Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland



Rose Leaf Ragtime Club October Meeting (10/26/2003)

Reported by Nancy Kleier

Faithful lovers of ragtime gathered together again on the last Sunday of October at the International House of Pancakes in east Pasadena for another pleasurable session of old-fashioned ragtime. Although our attendance was less than usual (about 30 at its fullest), nevertheless our anticipation of a good time and the performers' enthusiasm filled the room, as usual.

Due to the absence of our usually ubiquitous rotating emcees and dependable performers -- Gary Rametta, Ron Ross and Bill Mitchell -- an untried emcee stepped in to fill the empty post, and Nancy Kleier, the self-styled "Li'l Old Rag Lady from Pasadena," came to the microphone and initiated the program, only ten minutes late, at 2:40 p.m.

Nancy invited 6-string banjoist supreme Phil Cannon to join her on the club's theme song, "Rose Leaf Rag" by Scott Joplin, which was welcomed handsomely by the crowd and set the tone of the meeting.

Next, Phil continued solo with "Bohemia Rag," by Joseph Lamb, and two Joplin numbers, "Magnetic Rag" and "Something Doing." As usual, Phil's performances were superb.

Nancy then returned to the piano to remind us all of the Halloween mood, and described the scene of the proverbial wicked witch, with her faithful companion, her black cat, and the effect of her magic potion brewing in the hot cauldron. First she essayed "Old Crow Rag," by George Botsford, followed by -- what else? -- "Black Cat Rag," by Frank Wooster and Ethyl B. Smith, and blew them all away with "Black Smoke," by Charles Johnson.

Following on the heels of such fare was bandleader/pianist Frank Sano, who kept the beat going with "Pet Dander Rag," his own composition about a favorite pet and his not-so-favorite characteristics. Next, Frank cheered us with "Charleston," "Darktown Strutters' Ball," and "Toot Toot Tootsie." Feet were set tapping all around the room.

For a change of pace and mood, Fred Hoeptner then gracefully and beautifully portrayed the exquisite "Grace and Beauty," by James Scott, followed by one of his own, "Dalliance, a Ragtime Frolic." What a joy to listen to Fred's intricate and complex gorgeous works. Fred then treated us with "One for Amelia," by Max Morath, a piece we would love to hear more often. Thank you, Fred!

Stan Long never fails to entertain and give us a laugh or two. First, he brought us one of his latest projects he has been diligently perfecting, "Sutter Creek Strut," by Gil Lieby, who wrote this number to celebrate the annual Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival. Gil has composed many midwest-style rags, and thank you, Stan, for bringing this delightful number to our ears. Next, Stan swung right into his ever-popular and evolving famous "Ditty," a mosaic of recognizable tunes and jingles, a slash of boogie woogie, patriotism, and downright amusement. This time, Stan got really serious, and led off his newly revised ditty with a respectable, fully formed classical number, "Fur Elise," by Ludwig Van Beethoven. What a delightful surprise! Well, what could summarize such a setting? Stan then closed his set with his workup of "The Entertainer," by Scott Joplin. Thank you, Stan.

This brought the meeting to intermission, and while folks visited and checked out the offerings at the library table, Bill Coleman performed a selection of oldies but goodies to keep the music going. Very nice, Bill.

Ruby Fradkin, now well-known by her sobriquet, "Ragtime Ruby," energized our second half of the meeting by opening with "Weeping Willow," by Scott Joplin, and without a hitch, sashayed into a bluesy riff with very interesting modulations and patterns. Ruby says it isn't named yet, so emcee Nancy temporarily dubbed it, "Another One of Ruby's Blues." Ruby may have an entire opus going, with all her blues and boogie woogie musical ideas in development stages. Thanks again, Ruby.

By the way, Ruby passed out a notice regarding her performance later that evening, 7 p.m. at the Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, CA 91001 (626) 398-7917, $6 admission and all ages welcomed. Hope many of you got to go. Ruby also reminded us of her website and CDs for sale. She is a very busy young miss and it's great to watch her success. Keep up the good work!

Next up, Frank Sano and Phil Cannon joined artistic forces on some more ever-popular oldies, putting the piano and the banjo through their paces on bouncy "Five Foot Two," and the swingy "Carolina in the Morning." Where is that dance floor when you need it? Heads were bobbing and feet were tapping to all that happy rhythm.

As Frank returned to his seat, Phil surprised Ruby by inviting her to come back to the piano and duo with him on Scott Joplin's "Elite Syncopations." Although she had not expected to perform this number, she was game, and even added some famous Ruby touches and polish to those elite syncopations! Good show, folks.

By now, meeting veteran Phil remained onstage to bring us excellent renditions of two Joseph Lamb compositions, "Patricia Rag," and "Cottontail." You can never get enough of Joseph Lamb, or Phil Cannon's true-to-the-original banjo arrangements, for that matter.

Next, Nancy returned to the piano to remind us one more time of the haunted and haunting, by bringing to life "Sleepy Hollow Rag," by Clarence Woods. A bit eerie, but tuneful, nevertheless. And then, she turned to another short theme: the change back to Standard time. She therefore proceeded to tick off the timely, "Chimes," by Homer Denny, and "Ragtime Chimes," by Percy Wenrich. (She hopes that her performance didn't stop the clock and that it wasn't too much of a timely setback, ha!) Well, if bad puns were liver pills...

We couldn't end the meeting without hearing from Fred Hoeptner one more time, and he did not fail to delight us. We were treated to "Texas Fox Trot," by David Guion, a rousing number, and another exquisite Hoeptner composition, "Aura of Indigo." Really lovely work.

To end another successful, although sparsely attended meeting, Nancy and Phil joined forces to celebrate Scott Joplin again, with a spirited performance of "The Easy Winners," and perennial favorite and Maple Leaf Club theme, "Maple Leaf Rag," always good crowd-pleasers. The meeting then ended at 5:40 p.m. Another success. Next month, y'all come again, you hear?

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