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Writing and Essays

LARKS CLUB

Dynamic recordings and images from the first and best venue of
Bob Mielke's Bearcats



At the Lark's Club:
Mielke, Colman, Stanton

Photo: Mielke collection


Outstanding sound quality and superb performances from the Lark's Club in Berkeley, some of the best yet from this legendary early Bearcats venue.

Except where noted photos and audio are from Bob Mielke's personal collection.  Many of the photos were shot, composed or printed by Mielke.
 


New 12.2015

Bob Mielke's Bearcats at the Lark's Club: Sound and Images, Part 1

Bob Mielke's Bearcats at the Lark's Club: Sound and Images, Part 2

Celebrating a legendary venue that launched a new generation of Revival jazz in the East Bay. 

Featuring newly restored photo images and tapes from Bob Mielke's personal collection.
  

Bob Mielke's Bearcats Jazz Band at the Lark's Club

It was at the Lark’s Club in Berkeley where Bob Mielke’s Bearcats fully developed their sound and jelled into a tightly knit ensemble of exceptional talents with a wide-ranging repertoire.  The first and best of their gigs, it nurtured and seasoned the band during 1954-55.  They played two or three nights a week between Thursday and Saturday.

Lark’s Club was located on Sacramento Street in a Black neighborhood at the South end of Berkeley.  About half the clientele was African American, the remainder mostly young white Dixieland and New Orleans music fans.  Owner Bill Nelson was a former trombone player for Jimmie Lunceford and later ran a successful auto dealership in Oakland.

L to R: Mielke, Don Fay, Bill Napier, Oxtot. Mielke collection

I’ve heard varying descriptions of the premises.  It’s clear there was a bar along one side, with the band riser deep in back, situated such that the music did not disrupt the bar’s usual commerce.  In an era otherwise fraught with racial tension in America, a pleasant entente prevailed.

Stylistically, this is not Traditional Jazz, but loose 4/4 swing.  There’s almost nothing of the Watters-Murphy-Scobey sound.  The nearest they get to Trad Jazz are the New Orleans marches, played by the full ensemble all the way through with scarcely a break or solo.


The basic lineup was P.T. Stanton (cornet), Bob Mielke (trombone), Bunky Colman (clarinet), Dick Oxtot (banjo and vocals), Pete Allen (bass), and Don Marchant (drums).  Substitutes and additions included singer Barbara Dane, clarinet player Ellis Horne, pianists Bill Erickson or Burt Bales, and drummer Don Fay.  When Mielke could not attend, Bill Bardin stood in on trombone.

New 9.2015

Ellis Horne was a frequent substitute for clarinetist Bunky Coleman during the mid-1950s.

P.T. Stanton's odd brilliance is especially evident throughout the session with Ellis Horne.  His signature 'dirty' horn, quavering growls and driving hell-for-leather lead spice things up.  Horne seems to have been one of the regular band subs hired by Mielke or Oxtot throughout the Fifties and Sixties.

Photo: Bearcats at the Lark's Club, mid-1950s
Oxtot, Mielke, Colman, Stanton
Mielke collection

P.T. Stanton (cornet)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Ellis Horne (clarinet)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Pete Allen (string bass)
Don Marchant (drums)
Barbara Dane (vocal)

Saturday Night Function.mp3 5:54
Basin Street Blues.mp3 5:36 (vocal, Oxtot)
Sweet Sue.mp3 6:20 (vocal, Mielke)               
Good Morning Blues.mp3 3:52 (vocal, Barbara Dane)

Concert format.mp3 21:27
  














"Wonderful Don" Marchant and "Bunky" Coleman










Photo: Mielke collection

New 9.2015

ARCHIVE MUSIC

Bearcats,
Lark’s Club
Orrfelt tape #13


These sessions have some band substitutes on hand: trombonist Bill Bardin, clarinetist Ellis Horne and drummer Don Fay, who were all were occasionally called upon to sub as needed.

