Search this site
Frisco Jazz CDs
Alguire, Danny
Armstrong, Lil Hardin
Armstrong, Louis
Bagatelle jazz bar
Bales, Burt
Bardin, Bill
Basie, Count
Bearcats archive
Bechet, Sidney
Beiderbecke, Bix
Berigan, Bunny
Berkeley Jazz Houses
Berry, Byron
Black Diamond Jazz Band
Blumberg, Jerry
Bolden, Buddy
Bruce, Bobby
Burp Hollow tapes
Butterman, Ted
Calloway, Blanche
Carter, Benny
Casa Loma Orchestra
Cattolica, Vince
Chace, Frank
Cheatham, Doc
Christian, Charlie
Christmas Jazz
Clayton, Buck
Club Hangover Archive
Club Hangover Rarities
Colman, Bunky
Cowboy Jazz
Dane, Barabara
Ellington, Duke: Live
Ellington, Duke: Tribute
Erickson, Bill
Erickson, Bill: Archive
Ekyan, Andre
Farey, Ev - Bay City JB
Fitzgerald, Ella
Goodman, Benny
Goodwin, Jim
Goudie, Frank Big Boy
Goudie in Paris 1924-39
Goudie's Paris
Goudie's San Francisco
Goudie, Frank: Music Pt 2
Goudie, Frank: Music Pt 3
Great Pacific Jazz Band
Handy, WC
Hayes, Clancy
Hayes, Clancy Archive
Helm, Bob
Hines, Earl Fatha
Holiday, Billie
Honeybucket tapes
International Sweethearts
Jazz Guitar Pioneers
Johnson, Bunk
Johnson, James P.
Joplin, Janis: Jazz tapes
Lang, Eddie
Larks Club tapes
Lashley, Barbara
Leonard, Ada - All Girl Orch
Lyttleton, Humphrey
McDonald, Stan: Programs
McDonald, Stan: Bonus
Men of the Blues
Mielke, Bob
Mielke Tapes archive
Misc Topics I
Misc Topics II
Monkey Inn Gang I
Monkey Inn Gang II
Morton, Jelly Roll
Murphy, Spud
Napier, Bill
New Black Eagle Jazz Band
Nods Taproom
Noone, Jimmie
Oakland Swingin' A's Jazz Band
Ordinary, The tapes
Oxtot, Dick
Oxtot Golden Age JB
Pier 23 tapes
Price, Sammy
Reinhardt, Django
Rose, Wally
Russell, Pee Wee
Scheelar, Earl
Scheelar tape archive
Sharon Rogers Band
Shaw, Artie
Skjelbred, Ray
Smith, Bessie & Rainey, Ma
Smith, Jabbo
South, Eddie
South Frisco JB archive
Spanier, Muggsy
Stanton, PT '50s-'60s
Stanton, PT 1970s
Strickler, Benny: Frisco
Strickler, Benny: Tulsa
Teagarden, Jack
Waller, Fats
Washboard Rhythm Kings
West Coast Trad Jazz
Williams, Clarence
Women of Jazz
Women of Jazz (AUDIO)
Yerba Buena Jazz Band
Yerba Buena archive
YBJB Phil Elwood
Young, Lester
NY Festivals 2014
Gabriel Award 2011
Gabriel Award 2009
Gabriel Award 2004
Golden Reel 2003
Golden Reel 2002
Golden Reel 2001
Radlauer books
Writing and Essays
Tip Jar


Banjo and cornet player, bandleader and singer Dick Oxtot was at the center of revival jazz in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than a half century.  

Dick worked with almost all the significant revival jazz musicians in the area, including Bob Mielke’s Bearcats and innumerable jazz bands, jam sessions, parties, and musical events.

For decades Dick Oxtot’s Golden Age Jazz Band was heard at Northern California venues and regularly in Point Richmond, CA.

Great thanks to Dick’s widow Darylene Oxtot for making available his remarkable personal archive of tapes, photos, clippings and ephemera, which she has
preserved and organized.

b. 3.04.1918 Beaufort, South Carolina –
d. Albany, CA 12.17.2001

Oxtot enjoyed wide popularity for nearly a half-century in the Bay area. 
Prematurely grey in his twenties, he picked up a few informal monikers: The Old Polecat, The Grey Fox, Uncle Dick. 

A very popular singer, he was a mainstay in Bob Mielke’s Bearcats, and kept rock steady time in any rhythm section. 

Starting around 1968 Oxtot worked with
Bob Mielke in the Swingin’ A’s Oakland baseball team jazz band for two-and-a-half decades.

Photo: This is one of the most dynamic images of Oxtot, singing with the Bearcats at Reno's Club, probably shot by Mielke, Oakland, CA, 1956. 

Oxtot and Mielke collections

The Polecats c. 1954

Piano player K. O. Ecklund made this sketch of The Polecats original lineup, L to R: Ecklund, Bob Bissonette,
Bunky Colman, Bob Hoskins, Oxtot, Howard Wood and Bunny O’Brien. 

Oxtot collection.

Early Years and Playing Cornet, 1940-55

In his youth Oxtot blew cornet.  Playing horn during the early 1950s he co-founded The Polecats Jazz Band with piano player K.O. Eckland in the East Bay, and had a notable stint with the Dixieland Rhythm Kings in Ohio.

Toward the late 1950s he ceased playing cornet and switched to banjo for health, aesthetic and practical reasons.  For one thing, it was harder to find good banjo players than good horn players.  Dick was also proficient on piano, guitar, string bass, tuba, E-flat baritone (brass) horn and washboard – and he continued playing cornet into the early-1960s. 

“Polecats” personnel at the Rajax, c. 1952:

L to R:
Burt Bales, Vince Cattolica, Dick Oxtot, Bill Dart, Jerry Butzen

Oxtot collection

Polecats on the Peninsula

Oxtot’s eagerness for gigs took him to the communities of the San Francisco peninsula.  One of his “Polecats” bands had a successful run at Rajax in Millbrae, c. 1952. 

Oxtot Collection

The Polecats band at Rajax consisted of
Burt Bales (piano), Vince Cattolica (clarinet), Jerry Butzen (trombone), and Bill Dart (drums), c. 1952.

