Ragtime to Riches Festival

Next meeting!

Our next meeting of the Great Plains Ragtime Society will take place Sunday, January 23, 2022, at the Pink Poodle Steakhouse, 633 Old Lincoln Hwy., Crescent, IA 51526.

By the way...check out our GPRS videos (especially the Pink Poodle Steakhouse ones) on www.youtube.com! 

Back in the Pink

The Pink Poodle Steakhouse in Crescent, IA, that is.

A good-sized crowd had a most enjoyable time on January 29, 2017 at one of the most interesting restaurants in the Omaha/Council Bluffs/Bellevue area...the site of the first GPRS "meeting+music" for 2017.

Jim and Debra Bruhn, Gladys Lantz, Priscilla Randall, Scott and Marjorie Shreve, and Pearl Spicka came over to the Pink Poodle for their first GPRS get-together...and regulars Jim Boston, Rozanne Christensen, and Connie and Jerry Ludwig joined 'em.

This time, Jim Boston's theme centered on Broadway tunes...well, mostly. Jim B. took to the eatery's 1913 Bellmann upright (one of three antique player pianos at the Pink Poodle) and came up with "Do-Re-Mi," "Oklahoma," "Till There Was You," and "On the Street Where You Live."

If you've ever heard "I'm Just Wild about Harry," maybe you remember that it, too, came from a Broadway musical...in this case, Eubie Blake's and Noble Sissle's 1921 groundbreaker "Shuffle Along."

Well, Jim B. included that one...and also dusted off "I Don't Know How to Love Him," "Old Devil Moon," "Memory," and his closer "Ease On Down the Road." [Before "easing on down the road," he unearthed "My Hero" and a tune from a 1913 musical called "The Pleasure Seekers:" "He'd Have to Get Under- Get Out and Get Under (to Fix Up His Automobile)."] 

With one Pink Poodle customer (Anita) having a birthday the day of the meeting and another (Gabriel) about to turn five this coming Valentine's Day, there was no better time than at the get-together for Jim B. to do "Happy Birthday to You." And Jim B. played "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star..." one of Gabriel's favorite numbers.

Things went so well that we're coming back to the Poodle next month...and we hope you'll join us! 

Raggin' the Pink Poodle

A great time was had by those who attended the March 13, 2016 GPRS meeting. The get-together took place at one of the most interesting restaurants in the Omaha/Council Bluffs/Bellevue area: The Pink Poodle Steakhouse in Crescent, IA.

The Pink Poodle features a display of all sorts of dolls and other kinds of artwork (including, well, a pink poodle). And what other restaurant in America displays THREE antique upright player pianos?

Well, Jim Boston, Rozanne Christensen, and Mary Vaughn all made it up to Crescent that Sunday. Not long after Jim's music commenced, the GPRS crowd was joined by a captivating seven-year-old girl named Madi. (Madi and her parents- they're all from Bellevue, NE- were at the Pink Poodle for the first time in their lives.) 

The music had a mostly St. Patrick's Day theme...with tunes like "Where the River Shannon Flows," "Mother Machree," Maude Nugent's famous 1896 winner "Sweet Rosie O'Grady," its sequel "The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady," Ed Haley's 1899 classic "While Strolling through the Park One Day," and Chauncey Olcott's two giants- "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and "My Wild Irish Rose." Jim even threw in a couple of Van Morrison tunes- Van's 1967 smash "Brown-Eyed Girl" and a Top 30 hit of his from 1971, "Blue Money."

Here's where the "mostly" came in: In Madi's honor, Jim played "Paddlin' Madeline Home" and Madi's favorite tune...good ol' "Jingle Bells."

Jim used all three of those old uprights at the "meeting+music." On top of that, Madi played some scales on two of the old pianos. (Just go to www.youtube.com and you'll find some of Madi's and Jim's playing!)

Who knows what next month's get-together's going to be like? Hope you'll be there! 


Note to ragtime fans: GPRS has a pulse!

