Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dave Brandl

Side One: 
All I Want to Say
While We'reHere
Keepin' Up
I Listened

Side Two:
Love at First Meeting
Los Coruna Bay
While We're Here (Reprise)

Dave Brandl interviewed March 2012.

Been meaning to get to this one for several months, but got backlogged with other posts.

First heard of Dave Brandl's All I Want To Say (Bear Mountain VAR020 -1977) album when I was noting all of the Colorado records listed in Acid Archives. Then, I begin to see this 1977 LP pop up on auction sites, going for a nice chunk of change.

So I decided to track down Dave Brandl.

Where did you go to school?

Alameda High School [where he was voted "Most Musical Male"]. I graduated in 1975. I went to Adams State for a year.

So what did you plan to do after you left college?

I was originally thinking that I would study music education, but to be honest, I just wanted to play music.

How did the LP come about?

I had worked with some friends and got a Teac 4-track recorder and over dubbed the tracks. I brought in a bassoon and a female vocalist. Put it together and got in touch with Steve Raydon, who helped me produce it.

Why Bear Mountain?

I picked Bear Mountain because I was going through the Yellow Pages and doing some pricing and he said he could make my record for $1.60 a piece, for a 1000 copies.

Where was it recorded?

Steve worked out of his garage. I think my LP was the only record the label ever did.

How was it sold?

I would take some over Colorado State University, and college friends at the time they would buy them. I also got a few in the local Peaches record stores, but it was mostly word of mouth.

Did it get any airplay?

Some country stations played it. I went back to Adams State and they put it on the play list college station.

Tell me about the cover art.

It's a representation of the different songs on the album. It was done by Joe Chirichigno. We were friends in high school, and played in some bands together. He is doing graphic design now in Florida.

The back pictures on the album shows you performing.

I'd play at Little Bear Mountain bars and a few solo shows, here and there. In the summers I would perform in Jackson Hole at the Jackson Lodge.

Was there ever talk of a follow-up recording?

Yeah, I actually had two other albums planned. The second one was going to be called Things I Didn't Think of the First Time, and the third one was going to be called You Thought I Was Finished, Didn't You?

So what happened?

Mostly a slap in the face of reality – it didn’t take off. I got some radio play and sold a few records, and played in a band with Steve Raydon, called Mirror and we played some shows at Herman’s Hideaway and The Pearl Street Music Hall.

What happened with Mirror?

We were together about five or six years. We never released anything, although we did meet with A&M, and met Herb Alpert and the Commodores, and moved out to California.

It was a period of time where I was shocked into reality of what it took to be a musician. My wife and I after did some USOs shows when we moved to California. The first The Frankie Lee Band, and we played at the Hollywood USO Club, and up and down the West Coast. Bob Hope actually opened for us. We were supposed to be the opening act for him, but it was his birthday and they wanted to get him on and off early.

What have you been doing now?

I'm in the computer world - programming and training. I play in our church choir in Denver.

What do you think about the collectibility of your album?

I find it amazing, actually. I think it’s more because it’s a collectible, not because of the content. I mean, it's often described as psych folk. I probably would now agree with that description, and I guess that's what people collect, now.

I get contacted by about one or two people a year, who want to buy my album. Records by Mail, and a collector out of Seattle always call to see if I have any... I only have about 30 copies left.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bethlehem Baptist Church - Pueblo

Getting into the holiday spirit with this wonderful offering from the Bethlehem Baptist Church, Pueblo.

From the prolific John Law label (3868), the congregation really has a good time on this disc. Lots of enthusiastic choir offerings here, with a few standouts, including a duet by India Jackson and Brenda Golden. 

The awwwww cut on here has to go to little James Chandler, who looks as if he's barely in grade school.

With backing from the junior choir, "Little James," as he is billed, belts it out on "Happy on My Way." 

Bethlehem Baptist is still going strong in the Bessemer part of town, on Spruce Street. Reverend Chandler retired from preaching in 2003, after almost 35 years at the pulpit, to live closer to his now-grown son James, who is also a reverend. 

