[Dixielandjazz] Big Bear Tavern Confirmation of location - more hot info!

David Richoux tubaman at batnet.com
Mon Oct 11 12:39:54 PDT 2004

Hi all,

I just talked with Brian for some clarification on the Big Bear. He has 
lived in the area all his life, mostly just a few blocks from where it 
was. He also interviewed Bob Helm and wrote some articles about the 
place. He and Ed Lawless went to the site and Ed took a lot of 
pictures, but Ed passed away before anything further was done with 
those photos.

Apparently the address was an approximation - there is no actual 7100 
Redwood Road. According to Brian the site is actually NOT in what is 
now the park  - There was a "Big Bear Trail" that intersected the road 
and a horse stable area on the southeast side of the road.  The Tavern 
was built in about 1931 at that intersection.
(see http://www.ebparks.org/resources/resources_maps.htm for a PDF file 
of the Redwood South map shows all the current details of the area.) 
Brian says the original trail was not maintained.) The park map shows a 
"Big Bear Gate" and an unnamed trail, but I don't think that is the 

Lu Watters' band played there from time to time until they got the 1939 
gig at the Dawn Club and they never went back.
According to Brian the tavern was not much - a simple wood platform 
that then had a very basic barn shed built on to it - no interior 
walls, just studs and exterior planks.  The Big Bear Tavern burned down 
after some vandalism in 1965/66 but according to Brian you can still 
see the remains of the stable area. There is no sign or marker, but it 
is a wide spot in the road, just westsouthwest of some sort of fire 
station that I don't see on the map.

I am sure Tom's report of his explorations yesterday will make it to 
the list ;-)

Dave R
On Oct 11, 2004, at 10:07 AM, David Richoux wrote:

> Hi all,
> I just got off the phone with Earl Sheelar (leader of the Zenith Jazz 
> Band - the Bay Area one, not the New Orleans or Swedish or Australian 
> one) - I had asked him about the Big Bear Tavern a few days ago. He 
> did some research and talked to an Oakland resident jazz fan named 
> Brian Mathews (sp?) - Brian lives just a few blocks from where the 
> club was and had been to performances there in the 1930s. The street 
> address is in fact 7100 Redwood Road, Oakland. The site is now within 
> the Redwood Regional Park.
> Dottie Lawless of the NOJCNC (and DJML lurker) has some pictures but I 
> have not seen them.
> Good hunting!
> Dave Richoux

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