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March 2018 OCRS tips its hat to the wearing of the green

The March 2018 OCRS at Muckenthaler Center was a showcase for St. Patty's Day selections, the arrival of spring, the recent rains, and pieces by composers born in March. Six performers featured a total of 24 selections, all of them outstanding.

Eric said he'd been listening to Tom's debut CD "Rising Star" quite a bit and had singled out two selections from the recording: "Texas Tommy Swing" and "Rainy Day Blues." He started with "Texas Tommy," a 1911 song by Val Harris and Sid Brown that was featured in the 1911 Ziegfeld Follies and which is famed for having been the first published pop music piece of the genre that would become Western Swing. Eric then played Tom's "Rainy Day Blues, a 1992 piece Tom had patterned after Gil Lieby's "Anathema Blues," noting that he had gotten a copy of the score directly from the composer.

Ron Ross gave us a set of three originals: "Cloudy," a lovely ragtime waltz, "Small Town Private Eye," and "Moscow Rag."

Decked out in green for St. Patrick's Day, Paul Schiada delivered a varied set that started with Luckey Roberts' "Music Box Rag." Next up were two late Joplins: "Euphonic Sounds" and "Magnetic Rag."

Shirley Case gave us one "birdcall" rag, one vintage piece by a lady ragtimer, and one St. Pat's Day selection. First off was "The Ragtime Hermit-Thrush" (Glenn Jenks, 1987). Next and most rare was "Notoriety Rag Two-Step" by Kathryn Widmer and issued by Remick in 1913. Shirley closed her set with "Leprechaun Rag" (Galen Wilkes 1981).

Paul Orsi provided two vintage rags from early in the ragtime era – Joplin's "The Easy Winners" (1901) and Tom Turpin's "St. Louis Rag" (1903). He closed with a 1983 original, "Seashore Rag."

Getting on the original composition bandwagon, Eric played his 1995 rag "A Barrel-House Bawl."

Bob Pinsker featured the works of Ford Dabney, born March 15, 1883, starting with "Castle Innovation Tango" from 1914. Less distinctive but no less original are two of Dabney's piano rags: "Oh, You Devil" (1909) and "Georgia Grind" (1915).

Ron encored with "Acrosonic Rag," his fourth original of the day. Shirley's encore was Paul Pratt's 1916 masterpiece "Spring Time Rag."

Bob's encore featured yet another great ragtime composer born in March: Will Tyers, born March of 1876. His "Maori - A Samoan Dance" was published in 1909 by Gotham and Attucks Music Co. He pointed out that the trio strain of the piece was evidently picked up by the young James P. Johnson and transformed into "The Charleston."

As a tip of his hat to St. Patrick's Day, Paul Schiada delivered a socko, Disneyland/Coke Corner-style rendition of "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover." Not to be outdone, Paul Orsi gave us his arrangement of the same piece, then closed the afternoon with "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" - first with vocals of the familiar lyrics, the audience singing along with him, then an instrumental interlude, then a shift into a minor-key handling of the chorus that eventually morphed into the major. It was a fine way to end an enjoyable March afternoon that featured four holiday-oriented selections.

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