 Merry Christmas, one and all...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Daddy Bruce (Success with Ron Franklin)

Given we are in the Thanksgiving season, I thought it would be appropriate to feature a record tribute to Daddy Bruce Randolph.

Born in Arkansas, in 1900, Randolph made his way to Denver, after years of picking cotton, and working in the neighboring coal mines--where he'd sell barbeque sandwiches to the workers.

Taking the name "Daddy Bruce" (a nickname from one of his sons), he opened his name sake restaurant in 1963, at the corner of Gilpin and 34th. Four years later he would open his Five Points restaurant.

His philanthropy was legendary...

He gave away clothes and food every year, on his birthday and on Christmas, held Easter egg hunts, and staged massive Thanksgiving dinners for the homeless.

The first documented Daddy Bruce gang feed occurred in the late 1960, for about 200 people, in City Park. The meals grew to the point that he was dishing up thousands of turkey dinners during the holiday.

In 1986, local singer Ron Franklin recorded a rap tribute, "Salute to Daddy Bruce" (same song on the flip - Success 70017). The song featured the group Success as backup singers. The record was recorded at Avalanche Studios in Denver, and produced by Jim Mason.

In 1980, his son opened Daddy Bruce Bar-B-Que, at the corner of Arapahoe and 20th streets, in Boulder (In 2012, Bruce Randolph, Jr. sold the establishment).

Daddy Bruce passed away in 1994, at the age of 94. In 1985 a section of 34th Avenue, from Downing to Dahlia streets, was renamed Bruce Randolph Avenue.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Jerry Street

Found this Jerry Street disc via eBay, and remembered the name from a 2010 blog post over at LoneStarStomp.

According to that post, it appears Jerry did quite a bit in New Mexico and Texas, but he must have headed north in his later career, as this find is on a Golden, Colorado label.

On this disc Jerry teams up with Lloyd Green, the steel guitar ace, who appeared on records for everyone from Johnny Cash and Charley Pride, to Sir Paul McCartney.

Also of note is co-producer Buster Jenkins, who started out in Denver (on the Rocky Mountain Jamboree, and then later with his band the High Country Travelers). Buster also produced on the Band Box label before he started up the High Country label, in 1968 (producing Dewey Knight's "A Mind of Your Own," among others).

Listen to a sample

There is one other High Country/Jerry Street collaboration that I know of. "The Same Old Thing" / "Listen They're Playing My Song" (High Country 70012).

Prairie Hornets

A few months ago I read in the Pueblo Chieftain that Elmer Swartwood passed away at the age of 87 (December 3, 1924 - July 17, 2012). Elmer was the founder of the Prairie Hornets, a local Pueblo country and western and square dance music band.

Somewhere along the way Elmer teamed up with caller/singer Al Horn, and his Prairie Recording label, out of Denver. The partnership resulted in several recordings for the group, including "Mr. In-Between" (PR 1004), "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" (PR 1009), and "Coon Dog" / "Square Chords" (PR 2001), among others.

Al went on to be a pretty prolific caller, recording almost 100 singles for the Desert, Mountain, and Ocean labels, and later a Hillbilly bopper on the Do-Ra-Me label, "Where Does Love Go" / "It's Much Too Soon" (1424).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Roy Cary and The Rocky Mountain Ramblers

Another puzzler.  Here's what I have on this country/hillbilly-vibe gem:

"You're The Only World I Know" / "Roll On Buddy" (RDC 6691).

Was able to date the band as late as 1970, with two references to this group in the Greeley newspaper, (headliners for a local dance).

Discovered that a musician named Roy Cary was born in 1928, and passed away in 1979, in Denver. Found a reference to another Roy Cary, also from Denver (born in 1919), who was paralyzed due to polio.  That Roy Cary played the accordion.

Found this random picture of the Rocky Mountain Ramblers, but nothing else associated with it. Quite possible that it's an Ohio/Pennsylvania/Indiana-based group of the same name.  No date.

