Features and Reviews
The Joy of Ragtime Visits Old Town Music Hall
By Bill Mitchell
A troupe of performers from the Sacramento Ragtime Society presented a concert aptly titled "The Joy of Ragtime" at Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo the evening of Sunday, October 9. Participating in a program that included various aspects of the genre were "Washboard Kitty" Wilson, Chris and Jack Bradshaw, Bub and Petra Sullivan, and Robyn Drivon.
The husband and wife team of Jack and Chris Bradshaw, sharing the bench at the Bosendoerfer grand, started the ball rolling with a four-handed version of Tom Turpin's "A Ragtime Nightmare." They followed up with two Luckey Roberts numbers: "Music Box Rag" and "Junk Man Rag." The Bradshaws' arrangements bore an expansive richness reminiscent of vintage piano rolls.
Jack performed three solo rags by contemporary ragtime composers: Trebor Tichenor's "Show Me Rag - a Missouri Defiance," Max Morath's "The Golden Hours," and Jack Rummel's "From Lone Jack to Knob Noster." All were masterfully played.
"Washboard Kitty" joined Chris and Jack in a rendition of Joplin's "March Majestic," which they played first as a standard march, then as a rag. The trio then tackled Jim Europe's lively "Castle House Rag."
A trio of Petra (piano), Bub (mandolin), and Robyn (tuba) played J. Bodewalt Lampe's "Dixie Girl" and Joplin's "Weeping Willow." Bub then laid down his mandolin and took the mike for a vocal on a minstrel song, "Auntie Skinner's Chicken Dinners." The trio continued with a charming collaboration by Louis Chauvin and Scott Joplin, "Heliotrope Bouquet." They finished their set with a Mexican waltz in a minor key, "Rosalia," by Querino Mendoza.
The entire troupe brought the first half to a close with "Coon Hollow Capers," a Frank Gillis number from 1899, and Joseph Lamb's "Bohemia," published 20 years later. Petra relinquished the piano bench to the Bradshaws and played violin on these pieces.
The second half of the program began with Bill Field at the Mighty Wurlitzer to accompany a brief sing-along, after which Petra, Bub, and Robin played a tango by an unknown composer, arranged by Leon Ponce, "Persian Garden." Bub sang an Irving Berlin tune from 1920, "(I'll See You in) Cuba." The trio then played "Halcyon Days,' a 1992 composition by Eric Marchese. Returning to the 1920s, Bub vocalized on "Get Out and Get Under the Moon." Then it was back to contemporary ragtime with Tom Brier's "The Garden Walk" of 1996. Bub sang a surprise oddity, "Rubber Duckie," from 1970. This, you may remember, was popularized on Educational TV's popular kiddie show, Sesame Street. Credit for music and lyrics goes to Jeff Moss. The trio then went south of the border for a Mexican number, "Zakatecas," by Genaro Codina.
Jack Bradshaw returned to the Bosendoerfer to play Zez Confrey's novelty classic, "Dizzy Fingers." Chris joined him on "Possum and 'Taters" and "Dill Pickles." Kitty returned to join the couple on "Kangaroo Hop," from 1915. The trio then played an original composition by Chris, "South Valley Rag," a peppy, up-tempo number, with Kitty on woodboard, a percussive instrument similar to washboard, but non-metalic.
The entire cast (two pianists, mandolin, violin, tuba, and washboard) returned to the stage for the final segment, which included Lampe's "Creole Belles," "El Chiquito" (a tango from Argentina by R. Alberto Lopez Buchardo), and Galen Wilkes's "Sedalia Stomp."
The evening was thoroughly enjoyable. Sacramento can be proud of these genial, top-notch players, who prefaced their numbers with interesting background information and anecdotes.