Monday, December 31, 2018

2018: As Time Goes By

Safety First AV-001B (1984)

Hard to pick a favorite vinyl find, of 2018, but this one easily ranks up there. My thanks to the uber-talented Shepherd Stevenson (vocals, guitar and keyboard for the Aviators), for adding this fantastic Colorado record to my stash.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Colorado Springs Junior League Follies of 1953

 So it's the day after Christmas, and I'm diggin' at my area used record chain. The obscure Colorado vinyl finds are nonexistent (I truly think I have drained this particular store, dry).

Monday, December 24, 2018

The KGNU Christmas Eve Show (link and playlist)

 Hey everyone! Happy holidays! Had a great time today, at the KGNU studios, playing some pretty nontraditional Christmas music (cue up the player to 1:25:09). My thanks to host Leland Rucker, for being a guest on his Morning Sound Alternative show.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Sounds of Babies

 I'm often asked, "What's the weirdest Colorado record you have discovered?" I try not to be derogatory with my descriptives, as most of these records were made with personal love... but there is ONE that does fit the bill.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dr. Joseph H. Lyday, The Sounds of Babies.

Dr. Joseph H. Lyday was a Denver pediatrician and world-renowned authority on the health of children (think a Colorado version of Dr. Benjamin Spock). Sometime during his practice, he thought it would be a good idea to record an entire album of babies crying, in an attempt to "understand" the vocal inflections of an infant.

To be honest, after one listen of this, I'm deeming it the best birth control method, ever.  Yup, this is pretty much the polar opposite of Barry White.

Dr. Lyday, who was a resident of Denver, attended the University of Michigan. During World War II, he gave up his local Colorado practice to serve in the military, where he was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force medical corps. After his service he returned to Denver, where he picked up where he left off, as a private pediatrician.

According to a search of copyrighted recordings, Dr. Lyday also produced a record entitled "The Potty Call" (1965).

Dr. Lyday died in 1997, after retiring to Florida.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Singing Sands of Alamosa

Hey all! Hit a local thrift, over the weekend, and spotted this sheet music (yeah I know, like I need one more esoteric Colorado music-related item, to collect).

"The Singing Sands of Alamosa" was written, in 1942, by Kim Gannon and Bert Reisfeld, and was recorded by numerous folks, including Bing Crosby. The sheet music above shows bandleader Woody Herman. I've seen another copy, of this exact same printing, featuring bandleader Bobby Byrne's picture.

The record came out around the time Western-themed songs were all the rage. One Billboard review notes: "Another song of the wide open spaces, this one about the sands in the heart of Colorado."

In the heart of Colorado, there's a canyon every lover knows,
Where the dessert sands sing love songs, every time the wind blows.
The singing sands of Alamosa sang tenderly the night we found love was ours,
Deep in the sands of Alamosa the angels hid a song a mid the dessert flowers.
But since you said goodbye, there's no music
Just a ghost of what used to be

September 12, 1942

The melodic wonder is located in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The fine granules make an audible vibration, when the mounds compress the air within the moving sand. Eyeball this video.

Friday, December 7, 2018

You've Won a Band Box Recording Contract!

So I'm digging around through some old Colorado Springs newspapers, when I spot something interesting - a 1970 mention of the Denver record label, Band Box.

The story mentions that a local teen won a trip to Europe, as the top place winner in the Talented Teen Foundation competition. But what grabbed my interest was a small mention, well into the story, that Band Box Records awarded a recording contract to two local bands, who were also in the competition - the Widefield High School Cantina Brass Band, and the Young Musicians of American Accordionaires.

June 1, 1970
Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph

What's interesting about this story is the fact that Band Box had pretty much stopped recording, by this time. The last known Band Box record was made in 1969, according to Band Box historian Craig Swank. This 1970 story indicates that "recordings of their selections," by Band Box, would also be part of the prize package. Did this mean there were actual records pressed? Could THESE be the last records ever made by the label?

