Larry Baxter cornet, Steve Straus leader/soprano sax/clarinet, Frank Bachelor trombone, Phil Hower piano, Dave Macmillan banjo, Pierre Lemieux tuba, Rich Malcolm drums
This is a crowd-pleasing fun band, many vocalists, fine Dixieland Band peppered with a bit of Spike Jones. They gave an enlivening performance and the fans loved every minute of it.
They started right out with Macmillan vocal on Honeysuckle Rose nicely backed by muted cornet. “Be Sure It’s True When You Say I Love You” – with the whole band singing very resounding vocals on It’s a Sin To Tell a Lie
Big Butter & Egg Man, Steve Straus on clarinet and vocal, Phil tasty piano solo buoyed by the rhythm section.
They dedicated a song to Rush Limbaugh, The Lady is a Tramp. Steve on soprano sax with Rich rim tapping the drum. They ended this tune appropriately, on a sour note.
Next was a lovely ballad from their first CD, played in three different keys, drum intro marking the beat to Bourbon Street Parade. Fantastic! We don’t care how many keys they play in, when they get serious, they play flaming HOT Dixieland Jazz! But they aren’t serious for very long – there was a sudden blast from a Spike Jones’ Model T car horn that made everyone jump out of their seats. Rich’s blistering multiple drum tags tore the house down!
They play games – Stump The Band, and someone tries to win a CD by guessing the tune. They’re getting more difficult, picking a tune that Steve says was so little known it was never published, but the Paris Washboard plays it. Cornet took a break on this one while the piano did the intro to Fat’s Waller’s 1937 Our Love Was Meant To Be. The band stumped the audience.
From the unknown to the very known, with Dave Macmillan “featured on 18 string banjo” on a spirited Baby Face. Larry Says Dave was “pre-disposed to play banjo.”
Piano intro to Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gave to Me —The lyrics of this tune are extremely fast, with many choruses that would test even the best vocalist. The band stopped, leaving Larry on his own, with his razor sharp phrasing of all the testy lyrics. Bravo! The full band returned, Larry cornet, Steve soprano sax, Frank trombone, Phil piano. Pierre’s fine tuba solo was backed only by drums. Rich closed with a clever solo played only on the snare drum!
Steve counted out the beat for Putting On The Ritz. It was his vocal, and he enlisted the help of the audience, who responded with “Putting on the Ritz!” Frank’s impressive trombone solo was backed by Pierre’s tuba.
Pierre is always present, with his own exciting solos, driving the band, or in the background behind other solos, playing so softly you hardly know he’s there.
It was break time, so they chose to play a familiar tune a propos of the fine early spring weather New England has been experiencing. They called it ” ‘ave a lawn”. (Avalon) Cute. It was WILD, with Dave on vocal – he doesn’t need a megaphone! Rich tapping the top hat with with a trad one-beat, and finishing with a hard charging drum solo, leading into break time.
When they returned, Steve soberly announced that Dave would play some serious banjo. But after he started, Larry and Steve took out their kazoos.
The full band jumped back in, with a fine clarinet solo by Straus.
Dave showed them – playing incredible, charging, banjo, withThere’ll Be Some Changes Made.
Dave is the primary vocalist with the band, starting with the first tune, It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie, then , Bourbon Street Parade, Avalon, Chinatown, and the finale, Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams.
Steve said “Many of these old songs were colorful, and naughty. We’re not making any social commentary with a not very well known tune, but it’s that universal excuse,” in I’ve Been Floating Down That Old Green River
They have recorded a tune especially for March, a very special waltz, Take Me Out To The Ball Game!!
There was a request (from the band) for C’est Ci Bon, Larry on poignant vocal – in perfect French. Glorious to this Frenchwoman!
Chinatown, was rowdy, with Frank playing briskly on double mute trombone.
Rich hit everything he could reach on the drum set, even the cow bell.
Back Home Again in Indiana. Larry carrying the melody, soprano sax and trombone in counterpoint. Nice.
While the audience was focused on the front line’s melody – Rich got up from the drums and did a little dance on the side! Macmillan continued unaware, strumming a banjo solo with tuba backup. The band connected again, closing with a wonderful ensemble.
Stump the band again. “A tune we frequently use – we’ll play it until we get it right. It’s a genuine copy of a knock-off from our CD.” Phil looked puzzled, since nobody had told him what they were going to play.
Steve on sax, Rich taking a drum solo against the front line’s stop-time rhythm, they started nice and easy, then raised the tempo for a smoking Limehouse Blues, then moved into great New Orleans polyphonic sound. Somebody won a CD on this one.
Phil had the piano intro to Cole Porter’s Miss Otis Regrets, another fine vocal by Larry, Steve on low register clarinet.
While the front line concentrates on melody, Rich provides the beat tapping the rim with right hand and hitting the underside of the top hat for emphasis with the left hand.
We enjoy watching him – now he keeps the rhythm going by softly rim-tapping on opposite edges with both drumsticks, and hitting center snare for a resounding beat, then ending the number with a dynamic flourish!
Time’s up. It’s time for the Finale.
Piano intro to Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams, with Steve playing a full chorus on high register soprano sax, then a chorus on low register sax.
Despite the clowning around, these are talented musicians who play flaming HOT Dixieland Jazz; they are absolute crowd pleasers!
Watch for them in their New England stomping grounds at this website and at http://riverboatstompers.com/ .