Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland

DECEMBER, 2003

NUMBER 92

Rose Leaf Ragtime Club November Meeting (11/30/2003)

Reported by Nancy Kleier


While many folks were still out on Thanksgiving holiday vacations, a hardy few made their way to IHOP in east Pasadena for the monthly pleasures of ragtime and other oldies-but-goodies foot-tapping music.

Gary Rametta (welcome back!) again picked up his emcee duties and initiated the program at approximately 2:35 p.m. Along with Phil Cannon on the 6-string banjo, the duo offered up classic appetizers of "Peacherine Rag" (1901) by Scott Joplin and "Grace and Beauty" (1909) by James Scott. Excellent mood-setters.

Stan Long, inspired by his experiences at the prior weekend's West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, dove happily into "Hiawatha (a Summer Idyll)" (1901) by Nan Bostick's great uncle, Charles N. Daniels, under the pseudonym "Neil Moret." Even though "Uncle Charlie's" inspiration for that number was the train on which he was riding to Hiawatha, Kansas, it become known as an "Indian" piece and its huge popularity fanned a great demand for similar "Indian" numbers. Stan dutifully followed with Daniels aka Moret's "Indian Summer (A Tale of the Woods)" (1909). He finished his tasty trio with his own work-in-progress, "Haunting Rag," this one inspired by Trebor Tichenor's unique midwest-style rags.

Next up was Ron Ross, who opened with his, "Obadiah's Jumpsuit," and then honored a request from the audience with his "Digital Rag." Very good to hear Ron again. We missed you last meeting!

Nancy Kleier, the self-styled "Li'l Old Rag Lady from Pasadena," confessed she hadn't completely created her theme for the meeting, but, in honor of the just past Thanksgiving holiday, offered up a tray of "Possum and Taters (A Ragtime Feast)" (1900) by Charles Hunter. She described the great gathering of family and friends she shared Thanksgiving with, along with games and a musical talent show, and by the end of the lovely day together, all agreed they felt "Tickled to Death." And so she finished her short set grandly with Charles Hunter's excellent rag with that title, published in 1899.

For a lovely change of mood, Yuko Shimazaki produced a sensitive and expressive "Solace, a Mexican Serenade" (1909) by Scott Joplin. The musicianship of both composer and performer was exquisitely highlighted by this performance. Thank you, Yuko.

Up next, Bill Coleman brought his versions of "At a Georgia Camp Meeting" (1897) by Kerry Mills, "The Entertainer" (1902) by Scott Joplin, "There Is a Tavern in the Town" (1883), and "O Them Golden Slippers."

Phil Cannon returned to the microphone and shared his latest adventures with the audience. At the last monthly meeting, an audience member listened to him play his banjo and promptly invited him to join a banjo band which regularly performs in Covina (second Saturday of the month) at Danny's Kosher Pickle. Frank Sano plays piano in the band, and he sometimes performs at Roseleaf club meetings for us. Phil then entertained us again with "Frog Legs Rag" (1906) by James Scott. He next invited Ron Ross to join him on Scott's "Ragtime Oriole" (1911). Never get enough of James Scott, and Phil and Ron delivered a delicious serving!

Emcee Gary Rametta took the stage for another pleasurable mood change, with David Thomas Roberts' "Through the Bottomlands," a very evocative mid-western style number, sweet and slightly melancholy. Gary finished with the beautiful "Heliotrope Bouquet" (1907), a collaboration by Scott Joplin and Louis Chauvin.

Now it was time for Stan Long's jocular journey and "ramble" through some "old-timey" Christmas songs, and he then gifted us with a medley reminiscent of "Silver Bells," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells." He tied it all up with a nice ribbon of "Margery" (1898), a number composed by the young Charles N. Daniels, a contest winner which was then made world famous by John Philip Sousa and his band.

During the ten-minute break, we were all invited to a New Year's Eve party at The Aztec Hotel's Mayan Room and Patio, 311 West Foothill Boulevard, Monrovia 91016. This is to celebrate the restoration of this 1925 historic hotel that was a famous stop along Route 66. Celebrities of the mid '20s, such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Rudolph Valentino, Fanny Brice and others (impersonators, of course), will be present at this fundraiser for Theatre Arts for Youth and Monrovia Performing Arts Center. Tickets are on sale at the hotel, or call (626) 303-3733 or (626) 256-3812 for reservations. Come dressed in business attire or in the flapper period.

While folks stretched their legs and checked the display table, Bill Coleman played some more bouncy tunes, and Yuko Shimazaki held our attention with a lovely Scott Joplin waltz of 1905, "Bethena."

After the break, Ron Ross perked us up with his brand new work, "The Midnight Jam," an artful ode to the late night jam sessions in the lobby at the Sweet 'N Hot Jazz Festival held annually over the Labor Day weekend at the LAX Marriott Hotel. As Ron so amusingly sang, the best fun of the day was when all the musicians then came out to play . . . What a fun number! Ron then took requests, and finished his set with a couple more of his songs, "Good Thing Going," and "Studio Sensation." Ron has a real gift for lyrics. Thank you, Ron!

Phil Cannon and Nancy Kleier returned to the stage for a banjo and piano duet of Scott Joplin's "Fig Leaf Rag" (1908) and "The Easy Winners," (1901). These compositions prove themselves over and over again why Joplin was called the "King of Ragtime Composers."

Ruby Fradkin joined the meeting at the break, and now came up to the piano to delight the audience with "Weeping Willow" (1903) by Scott Joplin, a number that should be heard much more often. Ruby then played a version of "Merry Widow Waltz," and invited Stan Long to join her on an energetic, "Zippedy Doo-Dah," ending with verve and a splash. Lots of fun! Finally, Ruby capped off her set with a bubbling boogie, obviously a favorite musical mode which she continues to explore. Before leaving the microphone, Ruby invited the audience to the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena for a show on December 7, 2003 at 7 p.m. She also can be heard on KVMR.org and for updated information please visit her website, RagtimeRuby.com.

Gary Rametta took advantage of an interlude by presenting a sprightly "Scott Joplin's New Rag" (1912). Another number we should hear more often. Thank you, Gary.

Nearing the end of the meeting, Nancy Kleier came back up to the piano to carry on her abbreviated holiday theme, this time warming up with a cup of "Hot Chocolate" (1908) by Malvin Franklin and Arthur Lange. Next, she admitted to a strange appetite for the season, a craving for "Wild Cherries" (1908) by Ted Snyder. Finally, she paid tribute to the coming remaining big holiday for the year with, "Holly and Mistletoe Rag" (1909) by Miss Geraldyne Dobbins.

To tie things up neatly and send us off with songs in our heart, Ruby Fradkin treated us to "Somewhere over the Rainbow." A pleasant end to another successful meeting.

Gary closed the meeting at 5:25 p.m., and as we cleared our chairs and prepared our departure, we enjoyed an encore by Yuko Shimazaki, playing a lovely "Nocturne in B-Flat Minor," by Frederic Chopin. (Yes, this writer loves Chopin, too!)

Don't forget our last meeting of the year, the last Sunday in December. See you all there! Happy Holidays!


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