Oxtot collection.


This session recorded at Burp Hollow is typical of Oxtot's stomping little quartet with Ted Butterman and Bunky Coleman 'trading fours.'

Ted Butterman (cornet)
Bunky Coleman (clarinet)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Peter Allen (string bass)

Make Me a Pallet.mp3
Bully of the Town.mp3 (vocal Oxtot)
China Boy.mp3 (inc at 5:33)
Since My Best Gal Turned me Down.mp3
Oxtot collection

Dick played several instruments including cornet, piano, guitar, washboard, string bass and tuba.

Oxtot collection.


George Lewis, P.T. Stanton, Dick Oxtot
Jenny Lind Hall, 1956-57

George Lewis (clarinet)
P.T. Stanton (cornet)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Lelieas Sharpton (string bass)
Barbara Dane (vocals)

Good Morning Blues.mp3 vocal Barbara Dane
The Glory Of Love.mp3 vocal Barbara Dane
Should I?.mp3
Mecca Flat Blues.mp3
Till We Meet Again.mp3


Dick Oxtot
Birthday 1965,

P.T. Stanton (cornet)
John Smith (soprano)
Earl Scheelar (clarinet)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Bill Erickson (piano)
Peter Allen (string bass) or Walter Yost (tuba)
Bill Dart (drums)

My Lovin' Imogene.mp3 vocal Oxtot

Bully of the Town.mp3 vocal Oxtot

Walkin' with the King.mp3 vocal Oxtot

Joseph, Joseph.mp3

Pastel Blue.mp3

Note on recordings:
The archival recordings heard on these pages are offered as historic artifacts.  They contain many musical and technical flaws, or are incomplete or poorly balanced  in places.  Personnel are listed as available, or as deduced  from educated guesses.

With Earl Scheelar

Dick worked quite a bit with Earl Scheelar; after 1965 he was a regular at the parties and sessions in the rumpus room above Earl’s VW sales and repair garage.  Oxtot was a regular at Scheelar’s jams and music parties throughout the late ‘60s; both were in Earl’s New Orleans House Jazz Band.  In the 1970s, Oxtot, Pete Allen and Don Marchant -- the former Bearcats rhythm section -- were Scheelar’s preferred rhythm players for the Funky New Orleans Jazz Band, seen above.

Earl Scheelar's Funky New Orleans Jazz Band, c. 1972

L to R:
Pete Allen, Bill Bardin, Dick Oxtot, Earl Scheelar, Don Marchant, Bob Helm

Thanks to Earl Scheelar.


Give Me Some More, featuring Bob Helm
Original issue 1972

Earl Scheelar (cornet, leader)
Bob Helm (reeds)
Bill Bardin (trombone)
Dick Oxtot (banjo, vocals)
Peter Allen (string bass, vocals)
Don Marchant (drums)

Ain’t Nobody Got the Blues Like Me.mp3 vocal and composition by Oxtot
My Lovin’ Imogene.mp3 vocal and composition by Oxtot
Ooh! Looka There, Ain’t She Pretty.mp3 vocal duet Pete Allen and Dick Oxtot
Lady Love.mp3
Make Me a Pallet on the Floor.mp3
My Josephine.mp3

Oxtot playing string bass with the Harbor Lights Orchestra.

Bandleader, Peter Allen, center.

Oxtot collection

Dick Oxtot's Golden Age Jazz Band
Find more at: Golden Age Jazz Band

Golden Age Jazz Band

For at least two decades and four record albums Golden Age Jazz Band was Dick Oxtot’s showcase for a diverse roster of talented Berkeley and Bay Area jazz instrumentalists and singers.  It was consistently popular at Trad Jazz showcases, sessions and festivals. 

The lineup featured notable musicians.  His horn players were Jim Goodwin (c. 1975-77), Bob Neighbor (1978-79) and Jack Minger (after 1978).  Bob Helm, Bill Napier, Earl Scheelar or Bill Carter played reeds, in later years Richard Hadlock or Jim Rothermel.

Pianists were Ray Skjelbred, Fay Golden, Barbara Higbie, Jerry Stanton and on occasion his son, Terry Oxtot.  Dick found most drummers objectionable but liked and hired Don Marchant, Bill McGinnis, Hal Smith and Henk Wagner.

Dick Oxtot's Golden Age Jazz Band
probably 1970s

L to R:
Bill Bardin, Bob Mielke, Dick Oxtot,
Jim Goodwin,
Jim Cummings,
Bill Napier

Oxtot collection

Richard Hadlock recalls Oxtot:

"He had the drive of a leader, with the help of his wife to keep him well focused.  He had the assertiveness for being a leader.

He had a rock-solid beat that didn’t vary.  You could walk on it, you could rely on it, you could know that it was going to be the same at the end of the tune as it was at the beginning.  That’s worth a lot.  And with Pete Allen on bass they made just a wonderful combination.

When I worked a lot with Oxtot out at The Point, and before that at Hotel Mac . . .  I didn’t like some sides of him: he was a fanatic fan of Lucky Lindy.  Everything to do with Lindbergh, and airplanes of the Twenties and bi-planes.  So when he recorded “Lindbergh, Eagle of the USA,” and he’d call those, I’d say, "C’mon, Dick, you can call something better."

"Well, that’s what made me famous, that’s my big number!" and he’d get really defensive about it.  You know he could play a Trad Jazz tune very well, but he had this desire to be a cross-over into the pop world.  And he thought he could do that.

Lindbergh, Eagle of the USA.mp3 Mielke's Bearcats mid-1950s, vocal Oxtot

'And it got bizarre at times, ‘cause he’d have crazy singers out to build their little world.  And if you were caught in the middle as a sideman it wasn’t very comfortable.'

Hadlock recalls Oxtot:

Downside of Oxtot_Hadlock.mp3

He had the drive of a leader and a rock-solid beat_Hadlock.mp3

Tunesmith and Singer

Singer and Tunesmith

Oxtot was an excellent singer.  Though his delivery wasn’t flashy, he was among the best male vocalists of the Frisco revival with a special talent for delivering blues, ballads and Tin Pan Alley tunes.  But he embraced with equal gusto the 1920s ‘varsity cheer’ typified by “Yes, Sir, That’s my Baby” or “Yes, We Have No Bananas” -- and his nostalgic signature vocal number “Lindberg, Eagle of the USA.”  He also had a talent for singing Latin and Creole tunes in a passable patois.

