Shellac Stack No. 51 observes that “Bees Are Humming Around the Flowers” while reminding ourselves to keep “Painting the Clouds with Sunshine.” We hear from boogie-woogie pianist Montana Taylor, singers Franklyn Baur and Bob Roberts, Benny Goodman, Jean Goldkette, Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Harry Reser, and lots more. “Heah Me Talkin’ to Ya?”
On a serious note, as many of you know, this has been a distressing week in the ragtime community. On Thursday, April 9, we lost too suddenly and too soon Tabitha Lazenby, my friend and the energetic, buoyant new director of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival. I’m still numb with shock. She was only 35. Although this would have marked her first year as Festival Director, she’s been a dedicated volunteer for years, and her cheerful smile and welcoming personality went a long ways in making the Festival such a happy place to be. I can’t imagine it without her. Aside from the festival, she was a well-loved K-12 music teacher. She leaves behind her husband and 9-year old daughter who meant the world to her. My heart aches for them both. Gifts of food and flowers to the family are soon gone. My friends Martin Spitznagel and Stacy Purvis had the wonderful idea for a much more lasting tribute to this remarkable woman. They have established a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to be put into a 529 Education Savings Plan to help Tabitha’s daughter Haylie pay for college in a few years. This is completely on-the-level, and even if you didn’t know Tabitha, I hope you will join me in this small gesture of love and support for her daughter, who must now face a lifetime grappling with with this horrific tragedy. Thank you for taking a moment to read this, and thanks for sharing it with your own friends if so inclined.