I did see a reference of another single by Roy Cary and the Rocky Mountain Ramblers, "Standing at the End of My World" / "Lazy Day," (JSP 6672).

In spite of the mysteries, Roy and the Rocky Mountain Ramblers live on in the 1994 rockabilly CD comp Honkin' Billy, where you will find "Roll on Buddy" included.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Skiing the Rockies

Skiing The Rockies
(GrAMM SKI1001 - 1974)

Side One:
Park City
Jackson Hole

Side Two:
Crested Butte
Winter Park
Steamboat Springs

I'll let you in on a little secret. I don't know how to ski.

Well actually, I've attempted to ski three times. In each attempt, it was a miracle I didn't break anything, or worse.

So I now get my thrills watching Warren Miller DVDs, or the winter Olympics, from the comfort of my couch, and live vicariously through those with more athletic ability than I.

From the folks at the Great American Music Machine (GrAMM) out of Denver, Skiing The Rockies is a collection of songs about...skiing the Rockies.

Recorded at Summit Studios in Denver the LP features the GrAMM duo of Ralph Harrison and Tim Schumacher (you'll see those names more than a few times in this blog, as they were pretty prolific).

All of these songs are pretty mainstream, and sound like instant jingles for each resort.  I guess in an attempt to appeal to a wide audience, they're all pretty generic.  Not a whole heck of a lot of personality here.

This album is a very special and exciting collection of outstanding original musical works reflecting the living image, mood and personality of eleven of the world's greatest skiing areas! You will quickly recognize the brilliant work of the artist group as they portray for you, the beauty and excitement of this High Western Land! - Liner notes
Lots of names credited on this album, including Margaret Andersen, Ralph Harrison, Rich Currans, Doug McKee, Craig Donaldson, Tim Schumacher, Connie Ellisor, and Dean Tellefson.

Highway Robbery

Rob Stokes interview conducted March 2012.

Rob Stokes found his way to Durango, via Louisville Kentucky, after he joined up with several friends who moved to town to be ski bums.

 "I moved out there with that wave and was working one day a week at the ski area. I was playing guitar in some bands in Kentucky (the rock band Live Bait), and I wanted to see if I could play here. I thought I could make money doing music."

 "They were having an open mic night at this bar in town, and that's where I met up with R.B."Stoney" Stone. He was playing there, we hit it off, and thought we could get a band together. So we hired a bass player and then we were a trio. Then we hired a drummer and it took off."

 It was Rob Stokes who came up with the name of the band. "We were sitting around thinking about what we going to call ourselves, and I thought of it--because it had “Rob” in it. And it stuck."

 Stone took charge as the band's leader, booking gigs, and writing songs for the group, which would include Jeff Boyden on drums, Jimmy Candelaria on rhythm guitar, and Andy Janowsky on bass. After several months of playing around town (mainly at the local Sundance Saloon), the group decided to record an album.

 (Click on photo to see entire band)

"We went up to Paragon Sound in Fort Collins, mainly because it was inexpensive."

They titled the LP Keep on Ridin' (Wild Stallion Records 12237 - 1984).  The cover art was taken from a painting by Durango artist Jeff Ellingson.

The group's co-producer, Steven D. Geier provided liner notes:

Highway Robbery, a group of talented men who have chosen music as their life, their beginning.  These men have done so with the need to give you happiness, a smile, that distant tear, and a longing in your heart to hear more..."

 "It had some local airplay and somebody took my song (the instrumental "Joseph M. Jones"), and used it for a radio advertisement for a Farmington muffler shop. We had a little fan club, and we'd sell the album at gigs."

 Highway Robbery would go on to open for Charlie Daniels, when he came though town, but they never achieved fame outside southwestern Colorado. Soon tensions arose between band members.

 "It was a little bit intense because I owned the P.A., and I got a little extra money for that. That always seemed to upset some members of the group, and one of the guys got so pissed off that he took a swing at me, and that was it. I quit."

The band would only be together two years.

