Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland

AUGUST, 2000


Rose Leaf Ragtime Club July Meeting (7/30/2000)

Reported by Bill Mitchell

The July meeting had a couple of things in common with the June meeting: (a) a hot muggy day, and (b) a good turnout in spite of the heat and somewhat inadequate air conditioning. The program again was primarily ragtime, along with a pleasant seasoning of pop nostalgia.

When we arrived, a sort of prelude was in progress, with Lee Roan and George Mclellan entertaining the early birds with "Margie," "Stumbling," "Who's Sorry Now," and "Jelly Roll Blues." Les Soper contributed "Red Pepper." This was not the Henry Lodge rag of that name, however. (Here's a game for advanced ragophiles: How many rag titles can you think of that are shared by two or more different compositions? Submit your entries to Something Doing for an as yet undetermined prize to the person who submits the most duplicate titles and their composers.)

The official meeting was called to order by Ron Ross, who capably acted as emcee in the absence of Gary Rametta. (Gary will be back this month.) After brief introductory remarks Ron played two of his originals, "Obediah's Jump Suit," and "Ragtime Song."

Next up was Les Soper, who had chosen Joplin's "Chrysanthemum," and Lamb's "Bohemia."

Annette Given, a new performer all the way from Bakersfield, made her Rose Leaf debut with "Maryland," a reflective number by Colm O'Brien, a contemporary ragtimer from Ireland.

Banjoist Hal Groody, fresh from a brunch gig in Arcadia, came to the Rose Leaf Club for his first visit, joining Bill Mitchell on Ford Dabney's "Georgia Grind" (a grind not available at Starbucks), "Grizzly Bear Rag" (Botsford), and "Belle of Louisville" (Frank French).

Ruby Fradkin played "Swipesy Cakewalk" (Marshall/Joplin), "On the Good Ship Lollypop," "The Cascades" (Joplin), and a George M. Cohan medley of "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy." (See the special article on Ruby elsewhere in this issue).

Nancy Kleier performed "Porcupine Rag" (Johnson), "Borneo Rag" (Neil Moret), and "Lovey-Dovey Rag" (Botsford).

It was audience participation time when George McClellan and Lee Roan distributed song sheets for the numbers they would play: "Don't Bring Lulu," and "Carolina in the Morning," two ditties from the 1920s. They played "Lovin' Sam, the Sheik of Alabam" sans lyrics.

After a 15-minute break and the raffle, Les Soper came on as a one-man-band. He set up his washboard and accoutrements and a CD/tape player. He talked briefly about contemporary composer Robin Frost, stressing the brilliance and originality of his whimsically named rags. He provided live percussion for the canned recordings of Frost's "Rolling Avocado" and "Temperature."

George McClellan's solo slot included Irving Berlin's "All By Myself," and George's newest opus, a delightful romp he calls "The Devil's Hayride."

Ruby Fradkin returned to accompany a vocalist, Allen Breiman, who sang "On a Bicycle Built for Two," and "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." (Breiman likes to render the words in an unidentified language. Russian? Polish? Yiddish? Scat? In any case, quite a novelty.)

Ron Ross encored with "Hello, Mah Baby."

Stan Long played Joplin's "The Entertainer," the piece which was made a hit a few years back by the movie, "The Sting." He then performed an original called "My Ditty."

Tom Handforth, senior member present, played Confrey's "Kitten on the Keys."

Nancy Kleier's encore was "French Vanilla," by P.J. Schmidt, founder of the Rose Leaf Club. It has been a year since P.J. left us, and the August meeting will be dedicated to his memory.

Fred Hoeptner played the haunting "One for Amelia," a piece Max Morath wrote to honor the widow of Joseph F. Lamb. He concluded with Scott's masterpiece, "Grace and Beauty."

Bob Ross did "Sweet Georgia Brown" and sang "Goin' to San Francisco/Kansas City."

Another banjo player, Jimmy Green, dropped in for his first visit. Jimmy plays regularly with Jerry Rothschild at Curley's in Long Beach. Jimmy on banjo, and Les Soper on washboard-plus joined Bill Mitchell to conclude the meeting with "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and "Maple Leaf Rag."

Ruby Fradkin Honored on Los Angeles Television

Nine-year-old Rose Leaf Club performer Ruby Fradkin was the subject of a segment of the evening news Friday, July 28, on KABC. The station honors citizens worthy of recognition for their contributions to the community in a feature spot called "Eyewitness News Salutes..." Ruby was honored for her volunteer work in playing piano for the residents of several retirement homes. She was shown playing at a Jewish home for the aged in Reseda. She was seen playing "Sunrise/Sunset," and "You're a Grand Old Flag." The residents' delight was obvious.

In a close-up, Ruby commented, "Sometimes people sing along to the songs, because they're from the 20s, 30s, and 40s, and some of them start getting up and dancing for a few minutes."

News anchor Harold Greene concluded the segment by saying, "If there were more kids out there like Ruby we'd be a lot better off."

We of the Rose Leaf Club heartily agree, and congratulate Ruby for her good work in bringing cheer to so many lives.

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