Rose Leaf Ragtime Club July Meeting (7/25/1999)
Lee Roan and George McClellan got things off to a peppy start by manning the two pianos and favoring us with duet versions of three old pop songs: "Sierra Sue," "Whispering," and "Shine On, Harvest Moon." Interestingly, "Sierra Sue" was a 1916 popular song. When I heard it as a teenager in 1940 I assumed it was brand new, but it was just enjoying a revival that year.
Gary Rametta and Bill Mitchell performed a duet version of Joplin's "Original Rags," after which Bill soloed on "Rag Sentimental," "Grizzly Bear Rag," and "Queen of Love - Two-Step." Nancy Kleier introduced us to "Impecunious Davis," a Kerry Mills number from 1899. Then came an interesting pairing, "Cactus Rag," by Lucian Porter Gibson, and "Pastime Rag #3," by Artie Matthews. These two are stylistically much akin, and Gary Rametta made the observation that Matthews had arranged another Gibson number, "Jinx Rag," for publication, and that very probably he also arranged "Cactus Rag."
Susan Erb brought us "Pleasant Moments," one of Joplin's few waltzes, and "TGIF" by RLRC member George McClellan.
For his solo slot Gary Rametta played "Scott Joplin's New Rag," "Graceful Ghost," by William Bolcom, and James Scott's "Grace and Beauty." "Graceful Ghost" is a contemporary masterpiece, rather complex and difficult to play. (Bravo, Gary!)
Ron Ross favored us with three of his own compositions, "Paris Carousel," "Rickety Rag," and "Mirella." He named "Mirella" after his goddaughter and dedicated the piece to her.
Brad Kay had been brushing up on his Joplin, and brought forth some "Euphonic Sounds." He followed with an original he wrote several years ago, entitled "Matinee Idyll." (Yes, the spelling is correct.)
At this point the club took a few minutes for a break, during which some members checked out CDs or tapes from the club library, and a few people left early in order to attend the Magnetic Ragtime Orchestra concert at the Old Town Music Hall at 7:00 p.m.
The music resumed with Susan Erb playing "For You a Rose," a rare song from 1917 by Gus Edwards. Gary Rametta returned with a couple of Joplin rags: "Sugar Cane" and "Weeping Willow."
Brad Kay's second set included "Midnight Stomp," a seldom-heard Clarence Williams tune, Jelly Roll Morton's famous "The Pearls," and James P. Johnson's stride classic, "Jingles."
Nancy Kleier returned to entertain with Eubie Blake's "Chevy Chase," Lucky Roberts' "Palm Beach," and Ben Harney's "Cakewalk in the Sky."
Ron Ross wound up the meeting with another trio of originals: "Small Town Private Eye," "Obadiah's Jumpsuit," and "Sweet Is the Sound." When queried about "Obadiah's Jumpsuit," he said it was "...one of those stream-of-consciousness things that happens, nobody knows why. After I wrote it, I decided that was its name."
As is usually the case, the July meeting offered an intriguing variety of folk, classic, popular, and modern ragtime, nostalgic Tin Pan Alley favorites, novelties, and you name it. As they say, a good time was had by all.
THAT GRAND CAKEWALK IN THE SKY
In that grand cakewalk in the sky
We'll be moving out in ragtime style
Those piano keys will be flying
Bass bouncing, syncopation in best of form
In tempo unison
And top notch perfection
That rag will be polished
Practiced and practiced in fine tune
For the performance of a lifetime
A star of ragtime
Everyone will be tappin'
That upbeat, fun tune --
Notes will be flying high
For that grand cakewalk in the sky.
by Susan Erb
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