Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland



Rose Leaf Ragtime Club January Meeting (1/30/2000)

Reported by Bill Mitchell

To "kick off" the meeting (remember, it was Super Bowl Sunday), emcee Gary Rametta played "Scott Joplin's New Rag," one of the composer's most intriguing compositions. Gary then called Bill Mitchell up to join him on the other piano for some "Possum and 'Taters," an early folk rag by Charles Hunter.

Mitchell's solo set included Joplin's "Elite Syncopations," "Pride of the Smokey Row" (J. M. Wilcockson), and Jelly Roll Morton's "Frog-I-More Rag."

Ruby Fradkin, who at nine years of age is our youngest pianist, played a set of popular numbers, including "Playmates," "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," "On the Good Ship Lollipop," "Sunrise, Sunset," and "Allouette." This young lady has a great sense of rhythm and plays cleanly. She is going places!

The piano duo of George McClellan and Lee Roan lead off with an amusing novelty from 1920, "Palesteena." They distributed copies of the tune with lyrics so that the audience could sing along. ("Lena is the Queen of Palesteena..." etc. Some of us are old enough to remember the Bob Crosby and his Bob Cats' version of this one, featuring Nappy Lamare on the vocal.) George and Lee continued with "Ma, He's Makin' Eyes at Me," and "Nobody's Sweetheart."

Ron Ross digitally performed his new piece, "Digital Rag," and followed with another original, "Ragtime Song," from 1995.

Something different was provided by a guest from Sierra Madre, Joe Tortomasi. Joe played guitar and sang "Ragtime Cowboy Joe," inviting the audience to sing along. His musicianship was enjoyable, and we hope he will return.

Another first-timer at the Rose Leaf Club was Doug Haise, visiting from Indiana. Doug discovered the Maple Leaf Club back in the mid 1980s through a chance meeting with Brad Kay in Venice, California. Doug was practicing "Grace and Beauty" in his apartment when Brad, walking by, heard him, knocked on the door, and introduced himself. Doug began coming to MLC meetings and, though very hesitant at first, was persuaded to play. He credits that encouragement with starting him on a musical career. Today he is one of the few people who ekes out a living entirely by playing ragtime. Doug played for us three obscure numbers by lady ragtime composers: "That Poker Rag," "Soap Suds," and "Ragged Terry."

Ruby Fradkin encored with a few more favorites: "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," "Smile," "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and "Tom Dooley."

Gary Rametta encored with Lamb's classic "Ragtime Nightingale."

Nancy Kleier; who calls herself "the little old rag lady from Pasadena," played a set with a Super Bowl motif: "St. Louis Tickle," "A Tennessee Tantalizer," and "Beneath the Starry Flag."

Fred Hoeptner chose a couple of fine James Scott rags, which he delivered with appropriate verve and eacute;clat, "Evergreen" and "Victory." He finished with a seldom-heard but delightful rag entitled "Beedle-Um-Bo." Charles L. Johnson wrote this one under the alias of "Raymond Birch."

Stan Long played a version of "Old MacDonald," "The Entertainer," "Maple Leaf Rag," and an original of his, "My Ditty."

Eric Marchese played "St. Louis Tickle," ostensibly by a pair called "Barney and Seymore," but according to ragtime scholars, it was actually written by Theron Bennett. He dedicated the performance to 91-year-old Prentice Bacon, a longtime Rose Leaf audience member who studied piano with Bennett in the 1930s. Eric continued with the graceful "Slippery Elm," by Clarence Woods, and concluded his set with an original from 1993, "The Grape Vine -- a Rag of Good Taste."

Gary returned to the piano bench to play Joplin's "Cleopha -- March and Two-Step," one of the composer's lesser known compositions.

The meeting was brought to a conclusion by trio performances of more Joplin: "Something Doing," "Kismet," and "Pine Apple Rag." ("Kismet," we should add, was a collaboration with Scott Hayden, who probably should get most of the credit.) Nancy, Bill, and Eric gave the pianos a good workout on these.

The meeting was over in time for those interested to catch the end of the Super Bowl game.

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