Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland

JULY, 2004


Rose Leaf Ragtime Club June Meeting (6/27/2004)

Reported by Fred Hoeptner

A relatively small but enthusiastic turnout of 34 guests and performers, doubtless somewhat diminished by the ragtime festival underway concurrently at the Old Town Music Hall, gathered at the IHOP for the June meeting. Host Ron Ross, subbing for Gary Rametta, got festivities underway promptly.

First up was a performer new to the club, Steve Hurst, who explained, "I want to get it over with." Steve needn't have worried, for his performance of Arthur Marshall's "Little Jack's Rag," as published in This Is Ragtime, by Terry Waldo, amply passed muster. Nancy Kleier followed with a salute to the Fourth of July, "Beneath the Starry Flag," a march by Jerome Hartman. Acknowledging confusion about Roman numerals, she asked for help with the copyright date printed on the score, MDCCCC. It seems to be an alternate denotation for 1900. She continued with "The Lady-Bugs' Review," a catchy piece by Charles N. Daniels writing as Neil Moret. Another new performer, Joe Spiro, offered a competent reading of Charles Hunter's folksy "Possum and Taters," copyright date MCM, the usual denotation for 1900, a piece that celebrated an annual autumnal feast among Southern Negroes.

Phil Cannon was up next with his guitar banjo. He soloed on Scott's "Evergreen Rag," which he had learned just this month, then invited Nancy Kleier to accompany him on Ted Snyder's "Wild Cherries," and finished with Joplin's "Leola," all superb performances. Then I played Scott's "Efficiency Rag," Lamb's "Ragtime Nightingale," and my own "Dalliance, A Ragtime Frolic."

Next, Robbie Gennet treated the audience to his contemporary piano stylings with two of his compositions, "The Anointment," which he described as "in the New Orleans piano style," and "Zachary's Rooster," a boogie. His friend Ryan Hearne, another first-time performer at the club, continued with a more traditionally styled boogie that he described as similar to "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie." Ron Ross returned for his own character piece "Small Town Private Eye" and his lyrical "Retro Rag," leading us into the break and Bill Coleman's background medley of popular tunes from the 1920s and 1930s.

Les Soper, from relatively distant Simi Valley, opened the second half, although a quick survey revealed an attendee from Ventura who had traveled even further. Les recalled being greatly impressed by the late Pat Gogerty's distinctive performing style, which I would describe as prudently understated, at an early West Coast Ragtime Festival. After spending several years unsuccessfully trying to emulate Gogerty's rendition of Lamb's "Bohemia," he finally realized that that wasn't the way to do it and that each performer had to develop his or her own style. After "Bohemia" he performed Irwin Leclere's "Triangle Jazz Blues" from 1917, and William Christopher O'Hare's 1898 classic "Levee Revels," which he had experienced as appealing even to listeners who weren't especially ragtime enthusiasts.

Thirteen-year-old Ruby Fradkin then favored us with another of her usual impeccable performances, starting with a medley of ragtime melodies ("Bethena," "Swipesy Cakewalk," and "Maple Leaf Rag") which she had arranged in distinctive contemporary style with a somewhat subdued bass line and added embellishments reminiscent of the blues, and concluding with her own "Ruby's Boogie." Nancy Kleier returned for "Gumshoe Fox Trot," a 1917 John Stark publication composed by his son Etilmon; James Scott's "A Summer Breeze" to salute the summer season; and "Indian Summer, A Tale of the Woods," an obscure but memorable four-strain composition by Charles N. Daniels from 1909 that quotes "Old Folks at Home." Keep that last one in your repertoire, Nancy, I definitely want to hear it again!

Les Soper returned for four selections: the rhythmic, catchy "Junk Man Rag" by Luckey Roberts; "Champagne Rag" by Joe Lamb with its "dogfight" interlude and triumphant return of the first strain in a new key; the romantic "Cottontail" by Joe Lamb; and "Smiles and Chuckles" by F. Henri Klickman, from 1917, which Les described as "very commercial" and written to accompany a vaudeville act. Trumpeter Don Rose, mute installed, then offered a blues with Ruby's boogie blues accompaniment. Ron Ross read through Lamb's "Patricia," which he is just learning. Phil Cannon and his guitar banjo closed with Joplin's "Something Doing," which he had just learned this month, and Scott's "Rag Sentimental," to conclude another enjoyable meeting. See you July 25!

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