A few years ago, I found an advertisement, in a March, 1971 Billboard issue - a notice that the Band Box label, and all of its master recordings were for sale (it was part of this story). I now know that, because of this latest 1970 newspaper article find, this For Sale advertisement was placed nine months after that band contest story.

Billboard - March 1, 1971

Sadly, the records were never made.

I located Dave Brody, one of the members of the 1970 Widefield High School Cantina Brass Band, who told me, "That recording was never made. We were supposed to tour Europe, as well, but we were unable to raise the needed money." I also had it confirmed that the second place winner, the Young Musicians of American Accordionaires, did not take Band Box up on the offer to record the group. "The YMA did not ever record with Band Box," says Kim Christian, the daughter of Mike Aman, the director of the group.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living

Hey all! If found this LP, in an Denver used record store, a couple of years ago. For $4.99 I thought I would take a chance on what appeared to be a homemade album. I filed it away, thinking I would do some research, when I found the time.

So I rediscover the LP, while researching my massive Colorado song database project. I pulled out the album, and out comes papers of typewritten notes!

Guess what? It's a Colorado record! How about that?

The Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living album was the project of the Jefferson County Open Living High School, located in Lakewood. According to the notes in the album, "This project is designed to teach students how to write lyrics and melodies, and then to do music arrangements and recording of the songs. In the course of working on a single song, a student may write part of a lyric or a melody, participate in arranging the music for a number of musical instruments and voices, and set up microphones and operate our four track tape recorder."

(NOTE: This 1979 album is mentioned in Acid Archives, but as a New Mexico album, which is incorrect... and yes, I did check the value. Apparently this LP is considered rare and is prized by collectors. In 2016, Popsike recorded a realized Ebay auction price of $219. Discogs currently has four for sale - from $360-$1,114 (!!)

The LP was directed by Dan McCrimmon, who previously recorded on the Biscuit City label (Colorado Folk, Dreams, Lies and Whispers and New Road). He was also half of the duo Frummox (with Steve Fromholz), and worked with other Colorado singers, including Harlan Quinn, and Marie Rhines, to name a few.

Also noted in the credits are Dick Weissman and Harry Tuft. In 1961, Weissman co-founded The Journeymen with John Phillips and Scott McKenzie. He appears on the Alan Kelly LP Selected Heartichokes, as well as the same Marie Rhines and Harlan Quinn LPs, as McCrimmon. In 1979, he recorded a solo album on Kicking Mule Records,  Modern Banjo - Mountain Style. Weissman also teamed up with Harry Tuft (who is credited on the Unexamined LP as Director of Technical Services) on the LP Favorite Folk Songs Minus Guitar. Tuft is well known as the founder and former owner of the Denver Folklore Center, and is an inductee in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.

The idea for the project came, in 1978, when Dan, and his wife Teresa were informed about grant money to work with kids, to teach them to write and record their own songs. "We initially took the idea to the Adams County School District, and they said, "Sure we want it, but we don't want you," said Teresa McCrimmon.

"I was not a licensed teacher, so they turned us down," added Dan McCrimmon.  "So we had this Title IV-C Educational Risk money, and nowhere to use it. We went back to the state and they said 'Well you still have the grant, Adams (County) won't get it without you.' We had connections with Jefferson County Open School, or Mountain Open High School, as it was called, and they jumped at the opportunity."

Recording an album, with student-penned songs, was always the original intent of the project.

Caption: Harry Tuft and students lend an ear
Canyon Courier
June 13, 1979 
(newspaper scan courtesy of Carl Heffner)

"The whole point with the students was, here's how you write a song, here's how you record it, and here's how you make an album," Dan McCrimmon added.

 Caption: Linda Smith, Chip Ottaway and Dina Woolums in harmony
Canyon Courier
June 13, 1979 
(newspaper scan courtesy of Carl Heffner)

The album was produced between January-June, 1979. Dan McCrimmon believes between only 100-150 of the albums were produced. They were pressed at a record plant, in Cheyenne, WY. Each album included three pages of typewritten liner notes.