 According to Stokes, Stone still performs around town.  Andy Janowsky went on to be a policeman, and plays bass in the band High Rollers, while Jeff Boyden works with his family in Montrose.  He said Jimmy Candalaria passed away.

Stokes would find success as a sound engineer, working for Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas, in Nashville.

 "Being in Highway Robbery--that was just one chapter of my musical life."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Los Cuates

Side One:
Unas Doce Hores
¿Cuántas Horas Hay?
Qui Quiri Qui
Las Estaciones
Está Llovieno
¿Y Tu Cuerpo?
Mi Bagalú
Bailen A Mi Compás
Feliz Comida

Side Two
Los Colores
Mis Cinco Sentidos
Mira Que Tenemos
El Perito Tinto
Uno A Diez
Los Animales
El Parque Zoolígico
Chu Chu Chato

As the little kiddos head off to school, I thought it would be a good time to feature this wonderful 1975 Spanish-language children's LP by the group Los Cuates, out of Denver.

Released on the Fort Collins-based Cuate label (not to be confused with the Cuates label out of Los Angeles),  Mira Que Tenemos, was recorded at Audicom in Denver, and is performed by David Gonzales (drums, conga), Dale Vigil (vocals, guitar, bass, maracas), Dennis Vigil (vocals, requinto, bass, maracas), and Mike Mendoza (maracas, claves).

Some really wonderful happy music here. Not sure what their music background is, but you can tell they really want to rock out on this LP, as evident from the Ventures-inspired drums on this one:  

Dennis Vigil (who now spells his name Denys) runs the Center for Alternative and Responsible Education, out of Lafayette.

Mira Que Tenemos is also available on CD here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Solve The Mystery: Norma West

1955 RCA Custom Pressing (RR F8OW-0011)
Home Spun Records (102)
Colorado Springs

Nice female country twanger. Any information would be great.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dan Potknojak

Dapam Plus label (20703-no year)
Recorded at Steel City Sound-Pueblo

Listen to a sample of "The Auctioneer"

As is probably the case with many collectors, I'm a sucker for those auction shows on television.  You know the ones where they open up an abandoned storage room, and four type-A personalities give dirty looks at one another, and try to outbid each other for whatever, I mean potentially high-dollar collectibles, are in the locker.

On that note, here's an ode to the fast-paced talent of bid calling, courtesy of Dan Potkonjak.

Another brick wall attempt to find info on this one.  After calling every similar surname in Colorado, nobody offered a hint.  Oh well.

"The Auctioneer" is actually a cover of a 1956 Leroy Van Dyke song, and Dan really lets 'er rip with this nice country ditty (contrary to the credit given on the single, Van Dyke and Buddy Black wrote the song).

The a-side is a Potkonjak-penned farmer anthem, "Ain't Givin' Up."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Denver Broncos

Let's get this out of the way... I am a Denver Broncos fan.

 The author (in the middle)

My home and office are decorated 365 days a year with Broncos memorabilia.
A good portion of my closet is filled with Broncos-related attire.
Even though Mile High Stadium is now exactly 900 miles away from my front door, I still scream at the TV during games, hoping the coach and players can hear me make calls.
I get weepy when they win...and when they lose.

I bleed orange.

Needless to say, I couldn't have a blog, dedicated to Colorado vinyl, without featuring those records singing the praises of the Orange Crush.

While there have been numerous musical dedications to the team, including Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Elway," John Parr re-released "St. Elmo's Fire" (dedicated to Tim Tebow - "Tim Tebow's Fire"), and that incredibly catchy "Black and Yellow" remix last year, "Blue and Orange" (I still can't get that one out of my head), since this blog is about vinyl, I'll stick with that format.

In 1977 the Broncos were headed to their first Super Bowl.  To commemorate the mile high accomplishment, the city's creative types decided to celebrate in song.

The Gold Coin label featured the Broncos tribute, "The Bronco Fan," performed by Deke Adams.  I've listened to this song several times, and I swear he's saying "Orange CRUNCH."

Gold Coin Records-4957 (1978)

In probably an obvious use of available melodies, the local trio of Cunningham, Rodgers and Warren borrowed from a popular Johnny Horton ditty to record "The Modern Battle of New Orleans."

