Banjo-Rama 2016

May 15, 2016

By:  Sheila Welt
Photos by: Bob Nelson

The Lion’s Gate Hotel in Sacramento was a beautiful venue, and the parking was easy.  The drive from Concord was approx. 80 miles.

We played from 1:40pm until 2:10pm.

Banjo Players included:  Tom Brunetti, Rich Combs, Jack Convery, Betty David, Bob Ehrhorn, Barbara Findley, Karen Hefter, Red Higgins, Deb Hobson, Ardie Jarrett, Trent Jones, Bob Malucelli, Linda Myers, Phil Myers, Kit Nelson, Bud Pearce, Larry Risner, Jan Ruzicka, Slavka Ruzicka, Jack Starr, Marilyn Starr, and Sheila Welt.

Bass:  Guy Black

Vocalists:  Bob Ehrhorn, Red Higgins, Kit Nelson, Bud Pearce, and Sheila Welt

The audience seemed to enjoy our presentation and responded with much clapping.

The vendors were well represented and had a lot of goodies for us to purchase.  It appeared that some of them were doing a very brisk business.

It was a good play out and great fun!

Posted in Gig

Marilyn Young Rememberance

January 31, 2016

By:  Bud Pearce
Photos by:  Bob Nelson

 

Marilyn Young Aug 17, 1936 - Nov 8, 2015

Marilyn Young
Aug 17, 1936 – Nov 8, 2015

Several East Bay Banjo players were privileged to perform at Marilyn Young’s memorial service on January 31, 2016. The service was to celebrate the life of Marilyn Young, who was a long time member of the East Bay Banjo Club, and held many offices such as President and Booking Agent during her time with the club. Family members and friends related how Marilyn was a sweet and caring person in story after story.  It was clear from these stories that  Marilyn loved the banjo and being part of the club. East Bay Banjo members who remember Marilyn could have also told many stories of her sweet disposition and caring attitude.

The story that I remember about Marilyn, that echoes many of the traits that friends and family related, was when Marilyn, very concerned about the safety and preparedness of club members about to travel to the Czech Republic, stood up and spoke about her list of “must haves” while in the Czech Republic. From toilet paper, to duct tape, to a sign that said “HELP” to place in the hotel window when the situation was most dire, she made it very clear that she had researched the matter of personal safety and security abroad thoroughly and developed a comprehensive list of items to have when traveling abroad. But most importantly, she presented her list as her “suggestions” on how we could all be safe and avoid unnecessary trouble that she was genuinely concerned might happen to us while traveling. It was not a lecture, but a gentle reminder that she cared about us.
Marilyn will always be remembered as kind and caring person with a positive attitude no matter what the situation. She is the type of person that every club yearns for to spark peace and harmony.
EBBC Performers led by Jack Convery

EBBC Performers led by Jack Convery

Harry Higgins and Georgette Twain – In Memorium

January 11, 2016

By: John Greitzer

The East Bay Banjo Club lost two four string banjo legends and members over the holiday season. Harry Higgins passed away on December 23rd at age 81 and Georgette Twain died on January 4th at age 90.  The banjo community lost two of its long-time leading lights with their passing.

Harry-and-Daniel Edfited Final

Harry Higgins

“Legendary” would be an understatement in describing Harry Higgins.  From his 17 years leading the Dixieland-style band at the original Red Garter in San Francisco, and band leading at Kezar and Candlestick parks for the San Francisco 49ers and Giants, to his more recent years with the East Bay Banjo Club and playing at Peet’s Coffee in Walnut Creek, Harry left his mark on countless delighted audiences over the decades.  He reflected recently on how lucky he was to have been the bandleader at the Red Garter.  “I just fell into it,” he said.  “I was able to earn a living with it.  I was really lucky.”  Of course, it was his immense talent as much as luck that brought him that long stint as Red Garter bandleader.  Harry was elected in 2008 to the National Four-String Banjo Hall Of Fame.

