Jim Bottorff's Banjo Page
Remembering the Marin Banjo Club
And Cal's Steak House
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Following is some history on the Marin Banjo Club which played at Cal's Steak House in San Rafael, California:
 
Overview:
 
The Marin Banjo Club performed at Cal's Steak House once a week from the late 1960's to the late 1970's.
Some of the band members and guest banjo players went on to become very well known in the four-string banjo world.
 
(click on the link below to view a YouTube video)
Remembering Marin Banjo Club
 
 
Quotes From Customers:
(from the Internet)
 
"It had guns and wagon wheels on the walls and sawdust on the floor. One of my favorite places as a kid!"
 
"Remember the big western picture hanging in the dining area. It's now in the San Rafael post office on D Street."
 
"We were 19 and 20 year olds (1974 or so) who could go there on Wed night, Banjo Night, and get pitchers of beer - served at family-style tables.
Banjo band was a big whoever-wants-to-play band with kids, farmer types, grandmas, everyone..." (Michele Boudinot)
 
 
Photos:
 (click on image to enlarge)
 
                            
     Sing-Along Songbook                                           Cal's Street View                                                         The Ceiling Stuff           
 
                 
               The Late 1960's                                                The Early 1970's                                 Stage & Sketches - 1974        
 
                               
                             Second Owner with Jim & Barbara                       A Small Playout                                            Jim & Barbara                                    
 

 
 
Typical night at Cal's Steak House in 1974.
The hanging bucket was for tips.
See the text below for names and info. on the banjo players.
First row left to right:
 
Scotty Plummer - About 14 years old.  Became a"Banjo Hall of Fame" inductee and movie star, appeared on Lucille Ball show, and traveled with Liberace. Taught by Frank Vodich and Larry Kennedy.
Dan Gomez - Excellent tenor player with strong melody. Played with many bands.
Jim Raney - Band leader and lead plectrum player.
Pete Deetken - Excellent melody and rhythm lead plectrum player. Became the first banjo player for the "Natural Gas" jazz band.
Barbara Faustine - Strong single string, chord and melody player, and singer. Only person to win the "Death Valley Banjo Picking Contest" 10 years straight in a row.
 
Second row left to right:
 
Keith Presting - Son of Russ Presting. Excellent plectrum solo player.
Jim Bottorff - Plectrum & 5-string player.  Later became leader of the band in the late 1970's.  The band often featured Jim B. and Barbara F. on some 5-string style banjo songs.
Dave Frey - "Banjo Hall of Fame" inductee.  Excellent plectrum player and teacher.  Wrote the "Ultimate Plectrum Banjo Player's Guide".  Played with many bands and Dixieland groups.
 
Top row left to right:
 
Wally Lewis - Comic relief for the band. Good banjo player, always joking and clowning around. Popular with the audience.
Russ Presting - Excellent plectrum player and very well known in the banjo community for buying and selling banjos with his "Presting and Son" company.
Dave Hudnut - Played the plectrum banjo and musical saw.  Featured on the saw with the Marin band and became a regular with the "Three Plectrums" banjo group.
Unknown Player - A regular member of the band, I can't remember his name.
 
Not Shown on the right:
 
John Faustine - Barabara's son, excellent electric bass player and singer. Often played melody breaks on his bass and featured on "Ring of Fire".
Lee Faustine - Barbara's son, excellent country style electric guitar player. Often featured on "Wipe Out" and "Proud Mary"
Howard Hoeflein - The first owners son and played the drums.  Howard was a California drum competition winner.
Dave Dell'era - Often substituted on bass for John Faustine.
Clara Lamers - Great piano player, always there to help the band.
Tuba player - Don't remember his name.
 
Another night in 1974.
 
First row: Dan Gomez, Unknown player, Larry Kennedy, Jim Bottorff standing, Jim Raney and Clara Lamers piano player.
Top rows: Keith & Russ Presting, Unknown banjo player, Dave Dell'era bass player standing at wall.
The silver tip bucket would swing on the long chain.  Bells, whistles, drums and a siren would sound when tips were given.
 
Guest Banjo Players:
 
Lots of banjo players would come and sit-in with the band.  Some were from San Francisco bay area bands, others just passing through on travel.
Following are a few I recall:  Scotty Plummer, Dave Marty, Ralph Martin, Charlie Tagawa, Brad Roth, Frank Vodich, Jack Convery, Steve Peterson,
Bill Carlson, Bo Bryant, Claude Causley, Mark Rogers, Jimmie Min, Milt Chambers, Carl Lunsford, Garry Kerr, Ed Turner.
 
 
Video:
(click on the link below to view a YouTube video)
 
Remembering Marin Banjo Club
 
 
Sound Clips:
(click on a song name to listen)
 
Avalon  (Larry Kennedy)
 
Cowboy's Sweetheart (Texas Plains)  (Barbara Faustine)
 
Cabaret  (Scotty Plummer)
 
Cocktails For Two  (Tom Mason)
 
Four Leaf Clover  (Sing-Along)
 
Darktown Strutters Ball  (Sing-Along)
 
Limehouse Blues / China Town  (Larry Kennedy)
 
Old Gray Bonnet  (Dan Gomez)
 
San Francisco Bay Blues  (Vocal)
 
Sweet Sue  (Scotty Plummer)
 
The above recordings were made on a portable cassette tape recorder of the time.
Unless I find better quality recordings by others, these are the only remaining recordings.
 
 
Files:
(left-click to open, right-click to download)
 
Sing-Along Songbook (pdf file)
 
Menu with photos of band and second owner (pdf file)
(Look at the prices on the menu!)
 
The First Owner of Cal's:
 
In the early 1970's, Dick Hoeflein and his wife Gladys, formerly from Texas, owned and operated Cal's Steak House in San Rafael.
Later they operated "The Biggest Little Flower Shop in The World" at the entrance of Spenger's Fish Grotto in Berkeley.
Their son Howard played the drums in the band.
 
 
The Second Owner of Cal's:
 
Cal's changed owners around 1975. The second owner kept some of the steak house menu items and added some Cantonese dishes.
The band continued to play at the restaurant until it was demolished as part of a downtown renovation project.
 

I started playing with the Marin Banjo Club in 1973 and stayed until it ended in 1976 with the demolition of the building.
The sketch below is of me, from the wall behind the stage.  A customer did sketches of all the regular members of the band.
 
 
Happy Picking and Strumming,
Jim Bottorff


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