Great Fun in Sutter Creek at 2004 Festival

By Nan Bostick

The 6th Annual Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival, held Aug.13-15, featured outstanding ragtime soloists, ragtime dance workshops, tea dances, and balls, a roving Dixieland band, melodrama, and more. The Festival began Friday at 4:00 p.m. at the Sutter Creek Ice Cream Emporium, Festival headquarters, followed by a special "kick-off" concert at Belotti's Inn featuring L.A's charming ukulele chanteuse, Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys: pianist Tom Brier and percussionist Pete Devine, with Chaffey College jazz professor, Patrick Aranda throwing in a little trombone. Aranda joined Orange County's boogie-to-barrelhouse pianist, Carl Sonny Leyland, to end the concert with such blazing two-piano numbers, they worried the town's fire department.

Saturday the Festival offered non-stop ragtime by these and other performers at the Ice Cream Parlor, the Clothes Mine Courtyard, the Sutter Creek Theater, and Belotti's. Continuous ragtime dancing took place at the Sutter Creek Auditorium to live music provided by Sacramento's Elliott Adams & The Porcupine Ragtime Ensemble and the Synco-Pantalones from Stockton, CA. Costa Mesa dance instructors Richard Duree and Ruth Levin led the dancing festivities, offering workshops in between the balls. In the theater, Stevens and "Ah, Sweet Sue" Jan Price and crew performed their infamous "Dill Pickle Ranch" ragtime melodrama , which was so bad, it was hysterical. Out-of-state soloists Keith Taylor, of Roseberg, Oregon, Bob Lein, of Des Moines, Iowa, and John Remmers, of Ann Arbor, MI, also performed excellent sets in the theater. Bay Area's Eliot Kenin & the Spirit of '29 played traditional jazz and ragtime from a truck traveling up and down Main Street. Crockett's Pepper Rae and Friends (including non-scheduled performers) entertained outdoors at the Clothes Mine Courtyard, which also featured ragtime composers Kathi Backus, of Santa Barbara, Galen Wilkes of Van Nuys, Eric Marchese of Santa Ana, and John Partridge of Richmond, CA. Throughout the Festival, lunch and dinner patrons at Susan's Place and the Cafe D'Oro were treated to ragtime piano by Shirley Case, of Laguna Beach, Candace Fazzio from Gilroy, and Rosemary Hallem, of Alameda, CA.

Saturday evening's schedule included a grand ball with the Porcupines and "A Celebration of Ragtime" concert featuring Carl Sonny Leyland, Patrick Aranda, Tom Brier, Nan Bostick, Keith Taylor, Stevens Price, Bob Lein, and Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys. During Janet's set, an elderly gentleman swooned so heavily, the paramedics were called. To keep the audience seated during the rescue, Janet had to perform encore after encore, which she did with such charm, no one realized there was anything amiss.

Dancing and ragtime performances continued on Sunday from 11 to 2:00 at all five venues. The Festival ended with its traditional, shtick-filled grand finale concert at the Sutter Creek Theater featuring all Festival musicians still standing. Bay Area's Nan Bostick, Pepper Rae, and Washboard Kitty Wilson hosted the show, designed as a special tribute to composer-pianist Tom Brier. In addition to filling in as a Parlor Boy during all Janet Klein's sets, Tom performed his own solo sets, sat in with Sunday's dance band, played two-piano sets with several other headliners, and literally performed non-stop the entire three days of the Festival.

The 7th Annual Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival promises to be just as fun and is slated for August 12-14, 2005. Visit the web site: Sutter Creek Ragtime for Festival photographs and details.

More Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival Reviews:

2002 Festival
2001 Festival

John T. Carney's Original Rags for Download

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