New CD Coming Soon…
Frisco Jazz from Burp Hollow, San Francisco, 1958-62
Dick Oxtot’s Stompers and Original Superior Jass Band
Battle of the Bands: Two-beat vs. Four-beat
Exciting music from a legendary and colorful Frisco gig with Bill Erickson and Ted Butterman (trumpets), Bunky Colman and Bill Napier (clarinets) Bob Mielke (trombone).
on Dave Radlauer’s jazzhotbigstep.com
For a decade beginning in 1956, jazz hounds and tourists alike were drawn to Burp Hollow by the lively sounds of Frisco jazz. Hearing its name, musicians cringe, recalling the bad pay, rank booze and unsavory wheel chair-bound former Mafioso owner, Millio Militti.
The storied club is remembered ruefully by its former denizens for weak drinks, a ridiculous 4’ x 6’ dance floor, and confusing “Bob Mielke Bearcats Dixie Jazz” sign on the wall regardless of who was playing. Management required musicians to wear matching vests or blazers, which they hated.
During the Burp Hollow years, 1956-66, a second wave of jazz revival musicians in and around San Francisco was intensively engaged in reviving, performing and reinventing America’s most original art form. Bands, players and audiences flourished in an ecosystem supplied by joints like The Burp.
Thanks to a handful of surviving audiotapes we can revisit a pure slice of old North Beach. Hosted by a shady operator, the best of Frisco Jazz was served up with a dubious cocktail at a crowded little gingham-topped table, presided over by a comely manikin at the infamous Burp Hollow.
Milio Miletti, Baby
In June of 1965 an interview of Miletti appeared under the byline of Monique Benoit in a San Francisco newspaper. Between his “hi baby,” “darling” and “say honey,” uttered in his “husky, hoarse voice,” very few facts emerged.
During the Depression the Sicilian had once been a contender for the welterweight title, but quit boxing. His story that he re-settled in his hometown of Omaha, but “was hit by a bullet in an accident that left him paralyzed” doesn’t quite add up. “Baby, there’s a bad page in everyone’s life, and that was mine.” Fleeing to Frisco he’d managed to put Burp Hollow together.
Legend has it his shooting was mafia-related and that under the blanket he kept on his lap a firearm was handy. And he explained the manikin: sure, it was a draw for single male convention-goers, but he used it as a conversation starter to make friends. When the reporter referred to his tending bar in a wheelchair, he commented, “That’s right, baby, and I can move pretty fast. That place is my life, and people are beautiful.” ♦