Bill Bardin was an effective stand-in for Mielke, sounding at times somewhat similar.  He sounds great on one of the band's only extant renditions of "Coquette," and provides a strong counter-melody to Stanton's lead in the out choruses of "1919 March."  Bardin's smooth restraint is heard to good effect on "Gee Baby..." sung by Oxtot, which was usually Mielke's specialty.  

The Bearcats did not always include drums, and were capable of generating terrific drive without a drum kit.  Don Fay had a busier style than regular, Don Marchant, and was nonetheless acceptable to the band personnel otherwise ambivalent about drummers, especially Oxtot.

P.T. Stanton (cornet)
Bunky Colman (clarinet)
Bill Bardin subs on trombone
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Pete Allen (string bass)
Don Fay (drums)

   
Weary Blues.mp3 3:57 (audio problems)
Blues in G.mp3 5:58
Coquette.mp3 4:42
Gee Baby Ain’t I Good to You.mp3 4:58 (Oxtot vocal)
1919 March.mp3  4:38

Concert format.mp3 23:45
   

Leadership
by Sleight of Hand


P.T. Stanton’s demeanor as a cornet player was remarkably understated.  Nonetheless, he was guiding light of the band.  “The heart of the Bearcats was P.T. Stanton, whose trumpet more than anything else, gave the band its identity,” said their string bass player, Pete Allen. 

Though Bob Mielke was the Bearcats’ front man at the microphone, P.T. was in many ways its musical director.  He defined and molded its style says Bob: “The musical arbiter became P.T. Stanton.  He resolved harmonic confusions and made much-needed decisions on voicings for the horns.”

Stanton’s leadership worked nearly invisibly, by sleight of hand, guiding the ensemble, steering and maintaining its momentum in a manner so subtle as to be barely observable. 

Said one of their most ardent fans, Dave Greer, "P.T. was sort of the presiding musical genius; back there suggesting this or that.  He could get the whole band in motion.  It was like he had a wheel going and he could just tap now and then to keep it going.  It was just a few licks.  He was a master of understatement: just a few notes, and strange growling noises."

New 8.2014


ARCHIVE MUSIC
Bob Mielke’s Bearcats at the Lark’s Club


Milenberg Joys.mp3 (5:08)

Ponchartrain.mp3 (4:57)

Just A Closer Walk with Thee.mp3 (4:59)

River Jordan.mp3 (3:55) vocal, Barbara Dane

When I Take My Sugar to Tea.mp3 (3:59) vocal, Bob Mielke

Yes Sir That's My Baby.mp3 (4:43) vocal, Dick Oxtot

Should_ I?.mp3 (5:20)

St. James Infirmary.mp3 (3:12) vocal, Barbara Dane

Sweet Georgia Brown.mp3 (4:57)

Tiger Rag.mp3 (4:56)


New 9.2014

ARCHIVE MUSIC

This set sounds very much like the Lark’s club, and is certainly the core Bearcats of that era, but the date and location are unknown. 

High Society.mp3

Saturday Night Function.mp3

Trouble in Mind.mp3

That’s My Weakness Now.mp3

The Saints.mp3

Ponchartrain.mp3

My Lovin’ Imogene.mp3 vocal and composition by Dick Oxtot

Sing On.mp3

Darktown Strutters Ball.mp3

Thanks to Earl Scheelar for this tape from Peter Allen’s personal collection.

 


The Berkeley Crowd


Bob Mielke (b. 1926-) trombone, vocals
Mielke and this band were part of a second wave of Bay Area musicians emulating early jazz sounds.  They built their own fresh style steeped in the sounds of Harlem, Kansas City swing and New Orleans, providing an independent voice in the mid-century Revivalist movement.

Bob created his own exciting jazz trombone style fusing elements from Kid Ory’s New Orleans tailgate tradition, the Harlem swing of J.C. Higginbotham, and Ellington’s “Tricky Sam” Nanton.  His trombone exemplar for playing New Orleans parts was George Brunis, heard in the 1939 records of Muggsy Spanier Ragtime Band.