Dick was also a decent tunesmith who wrote music and lyrics.  A couple of his songs enjoyed local popularity; his delightful originals “My Lovin’ Imogene” and “Ain’t Nobody Got the Blues Like Me” were performed often and recorded successfully by Dick and his contemporaries.

My Lovin’ Imogene.mp3 Oxtot birthday 1965, P.T. Stanton, E. Scheelar, B. Mielke, B. Erickson, P. Allen, Oxtot banjo and vocal

Ain’t Nobody Got the Blues Like Me.mp3 Earl Scheelar's Funky New Orleans Jazz Band, 1972, vocal Oxtot

I’m Satisfied with my Gal.mp3 Bob Mielke’s Bearcats
My Baby Don’t Mean Maybe Now.mp3 Bob Mielke’s Bearcats

A big enthusiast of 1920s pop music, Dick loved songs about ‘Lucky Lindberg,’ and the kind of varsity cheer typified by his “My Lovin’ Imogene.”  He often managed to bring a salacious leer to otherwise innocent Twenties collegiate fare:

Yes, Sir, That’s my Baby.mp3 Bob Mielke’s Bearcats
Lucky Lucky Lindberg, Eagle of the USA.mp3 Bob Mielke's Bearcats, mid-1950s

Oxtot ventured into other music genres, and worked with a range of ensembles in Folk, Western Swing and Old Timey string band styles.  Among his most popular jazz vocals were tunes adapted from the Country and rural string band traditions: 

“Bully of the Town” Oxtot birthday 1965, Earl’s rumpus room
“Corrine, Corrina” Bob Mielke’s Bearcats, Larks Club, c. 1955

The Vocal Stylings of Dick Oxtot
Oxtot was a very good singer in several contrasting traditions.
Here is a collection of notable examples in various genres, some unexpected.

Folk and Country:
Born and raised a Southern country boy, Dick retained a lifelong love for rural American music forms.
The Lonesome Traveler.mp3 vocal and piano
Mountain Dew.mp3 vocal and banjo

Jazz and Blues:
Mamie's Blues.mp3 vocal and solo piano
Corrine, Corrina.mp3 (Bearcats, 1955)
Creole Song.mp3 (Bearcats, 1954)
Take Your Tomorrows.mp3 (Dick Oxtot's Stompers: Butterman, Goudie, Bardin, Oxtot, Allen c. 1958)
There's Yes, Yes in Your Eyes.mp3 (Bearcats 1955)
Lucky, Lucky Lindberg, Eagle of the USA.mp3 (Bearcats, late-1950s)
That Certain Party.mp3 (Waterfront Jazz Society, aka Bearcats, 1959 broadcast, Pier 23)
There'll Be Some Changes Made.mp3 (Bob Jackson, Earl Scheelar, Mielke, Oxtot, Yost, 9/65)

Auntie Oxtot's Intermission: Butterman.mp3

With Bob Mielke's Bearcats


Bob Mielke and The Bearcats Jazz Band, c. 1955-65

Oxtot was part of the nucleus that formed Bob Mielke and the Bearcats, which quickly evolved into a tightly knit ensemble of exceptional talents.  The band’s great success derived from their original fusion of ensemble polyphony, riffing, skilled voicing, accurate driving rhythm and broad repertoire.  Dick remained at the heart of an East Bay revivalist milieu for the rest of his life.

Creating a fresh style, these musicians rejected the predominant formulas of Eddie Condon’s Dixieland jam sessions, East Coast “cutting contests” or the Traditional Jazz of Watters, Murphy and Scobey.  The Bearcats created a popular and independent style inspired by New Orleans, Harlem and Kansas City.

Bob Mielke's Bearcats

Saturday Night Function.mp3 Bob Mielke’s Bearcats, Sail ‘N, 1958

Shout ‘em Aunt Tillie.mp3 Bob Mielke’s Bearcats, Sail ‘N, 1958

River Jordan.mp3 Bob Mielke’s Bearcats, vocal by Barbara Dane, Lark’s Club, c. 1955

Oxtot collection

The Bearcats at the Lark's Club, 1954-56

Oxtot was part of the nucleus that formed The Bearcats, which quickly evolved into a tightly knit ensemble of exceptional talents.  The band’s great success derived from their original fusion of ensemble polyphony, riffing, skilled voicing, accurate driving rhythm and broad repertoire.  Dick remained at the heart of an East Bay revivalist milieu for the rest of his life.

Creating a fresh style, these musicians rejected the predominant formulas of Eddie Condon’s Dixieland jam sessions, East Coast “cutting contests” or the Traditional Jazz of Watters, Murphy and Scobey.  The Bearcats created a popular and independent style inspired by New Orleans, Harlem and Kansas City.

It was at the Lark’s Club in Berkeley where the Bearcats developed their sound and following.  Owned by Bill Nelson, a former trombone player in the Jimmy Lunceford orchestra, it had an integrated clientele; about half were African-American.  Their first steady gig, Lark’s Club nurtured the Bearcats, and seasoned their chops during 1954-55:
Milenberg Joys.mp3 Bob Mielke’s Bearcats, Larks club, c. 1955
Ice Cream.mp3 Bob Mielke’s Bearcats, Jenny Lind Hall, 1954

High spirits at the
Lark’s Club are apparent in the recordings.  The musicians were having so much fun that according to Oxtot’s memoir:

 “I hardly ever took a night off.  The job was too much fun!  Soon the regular jazz fans began showing up regularly, and they seemed to appreciate the repertoire of the Bearcats, which included numerous tunes not performed by other traditional bands."
L to R: Mielke, Oxtot, Napier, Allen, Stanton



Oxtot sings at the Lark's Club:

Yes Sir That's My Baby.mp3 (4:43)
My Lovin’ Imogene.mp3 composition by Dick Oxtot
Corrine, Corrina.mp3 (3:19)
That’s my Weakness Now.mp3 3:15
Ain’t Nobody Gotthe Blues Like Me.mp3 5:12
Motherless Chlld.mp3 4:45
Ace in the Hole.mp3 3:11
Yes, We Have no Bananas.mp3 3:34
Sweet Papa Willy.mp3 4:17
Yes Yes in Your Eyes.mp3 (3:37)
Basin Street Blues.mp3 5:36
Sweet Georgia Brown.mp3 (4:57)


Bob Mielke's Bearcats
at the
Lark's Club

Creole Song.mp3 vocal Dick Oxtot

Sweet Georgia Brown.mp3 vocal Oxtot


My Lovin’ Imogene.mp3 vocal Oxtot

Tiger Rag.mp3


Dick Oxtot Birthday & jam session
Winter 1978

PT Stanton (cornet)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Pete Allen (string bass)

In places washboard, piano or a second trumpet or trombone player joined in.

