"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."
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)
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)
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.
Photo: Napier, clarinet with Bob Mielke's Bearcats, Lark's Club, 1955
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:)
"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.
Excerpts: 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
Photo: 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)
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.
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
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)
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.
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:
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
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.
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.”
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 ARCHIVE MUSIC
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)