Monday, September 20, 2021

Red Rocks Radio Jingle

So 80 years ago, this year, Red Rocks Amphitheater was officially dedicated. I'm not going to cut and paste the history of the venue, as there is plenty already documented, but...

Here's something I have NEVER seen (or heard) - a Red Rocks radio jingle!

I can't take credit for this incredible discovery. It was found by my dear friend Mike Stelk, who offered the disc to me. I can't thank him enough for doing so.

:35 Red Rocks radio jingle

Is that great, or what?

No information on who is singing the jingle. There is absolutely no identifying marks, no year noted, and nothing etched in the run out. The plain white label notes three :35 cuts and two :10 cuts, which are the same on each side. It's quite possible this is a one-of-a-kind find.

:10 Red Rocks radio jingle



Monday, September 13, 2021

Leslie Fore

I'm constantly surprised when I find a Colorado record, which has completely slipped through the cracks of my collection. So is the case with this 1981 EP from Leslie Fore.

My Colorado Home shows the total of four songs, and not much else. The songs are performed by Thomas Roland. The genre could be described as antiseptic, and very dated. I wish I could offer more of a review, but there really is not much to elaborate here. The lyrics and singing style on this record are more 1931, instead of 1981. No credits mentioned on the backing musicians. I'm guessing that the music is quite possibly a simple backing track, as it sounds almost the same on every cut.

 Listen to "In The Garden of the Gods"

 Leslie Fore's history is far more interesting, and helps solve the mystery of this album.

1955 Photo of Leslie Fore (Denver Post - watermarked)

Born in 1896, Fore was a one-time bandleader, and a dedicated sheet music collector, with an emphasis on Colorado-themed songs. He was also an elevator operator at the Colorado Historical Museum.

 
October 6, 1960 - Monroe (Louisiana) News Star

In a 1938 issue of Hobbies - The Magazine for Collectors, Fore placed an advertisement for souvenirs, postcards and novelties. The ad noted his 1525 E. 30th Street home address, in the Whittier neighborhood of Denver.

In 1954, the U.S. Copyright Office showed his Success Music Publishing Company was located at 3151 High Street, near the corner of what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and High St.
 
According to copyright filings, Fore not only collected Colorado sheet music, but he also composed it, dating back to 1922. 
 
1922
"Miranda on the Old Veranda"
 
1936
"In The Garden of the Gods I'll Wait for You" 

1954
"My Colorado Home"

1965
"Angel In My Dreams"
 
1974
"I'll Wait At the Gates of Heaven"
"You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone"
 
Sadly, I couldn't find an actual printed piece of his sheet music. I checked with Tom Merry, my go-to on anything sheet music related, and he had nothing related to this composer. The 1936 "In the Garden of the Gods" and the 1954 "My Colorado Home" both show up on his 1981 album, which explains why this disc sounds about 40 years older than it's original year released. 
 
I also couldn't find anything related to Mr. Fore's time as a bandleader.

Fore died in 1992, at the age of 96. He is buried at Fairmount Cemetery (marker below). 




Monday, September 6, 2021

Pueblo Signs on the Air – The Origins of Steel City Radio

In 1919, Colorado Springs amateur radio enthusiast Dr. William D. “Doc” Reynolds, Jr began a short-range broadcast, under the call sign 9JE. A few months later, according to a May 13, 1920 story, titled “Dance Music by Wireless Transmitted by Reynolds,” published in the Colorado Springs Gazette, “Pupils at the High school [didn’t identify which one] who experiment in wireless telephony and telegraphy received the canned music from the home of Dr. W. D. Reynolds last night, and tripped the light fantastic to it with satisfaction.” 

 Two years after that experiment, the Reynolds Radio Company would launch the first radio station in Colorado, KLZ. The Denver-based station broadcast a 5,000-watt signal, reaching Pueblo, which would not be far behind with its own radio presence. 

KFGB 

In 1922, George G. Loewenthal was the first to bring a radio station to Pueblo – or at least a radio license. In the February 1923 issue of The Wireless Age, KFGB was officially listed in the Broadcasting Station Directory. In a February 17, 1923 issue of Radio World, it was noted that there were “six new broadcasters,” who had been licensed by the Department of Commerce, including KFGB, in Pueblo, which was owned by “The Loewenthal Brothers.” 

 
(click to enlarge)

According to the filing, the studio was located at 616-618 N. Main Street, which was also the location of Loewenthal’s electrical contracting and Apex brand vacuum cleaner shop. 