The second Great Plains Ragtime Society meeting of this young year took place on Sunday, February 28, 2016, at Omaha's First Central Congregational United Church of Christ.

And everyone who came to the "meeting+music" enjoyed it.

Fred Mikkelson, Jean Mikkelson, Jim Boston, and Rozanne Christensen made it to the February get-together. (Hey, that's still better than the way attendance had gone in recent months!)

Jim got things going at the church's Memorial Hall with "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey," "If I Had a Talking Picture of You," "Goodnight, Wherever You Are," and a 1928 number called "Moonlight Madness (Then You Were Gone)." In addition, Jim added that barbershop favorite "You're the Flower of My Heart, Sweet Adeline."

He kept the "you" theme going by adding ragged-up versions of two R&B/rock hits: "I Hear You Knockin'," made famous in 1955 by Smiley Lewis (maybe you remember Dave Edmunds' 1971 smash version); and Brook Benton's and Dinah Washington's 1960 classic, "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)."

At that point, 1990 and 1993 World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest Regular Division champion Marty Mincer walked into Memorial Hall.

Jim and Marty traded places, with the apple farmer from Hamburg, IA taking to the vintage Anderson & Newton upright. Marty M. fired up a couple of numbers, the first one being his famous version of "Calico Rag."

A later engagement prevented Marty from staying for the rest of the meeting, so...Jim went back to the turn-of-the-20th-Century upright, where he finished things off with "You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It)."

How will next month's "M+M" turn out?

Stop by the Pink Poodle Steakhouse on March 13, 2016 and find out! 

Holiday cheer!

The 12-14-2014 GPRS meeting at Omaha's Durham Booth Manor was full of that ingredient. 

This time around, ten people made it to the Booth's Dora Bingel Center to hear Jim Boston see what he could do with a bunch of Christmas carols- religious ones and secular ones alike. 

He started out with, well, "The First Noel." To launch the secular side of things, Jim spun "My Driedel." (He got away with ragging both of these holiday tunes...and the audience liked it.)

Jim also worked out comparatively sedate versions of "Good Christian Friends, Rejoice," "Silent Night, Holy Night," and "Away in the Manger," while having real fun with "It Came upon the Midnight Clear," "Angels We Have Heard on High," and "O Come, All Ye Faithful."

And he brought the same fun formula to "Silver Bells," "Deck the Halls," "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town," a 1939 number called "Bring Back That Old-Fashioned Christmas," and two from the 1950s- 1953's "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" and a smash from two years later, "Nuttin' for Christmas."  

The whole set ended with a rag version of the otherwise slow and majestic "O Holy Night."

Everybody DID have a great time...and they're looking forward to the next time Durham Booth Manor hosts a GPRS get-together. (Hope you'll join us!) 

A great, great time...

That's what we had at the August 2014 GPRS meeting, held on Sunday, 8-24-2014 at Durham Booth Manor, 923 N. 38th St., Omaha, NE 68131.

Seven people attended this month's "meeting+music," and one of them, Jim Boston, did the music. 

This time, Jim fashioned an all-rag outing, starting with "Everybody Rag with Me" (a 1914 Gus Kahn-Grace LeBoy collaboration) and ending with one from 1913: Irving Berlin's "The International Rag." In between, he brought back "The Entertainer" and "12th Street Rag" (each with a few wrinkles thrown in) and unearthed several other selections he'd never done at a GPRS get-together before: "Down Yonder," the 1921 L. Wolfe Gilbert rag that, thirty years later, launched Del Wood's recording career; W.C. Polla's 1904 "Funny Folks;" 1917's "Johnson Rag;" and three more from 1914: Adeline Shepard's "Pickles and Peppers," Ida Miller's and James Scott's "Take Me Out to Lakeside," and Blanche M. Tice's "That Enticing Two-Step." (All of that to say nothing of "The Pippin," a 1908 rag from one of Scott Joplin's proteges, Arthur Marshall.)