Bunky Coleman (1932-1983) clarinet
When he joined in the early Fifties, Colman was a medical student.  His style was a personal mix of New Orleans, Swing and Chicago clarinet influences.

Colman had first been recruited to play in K.O Eckland’s Social Polecats in the early 1950s.  That carried over into Oxtot’s Polecats.  He continued working in Dick’s bands during his Bearcats tenure, and he also worked with trumpeter Marty Marsala around this time.

His ongoing medical education meant he was often absent, though he remained a band favorite when available.  He did succeed at becoming a physician, though he died relatively young at age 50. 

His alternates in those years were Ellis Horne and Bill Napier.

Bill Napier was a brilliant hot jazz musician and certainly one of the best clarinet players produced by the Frisco revival.  Owlish and self contained, he played imaginative parts with a wide range of tone colors.  His daring solo improvisations teetered on the precipice of disaster, yet never failed.  He and Mielke were close lifelong friends dating back to the 1940s.

By contrast the introverted Ellis Horne developed his own thoughtful yet passionate approach to clarinet in the Johnny Dodds tradition.  He played his parts with a full rich tone, provided stable support for the ensemble, and was always ready with a tasteful solo or chorus of the blues.  Integral to the classic Lu Watters Yerba Buena Jazz Band of the 1940s, Ellis was a notable talent in San Francisco jazz for half a century.


Dick Oxtot (banjo) was a rock solid timekeeper, and singularly talented vocalist of the first water.  A very popular singer, one of his remarkable talents was delivering otherwise shallow 1920s Varsity cheer with a suggestive leer.

“Uncle Dick” aka “The Silver Fox” was an appealing performer, a fine singer, and popular entertainer in many styles.  He was a full-time music professional who ran his own bands in various formats, genres and venues.

Generally billed as Oxtot’s Polecats or Stompers, he often blew lead horn himself.  His band roster was fluid, and frequently overlapped with the Bearcats; his 1959 Burp Hollow ensemble was identical, except that Bill Erickson played trumpet. 

Bearcats enthusiast Dave Greer notes that Dick occasionally picked up his cornet briefly joining P.T. in the introduction of a march before switching back to banjo.  His unison doubling of Stanton’s horn line is clearly audible in the first two minutes of “Gettysburg March.”













There was no replacement for the team of Oxtot and Allen.  “Pete Allen and I hardly ever took a night off,” wrote Oxtot in his memoir, “The job was way too much fun!”


Pete Allen (string bass) had no peer at filling a room with his driving beat.  Pete Allen was one of the best, if not the best string bass player of the Frisco revival. 

He projected tremendous drive and volume, filling the room with a throbbing beat.  Allen was associated with these musicians his entire adult life dating back to his high school days with P.T.  He and Oxtot were an unmatched, hard driving, rock-solid timekeeping duo.


ARCHIVE INTERVIEW

Earl Scheelar had a high estimation of this rhythm section, which he hired for his Funky New Orleans Jazz Band:

“The Bearcats in the mid-‘50s was the band as far as I was concerned.   And Don Marchant was their drummer. 

So when I wanted to record the Funky [New Orleans Jazz Band] I got the Bearcats rhythm section, which is Marchant, Oxtot and Pete Allen.  They were just a wonderful rhythm section.  [Bearcats] was a New Orleans-style band.  Oxtot was a New Orleans style player actually.  I mean you don’t use a banjo in a swing band. 

And Marchant was just a very competent drummer; he came from a Country-Western background.  But it’s all just competent drumming.  And Pete Allen was a jazz player from the very beginning.”

 
Scheelar: Marchant and Bearcats rhythm.mp3
  

Singer Barbara Dane made her first forays into belting out jazz and blues in front of a full-tilt band with the Bearcats at Lark’s Club.  She proved a natural talent.

Though never officially a part of the Bearcats, Dane was a regular at the club and long associated with these musicians.  Barbara explained to me that she’d been a Folk and Blues singer until Oxtot got her in front of a jazz band.  "Now THIS is more like it," she recalled.


