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CD Review:  Lu Watters Yerba Buena Jazz Band, MMRC CD 30 and 31
Bert Thompson
CD REVIEW by Bert Thompson
vol. 1 (Merry Makers Record Company MMRC-CD-30).  Playing time:  60 mins. 58
Doin’ the Hambone; Bee’s Knees*; Waiting for the Robert E. Lee†; Aunt Hagar’s
Blues*; Ace in the Hole†; Sage Hen Strut; Broken Promises†; Skid Dat De Dat;
When the Saints Go Marching In†; Antigua Blues; Emperor Norton’s Hunch; St.
Louis Blues†; Weary Blues; Roll, Jordan, Roll*†; Copenhagen; Frankie and
Johnny*†; High Society*; Alcoholic Blues*†; Down Home Rag*; Muskrat Ramble*.

vol. 2 (Merry Makers Record Company MMRC-CD-31).  Playing time:  60 mins. 23
secs. Ostrich Walk%; Beale Street Blues; Shake That Thing; St. James Infirmary*†%;
Oh, By Jingo*†; Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out‡†; Sweet Georgia
Brown; Tin Roof Blues; Peoria*†; Sailing Down Chesapeake Bay‡†; King
Chanticleer%; Bill Bailey‡†, Won’t You Please Come Home?; Maple Leaf Rag%;
Silver Dollar‡†; Dr. Jazz†; Irish Black Bottom; Ballin’ the Jack‡†; My Little Bimbo*†;
Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me; Royal Garden Blues.

Personnel: Lu Watters, trumpet, except washboard‡; Warren Smith, trombone
(replaced by Don Noakes*); Bob Helm, clarinet; Wally Rose, piano; Clancy Hayes,
banjo, guitar, vocals†; Pat Patton, banjo; Dick Lammi, tuba; Bill Dart, drums, except
washboard%.               Recorded El Cerrito, Calif., Dec. 7, 1949; Jan. 15, Jan. 31, Feb. 7,
June/July 1950.
(Note: not all of these details are provided on the CD tray inserts.  There are no liner

All of the tunes on these two CD’s were issued on LP’s on Homespun (a label
owned by Ted Shafer)—H-101, H-102, H-104, and H-106—as well as on some other
labels back in the days of vinyl.  In addition, they came out on CD several years ago
on Jasmine, an English label.  Missing from this reissue set are Auntie Skinner’s
together with Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, Sailing Down
Chesapeake Bay, Bill Bailey, Silver Dollar, and Ballin’ the Jack were originally
issued not under Lu Watters YBJB but instead Clancy Hayes and His Washboard
Five.  In that group, Watters was playing washboard until he had recovered from a
double hernia operation.  Along with Hayes and Watters, the quintet included
Helm, Rose, and Lammi.

All titles were recorded in Lu Watters’ club called Hambone Kelly’s in El Cerrito,
California, a small town located across the Bay from San Francisco.  Bob Helm
provides a colorful description of the action in the club in the liner notes for H-104:

Hambone Kelly’s in El Cerrito, California, the last great stand of the YBJB, was
owned and operated by the band, which was a cooperative venture in itself.  The
members, as a result, were assigned double or even triple duty.  Lu Watters, head
chef, became so involved in his menus that often when band time came around, he
would race from kitchen to bandstand still in his chef’s cap and apron, just in time
to grab his trumpet . . .   
I was a bartender, myself, until the first set.  During intermissions, Dick Lammi
showed old-time movies.

Quite a scene!  The band had moved there after their several years’ residency at the
Dawn Club in San Francisco had come to an end New Year’s Eve, 1946.  At the end
of 1948 Bob Scobey left to form his own band. Shortly thereafter, Turk Murphy did
the same.  Changing times saw, one by one, the closing of neighboring clubs in El
Cerrito.  As patronage of Hambone Kelly’s waned, the club’s demise finally came on
New Year’s Eve in 1951, after which, except for one performance in 1964, Lu Watters
hung up his horn and the YBJB was no more.  

The selections on these two CD’s capture the band in full flight.  Gone is the second
trumpet of the Dawn Club YBJB, Lu reserving the lead for himself.  But the band is
no less exciting than the two-trumpet version.  Lu still provides tremendous drive to
the ensembles on a fiery trumpet, the others their usual solid support. The key
modulations the band often uses in the codas add to that mounting excitement.  All
of that plus the cleanly executed breaks and several of troubadour Clancy Hayes’
vocals result in a couple of toe-tapping hours of great classic jazz with these two

If you like the West Coast style of classic jazz, particularly that of the Yerba Buena
Jazz Band, you owe it to yourself to have these albums.  A reminder to those who
listen to CD’s in their cars: these CD’s have paper labels, as per Merry Makers’
current policy.

They can be had from Ted Shafer at his Jelly Roll Jazz Band gigs, or ordered for
$16.00 each, post paid, by writing him at Merry Makers Record Company, 926
Beechwood Circle, Suisun City, CA 94585 or by calling him toll-free at 1-866-563-
4433.  They should also be obtainable from mail order sources that carry Merry
Makers label CD’s.
Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning
for Jazz Advancement and Socialization