Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland

MAY, 1998


Rose Leaf Ragtime Club April Meeting (4/27/1998)

Reported by Gus Willmorth

With P.J. Schmidt sitting in again at the helm in place of Eric Marchese who was reportedly a bit under the weather, the April meeting of the Rose Leaf Ragtime Club profitably put a beautiful spring day to good use by once again celebrating a century of ragtime with joyous music.

P.J. gave us the bird on the electronic keyboard by playing Lamb's two birdie rags: "Ragtime Nightingale" and "Ragtime Bobolink" before calling on Bill Mitchell.

Bill mixed the old and the new spreading his tunes between the real piano and the electronics, first, with "Bohemia" and then Morton's "The Pearls." Bill pointed out that Morton had played "The Pearls" both slowly on solo piano for the Library of Congress recordings and fast with his orchestra in the early 20s. Bill speculated that slow may have been Jelly Roll's preference, the band performance being speeded up to conform to the time limitations of the old 78 RPM disc. He continued P.S.'s theme with Scott's "Ragtime Oriole" (but nobody played "Meadowlark.") He finished his set with "Easy Winners" on the real piano.

Nancy Kleier brought her breath of fresh air to the meeting with a pair of rare-ish rags on the theme of Where have I heard that one before? She first played a 1989 composition by the great jazz pianist, Eddie Higgins, that he calls "Persival Rag" (which Nancy says he plays annually at an Illinois jazz meeting). In comparison she played a 1909 tune by W.C. Powell, "Bachelor Button," that did indeed resemble Higgins's effusion...not to worry, Eddie—the copyright has long since lapsed!

John Roache made a brief eulogy for Pat Gogerty who departed our vale of tears a year ago, saying how much he admired Pat's clean and often whimsical playing style before giving us a "Weeping Willow" in much like Pat's rendition of the tune. From there he progressed to a relatively contemporary rag, Max Morath's 1966 tune, "Golden Hours," written for Harriett Janis and published in the fourth edition of "They All Played Ragtime." (Harriett had passed away by the time the fourth edition was published.) John noted that Harriett's son, actor/trombonist/band leader Conrad, lives in Beverly Hills and leads The Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band (stuffed with other Hollywood talents) at gigs and festivals. [I must reveal that the one time Conrad came to a ragtime function and raised his trombone for a ragtime tune, I think he blew it in more ways than one. –Ed.] All that aside, John said "Golden Hours" is a tricky tune to play, a semi-waltz that skips around in the timing form 3/8 to 3/4 to 2/8, etc. After all that trivia, John played what has become his signature tune, Jack Rummell's "Lone Jack to Knobnoster"

P.J. capped the first half of the meeting with a well-played "Patricia Rag," which Patricia Lamb Conn assures us she was not named after.

Charles Carpenter announced that we have acquired a player piano for a very reasonable price that David Plotkin discovered and that George McClellan is restructuring. To pay for the piano, he passed a basket and with the help of the regular dues in the Rose Leaf till enough was donated to do the job. Charles also made a pitch for the proposed May meeting at McCormick's and Schmick's.

Bill Mitchell started the second portion of the meeting with Scott's first hit, "Frog Legs," followed by Charley Johnson's "Snookums" and Ford Dabney's "Porto Rico." Three of Bill's favorites!

P.J. Schmidt followed Bill with "Solace," "Maple Leaf" and Scott's waltz, "Suffragette," one of eight waltzes that Scott had published.

Nancy Kleier produced one more look-alike, this time in comparison to P.J.'s "Solace," a tune entitled "Whoa Maude," published a few years before Joplin's tune. The strain in question may be a floating folk strain that shows up in more than these two compositions. From invidious comparisons to fun tune, Nancy played Harry Tierney's "Dingle Pop Hop" and Macklin's "Too Much Mustard."

P.J. Schmidt finished off the meet with a spate of classics that he says he has been practicing religiously, including Hunter's "Cotton Bolls," "Gladiolus," Lamb's "Alaskan Rag" (which P.J. pointed out was also first published in that famous fourth edition of "They All Played Ragtime") and "Magnetic Rag," Joplin's last published rag during his lifetime. To finish, P.J. played his signature tune, his own "French Vanilla."

We all straggled out in clumps while Roache's roadies broke down the keyboard, amp and speakers and Willmorth gathered up bits of equipment for transport home plus a lot of chit-chat about this and that. An eminently satisfactory afternoon.

Oh, yes, don't forget the lending library. Bill brought in a few more tapes and CDs and the activity level was high (as attested by the whispering on my tape!); a great service!

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