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kevin@therhythmia.com

P.O. Box 112, Basehor, KS 66007

816-590-9406; 913-710-6481

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 Videos

 Dill Pickles Rag - Old Time Music Ozark Heritage Festival, West Plains, Missouri, 2012 Twinkles - Charles A. Gish Kansas City Rag - James Scott Pleasant Moments Waltz
 

COMPACT DISC REVIEW

By

Jack Rummel

 

The Rhythmia

Is Fine and Dandy

Ragged but Right Records RBR 104

 Slivers / Bill Driver’s Cakewalk / Shiftless Johnson / Olga Meringue Par / Pleasant Moments Waltz / Fine and Dandy / New Money / Frog Legs Rag / Revelry Rag / Blanche Toucoutou/Can Can / Three-in-One Two Step / Rainbow / Jimmy Driftwood / Levee Revels / Ozark Rag / Valsez, Valsez / Melon Days / The St. Louis Rag.

      Being a banjo player, I admit to liking string band music, so I’m pleased as punch that the alumni of the now-defunct Etcetera String Band have gone on and founded two other string bands, The Ragtime Skedaddlers out of San Francisco , and The Rhythmia out of the Kansas City area.  With the addition of this new CD, each of these bands now has two compact discs under their collective belts.  This disc’s title, named for an obscure piece by Charles L. Johnson, says it all, for The Rhythmia is indeed “fine and dandy.”

     The band on this recording consists mainly of Pat Ireland on fiddle, Kevin Sanders on guitar and Bob Ault on banjo (both Sanders and Ault also play other instruments which appear here and there throughout the disc).  Sadly, Ault passed away before the recording could be completed, so Clarke Buehling ably fills in on Levee Revels.

      Ireland ’s fiddle is the dominant musical voice, with Sanders’ booming guitar keeping steady rhythm and adding bass runs and counterpoints.  Early in the recording, I began to fear that the Ireland/Sanders one-two punch would overwhelm Ault’s plucked banjo, but my worries were for naught: Ault’s banjo and mandolin artistry shines through on almost every cut.

     The playlist is an excellent mix of the known and the unknown.  Familiar pieces by Scott Joplin (Pleasant Moments Waltz), James Scott (Frog Legs Rag) and Tom Turpin (The St. Louis Rag) are balanced by totally new additions to my library by Charles L. Johnson (Fine and Dandy) and Percy Wenrich (Rainbow, an Indian Intermezzo).  The band also performs three Latin-tinged numbers: two Creole pieces from Louisiana (The medley Blanche Toucoutou/Can Can and Valsez, Valsez) and a folk dance from Haiti (Olga Meringue Par).  Ireland adds two original fiddle tunes (Jimmy Driftwood and Melon Days) and a traditional hoedown (New Money).  Other cakewalks and rags complete the list – all done well.

     To my ear, two pieces stood out above the rest.  Revelry Rag is a contemporary rag by Sanders and Susan Cordell that is just catchy and different enough to win my vote as best cut.  Levee Revels by W.C. O’Hare is a close second.  The arrangement is by Ault, and while Buehling’s playing is faultless, it is sad that Ault didn’t live long enough to record it himself.

     The balance between the instruments is very good and the sound is pristine.  The liner notes are extensive and folksy, often featuring obscure tidbits about interesting things unrelated to the pieces (such as the friendship between Johnson and Ginger Rogers).  If you like string band music (how could you not?), this CD by The Rhythmia should be on your must-have list.

     Available for $10.00 postpaid from Kevin Sanders, P.O. Box 209 , Bonner Springs , KS 66012 .  Also available for $9.99 plus shipping from <www.cdbaby.com> and downloadable from <www.amazonmp3.com> and <www.apple.com/itunes>.

