Ragtime Rick and the Chefs of Dixieland is a 7-piece Traditional Jazz Band "sure
to make you smile!" Rick Grafing operated his own club, Ragtime Rick's First Draught, for
more than 22 years in Toledo, Ohio. After the popular landmark closed in 2003, he resumed
his career as a ragtime performer playing at concert halls, clubs, private parties, Jazz Festivals,
Senior Citizen Centers – and anywhere that folks gathered to be entertained and have fun.
His son John Grafing, at the time a trumpet student at the University of Toledo, and Ben
Herrick, a UT Graduate and trombone player, suggested that they form a "hot jass band."
The restaurant attire and aprons from the First Draught were recycled as band uniforms,
and the Chefs of Dixieland were born. Rick's wife, "Banjo Betsy" Grafing, moved from
kitchen to the banjo chair and Wes Linenkugel, a crowd favorite on several instruments,
began a new musical career as the band’s drummer. Gene Giesige joined the rhythm
section on the string bass, and Jan Mudica completed the front line on soprano sax (the
Chefs call it a "fish horn"). Kevin Shope alternated with Ben Herrick in the trombone chair.
In September, 2005, the Chefs were hired to play at the Sodbuster Saloon in Sylvania, Ohio.
On their very first night, the band performed New Orleans Jazz while the city of New Orleans
was devastated by Hurricane Katrina's flood waters. Fortunately, the climate in Ohio was
much more considerate. The Chefs continued playing there every week for more than five
years, until the club (then renamed the Main Street Bar & Grill) closed.
But the band didn't sit idle. The Chefs of Dixieland moved to other venues in the Toledo
area, continued to play parties and festivals of all descriptions, and when the Sodbuster Bar
eventually reopened with new owners, resumed their regular Wednesday Night role. There
were a few changes in personnel (bass player Gene Giesige died and was replaced by Wes
Linenkugel; Jan Mudica died and was replaced by John Richmond on clarinet; Ben Herrick moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana), but the Chefs still played at the Sodbuster every week
until March, 2020 when Corona Virus Emergency caused the governor of Ohio to close all bars
and restaurants in the state.
While Ohio's restaurants and bars eventually reopened, new state occupancy limits prevented
nearly any venue in Ohio from featuring live music of any description. But the Maumee Bay
Brewing Company, Toledo's original craft brewery, had a plan. They had already transformed
their warehouse (at 201 Morris Street, next to their headquarters at the Oliver House) into an Events Center perfect for large parties, wedding receptions, and family reunions. Now it has
also become Toledo's newest Music Hall.
Open to the public with plenty of room for social distancing, Ragtime Rick and the Chefs of
Dixieland currently perform there on Wednesday nights from 8:00 until 11:00 PM. The menu
from the Oliver House is served, and full bar service is available -- including Maumee Bay's
famous craft beers. In addition, the first hour of the performance is broadcast LIVE each week
For more information about the Maumee Bay Brewing Company or any public performance
by Ragtime Rick and the Chefs of Dixieland, see the information posted on the EVENTS page
of this Website.
Banjo Betsy, Kevin Shope, John Grafing, Wes Linenkugel, Jan Mudica, Gene Giesige, Ragtime Rick
| Press Release 04/21/14:
R.I.P. GENE GIESIGE
October 8, 1939 - April 17, 2014
The Chefs of Dixieland suffered
a huge loss on April 17, when
"Bavarian Chef" Gene Giesige
passed away at the age of 74.
Gene received a New Orleans-
style funeral at the Sacred Heart
Catholic Church in New Bavaria,
Ohio. Members of the Chefs of
Dixieland (and also Cakewalkin'
Jass Band) joined the choir and
organ at the church, and then
marched to the cemetery for
Wes Linenkugel plans to move
from drums to string bass for
the Chefs. The band realizes
that "we can find another bass
player -- but we'll never be able
to replace Gene."
Press Release 08/16/08:
RAGTIME RICK is on the radio!
Ragtime Rick can now be heard
every week on AM 1230 WCWA
as host of the Saturday Morning
The program, which runs from
9 AM to 12 Noon EST, features
"music you won't hear anywhere
else on the Toledo radio dial,"
according to former host, Toledo
radio veteran Bob Martz.
"Rick was one of my sponsors
when he had his own business,
so he already understood the
off-the-wall format of the show,"
Ragtime Rick accepted the role
of co-host in January, 2008, when
Bob Martz became ill. He agreed
to continue the program after the
popular host died on August 2.
The radio show can also be heard
over the internet, by clicking the
"Listen Live" link on the station
For more information about the
Saturday Morning Extravaganza,
go to: www.BobMartzRadio.com.