The album opens with the folky "School Bus Blues," performed by Tebor Saw and Barb Flory.  "Them Cowboys," performed by Karan Pond, is a nice soft femme folk offering. The "New Mexico Suite" is a fantastic three-part cut (clocking in at almost 7-minutes long). "Going Home to Nowhere" which starts the suite, borders on loner psych folk, with heartfelt vocals by Jarrell Robinson. A violin instrumental follows-up, then "Santa Fe Day," closes out the cut, with vocals by Abbey Ruskey. "Reach Out" brings back Karan Pond on vocals, who shines on this simplistic folk song. Side one ends with "The Sane Asylum," a hodgepodge novelty folk and spoken word offering.

"Initially, the kids wanted to write rock and roll, but we had limited resources, and encouraged then that ballads were a better forum," said Dan McCrimmon. 

Side two starts off, again on the femme folk side, with the standout song "These Times," performed beautifully by Meredith Grenfell. Just lovely. "Fireflies and Flemish Dragons," is a very mellow, harmony-intensive female vocal song, performed by Chris Hubley.  Given all of the mellowness, the next cut, the harmonica country rap "Muffin Tin Blues" doesn't seem to belong, but singer Mark Holland offers a respite. "Alberto's Song" gets the album back on track with a gorgeous guitar instrumental, by Alberto Franco. "The Eclipse Song," performed by Trebor Saw is another standout performance. Just a guy and his guitar, but it is one of my favorites. Side two ends with the much-too-short song "An Aura of Love," performed by Dina Woolums.

"It was such wonderful fun to have the expertise of Dick Weissman and Harry Tuft," said Teresa McCrimmon. "To have these professionals sharing their expertise with teenagers was just wonderful to watch. To work at the Open School, to work with students with so much energy and guts, to put themselves out there, it was wonderful."

"The project was transformative," said Dan McCrimmon. "I got my teaching certification and taught there at the Jefferson County Open School, for 23 years."

Dan McCrimmon is still very active in the music industry, and is well-respected luthier (link to his website). 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Harold Bomgardner

Digging though my Colorado vinyl obscurities - I find these three 78rpm recordings from operatic tenor, Harold Bomgardner, on the Electronic Recordings label, out of Denver. Once again, the story behind obtaining these finds is fuzzy, but they appear to be from a collecting stage in my life, when I was amassing obscure Colorado 78rpm recordings (still am).

I found early school-era references to Harold in Kansas, in the 1920s, where he was active in the glee club. He later attended Hays Teacher College, in Hays, KS. Sometime after college, he ditched the idea of a teaching career, and moved to New York City. I found a reference to him as a former student of Maestro Enrico Rosati (who also coached Mario Lanza). Further digging confirms he was a performer at the Metropolitan Opera, in New York City, and appeared on Broadway, in the 1930 musicals, The Chocolate Soldier, the Prince of Pilsen, The Serenade, and the Count of Luxembourg, as well as the 1931 production of The Student Prince. A 1936 Manhattan, KS newspaper called him  " of the greatest singers in America, today."

Sometime after his opera and Broadway musical career, Harold found the Lord, and hit the tent revival circuit, performing throughout the Midwest United States, and Canada. I found a 1935 ad for his appearance, at a Des Moines, IA revival, with The Rev. E.W. Kinnel.

As for his Colorado ties, I dug up a 1938 Richmond, Indiana newspaper which noted him as a "Colorado Springs choir director," one of the earliest references I  have to him living here.

Palladium-Item newspaper
Richmond, Indiana
March 11, 1946

The 78rpm recordings I have show a catalog number of 22148, so I'm wondering if these may have been recorded in 1948, given his home base, at the time. I couldn't find any reference to Electronic Recordings, in Denver. These 78s appear to be from a box set, as I have D-E, F-G, and H-I. All are classical, faith-based recordings, accompanied by a piano.

The last reference I find of Harold, in Colorado, was in the 1960s. I found numerous credits as a wedding singer, in matrimonial announcements, in the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph.