Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland

MAY, 2000


Rose Leaf Ragtime Club April Meeting (4/30/2000)

Reported by Bill Mitchell

Our emcee, Gary Rametta, opened the program with that Arthur Marshall/ Scott Joplin favorite, "Swipesy Cakewalk" and followed up with James Scott's last published piece, the heavily scored "Broadway Rag" of 1922.

Bill Mitchell's first selection of the day was "Black and White Rag" (Botsford), very popular during the ragtime era but forgotten until a recording by Wally Rose in 1941 revived it. Bill's second number was "Harmony Rag," by Hal Nichols. The set was rounded out by Joplin's "Ragtime Dance," with the savvy audience providing the designated foot stamps in the breaks.

Ron Ross, who usually plays his own compositions, startled us by opening with Joe Lamb's "Bohemia." He then played his own latest composition, "Song for P.J.,"a tender and bittersweet memorial to the late P.J. Schmidt, founder of the Rose Leaf Club.

Three well-loved standards were chosen by Jack Christopher. "As Time Goes By" was published in 1931, but it didn't go anywhere until used in the WWII movie, "Casablanca," when Sam was asked to play it again. It has been a pop favorite every since. Hoagy Charmichael's "Stardust" never grows old, and Jack included the lovely verse, which is seldom played. "I'll Never Smile Again" was a song that Jack originally didn't like much, but which grew on him. (We've all heard songs that we didn't react to originally, but later came to enjoy. The same for rags.

Louis Knobbe, a card-carrying member of the Maple Leaf Club although he had never been able to attend a meeting, was a first-time performer at the Rose Leaf Club last month. He opened with "Ragging the Waves." This one was new to me. Can any of you identify it? He followed up with a Randy Newton tune, "One More Hour," and concluded with a James Reese Europe rarity, "The Castle Doggie."

We were honored to have with us Hal Isbitz, one of the most highly regarded of contemporary ragtime and tango composers. Since Hal lives in Santa Barbara, he rarely gets down here for meetings, although he is a member of the club. He chose to play one number, a piece by the Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth entitled "Talisman."

Young Ruby Fradkin played the second Carmichael song of the day, "Heart and Soul." She then brought down the house by playing "Swipesy Cakewalk," the first classic rag she has played at the Rose Leaf Club. An excellent performance! She concluded the set with "Sunrise, Sunset," from "Fiddler on the Roof," and the old favorite, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

Gary played Joplin's "Gladiolus Rag" before announcing an intermission for people to stretch their legs and visit for a few minutes.

Before the music resumed, the monthly drawing was held, with the prizes being a four-month trial subscription to The American Rag, and a CD of pianist Nyle Frank, who played at the April meeting.

Fred Hoeptner opened his set with one of his own pieces, "Dalliance." He continued with Adeline Shepherd's "Pickles and Peppers," which, as Fred commented, was William Jennings Bryan's campaign song when he was running for President. He concluded with "Romp through the Woods," another of his originals.

Yuko Shimazaki continued her exploration of Argentinean tangos with "Indepencia" (A. Bevilacquta) and "Un Momento" (Juan Rodriguez). Both were beautifully played.

Another club member who seldom gets to meetings because she lives on the Central Coast was Andrea Fabula. She duetted with Gary Rametta on "Swipesy" and "Elite Syncopations." She and Bill Mitchell then joined forces on "Belle of Louisville," which has been called "the Maple Leaf Rag" of the nineties." (1990s, that is!)

Lee Roan invited Bill to join him on a couple of oldies, "Margie" and "Darktown Strutters Ball."

Ruby Fradkin returned for a set that included "Tell Me Why," "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," "Jennie Jenkins," and "Alouette."

Allen Breiman was inspired to sing "Alouette" in Slavic, with Ron Ross on piano. The duo also did "Toot-Toot-Tootsie" and "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby."

Ron soloed on his own "Retro Rag" and "Digital Rag."

Gary played a Joplin masterpiece, "Fig Leaf Rag."

Bill returned with Scott's "Grace and Beauty."

Gary joined Bill for duets on "Maple Leaf Rag," "Possum and Taters," and "Sunflower Slow Drag," bringing the meeting to a conclusion.

P.S.: After the meeting Gary played a neat rendition of "Original Jelly Roll Blues," by, you guessed it, Jelly Roll Morton.

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