Dane had an engaging intensity, and a volume sufficient to easily lead or blend with the ensemble.  Joined with P.T.’s flair for backing blues vocals they made an incomparable Classic Blues duo.














L to R:
Mielke,
Barbara Dane,
P.T. Stanton


Photo: Mielke collection and SFTJF



No Piano
In the Bearcats a piano player was only employed when a gig called for it, though rarely (possibly never) at Lark’s Club.  When a gig called for piano either Burt Bales or Bill Erickson were preferred.  Playing several nights a week key musicians sometimes couldn’t attend.  Though the band did not use piano at Lark’s Club, their two preferred pianists when gigs called for a piano were:

Bill Erickson was a natural musical genius, skilled arranger, first-rate trumpet player and excellent jazz pianist.  Mielke also tapped his good friend and excellent trumpet player, Bill Erickson, “once in a while.”  And Bill played horn in the Oxtot Stompers version of the Bearcats heard at Burp Hollow a few years later. 

Burt Bales was the most creative classic-jazz piano player and Jelly Roll Morton acolyte to emerge on the west coast.

New 10.2015

ARCHIVE MUSIC

MIELKE Bearcats
Probably Lark's Club
Orrfelt tapes #17


Hold On.mp3 3:37 (vocal Dane)
That’s my Weakness Now.mp3 3:15 (vocal Oxtot)
Mecca Flat Blues.mp3 5:35 (tape damage)
My Lovin’ Imogene.mp3 4:53 (vocal Oxtot, tape damage)
Saturday Night Function.mp3 3:33 (with intro and fade out)

Concert format.mp3 20:57
   








Don Marchant, drums (1921-20--?)

Known as “Wonderful Don,” Marchant had a steady and driving beat, but delicate touch that wasn’t “intrusive” and didn’t rush the way Oxtot and the others often perceived drummers.  Said Barbara Dane, “Both Marchant and Fay were preferred because they DIDN'T rush!”  And that’s why Oxtot liked him in the Bearcats, and in his Polecats/Stompers bands.

New 10.2015

MIELKE Bearcats
Probably Lark's Club
Orrfelt tapes #20


Ellis Horne, Roland Working, Bill Napier (clarinet)
probably Don Fay (drums)


I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.mp3 2:36
Struttin' with Some Barbeque.mp3 5:14
Pontchartrain Blues.mp3 5:46
Old Grey Bonnet.mp3 3:45 [vox out edit]
Sister Kate.mp3 4:56
Melancholy.mp3 5:13 [vox out edit]
Ice Cream.mp3 6:40 (group vocal)
Tiger Rag.mp3 5:45

Concert format.mp3 32:00
   



The Bearcats musical director was
P.T. Stanton, who established early on the basic elements of the Bearcats sound, featuring strong ensemble unity and riffs,. 

It was a welcome contrast to Eddie Condon's jam sessions, East Coast ‘cutting contests,' and the Traditional Jazz of Lu Watters and Turk Murphy.

P.T. almost always had a mute, plunger, hand or tin derby near the bell of his horn to generate his odd personal vocabulary.  His unique sound was an unconventional collection of quavering growls, strangled tones, and odd cries.


New 10.2015



ARCHIVE MUSIC
Lark’s Club, Orrfelt tape #36

P.T. Stanton (cornet)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Ellis Horne (clarinet)
Dick Oxtot (banjo and vocals)
Pete Allen (string bass)
Don Marchant (drums)
Barbara Dane (vocal)



Set A
Tishomingo Blues.mp3 3:57 (damaged start)
Ain’t Nobody Gotthe Blues Like Me.mp3 (vocal, Oxtot) 5:12
Moose March.mp3 3:56
Motherless Chlld.mp3 4:45 (vocal, Oxtot)
River Jordan.mp3 (vocal Dane) 4:40
Ace in the Hole.mp3 (vocal, Oxtot)

Concert format complete_A.mp3  
  
Set B
Panama.mp3 4:32
Could Be I’m in Love.mp3 3:45
Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho.mp3 4:17 (Oxtot and group vocal)
It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.mp3 4:09
Mecca Flat Blues.mp3 6:00
Yes, We Have no Bananas.mp3 3:34 (vocal, Oxtot)
I Don’t Mind.mp3

Concert format complete_B.mp3
  







From:

"Berkeleyans Score
With Dixieland Beat"


Berkeley Daily Gazette,
October 26, 1957



"Stanton's cornet style ... gives the group a novel sound, the leader believes.

