Meet The Band
PAUL GOLDMAN provides the solid beat that anchors and drives RGJB’s stellar rhythm section. Paul is a San Francisco native who pursued amazing and colorful careers in airline marketing, as a diver with Jaques Cousteau, in retail sales, as owner of a travel agency, and as marketing director for the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce. He is President of the South Bay new Orleans Jazz Club and active with several other Jazz clubs in Southern California. He has played in New Orleans on Bourbon Street and at Preservation Hall. Paul is in great demand as a musician and drums with a number of bands in Southern California.
JOHN NICKEL worked his way through graduate school in a band called the Harmonaires, a quintet playing all over the southland. After graduation, with a doctorate in Physics, the “real” job started, and in the main, the music activities went dormant for a number of years. Then in about 1990 he started playing again with a pianist named Bill Graham who had written a musical about Cole Porter called “Heavenly Cole.” John and Bill worked for a number of years as a duo, playing in restaurants in the San Bernardino mountain area. At the present time he is playing regularly with the Royale Garden Jazz Band and occasionally with such bands as Jan Sutherland’s Aces High, Jan Nichol’s Old Town Jazz Band and the Notables.
Dr. Brooks P. Coleman, born and raised in the Los Angeles area, started playing the violin at age 5 and changed to clarinet in junior high school. In high school he discovered the alto saxophone which became his passion. During a high school band concert, the band director was not pleased with the performance of the saxophone section so he asked Brooks to stand and play the next selection on the program – “Stormy Weather” – by himself, which he did. Afterward he sat down and noticed some sort of commotion and noise in the audience and thought nothing further of it. Finally, the director got his attention and motioned for him to take a bow. The noise was a thunderous ovation – and Brooks was forever hooked on music.
At Pasadena City College, Brooks’ musical education was interrupted by the Korean War and after a successful audition, he joined the 562nd Air Force Band. Later he graduated with a degree in music from UC Santa Barbara. After two years as a public school music teacher, he became a principal, a school district superintendent, and then Associate County Superintendent of Schools in Riverside, CA for the next 20 years. Along the way he earned a doctoral degree from the University of Southern California and became an Adjunct Professor of school law and finance. He taught classes at the masters and doctoral levels for USC in Los Angeles, Germany, Japan, Korea, and other locations.
After he retired from the public schools, his wife, Jill, encouraged him to take up music again and, after a hiatus of 25 years, he began playing the clarinet at sessions of the Society for the Preservation of Dixieland Jazz. He served three terms as President of that club. He studied with the great clarinetist, Joe Lukasik, who became his teacher, mentor, and friend.
Today Dr. Coleman is well-known on the California music scene and pursues a full-time musical career, primarily with the Royale Garden Jazz Band and the Classic Jazz Quartet. He has performed at over 20 music festivals and with 30 bands, and is in great demand as a performer and substitute with many musical organizations throughout Southern California. He lives in Riverside with his wife, Jill.
My involvement with music started with my Dad in Brooklyn and Long Island where I grew up. He was an inspired amateur ragtime pianist who played all the popular songs from the 20s and 30s—Sweet Georgia Brown, Margie, Ida, 12th Street Rag. As a kid, I would sit beside him on the piano bench mesmerized, soaking it all in.
I attended Williams College in Massachusetts in the early 1950s, where me and a bunch of guys started a “Dixieland” band, playing a lot of those same old tunes. I quickly picked up the banjo so I could be a part of it. It was one of my good moves, my first experience as a jazz player.
The band was the Spring Street Stompers, named after the main drag in Williamstown. The Stompers became a prominent part of the college revival of traditional jazz in those days. We won the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout Show, appeared on the Steve Allen Show, placed first in the Wurlitzer Collegiate Jazz Contest, performed in two Carnegie Hall concerts (one emceed by Eddie Condon), and played in established jazz clubs—Nick’s in Greenwich Village, Savoy Café in Boston. I absorbed the traditional jazz repertoire and had the musical ride of my young life.
After four years as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer in the US Navy, I was accepted into the English doctoral program at UC Berkeley during the politically tumultuous 1960s. With a family to support, I gigged throughout the Bay Area, including long stints with ragtime pianist Wally Rose, clarinetist Darnell Howard (who played on early jazz recordings with W.C. Handy), and trumpeter/clarinetist Frank “Big Boy” Goudie (who played and recorded with Django Reinhardt). It was during this time I learned what the music really was, where it came from, and how it felt emotionally. Although banjo was still my main instrument, I also became serious about playing trombone.
My subsequent academic career was at the University at Buffalo as Professor of American Literature, with a special emphasis on Black Literature and Music. From the late 60s to 2000, I continued to play banjo singles and trombone gigs with various jazz groups in the Buffalo area, keeping my hand in but not playing consistently.
Retiring to Oceanside in 2002, I gradually found my way into the Southern California traditional jazz scene as a trombonist, making musician friends and getting my lip back in shape by joining the New Orleans Jazz Club of Southern California. I am now happily a permanent member of the Royale Garden Jazz Band.
Over the years, the main influences on my playing and singing, besides my Dad and the remarkable musicians in the Bay Area, have been Armstrong, the 1950s jazz scene at Eddie Condon’s in New York, and Jack Teagarden and Clancy Hayes—not in imitation so much as in acquiring from them all a sense of what is expressively beautiful and possible in jazz improvisation.
A native of California, Alan’s formal music training included public school music and private study with Art Scholl (father of the world-famous stunt pilot Dr. Art Scholl), Ervin G. Kleffman (well known for his band compositions, band leadership and an extensive private music studio) and Mike Silverman (cornet player for the Hot Frogs). He began playing trumpet 61 years ago in the 5th grade and played through high school when he set the trumpet down for 22 years. At age 40 he picked it up again and began to explore the Trad Jazz genre through the local jazz clubs. He joined the Royale Garden Dixieland Band in 1997 and took over its leadership when the founder moved to Colorado. He has been the Featured Guest Performer and has served as an officer to various Jazz Clubs around Southern California. Alan also is 1/3 of the Stardust Trio featuring dance music from the first half of the 20th century.
Dave Michelsen bought a used tenor banjo while in high school. His grandfather taught him the tunes from the 20’s & 30’s and they got together regularly to jam. After his grandfather’s death, Dave packed his banjo up and rarely played it for many years. Then, in 1997, his life changed.
He saw an announcement on the Internet from the Seattle Banjo Club about their upcoming Banjo Festival. Having never heard of a banjo club or festival, he called the number posted and learned that there actually were other banjo players in the world! He signed-up and showed-up at his first Banjo Event.
Arriving back home he reached out to some of the contacts he’d made in Seattle and learned of the Sunday Jazz Clubs around the area. It was at the New Orleans Jazz Club of So. California in the Tailgate Room that Dave met Alan Shelton. Alan told Dave “you’ve got good rhythm and a strong sound”. He also mentioned that his band, The Royale Garden Jazz Band, played every Saturday afternoon at a pizza place in La Verne. Their regular banjo player was going away for the summer so Alan asked Dave if he’d be available to sub. Dave showed up at the pizza place the next Saturday and it’s been an ongoing relationship ever since.
Dave was promoted to first chair banjo of the RGJB in 2005 after subbing with the band for over eight years.
Other life facts: Studied music and broadcasting at the University of Utah • Audio mixer for The Mormon Tabernacle Choir circa 1972 • Came to California in 1985 to manage audio cassette manufacturing for Warner Bros. Records • General Manager at CD Video Manufacturing (making CDs, DVD, and Blu-ray Discs).
Life’s Mission Statement: Be privately happy and publicly useful.