A lot of lighthearted banter from GPRS members combined with the eleven selections to make a great, great time for all involved...and, after two hours, it was capped off by a trip to Horseman's Park (6303 Q St., Omaha, NE 68117), where we ate dinner.

Can't wait to do this again...and hope you'll be with us! 

Taking what you've got

We didn't get to have our April 2014 GPRS meeting (4-27-2014) at Mount View Presbyterian Church.

As things turned out, we went back to Durham Booth Manor to have that month's get-together. (Thanks, Billi Whelton!)

And as things turned out, we had a pretty good audience as Jim Boston brought his music to the meeting...zeroing in on stuff he'd planned on playing at the March meeting (the one that never happened).

Everybody had a great time. (And if we're locked out of Mount View Church, we're going back to Durham Booth Manor.) 


Now that's the way to end a year!

We had a great time at Bob and Pat Arsenault's house, 5019 Fountain Dr., Papillion, NE, when Bob and Pat hosted the annual Christmas party/GPRS meeting on Sunday, December 8, 2013. 

Both the Hamilton spinet and the electronic keyboard got a workout this time around. It was a REAL workout this time, what with three members taking turns on the two instruments: Bob Arsenault, Jim Boston, and newcomer Greg Owen.  

Jim swapped playing time with Bob; Jim's numbers included "Lo, How a Rose," "Angels from the Realm of Glory," "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town," and "O Christmas Tree."

Bob busted his time into two pieces- the first half being a singalong with "White Christmas," "The First Noel," and "Deck the Halls," while the second half featured solos such as "The Christmas Song," "The Little Drummer Boy," and "'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime."  

And then Greg ran the anchor leg, tackling both the acoustic piano and the electronic keyboard; with both instruments, he wowed the audience with tunes such as "O Holy Night."

What will 2014 hold in store? Stay tuned! 

The taste of success...

That's what thirteen people (that's right, THIRTEEN!) got a chance to experience at the most recent meeting of the Great Plains Ragtime Society- Sunday, June 5, 2011, at Old Country Buffet, 7540 Dodge St., Omaha, NE.

Many of the attendees took advantage of OCB's fine smorgasbord before the 2:00 PM meeting began (or shortly after the meeting got started). At the get-together were Bob Arsenault and his son Michael (he lives in Colorado Springs, CO), Jim Boston, Rozanne Christensen, Monte and Kathy Cox (their son Jeff runs the Dodge Street OCB); Ernie and Kelly and their three children- Natalie, Katherine, and Nicole; and- attending their first GPRS meeting- Chris and Nadine Saklar.

After some fine conversation, Jim stepped up to the plate (sorry; couldn't resist) and offered up some songs about mothers [like a 1927 Andrew Donnelly-Dolly Morse-Joe Burke number called "Baby Your Mother (Like She Babied You)" and 1929's "Dream Mother," the result of Joe getting together with Al Lewis and Al Sherman] and some about fathers (such as Edgar Leslie's and Harry Ruby's 1918 "Come On Papa" and a Louis Herscher-George Keefer number from 1923, "Dream Daddy").

Then it was Natalie's turn to play Jim's Casio keyboard, and she wowed 'em with "My Heart Will Go On."

Bob came up next; he fired up "Maple Leaf Rag" and Martha Mier's "Whistling Joe" before mellowing things out with "Ebb Tide" and "Over the Rainbow."

When Jim came back, he weighed in with a couple of requested numbers: "The Entertainer" and "Twelfth Street Rag."

To top it all off, the end of the meeting brought an Old Country Buffet fixture: Renee, better known as "The Balloon Lady." (She's locally known for making things out of balloons, and that's exactly what she did on this first Sunday in June 2011. Those who stayed received presents such as balloon flowers and a balloon penguin.)

And it looks as if GPRS itself received quite a present...a wildly popular and successful place for future meetings. (Stay tuned!)

Deck the patch!

