Here’s a brief listing of some of the bands with which I have played over the last 60+ years:
1957-60 University of Illinois Fraternity band with Mike Denny
1960-61 Danville, IL Dixieland Saints with Bill Barry & Whip Williams
1962-64 Chicago Windy City Banjo Band, Steamboat Stompers
Chuck Hillstrom's Red Garter Banjo Band with Dave Marty
1964-66 Pittsburgh Gaslight Club, Shadyside
1966-67 Honolulu Shakey's Pizza w/ Ernie Carson & Dave Wierbach
1967-74 State College, PA Tarnished 6, Night Bloomin' Jazzmen
1974-75 London, England Kid Tidiman’s New Era JB; Bee Minter’s Gothic JB
1975-88 State College, PA Tarnished 6
1988-92 San Francisco area Jerry Kaehele’s Levee Stompers, Jubilee JB, Ted Shafer's
Jelly Roll JB, Cell Block 7, New Revival JB
1993-2019 Cleveland New Orleans Jazz Ensemble, Classic JB, Night Owls, Minstrels of
Earlville, Original Ragtimers, Hot Jazz 7, Hymns of Dixieland Six Flags/Sea World
I have played in over 80 jazz festivals and jazz club events from California to Edinburgh to
Hungary with a bunch of different bands.
In 1966, with Ernie Carson and Dave Wierbach, I played for a dancing
elephant at the Hawaii state Republican convention! I played a lot of gigs
with Ernie and Dave. See the link to Honolulu.
In the mid-70's there was pub in London's Chelsea area called the
Stanhope. It featured trad jazz 7 nights a week. I played 2 nights a
week there with Bee Minter's Gothic Jazz Band. The Stanhope
encouraged foreign musicians to sit in with band. One night our 7 piece
band was populated with musicians from 7 different countries. The only
common language was the music and a few words in English to identify the
During that time in London, I also played many gigs with George
Tidiman's New Era Jazz Band. George was a great trombone player,
leader, vocalist, very amusing story teller and a life long friend even
continents apart. Check out the link to London.
In 1981 and 1988, I played with the Tarnished Six at the Edinburgh,
Scotland Jazz Festival -- part of the greater arts event held each
August. (Info about the Tarnished Six.)
One event was a 24 hour jazz marathon. 12 Trad Jazz bands each
played 2 sets 12 hours apart. We played one set at 300 pm in the
marathon, then played a 2 hour concert in a pub from 7-9. At 300 am we
dragged ourselves back to the marathon to play our 300AM set.
In Chicago in the 60's, the standard weekend evening job was 900PM
In Pittsburgh in the 60's. I played with a trio at the Gaslight Club, an
after hours private club in Shadyside. There, the band's hours
were 900PM to 400AM on Fridays and 1000 PM to 500AM Saturdays. I
learned a lot of vocals and banjo solos playing with
just a trio for 7 hours!
In 1964, I was in the opening band of the Chicago Red Garter. It was
located in a prime location near Chicago and Michigan Avenues. (Link:
In the early 60's in Chicago, I was with a band of young white guys:
The Windy City Banjo Band. (Link: WindyCityBanjoBand)
For 12 months we played opposite a "mature" band of
African-American musicians at the Red Arrow restaurant in Stickney, IL.
. We played the 1st, 3rd, & 5th sets; they played the 2nd and 4th sets.
We thought we were hot stuff and thought they were old tired guys over
the hill in their 60's and 70's. We soon learned differently.
The leader, Franz Jackson, had played with Earl Hines, Fletcher
Henderson, and many others. The trumpeter, Bob Shoffner, replaced
Louie Armstrong in King Oliver's Band around 1925. He also played with
Earl Hines. Piano: Little Brother Montgomery or Lil Hardin Armstrong;
Trombone: Al Wynn or Preston Jackson. Equally distinguished drums and
We learned a great deal from these guys. They were extremely kind to
us and very generous with their time. They helped us understand the
music and even wrote a song that mentioned each of us young guys.
We sat in with them and subbed when one of their guys was late.
Franz Jackson encouraged us to record, produced our first LP, and sold
it on his Pinnacle label in Chicago. The LP was given 3 stars in "DownBeat"
In 1963 in Chicago, the Windy City Banjo Band played at a joint on
Chicago Ave, between State & Wabash. We played the Saints as our
closing number. It was just 300AM and a guy with a beret walked in and
wanted us to play the Saints. Persuaded by the $50 tip, we played it
Sometimes on Fridays (Saturday morning!) we would go down State St.
and play for tips at a gin mill that was open until 500AM. Freddy the
Frenchmen (as we named the big tipper) went with us.
We were driving down State Street and one of our guys asked Freddy
what he did for a living. He said "I'm a professional thief" and pulled a
pistol out from under his jacket! We told him we had
changed our minds and dropped him off on a corner. We then went to the
club and started playing.
A little while later Freddy came in. He said he didn't like the piano
player and if he didn't stop playing he would shoot him! Our guys rapidly
packed up and started to leave. I was the first one out the door! Freddy
started shooting up the joint, grazed the piano player, and robbed the
bartender. Two of our guys, Jack Meilahn and Craig Elvidge, tackled
Freddy as he left the bar and held him until the police arrived.
About Phil Cartwright
With Buck Creek JB
Sea World/Six Flags
Stanhope Pub, London