Stanton . . . has the distinction of being perhaps the least commercial cornet man in the world.  He scorns blowing a strong lead.  As a result, his playing is most appreciated by fellow musicians and serious jazz fans.

As another Berkeley trumpeter explained, 'You hear a tune and think how you would play it.  Then you listen to P.T. and you hear something different – and so much better'.”

Lark’s Club Transcriptions and Bob Orrfelt’s Tapes

Quite a few audiotapes and transcription discs of the Bearcats were made at Lark’s Club.  Many performances were preserved through the efforts of Bearcats fan and audio engineer, Bob Orrfelt who brought a massive Ampex tape recorder to the club.  Decades later he copied many reels to cassettes.  Over the years enthusiasts dubbed and circulated the music.  Not until 50 years later was a sampling of these remarkable performances issued (GHB BCD-66, 2002).  

Several Orrfelt cassettes were recently rescued from dusty, forgotten, and almost discarded boxes in Bob’s garage.  The musical trove presented here for the first time, is now preserved with other tapes and photos in the Mielke collection.  Sadly, most of Orrfelt’s three-dozen tapes have disappeared over time.






ARCHIVE MUSIC

Larks Club, 6.15.55,
“Nancy Tapscott Acetate”


P.T. Stanton (cornet)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Bill Napier (clarinet, bass clt)
Don Fay (drums)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Pete Allen (bass)

Washington and Lee Swing.mp3 (inc at 3:38)

Sweet Papa Willie.mp3 (vocal, Oxtot)

Careless Love.mp3 (bass clarinet, Napier)

Bourbon Street Parade.mp3




Self portrait by Bob Mielke at Lark's Club
Mielke collection
 


Bob Mielke's Lark's Club Photos
  


Bob Mielke's Photography


Most folks are unaware that Mielke was an avid shutterbug.  Earlier in life Bob had aspirations of becoming a professional or artistic photographer, specializing in stark, black and white scenes of gritty urban life.  So he had expert knowledge, a good camera, and for a while his own dark room. 

In fact, Bob’s own jazz photos and those he collected from other photographers offer surprising visual documentation of the East Bay and greater Frisco revival jazz scene back to the late ‘40s.
   








Allen,
Mielke,
Dan Fay,
Bill Napier,
Oxtot

Lark's Club 6.23.55
Mikelke collection









Trombone,
Clarinet,
Cornet

Lark's Club 6.23.55
Mikelke collection











Lark's Club
8.2.55


Mielke collection












Bob, Bunky,
Dick and Pete


Lark's Club 6.23.55
Mielke collection












Bob Mielke

Lark's Club 6.23.55
Mielke collection

New 4.2015

In Bay Area Jazz Clubs of the 'Fifties (1978) Brett Runkle recalled the Lark's Club,
the early Bearcats and its predecessor:


"In mid 1954 the Superior Stompers played a concert at Jenny Lind Hall in Oakland.   A successful engagement at The Tin Angel followed.  I dimly remember hearing The Stompers and touting them to others.

 I have stronger recollections of The Bearcats playing at The Lark’s Club, a predominantly black bar on Sacramento Street near the Berkeley-Oakland line.  Nobody could agree on the year in which The Bearcats started at The Lark’s.  We all agreed it was 1955 until some harder evidence indicated 1954 (probably September).  The job lasted until late ’55 or early ’56. 

