Earl's New Orleans House
While operating a Volkswagen repair shop and selling used VWs 6 days a week, Earl Scheelar led a band at his own club, The New Orleans House, on San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley, California. The band played every Friday and Saturday night for about 8 months in 1966 and 67. Earl has just issued (May 2013) two CDs of live recordings from the short-lived club featuring Bob Helm.
The original personnel in the band was:
- Bob Helm on clarinet and soprano sax
- John Farkas on trombone
- Karl Walterskerschen on banjo
- Peter Allen on string bass
- Peter Berg on guitar
- Earl Scheelar on cornet
At one point, Karl left the band and was replaced by Burt Bales on piano. The recordings were made live, over a period of several months, and there were a lot of substitutes including, among others, the young Mike Starr on trombone, Dick Oxtot on banjo and Bob Short on tuba and cornet.
Earl was extremely fortunate that Bob Helm was available at that time, as he was in his prime and he believes these are some of best recordings Bob ever made. Someone asked Earl why Bob had twice as many solos as anyone else in the band, and the answer is because he was Bob Helm! In his opinion, Bob was the Bay Area’s musical genius.
As it turned out, it was exactly the wrong time and place for a New Orleans Jazz Club, being the height of the rock era. As a matter of fact, after Earl sold the club, it was a rock club for about another 5 years.
There was a lot of traditional jazz being played in the Bay Area during the 60’s. The Lu Watters Yerba Buena Jazz Band of the 1940’s planted a lot of seeds, bearing fruit, starting in the 1950s, and continuing to this day, inspiring many aspiring young musicians to play traditional jazz.
Earl moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in late 1950 to be part of the jazz scene, just in time to hear the Lu Watters band 3 times before they hung it up on New Years Eve, 1950. Earl developed his taste in jazz by listening to the recordings of the creators of jazz in the 1920’s.
Do you recognize any of the people (even yourself!) in any of these photos?
If you do, go to our contact page and let us know! Be sure to note the photo number (shown below each image) and try to give us some indication of which person in the image you are referring to (this might be difficult in some of the "crowd" scenes). If you are able to identify more than 5 people for us, we'll send you a free CD!