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A Brief History of the Sacramento Ragtime Society

During Memorial Day weekend, usually in place of a May meeting, the SRS operates a Ragtime  Corner in conjunction with the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee. The Ragtime Corner attracts many fine ragtimers passing through town as part of the jazz festival. More recently, several house concerts per year featuring top quality ragtime performers were hosted by SRS members Susan and Richard Larsen and Richard Riley.

In late 1996 members the West Coast Ragtime Society, then based in Fresno, decided that they could no longer maintain the organization and its yearly event, the West Coast Ragtime Festival. They graciously called upon SRS members to take over the entire organization and move it and the festival to Sacramento. November 1997 saw the eleventh WCRF in its new home at Red Lion’s Sacramento Inn. Though the SRS and WCRS have maintained their separate identities, the two organizations work in tandem to promote ragtime.

The SRS also has its own monthly newsletter, presently edited by Deborah Gale. The purpose of the newsletter is to promote awareness of current ragtime happenings through an event calendar, press releases and reviews, and to enhance knowledge and understanding of ragtime by means of opinion pieces and scholarly works. Articles and material should be submitted to Deborah (See “Contact Us”).

For up-to-date meeting information, call Deborah Gale at 530–574–7684.

This brief history of the Sacramento Ragtime Society has been excerpted and edited from an article by Larry Applegate and Marty Eggers originally appearing in the society’s newsletter of March, 1998.

In the early 1980s a group of Sacramento musicians calling themselves the Carmichael Syncopated Chamber Society was meeting at Jean Levinson’s house each week to practice. The group consisted of Jean on tuba, Doug Parker on banjo and the late Bob Rutherford on piano. About the only other ragtime around Sacramento was a very occasional intermission set at the jazz societies (The Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society and the Sacramento New Orleans Hot Jazz Society), but the SNOHJS had just folded, so only the STJS had ragtime intermission music.

Other ragtime aficionados would drop in once in a while to listen, or to play at these practices, including Jim Roach, Bill Rebold, Larry Applegate and Marty Eggers. It was suggested that a ragtime club be formed to expose this great music to others. Eventually the Sacramento Ragtime Society (SRS) was formed, meeting for the first time in March 1982.

The SRS is unincorporated with no official membership or officers. It is a grass-roots effort to keep ragtime alive in Northern California. The Society meets on the last Sunday afternoon of each month, currently at The Red Lion Hotel, 1401 Arden Way, Sacramento. There is no charge for admission. Anyone may play; all instrumental (and vocal) combinations and levels of ability are welcome.

Throughout the year, SRS and its members promote ragtime outside of the regular meetings.

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