COMPACT DISC REVIEW

By

Jack Rummel

 

 

Rag Time Skedaddlers

Mandophone CD0901

 

Ma Ragtime Baby / Whistling Rufus / Bowery Buck / Doc Brown’s Cakewalk / Maple Leaf Rag / Impecunious Davis / A Tally Ho Party / Creole Belles / The Entertainer / Peaches and Cream / Dixie Blossoms / Tobasco /  That Poker Rag / Dixie Twilight / Temptation Rag.

 

            Mandolin orchestras and string band ensembles were all the rage in 1901 when Scott Joplin dedicated his rag, The Entertainer, to “James Brown and his Mandolin Club.”  However, the craze was short-lived and by 1973 when Dennis Pash founded the

Etcetera String Band, such groups in America could probably be counted on one hand.  The band held sway in the Kansas City area for more than 20 years until it drifted apart and its founder migrated to San Francisco .

            Pash didn’t lay low for long, thank goodness, and the ghosts of Charlie Johnson and other Midwestern composers can again be heard emanating from the strings of Pash’s new group, the Rag Time Skedaddlers.  Nick Robinson’s mandolin provides occasional lead and lots of tasteful harmony to Pash’s banjo-mandolin (banjolin?) melodies, while fellow Bay Area musician Dave Krinkel adds the critical rhythm anchor and bass melody lines on his guitar.

            Johnson has a quartet of tunes on this CD (Doc Brown’s Cakewalk, A Tally Ho Party, Dixie Twilight and the lovely waltz, Tobasco).  Contributing two rags each are Kerry Mills (Whistling Rufus, Impecunious Davis), Percy Wenrich (Peaches and Cream, Dixie Blossoms) and Joplin (Maple Leaf Rag, The Entertainer).  Other familiar composers are also represented, including Henry Lodge, J. Bodewald Lampe, Charlotte Blake and Fred Stone.

            How these three musicians found each other in an area the size of San Francisco is anybody’s guess, but the blend of instruments and talent seems truly ideal.  It is immediately obvious that they not only love the music but they also care about playing it right.  The recording levels are perfect, the tempos are always appropriate, the sectional repeats are observed and the overall package is appealing.  As a die-hard historian, I would have appreciated more information about the pieces themselves, especially the original string band arrangements, but that is a small complaint.

            This isn’t just music for mandolin players or string band lovers.  This is ragtime for ragtime lovers and the Rag Time Skedaddlers are the real deal.  Recommended.

            Available for $15.00 plus shipping from http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/RagTimeSkedaddlers .  Or it can be downloaded there (mp3) for $9.99.  Individual tracks can also be downloaded for 99˘ each.