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October 2022: Tight Focus on Joplin at Spice Social

The October 15 OCRS at Spice Social featured 23 selections by four musicians, more than half of which were composed by Joplin or other classic ragtimers.

That held true for the afternoon's first eight pieces – seven of Joplin's rags and one Joplin-Hayden collaboration.

Vincent Johnson started the Joplin ball rolling with "Sugar Cane" and "Paragon Rag," ending his set with "Sunflower Slow Drag" by Hayden (the A, B and D themes) and Joplin (C theme). Back in SoCal for the weekend, Paul Orsi gave us three early Joplins: "The Easy Winners," the complete version (1902) of "The Ragtime Dance," and "Cleopha."

Newcomer Barry Blakeley made his OCRS debut with "Gladiolus Rag" and the later, abridged version of "The Ragtime Dance" issued by John Stark in 1906 in an attempt to recoup his monetary losses in publishing the complete score four years earlier.

Vincent's second set featured some of the greatest Harlem Stride pieces: Waller's "Alligator Crawl," James P. Johnson's "Carolina Shout," and Blake's "The Baltimore Todalo."

Paul used his second set to oblige us with three originals, all from roughly 40 years ago (1982-1983): "Zebra Stomp," "The Birthday Rag" and "Pepperoni Pizza." He stayed at the piano to accompany violinist Christian Marino for more early Joplin: an "Easy Winners" reprise, followed by "The Entertainer."

Barry opened his encore set with "Pop's Dilemma," a '70s piece by New Orleans R&B pianist James Booker, and followed with an original, "Every Stormy Cloud Comes With a Silver Lining." Barry wrote this song around 1998 but rather than singing it, performed it here as an instrumental in the honky-tonk style of Johnny Hodges.

Vincent's final set combined classic ragtime with Novelty piano: First, Lamb's "American Beauty," then Scott's "Frog Legs Rag" and, as the capper, Arthur Schutt's "Rambling in Rhythm."

Paul took us home with an instrumental version of the hit 1909 Edward Madden-Gus Edwards song hit "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" and wrapped up the afternoon with another hugely popular number from a much later era: "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie," written by Vaughn Horton, Denver Darling and Milt Gabler and popularized by Louis Jordan when he and his Tympany Five recorded it in early 1946.


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