Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland



Rose Leaf Ragtime Club September Meeting (9/26/2004)

Reported by Bill Mitchell

The September meeting was well attended and offered a smorgasbord of syncopation. Eleven musicians participated to make it an outstanding afternoon.

Hosting the meeting was Ron Ross, who got things rolling with Joseph F. Lamb's first published rag, "Sensation." Scott Joplin was so impressed with this 1908 rag that he allowed his prestigious name to be listed on the cover as "arranger," in order to encourage sales. For his second number, Ron played his comparatively recent "Sutter Creek Rag," composed to celebrate the ragtime festivals held in this Mother Lode town.

Phil Cannon paid his respects to composer Henry Lodge (not to be confused with Henry Cabot Lodge) by performing "Red Pepper" as a banjo-guitar feature, with Fred Hoeptner providing subtle piano accompaniment. Phil then played Lodge's "Temptation Rag" as a solo, negotiating its intricate passages with his customary impressive skill.

Stan Long played Joplin's "Peacherine Rag" (1901), a delightful early Stark publication. He then announced that he would do a "short boogie," and proceeded to rock the joint with vigor and rhythm.

Nancy Kleier had considered doing a set with a political theme, but thought better of it and played a nicely varied program, beginning with May Aufderheide's seldom-heard "Blue Ribbon Rag." She then turned to Zez Confrey's "Flutter By, Butterfly," a lovely and lyrical piece. She concluded with Tom Brier's "Rainy Day Blues," even though the weather was sunny.

The club was fortunate to have a surprise visitor, Doug Haise, who came up from Carlsbad for the meeting. Doug divides his time between the Midwest and Southern California, and has made a career of playing ragtime in retirement homes in both regions. His clean, precise, expressive style was evident in his performances of Scott's "Dixie Dimples," Lamb's "Bohemia," and Joplin's "Easy Winners."

Fred Hoeptner has recently learned Ford Dabney's "Georgia Grind," and began his set with this popular rag. He followed up with a far more difficult number, his own prize-winning "Aura of Indigo." This one has recently been recorded by Jeff Barnhart and his wife (piano and flute).

Bill Mitchell opened with Lamb's "Patricia Rag." It is sometimes said that he named it after his daughter, Patricia Lamb Conn, but that is unlikely, as she was born a few years after the publication of this 1916 rag. [See p. 9 for a surprising fact about "Patricia."] Bill is in the process of learning "Yankee Land," a 1904 rag by Max Hoffman, and played it for the first time in public. This rag is rather obscure, but the trio was borrowed by George Botsford in his "Black and White Rag" of 1908, as Bill illustrated by playing through this later rag.

At this point the formal program was suspended for an intermission, during which Bill Coleman entertained at the piano by playing an extended medley of popular songs and standards by the great songwriters of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. It is always a pleasure to have this enjoyable background music.

Les Soper began the second half with selections from some of his favorite ragtime composers. Maine's Glenn Jenks was represented by "The Ragtime Alchemist." James Scott contributed "The Ragtime Betty." Galen Wilkes wrote "The Oyster Shimmy." David Thomas Roberts composed the contemporary masterpiece,"Roberto Clemente."

Robbie Gennet observed that, in the absence of Ruby Fradkin and Andrew Barrett, he was the youngest person at the meeting. Robbie played a couple of originals. "Highland Park Hop," an amalgam of folk rag and boogie, celebrates his home town. The late Ray Charles was the inspiration for "The Blindfold Boogie," an experimental piece Robbie performed with a blindfold over his eyes.

It was now encore time, with Doug Haise returning to play another set by the "Big Three" of ragtime: Scott's "Honeymoon Rag," Lamb's "Cottontail Rag," and Joplin's "Fig Leaf Rag." Nancy Kleier returned with "On Easy Street (In Rags)," a 1901 rarity by J. Reginald MacEachron. Phil Cannon joined Nancy for duets on Schwartz's "Whitewash Man" and Joplin's "Rose Leaf Rag." Les Soper closed the meeting with a novelty act: He donned thimbles to strum his custom-made washboard, accompanying the Sonny Leyland/Bill Mitchell duet CD on "Maple Leaf Rag" and "'Deed I Do."

Since the Rose Leaf Club meeting falls on Halloween this month, don't be surprised if you hear some seasonal titles. How about "Skeleton Rag" and "Graceful Ghost" for starters?

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