty Wurlitzer) on "The Easy Winners" and "Maple leaf Rag." As a postscript to this review, I would like to recommend to you Milan's book, THE JOURNEYMAN PIANO PLAYER (ADVENTURES IN GRACIOUS DINING). It is a collection of true stories, many quite hilarious, recalled from his years as a professional pianist.

--By Ron Ross

Dean Mora gave his first complete solo piano concert since his college days, so he apologized that he would be playing from the sheet music. As consolation to the audience, he introduced his lovely wife as the page-turner. Dean began with Willie Anderson's "Keystone Rag" from 1921, one of John Starck's last published rags. He followed with an excellent rendition of the very difficult Zez Confrey novelties from the 20s, "My Pet" and his biggest hit, "Kitten on the Keys." Switching moods, Dean played "Soliloquy" (1927), a very reflective piece by Rube Bloom. This was followed by another novelty, "Flapperette," by Jesse Greer. Then a couple of Bix Biederbecke's four piano pieces, "Flashes" and "Candlelight's," both from 1930. (In the second half of the program, he played the other two, "In a Mist" from 1927 and "In the Dark" from 1931, composed by Biederbecke just before his untimely death.) To begin Part II, Dean played From Hollywood--a Suite in Four Acts, composed in 1923 by Charles Wakefield Camdan for the opening season of the Hollywood Bowl, which Dean had found on the Internet, of all places. The themes of the suite were: "June on the Boulevard," "To a Comedian" (for Charlie Chaplin), "Twilight at Sycamore Nook" (dedicated to "Mother"), "Easter Dawn in the Hollywood Bowl" (for the sunrise service). Each section was quite appropriate to the theme. Master of elocution Maxwell DeMille read the introductions to each section before Dean played it. Next was a somewhat speeded up version of George Gershwin's rag, "Rialto Ripples," which was composed in 1917 as a collaboration with Walter Donaldson when both were contracted composers with music publisher Jerome Remake. Then came the two aforementioned Biederbecke numbers. Then there were five "moods" from Rube Bloom's 1931 composition, Metropolitan Suite, evoking the sounds of New York and Gershwin; "Valise Petite" (giving a quite Parisian feel); "Gypsy" (minor key, middle-European flavor); "Blues"; and finally, "Primitive," which had the flavor of American Indian music combined with jazz. Dean closed the program with a masterly rendition of the three Gershwin preludes from 1926 and the piano reduction of Gershwin's 1928 masterpiece "An American in Paris." Unfortunately, there were no encores or duets with Bill Coffman and the giant Wurlitzer organ, although the audience would have enjoyed quite a bit more from this excellent pianist.

--by Fred Hoeptner

The thirteenth annual West Coast Ragtime Festival opened at noon Friday, November 12, at the Red Lion's Sacramento Inn and closed Sunday, November 14, at 5:00 p.m. According to festival director Merv Graham, attendance surpassed all previous levels. Performers and attendees alike seemed generally pleased with the management of the festival. Unlike the other two major ragtime festivals (in Sedalia and Boulder), West Coast features no major concerts but rather continuous individual performances of thirty minutes to an hour duration in three different rooms of the hotel and continuous dancing in the ballroom. A ragtime store occupied another room where CDs and current and vintage sheet music could be purchased. Performers included a mix of talent from within and without the West Coast region. In accordance with festival policy to rotate the performers from outside the region annually, this year they included ragtime regulars pianists Jeff Barnhart, Mime Blais, Glenn Jenks, Brian Keenan, Scott Kirby, Terry Parrish, and Jack Rummel. Young pianists appearing for the first time were 16-year-old Missourian Merit Johnson and 18-year-old Neal Blaze from Wisconsin. Others were vocalist Susan Boyce, vocalist, pianist and entertainer Molly Kaufmann, and the Elite Syncopators, a trio of piano, banjo, and tuba. West Coast performers included pianists Paul Asara, specialist in stride; Alan Ashby; John Bennett; Nan Bostick, grand niece and biographer of ragtime composer Charles N. Daniels; Tom Brier; Dan Grinstead; Eric Louchard, noted classical pianist; Eric Marchese, regular at the Rose Leaf Club; Alan Rea and Sylvia Park O'Neill, classical performers dueling on a single piano; Virginia Tichenor; Galen Wilkes; and Richard Zimmerman. Others were Bo Grumpus, unique trio featuring guitar, bass, and percussion; the Fresno High School Band; the six-piece Pacific Coast Ragtime orchestra featuring vocalist Helen Burns; the seven-piece Porcupine Ragtime Ensemble; the Smalltimers, a sub unit of the Pacific Coast Orchestra; the Sullivans, a piano and mandolin duet; and entertainers Ian and Regina Whitcomb. The festival included six one-hour seminar sessions. Glenn Jenks reviewed the life and music of Cuban Ignacio Cervantes(1847-1905), composer composer of syncopated piano music and student of Gottschalk. Jenks theorized that Joplin's hearing of Cervantes' music while working in a music store in New york City influenced him to compose "Solace." Galen Wilkes detailed the findings of his research project to elucidate the life of L. Edgar Settle, composer of the folk rag classic "XL Rag." Settle's only other significant composition, the "Missouri Waltz," was stolen by an orchestra leader for whom he worked for a time. Jack Rummel discussed the use of the xylophone in ragtime with historical recorded examples. Ian Whitcomb discussed the history of the ukulele which became a fad following its introduction to the mainland from Hawaii at the Pan Pacific exposition in 1915; however, the relation to ragtime was unclear. Scott Kirby explained how ragtime composers incorporated devices common to orchestral and band music in their compositions. Jeff Barnhart discussed his philosophies on the use of improvisation in ragtime. He varies the repeats in order to "put my own personal stamp on it" but is careful to explain for novices what he is doing. He demonstrated some fairly extreme improvisations of others. The following were worth noting: a special show, "Maple Leaf Rag 100th," featuring performances of the namesake rag and other rags written in the same year; Tom Brier's performances of obscure but worthwhile rags ignored by others such as "That Hand-Played Rag" (Silverman and Ward), "Rubies and Pearls" (Tierney), "Bridal Cakewalk" (Maresh), "Candlestick Rag" (Ohlman), and "Hardwood Rag" (Sight); Mime Blais's dramatic performance of "Belle of Louisville" replete with yells; and Dan Grinstead's performance of his own ragtime composition in 7/4 meter. This year's festival was held a week early because of a scheduling conflict with the hotel. Next year the festival returns to its normal November 17 - 19 period, one week before Thanksgiving.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamcorper suscipit lobortis nisl ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis te feugifacilisi. Duis autem dolor in hendrerit in vulputate velit esse. Calendar of Events

September 6 First day of school
September 26 Curriculum Night 7:00 - 9:00
October 3 PTSA Meeting 7:00 (library)
October 18 - 22 Book Fair