Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland



Rose Leaf Ragtime Club Septmember Meeting (9/24/2006)

Reported by Gary Rametta

September, 2006 marked the first month in several years that the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club met outside of our regular meeting place, the IHOP in East Pasadena. Since our move to the IHOP in 1995, I can recall only two such occasions when we met elsewhere: once in 1996 or 1997 at McCormick & Schmick's seafood restaurant (when we were pondering a move from the IHOP), and once a couple years later at the Holly Street Bar and Grille near downtown Pasadena, when the IHOP was undergoing a remodeling.

This time, however, the closure of the IHOP has necessitated us finding a new home. For September, we tried Baker's Square restaurant, about a half-mile north of the IHOP. Thanks to the efforts of Ron Ross, one of the rooms was reserved for us and the staff there did a nice job taking care of our needs. In all, I counted 36 of us, which was about maximum for the room.

Going into this meeting, we were told that Baker's Square would not be a permanent option for us since they couldn't accommodate our two pianos. Also, their requirement that we order food from a pre-selected, pared-down menu was rather inconvenient. Fred Hoeptner did a whale of a job organizing the menu choices, collecting food money and preparing sign-up sheets and chits so that ordering went smooth for everyone.

Thanks also to Stan Long for some last minute tuning of the old Gulbrandsen upright, which the club bought from the IHOP franchisee before they closed their doors. As we enjoy playing and listening to duets and combos featuring two pianos, we need a second piano to go along with our nice Yamaha upright. However, the Gulbrandsen is really on its last legs. If we can find a venue that already has a piano and can accommodate our Yamaha upright, we might want to think about donating the Gulbrandsen to a third party.

Your meeting reporter started off the September meeting with a solo on David Thomas Roberts' folk rag, "Pinelands Memoir." He then brought up Phil Cannon on banjo and Nancy Kleier on piano for a trio version of Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag."

Nancy stayed on at the piano and performed a trio of tunes related to the change of seasons. First was a seldom-heard rag called "Blue Moon," by E.M. Cook from 1906. Next was Max Kortlander's "Blue Moon Foxtrot" from 1918. This piece has a very nice trio section and was the more enjoyable of the two "blue moons." Nancy did a swell job interpreting this one. To close her set, Nancy chose "Red Moon" rag, composed by Charles Rumfeld in 1918.

Shirley Case had a nicely varied set starting with Irene Cozad's "Eatin' Time" from 1913. Next was a popular ragtime piece, "Red Peppers," the Imogene Giles version from 1907. Finally, with Halloween on its way, Shirley closed with Wooster and Smith's catchy "Black Cat" rag from 1905.

Andrew Barrett also had a nicely varied set that he performed very well. He began with his own "Frequent Flyer Rag" from 2003, an outstanding first-rag effort that's found some play outside of our club (Tom Brier played it at last year's Sutter Creek festival, if I remember correctly). Next was contemporary composer Ron "The Keeper" O'Dell's "Bird-Bath Rag" from 2004. Andrew pointed out his fondness for this rag, although the composer stated on his website that it's not one of his best works. Ironically, the title apparently came to O'Dell after he found a dead blue jay in his driveway. Andrew finished off his set with "Cracked Ice Rag," a well known rag from 1918 by novelty-ish ragtimer George Cobb. Andrew has a particular knack for novelty rags, and he pulled this one off very well.

Ron Ross opened his set with his own "Small Town Private Eye." In all the years I've heard Ron play this, it was the first time I heard the lyrics sung to it. Ron continued with a new rag, in honor of our sister club, the "Orange County Rag." Ron saved a gem for last, another original called "Impressions."

Phil Cannon brought his banjo artistry to bear on three great James Scott classic rags. First, "Ragtime Oriole," which lent itself quite nicely to banjo. Next was the tough "Efficiency Rag," which Phil executed well, capturing the leading tones and full chords. To close, Phil chose the pretty and romantic "Ragtime Betty."

Gene Oster started out his set by revisiting Imogene Giles' "Red Pepper," albeit at a slower pace than Shirley's version and with a tango orientation. That led to a true tango, Ernesto Nazareth's lively "Odeon," named after the theater he began his career at. Gene changed up with some tasty jazz piano stylings on "It Had to Be You." He finished off a solid set with Irene Giblin's "Chicken Chowder," a two-step from 1905.

Stan Long tried out his chops on a Joplin classic he's learning, "Pine Apple Rag." He transitioned to his neat folk rag composition "Haunting Accident" rag, and closed with Charles Daniels' 1898 prizewinner, "Margery."

Les Soper played bouncily on the Charles Johnson classic "Dill Pickles." Next was F. Henri Klickman's "Smiles and Chuckles" from 1917. Les saved his most expressive playing for Galen Wilkes' 1983 classic "Whippoorwill Hollow," full of reflection and reminiscences. James Scott's ever-popular "Grace and Beauty" brought the end to a fine set by Mr. Soper.

Fred Hoeptner played his somber "Aura of Indigo," full of exquisite harmonies, followed by David Guion's beautiful and mysterious "Texas Foxtrot" from 1915.

Doug Haise played three rarities, first "Jack-o-Lantern Rag," by Arthur Manlowe, followed by F. A. Walker's "Hot Air Rag" from 1907. To finish his well played set, Doug chose a piece that he said captures the essence of why he loves ragtime, "Happy Rag," by R.G. Grady from 1913.

As the meeting drew to a close, we brought up Frank Sano and Bill Mitchell, who had just arrived from a paid gig in Covina with the Albany Nightboat Ragtimers. They sat at the two pianos and were joined by Phil on banjo and Andrew on washboard in a set of great standards, "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee," "Too Busy," "Aint Misbehavin'" and "Taking a Chance on Love."

Well, it was one shot and out at Baker's Square, but it looks like the club may have found a new home, at the nearby Aztec Hotel (in the Mayan Room Restaurant) at 311 Foothill Blvd. in Monrovia, just a few miles east from our old digs at the IHOP. As of this writing, that's where we'll meet October 29th at 2:30 p.m. We hope you can join us!

(Editor's note: From all reports the new location at the Aztec Hotel meets our needs very nicely. We will be able to store our two pianos there. Food and beverages will be available. Let the good times roll!)

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