A great time was had by all at the GPRS meeting of Sunday, October 30, 2011, held at Bob and Pat Arsenault's house (5019 Fountain Dr., Papillion, NE).

Joining Pat and Bob were Kate Best, Jim Boston, Rozanne Christensen, and Monte and Kathy Cox...for an afternoon where Jim and Bob handled the music.

Jim's theme this time had to do with "sweet" songs. (After all, Halloween was the following day, and it's one of the days associated with candy...and what's sweeter than candy?) He weighed in with "Ain't She Sweet," "You're the Flower of My Heart, Sweet Adeline," and two versions of "Sweet Dreams-" neither of them made famous by the Eurhythmics. [Jim played the 1928 Jack Yellen-Milton Ager collaboration, then followed up with the 1956 Don Gibson composition of that name...recorded by many country artists from Don himself to Faron Young to Patsy Cline to Emmylou Harris to Reba McEntire. (And in 1966, Tommy McLain made it a Top 15 pop hit- his only chart single.)]

Jim got out of the candy and into "Autumn Leaves" and "Two-Step of the Bumble Bee," the latter being his own version of "Flight of the Bumble Bee."

Then Bob stepped up to the Hamilton spinet; after doing "Boogie Woogie," he delivered the meeting's best moment: He fired up four holiday songs...actually, Christmas tunes given a Halloween theme.

Bob got 'em singing with "Pumpkin Wonderland," "I'm Dreaming of the Great Pumpkin," "O Pumpkin Cards," and "Deck the Patch."

He then picked up the "sweet" theme with his own versions of "Ain't She Sweet," "Sweet Georgia Brown," and "Sweet Rosie O'Grady" before doing his own- straight- take on "Autumn Leaves."

Speaking of candy...Jim handled the last piece, a 1908 Clarence Jones rag called "The Candy."

Well, here's the only bad news about our October 2011 meeting: We didn't have enough people on hand to hold a 50-50 raffle...and that for the second straight month.

But that didn't take away from the fun all at hand had. (Just wait 'til our next meeting!) 


What a way to end the year!

Our last GPRS meeting of 2011 took place on Sunday, December 4, at Bob and Pat Arsenault's house, 5019 Fountain Dr., Papillion, NE. We had a record attendance of sixteen (that's right, SIXTEEN) people...and, for the first time in club history, GPRS was able to hold a 50-50 raffle (the winner gets 50% of the take, while the club receives the other 50%).

And our first raffle winner was...Dennis Biemesderfer, who pocketed $18.

The music wasn't too bad, either, with Jim Boston joining Bob in providing it with that Hamilton spinet.

Jim's entries included "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Carol of the Bells," "Coventry Carol," and an Asian carol called "Maos Zur..." to say nothing of a classic from 1955, "Nuttin' for Christmas."

Then it was Bob's turn. He not only fired up a Native American carol, but also provided a singalong that featured "The First Noel," "Deck the Halls," "O Holy Night," "O Come All Ye Faithful," "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Jingle Bells," and a "White Christmas" that included the verse.

Food was great, too, with Rozanne Christensen joining Pat and Bob in providing the refreshments.

What with the December GPRS meeting (and Film Streams' subsequent showing of "The General" on December 15), 2011 went out with a bang for the Omaha/Council Bluffs/Bellevue ragtime club.

Can't wait to see what next year's going to be like! How about you? 

All stored up!

The Great Plains Ragtime Society made some more history...this time, on January 29, 2012, having a meeting at an antique store.

Not just any antique store.

This one sells candy, too!

GPRS met for the first time at Hollywood Candy/Fairmont Antiques, 1209 Jackson St., Omaha, NE.

Five members met at the store in Omaha's historic Old Market district: Bob Arsenault, Pat Arsenault, Katy Best, Jim Boston, and Rozanne Christensen. At the get-together, which took place across the aisle from the store's Historic Theater, Bob and Jim took turns playing the store's 1905 Schilling upright piano...the same one Lady Gaga used in her 2011 "You and I" video, filmed not too far from Omaha (in Springfield, NE).