As a recent active member of the East Bay Banjo Club, he was well-loved both by long-time EBBC members and by newer ones as well.  Even some of our most recent members have stories about how Harry helped them with banjo-playing tips, showed them how to replace a banjo head, or talked about chord-melody theory with them. For Harry, the club was a family affair.  He would lead the club in songs sung by his wife of over 60 years Elinor, known as “Red” to EBBC members. But by far, his greatest delight was mentoring his granddaughter, Danielle, playing the banjo next to him, and encouraging her to sing many of the songs he loved. We are all certain that when Harry left us, he was hopeful that Danielle will continue his legacy in the world of the classic plectrum banjos.

Georgette TwainGeorgette Twain

The “Queen of the Banjo” and a lifetime member of the EBBC, Georgette Twain was a leading four-stringer since the early 1960s and continued touring the country until her recent illness.  In recent years she performed with her daughter Cecilia, an accomplished violinist.  Though Georgette moved to Nevada years ago, some of our long-time EBBC members still corresponded and visited with her up to the time of her death.

Her father encouraged her take up the banjo when her singing career was ruined by polio. She was a student and prodigy of Eddie Peabody, and became widely admired for her incredible technique and showmanship.   Georgette was named to the Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame in 2007.

Her influence on the EBBC goes back many years when she taught many club members how to play the banjo. In fact our current Music Director, Betty David, and our newly elected President, Jack Starr, both took lessons from Georgette in their early playing days.

EBBC will miss both Harry and Georgette.  We wish their families well.

Kensington Playout

May 26, 2014

By:  Bud Pearce
Photos by:  Bob Nelson

The East Bay banjo strummers helped the seniors at Kensington Senior Living Center celebrate Memorial Day 2014. The performance got off to a somewhat rocky start, due to a problem with the audio system. With only one speaker working and no way to increase  the volume, the audience could not hear Betty David’s opening remarks. The first songs were a salute to all branches of the Armed Forces (Marines, Navy, Army, Coast Guard, and Air Force), but we relied heavily on Kit being able to start each vocally. Again, the audio system caused less than desirable results. We must correct these problems if we expect our audiences to enjoy our performances.

Some excitement occurred during the performance when the EMT’s arrived along with an ambulance to take care of a medical emergency somewhere in the facility. Fortunately, most of the audience was unaware of the happenings, as their backs were turned to the facility entrance.

Despite the problems, the  East Bay performers did their best to provide a fine memorial day celebration. Performers included Betty David, leader, Kit Nelson, Bud Pearce, Karen Hefter, Chris  Lardge, Dina Melamed, Guy Black, Sheila Welt,  Don Granberg, Herb Moore, and Ardie Jarrett.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Gig

Snow Train 2014

February 6, 2014

By: Bud Pearce

Photos By: Phil & Linda Myers

All aboard for the Snow Train 2014! Several East Bay strummers boarded the train early Tuesday morning, February 4, bound for Reno, Nevada. The train made several stops along its journey from Oakland to Reno. Most passengers boarded in Martinez, but players also boarded in Emeryville and Sacramento, including Dick Martin, who rode a train from Oregon to Sacramento to join Jack Convery as a banjo “headliner”.

Fetze Pijlman playing tenor banjo

Fetze Pijlman playing tenor banjo

The event took on an international flair this year with the addition of Mr. Fetze Pijlman from Hilversum, Holland. Mr. Piljman, who organizes the Holland Jazz Banjo Festival (www.Jazzbanjo.nl), enjoyed playing traditional jazz on his tenor banjo while seeing the sights the High Sierra Mountains offer in the winter. There were some preliminary discussions about some American banjo players journeying to Holland to participate in the Holland Jazz Banjo Festival in the future. Jack was very excited about that possibility, which reminded us of our trip to the Czech Republic in 2005. Don’t be surprised if some East Bay strummers are performing in Europe in 2015!

As is customary, we played many traditional jazz tunes while riding the train to Reno. Kit Nelson sang using the sound system provided by Jack, and many of those riding in the car sang along using song books provided by Jack. We were also accompanied by a keyboard player, who managed to set up his keyboard between the seats and allowed just enough room for people to pass by in the aisle. The conductor, trying to avoid being a killjoy, held back his admonishments and looked the other way during his strolls through the train car. We arrived on schedule in Reno. After checking into our rooms, we were on our own to eat, gamble, or see a show. Some even jammed a little in their rooms!

