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Writing and Essays

The Ordinary

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 photographs have survived from this club.

This is the only photo I've seen of The Ordinary,
shot by Bill Bardin's wife, Mili Rosenblatt.

L to R:
Bill Bardin, P.T. Stanton, Byron Berry, Walter Yost

Not visible:
Dick Oxtot, banjo
Terry Garthwaite, vocal 

Other photos seen on this page were taken elsewhere.

Dick Oxtot described The Ordinary in his 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 band was known as "The Ordinary Band," but it really was a rather "un-ordinary" band, because the personnel would vary so much from weekend to weekend, and was so often graced with excellent sitters-in, such as fiddler-saxophonist Andy Stein, Bob Mielke, Jerry Butzen, Bunky Colman, "Fiddle Ray" Landsberg, Bob Neighbor, and other stalwarts I didn't even know!  Our regulars included Bill Bardin, Earl Scheelar, Walter Yost, tuba and vocals, and yours truly on banjo and vocals."

New 11.2015


The Ordinary 3.24.75

At The Ordinary Oxtot drew on a floating reservoir of talent for years.  This session is more or less his Golden Age Jazz Band lineup at the time, sans lead trumpet.

Photo L to R:
unknown drummer, Jim Goodwin, Terry Garthwaite, Dick Oxtot, Bill Bardin.
NOJCNC early or mid-1970s, Oxtot collection

Bill Napier (clarinet)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Dick Oxtot (banjo & vocals)
Walter Yost (tuba)
Unknown drummer
Terry Garthwaite (vocals)

Feelin’ High and Happy.mp3  vocal Terry
Ain’t Nobody Got the Blues Like Me.mp3  vocal Terry
Mr. Sandman.mp3  Terry scat vocal
Someday Sweetheart.mp3
That Certain Party.mp3  vocal Oxtot
Mecca Flat Blues.mp3
Give Me Your Telephone Number.mp3
My Blue Heaven.mp3  vocal and scat Terry
Why Don’t You Do Right.mp3  vocal Terry

The Ordinary 3.24.75 complete.mp3  46:15

Mielke collection

More of Oxtot's story and music at:

Dick Oxtot
Golden Age Jazz Band
Bearcats Archive
The Lark's Club tapes

New 11.2015


DICK OXTOT “The Ordinary Band”

Early 1970s

Probable personnel:
Bill Napier (clarinet)
Jerry Butzen (trombone)
Fiddle Ray Landsberg (violin in places)
Lisa Polland (tenor sax)
Dick Oxtot (banjo & vocals)
Walter Yost (tuba)
probably Pamela Pollard (vocals, mostly off mic)

Set 1
Ice Cream.mp3  (tape damage)
Why Don’t You Do Right.mp3
Don’t Get Around Much Any More.mp3
Lookin' for my Pilot.mp3 (vocal duet Garthwaite and Oxtot)
Moten Swing.mp3
I Wished Upon a Star.mp3  (add violin; vocal Oxtot)
Weary Blues.mp3
Just a Closer Walk with Thee.mp3  (Napier clarinet intro and coda; add sax)
Dream Blues.mp3 (tape gap)

Set One complete.mp3 47:03

Set 2
Undecided.mp3  (vocal duet Garthwaite and Oxtot)
The World’s Jazz Crazy, and So am I.mp3
Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.mp3
Cakewalkin’ Babies.mp3
Since I Fell for You.mp3
I Found a New Baby.mp3 (Fiddle Ray Landsberg, violin)

Set Two complete.mp3 34:44

Oxtot collection

Clarinet player Bill Napier was an amazing jazz performer.  Bill was always ready with a tasteful solo or chorus of the blues.  Owlish and self-contained, he was a lifelong friend of Oxtot, Mielke, Bardin, Scheelar and crowd. 

Napier, clarinet
with Bob Mielke's Bearcats,
Lark's Club, 1955

A brilliant and committed musician, Napier’s improvisations often danced at the precipice of disaster, yet never failed.  His full rich tone picked up surprisingly well on these sessions.  Note his individualistic introduction, variations, and coda to “Just a Closer Walk.”


Bill Bardin recalled The Ordinary
(I was assisted in this interview by Bill Carter c. 1992, who is heard prompting Bardin:)

Bardin - The Ordinary.mp3

"I played regularly with [Oxtot] at a place in Oakland called, The Ordinary.  That was a nightclub in a former PG & E substation.  It was sort of a, I hesitate to say Hippie, but the audience were young people.  The girls would wear hiking boots and shorts or long skirts.

Oxtot was the leader.  Walter Yost sometimes.  For a while Andy Stein, the guy who's playing violin in New York now, was playing baritone sax and violin there.  He was a character and a great natural player.  He 'had it,' you know; that knack of never letting anyone down.  Sometimes P.T., sometimes Earl Scheelar.

It was the first place I had seen uni-sex bathrooms.  They had two bathrooms but they weren't differentiated by sex.  And you'd knock, of course.  Or, I suppose, sometimes barge in.  About 1972-74, right in there."

The Very Public Wedding of Dick and Darylene Oxtot

Oxtot’s associations with trombonist Jerry Butzen and tuba player Walter Yost date back to the early 1950s.
Both Butzen and Yost played at the 1957 Oxtot wedding and both were proficient on trumpet or cornet.

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

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.


