Monday, November 22, 2021

The Spring Singers

 

Photo courtesy of The Harmonizer - July/August 2019

Added this doo-wop LP to my stash, courtesy of my fellow Colorado digger Mike Stelk. I immediately noticed the KCMS notation on the label, which indicated that it was recorded at Bud Edmonds' Manitou Springs studio.

 Listen to "How Come You Do Me Like You Do / Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas"

Nice barbershop harmonies, with an evident doo-wop vibe. The label reads that it was recorded in 1956. It noted Bill Trego as the producer. The group included tenor Bill Butler. lead Bill Brooks, baritone Vic Holmes, and bass Monty Duerksen. I'm guessing this is a very limited edition release, as it notes "present for our friends" under the singer credits.

A quick search finds that Duerksen, formerly of Newton, KS, formed the Spring Singers when he arrived in Colorado Springs, while stationed at Camp Carson (later Fort Carson). According to his obituary (he passed away February 25, 2020), "While there, he put up a bulletin board notice seeking quartet singers and thus was born his first barbershop society quartet, the Spring Singers." In 2004 he was inducted in the Barbershop Harmony Society's Central States District Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any information on the three other members. Of course, drop me a line if you know more.

 

Monday, November 15, 2021

La Dama De Los Ojos Verdes

Was recently offered this incredible find, from my dear friend Joel Scherzer. A Spanish-language take on Denver-based band Sugarloaf's Top Five hit, "Green-Eyed Lady," by The White Lines de Paco Sanchez.

Listen to "La Dama De Los Ojos Verdes"

Now, before I get messages on this, this is not the same Paco Sanchez, who is considered the "Father of Hispanic Radio" in Denver. That Paco came to town in 1948. Yes, while he was a lead singer of a musical group (and later a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, and namesake of Paco Sanchez Park), he had moved on to social reform causes, which I doubt included him resurrecting his musical career, at this late stage in life. He passed away in 1973, at the age of 57.

It's actually the group Las Lineas Blancas.

Paco Sanchez is listed as a member. The band put out an 1971 self-titled LP, which includes "La Dama De Los Ojos Verdes" (Caytonics CYS 1293). I found a listing of this group in Florida, and also Mexico.

So now I'm wondering how many Colorado-centric English-language songs were recorded in different languages? Idly wondering if there is a version of "Alto De Las MontaƱas Rocosa" out there. I'll keep hunting!



Monday, November 8, 2021

Stairway to Heaven from Gateway High School, Aurora

(NOTE: Rick Kurtz, who I interviewed for this piece, passed away on October 27).

Hey all! So 50 years ago today, Led Zeppelin released the signature power ballad "Stairway to Heaven."

FIFTY YEARS AGO!

I had always wondered if I would run into a Led Zeppelin cover in my quest for obscure Colorado vinyl finds. A Page/Plant song had always eluded me, until I found this Aurora high school LP in a Colorado Springs thrift. To my absolute shock, the record was inside another Colorado high school album, so sadly there isn't a cover to go along with it.

Listen to "Stairway to Heaven"

The kids at Aurora's Gateway High School are to thank for this find. Recorded in 1974, and directed by Eugene Matsuura, the album features several pop covers (included the Beatles "Hey Jude," Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," Simon and Garfunkel's "Dangling Conversation," and "The Theme From the Men" the short-lived TV show, with the theme written by Issac Hayes). 

 
Gateway High School Pops Ensemble (click to enlarge). Rick Kurtz standing in second row, holding guitar - Photo courtesy of Kenton Adler

I tracked down a few members of the group who filled me in a bit on the recording.

"I don't know if you would call me the lead singer on that record," said Kenton Adler. " I sang the opening verse, and the harmony parts. I'm pretty sure it's me on 'As we wind on down the road...'. Marianne Ledder was one of the flutes."

"Everybody was all for including the song on the album," said Marianne Ledder Sellers. "I think Gene [Matsuura] just gave it to us, and we were cool with it. He did all of the arranging. I think it took more than one take to record the song."