Photo (right) is a similar lineup, but with clarinet, probably from the late 1970s. 
Oxtot collection.

This was a rough and ready jam session without clarinet or reed, location unknown.  In places a second horn (possibly Jim Goodwin), washboard, or a piano player may join in.  This historic music was recovered from a cassette in poor condition and is in places incomplete or interrupted.

This session is proof once again that the Bearcats often played better, hotter and looser, during after-hours or when playing for themselves.

Move_the_Body_Over.mp3 (group vocal, add washboard) 5:57
Buddy_Bolden_Blues.mp3  (vocal by PT Stanton, add washboard) 8:43
They Say Si, Si.mp3  7:10
Red_River_Valley.mp3 3:20
Old_Spinning _Wheel.mp3 6:49
Mielke collection

A Full Time Professional Musician

Professional Musician and Gig Getter

Oxtot managed a career as a full-time professional musician most his life.  But in the early years he did occasionally need a day job.  For instance, he worked for a while as a US Postal deliveryman, and operated a peanut vending-machine franchise.  

Following the slogan on his business card -- “Vintage music with Style” -- he was exceptionally adept at finding gigs and building an audience.  The personnel of his groups often overlapped with or was identical to Mielke’s Bearcats or the Swingin’ A’s, but under Oxtot’s leadership.

The very public Wedding of Darylene and Dick Oxtot was covered by the Berkeley Daily Gazette.

Crossed horns were awaiting the newlyweds as they left.  The Oxtots then began an auto cavalcade through the Civic Center. 

The musicians were seated -- and standing -- in the second car, a convertible, and serenaded the area with "High Society" and "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight."  Dixieland jazz flowed freely at the Haste Street reception for several hours.

The caption: . . . As the joyous couple leaves the Berkeley Hall of Justice.  Bandsmen are, left to right, Bill Erickson, Lee Sharpton, Jerry Butzen and Walt Yost.

Young Oxtot
and Yerba Buena Jazz Band

Oxtot was among the second-wave of San Francisco Bay Area jazz revival musicians who were inspired by Lu Watters and Yerba Buena.  Oxtot was part of a second-generation of young jazz enthusiasts inspired by Lu Watters and the Yerba Buena Jazz Band.  He spent many nights at the Dawn Club on Annie Street and was friends with Watters, Turk Murphy, Bob Helm and Bill Dart. 

An aspiring cornet player Dick was tutored in the youth band that Yerba Buena sponsored Sunday afternoons during 1942-43.  Bob Helm and Burt Bales ran instructional jam sessions at the club for promising musicians.  The Gold Coast Stompers were Oxtot, Mielke and Bill Napier, with a good Fats Waller-style piano player, Isabel Garcia.

In 1947 Oxtot loaned Turk Murphy $1300 for his stake in Hambone Kelly’s -- the co-operatively run East Bay enterprise and nightclub – a debt later repaid by Watters.  Meanwhile Dick collected interest by hanging around after hours at Hambone’s, getting to know Lu’s pet parrot and once sitting in with the band.

Oxtot with Goudie, Erickson, Mielke and associates


Dick Oxtot’s Stompers
at The Bagatelle,
c. 1958-59

Ted Butterman (trumpet)
Frank Goudie (clarinet)
Bill Bardin (trombone)
Pete Allen (string bass)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)

Say Si, Si.mp3
St. Louis Blues.mp3
Should I?.mp3 (dropouts)
Bugle Call Rag_B.mp3
Take Your Tomorrows.mp3

Oxtot tape of acetates from Oxtot collection

Photo: Goudie and Oxtot
broadcast from Pier 23, 1959


The Black Egg was a bar in San Mateo where some of the East Bay revival musicians played briefly.  Probably an Oxtot gig, he mentions this obscure bar in his memoir. 

All the musicians sound very good on this session especially Frank Goudie, though Oxtot’s one vocal is off mic.  In a notable tribute to the origins of the West Coast jazz revival movement, the group closed with the Yerba Buena theme, “Friendless Blues.”

Goudie with Oxtot and Erickson broadcasting from
Pier 23 in 1959.

Oxtot collection

P.T. Stanton (cornet)
Frank Goudie (clarinet)
Bill Bardin (trombone)
Dick Oxtot (banjo and vocal)
Pearl Zohn (piano)

Bill Bailey.mp3 (4:06)
Blues.mp3 (7:01)
I Want a Little Girl.mp3 (3:17)
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.mp3 (3:51)
When You and I Were Young, Maggie.mp3 (5:16)
Milenberg Joys.mp3 (5:56)
The Saints.mp3 (4:03)
See See Rider.mp3 (4:28)
Tiger Rag.mp3 (6:34)
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans.mp3 (4:02)
Friendless Blues theme.mp3 (3:43)
Thanks to Dave Greer.


NODS BAR, April 6, 1960, Berkeley, CA

Byron Berry (trumpet)
Frank Goudie (clarinet)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Bill Erickson (piano)
Brett Runkle (washboard)

Milenberg Joys.mp3
Weary Blues.mp3
Do You Ever Think of Me.mp3
Walkin' with the King.mp3
Shake That Thing.mp3
More music from Nods Bar, here.

Frank Goudie with Oxtot and the Bearcats at an East Bay dance hall called Pioneer Village,
c. 1958

L to R: Goudie, Mielke, P.T. Stanton, Allen, Oxtot. 

