Features and Reviews
Nan Bostick and Friends at Old Town Music Hall, 7/20/03
By Bill Mitchell
"Granny Nanny" Bostick and her sidekicks, "Hot Rod Tommy" Brier and "Washboard Kitty" Wilson, were the featured artists on Sunday evening, July 20. They put on a snappy, well-paced entertainment with some surprise guests. The musical fare included generous helpings of ragtime and related ragtime-era material.
The trio got things underway with a contest-winning two-step by Nan's Uncle Charlie (Charles N. Daniels, aka Neil Moret), "Margery." This 1898 song was made popular by John Phillip Sousa and his band, thus launching Daniels on his career as a major songwriter. The second Daniels piece of the evening was "'Neath Southern Skies," a two-step that may have been his first rag. Following this was "Sugar Plum," credited to L'Albert (actually Daniels, who wrote under several pen names).
Sampling another composer, Detroit's Fred Stone, the trio played "Sue," a two-step, and "The Ladybug's Review," a march in 6/8 time.The next selection, a charming rag called "The Smoky Topaz," was written by Grace Bolen when she was seventeen.
The first of the guest artists to appear were Janet Klein and her accompanist, Brad Kay. In her usual coquettish style, Janet sang "Good Little Bad Little You," and "Any Kind of Man Will Be Better Than You."
Another guest pianist, Eric Marchese, joined Tom Brier at the two pianos in a rousing rendition of one of their collaborations, "Meatballs." Nan joined the two young men for a keyboard trio version of Joplin's "Original rags." Just before intermission the trio of Nan, Kitty, and Tom returned to play part of "My Ragtime Baby," by Fred Stone. After the audience and performers returned from having refreshments in the foyer and outside, the trio played the remainder of Stone's rag. They followed up with my favorite Daniels's rags, "Cotton Time," which has some very effective stop time.
After a plug for the upcoming Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival, Nan and Tom played "Sutter Creek Strut," a catchy piece by the prolific Gil Lieby.
Another guest pianist, Shirley Case of Laguna Beach, played "Pork and Beans," by the pioneer Harlem ragtimer and stride player, Luckey Roberts. Incidentally, throughout the evening Shirley's artist husband, Storm, amused the audience by occasionally mounting one-liners on an easel, and at one point, doing a couple of quick sketches of Tom Brier at the keyboard. This was in addition to schtick provided by Nan and Kitty as they attempted, without success, to fluster the unflappable Tom into missing a note.
Tom soloed on an original he titled "Blue Lampshade," played in honor of the late Phil McCoy, who, with his wife, hosted the recent duet CD by Bostick and Brier, Dualing at the McCoys. Nan's solo tribute to Phil was a piece she called "That Missing You Rag." Back in the duet mode, the pair played "Peaceful Henry," by E. Harry Kelly. Delving again into Daniels's output, they played "Delores," a tango, and "Woodland Dove." Kitty joined them for one of Daniels's best "Indian" numbers, "Silver Heels." They finished the set with a Bostick original, "Bean Whistle Rag." Nan explained that a "bean whistle" is slang for a police whistle.
The grand finale was a rousing performance of "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee" with the entire cast of the show, plus Bill Field on the Mighty Wurlitzer.
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