The next day, everyone gathered in the Hobby Horse Room to practice some tunes that we were going to play that night in the Sapphire Lounge in Harrah’s. During the practice session, every player was given the opportunity to select a song to be played on stage. It was a huge thrill to play with talented people outside the EBBC.

 

Jack, Kit, Bud, Dick, and Ana on stage

Jack, Kit, Bud, Dick, and Ana on stage

Our appearance on the stage at the Sapphire Lounge was fun, even though a little cramped. The audience, comprised mostly of folks from our train car ride up to Reno, enthusiastically sang and danced to the music we created in the lounge. Frankly, the crowds in the casino were extremely sparse, so we could have easily attracted more people into the lounge, had business been better in Reno. While on stage, we were all informed that the train would arrive late the next morning. We were all advised to dial Amtrak directly to avoid missing its arrival. Some thought it was actually good news, since it meant we could sleep late the next day, and Harrah’s was willing to extend us all a late checkout.

Jack Convery event organizer

Jack Convery leads practice session

The next morning, Jack awoke each of us with a phone call that informed us of a bus that would leave in lieu of the 8:30 departure of the train. Apparently, the train was going to be close to five hours late due to a problem with a freight train blocking the tracks. Most people opted for the bus, which took us to Sacramento. From there, we were able to catch a train back to the Bay Area, stopping at all stops covered on the original trip to Reno. All is well that ends well! The train from Sacramento arrived at the East Bay stops before our original train schedule dictated we were to arrive.

Mickie McDonald in Memoriam

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Members of the East Bay Banjo Club were very saddened to learn of the loss of Mickie McDonald on January 5, 2014. Mickie was one of the stalwart members who rarely missed our weekly practices or Club performances. She was always thrilled to sing or harmonize with others the songs that the club performed, and she knew the words to more songs than probably anyone else in the club. She took great pride in never needing music to play a song. Her jovial nature and her desire to decorate for parties made her a natural candidate to organize the annual Club end of the year party. Her relentless search for old original sheet music yielded the foundation for many arrangements in our music book today.

She had deep and genuine concern for anyone in the club.  It wasn’t uncommon for her to call and inquire about a member’s well-being when they missed a number of practices or were known to be experiencing troubled times. On several occasions, she would visit members in the hospital or their homes to cheer them up and let them know they were not forgotten. For years, she presented members with their birthday card that she had signed by all members she could locate. Mickie had a particular fondness for our youngest members, and would sometimes present them with stuffed animals.
She will be remembered for her passion for the music our club keeps alive, her jovial nature, and for her genuine concern for the well-being of members of the club.

Salem Lutheran Playout

September 17, 2013

Reporter: Bud Pearce
Photographer: Linda Myers & Bob Nelson

The crowd grew in numbers as the banjos rang out in the “Gathering Area” at the Salem Lutheran Senior Center in Oakland, CA. Betty David led the strummers playing tunes that were well known to smiling faces in the audience. After the performance, several residents approached the club members with lots of questions about the banjo, and expressed their gratitude for the chance to hear traditional jazz with lyrics they knew well enough to sing along as the vocalists sang the tunes.
The performers were honored to have jazz trombone legend Bob Mielke in the audience. Bob Mielke worked with, or sat in with, some of the traditional jazz legends like Turk Murphy, Lu Watters and Bob Scobey to name just a few.
The “Top Ten” performers of the day included: Tom Brunetti, Debra Hodson, Bud Pearce, Kit Nelson, Betty David, Terry Horner, Phil Myers, Linda Myers,
Diane Malucelli, and Bob Malucelli.

Providing moral support and mingling with the audience was Bob Nelson. Bob also helped capture some significant camera angles.

Kensington Playout

August 25, 2012

By: Bud Pearce
Photos By: Bob Nelson
Video By:  Karen Hefter

A large crowd arrived early to enjoy the music that is not only familiar to them, but brings a smile to their faces as well! Nineteen members performed at this gig, most sporting straw hats. With Betty David at the lead, we quickly played through most of the tunes on Show List #1, and completed the hour with folks asking for more.

