SOURCE: Friends of Jazz

Friends of Jazz

September 24, 2009 13:25 ET

Friends of Jazz Gears Up for RagFest's Tenth Anniversary

FULLERTON, CA--(Marketwire - September 24, 2009) - RagFest 2009, Orange County, California's annual festival of ragtime music, unfolds in historic downtown Fullerton on Saturday, October 17 (from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Sunday, October 18 (from noon until 5 p.m.), with a special variety revue show at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, RagFest offers several stages highlighting soloists, duets, combos, vocalists and more performing vintage and contemporary ragtime music. The festival will feature nationally known performers such as Ian Whitcomb and a lengthy roster of Californians that includes Carl Sonny Leyland and Patrick Aranda.

In the spring of 2000, Eric Marchese, a longtime performer at the Maple Leaf and Rose Leaf clubs, approached Friends of Jazz, an Orange County-based educational non-profit group with the idea of joining forces to produce a ragtime festival in the city of Fullerton, FOJ's home base.

That first year, the festival was limited to one afternoon and one venue. Featured performers included Bill Mitchell, Tom Brier, Nan Bostick and Pat Aranda, and a small combo called The Albany Nightboat Ragtimers. Marchese MCd the afternoon and also performed.

This year, as RagFest celebrates its Tenth Anniversary, the event is marked by the inclusion of much wonderful ragtime talent performing at a variety of venues over the two-day period of October 17-18.

Co-headliners this year are Leyland, one of the top boogie pianists in the country, and Ian and Regina Whitcomb, offering their special brand of early 20th-century Americana. Making his RagFest debut is Alan Thompson, Jr., who has long been known as one of Disneyland's premier pianists.

This year, for the first time, the festival will be using the gymnasium at the local Boys and Girls Club as its dance venue. Saturday's dance performers are the Albany Nightboat Ragtimers, the Whitcombs, and Brad Kay and his Syncopating Songbirds, with Regina Whitcomb providing the dance instruction for the afternoon. The Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra will be back for its fourth time at RagFest, appearing on Sunday, with Richard Duree providing lessons as the afternoon's dancemeister.

New stars on the rise include Vincent Johnson and Andrew Barrett. Barrett and Kay join up with Mark Fletcher in a diverse trio act that calls themselves "The Unurban Irregulars." Sharon Evans and Rick Rogers bring their vaudeville-style act to RagFest for the first time, and vocalist Erika C. Miller will perform many popular ragtime tunes, backed by Marchese on piano.

Using the two pianos at Mo's Fullerton Music store, Nan Bostick and Shirley Case will present a special program called "Celebrating the Women of Ragtime." Nan will also open the festival on Saturday morning with a special program called "From Ragtime to Swing Time," which will trace ragtime music from its origins in the 1890s to the Swing era of the 1940s.

Festival headquarters is Steamers Jazz Club, 138 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, where Will Call and day-of tickets will be available. Tickets are $20 for the Saturday and Sunday afternoon programs, $25 for the Saturday night Ragtime Revue show, and $60 for an All-Events pass. All tickets are $5 higher at the door and if ordered after October 9. To order tickets by credit card, go to the festival's website, To order by mail, send check or money order made out to Friends of Jazz, P.O. Box 5671, Fullerton CA 92838. For questions regarding tickets or general event information, contact Bill Klinghoffer of Friends of Jazz at (714) 680-6684.

Editor's Note: Interviews are available by contacting Goffin Public Relations at (714) 528-1258 or by e-mail at

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