Something Doing

Ragtime Happenings in the Southland

JUNE, 1998


Rose Leaf Ragtime Club May Meeting (5/25/1998)

Reported by Gus Willmorth

The trial run of the Rose Leaf Club at the McCormick & Schmick seafood restaurant in mid-town Pasadena was reasonably successful, fetching in several musicians and listeners besides the regulars. Thanks are to be given to John Roache for fetching his keyboard and amp, a fair load even with family support! The meeting stuck precisely to the two hour span that the restaurant allocated us between other bookings.

P.J. Schmidt opened the meeting with "Easy Winners" before introducing Bill Mitchell to play Morton's "New Orleans Joys," plus "All That I Ask from You Is Love," which Bill reported Morton's saying was a tune played in the New Orleans bistros. He concluded with "Smoky Topaz." (I personally like both Joys and Topaz very much, really excellent choices.)

Eric Marchese followed Bill with "Dill Pickles," Charlie Johnson's best seller, Joplin's "Breeze from Alabama," and Clarence Woods' "Slippery Elm." Woods' rags are accented with key changes that make playing them a bit of a challenge. Did he continue the practice in writing his blues (which he wrote many more of, published and unpublished)?

Brad Kay sat down to play "Goofing around with the keyboard" trying out various effects—organ, piano, strings, but not the banjo effect Roache used on his CD. For real, he played "I Ain't Got Nobody" using the strings effect a la Fats Waller (whose organ tunes he greatly admires). He finished his bit with Roberts' "Junk Man Rag" (on piano).

Nancy Kleier's theme was not strictly midwestern, starting with Neibergall's "Hoosier Rag," continuing with Wilkes' "Creeks of Missouri" and Scott's "A Summer Breeze." She capped her performance with a mystery tune ("Bill Bailey" in an off-beat arrangement.)

Emcee P.J. inserted a fair Lamb's "Cottontail Rag," a tune he likes very much, before calling on John Roache. John reprised Morath's "Golden Hours" that he felt he had not done justice on at the April meeting. This time he handled the time changes with more aplomb. Plus a repeat on "Lone Jack to Knobnoster."

Ron Roth played his "Small Town Private Eye" before Gary Rametta came up to play "Sugar Cane," "Something Doing," and "Grace and Beauty." Bob Baker, a new personality, played a medley of things, (He said facetiously it was called "Warm Up") that included bits of "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie" and "Cherie."

To top off the meeting, Brad Kay whipped out Waller's "Handful of Keys" and Bill Mitchell dashed off "Ballin'' the Jack," before we were swept out by a horde of waiters setting up for the next event. 'Twas not all over; we retired to the patio to make fateful decisions on the future of ragtime in Los Angeles and environs.

The relative merits of the IHOP versus McCormicks were seriously discussed; P.J. made an impassioned pitch for the IHOP; Mac's got some plusses and minuses...the food was expensive but judge good with plenty of service. While it's too soon to tell, the management of Macs seemed a bit cool and the problem of piano storage remains unresolved there while IHOP was receptive. Macs seating capacity in the "Rose Room" (legally set at 72) seemed a bit crowded. P.J. said the IHOP was willing to lay on meals family style to speed up the service (veggies could still order from the menu.) The final decision was to return to the IHOP for the near future with Macs held in reserve for special meetings.

One factor influencing the choice of IHOP was the piano. George McClellan reported that the recently purchased player piano was nearing refurbishing goals. He had hoped to have it completed by this meeting but his being refurbished in the hospital cut into the time available to do the piano refurbishing. Missing strings have been replaced as have a number of pads. Work remains to be done on the lifters and pegs need tightening. Lee reported that the player mechanism seems operable. Work is expected to be complete in a couple weeks. Piano duets, small groups and keyboard capers are anticipated!

Willmorth proposed the merger of Rose Leaf and Maple Leaf efforts, either as a joint effort or as an alternate month arrangement. The Whittier location has proved to be rather inconvenient for people to get to (except persons in the southeast part of town). The concept was approved by those present; joint meetings will begin with the June 28 meeting—4:00 PM to 7:00 PM—at the IHOP, and July 28, same.

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