Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland



Rose Leaf Ragtime Club December Meeting (12/19/1999)

Reported by Bill Mitchell

Forty-six fans and performers showed up at the remodeled IHOP for an exciting RLC session Sunday afternoon, Dec. 19. The last meeting of the century? Technically no, but popularly yes. Gary Rametta very ably emceed the proceedings, which got underway with an impromptu duet on "Maple Leaf Rag," with Gary on the brown piano and Bill on the green one. Gary continued solo on Joplin's "The Favorite," and "Sunflower Slow Drag." He concluded his set with a beautifully played late Joe Lamb number, "Alaskan Rag."

Bill Mitchell had a trio of seasonal selections, beginning with Lamb's "Reindeer Rag." Scott's "Evergreen Rag" might suggest a Christmas tree. W. R. McKanlass's "A Bag of Rags" might refer to what Santa has slung over his shoulder for all good little ragophiles. Eric Marchese stressed the New Year theme in his choices. "New Era Rag" by James Scott might pertain to the millennium, although, as Eric mentioned, it probably celebrated the end of World War I. Joplin's "Stoptime Rag" was up next, with some of the audience providing the obligatory foot-stamping in the breaks. A prolific composer, Eric wound up with his "Rarin' to Go," which he wrote on New Year"s Eve, 1998.

Then came the piano duo of McClellan and Roan (George and Lee) to play some old favorites, "Darktown Strutters' Ball," "Mandy," and "Alabama Jubilee." (Shelton Brooks, Irving Berlin and George L. Cobb, respectively.)

San Diego's Bob Pinsker brought us a little novelty piano with Roy Bargy's "A Blue Streak." (One pictures a naked runner in the Arctic, perhaps.) Bob mentioned that Bargy was born in Michigan in 1894, and besides writing novelty ragtime, he was Jimmy Durante's pianist for many years. Bargy died in 1974 in Vista, California. Rounding out his set, Bob gave us a brisk version of "Baltimore Todalo," by Eubie Blake.

Just before intermission, Ron Ross treated us to his new song, "Turn of the Century," which he sang to his own accompaniment. He said he chose that title because nothing rhymes with "millennium." The song celebrates the return to ragtime near the end of the 20th century, echoing the close of the 19th. He also played another of his compositions, "Obadiah's Jumpsuit."

After intermission, we had our opportunity drawing. The lucky winners received the following items: a four-month trial subscription of The American Rag; an LP of piano rolls by James P. Johnson; an LP of Sammy Spears band ragtime; a CD of the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra; a cassette of nickelodeon tunes; a Maple Leaf Club tee shirt. Rose Leaf Club members donated these prizes.

Nancy Kleier provided some New Year's Eve potables for "wets" and "drys" alike, including "Champagne Rag," by Joe Lamb, "Fizz Water," by Eubie Blake, and "Moonshine Rag," by Edward Hudson.

Brad Kay dropped in to give us a jazzy interlude with a Harlem touch. "Paradise Wobble" was a Charlie Johnson band record, which Brad adapted for piano with a scat vocal. It was named after "Small's Paradise," a Harlem hot spot in the 1920s. Brad continued with "I'm Busy and You Can"t Come In," which is a traditional tune attributed to no particular composer, as far as I know. "Blue River" is a catchy 1920"s tune recorded by Bix Beiderbeck, among others. Fats Waller waxed a piano/vocal of his own song, "I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby." Brad's version came very close to the original. He concluded his set with Duke Ellington's "Jubilee Stomp."

At this point all players had presented their feature sets and it was encore time. Gary Rametta chose a couple of top-drawer classics, Lamb"s "Ragtime Nightingale" and Joplin"s "Original Rags." He told us a little bit about the genesis of the former. Lamb had been impressed with Scott's "Ragtime Oriole," and wanted to do a bird rag of his own. He borrowed a lick or two from Chopin and Nevin, added ideas of his own, and came up with one of his most haunting compositions.

George McClellan delighted us with one of his originals, a little waltz with humorous vocal, "I'll Never Do That Any More," and another of his, "Dixie Lullaby."

Bill Mitchell played "Tia Juana," a 1920s number recorded by such as J. R. Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, Bud Freeman, and Ralph Sutton. He then called up Eric Marchese to join him on a duet version of Eric's "Millennium Rag," written in collaboration with Tom Brier in 1994 -- the first of the duo"s 10 collaborations.

Eric soloed on "Dr. Brown," an early (1914) foxtrot by Fred Irvin.

Bob Pinsker's encore was a stride arrangement (by Dick Wellstood) of "Jingle Bells."

Nancy Kleier chose the ragtime waltz, "Echoes from the Snowball Club," by Harry P. Guy. She called up Eric Marchese to join her on Eric's 1991 rag for Christmas, "A New England Yuletide."

Concluding the meeting was Ron Ross, who sang his own composition, "The Rose Leaf Way," written for the fourth anniversary of the Rose Leaf Club. Ron was accompanied on the piano by Gary Rametta.

"The Turn Of The Century"

Well it's the turn of the century again.
And whaddaya know, they"re playing ragtime again.
They"re digging up the old rags, tangos, two-steps and drags.
Dusting off the old songs and folks are singing along.
They thought that ragtime died in the first World War.
So how come we're hearing those rhythms once more?
'Cause it's the turn of the century again.
They're playing ragtime again.

Now it's the turn of the century again.
Would you believe they're into ragtime again.
We"re hearing old rags and new rags on CD and cassette.You can even download "em from the Internet.
And now that year with three zeroes has arrived.
To find that ragtime is still alive...
I guess they must have invented a great resuscitator.
'Cause here we are one-hundred years later.
And ragtime -- is very much alive.

Copyright 1999 Ronross Music-12414 Landale-Studio City CA 91604-(818) 766-2384

Challenged By a Song
By Susan Erb

Challenged by a song
Music is fun--
If you can conquer the song--
The enjoyment of music lingers on--
Played alone in practice
Or played for others, a small or large group,
Music speaks for itself
And is felt.

Lovers of music united--
Playing as they will
Different levels of musical accomplishments
Trying as best one can--
Taking part in life-giving sounds.

Challenged by a song
Music is fun--
If you can conquer the song
The enjoyment of music lingers on.

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