Pioneer Village

East Bay, c. 1958.

Recovered contact print

Bob Mielke collection


Ronnei, Horne, Bardin, Oxtot, Girsback sesssion San Francisco, 1959

A copy of this tape first came to me many years ago mislabeled “Oxtot, Goudie, Girsback, 1959.”  But I’ve recently discovered that the clarinet player was NOT Frank Goudie as previously noted, but Ellis Horne.  The trombonist is Jim Leigh not Bill Bardin. 

Ray Ronnei (cornet)
Ellis Horne (clarinet
Jim Leigh (trombone)
Dick Oxtot (guitar)
Squire Girsback (string bass
Carol Leigh (washboard)

Savoy Blues (rough start)
Just A Little While to Stay
Do What Ory Say A
"Do What Ory Say B"
Panama (improves after Horne solo)
Alexander’s Ragtime Band

Thanks to Dave Greer


Burp Hollow was a popular jazz bar at 487 Broadway in San Francisco for a few years around 1960.  Dick Oxtot fronted bands there with various line-ups often including  Erickson, Mielke and others. 

This rare 1959 tape from Burp Hollow is a remarkable manifestation of East Bay revival-jazz players. 

Napier sounds terrific and gets the most solo time, switching occasionally to bass clarinet (visible, right)

Drummer Max Leavitt worked with Erickson, though he was not part of this coterie.

Bill Erickson (trumpet)
Bill Napier (clarinet)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Dick Oxtot (banjo, vocals)
Peter Allen (string bass)
Max Leavitt (drums)

Mamies Blues.mp3 vocal Oxtot
Back in Your Own Back Yard.mp3
Blues at the Hollow.mp3 unknown vocalist
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans.mp3 bass clarinet solo, Napier
Beale St. Blues.mp3
You Can’t Shush Katie.mp3
Song of the Islands.mp3
Darktown Strutter's Ball.mp3
Don't You Leave Me Here.mp3 vocal unknown, good blues trumpet by Erickson
1919 March.mp3
L-O-U-I-S-I-A-N-I-A.mp3 vocal Oxtot
Yes, Yes in your Eyes.mp3 vocal Oxtot
Buddy Bolden Blues.mp3
Love Nest.mp3
Original Dixieland One-Step.mp3
Wabash Blues.mp3 featuring Dick Oxtot, banjo
Bugle Boy March.mp3
Tiger Rag.mp3 (incomplete at end)

Thanks to recordist Dave Greer.

Dick Oxtot Dwight Way session

The Oxtot's Dwight Way home was one of several so-called "Jazz houses" in Berkeley where East Bay musicians partied and jammed.  This tape is contemporaneous with Oxtot's Janis Joplin sessions, and in fact is taken from a reel containing her tracks. 

This tape from Oxtot's personal collection was only labeled Dwight Way, and lacked documentation.  Personnel was fluid in Dick Oxtot's bands and is an educated guess for session #1.  However, the presence of Goudie, Leigh and Erickson is confirmed.

Dwight Way session #1
Unknown (cornet)
Earl Scheelar or Bill Napier (clarinet)
Jim Leigh (trombone)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Bill Erickson (piano)
Walter Yost (tuba) or
Unknown string bass, possibly Pete Allen

The Gold Digger’s Song (We’re in the Money).mp3 5:46
       (trombone out, Napier clarinet?)
Should I Reveal?.mp3 6:04
       (Walt Yost, tuba, Scheelar clarinet?)

Janis Joplin-Dick Oxtot sessions

Janis Joplin was taped in 1963 & '65 with Dick Oxtot jazz bands in the San Francisco area, years before her Rock career.

Oxtot had a unique talent for spotting and hiring good female singers.  As with Joplin, they were often diamonds in the rough, recruited from the Folk music scene, or destined for success in other genres.

After Joplin’s death a tribute album was issued in 1975 containing some of her early folk and blues music.  Selling over a million copies, Janis, Columbia PG 33345, went gold.  The double album included tracks acquired from the Dick Oxtot sessions, but most of the horn solos were edited out.

I’ve recently acquired a copy of Oxtot’s own tape of the sessions that is more complete.  Containing better sound, unedited takes, and unissued tunes, it clarifies details of the sessions and personnel.  
Learn more and read Oxtot's recollection.

Golden Age Jazz Band and related ensembles, 1970s-80s
More exclusive Golden Age music

Golden Age Jazz Band, 1970s and ‘80s

For at least two decades and four record albums Golden Age Jazz Band was Dick Oxtot’s showcase for a diverse roster of talented Berkeley and Bay Area jazz instrumentalists and singers.  It was consistently popular at Trad Jazz showcases, sessions and festivals. 

The lineup featured notable musicians.  His horn players were Jim Goodwin (c. 1975-77), Bob Neighbor (1978-79) and Jack Minger (after 1978).  Bob Helm, Bill Napier, Earl Scheelar or Bill Carter played reeds, in later years Richard Hadlock or Jim Rothermel.

Pianists were Ray Skjelbred, Fay Golden, Barbara Higbie, Jerry Stanton and on occasion his son, Terry Oxtot.  Dick found most drummers objectionable but liked and hired Don Marchant, Bill McGinnis, Hal Smith and Henk Wagner.

Oxtot women

A partial list of female performers who played music with Dick Oxtot:

Rita Black
Barbara Dane
Terry Garthwaite
Piper Heisig
Barbara Higbie  (vocal and piano)
Diane Holmes
Janis Joplin
Mellissa LeVesque
Laurie Lewis (vocal and string bass, right)
Jane McGarrigle (vocal and piano)
Pamela Polland
Barbara Rhodes
Linda Wiggins (vocal and piano)
Willow Wray

Instrumentalists and vocalists who played with Oxtot:

Tammy Fassert (bass)
Fay Golden  (piano)
Barbara Higbie  (piano)
Laurie Lewis (string bass and vocals, left)
Melanie Monsour  (piano)
Jane McGarrigle
     (piano and vocal)
Candy Sealy (tuba)
Beth Weil (bass)
Linda Wiggins
     (piano and vocal)


Dick Oxtot Golden Age Jazz Band with singer Terry Garthwaite
[date and location unknown probably early 1970s]

Jim Goodwin and
P.T. Stanton (cornets)
Bob Helm (clarinet, soprano)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Ray Skjelbred (piano)
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
John Moore (tuba)
Terry Garthwaite (vocals)

Dream Blues Golden Age mp3
Ain’t Nobody Got The Blues.mp3

[Stanton out:]
Stand on the Rock.mp3
Walkin’ Blues.mp3
Lookin’ for a Pilot.mp3

Oxtot collection

Singer Barbara Rhodes
with Golden Age
at The Point

L to R: 
Barbara Rhodes (vocal)
Dick Oxtot (bass)
P.T. Stanton (banjo)
Jack Minger (trumpet).

Oxtot collection

The Ordinary in Oakland, Mid-1970s

Rolling Jam Sessions at The Ordinary

At this lively, casual Oakland nightspot Oxtot drew a young, hip (and Hippie?) crowd.  The Ordinary was the first place that trombone player Bill Bardin saw unisex bathrooms. 

Among the wide range of talent joining the rollicking jam sessions was Andy Stein, playing hot and bluesy violin, baritone and various saxophones.  Stein soon became better known on radio in Prairie Home Companion, and on television in the Saturday Night Live house band.

In Oxtot’s entourage at the time was singer Terry Garthwaite, best known for her role in the Berkeley-based rock band, Joy of Cooking.  (Dick and Terry were associated since a 1960s folk trio.)  At The Ordinary and in Golden Age band they developed routines showcasing her extended scat vocal jams and entrancing stage charisma.


Oxtot at The Ordinary, 1975

Dick Oxtot ran a rolling jam session at this rollicking Oakland nite spot in the early 1970s.  Many recordings, a few recollections, but very few photos have survived from this club.


Dick Oxtot’s less-than-Ordinary jam sessions rolled on.  There’s so much happening that one barely notices the lack of lead horn in Set #1.  Set #2 includes the rarely heard and little appreciated cornet playing of Walter Yost.

Andy Stein (violin, alto and baritone sax)
Earl Scheelar (clarinet & alto sax)
Bill Bardin (trombone)
Dick Oxtot  (banjo & vocals)
Walt Yost (tuba, cornet)
Terry Garthwaite (vocals)

Andy Stein
Andy Stein became a nationally known musical talent heard for decades on Prairie Home Companion and in the Saturday Night Live house band.  In the Bay Area during 1970s he was fiddler in Commander Cody’s Lost Planet Airmen: a fusion of Rockabilly, Country, and Western Swing. 

Joining Oxtot and crew at The Ordinary in the mid-1970s Stein was playing not only hot and bluesy violin, but baritone and other saxes.  Stein’s violin style here ranges from rough country blues (“Goin' Away Blues,” “Blue and Sentimental,” and “L-O-U-I-S-I-A-N-I-A”) to sounds emulating Joe Venuti (“I’ll Always Be in Love with You”) or maybe Stuff Smith.

Earl Scheelar
Talented multi-instrumentalist Earl Scheelar was especially hot in these sessions doubling on clarinet and alto sax.  He joined with Stein and Bardin for riffs and the effervescent ride out choruses.  Special thanks to Earl for help sorting out the tricky personnel details.

Walt Yost
Walt Yost was best known as a yeoman tuba player.  But his fine Beidberbecke-influenced cornet sound is notable in Set #2. 

Set #1
Sweet Jenny Lee (upcut) - vocal Oxtot, Scheelar (clt), Andy Stein (bari)
Blue and Sentimental - Scheelar (clt), Andy Stein (violin)
I’ll Always Be in Love with You - Scheelar (clt), Stein (vln)
L-O-U-I-S-I-A-N-I-A - vocal Oxtot, Scheelar (alto), Stein (vln)
Without Your Love - vocal Terry Garthwaite, Scheelar (clt), Stein (alto)
In the Mood -  vocal Terry Garthwaite, Scheelar (clt), Stein (vln)
Goin' Away Blues - vocal Terry Garthwaite, Scheelar (clt), Stein (vln)

Set #1 complete.mp3 = 30:49


Oxtot at the Ordinary, 1975

Set #2

This tape contained badly damaged audio.  What could be salvaged is presented with apologies.

Add: Walt Yost (cornet); Garthwaite out except Cakewalkin’ Babies
Cakewalkin’ Babies (bad channel drop out) - Scheelar (clt & alto), Stein (bari)
Mama’s Gone, Goodbye - Scheelar (alto & clt), Stein (bari)
My Sunday Gal - vocal Oxtot, Scheelar (alto & clt), Stein (bari)
Sunday – Scheelar (clt & alto), Stein (vln)

Set #2 complete.mp3 = 20:03


This tape features a small Oxtot band with singer Terry Garthwaite and the famous Andy Stein.  These two delightful items were recovered from a salvaged tape that was damaged as it was being recorded.  Stein played spectacular jazz violin in the Bay Area for a few years around the time this was taped, June 1973, almost certainly at The Ordinary in Oakland, CA.

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


Oxtot collection

Trombone player
Bill Bardin recalls Oxtot

In these interview clips Bardin says he was “one of the lucky few” habitually hired by Oxtot at The Point, possibly because blues singer Barbara Rhodes liked and requested his accompaniment.

Bill Carter assisted in this interview of Bardin, 11.5.94,
at KALW-FM in San Francisco.

First met Oxtot in SF group.mp3
He liked 'pep' & Lindberg.mp3
Oxtot cornet & banjo.mp3
Pt. Richmond & Barbara Rhodes.mp3
The Ordinary.mp3
Women loved him.mp3

Oxtot and The Women

Oxtot and The Women

Oxtot became famous for finding, introducing, mentoring and featuring a succession of brilliant female singers and musicians.  He developed a keen ability for spotting diamonds-in-the-rough often destined for success in other genres.  Barbara Dane was a Folkie introduced to jazz by Oxtot who went on to fame in jazz, blues and radical leftist politics.  Bassist Laurie Lewis from The Point was very successful in Northern California Bluegrass music.