At the time, black people were not welcome in most “white” bars.  Lots of white jazz fans missed these bands at The Lark’s, fearing that they would be unwelcome.  I was a regular although I confess to some trepidation at times.  The Bearcats (at The Larks) were the first professional band to ask me to sit in while they were working,  In later years they sometimes worked without a drummer, so I was often asked to sit in with them (to my everlasting delight)."
   


Dave Greer recalls Bob Mielke’s Bearcats at the Lark’s Club:

"That was their best home.  That was a good club and it was in a black neighborhood with a lot of black patrons down there too.  And people were surprised given the state of music at that time that the band was very popular.  We didn’t have any racial conflicts at all back in those days.  I never even saw one.   I never saw any unpleasantness at all, everybody got along all right.  And the black people enjoyed the music just as much as us ‘whiteys.’

I think you came in and the bar was on the right, and then you went in, it was quite deep.  You went way in and the bandstand was at the back of the room.

The rhythm section was Oxtot and Allen, and “Wonderful Don” Marchant.  And then the front line was P.T. and Mielke, and Bunky Coleman.  I had just gotten out from the East Coast in ’55 and I found it very impressive indeed.  I think they played Friday and Saturdays.

Sometimes on a gig they would use somebody [on piano], usually Erickson when they did, but not at the Lark’s Club.  Barbara Dane was a wonderful singer with the band.  She might have actually been the first of Dick Oxtot’s amazing female vocalist finds."
  

New 10.2015

ARCHIVE MUSIC

Bearcats at Larks Club

Identity of the clarinet players on these two sessions is unclear.  Auditioning the tape, Earl Scheelar identified the clarinetist on Set A as Charlie Clark.  Nor does he disagree with the tape box label, Roland Working, for set B. 

But Hal Smith doesn't think it sounds like Working, who played more in the Bob Helm manner.  Much of the Set B tracks sound like they could be Ellis Horne.

Larks Club Set A
Clarinet = Charlie Clark or Bunky Colman

My Lovin’ Imogene.mp3 (vocal, Oxtot) 4:59
Saturday Night Function.mp3 4:32 (probably Colman, clarinet)

Concert format complete_A.mp3 10:52
  


Forthcoming: The best and most rare of the archival jazz recordings heard on these pages will soon be available for purchase on CD or downloads (Amazon, i-tunes, etc) from Frisco Jazz Archival Rarities, a partnership between Dave Radlauer and Grammercy Records.

Frisco Jazz Archival Rarities offers unissued historic recordings from live performances, jam sessions and private tapes.  Recorded mostly in the Bay Area 1940-75, this is lost sound from a boisterous musical culture that created an independent jazz style of its own.

As titles become available links to sellers will be provided.


ARCHIVE MUSIC

Barbara Dane was never officially a part of Meilke's Bearcats, though she was a regular with the band at the Lark's Club.  As Barbara explained to me, she had been a Folk and Blues singer until Oxtot got her in front of a jazz band.  "Now this is more like it," she recalled.

Larks Club Set B
Barbara Dane (vocalist)
Possibly Ellis Horne, clarinet

I Can’t Give You Anything but Love.mp3 (vocal, Dane)    
Dippermouth Blues.mp3 3:07
Milenberg Joys.mp3 4:57
Nobody’s Baby.mp3 3:30 (vocal, Dane)        
Sweet Papa Willy.mp3  (vocal, Oxtot) 4:17
Hold On.mp3 (vocal, Dane) 3:45
That’s my Weakness Now.mp3 (group vocal) 3:21

Concert format complete_B.mp3 27:03
  

New 8.2014

ARCHIVE MUSIC

Bob Mielke’s Bearcats at the Lark’s Club:
Stanton
Mielke
Colman
Oxtot
Allen


Gettysburg March.mp3 (3:10)
Yes Yes in Your Eyes.mp3 (3:37) vocal, Dick Oxtot
My Buckets Got a Hole In It.mp3 (5:00)
Blue and Sentimental.mp3 (4:54)
Corrine, Corinna.mp3 (3:19) vocal, Dick Oxtot
Egyptian Fantasy.mp3 (3:29)
Glory of Love.mp3 (5:16) vocal, Barbara Dane
Good Morning Blues.mp3 (4:12) vocal, Barbara Dane
Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho.mp3 (3:58) vocal, Barbara Dane
Creole Song.mp3 (4:06) vocal, Dick Oxtot
   


ARCHIVE INTERVIEW

Bearcats rhythm section per Scheelar:


“The Bearcats in the mid-‘50s was the band as far as I was concerned.   And Don Marchant was their drummer. 

