[Dixielandjazz] Lu Watters 'Tea Dance' Concert

Dan Augustine ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu
Thu Oct 28 12:21:17 PDT 2004

     Just wanted to submit a mini-report on my 
experiences this past weekend in San Francisco at 
the Lu Watters 'Tea Dance' concert.  Had a great 
time, heard some wonderful, stirring (not 
shaken--no earthquakes) dixieland, met some 
DJMLers and other interesting people, and 
explored the historic turf around the Bay area.
     On Friday night, i drove down Route 101 to 
Menlo Park to the Café Barrone, where Clint 
Baker's Café Borrone All-Stars were playing. 
That night, besides Clint (trombone), the usual 
players Leon Oakley (trumpet), Robert Young 
(reeds), and Bill Reinhart (bass) were joined by 
special guests Tom Bartlett (trombone), John Gill 
(drums), and Jim Cullum (cornet).  They played up 
a storm, and we remarked that Saturday's concert 
would be hard-pressed to beat it.  Those gathered 
around the table three feet from the band 
included regulars Dottie Lawless and Rae Ann 
Berry, plus interlopers Bob Romans, Tom Wiggins, 
and me.  Leon was thoughtful enough to bring 
along some historical items relating to the Big 
Bear Tavern and its location for me to read.
     On Saturday, an overcast, drizzly day, a 
large crowd convened in the atrium of the 
Townsend Center in San Francisco.  The band was 
composed of Bill Carter (clarinet), Jim Cullum 
(cornet), Leon Oakley (trumpet), Tom Bartlett 
(trombone), John Gill (banjo), Clint Baker 
(drums), Marty Eggers (piano), and Ray Cadd 
(tuba). They played three sets of tunes the Lu 
Watters band favored, in magnificent style and 
with some impressive solos.  There were quite a 
few couples (and even singles) dancing to every 
song.  Free snacks and beverages were available, 
and there were books and CDs for sale, including 
the new book _Meet Me at McGoon's_ by Pete Clute 
and Jim Goggin (which i had already ordered at 
home from Carol Clute).  Dottie Lawless gave me 
an envelope of some of Ed Lawless' photographs of 
the Big Bear Tavern and its site, and she also 
introduced me to a number of folks i have long 
wanted to meet, including Pat Yankee and Marty 
Eggers.  I also talked briefly with Ray Cadd 
about how much i enjoyed his tuba-playing, and i 
met fellow-DJMLer Beth Villanyi and some friends 
of hers.  A great concert it was, for all kinds 
of reasons (musical, social, historical, and 
     On Sunday i drove out to the house of Brian 
and Barbara Matthews in the Oakland hills, whom i 
met thanks to Rae Ann, and Brian and i drove by 
the site on Redwood Road where the Big Bear 
Tavern used to be.  The location was a wide spot 
on a two-lane descending roadway in a narrow 
tree- and shrub-covered canyon, and it occurred 
to me that this extremely out-of-the-way place 
must have appealed to Lu Watters' fondness for 
wildness in life and in music.  You really had to 
want to play a lot to drive out here in the dark 
from San Francisco in the late 1930's.  Many 
thanks to Brian for taking me to it.  After that, 
i drove around the Bay area a little, up to 
Sonoma and environs, checking out the area in 
case i want to spend a number of months in 
northern California soaking up the dixieland that 
is so hard to find in Texas.
     Thanks again to everyone for making me feel 
so welcome and for giving me information and 
materials on the history of dixieland in the Bay 

**  Dan Augustine     Austin, Texas     ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu  **
**        "Luck is the residue of design."  --  Branch Rickey         **

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