"Gene Matsuura did a really cool arrangement on that record," said Adler. "I think Robyn Smith was the other flute, along with Marianne. The electric guitars were Rick Kurtz and Dennis Guin. Rick went on to a music career in Nashville." (Side note: Rick Kurtz was a guitarist with Delbert McClinton, T. Graham Brown, Webb Wilder and others).

 "I don't have a great memory of the Pops Ensemble," said Rick Kurtz. "I think Kenton has a better recollection, than me. All I remember is that it was the only class I enjoyed, and one of the only I took, as I had quite a few credits from attending Australian schools, for a few years, previous to Denver."

Other members included Dave Dawes, Brad Westhoff, Sarah Maruyama, Kim White, Lud Villani, Calvin Erbert, and Mike Collins.

"A guy named Dan Daniels was the recording engineer," said Adler. "He brought portable equipment, and microphones, and we did it in the choir room at Gateway, in one day. He had a studio near Hinkley High School, in an industrial complex."

Monday, November 1, 2021

Saturn


Here's a genre head scratcher.

"Rhinestone rock, featuring an expressive disco-influenced female vocalist, invoking powerful visions of a 70s couple under mirrored balls, in downtown velvet sofa nightclubs, decorated with day glow zodiac wall paintings. Mystic sideshow under tones of occult and science fiction." - Subliminal Sounds

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Listen to "The Rings of Saturn"

Saturn is singer Flavia Williams and a backing band - Peter Anthony, Perry Sheafor, Bard Hoff (Street School, and later of Kinesis), and later-Zephyr percussionist, Ken Lark (Heartbeat). Recorded Radiant Star, in Loveland. The LP comes with a nine-page lyric booklet.

The six-song album also included an invitation to the group's LP 1978 release party, in Fort Collins (including a talk on the record engineering process, by Radiant's Bruce Brunson). The invitation also noted that attendees would have an opportunity to purchase a "special limited edition, signed album."

Flavia Williams passed away March 23, 2017.  According to her obituary, Flavia Williams-Florezell was born in 1955. She graduated from Colorado State University, with a degree in theatre.  The tribute noted that she was closely associated with director Peter Anthony.

She would go on to appearing in a number of Fort Collins and Denver theatre productions. Her last performance was in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Wonder of the World at the Bas Bleu Theatre, in Fort Collins.

In 2020 the LP was re-released by Subliminal Sounds, in Sweden.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Emmett Ryder

Emmett Ryder and his Orchestra poster - no year (watermarked) 

Found this Emmett Ryder poster at an estate sale, up in Denver, recently. Great piece of ephemera, for a concert down in Manitou Springs.

I mentioned Emmett and his band in a piece I did on some University of Colorado newspapers.

 
Hiawatha Gardens postcard

Emmett Ryder was a very popular band leader. In doing research, I found his band mentioned in almost every college prom and dance announcement, of the era. 

For this concert (no date noted) he included vocalist Dominic Cesario, and vibraphonist Bob Hanna.  


Photos from the author's collection (watermarked)

I first found a mention of Emmett Ryder, in a 1933 story, in the Rocky Mountain Collegian, the Colorado State University student newspaper, as a student performer. The last entry I found, of his band performing, was in 1946. As is often the case, the trail goes cold, after that.

Hiawatha Gardens was a historic "gentleman's resort," beer garden, casino, ballroom, concert venue, and restaurant in Manitou Springs. The original Hiawatha Gardens main building was built in 1889 by F. L. M. ("Flimflam") Smith, and burned down in 1920. A separate open-air dancing pavilion (built in the late 1890s) survived the fire, and was incorporated into the current structure, which was built to replace the one that burned. The new building continued to operate as a dance hall and night club into the 1950s. In 2021, the structure underwent a partial demolition along Fountain Creek just east of City Hall. The city is tearing down additions to the original dance hall that were made between 1921 and 1955 and have become structurally unsound over the years. 

