Flip’ping over latest West Coast CD Offering by Bob Schnettler
As I opened my front door, all I could see was a hand holding a CD directly before my eyes. “Does Bob Schnettler live here?,” the feminine voice asked.
I answered affirmatively and the hand dropped, revealing Joyce Oakes, wife of a good friend and former area musician Flip Oakes. Joyce was in Olean to visit her mother and stated Flip wanted me (as well as Richard “Doc” Gilroy and Mac Sue) to have a copy of the latest offering of the South Market Street jazz Band. Flip plays trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn with the San Diego-area group which recently reformed after a short breakup. He also had been with the earlier group.
Flip, born Philip Oakes Jr. named after his also musical father, grew up performing in the Olean area not only on brass but also on reeds and even vocalizing. A Franklinville native, he lived in Olean before moving west in 1977.
During the years the original “Love Boat” TV show was on the air, Flip and Mac Sue performed aboard the vessel serving as the show’s base, traveling to such spots as China, Alaska, Mexico and South America. Once that gig was over, Mac returned to Olean, but Flip and Joyce stayed in California.
Since then, Flip has not only made a performing name for himself, but also has developed a trumpet/cornet he calls “Wild Thing,” a holdover to the instrument repairs he did while living here. He says the instrument offers “just the right sound with ease of playing that no other trumpet he ever played could.”
When he showed it to musical friends, they tried it and often explained, “This thing is really wild.” Thus the name. Offered through Flip’s web site, the Wild Thing is selling well, according to Joyce, who handles the office work, especially while her husband is on the road performing at many of the numerous traditional, Dixieland and jazz festivals which are offered each week throughout the west, U.S. southwest and southwest Canada.
Flip is a regular trumpeter with not only South Market, but also Conrad Janis and the Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band, as well as his own Flip Oakes Jazz Party Quartet. I also caught sight of Flip on TV when the millionaire (I forget his name) sponsored a huge party during the national convention out that way last fall. Janis is the longtime movie actor/musician who is best known outside jazz circles as Mindy’s father on the old “Mork & Mindy” TV show.
Flip’s late mother, Patty, was a vocalist who performed with her husband and son, and many’s the time she and I sang “Tea for Two” as the three of them played in the Lime Lake or Ellicottville areas. At one time the elder Oakes owned and operated a restaurant in Farmersville, joined by their son as they presented weekly music.
After Patty died, Flip took his dad from his Franklinville mobile home, to live with him in Oceanside, CA. Shortly after Phil died, I received a VCR tape of his memorial service, which included a true Dixieland parade down Oceanside streets, into a back yard where a jam session was conducted with many of the musicians both Flip and Phil played with on the West Coast.
As for the new CD, “Potpourri,” it was quickly listened to and proved so good that I played it several times in succession. It showed me that as good as Flip had been, he’s even better now playing his Wild-Thing in a manner which ranks him among the best of the trumpeters in the. business today.
Especially impressive is his take on “Pete Kelly’s Blues,” and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire band’s rendition of the rousing “Big Bear Stomp.” This is a CD which has remained on my machine almost continuously since Joyce dropped it off.
She said Flip had to remain in California so as to sign papers for a new home they’re buying in Oceanside.
You can keep track of Flip and his Wild Thing at his web site, http://www.flipoakes.com and email flip at email@example.com