In the spring of 1994, Avenue Bar owner Skip Zach called long-time Madison musician and entertainer Charlie Mears and told him that he wanted a Dixieland band for the Avenue Bar on Monday nights. With other local musicians, Charlie had for decades been providing strolling music and stories (and jokes) at the Avenue on Badger Football game days and special occasions such as St. Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. Ever dutiful, Charlie rounded up a band and a singer and held a couple of short informal rehearsals.
Then in May 1994, the Sizzlers started a weekly Monday night gig, figuring it would probably end at the end of the summer. But that was not to be the case. Due to the commitment of Skip Zach, and after his passing in 2005, the ongoing support of Claire Zach, her son Paul, and the band’s loyal fans, that run lasted a full seventeen years, ending only when the Zach family sold the Avenue Bar to another operator in the Spring of 2010.
Since then, the Sizzlers have continued bringing their brand of Dixieland to Madison-area audiences at venues like the Coliseum Bar, private parties, and area festivals such as the Gandy Dancer Festival in Mazomanie, Wisconsin.
Over the years, the band’s membership changed only infrequently, generally due to retirements. Former Sizzlers musicians include, the late Charlie Mears (bass and vocals), Bob Junceau (key board), Jerry Martin (trombone), Al Ramsey and the late Larry Crocker (banjo) and last but certainly not least, the band’s long-time “girl singer”, the late Ginny O’Brien.