The Rhythmia is Fine and Dandy

The emphasis here is on ragtime on this interesting and well done album that is billed as “Old Time string band music”.  It’s a three man group from Kansas, led by fiddler Pat Ireland with Kevin Sanders and the late Bob Ault joining in on a variety of instruments including mandolin, 5-string and tenor banjo, banjo-guitar, etc.  There is a lot of music here, and an impressive list of tunes that have seldom—if ever—been recorded before.  I love their arrangements of THREE IN ONE TWO-STEP and the old Fiddlin Doc Roberts piece NEW MONEY. 

An intriguing contrast in sound came from the string band Rhythmia, with Pat Ireland on fiddle, Bob Ault on mandolin and Kevin Sanders on guitar. Joplin's pieces adapt attractively to voicings on different instruments. Using arrangements published by Stark in 1903, the group played "Sunflower Slow Drag," "Pleasant Moments" and "Maple Leaf Rag," where the fiddle carried the melody and the others offered rhythm accompaniment. 

The members of the ensemble Rhythmia showed ragtime is more than piano music with their period arrangement for strings of Scott Joplin's compositions.

COMPACT DISC REVIEW

By

Jack Rummel

 November 22, 2010

 The Rhythmia

Pat Ireland, Kevin Sanders and Bob Ault

Ragged But Right Recordings, RBR 103

 

Dill Pickles Rag / Sunflower Slow Drag / Cha Bai / Peaceful Henry / Impecunious Davis / Pauv Piti Momzei Zizi / Pigeon Wing Rag / Zorita / Corn Shucks / The Kaiser’s Rag / Walking Conga / The Thriller / Kansas City Rag / Manchega / Proud & Prosperous / Rag Pickings / Forsythia / Smoky Mokes / Ragged Edges / Dixie Twilight.

       Formed in 1973, the Etcetera String Band of Kansas City was one of a very small number of groups that kept early string band ragtime alive, and when they disbanded a few years ago the ragtime community suffered a great loss.  However, it appears that what actually occurred was a form of mitosis, because when Dennis Pash migrated to California he formed a new group, The Ragtime Skedaddlers, and three Etcetera alumni who remained in the Kansas/Missouri area – Kevin Sanders, Pat Ireland and Bob Ault – have since come together to form The Rhythmia.

     Ireland ’s violin provides a strong lead voice to their arrangements, while Sanders’ guitar plays rock-solid rhythm and bass-oriented counter-melodies.  Ault’s various instruments – mandolin, five-string banjo, tenor banjo and ukulele – seem reduced to providing rhythm and touches of added “color,” with the exception of Rag Pickings (composer unknown), where he plays a delightful banjo solo á la Fred Van Eps.

     The music on this CD is infectious and ragtime is in abundance.  As expected, Kansas City composers are featured, such as Charles L. Johnson (Dill Pickles Rag, Pigeon Wing Rag and Dixie Twilight), James Scott ( Kansas City Rag), E. Harry Kelly (Peaceful Henry) and Ed Kuhn (Corn Shucks), but also included are rags emanating from such far-flung locations as Topeka (Zorita by Harry Cohn), St. Louis (Sunflower Slow Drag by Joplin and Hayden), Indianapolis (The Thriller by May Aufderheide), Ohio (The Kaiser’s Rag by Clare Mast) and New York City (Impecunious Davis by Kerry Mills and Smoky Mokes by Abe Holzmann).  For added spice, there are three Caribbean-tinged works, Cha Bai, Pauv Piti Momzel Zizi and Gottschalk’s Manchega.

     Sanders contributes three originals, Walking Conga, Forsythia and Ragged Edges, and Ireland adds his own fiddle tune, Proud & Prosperous – all are worthy additions to the playlist.  The accompanying text is an excellent example of what liner notes should be: chock full of enlightening information about both the music and the performers.  The sound is clear and intimate and the package is attractive.  Hats off to The Rhythmia for keeping string band ragtime exciting and alive in the Midwest!

            Available for $10.00 postpaid from <www.sandersmusic.com>, or for $10.00 plus shipping from Worlds Records <www.worldsrecords.com> and County Sales <www.countysales.com>.  Also available for download for $9.99 from <www.amazonmp3.com> and <www.apple.com/itunes>.

Artist: The Rhythmia

CD: "The Rhythmia"

Label: Ragged But Right

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Judging by the group photo on the cover of The Rhythmia's first CD these gents are old hands at playing ragtime and related genres, so there's no doubting or disputing their skill.

What really sets "The Rhythmia" apart from other CDs of this ilk that you may pick up is the liner notes. Band leader Kevin Sanders gives us a bit of background on every song on this debut outing, which is d*mned handy for folks like yours truly (who can't tell a cakewalk from any other old-timey tune and had no idea that "Impecunious Davis" was one until I read the liner note). The Rhythmia also gets a gold star for including the earliest dated composition on any ragtime disc I've ever been sent: Louis M Gottschalk's "Manchega" circa 1852.

In addition to the wonderful playing and the educational liner notes I love the fact that there are several *NEW* compositions on this CD. Kevin Sanders doesn't just know the history of ragtime & such, he knows how to work with them to create his own pieces. Kudos.

In fact my favorite numbers here is an original piece: "Walking Conga", and I know exactly why I like it: Sanders takes his ragtime trio and then works them through Caribbean rhythms to come out with an interesting hybrid that pops with energy.

So if you, the listener, are interested in delving into ragtime and would like a handy-dandy history lesson to come along with the songs then "The Rhythmia" is an exemplary collection for you to pick up. And, if you happen to be Kevin Sanders, I encourage you to keep exploring and melding in new sounds to ragtime ensuring that it doesn't remain just a museum piece.

From Sepiachord, September 22, 2010

www.sepiachord.com

A Review

by Nathan Sanders, Stringband.com


"The Rhythmia is a string band that performs a mix of authentic Ragtime (primarily written & published in Kansas City, their home town) and Caribbean music, along with original compositions, to form a variety of old-time folk dance music." ~ The Rhythmia web site

     If the quote above describing The Rhythmia does not intrigue you somewhat, then check your pulse. The very mention of Ragtime along with Caribbean music in the context of old-time folk dance music made me curious to find out what was contained on the latest CD from the "new" string band The Rhythmia. Of course Kevin Sanders, Pat Ireland, and Bob Ault are no strangers to the genre, but I suppose you could say "new" refers to their current offering of their band and music.

     As the old saying goes, "Do not judge a book by its cover." On the surface The Rhythmia appears to be just another instance of three friends getting together with their guitar, fiddle, and banjo to sit around and make some music, maybe play a few gigs. And with the first listen, that impression seems to be solidified. BUT WAIT!! Did you really listen to what they just played? If Pat Ireland's classy violin did not just blow you away, listen to the accompaniment provided by Kevin Sanders on guitar, covering some really nice bass runs and perfectly timed jazzy chords, as well as throwing in some percussion. And then you have Bob Ault, either on some variation of a banjo or mandolin or maybe even uke putting on his own show of sorts, with clever licks, rhythms, and interpretations, perfectly blended to round out the entire ragtime ensemble. I would recommend any listener to take the approach I did. Play the CD a few times to gain an overall sense and feel of the music. Get lost in the rhythms and be taken back to another era. But then listen again with the intention of hearing a particular instrument. Pay attention to some of those violin runs. What is that banjo saying? You get the idea.

     This masterful presentation of some perhaps long forgotten music is only further enhanced by the liner notes, more of a history book really. If a person ever wanted to take an introductory course on the History of Ragtime Music, The Rhythmia CD would be an excellent place to start. All three gentlemen are scholars and have applied their years of study and experience to present a fine collection of living history, as well as a few original compositions, proving their mastery of the art. The listener will be delighted to read a brief description and history of each track, and will come away with a fuller understanding and greater enjoyment of the music, as well as a hunger to find more of it on their own. But while being "instructed", remember to have fun tappin' your toes to the lively rhythms and sounds of The Rhythmia. Find out for yourself with some tasty morsels at their web site today.

Sedalia_Presentation_Review_PDF.pdf