It’s clear they loved us because people spontaneously danced!

East Bay strummers included: Mickie McDonald, Don Granberg, Jesse DeTorres, Bud Pearce, Kit Nelson, Betty David, Chris Lardge, Bob Hodson, Deb Hodson, Phil Myers, Linda Myers, Karen Hefter, Guy Black Sheila Welt, Ardie Jarrett, Herb Moore, Ken Williamson, Bob Malucelli, and Diane Malucelli.

Bob Nelson photographed the event and sold CDs while Georgette DeTorres provided moral support.

 

“Bill Bailey” and “Just Because” from East Bay Banjo Club on Vimeo.

Stoneman Village Playout

June 28, 2013

By: Bud Pearce
Photos and video by: Bob Nelson

What a better time to have an ice cream social than on one of the hottest days of the year! With the temperature in the triple digits outside, the EBBC strummers got the residents of Stoneman Village Senior Center in a patriotic mood by performing a mixture of patriotic tunes and some good old traditional jazz. The residents seemed to enjoy the performance as much as the ice cream! The crowd rose to their feet on the last song, “God Bless America,” ending the performance with rich applause to our final bow.

Gearing up the audience for the approaching 4th of July holiday were EBBC members Guy Black, Tom Brunetti, Betty David, Don Granberg, Karen Hefter, Garry Kerr, Mickie McDonald, Phil and Linda Myers, Kit Nelson, Bud Pearce, and Ken Williamson. Bob Nelson assisted with set up and took care of the photography and video.

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Yankee Doodle from East Bay Banjo Club on Vimeo.

Delta Hawaii Memorial Park Playout

May 11, 2013

By: Don Granberg
Photos by:  Linda Myers

We got started a little late, but we started out by playing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and “Bill Bailey” to a crowd of 100 to 150 people. We played from 7:40 to 9:10 pm to the enthusiastic crowd. We had dancers from the crowd enjoying themselves doing waltzes, the can-can, and slow social dancing.  The crowd clapped to the songs and sang along to many of their favorites. We had 12 members playing out their hearts.  Garry Kerr, Ardie Jarrett, Sheila Welt, Don Granberg, Dina Melamed, Mickie McDonald, Phil Myers, Linda Myers, Bob Malucelli, Diane Malucelli, our leader Betty David, and our dazzling Bass player Guy Black all attended this play out.  Guy was also our main man for set up.  Dina as well as Don entertained with their washboards.

Delta Hawaii Memorial Park PlayoutDiane and Bob at the Delta Hawaii Park Playout

Bill Cooper – In Memoriam

Bill Cooper

August 26, 1950 to April 4, 2013

The Eastbay Banjo Club lost a large part of its heart and soul when we learned of the sudden passing of Bill Cooper, our dedicated Music Director since 1978. Bill’s passion for the banjo and traditional jazz music inspired many, many others to learn and then promote the joys and happiness the banjo brings to the world. He raised the spirits of countless numbers of people while leading the club on stage and during practice. He accepted and encouraged banjo players of all skill levels to practice and perform the music he and the audiences loved. Bill was not only a highly accomplished banjo player, but arranged all the music for the club. His rich collection of arrangements will be played to the delight of audiences for years to come.

Welcome to the East Bay Banjo Club!

Featured

We are a group of people dedicated to playing  and promoting happy music on the banjo.  We have existed for over fifty years!

Our meeting location is at Round Table Pizza at 1938 Oak Park Blvd, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523, on Sundays from 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M., beginning, January 29, 2017 and will continue using this time and location until further notice. Come eat some pizza, listen to and/or play happy banjo music, and have a good time!

The public and all banjo players are welcome to join us for these play sessions. We perform at various events in the greater San Francisco Bay area.

 

View our latest events below!

 

Our New Meeting Site!

Starting Tuesday, July 16, 2013 our new meeting place will be:

Luigi’s Deli and Market

537 Main Street @ Castro Street

Martinez, CA 94553

7:00 P.M. To 9:00 P.M.

Public Welcome

All banjo players invited to join these sessions!