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Old 07-15-2007, 03:22 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: near Bangor, Maine USA
Posts: 306
Default Steamboat reunion

Recently I had the honor of doing a guest performance of my ragtime show on the Delta Queen as she steamed between Memphis and St. Louis. As part of a cast of various reunion entertainers participating in different parts of the cruise, I had the great pleasure of spending time aboard with some of my favorites. Boarding in Memphis the same day was the very talented husband and wife folk singing duo Dave Para and Cathy Barton. Cathy and Dave have become beloved regulars on the Delta Queen, and it’s always a special treat when they are aboard with their homespun entertainment and variety of musical instruments, all of which they play so beautifully in accompaniment to their sweet singing of songs and ballads of the rivers. Dave and I look sort of like we could be twin brothers, and indeed passengers and crew often mistake us for each other. We’ve had a lot of laughs over this, and most recently I was walking along the street in Cape Girardeau the morning following Cathy and Dave’s wonderful performance, when a passenger hailed me from the other side of the street saying how much he had enjoyed “our” performance last night. I politely thanked him. Then there was a time a passenger struck up a conversation with Dave in the Forward Cabin Lounge and eventually Dave, realizing he has no idea what the man is talking about says, “Sir, I think you think you’re talking to Jazzou.” But perhaps the best laugh came from the time a couple of years ago when Dave was setting up the stage in the Orleans Room. He had his back turned and was bending over plugging something in when dining room server Maurice Hardy walked in and said, “Hey Jazzou, what’s goin’ on?” Apparently, we look the same from the other end, too!

A special treat was getting to cruise with Nadine Louviere again. In the ten years Nadine worked for the Delta Queen Steamboat Company she did everything from purser to bartender, from Cruise Director to Riverlorian, and when she fell in love with and married bandleader David Evans, she was given in marriage by Captain Gabe Chengery. The wedding took place in the Aft Cabin Lounge and was featured in People Magazine.

When I performed my ragtime show on this cruise I had the unique opportunity to reintroduce in a most special way, my original composition “Ragtime Mary Greene – A Ghostly Two-Step,” which had received its premiere public performance aboard the Delta Queen May 16, 2005 at mile 301.4 on the Tennessee River. During that first performance I had set a chair center stage and invited the ghost of Mary Greene to sit in it to hear her piece for the first time (I am pretty sure she was there). This time, dear friend and granddaughter of the ghost, Jane Greene was aboard as a reunion personality, regaling the passengers with her humorous and memorable stories of growing up on the Greene Line steamboats. Jane so kindly agreed to sit in the chair this time while I played the piece. After performing it, I presented Jane with the first copy of the notated sheet music for “Ragtime Mary Greene” which I’ve just published in limited edition. Along with re-edited copy of my other two pieces “Paddlewheel Rag” (1998) and “High Water” (1981), which, incidentally also received its premiere public performance on the Delta Queen ( May 5, 1982 at mile 417.5 on the Ohio River), “Ragtime Mary Greene” rounds out my River Trilogy. For those who would like to have a copy for their river collections, or to play on their piano, it will be available soon, with details on how to obtain it right here on the Steamboats.org website. The exquisite cover photo of the Trilogy, which features the Delta Queen’s paddlewheel and rainbow, was taken by fellow river traveler John Mullen. John and his wife, Carol were also aboard from Memphis to St. Louis a couple of weeks ago when I cruised. I would also like to thank Daniel and Penny Hood for the amazing little windup piano player that plays “The Entertainer,” which appeared in the show, too.

Jane, Nadine, and I were invited to participate in a symposium, which turned into a fun reminiscence of old times on the boat. Discovery Guide Mary Charlton asked some leading questions and then off we went remembering many things, most of which we could mention. Of course the likes of Bud Black, Vic Tooker, Betty Blake, Doc Hawley and countless others all entered into the fray and I’m sorry they couldn’t all be there to defend themselves…. Great times – amazing memories.

Performing river music with Bob Schad and Mike Gentry was fun, as it always is. And being greeted by legendary passengers Pat Traynor and her daughter, Barb Hameister (thanks for the delicious chocolate chip cookies, Barb!), JoAnn Schoen (thanks for the tasty fudge, JoAnn!), and Patti Loftin when we landed in St. Louis was the capper.

Just wanted to let you know how nice it was to be back on the river on the ol’ Delta Queen again for a few days. And yes, what an honor it was to land back aboard the same day as the pilothouse eagle!

Jazzou
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