Pueblo Chieftain – February 20, 1921 

While KFGB would be the “first” radio station application, in Pueblo, there is very little known about the station’s programming format, its announcers, or if it even ever went on the air. 

 Just a year later, in the 1923 Radio Service Bulletin, issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, KFGB was on a list of stations to “strike out all particulars,” implying that the station was no longer on the air – if it was ever on, at all. The radio call letters would later go to a station in Iowa City, IA. 

While there is no documentation that KFGB ever broadcast, and can’t be officially noted as the “first” radio station in Pueblo, there is quite a bit of information confirming that KGDP holds the honors. 

KGDP 

 (click to enlarge - sorry for the blurriness)  - Fort Collins Coloradan (year unknown) 

 In 1922, KGDP would join the local Pueblo radio dial - as the first and only radio station, in the United States (at the time), run entirely by Boy Scouts. 

Heard at 1340 on the radio dial (later switching to 1210), according to a June, 1922 report from the Department of Commerce, KGDP was listed as operating at 2927 High Street, (the residence of John D Price, scout commissioner of Pueblo). 

“The station has a recorded distance of 400 miles and occasionally, under favorable auspices, even longer, and sends out programs regularly on Tuesday and Friday evenings. On the first, strictly scouting programs are rendered. On Thursdays programs are arranged with local participants but with an effort to use scouts or scout parents, where talent is available” - 17th Annual Report of the Boy Scouts of America (1926) 

According to coverage of the first evening of broadcast, in the Pueblo Chieftain, “Thursday night’s program, as broadcasted by Pueblo scout station KGDP was the first that has ever been broadcasted from Pueblo. This very fact, in itself is a significant achievement…” 

 The first broadcast featured scout “bugle caller” Carl Christenson, along with vocalist Miss Ethel Yund, and John R. Elliot, on horn. Other performers that night were bassist Thomas A. Christian, Miss Ruth Lyons on violin, R. M. Miller “a tenor soloist,” Thomas Christian and Charlies Wilson (who performed a duet), and Miss Majorie Starkweather, who gave a reading entitled “ The Little Mixer.” 

The Boy Scout-run station received quite a bit of national publicity, for the unique staffing. The New York Times featured KGDP in its February 12, 1927 edition. “Boy Scouts of Pueblo have their own broadcasting station, KGDP, from which programs are radioed Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. This, so far, as is known, is the only station maintained and operated by the Boy Scouts, although one station is New York City, and one in Kingston, N.Y., and one or two elsewhere, have time to time operated under Boy Scout assistance.” 

 KGDP would be the model for other scouting organizations, looking to teach members how to operate a radio station. Under the headline Scouts Operate Radio Station, the Hutchinson (Kansas) News reported, in its February 26, 1927 edition, that “Hutchinson Boy Scouts are invited to tune in on their radios for the programs which are being offered every Tuesday and Friday by station KGDP scout-owned broadcasting plant located in Pueblo, Colo.” 

The story went on to note that the “executive board of the Pueblo council raised funds to send an older scout to Chicago for training as an operator for the station.” 

 
Boy’s Life – May, 1927 

H.E. Hedlund was listed as the station announcer. In the 1927 issue of Santa Fe magazine, He was noted as a violinist and vocalist. Programming on KGDP was furnished by scouts, or their parents. It broadcast on a 261 meter wave and operated on 10 watts of power. 

The last notation of KGDP, with the U.S. Department of Commerce, would appear in 1930. 

KGHA 

On December 9, 1927, George H. Sweeney and N.S. Walpole were granted a radio broadcasting license for a 50 watt (later 500 watt) station, located at 1200 on the radio dial. 

 Sweeney ran the Globe Fire Insurance & Investment Co., located at 206 W 4th. He was also listed as vice president of Pueblo Foundry and Machine Co. Walpole listed his occupation as a postmaster, and secretary-treasurer of the Pueblo Club. 

No additional information could be found on this station. 

KGHF 

On October 27, 1927, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a license to (later state senator) Curtis P. Ritchie and Joe Finch. Other records show the names Philip G. Lasky and J.H. Albert. J.H. McGill was noted as the news editor. The station would have the call letters KGHF. 

Radio reception stamp for KGHF 

KGHF was the first to have a station slogan, “The Voice of Pueblo.” It broadcast at 1350 at 1,000 watts in the day and 500 watts at night, at 1430, on the radio dial, daily from 8:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 4:00-11:00 p.m. 

The studios were located in the Broadway Arcade Building.

