Tag Archives: Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra


You can always have turkey if that’s your pleasure, and I hope you will have many occasions to get together with your family, but the San Diego Jazz Fest — the generous creation of America’s Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society comes once a year.  This November will be the thirty-fifth such explosion of music, and it is not to be missed. The SDJF website can be found here, and the amount of good music offered during this long weekend is more than amazing.

Some of the wonderful musicians and bands who will be there are —

Connie Jones-Tim Laughlin New Orleans All Stars, Jim Buchmann, Stephanie Trick, Paolo Alderighi, Marc Caparone, Carl Sonny Leylnd, Marty Eggers, Virginia Tichenor, High Sierra Jazz Band, Josh Duffee’s Graystone Monarchs, the Fat Babies, Yerba Buena Stompers, Dave Bennett, Cornet Chop Suey, Katie Cavera, Titanic Jazz Band, Grand Dominion, Ellis Island Boys, Duke Heitger,Leon Oakley,Kevin Dorn, Conal Fowkes, Orange Kellin, Euphoria Brass Band, Andy Schumm, Chris Dawson, Jonathan Doyle, John Royen, High Society Jazz Band, Sweethearts of Swing, Night Blooming Jazzmen, Clint Baker, Hal Smith, Tom Bartlett, Chris Dawson, Mission Bay High School Preservationists, Sue Palmer and Motel Swing, the Memphis Speed Kings, Red Skunk Gipzee Swing, Corey’s Rolling Figs, Jazz Souffle, South Street Market Jazz Band Reunion, Uptown Lowdown Jazz Band,  Dixie Express Jazz Band, Dick Williams’ Jazzsea Jam, Hal and Georgia Myers’ Dance Classes, Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra, Chloe Feoranzo, Uptown Rhythm Makers, San Fernando Valley Banjo Band, San Diego Banjo Band, Paragon Quartet, South Bay Jazz Ramblers.

If you can’t find some favorites, some people or groups you love to hear in that list, I would worry for your sake. Anhedonia is a terrible burden.

Paul Daspit, who runs the giant rollicking enterprise, clearly loves the music, and he is a good sort who wants to make sure everyone — musicians, guests, volunteers — is happy and fulfilled.  Full to the brim of fine hot music.

You can buy tickets online here and I urge you to do so soon.

The San Diego Jazz Fest is something to be thankful for.  Truly.

May your happiness increase!


It’s terribly exciting.  Leave the family behind (there’s a Thanksgiving buffet on Thursday or you can eat leftovers when you get back).

Spend the Jazz Thanksgiving of your life in San Diego.

The festival schedule is still somewhat tentative, but the version I saw just made my head spin.  Paul Daspit, who runs things, believes in Too Much Of A Good Thing (to quote from Mae West and Coleman Hawkins).

On Friday, for instance, I counted sixty-nine or seventy separate sets — featuring Grand Dominion, the Reynolds Brothers, Yerba Buena Stompers, Sue Palmer, Cornet Chop Suey, Tim Laughlin / Connie Jones, Uptown Lowdown, Dave Bennett, Carl Sonny Leyland, Chris Dawson, Dave Bennett, Ray Templin, Stephanie Trick / Lorraine Feather, Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra, Titanic Jazz Band, Red Skunk, a brass band, a banjo band, a parasol parade . . .

I know that this year I will have to bring energy bars and water just to survive, because even for someone like me, who needs regular meals, eating will have to wait.  I just wish Sir Isaac Newton had discovered some way for me to be in three places at the same time, although that would have meant three tripods, three cameras, and a separate suitcase for batteries and chargers!

If you live near San Diego or can get there, you can also barter your time and energy for jazz, which is never a bad bargain.  Volunteers for the San Diego Thanksgiving Dixieland Jazz Festival work four-hour shifts as door monitors or in a variety of desk jobs, receiving a one-day badge for each day worked and may volunteer for one up to all five days.  Badges are good for the entire day on the day worked, so come early, stay late, and enjoy the music.  Assignments are made on a first-come, first-served basis; however, preference is given to AFCDJS members.  All venues are on the grounds of the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center.  Click here (and don’t wait!) for more information.

May your happiness increase.  


John Gill — hot guitarist, banjoist, trombonist, singer — has a deep love and understanding of Bing Crosby, as you can hear on his Stomp Off CD, LEARN TO CROON, where he and a wonderful New York band (his “Sentimental Serenaders”) pay heartfelt tribute to Bing.

I’m delighted that SFRaeAnn captured John and the Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra just a few days ago (November 28, 2009) — at America’s Finest City Dixieland Jazz Festival in San Diego, California.  And I believe all of the charts you hear are John’s own arrangements and transcriptions, expertly done and played. 

I had to begin this post with John’s version of Ralph Rainger’s irreplaceable PLEASE:

Here’s JUST ONE MORE CHANCE, complete with a little bu-bu-bu-boo and those trademark dips and slides:

And a sweetly rocking dance-band version of IF I HAD YOU. with the unheard verse and appropriate playing from members of the HRO:

Seek and you shall find — the cheerfully romantic message of I FOUND A MILLION-DOLLAR BABY (In a Five-and-Ten Cent Store).  John makes the last sixteen bars shout:

And a rarity — an Irving Berlin song Bing sang in a cameo appearance in the 1931 REACHING FOR THE MOON, with a hugely elaborate title: WHEN THE FOLKS HIGH UP DO THE MEAN LOWDOWN.  All of that verbiage aside, please notice the smiles on the musicians’ faces:

Oh, so pretty — PENNIES FROM HEAVEN, with the lovely verse:

And here’s Bing’s theme, WHERE THE BLUE OF THE NIGHT (Meets The Gold Of The Day):

To quote John, “There you go!”  Thank you, John, for wearing your heart so beautifully on your sleeve, for all of us to feel so deeply.  And thanks (as always) to SFRaeAnn, for sharing these sentimental marvels.