Sutter Creek Festival Wrapup - 2015
by Chris Bradshaw
Igniting the hearts of young and old alike, the 2015 Sutter Creek sparked, sizzled and burst forth in a conflagration that kept roaring hot all weekend. (Weather managed to add to the heat as well.) With a lineup of amazing talent performing a wide variety of ragtime music, in the minds of many, this was one of the best Sutter Creek festivals ever.
This year's opening set in the Ice Cream Emporium was presented by Stevens Price, who also lent his voice to some marvelous opening vocal numbers and as the emcee for the two theater concerts.
Leading the pack of newcomers to this festival were Brian Holland and Danny Coots whose exemplary playing set a high tone. Highlights were The Americana Suite and Brian's 5th Avenue Breakdown which they performed on the Saturday evening concert. Other newcomers were Paul Orsi, proudly showing his Disney roots, and youth performer Ryan Wishner performing many pieces from the late 1800s.
Galen Wilkes not only presented a seminar, but he also instigated a remarkable, colorful, visual display consisting of copies of ragtime sheet music covers from various performers who also are avid collectors of ragtime sheet music - a feast for the eyes.
It's not enough that Frederick Hodges plays with Virginia Tichenor and Marty Eggers (who are able musicians themselves) as the Crown Syncopators, or performs as a solo, but he and singer Sean Sharp put together a unique, almost precious, musical presentation with hand-colored, live-model slides of the period. Sean did most of the slide restoration. Lighting up the silver screen were also some silent movies accompanied by Frederick Hodges and Squeek Steele.
Other groups who added a variety of music and styles to the festival were the Saloon Sweeties (Tom Brier, Julia Riley and Kitty Wilson), the Ragnolia Ragtette (Bradshaws & Drivons), Jonathan Meredith & Allan Rogers, the Porcupine Ragtime Ensemble (Elliott Adams, Sue Desper, the Drivons, Bub and Petra Sullivan), The Bradshaw four-hand piano duo, and Steve and Robyn Drivon with delightful tuba and guitar accompanied vocals.
Those youth performers who first came to us as kids - i.e. Andrew Barrett, Vincent Johnson, Tim Rotolo and John Reed Torres, who was added later - have now graduated into very fine performers. Along the way we have picked up Michael Chisholm, Kylan deGhetaldi and Edward Maraga. What is interesting about this bunch is that they had so much fun joining up with dust-disturbing, ear-rocking fun duos on many of their sets.
Chasing on the heels of this bunch are three younger kids - entertainer Ramona Baker, the talented Alethea Sung-Miller, and pianist par excellance Diego Bustamante. Another great addition to the teen talent was singer Sarah Krulder.
While presenting some classic rags in a classic style, these performers, Jack Bradshaw, Larisa Migachyov, John Remmers and Monty Suffern, proved they also could turn up the heat. Hope you didn't miss Nick Arteaga's relaxed take on early Latin music that was a delight to hear.
Once again Tom Brier, Patrick Aranda (with and without singer Amanda Castro), Marty Eggers, Carl Sonny Leyland, Ray Skjelbred, Squeek Steele and Virginia Tichenor proved they can cover all the ragtime bases with a variety of styles and pieces, keeping audiences enthralled.
At night, the after-hours at Chip Lusby's "Skunk Hollow" Victorian home became the place to be as the musical flames were fanned.
Ragtime is alive and well and catching on like wildfire. Did you feel the heat?
Thank you Marilyn Norton and Dan Lucas for another fabulous festival. Your hard work, and that of your trusty volunteers, was greatly appreciated. Plans are already in the works for next year. So, save the dates, August 12-14, 2016 for the 18th Annual Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival.
Acknowledgments from the Festival Directors
First, we would like to thank the many volunteers for their tireless work on the 17th Annual Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival. We couldn't have done it without them. Thank you, Kathy Berg, Helen Lucas, Ron O'Dell, Larry Berg, and all the other volunteers. Special thanks to Lewis Motisher for again creating a handsome and very professional-looking program and T-shirt design. Special thanks also to Leggett Piano Service for supplying, moving, and taking care of the pianos.
Donors to this year's festival included Monica & Justin Bennion of Goin' Postal, Jack & Chris Bradshaw, Michael Chisholm, Lois Conklin, Coldwell-Banker, Shayne & Mike Frankel, Chip Lusby, John Plut, Bub & Petra Sullivan, Hotel Sutter, Sutter Creek Business & Professionals Association, Sutter Creek Promotions Committee, Serafina Cellars, and Scott Harvey Wines. Many thanks to you all.
Thank you, John and Nadine Mottoros, Chip Lusby, and Gary and Diane Nelson for housing musicians.
Also many thanks to Pat Crosby for his work on the Sutter Creek website, Maureen Funk of the Amador Council of Tourism, and Lisa Klosowski, director of the Sutter Creek Visitors Center. In addition, many newspapers, magazines and individuals helped publicize the festival. Thanks also to John Motto-ros and Chip Lusby for their help all year long publicizing the festival, and to Chris Bradshaw for all her publicity work and work with youth performers.
Thanks to Heather Ragsdale and The Foxes for elegantly hosting us, the Baiocchis and the Antique Gardener for letting us use their beautiful garden giving the musicians a quiet, comfortable place to eat lunch, and Sara Hock for letting us use the Sutter Creek Ice Cream Emporium once again. In addition, thanks to the Hotel Sutter for letting us take over their hotel. Thanks also to Byron Damiani of the Sutter Creek Theatre for his hard work all weekend to make sure the theater and sound system were in perfect shape. Thanks to John Plut for helping Byron all weekend with the sound system in the Theatre.
Special thanks to all the Sutter Creek merchants who bought advertising in our program and who support us in many other ways all year long.
And, of course, thanks to the wonderful musicians who came to share a weekend of their fantastic music! There wouldn't have been a festival without them!
There are many others who help make this festival happen. Their efforts are needed and very much appreciated. The list is just too long for this space. Our apologies to those whose names we did not mention.
—Marilyn Norton and Dan Lucas, Festival Directors