Before Dixieland Monterey 2012 began there was musical fun — somewhat like a cross between an aesthetic appetizer and a full-scale concert / lecture — hosted at the Hidden Valley Music Seminars in Carmel Valley, California: a presentation for the Road Scholar Program (formerly Elderhostel). (Click here to learn more.) Let’s just say that I flew out early to be here and video the delightful commotion: the second day of Professors’ Kroninger (Sue, vocal, washboard, kazoo); Erickson (Eddie, banjo, vocal); Calabrese (Chris, tour director, piano) showing us the roads from ragtime to jazz.
Although they call themselves Professors, the atmosphere was light-years away from academic seriousness (I know from experience); I had a wonderful time: you will, too.
Professor Kroninger began by introducing the band (very cleverly) which led into Improvisations on RED RIVER VALLEY:
Romping with Professor Calabrese on TIGER RAG, THE PEARLS (an extraordinary feature for Professor Erickson), and some takeout Chinese for Louis: CORNET CHOP SUEY:
MEMPHIS BLUES (Prof. Kroninger belting it out in a melifluous way); explaining the washboard — as “the poor man’s drum kit”; and a trio examination of that vexing question (both geographical and existential) WHERE DID ROBINSON CRUSOE GO (With Friday on Saturday Night)?
Down came the theoretical curtain for a breath . . . .
The second half began with an entirely generous introduction of the man behind the camera (leading to a surprise question about a Guy Lombardo ragtime medley on cassette); then more Louis with BIG BUTTER AND EGG MAN (team-teaching by Professors Kroninger and Erickson); an unexpected cellphone call; something for Bix — a beautiful reading of SINGIN’ THE BLUES by Professor Calabrese; a demonstration of stride piano with MAPLE LEAF RAG and a compelling bit of Wallering around on HANDFUL OF KEYS:
Finally, a kazoo lesson for all of us (DO try this at home, but make sure that you have a kazoo first), culminating in an ensemble performance of ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND:
It’s my pleasure to present the entire — informal — concert, all eighty-six minutes of it. It’s not the same as being there . . . so make plans for 2013! But as you can tell, a good time was had by all. And everyone got an “A,” onstage and off.