On August 15, 2015, the Sacramento Syncopators made yet another appearance at the Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival – and what a blast it was! The day started off with the Next Generation ragtime concert at the Sutter Creek Theatre, emceed by old-timer Bub Sullivan of the Porcupine Ragtime Ensemble. Alethea began the concert with a fast-paced Maple Leaf Rag, and Diego and Sarah took the stage with their stunning rendition of Ella Fitzgerald classic “Blue Skies”, paving the way for professionals such as Andrew Barrett and John Reed-Torres – and by the time the performers stepped back out into the summer day, the temperature was climbing into triple digits!
After a stop at the musicians’ tent for water, Diego, Sarah, Alethea, and Athena headed to Hotel Sutter for the “Diego and Friends” concert, emceed by Chris Bradshaw, where they met up with fellow Syncopators and ragtime youth performers Arthur and Augie Eriksson, Isaac Goodman, and Raymond Wang.
Diego set the bar high with a rousing Eubie Blake piece, to be followed by Isaac’s elaborately ornamented, beautifully executed “Elite Syncopations” (Scott Joplin) and Raymond Wang’s Joplin classic, “Peacherine Rag.” Arthur took the stage after Raymond, presenting another Joplin piece – his “Original Rags”, Arthur’s competition piece from the 2014 West Coast Ragtime Society Youth Competition. Augie wowed the crowd with his note-perfect rendition of Henry Cabot Lodge’s Temptation Rag – a piece he also played in the March 20 “Mostly Ragtime” Sacramento Syncopators concert in Sacramento (see more about that event in the April 2015 edition of the Sacramento Ragtime Society newsletter: page 4, “A Syncopated Success”). Brother Arthur followed up with Scott Joplin’s “Original Rags”, Athena with Joplin’s “Leola”, and Alethea with George Gershwin’s first – and only – ragtime composition, “Rialto Ripples.”
From there, the concert only got better – especially with Sarah’s gorgeous rendition of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess.” Diego finished the set with his snazzy “Kitten on the Keys” (Zez Confrey) and the gorgeously sentimental “Ragtime Oriole” (James Scott) to a round of applause and a standing ovation from the crowd. One Sutter Creek ragtime regular stood up to thank Mrs. Bradshaw for hosting the concert every year, and for featuring Diego as her protege at the Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival for five years – and counting! What talent!
But that wasn’t all – after stopping by the Sutter Creek Theatre to watch a rowdy session of silent films and sing-alongs with Sean Sharpe and Frederick Hodges, the performers stopped at the Ice Cream Emporium for a cone as Diego took to the piano, inviting Sarah to sing with him. The set was a definite success – filled with favorites such as Galen Wilkes’ “Creeks of Missouri”, Scott’s “Ragtime Oriole”, Gershwin’s “Summertime”, “Blue Skies”, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from the popular musical “Wizard of Oz”, and the rousing “Girl in 14G”, the crowd loved it the whole way through. One little girl loved the concert so much that she refused to let Sarah leave the ice cream shop afterwards!
The afternoon wore on into evening, and after a stop at the enchanting little cheese shoppe and the music box store down the street, the performers stopped by Pizza Plus for a quick dinner before catching the Evening Show at 7:00 in the Theatre. The performance featured crowd favorites such as Danny Coots and Brian Holland, Chris and Jack Bradshaw, Tom Brier, and others, and by the time the concert had wound down, it was nigh dark outside. The Syncopators made their way to Skunk Hollow, down the dim streets beneath the star-studded sky, stepping inside to a fiery solo piano rendition of Gershwin’s popular “Rhapsody in Blue”. Past midnight, with shooting stars dancing overhead and music still dancing out into the tranquil Sutter Creek night, the tired performers finally made their way back home, with a spring in their step and music in their hearts – regretting only that it will be another year before they walk these streets again. If only time would pass more quickly –
summertime, and the livin’s easy…