Historic Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival 2020 (A Ragtime Pandemic)
Just when you thought it could not be done, the Sutter Creek Ragtime Pandemic was held on August 15, 2020. This event reminds me of the Kansas state motto “Ad Astra Per Aspera” (for those of you who do not remember your Latin “To the stars with difficulty”). Kansas became a state through great difficulties much like this event. In spite of heat and the pandemic, ragtime prevailed. Where there is a will, there is a way, the will being that of Stevens and Jan Price and a group of intrepid musicians.
After many difficulties, the festival this year became a one-day series of performances and an evening concert. Musicians participating in this event were (in alphabetical order): Elliott Adams, Michael Chisholm, Paul Orsi, Stevens Price, Julia Riley, Anthony Sarginson and Virtual Tom Brier (thanks to Ron O’Dell). In thirty-minute intervals, these musicians performed singly, in organized groups and spontaneous combinations. There was even a spontaneous sing-along.
The event, if you are familiar with Sutter Creek and its environs, was held behind the hotel next to the old Ice Cream Emporium in the hotel parking lot. The area was shaded by colorful umbrellas and a misting system was used to reduce the heat. The recording piano from the hotel and an electronic piano were provided. The performance area was backed by a partition which improved greatly the sound which is often lost in an outdoor setting. In addition to the partition behind the pianos, the parking lot is lower than the street level on one side and the other two sides are brick buildings. These things created a natural outdoor auditorium.
The day started with Paul Orsi and a spontaneous sing-along. This was followed by a rotation of musicians and groups every thirty minutes. Some groups were planned, like the “New Hedgehogs”, which consisted of Elliott Adams and Michael Chisholm on piano and Julia Riley on flute and piccolo and unplanned partnerships such as Anthony Sarginson and Michael Chisholm and Stevens Price and Elliott Adams. There were performances of well-known numbers as well as original compositions. Some other combinations of performers were Elliott Adams and Michael Chisholm, Michael Chisholm and Julia Riley, Anthony Sarginson and Julia Riley and virtual Tom Brier on the recording piano with Julia Riley. The Virtual Tom recordings were some made on the same recording piano used in this festival, made at the hotel in Sutter Creek in about 2008.
A small, but enthusiastic audience remained throughout the heat of the day (reported to be 107 degrees F), masked, socially distanced and determined as only ragtime enthusiasts could be. Available for sale were “A Ragtime Pandemic” masks and t-shirts. Performances were recorded by Rob Thomas, sure to be on youtube in due course. The quality of these recordings is excellent in spite of the difficulty of playing in the extreme heat with sweaty fingers.
2019 Festival Review The 2019 Festival is over but the music continues on. A great time was had by all who attended and the musicians were at their best! A memorable weekend of music highlighted by the perfect summer weather. The Sutter Creek Auditorium was added as a venue for the concerts and everyone seemed to enjoy it, thus making the 4 venues along main street the perfect location for the Festival. Thank you so much to all the volunteers who helped make the festival run smoothly and efficiently. Thank you to all the amazing musicians who bring their best to Sutter Creek. So Many of them saying that the Sutter Creek festival is their most favorite. In Sutter Creek they can relax and enjoy the ambience and the generosity of their loyal fans and fellow musicians. Another big Thank you to the city of Sutter Creek and the City council who gave us their complete support in making sure the Festival took place. Let us not forget the Venues that allowed us to invade their Hotel Sutter, Ice Cream store and Foxes B&B. With out them it would not of happened. I am excited to tell you that we did manage to finish the festival with a small surplus this year. Because of this surplus and the generous supporters of the "Musician Sponsorship Program", the festival was able to create a scholarship, that our Local graduating High school seniors who will be pursuing a music degree and or continuing on with their musical talent, may apply for. The scholarship will be given by the "Historic Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival." This years scholarship will be a $400. Next year we hope to increase the amount offered. Below is a review written by Julia Riley and a couple videos. We hope to start posting more as we move forward. Please check back from time to time to see the changes. Again, thank you to all who took part in making this festival so special. Stevens Price Festival Director
New/Old Historic Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival Have you ever heard that saying “Everything old is new again”? That could apply to the “Historic Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival” (HSCRF for short). Or have you ever seen that sign “Under New Management” on a business? That could also apply to the “Historic Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival”. The originators of the first Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival, Stevens and Jan Price produced the 2019 “Historic Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival” which makes both the above appropriate and true. There were the performers that we have come to expect, Frederic Hodges, Carl Sonny Leland, Brian Holland and Danny Coots, Virginia Tichenor, Pat Aranda and Amanda Castro, The Porcupine Ragtime Ensemble, Elliott Adams as well as others we have come to know and appreciate - Michael Chisholm, John Reed-Torres, John Remmers, Kylan deGhetaldi, Anthony Sarginson and The Raspberry Jam Trio. There were also some new performers. “The Mustache Ragtime Band”, consisting of local performers with pianist Stevens Price. This group has only been together a few months, but put together a nice performance of rags and some tunes composed by Stevens. “The Key System Ramblers” with Virginia Tichenor on piano, Lisa Gonick on ukulele and vocals and Jeff Green on Banjo brought a nice selection of instrumental and vocal numbers. A virtuoso performance was delivered by “The Easy Winners” by Nick Robinson, Zac Salem and Robert Armstrong with a variety of instruments including the saw. Many of these performers could be seen in the mini-concerts sprinkled throughout the festival. This eliminated the frequently heard complaint that it was difficult to get around to see all the performers. A special set in the Main Auditorium featuring Kylan deGhetaldi and his seven-year old daughter, Lyra, as vocalist was charming and fun. Kylan, in one of his sets in The Ice Cream Emporium, decided to do some video game tunes starting with a stand-alone number of the “Super Smash Brothers’” theme and then continuing with the long “Mario Brothers’ Medley”. He preceded this performance by pointing out that these tunes were the introduction to ragtime of many young people who grew up in the ‘90s, much like an earlier generation who became familiar with ragtime by seeing “The Sting”. The venues were all made attractive by Jan Price. The collection of Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival T-shirts which formerly highlighted the Ice Cream Emporium made its appearance at the Main Auditorium, a venue which had not been used for many years. There were no outdoor venues this year for which the audience and performers were grateful – in spite of the fact that the weather was extremely mild for a California Foothills summer, being in the low to mid-80s. The only free venue was the Ice Cream Emporium. The ticket booth was right outside the Ice Cream Parlor (formerly known as the alley) and seemed to be doing a booming business. By any criteria, the festival was a successful venture. May it continue to be so for many more years. It is not too early to put it on your calendar for next year. August 14 - 16