Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland

SEPTEMBER, 2002

NUMBER 77

Rose Leaf Ragtime Club August Meeting (8/25/2002)

Reported by Gary Rametta


August, 1995 marked the inaugural meeting of the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club of Pasadena (founded by ragtime enthusiast and artist Phil "P.J." Schmidt) at Biscotti & Books, a coffeehouse/bookstore/music venue on Holly Street in Old Pasadena.

On August 25, 2002 we celebrated the Seventh Anniversary of the Rose Leaf club, our 84th consecutive meeting, this one (like all the others since 1996) held in the banquet room of the IHOP (International House of Pancakes) on Foothill Blvd.

At this month's meeting on September 29, we'll hold our 3rd annual Memorial for P.J. Those of you who knew Phil are invited to share your reminiscences of him, in words and/or music.

Finally, I'd like to send out a Get Well wish to Prentiss Bacon, our oldest member (95 years young!) who was ill at home and unable to make last month's meeting. Mr. Bacon has been on hand for nearly every single Rose Leaf meeting since the club's inception. We hope to see him ASAP!

Our August meeting was another barnburner, with a splendid variety of tunes and some terrific playing.

Gary Rametta started the meeting off with Joplin's "Original Rags," the handed off to Ron Ross, who performed two of his excellent originals, "Sweet is the Sound" and "Retro Rag." Gary then returned to play Joseph Lamb's posthumously published "Ragtime Reverie," unearthed in the early 1990s from one of Lamb's sketchbooks and published by his daughter, Patricia Lamb Conn.

Bill Mitchell contributed two classics from James Scott, "Ragtime Oriole" and his last-published rag, "Broadway Rag." Phil Cannon then followed with a couple more gems of classic ragtime, Joplin's "Fig Leaf Rag" and Lamb's "Cottontail Rag."

Stan Long warmed up with his all-American medley, a self-composed piece that mixes "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," "New York, New York" and "Someone to Watch Over Me." It was nicely done, incorporating a lot of blues and boogie figures, plus a fair amount of reharmonization. Stan continued with "Snow Deer Rag" (a 1913 composition by Wenrich and Mahoney), then closed his set with current-day composer Gil Lieby's "Dixie Rag."

Bob Pinsker had almost literally just gotten off the plane from England where he and his wife Judy had been vacationing. In addition to inviting everyone to attend his September 22nd concert at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, Bob came to share some rarities he dug up on a recent trip to the Library of Congress. The first of these was a Tom Turpin song, apparently his last-published piece in 1917, called "When Sambo Goes to France." Next was a 1924 Jimmy Blythe piano solo called "Chicago Stomps." Bob explained that the copyright deposition revealed a discrepancy in the titling of the tune: it's also referred to as "Armor Avenue Struggle" on a recording.

Bob closed his set with a Luckey Roberts composition he found on a piano roll, called "Give Me Some Mo'lasses," penned in 1923 and taken from Roberts' show, Go-Go.

Bill Mitchell returned to the keys. First, Ron Ross joined him in a duet version of "The Rose Leaf Way," written by Ron three years ago to help celebrate our fourth birthday. Ron passed out the sheet music and lyrics and everyone join in to sing along.

After some announcements, Bill continued with Jelly Roll Morton's "Milneberg Joys" and James Scott's "Quality Rag." Gary Rametta then joined him in a duet of "Maple Leaf Rag" to close out the first half of the show.

During intermission, Bill Coleman entertained the troops with a variety of standards and popular tunes.

The second half got underway with Gary giving Fred Hoeptner's award-winning composition "Dalliance" a spin. Next was Ron Ross, performing Joplin's marvelous "Wall Street Rag" and his own "Joplinesque."

Phil Cannon strapped on his guitar/banjo once again, then proceeded with two lovely Joseph Lamb rags, "Ethiopia" and "Contentment." Gary noted that Lamb had written "Contentment" as a 50th wedding anniversary gift to publisher John Stark, but Stark never published it until years later, after his wife passed away. When he finally did publish it, the sheet music cover art Stark chose was of an old man in a rocking chair, smoking a pipe.

Bob Pinsker returned with a vengeance, this time playing Luckey Roberts' "Pork and Beans" at breakneck speed. Bob noted that one of the reasons Roberts (probably the first real east-coast stride pianist) was not as well-known as his contemporaries and followers was because of the dizzying complexity of his music. The few available published scores were "dumbed-down" versions of what he actually played. For instance, "Pork and Beans" was written in C-sharp minor and contained lots of pianistic pyrotechnics, while the printed score bore a key signature of C-minor and was comparatively tame. Next was another Roberts piece from his show Go-Go, this one called "Rosetime and You." Bob finished off with Eubie Blake's great "Charleston Rag."

Fred Hoeptner took over the keys for two solos, "Evergreen Rag" from James Scott and "One For Amelia," a sparkling, original and highly influential piece written in the early 1960s by Max Morath in dedication to Joseph Lamb's wife Amelia.

Returning from a few months absence was Nancy Kleier. Nancy was particularly enthused about sharing her experiences at the recent Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival in Northern California. Focusing on some of her favorite music and artists from the festival, Nancy started out with Gil Lieby's folksy "Sutter Creek Strut." She then moved to Tom Brier's "Rose Blossoms," then closed out with Charles Daniels' "Borneo Rag."

Ruby Fradkin then strode up to the keys to play three original pieces from her upcoming CD. I didn't get the titles, but all of them centered around the boogie-woogie and blues sound that's really captured Ruby's interest and made its way into her playing.

Bill Mitchell came back up, joining Ruby on a duet of Arthur Marshall and Joplin's "Swipesy Cakewalk."

Next was Stan Long, performing a piano/vocal rendition of Tom Lehrer's folk song, "The Wild West is Where I Want to Be." Stan's vocals were really wonderful.

Gary Rametta and Bob Pinsker closed out the meeting with two classic rags, Joplin's "Weeping Willow" and the Joplin/Chauvin collaboration "Heliotrope Bouquet."

Please come to our September meeting and help us remember P.J. Schmidt, our founder. We'll have a cake and refreshments on hand, plus a card to send to his daughter Ilana.

A NOTE ABOUT OUR CD & TAPE LENDING LIBRARY

Our club owes a debt of gratitude to member John Tulley, who does a terrific job managing and organizing our lending library, and to all those who've contributed CDs, cassettes or videos.

As you know, the library operates on the honor system. All the items have been generously donated and are a great resource for all of our members. For the most part, this system has worked smoothly. However, in our most recent inventory, we found that there are many CDs and tapes unaccounted for. Some were checked out via the log sheet but not returned, while others were borrowed without the member recording the loan on the log sheet.

If you have any library materials in your possession, please let us know. We'd like to get them back. Also, please make sure to sign out and sign back in any item you borrow.

MEMBERS SPEAK OUT IN PETITION

Recently, a petition was circulated among members, regarding the style and musical content of our programs. Without exception, support was expressed for programs that focus on well-rehearsed, instrumental ragtime.

In practical terms, what that means is that, unless approved in advance by the program chair, only slots during the last hour of the meeting will be available for vocal performances. In addition, even though none of us members expects perfection, we'd still like to ask all players to perform only if they've been able to practice their selections prior to the meeting. Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.


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