The Janis Joplin-Dick Oxtot sessions recorded c. 1963-64 at bars and his Berkeley home are an obscure wonder.  Dick and his associates blended well with Joplin’s untutored expressive, feeling for the blues.  The open-minded Oxtot briefly mentored young Janis; he and wife Darylene unsuccessfully groomed her for a job with Turk Murphy. 

A partial list of the many women who were key instrumentalists in Oxtot’s ensembles includes piano players Jane McGarrigle (of the famed Canadian sister duo), Fay Golden (Monterey Bay Classic and Jubilee jazz bands), Melanie Monsour, Linda Wiggins and Barbara Higbie, tuba player Candy Sealy (Jelly Roll Jazz Band) and accomplished guitarist/singer Melissa Levesque. 

Singers for Oxtot’s ensembles included Barbara Rhodes (barkeep at The Point), Pamela Polland -- who specialized in blues fast or slow, clean or raunchy.  Diane Holmes, heard on Oxtot’s first Golden Age album (1974), was one of his best singers with a range from sweet ballads to dirty blues.  Dick admitted that her rendition of “You’ve Changed” made him cry real tears. 

In his memoir, Dick Oxtot had high praise for singer Terry Garthwaite:

"Terry Garthwaite was our first singer at The Ordinary.  Before she went on to the road with the 'Joy of Cooking,' she was probably the most versatile singer who sang with me for an extended length of time.  She could just about master any type of music -- pop, jazz, folk and rock.  Previously in the Ordinary Club, I did some folk music with her, but even with her wonderful voice, she was too shy to project, tending to gaze at the floor, so we parted company for a while.

Then for some reason, she became a different woman, singing to the audience and developing a fantastic style of scat singing.  I'm don't care much for scat singing . . . but Terry's scatting was the swining-est I've ever heard."


Trombonist Bill Bardin and Oxtot

Trombone player Bill Bardin and Oxtot first met in the early 1940s and worked together often for the rest of their lives.  Bill was a regular in Golden Age Jazz Band.  Oxtot constantly altered his band roster, yet Bill was a steady fixture, 1972-92.  Bardin was in his own words, “one of the lucky few” working regularly Friday and Saturday nights at The Point in Point Richmond, CA. 

Earl Scheelar likened Bardin and Oxtot to a bickering odd couple.  Bill was orderly, sensitive and easily upset by Dick’s off-the-cuff leadership style.  He frequently quit or was fired.  Inevitably they would make-up and resume working, but eventually repeat the cycle.

Photo L to R:
P.T. Stanton, Bill Bardin,
Diane Holmes

Photo: Oxtot collection

Oakland A's Swingers Baseball Band

Oakland A's Swingers page here.

Oakland A's Swingers baseball band

The first season of Bob Mielke's Oakland A's Swingers baseball team band (1968) consisted of a quartet Mileke (trombone) Bob Neighbor (trumpet), Bob Helm (soprano) and Dick Oxtot (banjo). 

After the band complained strenuously about lacking a bass, tuba player John Moore was hired.  In subsequent years Helm was replaced by Bill Napier, later by Richard Hadlock and others.  

Oxtot wrote in his memoir:
"We played the first season, each and every A's home game, with four musicians.  We played in the hallways before the game, on top of the dugouts during each half-inning, and strolled through the bleachers."

". . . the band was dissatisfied with the 4-piece arrangement -- especially me.  It was tough on me to provide an entire rhythm for the three horns . . . I needed a tuba to complete the rhythm for the section.  Also the band would sound much better . . . the following season [team owner Art] Finley went along and agreed to add a fifth musician."  

Sports columnist Ron Fimrite, hardly an incisive music critic, wrote about their between-inning concerts in the San Francisco Chronicle, June 8, 1970:

"The band, you say?  Yes, the As's authentically have the best band in baseball. . .  one of the finest traditional jazz bands in the United States . . . essentially Bob Mielke and his Bearcats, a traditional band that has provided Bay Area music lovers with some of the best sounds in their genre for more than 20 years."

The Swingin A's baseball team band
had only four musicians its first season, 1968:

L to R (standing atop the dugout):

Bob Helm
Bob Mielke
Bob Neighbor
Dick Oxtot

Oxtot collection

Noted on the back of this photo in Oxtot's hand:

"Big deal in 1972 after the A's had won their first pennant!  Monte Moore, the A's radio announcer (standing next to Helm) performs the MC duties."

Musicians, L to R: Bob Mielke, Bob Neighbor, Dick Oxtot, Bob Helm.
Oxtot collection


Earl Scheelar recalls playing with the Swingin' A's:
Earl Scheelar_Intv_on_Swingin_A's.mp3

In his memoir
Oxtot recalled the Swingin' A's and the 1973 World Series:

"Life on the road with Finely was a full-time party.  Finley was a genial host.  (In Detroit) he hosted a 7- course lobster dinner for a flock of dignitaries and the band.  After the feast, which must have cost him a bundle, Finley called a cab and invited Mielke to ride back to the hotel with him.   As the cab approached the hotel, Finley asked Mielke, “Have you got five dollars for the cab?”

My last excursion to New York was with the A’s band, and probably the most scary at first: the World Series against the New York Mets.  The band’s troubles began before the opening pitch of the first game, when . . . we began to play on top of the Mets’ dugout.  Immediately we were greeted by a barrage of beer bottles and other miscellaneous debris, thrown at us by the New York fans!

We managed to dodge most of these flying missiles before the unfriendly atmosphere resulted in serious disaster, but the cops came to our rescue, post haste, made us get off of the dugout, and escorted us to some seats in the extreme rear of the grandstand where they instructed the band to ‘play no more’."
[Lodged in the Americana Hotel, the musicians were invited to join jazz trumpet player Bobby Hackett:]  We, of course, were delighted to have one of the tastiest trumpet players in the business play with us.  We were honored, and considered the event to be the highlight of our visit to the ‘Big Apple’.”


Oxtot was key in the Oakland A's Swinger's Baseball Band.

For almost a quarter century the skilled, adventurous and creative Swingin’ A’s Baseball Band brought authentic classic jazz and American music directly to stadium listeners.

New photos and recordings tell the tale on Dagogo.

