Riverboat Dixie Jazz Band
Time Honored Songs You've Wanted To Hear Again
Review by Harvey Barkan
Photos by Jim Swavely
The Riverboat Dixie Jazz Band, put together in 1998, aims to play traditional New Orleans style Dixieland band jazz, idealistically arriving in your neighborhood and inviting you onto their "river steamboat" to see and hear them play their rhythmic Dixieland fare. Today, the Valley Jazz Club in the Los Angeles area served as their "steamship!" Playing while seated in two rows, orchestra style, nine musicians played and sang the "good ol' songs" in original style. Their forte is the sound of the 1920's, and earlier, jazz, and goodness knows, this feel-good music brought smiles and enjoyment to this audience, with many that already knew the lyrics, possibly first heard by their parents or grandparents. Some have remained popular for many decades in changing contemporary styles, as "Baby Won't You Please Come Home" from 1919, sung today in original style by Ron Ruiz, RDJB leader, vocalist, and plectrum banjoist; and "Margie," a favorite since 1920. Vocalist Janet Daw sang "Nobody's Sweetheart Now," "Is It True What They Say About Dixie," and "Angry," as she stepped down from the stage to circulate throughout the audience, stopping at many tables for a brief personalized concert. She is the Riverboat Dixie Jazz Band's "spark plug," encouraging participation and uninhibiting the fans, nudging them to to "let go" and enjoy the music with toe tapping, freeing your body to move naturally, fingersnapping, or just feeling the rhythm of the music. And they did!
The music was comfortable and predictable, very well played by a motivated band, staying original and pure. Other tunes included "Panama," "Back Home Again In Indiana," "Sunday," "Copenhagen," and as expected, the slow, driving inspirational, "Just A Closer Walk With Thee," and no Dixieland concert would be complete without "Bourbon Street Parade." My favorite selection was "Saratoga Swing," played with contagious timing and syncopation. All songs were well-known, no surprises, and were greeted as old friends not heard in a while.
The beautiful glistening, shinning brass tuba, well-played by Ken Dickey, needs to be moved up to the front row! It's simply too gorgeous and wonderfully complex looking, and constantly in action to be hidden in row two! An impressive instrument,if Ken would put wheels on his tuba, I think he could ride it to work (if he could figure out where to sit!). Most of the musicians have played together for a long time, making for excellent ensemble playing. Musicians not yet mentioned are: Scott Yawger (trumpet), Ed Hirsh (trombone), Sam Glenn (clarinet), Linda Organ (plectrum banjo), Jim Flynn (drums), and Joanie Adler (piano).
When the final tune on the concert began, "When The Saints Go Marching In," an umbrella promenade also began, with fans marching around the large room with bold and colorful, ornate umbrellas decorated with beads, sequins, and fringe. These original artful umbrellas were pumped up and down or twirled to the music by jubilant marchers, to close this afternoon of traditional New Orleans Dixie jazz, as the Riverboat musicians prepared to pack-up their mythical steamboat, readying their instruments and the music memories to steam to their fans at their next Riverboat concert. Dixieland jazz fans and musicians seem to have more fun than most others at jazz events, openly and proudly exhibiting their inspired joy of their preferred music, as was seen here, today!
Ginger & Her Hoosier Daddy’s
October 7, 2018
Wow! You should have been there on this Sunday afternoon at the Valley Jazz Club’s presentation of Ginger & Her Hoosier Daddy’s. The first thing that hit you was the ambiance in the ballroom of the Canoga Park Elk’s Lodge. The room was full of round tables seating 8, surrounded by blue walls and brightened by strings of lights hanging overhead. The large stage showcased the musicians, while their music was enhanced by our superb sound system, comprising a microphone for each player and vocalist, each modulated by Marty McGinnis on his computer-assisted mixing console and projected by a tower of Bose speakers on each side of the stage.
As the band took to the stage your eyes were uncontrollably attracted to Ginger Pauley in her sparkling fringed blue roaring-twenties dress enhanced by a long red boa hanging down each side from her neck and golden shoes. Her 5 piece band consisted of Paul Kosmala on piano, John Hatton on stand up bass, Bobby Barron on drums, C. J. Sams on trumpet and Phil Krawzak on clarinet and tenor saxophone. The musicians wore variously covered shirts and ties and all wore shoes.
The group started with a spirited fast-tempo instrumental called Dipper Mouth Blues that woke the audience and stopped their usual conversation. Every instrument had a part to play and they played flawlessly.
The next tune was I Double Dare You — one of 6 featuring vocal performances — by Ginger in her clear alto voice, pronouncing every word distinctly so that even my old hearing-aided ears could understand it. This also featured piano and bass solos.
Sweet Georgia Brown was the only piece that featured a vocal solo by trumpet player C. J. Sams. It was followed by Daddy, Flat Foot Floogie, Ain’t She Sweet and shake That Thing. Then Ginger’s band started playing some slower, more danceable songs like Sentimental Journey, You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me, When You’re Smiling and finally, Blues In The Night. The dance floor was actually crowded, with 11 or 12 couples swinging to this great music. Once again Ginger Pauley brought a fantastic band and her marvelous vocal performance to our Valley Jazz Club.
—- Bob Berman