Crush Records - 5286 (1977)

 Also quick to seize on the moment, Tony Mandarin (Bill Michaels) and the Mile High Rockers released the orange vinyl (also available in blue vinyl) double-sided rockabilly tribute to the team "Bronco Rock," and "Mile High Rock."

Stofer-101 (1978)

Local lounge singer Johnny Vanelli added a disco entry to the mix, with his "Broncomania" single, backed by the Colorado Brass.

Pre-vue-753 (1978)

While eventually losing to the Dallas Cowboys, on January 15, 1978, Denver continued to celebrate the AFC Champs with the release of The Year of the Broncos, a recap of highlights from the season, courtesy of KOA Radio.

 The Year of the Broncos
(Fleetwood Communications FCLP 3104 - 1978)

Probably the most notable of the Denver Broncos-related songs came via running back Jon Keyworth. In 1977 he released the uplifting "Make Those Miracles Happen" (Cartay 323232--in case you didn't know, his jersey number was 32).

The following year he would release the LP Keys (Aspen label), which would go on to be remembered, not for its songs, but for use of the naked backsides of (reportedly) the Broncos players on the inside of the cover.

In 1983 the Broncos went 9-7, and finished 3rd in the AFC West. Sensing the despair (and anger) among fans, KBPI jock Don ("The Hawk") Hawkins penned "Prayer for a Fan."

KBPI 42N24 - 1983

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Government Issue

Side One
He's My Brother
Hurray For Bach
Summer Me, Winter Me
The Game

Side Two
Best Thing You've Ever Done
The Last Words of David
Dino's Song
We Shall Overcome

Colorado Springs boasts not only six military installations (Air Force Academy, Buckley Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, and Fort Carson) , but also the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), U.S. Northern Command, Air Force Space Command, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Strategic Command, Missile Defense Integrated Operations Center, Space Innovation and Development Center, Joint Functional Component Command-Integrated Missile Defense, and the National Security Space Institute.

Whether it was a marketing tool or a morale boost, several of these installations released records featuring its more talented soldiers and airmen (we'll feature several of these recordings in later posts).

In 1970 Fort Carson (which is actually celebrating it's 70th year, this year) formed The Government Issue as "expressly for the entertainment of the Army soldier and expanded to act as ambassadors to the people of the Pikes Peak region."

Released on the prolific John Law Enterprises label (710501), the group's self-titled LP keeps it pretty safe with your typical Up With People-style selections.  A few stand-out performances, including a soulful rendition of the Beatles "Something."

"Dino's Song" is actually a cover of the Youngbloods "Get Together," not the Quicksilver Messenger Service song.  I guess they changed their mind, and forgot to tell the guy in charge of printing the LP cover.

There is one other Government Issue release, a 45 on the CEB label (10,0002-no year).
"Qui'Cest Ca (What is This)" and "Chowtime" are both happy little horn-driven instrumentals, interspersed with comic relief.

Interesting note:  Guitarist Mario Tio, who is featured here, is the same Mario Tio who went on to be one of the founding members of Chocolate Milk - the New Orleans-based funk and soul group, and who also worked with Allen Toussaint, and recorded with Paul McCartney (Venus and Mars sessions).

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dick Bodine

Side One:
Our Flag
Gave My Love a Cherry
Mr. Shorty
She's Got to be a Saint
Why Are you Marching Son

Side Two:
I'll Fly Away
The Pledge
Sixteen Tons
City of New Orleans
They're Hanging Me Tonight
Why I Love Her

This week we will celebrate our nation's 236th birthday, and I thought it fitting that I feature Dick Bodine's America LP.

Released in 1983 (Great American Records label 26101), Dick Bodine is featured on the cover--an obvious protector of the second amendment.

I knocked around these United States and this old world for over 50 years.  I've visited most countries and every continent. This album, which I hope you will enjoy as much as I enjoyed making it, tells me feelings for a people and a land.  This combination make it the greatest nation on earth, the United States of America. - Dick Bodine (liner notes)

There are a few other spoken word pieces ("Why Are You Marching Son," "The Pledge," and "Why I Love Her") that are equally patriotic, but Dick lets loose on a few folk standards.

Dick is accompanied by the musically-diverse Doc Hoffman on guitar, steel, harp, banjo, 12-string guitar, bass, mandolin, electric guitar, and harmony vocals. Marty Hill handles the electric bass, and harmony vocals.

Apparently Dick has some affiliation with the Colorado Music Network, out of Aurora, as there is an address on the back of the LP, for more information on this release.

Larry T. Coen's Tribute to Red Sovine

 Red Sovine would have been 94 years old this month, so I thought it would be appropriate that I post a tribute record from a Pueblo artist this time around.

Not a lot of info on this one.  Actually tracked down the family of the singer, Larry T. Coen, but they declined to talk about him, or his music.  I always hate it when I hit a brick wall - especially on a record this fabulous.
Listen to "How Far is the Road Up to Heaven"

Larry's ode to Red was recorded in 1984 (Red Sovine died in 1980), at the Steel City Sound Recording Studios, in Pueblo.  Joe Salazar produced the disc, and played keyboards, Bill Cohen (I'm assuming is some kin) played bass, while Jimmy Schaffer handled the fiddlin' duties.  Other credits include Chris Koroshetz on drums, while Larry is on guitar.

Reg Montano is credited for the narration.  Larry, along with Carolyn Tuttle are labeled as the vocalists.

Carolyn gets her own shot to standout, with the flip-side of the recording.

Is it just me, or does this sound completely out of place (in a good way) for 1984 country?  I mean 1984 was saturated with Alabama, Reba, and Hank Williams Jr.'s "All My Rowdy Friends..."  God bless Carolyn for not going down that path.

Unfortunately, reaching out for info on her has resulted in no additional information.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Warming Trend

The Warming Trend
Photo courtesy of George Krieger
Man, I really wish I could get more info on this one.  Located who I think is a member of this recording, but she won't return my e-mails.  Also located the producer (Dugg Duggan)...and nope, not a word.

Private issue breezy femme folk on the TWT label.  


Photo courtesy of George Krieger
Listen to a sample
Flip side is a hootenanny style tribute to Colorado,written by David B. Allen and Paul Coldwell (Up With People).

I found another reference to a second Warming Trend single, "Never Ending Rain!" / "It Wasn't Very Long Ago," on the Klass label (6943). The lead singer is Mark Klass. No clue if this was released before, or after the record posted above. As noted in the autographed record sleeve below, there isn't a Mark.

Found a very small reference to the group in a 1968 Billboard.

Billboard - April 27, 1968

That same year, Warming Trend appeared with the group Action Brass, at McEwen Music Company (8460 W. Colfax) for some "Magnavox celebration."
Photo courtesy of George Krieger
The only other hint is an alternative picture sleeve cover, which just happens to be autographed (and also shows six group members, instead of five on the other one - note the names: Dave, Lin, Scott, Bobby and Brandy).

Friday, June 1, 2012

Flamingo Plus

I took five semesters of Spanish throughout high school and college, and have retained enough for me to cause an international incident. That said, there's something about Tejano, Tex-Mex, norteño, mariachi, or ranchera music that I've always enjoyed--even though I don't understand any of the lyrics.

Ah, the joy of being oblivious.

Much like religious vinyl, I find quite a few Hispanic records when I go digging in the dollar bins. Here lately I buy pretty much everything with a Colorado address on the label, as they tend to be passed over by folks looking to score the next big eBay sale.

That's good for me.

That said, last year a most generous fellow Colorado record collector mailed me a batch of state Hispanic singles he had no interest in.

Among the singles were three by the group Flamingo Plus.

As is most always the case, the vinyl had few clues to go on. The label was blank, however it credited James Vigil on saxophone, as well as Nick and Jane Herrera. A quick Google search discovered that a Jane Herrera, who had been married to a Nick Herrera, in Denver, passed away last year, at the age of 75. I couldn't find any other additional information (Correction - comment below says they were brother and sister).

I had two copies of "Tu Destino," however one copy had a flip of "Llorando, Llorando" (both credited to Crystal Sound Recording in Denver), while the other had a b-side saxophone instrumental, "El Carpintero Colorado," and no notation of where it was recorded. Nothing really standing out here on either recording.

However, a third single, from what appeared to be the same group, sounded nothing like the other two. While "Solamenta Una Vez" is your standard bolero issue, the flip, the bilingual "Te Queiro" was heavy on organ vibes, and rocked out.


EDIT 7/3/12: Recently discovered another Flamingo Plus record, which was offered to me from a wonderful overseas seller.

Another cool rocker...

"Scream" / "Teach Me"
CFS 832 (no label name)

Velma Stapleton

Velma Stapleton interviewed March 2012.


Side One:
Here We Are
Love Grew Where the Blood Fell
Mercy Rewrote My Life
It Made News in Heaven
A Vessel of Honor For God

Side Two:
There is a River
He's Ever Interceding
I Have to Worry
Spirit Song
I Love Him Too Much

Velma Stapleton loved country music. In fact, her dream had always been to be a country performer, and record an album. She would eventually record an album – but it wasn’t country.

 “Back in my day it was all I wanted to do – sing country,” she said. “But I realized the words were not positive, so I discovered gospel music.”

Velma’s move from secular to spiritual music wasn’t an overnight switch. She had already been singing Christian songs at an early age, growing up in Lamar (she graduated Lamar High School in 1971). When she married, her family, which included her boys Michael and Steven, would take to the road to perform in Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

“Wherever I could perform, I did. My husband ran the sound.”

In 1983, at the urging of her pastor, she recorded her one and only album.

“My pastor foot the bill for me to record,” she said. “I recorded it in Denver. I think it took about two hours to make.”

She said her back-up musicians were actually pre-recorded songs, of which she simply sang to in the studio. “I think we pressed 500 copies of the record.”

Standard issue gospel here, but Velma gets to use her country chops on at least one song, "It Made News in Heaven."

The picture on the front cover of what was to be titled Mercy, Love and Praise, was taken at her church.

"The picture on the back was done in a studio,” she said.

Velma gave up singing to care for her husband, who has been ill for the past 12 years. She currently resides in Pueblo. “It was always on my bucket list to record an album,” she said. “And I did.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Five Bucks, Four Shades, and Five Peaks

 The Four Shades
Clockwise from top:  Gerald Gantt, Robert Stallworth
Casey Hynes, and Joel Scherzer

 Interview with Robert Stallworth and Joel Scherzer conducted January-March 2012.

Last year I received a cryptic e-mail from a record collector who told me about a doo-wop single recorded in Colorado, or one that had ties with someone in Colorado. The single, "Alone and Blue," by The Five Bucks, blew me away. In all of my years of collecting, I had never heard the single. But what caught me as odd was while the sound was something straight out of the 1950s, the actual single appeared to be, at least, issued in the 1970s.

I tried every possible avenue to locate information on the group. Who were these guys? Why was there absolutely no information on this record?

So, after almost a year of searching, I contacted my dear friend, and fellow Colorado record collector, Joel Scherzer.

"Yeah, I know about the Five Bucks," he told me. "I put out that record."

Well how about that...

In the mid 1970s, Joel and fellow music lover, Robert Stallworth, who was attending medical school in Boulder,  teamed up with Casey Hynes, a professor at CU-Boulder, and fellow student Gerald Gantt, to occasionally sing doo-wop tunes--a genre they all loved. They soon decided to form their own group, the Four Shades, and start up their own label, Race Records.

The first release from the group was "Yes Sir! That's My Baby," and the b-side, "Stormy Weather" (Race 1000).

Looking for additional material to release on their new label, Scherzer looked to Stallworth's extensive record collection--and several acetates of unused material from R&B groups, whose real names are lost to posterity.

"While looking for old records in Gary, Indiana in the 1970s, I came upon three acetates, possibly recorded in the 1950s, of unknown and unnamed singing groups," said Stallworth. "The songs were "I Got Goofed," "Just Rhymes," and "My Mama Done Told Me." When we were putting together our label, we decided to release these, and give the group the name of The Five Bucks."

"I Got Goofed" and the flip "Just Rhymes" was the second release for the label (Race 1001).

Needing a fourth song to put out a third single, the duo used a 1971 recording Stallworth had made while a student at Millikin University.

"We never performed anywhere, we just sang together for fun. I had a radio program, and a crude way of recording at the station. So one night I asked the guys to come up and sing a song. We decided to do our version of the Delacardos, "Got No One."

Along with Stallworth, the members of the group were lead singer Gregory Purvis, Nelson Harvey, Ronald Thompson, and Charles Fields.

"After the recording, I decided to add a sixth voice," Stallworth said. "I added a falsetto tenor top to the background."

The song was renamed "Alone and Blue," and was the b-side to "My Mama Done Told Me" (Race 1002).

 The Four Shades would record just one more single, "Let It Please Be You"/"I Thought You'd Care" (Race 1003--red vinyl).

The group eventually broke-up, after Gantt headed off to graduate school, and the other members pursued other interests.

 In 1987, Stallworth and Scherzer teamed up again to release "Sittin' on the Porch"/"Hair-Net" (Jay-R 100). The record was credited as the 5 Peaks.

"I only minimally knew Maurice Simpkins at the time of the Race releases.  I was in Colorado and Maurice was in Chicago," Stallworth said.  "I did not really reconnect with Maurice until after I moved back to Illinois, which was in 1982.  Maurice and I were friends again by 1983.  One day while I was at this apartment, I noticed an acetate on the floor behind his living room couch.  It was "Sittin' On The Porch" as done by Maurice and his group, The Five Chimes.

"I asked Maurice if he could get some of his singing friends to record two songs and I would have them pressed up.  I asked Maurice if he could re-do "Sittin On The Porch" and he agreed, since it was a song which he already knew."

 "Sittin' on the Porch" was a departure for us in that the recording included instrumental accompaniment.  Robert sang lead and overdubbed the bass part.  I didn't sing on this one, but I came up with the name and design of the label, the name of the group, and also helped with the distribution," said Scherzer. "It got airplay on various radio stations around the country, most notably WCBS-FM in New York."

The song was released on the Jay-R label (JR 1000), and was later included in the Heavy on Doo-Wop CD series.  

Joel Scherzer lives in Pueblo and runs a successful online used record operation. Robert Stallworth is now retired in Nevada, after a career in medicine. Casey Hynes divides his time between Colorado and Paris, France. Gerald Gantt's whereabouts are unknown.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Creighton Jazz Ensemble

Side One:
Getting Straight
Can't Take My Eyes Off of You
The Stripper
Close to You
Totem Pole
Spelunker's Folly

Side Two:
Black Magic Woman
The Swizzler
Suburban Soul
The Way You Look Tonight
Funky Turtle
Mantilla Lace
Easy Mover

Received this album from Dave Ray, owner of Beat Pharm, the uber-cool record store, located on Union Avenue, by the library, in Pueblo. Could spend all day in there.

Dated 1972, and under the direction of R.L. Bollig, the 32 member Creighton Jr. High Jazz Ensemble of Lakewood (saxophone, flute, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, and drums) sounds more like a junior high assembly stage band, than an actual jazz group, but I won't judge the kids too harshly.

I usually don't go for school band things, but this one intrigued me, if only for the fact that the kiddos do an spirited version of "Black Magic Woman."

The album appears on the IM record label of Denver (IM-10641-1972). A quick search of the address finds that it's now home to an insurance company.

1863 S. Pearl - former home of IM Records

By the way...I grew up attending what was then called junior high school, so I'm not sure when they became "middle schools," or when they decided to go up to ninth grade in some parts of the country. Back in my day, ninth grade was high school, but I digress.