Programming included public affairs shows, featuring John F. Connors, who was also in the Public Affairs Department at Lowry Field. The station also broadcast “You and the Law,” a syndicated program, produced by the Colorado Bar Association. Later, the station would feature live instrumental music from Walsenburg accordion player Mario Carreri, and country music by Jimmie and Dick and the Novelty Boys with Cora Deane. 

In 1945, KGHF sold for $300,000. The station was purchased by Colorado publisher Gifford Phillips (of the East Jefferson Sentinel and the Jefferson County Republican). 

In an April 25, 1947 FCC application for construction permits for KGHF, it was noted that were “only two stations in Pueblo – KGHF and KADP…and a third station has been authorized – KCSJ.” 

KGHF would keep the original call letters until 1964, when the station used KKAM (1964-1976). The station would go on to change its call letters several times, in its history. 

 Other early stations 

Over the next twenty years, there were new radio licenses in Pueblo, implying that KGHF was the lone local Pueblo station, in that time. 

In 1947, longtime Pueblo stations KCSJ and KDZA signed on. While the history of both has been well-documented, very little is known about two other Pueblo stations, which applied for, and received licenses for broadcast – KADP and KROM: 

KADP 

In 1947, the son of former Colorado U.S. Senator (from 1923-1924 and 1933-1941) Alva B. Adams, and grandson of former Colorado Governor Alva Adams, applied for a construction permit for a new broadcast station. 

Alva B. Adams, Jr. who was the chairman of the Pueblo Bank & Trust, would call his station KADP. It would broadcast at 1490 on the radio dial. The official address on the application was noted (incorrectly) as 102 Arman Avenue (believed to be instead Orman Avenue – and the address of the Orman mansion, where Adams and his family lived ). 

For reasons unknown, on October 4, 1948, Adams cancelled the permit, and pulled out of putting a radio station in Pueblo. 

KROM 

Also in 1947, an FM permit was issued to Rocky Mountain Broadcasting Co., (which included Walter Hurd, owner of Hurd Pontiac Co; Carl Walter and Martin Walter Jr., operators of Walter’s Brewing Co., and A. G. Chamberlain, First Federal Savings and Loan Co.), for the station call letters KROM, which would be broadcast at 920 on the dial. The station’s studios were located at 429 Thatcher. However, according to the filing “the permit was dismissed for failure of prosecution.” The original story, in April 21, 1947 issue of Broadcasting, did not elaborate further.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Rock the Boat with the Gentry Brothers

Anyone who grew up in Sterling, during the 1960s-1970s knew the Gentry family, Rex and Phyllis, and their four sons - Bruce, Keith, Royce and Wayne. Rex helped build the original part of the Calvary Baptist Church, and the family were the former owners of the Spin Out roller rink. 

The Gentrys had always been active in the local church, and as the boys grew older, they started entertaining the congregation with their harmonies. According to an archived story in the Greeley Daily Tribune, the brothers performed for the first time, in 1953, at at the Cook Community Sing. 

 
Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph (June 12, 1976) - Click to enlarge.

At some point, the brothers were billed as performing both gospel and rock, as noted in this ad for the 1977 Greeley Farm Show (along with other known Colorado performers, Al Fike and Jim Turner).

 
Greeley Daily Tribune (January 24, 1977) - Click to enlarge

I've listened to my fair share of private-issue Colorado faith-based records. To be honest, most are hard to get all the way through, so I rarely have hope that one will surprise me.

The Gentry Brothers did, with their 1976 release of Jesus 1 The Only Way.

This album starts off with the stereotypical heavy-harmony, and I was thinking this is just another family gospel LP. But then it took on a moody loner folk vibe with side two, and "The Answer."

 Listen to a sample of "The Answer"

But the biggest surprise was the use of the Hues Corporation 1974 hit "Rock the Boat." Changing the lyrics, but keeping the obviously immediately-recognized melody. This will teach me to listen to an album all the way through. 

Listen to "Jesus" 

Wow. Just wow.  

Sadly the vocalists are not credited individually, so I have no clue which of the brothers is handling the lead on these songs. 

I couldn't find any other press on the brothers performing, past 1979. The Windsor Beacon mentioned they were going to be working on a second album, but I couldn't find anything indicating that it actually happened. In 2017, Bruce Gentry performed a solo concert for "First Friday @ First Presbyterian," in Sterling.

Whether one album was enough, or not, their debut has been discovered as a rarity, among a certain collectors. In 2014 Popsike recorded a selling price of $150 (although Discogs has it closer to $25).

Monday, August 23, 2021

Pete Smythe - "I've Been Robbed"

 

So I'm going through this massive stack of 1940s-era Down Beat music magazines, when I spot this story in a 1942 issue. It mentioned well-known Denver entertainer Pete Smythe and his long-time association with the old Cosmopolitan Hotel (formerly located at 1760 Broadway - demolished in 1984), Apparently ol' Pete had a run-in with the union contract waiters at the hotel, when he crossed the picket line. It inspired him to write a song about it, "I've Been Robbed." Apparently the argument didn't last long, as he then released a follow-up song, "I've Had a Change of Heart."

(Click photo to enlarge)

The story indicates that both songs are being played on NBC radio, but I have never been able to find an actual copy of a record. I'm wondering if the writer meant that the songs were being heard on KMYR radio, where Smythe was first a disc jockey (and had a regular show called "Meet The Boys in the Band"), before his long-time association with KOA radio and "The Pete Smythe General Store."

The story headline mentions big band pianist Henry King (1906-1974), who apparently had a long stretch at the Cosmo. King claimed to have recorded over 5,000 remote broadcasts for numerous networks during the group’s traveling career. The band's theme song was "A Blues Serenade." 

 If anyone happens to know of an actual (record) copy of "I've Been Robbed" or "I've Had a Change of Heart," I would love to hear it!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Record Digging: A Korean Caribbean Music LP... From Colorado

 

So I'm digging through a record bin, and come across a couple of 1990 Korean language (at least based on the liner notes) LPs entitled Due West Isle of St. Thomas. The album appears to have a smooth jazz Caribbean vibe, based on the cover art and song titles ("Toucan Strut," "Coconut Bay," Coral Reef Ballet"...). I was about to put it back, when I flipped over the album and noticed the record label address - Windsor, Colorado.

I obviously pick up both copies and head back to the house, to learn more.

Thank goodness for language translation apps. Although, I'm idly wondering just how accurate it is. See Korean-English translation below:


"Due West is a world-class musician Kip Kuepper, who was in the group Rare Silk, who was nominated for a Grammy, and Jim Ridi, from the jazz group Spyro Gyra. Accompaniment by Kim Stone. It is characterized by the refreshing saxophone performance of Ron Axelson. The debut album Isle of St. Thomas is a collection of homeways performances. The blend of smooth flowing rhythms and warn island sounds create a perfect heart passage for your life.  The Isle of St. Thomas album is casual, light, fast bit energy, and deep technique, giving you an unforgettable taste and aroma. Each track provides a view of cheerfulness, pleasure, joy and it is also a trip to warm the spirit and its purposed is to give a different feeling. The fresh sound of percussion and the smooth and beautiful melodic color playing along the river of various performances such as flute, mandolin, the new fusion sound that brightens the heart."

Ron Axelson was born in 1954, in Grand Junction. The liner notes mention that he moved to Nashville, before moving back to Colorado.

The players, as mentioned above, include Axelson (alto sax), Jim Ridi (keyboards), Kip Kuepper and Kim Stone (bass), along with Don Prorak (steel drums), Randy Chavez (guitar), and Mike Aggson (acoustic guitar).


The music has a very "drinking a mai tai, under an umbrella, watching the ocean" vibe to it. 

 Listen to a sample of "Coconut Bay" (1:10)

I couldn't find a domestic release of this vinyl album. It appears it was only released in Korea, as I found several links to the album, on Korean websites. 

In 1995, the album was reissued on CD, and was credited to Ron Axelson, rather than Due West. In a May 1996 issue of Mobile Beat, I found a review of the Isle of St. Thomas:

"A well-produced eight-cut CD on the Ivory Moon label. Ron's music is best described as a cross between Kenny G and Jimmy Buffett. All songs are a medium tempo, with a sunny Caribbean flavor, perfect for any type of event. But there's a twist - using the untapped marketing power of mobile DJs, Ivory Moon has begun a promotional mailing of the CD to mobiles across the country."

In 2006, he released another CD, Sun Tones.

I have messages into Ron, as well as the other players on the record. Hopefully we will soon learn more about the Korean-exclusive issue of this Colorado-made LP. Interesting, to say the least.


Monday, August 9, 2021

Golden Music's Massive Sheet Music Library

Hey all. A few weeks ago I was alerted about an incredible sheet music collection, being housed at Golden Music. The business has taken on a huge project - databasing each and every one of the donated items it currently has stored. We are talking thousands of pieces. It's a huge undertaking, but one which will preserve these important music pieces for decades to come.

