Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland



Rose Leaf Ragtime Club December Meeting (1/1/2006)

Reported by Gary Rametta

It was a pleasant surprise to find over 40 Rose Leaf Ragtime Club members and performers joining us for our December meeting, which had been moved from 12/25 to January 1st. We actually got started a few minutes late because the IHOP was so busy that there were still a few regular patrons in the banquet room by the time 2:30 p.m. rolled around.

Phil Cannon on six-string banjo and Gary Rametta, your reporter, started out the New Year's ragtime festivities with a leisurely stroll through Scott Joplin's "Peacherine Rag," one of the composer's great early works.

Next was Ron Ross with a set of three piano/vocal numbers, all original compositions. First was "In the Florida Sun," about a vacationer freezing in Florida in the winter time instead of enjoying expected sunny climes. Following was "The Coupon Lady," a hilarious vocal delivered Jamaican-style, about a pennywise, pound-foolish scrimper. Ron completed his well-received set with "The All-Inclusive Tour," which recounts a trip to Las Vegas replete with frills, thrills, five-cent slot machines and more.

Stan Long offered up two more Joplin staples, delivered in his unique style: "The Entertainer," and "Maple Leaf Rag."

Thirteen-year-old Vincent Johnson from Sierra Madre continued his quick progress at the keys with his own arrangement of "Sidewalks of New York." He moved to a similarly personalized "Maple Leaf Rag," and finished up with the first three strains of Joplin's tender "Weeping Willow."

Nancy Kleier had crafted a theme about relatives visiting for the holidays, and the various modes of transport they took. First was "Motor Bus," a rare 1914 rag by Annie Houston. Next was "Sunset Limited," a march and two-step written in 1910 by Harry Lincoln. Lincoln was a Pennsylvanian who published dozens of syncopated works, many of them under pseudonyms. To close her set, Nancy introduced the black sheep of the family: "Gasoline Gus and His Jitney Bus," a 1915 ragtime song by Byron Gay and Charley Brown.

Frank Sano and Phil Cannon played well on piano/banjo duets of "Ain't She Sweet" and "Ain't Misbehavin."

Fred Hoeptner closed out the first portion of the show with James Scott's "Grace and Beauty," followed by two originals, the lovely "Aura of Indigo" and the recent, upbeat "Ragging through Town"

Bill Coleman provided intermission entertainment with a medley of standards, oldies and pop tunes.

The second half began with Gwen Girvin, piano teacher and performer, playing soulful piano/vocal renditions of "Stormy Weather," "Lazy River" and "Auld Lang Syne."

Andrew Barrett played a nicely varied set beginning with Abe Olman's "Candlestick Rag," then a rarity, "Rag DeLuxe" by Cowles and Olsen from 1913. He finished up in brilliant fashion, flawlessly executing the Charley Straight novelty rag "Knice and Knifty." Andrew is right at home on these kinds of numbers, easily handling the quick repeating figures up and down the keyboard. His work in the third strain was especially grand.

Nancy Kleier came up for a second set, this time with the Rose Parade as a theme. It was an appropriate context in which to hear James Scott's "The Princess Rag," Joe Lamb's "American Beauty," and Tom Brier and Eric Marchese's "The Country Rose."

The members then welcomed Doug Haise, who arrived late but with Brad Kay and Richard Green joining him. Doug started off with a couple of rarities, first "Everybody's Rag" by Sharp/Goldsmith. He showed great dynamic control and accuracy on this one. Next was "Everybody Two-Step" from 1910, which Doug explained could have been called "Everybody Fox Trot" since it had the same rhythm as a fox trot, although the term "fox trot" hadn't yet been coined. Doug finished off with Euday Bowman's "11th Street Rag" from 1918, which has many similarities to "12th Street Rag." Doug's left-hand improvisation in the second section was especially inspiring.

Brad Kay took over the keys, immediately finding a comfortable stride in Willie "The Lion" Smith's "Keep Your Temper." Excellent job on this tough piece; Brad made it sound almost too easy. Next was a humorous piano/vocal from 1906 "If I'm Gonna Die I'm Gonna Have Some Fun." That led to another piano/vocal, a '20s-style original called "Don't Cry Baby." The highlight of this was Brad's scat-singing of a solo section as if it were Bix Beiderbecke improvising on trumpet. Very nice indeed. Brad then segued to his coup de grace, soloing impressively on Fats Waller's "African Ripples."

Richard Green, an entertainment industry composer and arranger, played three original ragtime compositions, all marked by an authentic ragtime sound and feel, but without the slightest bit of derivation. These were priceless gems, "Reflection Rag," "Tomato Rag" and "Carousel Rag."

We put the bookmarks on a successful meeting with Brad Kay on cornet, Phil Cannon on banjo and Andrew Barrett at the piano on the Joplin/Marshall classic "Swipesy Cakewalk."

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