So when I wanted to record the Funky [New Orleans Jazz Band] I got the Bearcat rhythm section. which is Marchant, Oxtot and Pete Allen.  They were just a wonderful rhythm section.  [Bearcats] was a New Orleans-style band.  Oxtot was a New Orleans style player actually.  I mean you don’t use a banjo in a swing band. 

And Marchant was just a very competent drummer; he came from a Country-Western background.  But it’s all just competent drumming.  And Pete Allen was a jazz player from the very beginning.”

 


Other East Bay Clubs

  


Mielke’s Bearcats and personnel played other clubs, bars, dives and joints in the East Bay.   During the 1950s and early ‘60s revival jazz and Dixieland were very popular in the area, and these clubs offered jazz several nights of the week.  Many individuals, a musician like Earl Scheelar or enthusiasts such as Dave Greer, were drawn to the area by its rich and unique jazz revival culture.
   

New 4.2015

Bay Area Jazz Clubs of the 'Fifties
Brett Runkle, self published, 1978
   


PIONEER VILLAGE
Lafayette, San Leandro
  




Pioneer Village seems to have had more multiple venues in Lafayette in the Oakland Hills and San Leandro to the south.
 
This is a view of a large barn-like dance hall.

L to R:
Bob Mielke, Frank Goudie, P.T. Stanton, Pete Allen, Dick Oxtot


Recovered
contact sheet
Mielke collection


Drummer Bill Dart played with the Bearcats at this popular spot for music in the East Bay, during their July-August 1957 job.

Other bands and musicians playing there included stride pianist Ralph Sutton and Bob Scobey’s Frisco Jazz Band.



RENO'S CLUB
Oakland, CA
 

Reno’s Club, Oakland, CA
5433 Grove (Martin Luther King Way)

Bearcats played Reno's Fridays and Saturdays in 1956.
Bret Runkle recalls that Reno's Club had dancing and hard liquor:  "The Bearcats moved to  Reno's which was a white working man's bar/nightclub in Oakland.  They drew a regular, appreciative crowd of neighborhood types as well as jazz fans."






NODS' TAP ROOM
Berkeley, CA
 


Nod’s Tap Room
Berkeley, CA

More an ongoing jam session than a paying gig, personnel heard there included: Byron Berry(trumpet), Bill Erickson (trumpet and piano), Bunky Coleman and Frank Goudie (clarinets), Bob Mielke
here

At Nod's L to R: Brett Runkle, Dick Oxtot, Ted Butterman, Earl Scheelar
Photo courtesy Ted Butterman


In his memoir Dick Oxtot had fond memories of Nods:

“One of my favorite gigs, and probably the funniest.  A chief reason was the quality of the players, both regulars and sitters-in.  Some of them recall included Byron Berry, Bunky Colemen, Bob Mielke, Devon Harkins and Frank Chace, an excellent Frank Teschemacher-style clarinetist.  Sometimes I played tuba, which I had been doubling on for a while.”
                      --  Dick Oxtot, Jazz Scrapbook, Goggin & Oxtot, Creative Arts, 1999, p. 24

Dave Greer recalled Nods in 2014:

“A little small backroom-type place . . . on Shattuck just a couple blocks north of University.  I don’t know that these people hired a band or what they did, or if it was just a jam joint.  But they had some wonderful bands that crewed there.

Ted Butterman was in town from Chicago, he was out here quite a while.  I was living with Bill Erickson at the old
Jazz House in those days and we’d go down, and Bill would take his horn and sit in. 

