RagFest 2000 a Smashing Success

By Nan Bostick

The first ragtime festival ever to be held in Orange County was a total sell-out Saturday, Oct. 7, at Steamers café in Fullerton, CA. In spite of attempts to limit sales, the café was packed, standing room only, and best of all, most were attending their very first ragtime event.

The brainchild of Santa Ana's Eric Marchese, ragtime composer, pianist extraordinaire, and theater critic for the Orange County Register, the RagFest 2000 was co-produced by Fullerton's Friends of Jazz, which helped with one particularly appreciated aspect—the best pianos I've ever had the pleasure of playing at a ragtime festival. But Marchese deserves most of the credit, particularly for the exceptional publicity which proved the reason for so many new faces in the audience.

Performers included Marchese, Tom Brier, Bill Mitchell, and myself, plus two extraordinarily talented ragtime festival newcomers: Terence Alaric (an award-winning theater composer and director from Balboa, CA) and Patrick Aranda (a ragtime, jazz, stride pianist, trombonist, tuba player, singer and music professor at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, who in my book, was the best entertainer of us all). Mitchell, in addition to playing solo piano, performed with his Albany Nightboat Ragtimers trio, featuring the marvelous banjo talents of Hal Groody and tuba playing of Ray Cadd. The trio was a true treat near the end of the six-hour event, which ended with a half-hour of all performers playing multi-handed ragtime on two pianos on a very small stage. Lots of fun.

Kudos should also go to Terence Love, the gracious owner, and the hard-working staff of Steamers Café at 138 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, a great place to go to hear live jazz nightly should you find yourself in Orange County.

Plans are already afoot for RagFest 2001. Dates to be announced, but it looks as if Marchese has created a winner and his RagFest will become an annual event in Orange County. Bravo!

More Orange County RagFest Reviews:

2004 Festival
2003 Festival
2002 Festival
2001 Festival

John T. Carney's Original Rags for Download

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