I just recently returned home from the 1997 AMICA convention in Sandusky,
Ohio. As usual, this served as my annual renewal of interest in mechanical
music and also refreshing friendships with people associated AMICA.
Convention chairman, Robin Pratt, demonstrated just how successful a
convention could be in a small town, absent large collections . In my
opinion, the key to this success was the focus on the music and the quality
of the professional performers. We were entertained by five talented
professionals! Appearing in separate concerts were John Arpin, Bolcom and
Morris, and Dwight Thomas. Honorary AMICAN Hi Babbit (of QRS fame) mingled
and entertained on an informal basis. This was Hi's first AMICA meeting
and he was an instant success. His eighty year-old fingers nimbly rendered
many favorite tunes.
The visit to Cedar Point, "The roller coast" of America, and the
Merry-Go-Round museum bonded the local flavor of Sandusky to our AMICA
meeting. From the technical stand point, the Ampico scholars Jeff Morgan
and yours truly brought forth many details in the development of that
medium and its rolls. Offering equal time to the Duo-Art was restorer Mel
Septon. QRS's Bob Berkman presented the attendees with two gifts. The
First was a marvelous convention souvenir roll featuring the artistry of
William Bolcom. Second, was a wonderful technical session educating the
group on the modern QRS contributions in mechanical music. The QRS
convention roll featured pictures of the "Balcom and Morris" duo and
several scenes from the Sandusky venues we visited. The music on the roll,
Scott Joplin's "Country Club" is a true hand-played rendition by William
Bolcom. This Joplin Rag is a true classic--simple and clean. Matched up
with rag performer-scholar Bolcom, this indeed was a stroke of genius by
QRS's Bob Berkman who made possible this roll offering.
Those of you who could have attended but chose not to, made a big mistake.
The 200 plus who did attend, got their money's worth. This was perhaps the
most evenly balanced, well planned convention that I have ever attended.
The schedule was paced evenly and realistically. We all had a good time!!
Standby for more good AMICA conventions. 1998 in Niagara Falls, Canada is
Cheers, Bob Taylor