Now to turn the calendar back six more weeks and pick things up where we left off when it comes to the 2012 World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival.
It was Sunday, 5-27-2012...and the spotlight was on ten Regular Division contestants.
That's right...the only ten Regular Division contestants left for 2012.
And this was a year where just three judges watched all the pianists at Peoria's Sheraton Four Points Hotel. Circumstances forced Helen Black Tapp to sit out this year's OTPP...leaving Brenda Clark, Patrick Holland, and one of the arbiters you saw in "The Entertainers," Raymond Schwarzkopf, to fend for themselves. (Well, actually, the threesome got real help from Linda Earlywine, Harriet Wall's replacement as contest judging assistant.)
Helen's OTPP judging debut came in 2000, when the contest was still held at the old Holiday Inn Select in Decatur, IL. After all the competition that year came to an end, she treated me to...what sounded to me like a kangaroo court. (Okay, it was billed as constructive criticism.)
And so, coming into 2012, I'd been reluctant to ever again play for Helen.
Okay, enough of that. Let's get to the ten who played for Raymond, Patrick, Brenda, and...a highly enthusiastic audience.
First of all, John Remmers went up to bat. His ability to play exactly what the composers intended came through in John's versions of "The Strenuous Life" and "Alabama Slide."
Martin Spitznagel was still cookin', what with the job he did with George Gershwin's "Someone to Watch over Me" and a number from Jelly Roll Morton, "The Perfect Rag." (You couldn't accuse Jelly Roll of being bashful.)
It was "Perfessor" Bill Edwards' turn; he went with "Jim Jams" and "Row, Row, Row." (No...not "Row, Row, Row Your Boat!")
The tag-team setup Ted Lemen and Adam Swanson put together the day before continued strong, with Adam putting on a clinic. And this time, the newest undefeated RD champ- now a student at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO- cruised through a Tom Brier rag, "Razor Blades."
After that, it was Will Perkins' turn to cruise...and he did, with "The Entertainer" and "After You've Gone."
Ethan Uslan was next...and he showed why he's referred to as "The Innovator" in that documentary about OTPP. Our father of two brought out "Charleston" and "Poor Butterfly." (And he turned them on their heads!)
Well, five down...and five to go. (I'll be back to finish this one!)