Some of the most exciting sessions were: Butterman would be there playing horn and they’d be swapping choruses.  Butterman was pretty much of a straight Bixian, and Erickson had begun as Bixian.  They swapped choruses that were some of the most exciting music I ever heard.  It’s just a pity we don’t have a recorded example of that.”

   


VICTOR AND ROXIE'S
Oakland, CA
  

Victor and Roxie’s 551 E. 12th St., Oakland, CA

This bar was primarily known as the East Bay home of Burt Bales and Bob Scobey dating back to the late Forties.  It was also where Dick Oxtot joined K.O. Eckland in the Social Polecats (aka Polecats) in the early 1950s.

Burt Bales: c. 1950-51
Bob Scobey with, among others: Hot’s O’Casey and Vince Cattolica (clarinet), Jack Minger (trumpet), Bill Bardin (trombone)
The Polecats:  Oxtot (trumpet), Bunky Coleman (clarinet), Howard Wood (trombone), K.O. Eckland (piano), Bob Bissonnette (banjo), Bob Hoskins (tuba), Bunny O’Brien (drums)


The Blind Pig,
Oakland, CA
    

Dave Greer recalls:
“One club not that many people went to and I guess it did not last was, I think it was called, the Blind Pig down in Oakland.   That was a small club, a very small club.  There was a little band that played a couple of times down there with Bob Mielke and ‘RCH’ Dick Smith on trumpet.  They had a rhythm section, I don’t remember who.   But I remember that was a wonderful mating of horns.  Both Mielke and Smith were at their best.”


Brett Runkle recalled the Blind Pig in his 1978 monograph:

Bay Area Jazz Clubs of the 'Fifties


"About 1956, The Blind Pig opened on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland.  It was not far from the old Jug Club.  I know I went there but cannot remember who played there or what they had to offer.  A poll of musicians drew a blank."

Courtesy Ted Butterman


The Ordinary
Downtown Oakland, 1970s

  


Many recordings but very few photographs have survived from the club.  This is the only photo I've seen from The Ordinary, shot by Bill Bardin's wife Mili.

L to R: Bill Bardin, PT Stanton, Byron Berry, Walter Yost

Not visible:
Dick Oxtot, banjo
Terry Garthwaite, vocal   


ARCHIVE MUSIC


This tape features a small Oxtot band with singer Terry Garthwaite and the famous Andy Stein.  These two delightful items were salvaged from a damaged tape.  Stein played spectacular jazz violin in the Bay Area for a few years around this time.

Oxtot band most likely almost certainly at The Ordinary, June 1973

Andy Stein (violin)
P.T. Stanton (cornet)
Dick Oxtot (guitar)
Terry Garthwaite (vocal, "Summertime")
(other personnel are unlisted and unknown)


Sunday.mp3
Summertime.mp3

Oxtot collection
   


Earl Scheelar recalled The Ordinary:

“It was on Manila, Broadway near 40th in Oakland.  It was kind of a little warehouse.   [The band] was a quartet.  A lot of people played there.  It was Oxtot’s band; I played it a lot.   Walter Yost played quite a bit. 

It was kind of a warehouse.  It could have been a PG & E station but I don’t know.  Around 1970, or a little bit later.    It had to be somewhere around ’71-’72 somewhere in there.   I don’t remember who the crowd was; they were young, they were young people.   They weren’t the jazz crowd of today.  And it was fairly well attended.

Andy Stein would come in and sit-in a lot on baritone sax, as a bass instrument.  Yost played tuba a lot in that group, also played cornet sometimes.  But he was the main tuba player.”


The Ordinary.mp3

And Bill Bardin also recalled the club:

Bardin recalls The Ordinary.mp3
  



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Related pages (this site):

P.T. Stanton
Byron Berry
Bob Mielke
Barbara Dane
Bill Erickson
Bill Napier
Burp Hollow
Dick Oxtot
Monkey Inn
Pier 23
Lark's Club
Berkeley Jazz house
The Bagatelle