Rose Leaf Ragtime Club April Meeting (4/30/2006)
The seats in the IHOP banquet room filled up quickly in anticipation of our April meeting. Too quickly, in fact. We had over 50 guests but only three players present at 2:30PM! Fortunately, once the meeting got going, a few of our long time regular performers showed and the meeting ended up being more than worthwhile.
While the guests were still getting settled, Bill Coleman opened with the early cakewalk classic, "At a Georgia Camp Meeting," then continued with a congenial medley of standards and popular tunes.
The first duo performance of the day ensued, with Nancy Kleier on piano and Phil Cannon on banjo. They gave us two early Joplin classics, "The Entertainer" and "Strenuous Life."
First-time performer David Eng was invited up to show his chops. David is only 11 years old but got everyone excited with his excellent rendition of Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag." Calling Joplin his favorite ragtime writer, he encored with part of "The Entertainer," much to the audience's appreciation and delight.
Bob Pinsker brought his high level of musicianship to bear on a trio of pieces by novelty-era writer Rube Bloom. Bloom was a self-taught New Yorker who was a successful writer in the ‘20s and ‘30s of novelty piano pieces, including "Soliloquy," and the music to popular standards like "Fools Rush In." Bob gave us a well rounded sampling of Bloom's advanced piano stylings with "Penthouse Romance," the brilliant and energetic "Spring Fever," and "Blues" from Bloom's "Moods" suite.
Andrew Barrett followed with a fine solo set of rags off the beaten path, starting with George Botsford's rarely heard "Royal Flush" from 1911, then contemporary ragtimer Ron O'Dell's "Greasy Spoon Rag" from 1992. He finished up in prime fashion with a great rendition of James Scott's "Pegasus" from 1920, featuring a variety of tasteful and complex embellishments on the repeats of the various strains.
Nancy Kleier was acutely tuned into the events of the day (gas prices, war and the mid-east atomic threat) and had fashioned a theme for her solo set centered around such "Doom and Gloom" headlines. First was "On the Warpath," subtitled a "Wild West Two-step" from 1904 by vaudeville composer Raymond Browne. Next was the humorously titled "Radium Dance" from 1904, by ragtime and Tin Pan Alley writer Jean Schwartz. Nancy closed her set of engaging rarities with Vinton Freedley's "The Madagascar Mangle," a rag two-step published by Jerome Remick in 1912. Nancy noted, and demonstrated, how its first section pays generous homage to "Dill Pickles Rag."
Phil and Bob returned for a lovely duo performance of Joplin's "Rose Leaf Rag." Bob's accompaniment was particularly exquisite and versatile. Phil kept his banjo strapped on, and invited Andrew to sit at the piano and accompany him on two selections from the James Scott repertoire, "Rag Sentimental" and "Great Scott Rag." These are both grand examples of classic ragtime, and the duo's performance was excellent.
Next at the piano was Les Soper. Les had a trio of classic rags to perform, all with his usual soft touch and expressive phrasing. First was Joplin's pretty and unusually structured "Eugenia," followed by one of the late Stark-published Joseph Lamb rags, "Patricia Rag." Les finished off a well-received set with Scott Joplin's "Rose Leaf Rag."
Stan Long continued the ragtime samplings after a short intermission, starting with the famous "Colonel Bogey March," written in 1914 by Lieutenant F.J. Ricketts under the pseudonym Kenneth Alford. Next, Stan gave Botsford's "Black and White Rag" a workout, playing it in a style based on a version he picked up from a Disneyland Coca-Cola corner tickler. Stan put the bookends on his solo set with contemporary composer Gil Lieby's "Goldenrod Rag."
Bob Pinsker offered up a second solo set, calling his theme for this go-around "recent Ebay acquisitions." First was a Fats Waller piece "If It Ain't Love," a song written by Fats in 1932 along with lyricist Andy Razaf. Bob revealed that he won the auction for this Waller rarity "at a ‘Buy it Now' price of $10." Next, Bob honored a request by playing Robert Hampton's "Agitation Rag" from 1915—and playing the heck out of it. He continued with an arrangement of a Luckey Roberts' song called "Railroad Blues" off an old QRS roll. Lastly was a finely played "Karnival on the Keys," a modernistic piano novelty by Harlem stride pianist Willie "The Lion" Smith.
Andrew Barrett returned for his second solo set, beginning with a request, Roy Bargy's "Omeomy" (pronounced oh-me, oh-my) from 1920. Next was a new one to me, "Do-do-do," from a 1926 piano roll by George and Ira Gershwin. Andrew saved his best for last, dazzling the audience with a plethora of piano pyrotechnics on Tom Brier's novelty "One Too Many" from 1996.
Les Soper strapped on his homemade washboard and accompanied Andrew on Les Copeland's "Cabbage Leaf Rag," followed by the Joplin/Scott Hayden classic rag "Kismet Rag." For a grand finale, Andrew put on his own washboard as Phil (banjo,) Nancy and Bob (duo pianos) brought down the house with "Maple Leaf Rag" and Joseph Lamb's "Bohemia."
Thanks to the generous support of our members who packed the house for most of the afternoon, and to our performers who provided a breadth and depth of ragtime era music that makes our club a veritable gold mine of Americana, month after month. We look forward to seeing you at our May meeting on 5/28!
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