We're talking pretty much every type of sheet music you can think of -  pieces from the 1800s to pop music of the 1990s. Seeing it in person is overwhelming. My thanks to project organizer Betsy Nelms, who graciously showed me the collection, and talked to me about the store's plans.

How did you all obtain this massive collection? 

Many people donate used sheet music to Golden Music. When Denver Musicians Association (DMA), the musicians' union, moved their offices to our building, they donated many boxes of sheet music.

What does the collection contain - what kind of music? 

We have had a lending library of school string orchestra music for many years. This library has string orchestra selections from very beginning level through advanced works suitable for high school and collegiate level. This repertoire ranges from classical style through newly written material and arrangements of Broadway and movie tunes. We also have had a music education program ever since the store was started over 20 years ago. The library has teaching materials for piano, electronic organ, every band and orchestra instrument, guitar, and classical voice and theatrical voice. The DMA donation included teaching materials for specific instruments, youth orchestra music, theatre orchestra music from early 20th century and dance band music.

Where did the pieces originate? 

Many individuals donate sheet music to the store, mostly instructional materials for instrumental lessons. The many boxes from DMA also came from various sources. I was told that some came from radio station KOA. In the early days of radio, many stations had their own in-house musicians who played live music on the air. A few of the folios are stamped with KOA National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). Most have no markings as to their original source. 

 How many pieces are there? 

As you saw when you visited Golden Music, there is a lot of music. The school orchestra lending library probably has well over 1,000 titles from very beginning level to advanced string orchestra. The school band lending library probably has about 100 titles and is expanding. There also is a full symphonic orchestra section (winds and strings) that has about 50 titles. The instructional materials for piano probably has about 250 titles. The materials for other instruments probably has 300 titles ranging from violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone and a few others. The youth orchestra materials are of two types. The first was published by BMI in the early 1940's. There are probably 500 titles ranging from folksongs to arrangements of classical repertoire. The other type is a mix of original compositions for youth orchestra and arrangements of classical repertoire, published by various music publishing houses from late 1800's through mid-20th century. The octavo sized theatre orchestra materials are for a medium sized ensemble of strings and winds, maybe 15-20 players. This portion of the collection has well over 1,000 titles most of which are dance tunes and arrangements of popular songs of the early 20th century.

Do you need help with databasing or other archiving jobs - looking for volunteers? 

Currently, I am doing all the database entry and prefer to continue without assistance. However, when it is time to digitize this music, some help would be appreciated. 

Do you plan to sell any pieces? 

Alex Qualtire, co-owner of Golden Music, was quite adamant that nothing is for sale from this collection. 

Do you plan to make them available to the public - if so, how do you plan to do this? 

At the moment, only the string orchestra lending library, band music library, and the symphonic orchestra library are available for loan to teachers. There are no plans for the older music except to maintain it in archival storage. Once we really know what is in this collection, as I complete the database, Alex may be willing to loan out materials to teachers. 

Do you plan to digitize it? 

Once Alex agrees to lend a title, it will be digitized. Only the electronic version, not the fragile paper pages, will be allowed on loan. There are no plans yet to digitize the entire collection. The database can be made available to anyone who would be interested. 

What are some of the most interesting pieces you all have discovered? 

I found it quite interesting to see many pieces in the youth orchestra music by Irenee Berge who was a Frenchman who moved to the United States at the end of the 1800's to conduct orchestras. He is listed in Wikipedia although I don't know anyone today who knows his name. As I worked through the octavo theatre orchestra music, I found tunes that my mother used to sing. She was born in 1912 and was very familiar with popular tunes from 1920's, 1930's and into World War II era music. In all parts of the collection, there are patriotic tunes and medleys. Some represent tunes from the American Civil War, some from World War I and World War II. There are also many tunes that reflect the culture of early 20th century. with references to Hawaii, China, Japan, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia. 

Are you accepting more pieces into the collection? If so, how can folks get those to you? 

Golden Music will always accept donations to these various types of library holdings as listed above. The donor should bring the music into the store, Golden Music, 10395 W. Colfax, Lakewood, 80215. The store is also active in assisting band and orchestra programs through the public, charter and private schools. 

Is it safe to say that is one of the largest (if not THE largest) collection of sheet music, in Colorado? Do you know of any other collections, this vast? 

In reality, this is a modest collection of sheet music. Quite likely local universities and school districts have a similar size or larger. What makes this collection unique is the amount of music of historical value. Although the string orchestra and band lending libraries have selections from the past 20-30 years, the majority of the youth orchestra music and the theatre/dance orchestra music comes from the first half of the 20th century.