 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Bob Roller Recordings

 


Found this Denver label flexi-disc record, during a thrift dig, recently. Not a lot to go on, so hoping a reader can fill me in.

Bob Roller Recordings - "Perfection in the Wax" is noted on side one of the record. It also shows a phone number of "Race 1424." According to Denver telephone history notations, 1941 saw two new exchanges added - Race in the spring and Alpine in the fall. Dexter was added in spring 1942. 

Sadly, as you can image with a flexi that's possibly 80 years old, the disc quality is atrocious, so I won't be able to share any audio clips.

Side one includes a church choir, singing an unrecognizable song. The flip side includes an unidentified male announcer. He indicates that the recording is from the choir of the Calvary Baptist Church, in Denver. He notes that "hundreds of men, and a few women" in the church are currently serving "in the war effort," so this just reaffirms that we're talking around 1941. He also mentions that the new church bulletin is now called The Messenger. On the church's own history page of its website, it too mentions the bulletin's name change, that year. 

I found a Bob Roller mentioned in a 1964 issue of the Denver Catholic Register as being the president of Electronics Services, Inc.  

In a 1968 issue of the Denver Catholic Register, I discovered a photo of Bob Roller, who is listed as the English teacher at Blessed Sacrament school. He is shown in a photo, with his students, at the KLZ television studios.

(click to enlarge)

I could find no other information on Bob Roller, or the label which shares his name. As always, if you have any additional tidbits on this, please let me know.




Monday, October 11, 2021

Randy Lee


Picked up this Colorado Springs LP from my friend, Mike Stelk, the "encyclopedia of Colorado music history," recently. Another "off my radar" find, I'm grateful that he offered to me.

This all-instrumental jazzy piano lounge record doesn't offer a lot of clues, as to its history. No year is noted. I'm going to guess 1964, based on what I dug up, below. It doesn't sound like a "live" recording, as there is no audience banter or applause. Bill Cook, of KRYT radio is listed under "sound."

Listen to "You Came A Long Way From St. Louis"

A few credits are mentioned, namely Jerry Teske on bass, drummer Tommy Thompson, and Herman Raymond, on bongos. 

I noted Jerry in a story I did, back in 2018. In that piece, I found out that he was a private vocal coach, and regular entertainer at Figaro's Restaurant, who also served as the choral director for Palmer High School, in Colorado Springs. He passed away in 2017.  His obituary indicated that he also performed for the Grace Episcopal Taylor Choir, Colorado Springs Chorale, Abendmusik, Colorado Opera Festival, Opera Theatre of the Rockies, and the western group, The Trailriders.

Drummer Tommy Thompson would appear on the Just Jack LP by Jack Harry and the Sammy Colon Trio.

Bongo player (and also listed as "art director") Herman Raymond was a Colorado Springs fine artist, and was listed as "a friend" of Lee's, and who also wrote the liner notes, on the back of the LP.

Bill Cook was the owner of  KRYT radio. He sold the station in 1979 (the FM side later became KKCS). He was also behind the recording of the Mike and Fran LP.

It's quite possible it was recorded at the old Alamo Hotel, on S. Tejon, where Lee was a regular entertainer, for several years. The front cover picture was shot at the Alamo Hotel. 

 (Colorado Springs Gazette - June 14, 1964)

In a 1964 newspaper ad, it noted that he was coming back from a six-month engagement in Hawaii. It also noted that he played for three years at the Ent Air Force Base Officer's Club. 

Lee made the rounds, when it came to Colorado Springs venues - I found stories and advertisements of his performing at the Eldorado Lounge, on east Pikes Peak, the Embers on Wahsatch, the Garden Valley Restaurant, on S. Circle, Wee G's on Pikes Peak Blvd., the Gourmet Table, the Medallion Hotel on Bijou, and the Chateau Motor Inn, and Pierre's, both on South Nevada.

The last newspaper notation I found on Mr. Lee was in 1970, performing at the Sportsman Steakhouse, located on W. Las Vegas.