Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland



Rose Leaf Ragtime Club September Meeting (9/29/2002)

Reported by Gary Rametta

Shortly after our fourth anniversary in 1999, Rose Leaf Club founder P.J. Schmidt passed away unexpectedly. Each year thereafter, we have dedicated our September meeting in his memory. At last month's get-together about 35 attendees, both members and players, joined us for the 2002 memorial to P.J. Many of the tunes played throughout the afternoon were among those played, admired and written by P.J.

Gary Rametta opened with Fred Hoeptner's original composition "Dalliance, a Ragtime Frolic." Gary noted that the first Fred Hoeptner composition he ever heard was "Aura of Indigo," performed by P.J. back in 1996. P.J. was no doubt a strong supporter of Fred's and encouraged him to continue his excellent composing efforts. Next, Gary played the Joplin/Hayden classic "Sunflower Slow Drag," the very first piece he performed at the club back in '96.

Guitarist/banjoist Phil Cannon, a more recent club devotee, never met P.J. personally, but listened to and studied his "Classic Ragtime Favorites" cassette with great commitment. That easily showed in Phil's renditions of two rags off the cassette, "Patricia," by Joseph Lamb, and "Pineapple Rag," by Joplin.

Bill Mitchell recalled meeting P.J. at the Maple Leaf Club when it held its meetings at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo eight or nine years ago. He recalled P.J.'s beautiful playing and commanding technique. Over the years, Bill played many pieces that were favorites of P.J., including Ford Dabney's "Porto Rico" a sort of ragtime intermezzo, and his "Haytian Rag." Bill did a splendid job on both.

Next was Yuko Shimazaki, who'd met P.J. only a few months before he passed. With extensive classical training in both their backgrounds, they found many things to share, among them a love of Frederic Chopin. Yuko played Chopin's famous "Waltz Op. 64 No.2" in memory of P.J. Then she selected one of her favorites off P.J.'s cassette, Joplin's demanding "Magnetic Rag." Yuko played it to the hilt, capturing its many moods with her outstanding technique and interpretation.

Fred Hoeptner noted that P.J. was very fond of Joseph Lamb's ragtime pieces. He performed one of Lamb's best, "American Beauty," then followed up with his own "Dalliance."

Gary Rametta came back to the piano and performed one of P.J.'s own compositions, "French Vanilla." He then played Joplin's lush and sophisticated "Gladiolus Rag," which has the kind of romanticism and sparkling beauty that P.J. favored.

Gary stayed on and was joined by Bill Mitchell for some duets, starting with Joplin's first-published rag, "Original Rags," then "Peacherine," followed by "Something Doing"

Bill Mitchell closed out the first half of the show with Dabney's "Georgia Grind," and Joseph Lamb's great "Bohemia." During the break, Bill Coleman kept the pulse going with solos from the teens to the thirties, including "At a Georgia Camp Meeting," "Till We Meet Again," "Moonlight Bay," "Roll Up The Rug," "As Time Goes By" and "Take Me Out To The Ball Game."

The second half got underway with Les Soper, who explained how he took up ragtime about 12 years ago when he retired from his career as a schoolteacher. Early on, at a West Coast Ragtime Festival in Fresno, Les discovered the music of Glenn Jenks and immediately gravitated toward it. He performed two of Jenks' brilliant compositions, the melancholy "Elegiac," and "Sosua," which the composer named after a beach he visited when he was a cruise ship pianist.

Our next guest was a new performer, Robby Gennet. Robby got acquainted with Ruby and Chris Fradkin at Kulak's Woodshed in the San Fernando valley. Robby explained his passion for blues and boogie-woogie, then went on to play a fine and lively improvisation that clearly demonstrated his flair and enthusiasm for those two influences. He followed up with an original composition in the same vein, this one called "Rats." Both were well-received and really lit up the room.

Next was Ruby, who two days earlier was the featured performer at Whittier College, where she also spoke to second-through-fifth graders about music. Ruby pulled off two 45-minute sets, both of which included solo and combo performances. She played the opening number from her show, then moved on with Joplin's "Elite Syncopations," and the standard, "Baby Face." I noticed that her playing is more assured and relaxed than ever. She's come a long, long way since she first started out. What's more, she does a great job at being a good citizen and setting a terrific example for youngsters.

It was nice to have Andrew Barrett back again. He'd been on summer vacation, but Andrew wasted no time diving in and contributing his artistry to the proceedings. He started with one of George Cobb's lesser-known tunes, "Mazie King Midnight Trot," from 1914. Next was Charles Straight's "Hot Hands" from 1916. Andrew has definitely studied the many historical ragtime folios available, and his enthusiasm and talents are always appreciated.

Phil Cannon and Les Soper joined in a duet of Joplin's great "Rose Leaf Rag," after which Phil played beautifully on "The Chrysanthemum." Bill Mitchell, of whom we can never get enough, played Jelly Roll's "The Pearls" to a fantastic ovation, then Les came back up to close things up with a gem of contemporary ragtime, Jack Rummel's "Lone Jack to Knob Noster."


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 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.

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