Oxtot at The Ordinary 1972

A large ensemble of Oxtot's contemporaneous Golden Age Jazz Band, probably at Mandrake's in Berkeley. 

L to R: Bardin, Mielke, Oxtot, Goodwin, Cumming, Napier
c. early 1970s

Probable personnel:
Dick Oxtot (banjo)
Bill Napier (clarinet and alto sax)
Earl Scheelar (clarinet)
Fiddle Ray Landsberg (violin)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Probably Walter Yost (tuba)

Terry Garthwaite (vocals)

Set A
Undecided.mp3 (vocal duet Terry & Dick)
Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.mp3 (clarinet Scheelar and Napier)
All Night Long.mp3 (clarinet Scheelar and Napier?)

OXTOT_at_Ordinary_1972_Set_A complete.mp3 14:50

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 swinging-est I've ever heard."


Oxtot at The Ordinary 1972

Dick Oxtot (banjo and vocals)
Earl Scheelar (clarinet, and in places add Napier)
Bill Bardin (trombone and backup vocal)
Fiddle Ray Landsberg (violin)
Probably Walter Yost (tuba)

Set B
I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me.mp3
[Title?].mp3  (clarinet duet of Napier and Scheelar)
Dallas Blues.mp3 (vocal duet, Oxtot and Bardin)

Terry Garthwaite vocals:
Lookin’ for a Pilot.mp3 (vocal duet with Oxtot; Garthwaite and tuba trade fours)
I’ll be Your Baby Tonight.mp3
Just Like You.mp3 (clarinet duet of Napier and Scheelar)
Cakewalkin’ Babies.mp3 (Garthwaite vocal duet with Oxtot)
Why Don’t You Do Right.mp3 (clarinet duet)
Lookin’ for a Pilot.mp3 (long version 8:52)

The Ordinary 1972 Set B complete.mp3 14:50

Oxtot collection

Audio newly posted, February, 2016:

New 2.16


Oxtot at the Ordinary, 1975


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)
probably Pamela Polland (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 Polland, Scheelar (clt), Stein (alto)
In the Mood -  vocal Polland, Scheelar (clt), Stein (vln)
Goin' Away Blues - vocal Polland, Scheelar (clt), Stein (vln)

Set #1 complete.mp3 = 30:49

Earl 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.

Photo: Oxtot collection

New 2.16


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); Plland 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

Earl Scheelar was a superb multi-instrumentalist and passionate jazz musician.  He played very fine cornet, clarinet and banjo, and was proficient on soprano and alto saxes.  His heartbreaking clarinet tone and vibrato on "Do Right" echo his magnificent personal cornet style.  Note Earl's urgent intensity during the lengthy rendition of "Lookin' for a Pilot."  The occasional Scheelar and Napier duets are a real treat.

By the time of these sessions in the early 1970s, Scheelar was leading his own Funky New Orleans Jazz Band drawn partly from an overlapping pool of local talent.  Though never a full-time professional musician, the jam sessions in the rumpus room above his Volkswagen repair garage in the late '60s led to a successful jazz venue in Berkeley, Earl's New Orleans House, and an unbroken series of New Orleans-style bands during the subsequent forty years.


Earl Scheelar recalls playing with Oxtot bands at The Ordinary in downtown Oakland in the early 1970s:

“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.”

Scheelar on The Ordinary.mp3


Golden Age Jazz Band with vocalist Terry Garthwaite
Location unknown, early 1970s

All these musicians were known to have performed with Dick at The Ordinary.  But this recording was probably made at another East Bay nightclub, perhaps Mandrakes in Berkeley.

Photo: GAJB L to R:
Dick Oxtot, Bill Napier, unknown drummer, Jim Goodwin, Terry Garthwaite, Bob Mielke and Bill Bardin.
NOJCNC early or mid-1970s, Oxtot collection.

Set A:
P.T. Stanton (cornet)
Earl Scheelar (soprano saxophone)

Set B:
Jim Goodwin (trumpet)
Bob Helm (clarinet, soprano sax)
Bob Mielke (trombone)
Ray  Skjelbred (piano)
Dick Oxtot (banjo and leader)
John Moore (tuba)
Terry Garthwaite vocals

Set A:
Dream Blues.mp3 (P. T. Stanton)
Ain’t Nobody Got the Blues Like Me.mp3 (P. T. Stanton)

Set B:
Stand On the Rock.mp3 (Goodwin)
Walkin’ Blues.mp3 (Goodwin)
Lookin’ for a Pilot.mp3 (Goodwin)

Courtesy of Earl Scheelar

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.  Special thanks to Hal Smith and Earl Scheelar for assistance.

New 11.2015


This is a small Oxtot band with singer Terry Garthwaite and the talented Andy Stein salvaged from a damaged tape.  Stein played spectacular jazz violin in the Bay Area for a few years around this time, June 1973, almost certainly at The Ordinary.

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


Oxtot collection

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     Occasional players of The Ordinary:

Earl Scheelar,
clarinet and alto sax

Joining Oxtot and crew at The Ordinary in the mid-1970s Andy Stein was playing not only hot and bluesy violin, but baritone and other saxes. 

Stein’s violin style ranges from rough country blues to sounds emulating Joe Venuti or maybe Stuff Smith.

Bill Bardin was a steady presence at The Ordinary, and in Oxtot bands for decades.

Trombone player
Bob Mielke was welcome at The Ordinary, and an associate of Oxtot for half a century.