Dick's Folk, Blues, Gospel, Western Swing,
Bluegrass, Old Timey and Country Music


He Loved Country Music

On the first page of his memoir, Jazz Scrapbook, Oxtot confessed a deep affinity for Country and string band music -- an enduring passion.  Born in South Carolina and raised in Virginia, “being a good Southern boy, I was a fan of hillbilly and Western music, which I sang constantly,” he wrote.  Later in jazz ensembles he often adapted, introduced and sang country tunes to excellent effect.

Though jazz was his primary interest and source of income, Dick played and worked in a wide range of rural genres all his life: Western Swing, Bluegrass, Country and Folk music.  He usually played string bass or occasionally his beloved banjola – a vintage all-wood banjo.  In these settings he projected his voice in a light, clear, declarative style, singing fine lead or harmony vocals.

Photo: The Enigmas at the famed Hungry i nightclub in Frisco's North Beach.

L to R: Dick Oxtot, Jo Wernham, guitarist Ken Ellis.

Folk Trios

The Enigmas garnered modest local success.  They even opened for Bill Cosby at the Hungry i in San Francisco for a couple weeks, and cut an album for Fantasy Records.  But their timing was wrong, the record didn't sell, and their agent’s projected path to success led through Los Angeles, a course none wanted. 

Among Dick’s early ventures in this arena were a series of folk ensembles before about 1960.  The vocal harmony trios with autoharp or banjo, guitar, and Oxtot playing string bass and singing that were variously known as The Oxtot Trio, The Enigmas and on their Fantasy Records LP as The Goodwill Singers.

New 9.2015


The Enigmas, aka Dick Oxtot  Trio
Dick Oxtot
(string bass and vocal)
Jo Wernham
(autoharp and vocal)
Ken Ellis
(guitar and vocal):

Three Jolly Rogues.mp3
He Spilled my Red Wine.mp3
Casey Jones.mp3
Mama Goes Where Papa Goes.mp3

Oxtot’s high hopes for success are illustrated by the large quantity of surviving tapes, photos, publicity shots in his collection -- and his own cosmetic makeover.

The Enigmas

Dick Oxtot
Jack Andrews
Juanta Oribello

Oxtot collection


(prob.) The Enigmas:

Good News.mp3

Joy, Joy, Joy.mp3

Twelve Gates to the City (t-2).mp3

Photo: Enigmas at the "hungry i"
Oxtot collection

In Oxtot's personal library are copious photos and recordings
illuminating this little-known side of his late Fifties music career.

Photo: Enigmas at the Hungry i, North Beach, San Francisco, CA
Oxtot collection


Oxtot sings and plays bass, banjo or guitar; others unidentified:

Texas Plains.mp3
What a Little Moonlight Can Do.mp3
Coal Town Road.mp3
I Didn't Hear Anyone Pray.mp3
Happy Birthday.mp3
The Lonesome Traveler.mp3
Mountain Dew.mp3

A Central Player of the East Bay Revival

Oxtot was a key a figure in East Bay jazz 1950-2000.  Along with a broad-minded contingent of Berkeley associates he helped forge a popular four-beat, revivalist style based in Berkeley.  The Grey Fox and his eclectic ensembles encompassed New Orleans, Kansas City, Blues, Swing, rural song and broad swathes of American popular music.

His adaptability, independence and crowd-pleasing tactics brought acceptance of his music outside the typical Traditional Jazz demographic.  Few traditionalist musicians of the second-generation did more to support and sustain Traditional Jazz in the San Francisco Bay Area than Richard Agee Oxtot.  

Today, a great deal of his music, photos and memorabilia are available online and preserved at the Stanford University Libraries.  Oxtot was quoted from his memoir, Jazz Scrapbook, with Jim Goggin, published by Creative Arts, 1999.

My great thanks to Dick’s widow Darylene Oxtot for making available his remarkable personal archive of tapes, photos, clippings and ephemera, which she has preserved and organized.

This chronicle of Oxtot’s story remains a work in progress, and will continue expanding with additional music, images and perspectives.

Oxtot collection

LINKS (this site):

Oxtot's Golden Age JB
The Ordinary tapes

Bagatelle jazz bar
Barbara Dane
Bearcats Archive
Berkeley Jazz house
Burp Hollow tapes
Burt Bales
Bill Bardin
Bill Erickson
Bill Napier
Bob Mielke
Byron Berry
Earl Scheelar
Lark’s Club tapes
Monkey Inn tapes
PT Stanton
Ted Butterman
Vince Cattolica
Photo: At the 1973 Baseball World Series,
A's vs Mets
Oxtot collection

Dick Oxtot at Syncopated Times:

Vintage Music with Style

In this article are location recordings, rare photos, unissued studio tracks and a radio broadcast exploring Dick Oxtot’s Golden Age Jazz Band. His talent for mentoring and presenting women instrumentalists and singers is highlighted.

Dick Oxtot at "The Ordinary" 1972-75

Dick Oxtot fondly recalled the venue in his 1999 memoir:

“The Ordinary was a happy-go-lucky Oakland club which featured a happy-go-lucky clientele, and served New Orleans food, so my four-piece aggregation was selected by the owners to carry on the New Orleans tradition . . .. the personnel would vary so much from weekend to weekend and was so often graced with excellent sitters-in.”

Primary Sources:
Bardin, Bill: interview, 1994 (with Bill Carter)
Carter, Bill: discussions, 2014
Greer, Dave: interviews and discussions 2013, 2014
Hadlock, Richard: interview and discussions, 2014
Mielke, Bob: interviews and discussions, 1993, 2013, 2014
Oxtot, Darylene: discussion 2014
Scheelar, Earl: interviews and discussions, 2014

Secondary Sources:
Ecklund, K.O., Jazz West 2
Goggin, Jim, Bob Mielke: A Life in Jazz,
Oxtot, Dick and Goggin, Jim, Jazz Scrapbook

Tip Jar

This site is free.  But you can help sustain it, and encourage me with donation to the tip jar.  Secure payment through PayPal is anonymous, except that I will see your e-mail address.

Donation $5.00
Donation $10.00
Donation $20.00
Donation $35.00
Donation $50.00
Donation: You decide