And during what turned out to be three-hour meeting, Jim handled rags and older Tin Pan Alley numbers while Bob offered romantic tunes. While all that took place, at least 20 store customers passed by to hear the music.

After the meeting, Bob, Jim, Katy, Pat, and Rozanne ate out...at Hollywood Diner (the one on Abbott Drive in Carter Lake, IA).

GREAT, GREAT TIME...and a great, great start to 2012. 


Ah...back home again!

Back at the home of Bob and Pat Arsenault, that is.

Twelve people made it out to the house on Fountain Drive in Papillion, NE, for the first of two December 2012 GPRS meetings (this one was held on Sunday, December 9).

Bob's and Pat's Hamilton spinet got a workout...and so did Bob's electronic keyboard. In addition, Bob himself and Jim Boston split the musical end of the festivities, with Jim ragging up holiday favorites such as "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear," "Good Christian Friends, Rejoice," and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," while Bob offered up his famous singalong...which included favorites like "White Christmas," "O Holy Night," "Silent Night," and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

Bob also soloed, and he split time between the keyboard and the piano as he played "The Christmas Song," "The Little Drummer Boy," "Winter Wonderland," and "Rockin' around the Christmas Tree." To top it all off, Bob did some freestyling on that electronic keyboard (he combined classical with New Age).

Meanwhile, Jim added some wrinkles to the music...wrinkles such as "I Found a Million Dollar Baby (in a Five and Ten Cent Store)," "The Red Rose Rag," and "Eli Green's Cakewalk." (The latter two numbers- one written by Edward Madden and Percy Wenrich in 1911, the other by Sadie Kaminsky in 1898- called attention to Christmas' main colors.)

Speaking of green...Lori (Rich's husband) went home $25 richer after winning the meeting's 50-50 raffle.

We had a really great time...and we're looking forward to coming back to Pat's and Bob's house next December. (Hope you'll join us!) 


Something for everybody

That's what the GPRS meeting of Sunday, February 24, 2013 aimed to offer. It was the third meeting to take place at Durham Booth Manor, 923 N. 38th St., Omaha, NE.

Twelve people attended the second Great Plains get-together of 2013; in putting together the February program, Jim Boston (one of the twelve who came to the meeting) noted how the year's second month- yep, the shortest of the year- is packed with major events of all kinds.

So...Jim tried to touch on every last one of them.

He started out touching on Valentine's Day, playing numbers such as "I Can't Give You Anything but Love," "For Me and My Gal," and "Lonesome and Sorry."

February's also known as Black History Month...so, thanks to the Internet, Jim was able to dig up "Run to Jesus," a spiritual made famous by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. (Thanks, Louvinia Sanders, for the heads-up!)

Jim followed that up with his version of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer," and he used that to transition into movie themes. With that in mind, Jim ragged up "Somewhere My Love" (thanks for the request, Martha Johnson!) and "San Francisco," the latter serving as the theme to the same-titled 1936 movie that starred Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald.

San Francisco's 49ers lost Super Bowl 47 three weeks earlier...and Jim wanted to give the winning Ravens their due. As a result, he unearthed a song the Drifters (that's right, THOSE Drifters) recorded in 1960, "Baltimore." (It's on the album "The Drifters Greatest Hits.")

He even took a couple of requests (thanks, Bob!)..."Love Me Tender" and fellow Elvis Presley smash "Hound Dog." (Did you know that, three years before Elvis recorded it, "Hound Dog" was a 1953 R&B Number One hit for the first person to wax the song- Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton?)

To top it all off, Jim ragged up "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans," and in so doing, he honored the city where Super Bowl 47 was played. 

Everybody had a GREAT time...and they're looking forward to the next meeting (it'll also be at Durham Booth Manor).

Hope you'll be there! 



Upcoming Events

Sunday, Jan 23 at 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM