Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Steve Scott Archives (Part 1 - Local Pueblo / Springs Band Concert Ad Spots)

 

My dear friend, and "Encyclopedia of Colorado Music History," Mike Stelk recently sent me a package, with a couple of CDs. He had mentioned that he was going through some archived radio spots (as you know, he was the source behind that fantastic Patti Jo and the Teardrops interview), and wanted me to have copies of the other audio finds, in his collection.

Just when I thought he couldn't outdo himself, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to hear - I was literally rendered speechless.

Included on the CDs were close to 200 mid and late 1960s-era Pueblo/Colorado Springs radio spots for local concert events (both Colorado and nationally-known bands), courtesy of well-known Pueblo/Colorado Springs radio personality Steve Scott, who gave the originals reels to Mike.

It is a treasure trove - and that's an understatement.

As there are so many, (although most are simply different takes on the same spots), I'm going to have to share these in separate posts.  

For starters, please enjoy a great sampling of concert promos, for local Pueblo / Colorado Springs / So. Colorado bands.

Stay tuned!
I will post Denver-area bands, and national touring bands, soon - you won't want to miss that!

On a side note: There are not enough superlatives to use to thank all of those who have helped me archive and document Colorado music history, since I began this blog, 11 years ago. I am truly grateful for your contributions and knowledge. Since I have moved back home (hard to believe, it's been five years),  I have now met so many of you, in person. I love hearing from all of those who were involved in the state's music scene, and I am honored that you have allowed me to tell your stories.

Enjoy!

Audio posted in band alphabetical order.
All posters / pictures shown are from my own personal collection.

Baby Magic / Band X

The Lady Bug - Colorado Springs (later became The Apple nightclub)
No date.
NOTE: Baby Magic included Phil Head and Doug Rymerson (post-Trolls). Band X included John Grove, John Macklem, Bob McConnell, Lou Sciortino, and Mike Webb.

The Beast

The Beast / Crystal Palace Guard
The Junction
July, ___1968.
Very rare audio of The Beast's first-ever live show spot (ad). The band was based near Colorado Springs and included Bob Yeazel, David Raines, Michael Kerns, Kenny Passarelli, Dominick Todero, Larry Ferris, and Gerry Fike. Spot also mentions Crystal Palace Guard, out of Denver.

The Ceeds / Seeds

The Ceeds (:47)
The Junction - Colorado Springs
The Ceeds / Seeds were based out of Colorado Springs.



The Chandells

National Guard Armory - La Junta
No date

The Honey Bucket - Colorado Springs

Crews-Beggs Department Store-Pueblo
No date.

The Comets

The Comets (:16)
Blue Puma
No date.
Very little known about this band, which is believed to have originated from Widefield.

The Frantics

The Junction - Colorado Springs
No date.
NOTE:  While based in Montana, the group were regulars at the Junction, and would go on to recruit Phil Head (post Trolls / Baby Magic) in the band.

The Fuzz

The Fuzz (also mentions the Denver band, Beast) :34
The Junction - Colorado Springs
No date.
NOTE: The Fuzz was based out of Trinidad.

Ginger Blu

Ginger Blu (:28)
The Honey Bucket - Colorado Springs
Band was based out of Colorado Springs (spot also mentions the Chandells).

The Intrigues

The Intrigues (:42)
Friday, October 16, 1964
Based out of Colorado Springs. Very little known about this group, which apparently included a Beatles-related segment in their shows.

Paxton's Backstreet Carnival

Paxton's Backstreet Carnival (:36)
The Junction - Colorado Springs
No date (1968).
Air Force Academy students, based in Colorado Springs.
Spot also mentions the Moonrakers (out of Denver).

The Quorum

The Quorum (:34)
The Junction
No date (1968).
The Quorum band was based in Colorado Springs. The group included Scotti Bruning (Maysfield Crossing) Jack Roulier (The Soul) Tom Petefish, and  Brad Pelton.

The Soul
The Westminsters

The Soul / Westminsters
Carpenter's Hall
No date. 
The Soul were based out of Colorado Springs. The band included Randy Bowen, Jim Holleran, Jack Roulier, and Ernie Ellington. The Westminsters were also from the Springs, and included Wasson High students Greg McLean, Jock Bartley (later of Firefall) / Greg McLean, George Garrison, Mike Keliher, and Albie Urban/Tom Finn.




 The Teardrops

Silver Saddle Teen Dance - Pueblo
No date
"Sweet Sweet Sadie" background music

National Guard Armory
No date



The Trolls

The Trolls - National Guard Armory (:22)
Swing Ding - 8-11:00 p.m. every Tuesday!
No date.
"That's the Way My Love Is" background music.

At the Blue Puma
No date

At the Hi-Fi Club - Pueblo
No date

The Villagers

Carpenter's Hall - Pueblo
No date.
The Villagers were based in Colorado Springs.

Battle of the Bands, etc...

Friday, June 3, 1966
Ag. Building (Colorado State Fairgrounds - Pueblo)
Patti Jo, Teardrops, Torquays, Henchmen, Chandells, The NGs, Comets, Countdowns, Outriggers

 

March 26, 1966
Broadmoor International Center
R&B Travelers, Teardrops, Vanguard V, The Villagers



Summer Swing Ding
June 11, 1966
The Trolls, Chasers, the Seeds, Patti Jo, The Countdowns, the Comets, The Villagers (:44)
City Auditorium - Colorado Springs



Saturday, May 16, 2020

Unknown Band Box record discovery!


Hey all - so I just heard from a Texas record buddy, who recently found this Band Box label 45rpm acetate, and contacted me to learn more.

The band is called Forest, and there is absolutely no additional information on the label. Sadly, the disc is not in great shape, but you can most definitely make out the obvious Beatles "For No One" vibe. He sent me samples of both sides - give it a listen.

Very cool!

I'm in contact with Valerie Morosan, the granddaughter of Band Box founder, Vicky Morosan, to see if she has any information about this disc and the group. She's going through the archives to see what she can find. In the meantime, if you can help solve the mystery, please contact me!

Will post more, when I learn more.

Friday, May 15, 2020

KDZA Pueblo - 1964 Interview with the Teardrops!



 Patti Jo and the Teardrops
Pictured: Ron Myers, Rick Witcowich, Patti Jo Martinez,
Ernie Watta, and Ange Rotondo

Woke up this morning to a message from my dear friend, and fellow Colorado music historian, Mike Stelk, who provided the fantastic audio from my last blog post (the KDZA soundcheck with Steve Scott). He found a 1964 interview with the Pueblo teen band, Patti Jo and the Teardrops!

As you know, I've been writing stories about the band both here (2011) and, in 2016, in the Pueblo Pulp, but I had never heard an actual audio interview, from that time. I'm literally blown away by this.


This 1964 interview, conducted by KDZA's Steve Scott, notes that their first single "Whispering Your Love" / "16 Tons" is currently #8 on the local radio charts.

Check out 18-year-old singer Patti Jo, 18-year-old drummer Angelo ("Ange") Rotondo, 17-year-old keyboardist Rick Witcowich, 16-year-old lead guitarist Ernie Watta, and 18-year-old bassist Ron Myers (who wrote "Whispering Your Love").  Band manager Tom Anderson also makes an appearance.


What an incredible piece of archived music history. Thank you Mike, as always!


Sunday, May 10, 2020

KDZA - February 19, 1964


 Hey all you groovy guys and gals!

My dear friend Mike Stelk, the encyclopedia of Colorado music, has posted a fantastic February 19, 1964 Steve Scott soundcheck from KDZA radio, in Pueblo. Mentions the Honeybucket, The Cooper Theatre, Jess Hunter's car dealership, and so much more!

WOW WOW WOW! 

  Give it a listen (32:38)
(Soundcloud audio)

Thursday, May 7, 2020

FOUND - Paul Weingardt Album!

 

Hey all - So I threw on the mask and gloves, and took advantage of the big Colorado thrift chain opening back up, again. I was surprised to find so few people in the stores (at one stop, I was the only one in the building, besides the staff).

It was good to get back to record digging, again. Picked up a nice stack of 11 Colorado LPs - including a surprise -  a previously unknown album recording by Paul Weingardt.

Paul Weingardt (born 1915) was the leader of the Alpine Dutch Hop Boys. He revolutionized the genre by being one of the first groups to use an accordion as the main lead instrument (instead of violin). His band (which included, at various times, V.A. Hartman, Palmer Deines, Val Sewald, Hank Schneider, Warren Walters, Jake Walters and Alex / Leroy Weingardt) were immensely popular in the Rocky Mountains region.

Paul Weingardt (1934)
Photo courtesy of Colorado State University archives

While Paul had recorded a few 78rpm records (on the Frontier label) and a few known 45, on both the Frontier and Alpine labels, there was never a mention of an actual Paul Weingardt LP - so this was a cool find.

Released on the Alpine Record label (AF 118) the album features polka standards. I couldn't help but notice that my album was "signed" (not authenticated) by another famous Colorado polka performer, Leo Schumacher.

Alpine Music Shop
1813 33rd Avenue
Photo courtesy of Colorado State University archives.

Paul Weingardt and his family lived behind the Alpine Music Shop (located at 1813 33rd Avenue), where he taught hundreds of children and adults how to play the accordion. On November 22, 1964, on his way to (or from) a concert, near Torrington, Wyoming, he and his wife Anna, along with his dulcimer player, Henry Schneider, and his wife Frieda, were all killed in a car crash. Weingardt's young son, Kenny, was the only survivor. He and his wife are buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, in Wheat Ridge.

Paul Weingardt (year unknown)
Photo courtesy of Colorado State University archives.

Four years after his death (1968), Band Box released A Tribute to Paul Weingardt, by the Alpine Polkadots (1017).

In 1976, Weingardt was one of the first two performers (along with Adolph Lesser) to be inducted into the Colorado Polka Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Top of the Park Presents Bill Farrell


As you probably know, from past posts, I'm also a postcard collector. I always get excited when two of my hobbies meet - Colorado music and Colorado postcards.

So, I'm going through my collection, and I spot this card I obviously forgot about - singer Bill Farrell at the Top of the Park (at the Park Lane Hotel, 450 S. Marion). No year is noted.

Bill Farrell (born 1926) was known as a young baritone singer who was the featured performer on the Bob Hope radio show. He would go on to record for the MGM, Mercury, and TEL. He scored a Top 20 hit with "Isn't it Fair" (1950) and "My Heart Cries For You (1951).

In 1955, he released the rockabilly-tinged "Rock Love," (YouTube audio) a big departure from his early Bob Hope show standards.

Bill Farrell passed away in 2007.

Also noted on the card, Mike DiSalle and his Orchestra. Mike was a regular performer at the Top of the Park, and KOA radio. Plus the card notes the group, The Hightowers. I couldn't immediately find a reference to this group. Of course, if you can help solve the mystery, contact me.



As for the Park Lane Hotel?

According to the Washington Park history website: "After B.F. Weinberg sold the Park Lane Hotel in 1955, the facility fell into receivership, and he bought it back at auction for $300,000. In 1962, Weinberg sold the property to investors who planned to build four apartment towers north and south of the Park Lane. The apartments in the building were rehabilitated floor by floor and the Top of the Park and the lobby were redesigned. Weinberg again acquired the hotel which was for sale due to unpaid taxes in 1965, and sold it to Denver developers H.W. Hewson and Douglas W. Bell. The building was scheduled for demolition, and the Denver Fire Department was allowed to set fires and train firefighters in the building in 1966, before Kerdy Wrecking Company tore the hotel down."

The block is now home to The Park Lane condos.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Sonics / Colorado Beetles

 The surviving members of the Sonics 
(left to right: Lee Mestas, Joe Martinez, the author, and Angelio DeHerrera)
Photo taken November 1, 2019

Anyone who has ever listened to my radio shows know that I end the broadcast with the song "No Credit," and the words, "Take it away Joey." I'm talking about Joey Buffalo and Sonics, the short-lived, little-known Pueblo band, who recorded only one single, and became one of the many talented Southern Colorado bands to never be heard from again.

After I posted my first "help me track down this group" blog post (back in 2013, since deleted), and added audio to the story, I noticed something - the value of this single skyrocketed. Last year, the band's one and only single fetched almost $250, as word of this obscure garage band rocker 45 spread among collectors. But little was known about the band behind the single.

(click to enlarge)

I had always hit a brick wall, when trying to track down information about Joey Buffalo and Sonics. Nobody seemed to know anything about this group. Then last year, I received a message from Issac Frame: "My grandpa was in the Sonics, and knows all the band members...I would love to document you interviewing the band."

So, after years of trying to learn about this band, I headed down to Colorado Springs, to meet up with all of the surviving members of the Sonics - Angelio DeHerrera, Joe Martinez and Lee Mestas.

The beginnings

For Angelio DeHerrera, music came as second nature. "I was always involved in music. I was brought up with music. I always sang with my mother, at parties. I had uncles in California who were recording artists, with different Mexican groups."

He took up the guitar, at the age of nine, a little Stella model his father bought him. Money was tight, so he knew that if he wanted to learn how to play it, he would have to be creative. "My cousin was taking guitar lessons, so I went to where he was taking lessons and I sat outside the window, up against the wall, and I was listening to all of the instructions, and I learned that way. Once I learned the basic chords, I was there."

While Angelio was serious about music, education seemed less so. In 9th grade, he dropped out of Pleasant View Junior High, after a run-in with his school principal. "I used to smoke, and I got caught smoking, and the principal told me I was going to get the paddle. I warned him that if he paddled me, I would quit school. So he paddled me, and I quit." His father immediately told him that he wasn't going to sit around the house, so he got a job picking crops around Pueblo County.  The experience was shortlived. After a few weeks in the field, he learned his lesson.

"I told my dad I would go back to school. My dad, he never finished school, knew that education was very important. He said if I went back to school, he would buy me another guitar. I had to repeat the 9th grade again. My friends had already left for Pueblo County High, but I stuck it out, and graduated."

While DeHerrera was mastering the guitar, Joe Martinez was learning the accordion.

"I started taking lessons from Nick DiNero, but it wasn't going so good."

But the experience introduced him to DeHerrera, who happened to be attending an informal family concert. It was shortly after that meeting, Joe ditched the accordion, for the drums.

"My neighbor was in the marching band at South, and he brought a snare drum to my house - so I joined the band at Pueblo Catholic High, as a drummer."

Forming a band

The instant friendship of DeHerrera and Martinez, and their love of music, morphed into the idea of forming a band.

"Angelio and I got together, first," said Martinez. "I had a cousin who played, Leroy Valdez. We had an immediate connection, with our dads, and we just kept adding people, including Fred Brescher."

"We were really into what is called oldies, now - The Temptations, the Platters, a lot of instrumentals, like the Kingsmen and the Ventures," said DeHerrera.

"There was a lot of do-wop going on, at that time, and I was into Bobby Vee," said Martinez. "I used to listen to KOMA in Oklahoma City, and they were able to broadcast late at night, and we would get that in Pueblo, real clearly. I would listen to Bobby Rydell, the Platters, and then soul started coming in. I listened to a lot of harmonies, Ray Charles, and quite a bit of blues."

In an effort to learn to play the hit songs, Angelio would listen to the radio over and over, waiting for the songs to come on KDZA, so he could learn them, "I would also pick up a record and play it, to learn it. But back then, money was scarce. Even if it was $.50, if you didn’t have it, you didn’t have it. So I had to come up with other ways to learn the songs."  

"The first song we ever played, in full, as a band, was probably (Rosie and the Originals) 'Angel Baby'." said DeHerrera. "Leroy was our original rhythm guitar player. He was into country music, so he also had some old country music to play, too. Back then country was real easy to learn, three chords."

The band needed a name, so Joe decided to ask his classmates for help. "I was a senior in high school, and I made up a list of about ten names, and passed around the class, asking what everyone thought, and to mark a check by the ones they liked. I really don’t remember any of the names. I know one was called The Galaxies, and there were checkmarks all around that one. I picked the Sonics, because I really didn’t like the ones they picked."

The newly-christened Sonics practiced in basements and garages. Their first public appearance was courtesy of Joe's girlfriend.

"His girlfriend was running for GI Forum queen, and her dad got a hold of Mr. Martinez, to see if he knew anyone who wanted to perform at the coronation dance." DeHerrera said.

"Yeah, the GI Forum was our first concert, as the Sonics," said Martinez.  "It was all new to us. We used borrowed equipment and a Silvertone amp. We played ten songs over and over. We were paid with applause."

The Sonics quickly became known as a diverse local musical group, playing teen dances and polkas.

"We weren’t even charging, in those early days of the band. We were just having fun," said DeHerrera.


 As the demand for the band increased, Joe's father acted as the group's manager, making sure the group was getting paid, and well behaved. "He was strict on certain things. No alcohol, no flirting, no smoking - although Angelio could smoke, during breaks," said Martinez. "He just wanted good basic, solid manners. We had to be friendly, and he would take care of the business. He was the boss, as far as keeping us together. He didn’t take a percentage. His son was out playing and entertaining, and that was his compensation."

The band's signature look was black pants and matching shirts. The group's vehicle was a 1950 panel truck, with plastic seats and faded paint. "It held a lot of equipment," said Martinez. "We didn’t have the Sonics painted on it, because nothing would stick to that."

The Sonics would quickly start headlining local clubs, including the Silver Saddle and the Arcadia Ballroom, where they were regulars, at the weekly Battle of the Bands contests. "We would play against the Teardrops, The Chandells, The Gents, The Sting Reys," said Martinez. "We would win a few, and we lost to all of them, at one time."

Joey Buffalo

Angelio DeHerrera and Joey Buffalo both graduated Pueblo County High School, in 1965. As the Sonics began to make a name for themselves, Joey asked his friend a favor, would the band be interested in backing him on a record?

Joey composed two songs "Ladder of Happiness" and "No Credit."

"I told him that I'd have to talk to the guys, first. I mentioned it to Leroy and Fred, and we all agreed to do it," said DeHerrera. "Joey was the lead guitar on those songs. We practiced several times, and recorded it at KOAA-TV, in the studios there."

Joey Buffalo handled the vocals on what was considered the A-side, "Ladder of Happiness," a simple, country-tinged song about teen heartbreak.



The flip, "No Credit," starts off with a simple Joey Buffalo guitar strum, followed by the guttural scream of Leroy Valdez of the song's title, then goes into a full-on heavy garage surf instrumental.



"Leroy had a real strong singing voice." said Joe Martinez. "I'm honestly surprised he didn't do more singing."

According to the band, the KOAA-TV recording session lasted barely two hours. Jimmy Cox children's TV show sidekick Cliff Hendrix acted as the recording engineer.

"There wasn't a mixing board. I think it was just a reel-to-reel. It was very raw. We had two takes, I believe," said DeHerrera.

"I listen to the recording now, and I hear a lot of dragging," said Martinez. "Now, I would be a little more critical, but it was so intimidating, back then."

The band was not paid for their work on the record. "I think we knew we would be credited on the record when it came out, but it was always Joey's record," said Martinez. "I think I heard the record on the radio (KDZA), but that was it. I had no idea how many were made, since Joey was the one who took care of distribution. He gave us each a 45."

The band would never record, again.

"Back then, it was a period where we didn’t have too many songs memorized," said DeHerrera.


 The Colorado Beetles and New Band Members

Mitch Kelloff had an idea.

As owner of the Uptown Theatre, he was at the forefront of what teens wanted to see and do in Pueblo. The Beatles had just come out with their first album, and Beatlemania was hitting America, and Southern Colorado. So he came up with the idea for Pueblo to have their own Fab Four - The Colorado Beetles. The Sonics seemed like the perfect band to fit the bill.

"To us, we were always the Sonics, but if we could pick up a few bucks, working part time, as the Colorado Beetles, it didn't seem like a bad thing. We were always the Sonics, first," said Martinez.

The band donned Beatles wigs, and picked up look-alike Beatles suits at Hub Clothing, on Union.

"Mitch approached us, after one dance, and said he wanted us to go on the road as the Colorado Beetles," said DeHerrera. "He was going to buy us instruments, and pay for flights to gigs."

Fred and Leroy didn't like the idea, at all.

"They finished the gig with us, and quit the band, that night. It was a blow," said DeHerrera.

"We never talked to Fred again," said DeHerrera. "We used to go listen to him, when he was with the Trolls. We'd go over to at Jerry’s, on 4th street, where they played.  He had a different style of music, but we were happy for him. After that, I never saw Fred again. I don’t know if it was hard feelings, but it wasn’t a hard feeling for me."

"The Trolls had their following, and we had ours," said Martinez. "There was no competition there, as far I was concerned."

As the Colorado Beetles, the Sonics side project was a popular attraction, but the persona didn't last long. After the Pueblo version of the Fab Four ran its course, the Sonics took on two new members - Fernando Martinez and Lee Mestas.

"Leroy didn't want to leave us hanging, so he introduced us to Fernando," said Martinez. "We auditioned him, and liked him, and he noticed we didn't have a bass player. He told us that he knew of one, Lee Mestas."

Lee Mestas was attending East High School, at the time.

"I had never even heard of the Sonics, or went to any of the Battle of the Bands" said Mestas. "I was just a good guy who stayed at home and did my homework. Fernando introduced me to Angelio and Joe and we sat and talked. And it was said and done. The only problem was they had a gig in a couple of weeks. I didn’t even have a bass. So I had to start learning the songs, by ear."

Tony Sanchez

Fernando Martinez broke one the band rules - he liked to flirt.

Joe Martinez's father, the band's manager, had set rules for the group, including not flirting with girls.

"Fernando was a good looking guy, and he liked the girls," said DeHerrera. "He was with a girl, during one of our breaks."

"The break was over, and my dad expected us all to be on stage, with our instruments tuned, and ready to go, and Fernando was running late," said Martinez. "He was like my brother, but it was very businesslike, in the band, with my dad being the manager. I had to be the example. So he was let go."

Filling in for Fernando was Tony Sanchez, who was the one-time lead guitarist for the Fabulous Fremonts.

"He had heard about Fernando, and asked if he could join," said DeHerrera. "I think Mr. Martinez always knew that Fernando would be back, and it would be temporary. Tony played with us for about two months, and Fernando was allowed back."


The Sonics (left to right) 
 Lee Mestas - Bass Guitar 
 Joe Martinez - Vocals/Drums 
Angelio DeHerrera - Vocals/Rhythm Guitar
 Fernando Martinez - Lead Guitar

The End of the Sonics

"I got married in August 1965," said DeHerrera. "A couple of months later, my wife went into the hospital and had to have an emergency surgery, that was life threatening. At the time I was working for CF&I, but I couldn’t get in steady, so I was working for the city, making nothing. I couldn’t afford to pay for the hospital and doctors. She had relatives in Chicago, and they told me they could find me a good paying job there."

"It was hard, when he told me he was leaving." said Martinez. "But I could understand his situation. You just had to accept that he wasn’t coming back. I got married, just a little bit after he did, and I started working at CF&I."

Joe started taking on side jobs as a fill-in drummer for other Colorado groups, including with Bobby Montoya (later of Starr and the band San Juan), and Dave Ortega (the Cordova Brothers).

Lee Mestas got the call from Uncle Sam. "I got drafted. I was sad. I didn't know if I would ever see these guys again, I joined the Air Force, and played in base bands."

After the Sonics

Angelio never played in another band. "After we returned from Chicago, our debts were paid, but I couldn't find a job in Pueblo. So we moved to Colorado Springs," DeHerrera said. "I got into a gospel group, like a barbershop quartet, in the Springs. I performed with them for 25 years. I laid down my guitar for about 35 years."

"I stayed in music, for a while, but I went on to get my degree in marketing, and got on with United Airlines," said Martinez. "I was with them for 30 years. I never went to nightclubs. I never wanted to play again. I had children, and they come first. So I kept a steady job, and I didn’t mind working for the airlines."

(Of note: While doing research I also managed to find out that Joey Buffalo passed away in 1995.  His widow, Donna Corsentino Buffalo, informed me that he joined the U.S. Air Force, and after serving four years, went to work for the railroad.)

The recent interest in the band's one and only, now-scarce and collectible, single has caught DeHerrera and Martinez off guard. Both men still possess the copies Joey Buffalo gave them.

"My cousin, Bob Cordova, called me and said, 'You wouldn’t happen to have any of those records?', Martinez said.  "I told him I had one, and he told me how much it was going for. I thought he was drinking. Then Angelio told me about your website. I had to look it up. He’d always joke with us. Then I saw it on your website, I thought, 'Wow, this lady had to dig deep'."

"It blew me away, how much it's worth. It blew me away just to see it again, on your website," said DeHerrera.

Fernando

Fernando Martinez passed away in October.
 

"He was the first one I contacted for this interview," said DeHerrera. "He was all in, and happy, but he never made it."

Angelio, Lee and Joe were with him, in the hospital.  "We kept telling him, 'We have one more gig to go,' and that was this interview. We wanted him to get rested up, but it didn’t work out that way," he added. "His girlfriend called, and told us that he was gone. I love my brothers – Lee, and Joe and Fernando. It hit me hard. I cried a few tears with my wife. But what do you do? So I called Joe and I called Lee, and told them what happened. We went to his service. It was a nice reunion, just not the kind we wanted."




Sunday, March 22, 2020

Denver-area Thrifting Unearths Rare "Wings of Destiny" Record


Hey all!

So earlier this month I was out record digging around Denver (what else is new?). I walked into a store, and immediately noticed a box of dusty 78rpm discs. The clerk said they had just come in, a few minutes before I arrived.

While I didn't find any Colorado additions to the collection, in amongst the typical 1940s Big Band and Bing Crosby records, I spotted two (very trashed) 12" Presto acetates marked "KGHL Billings Montana" and "Richardson Plane Presentation." I didn't hesitate to purchase the unknown recordings ($.25 each).

When I got home, I cleaned the records as best I could, grabbed my Numark, and gave them a listen. The audio quality was still atrocious, but from what I could tell, it sounded like a radio station remote news report, out at an airport.

The record starts off with an in-studio host named Brian Robershon (?) introducing reporter Ed Yocum, who was broadcasting from Billings Municipal Airport. The station was covering the arrival of a 65 horsepower Continental Piper Cub airplane. I didn't understand what all of the hoopla was about, until it was revealed that the plane was the weekly grand prize of the "Wings of Destiny" national radio program.


 Sponsored by the Brown and Williamson tobacco corporation, makers of Wing cigarettes, "Wings of Destiny" debuted on October 11, 1940.  It featured courageous pilot, Steve Benton, his amiable mechanic, Brooklyn, and his girlfriend, Peggy Banning. According to a Variety article I found, the show was "Aimed at an air-minded generation, young enough to see only the excitement, old enough to smoke."

But it wasn't Steve Benton's adventures that kept audiences glued to the radio. Up until then, aviation radio programs usually gave away wings and badges, but only "Wings of Destiny" gave away actual airplanes. The contest rules were geared toward an older winner. In order to win the plane, a contestant had to send in 10 empty Wing cigarette packs, and write an essay.


The winner featured on the record, Fen Richardson (the "Richardson" noted on the record label), was a Ford dealer in Lovell, Wyoming, 90 miles from Billings. According to the record, this was the 53rd plane giveaway for the program. The record contained an interview with a Piper spokesperson (couldn't identify his name) who proudly noted that this was the first Continental model to be given away. The winner also received eight hours of solo course instruction.

Billings mayor Charlie T. Trott presented the plane to Richardson, who said he planned to keep it, and would be taking flying lessons.


From what I can tell, this is the only known recording of a "Wings of Destiny" radio program winner receiving an airplane. It's an incredible find.

As for the "Wings of Destiny" radio show?

Flying Magazine December 1941
(the last advertisement promoting the Wings of Destiny show and the plane giveaway)

When Pearl Harbor was attacked, and the declaration of war was announced, in December 1941, all airplane manufacturers, including the Piper plant, began producing aircraft only for the military.  On December 26, 1941,  Brown & Williamson issued a press release stating that the 63rd and last Piper Cub would be given away that very day.  The show ended February 6, 1942.




Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Bud Blackburn, High & Mighty bassist (1947-2020)

I just received sad news from Bill Blackburn that his uncle, Bud Blackburn, the bassist for the 1960s Pueblo garage band, High & Mighty, passed away, at the age of 72.

The High & Mighty were a popular East High School band, in the mid 1960s, playing for local dances and events. The group included Blackburn, along with Larry Duran, Larry Shuford, Scott DeTurk, and Milton Fender. Blackburn graduated from East in 1965, Duran, Shuford and DeTurk graduated in 1966, while Fender graduated in 1968.


Bud Blackburn 1965 East High School graduation photo
(courtesy of Bill Blackburn)

The Pueblo Chieftain, in a 2006 article entitled “High and Mighty Flies Again,” mentions that the band’s first gig was for a dance at Heaton Jr. High. According to Duran, the band only knew eight songs, but “The kids at Heaton thought they had died and went to heaven” hearing the band play the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Kinks covers.

The High & Mighty would later go on to be regulars at local hangouts, Pinocchio’s, Dante’s Inferno and the Fantastic Zoo. They would open for Strawberry Alarm Clock (“Incense and Peppermints”), when the psych band played at Pueblo Junior College.

The High & Mighty would only last a few years, disbanding in the late 1960s.

Blackburn was an avid street rod fan, who married his wife Denise at the Rocky Mountain Street Rod Nationals, in 2006, at the Pueblo County Fairgrounds.

Funeral services and a memorial are pending.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Song of the Postcard and Denver's J.D. Dillenback


Staying in the esoteric Colorado music-related ephemera vein, few blog readers know that I'm also a postcard collector. Of course, I'm always on the lookout for any state music-related ephemera, but I love it when two of my collecting interests meet up, and I can find a postcard with a Colorado music graphic or photo. Let me tell you, they are pretty rare to find.

So I attended my first meeting of the Denver Postcard Club, yesterday. Nice group of folks, with a mutual appreciation of deltiology (the study and collection of postcards). After introducing myself, and telling everyone about my own collecting interests, one of the members asked me if I knew about "The Song of the Postcard," a 1908 composition, written by a Denver resident. I hadn't, but was excited to learn more.

After obtaining a photo of the sheet music card (thanks to club member Preston Driggers), I began my search to learn more about the composer, J.D. Dillenback.

Jackson D. Dillenback was born in Vermont, in 1841. He resided in Michigan for sometime, and enlisted in the Civil War, as part of the state's 4th Calvary. When he returned from duty, he took up the printing trade, working for the Grand Rapids Eagle, and later becoming its editor. In 1872 he authored History and Directory of Ionia County, Michigan.

According to an interview with Dillenback, for Reminisences of Editors and Reporters of Grand Rapids, "My health in the fall of 1869 became so bad that I could no longer do justice to the work."

In 1874, due to his declining health, he moved to Denver. He and his wife resided in University Park (2175 S. St. Paul).

Moving to Colorado appeared to be the medicine he needed, as I found many references to his very active involvement in Denver civic and social groups, while employed with the Denver Daily Times and later the Denver Mercury.

In 1885, Dillenback served as member of the local board of education. He became active in the Grand Army of the Republic Farragut Post Chapter (for Civil War veterans), and served as its commander. Later he would become the president of the Colorado State Editorial Association, and one of the founders of the Colorado Press Association.

He continued his printing career, publishing the Colorado School Journal.  He would later serve as an editorial writer for the Western Newspaper Union, and authored several publications, including The Ernest and Cranmer Building and Tenants: Corner Seventeenth and Curtis Streets, Denver Colorado.  In 1898 he authored Facts About Empire, a book on the Denver and Gulf Railway Company.

As if Mr. Dillenback didn't have enough on his plate, he was also a poet.

In 1891 the Colorado Sun held a contest for the best poems in the state. He took first prize, for his poem, "Colorado."

Thou hast thine eyrie in the lifted lands,
O Colorado, mountain born and free;
Unvexed by terrors of the far-off see,
On earth's high creset thy favored realm expands.
Nature bestowed thy dower with lavish hands - The richest gifts within her treasury,
Which from creation she reserved for thee,
They ore veined mountains and thy golden sands.
Far eastward, ocean-vast, thy plains extends;
Westward thy snow-crowned mountains meet the sky;
Heavens of unclouded blue above thee bend,
And the bright sun looks on thee lovingly.
To what God as so wrought, may great souls lend
The fadeless luster of achievements high.

By the start of the 1900s, Mr. Dillenback began his retirement years, but he hardly slowed down. He continued writing lyrics and poems.

Apparently, after his newspaper career ended, he morphed his love of prose into the later-life career as a postcard publisher.

1907 Dillenback-published postcard for Modern Woodmen of America Insurance

The first reference I found on "The Song of the Postcard," was a 1907 copyright entry, with music by Joe Newman (sadly, I can find nothing on him). The short song appears more like an advertising jingle, than an actual song composition. No idea if it was ever recorded, or performed.

“There is a song in my heart today, Let this Post Card sing it to you, I pray: “I’m thinking of you today, dear friend, Thinking of you today;  Though long miles lie between us, dear friend, I am thinking of you today”



The address on the card shows "University Park, Colorado," so I can only assume the house on St. Paul served as the publishing location.

I found another Dillenback postcard, dated 1909 - a mechanical Elks' Club card - The Call of the Elk.  The elk "says" -  "Pull My Tail, Brother Elk, and Hear My Call." When you pull it, the message is revealed "Hello, Bill! Meet me at Elks' Fair Tonight."


Dillenback later moved to the City Park West area of Denver (1657 Gaylord). He died in 1929, at the age of 88.  He is buried in Riverside Cemetery, Denver.




Thursday, March 5, 2020

Profile: Colorado sheet music collector Tom Merry


I guess it was about a year ago, I attended a local book and ephemera show, when I spotted a dealer with a huge lot of sheet music, for sale. I had recently gotten into collecting Coloradocentric pieces, and was amazed at the incredible state-published offerings this particular dealer had.

The seller was a gentleman named Tom Merry, and we quickly became friends, with our mutual appreciation of esoteric Colorado music-related collections. A few months later, Tom invited me to his home, where I got a chance to see, in person, his massive collection of sheet music. I was curious to learn what drew him to such an interest:

What was the first piece of sheet music you remember seeing? Did it make a particular impression on you?

I didn’t pay much attention to sheet music as a kid. I grew up in a somewhat musical family so it was always lying around the house, kind of like magazines. For a while my parents made me take piano lessons (from my sister), so I wasn’t particularly fond of my music books and what they represented. I quit lessons as soon as I could and gleefully left the sheet music in the rack.

How did you “get into” actual sheet music collecting? How long have you been collecting, and what piece started your “official” collecting quest? 

I re-discovered the piano in college (in the 1970s) but realized that I wasn’t all that interested in playing the standard repertoire. Plus, I wasn’t that good a pianist so I figured that if I was playing obscure works it would be harder for my listeners to detect my mistakes! Once I started looking for stuff to play, the search and discovery became almost as fun as the playing. Fast forward a few years and one day I realized that I had enough music to gift every inhabitant of a medium-sized town. I never intended to collect music. I was just curious.

What is it about sheet music that you enjoy? What keeps you collecting? 

It’s changed as I’ve aged. I started out looking for good tunes written at a skill-level I could play. I found a lot of really good pieces (and others that are understandably obscure). A lot of them came with interesting back-stories. On one level, music is our emotional history, expressing how we ‘feel’ about the events of our lives and cultures, rather than recounting names and dates. Print music is one source document for how that story is told. It was a surprise to me (though in retrospect it shouldn’t have been) that many sheet music collectors aren’t musicians; they’re history buffs.

Where do you normally find pieces for your collection? 

Everywhere. I started by visiting music stores and when they started disappearing, I broadened my search to antique malls, used book stores, estate sales, and eventually/inevitably on line. This was also a time when people started getting rid of their parents’ sheet music collections, so there was a lot of interesting stuff out there, and prices were low. I once found a rare score for a viola concerto in a tray of tools at a roadside flea market.

Do you have a favorite piece? 

One of the first pieces of sheet music I intentionally searched-for was a piano-reduction of an LP called Gate of Dreams, by Claus Ogerman. Written in a sleek mid-20th century style for jazz combo and orchestra, it was something that I wanted to play with my friends. We played it—many times—in my living room, and I still pull it out to play on my own. In my humble opinion it’s an over-looked masterpiece.

Do you have a particular piece of sheet music, which eludes you? What is it? 

I don’t have one elusive piece, but many. I’ve always been fascinated by music that mixes classical and popular styles, especially jazz. Gershwin is probably the poster child for this genre, but there are many others who explored that space with really interesting results. Unless a work is especially popular, most music is printed only once and press runs for these hybrid works were usually small, which makes them fairly scarce.

How many pieces of sheet music are in your collection? 

I have about 30,000 titles in my personal collection. Most of it is for piano solo, piano duet, or 2 pianos/4 hands. Thankfully, it doesn’t take up as much space as would a book collection of the same size.

Do you have any other music-related/non-music collections, of which you share the same passion? 

Fortunately, no. I have other collections but none that I pursue like sheet music.

You collect Colorado-published sheet music - what got you into that particular emphasis? 

Part of my college education was at Emory University in Atlanta. One of my lasting impressions of the people I met while there was the remarkable sense of place they had—geography was such an important part of their identity. As a child, my family had moved frequently so I didn’t have that kind of connection and the generic suburban neighborhoods where I spent my teens were not especially memorable. I came back to Colorado wanting to discover or develop some of that geographic identity in myself. That didn’t directly translate into collecting Colorado music, but it eventually clicked-in with my interest in history and the story-telling aspect of music.

What is the oldest piece of sheet music (Colorado or other) in your collection? 

I think my oldest piece of Colorado music is "Sleighing Song," composed by Frank H. Thomson with lyrics by the mysteriously-named R. It was published 1874 by J.B. Cofield (412 Larimer Street, Denver) who is identified on the cover as a “Dealer in Pianos, Organs and Musical Merchandise." I suspect that Mr. Cofield purchased the music and added his information as a promotion—the 19th-Century equivalent of passing out branded calendars or pens. But it’s only a guess.


 My oldest piece of sheet music, in my collection is "Harness Me Down with Your Iron Bands" (The celebrated Song of Steam!), from 1847. The composer H. A. Pond is familiar to me as a composer of salon music, but I’ve not encountered George Cutter (the poet) before. It was published in Cincinnati. The store stamps are from New Orleans. The song is sung by a personification of (the power of) steam.

I’ve no muscle to weary, no breast to decay, 
No bones to be ‘laid on the shelf,’ 
And soon I intend you ‘go and play,’ 
While I manage the world by myself. 
But harness me down with your iron bands, 
Be sure of your curb and rein, 
For I scorn the strength of your puny hands 
As the tempest scorns a chain. 

 

You are also a sheet music seller - what trends have you noticed with buyers? Do they collect by song, by region, etc? 

I started selling sheet music in an antique mall (in the 90s) and people were typically looking for music to share with their parents—or for scrap-booking. Nowadays, people asking for “old music” are often looking for vintage rock-n-roll. Online resources have made vast amounts of music available at minimal cost and maximal convenience, so the overall demand is way down. What’s been lost is the ability to browse for interesting music that you may not know exists. I see that as my (very small!) market opportunity.

Is there a certain demographic you have noticed with buyers of sheet music - older, younger? 

To greatly over-generalize, younger shoppers typically look for music to play; older shoppers tend to look for music to collect. That impression is partly due to what I have in stock. It’s like feeding wild birds: who’s at the feeder will depend on what’s in the tray. I’ve attracted a fairly diverse audience, but since I’m in the secondary market with older stock, my customer-base also skews older.

Do you worry that sheet music collecting will die out, with its collectors? If so, what can be done to prevent that from happening? 

Collecting (of almost anything) tends to be an activity of older people. With luck, we all get old, so there will always be collectors. Collectors also tend to be idiosyncratic, so it’s hard to predict what will be of interest to future sheet music collectors. I do think that as digital resources expand, the pool of sheet music collectors will shrink—but never go away, just as the advent of e-books has not been the end of book collectors.

What tips do you have for a beginner sheet music collector? 

Follow your passion and indulge your curiosity. Pay attention and learn about what you’re doing—that’s one of the things that separates collectors from hoarders. Pray for a long life so you can sort it out later.

What would you eventually like to have happen to your collection? 

I suspect many collectors hope that some library or museum will one day swoop in and want it all—it would be a validation that what we’ve accumulated has value and significance for someone besides ourselves. In reality, that doesn’t happen very often. Having seen large collections unceremoniously dispersed, I’ve come to realize that I need to take such matters into my own hands. No one (except me!) is going to want my whole collection, so I’ve been researching and making a list of who might want what. That process has actually been fun, as it’s connected me with a lot of other collectors and resources. The world of collecting sheet music is definitely a small pond, but bigger and more diverse than I had realized.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Tale of the Dog - The Untold Story of Denver's Greatest Rock Club

 

So last night I was honored to be invited to the exclusive premiere showing of Tale of the Dog - The Untold Story of Denver's Greatest Rock Club, a fantastic documentary on the history of Denver's short-lived Family Dog concert venue.


A who's who of 1960s-1970s Denver music was in attendance - Harry Tuft, the founder of the Denver Folklore Center, Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductee Otis Taylor, New World Blues Dictionary drummer James (Denny) Townsend, Eighth Penny Matter's Brent Warren, Lothar and the Hand People's Paul Conly, as well as Mike Stelk, whose tireless efforts to preserve Colorado music history helped inspire the film.

Paul Conly and the author

The Tale of the Dog is a long-overdue movie on The Family Dog, the "pioneering hippie rock club," which was only in business from Sept. 8, 1967, through July 19, 1968. The club made a huge mark on the early Denver rock scene, hosting the Grateful Dead, the Doors, Cream, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, and Canned Heat, whose famous run-in with the Denver police department is well documented in the film.

Packed house at University of Denver showing

The brainchild of Dan Obarski and University of Denver art professor Scott Montgomery, The Tale of the Dog spends an equal amount of time spotlighting the visual representation of the nightclub, both with its promotional posters (created by Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, Rick Griffin, Michael Ferguson, George Hunter, and Robert Fried), and its multimedia light shows, by Diogenes Lantern Works.

"My training is as a medievalist," said filmmaker Scott Montgomery. "I got involved in this because I think it's significant art, and it seemed to be under acknowledged. It's not that far off from what I do, in medieval art. I still look at the iconography, the style... so I don't think I've changed my field, but I just embraced a movement of art that I think is under acknowledged, and I think is one of the more significant art movements of the second half of the 20th century."

"I didn't know anything about this place," said filmmaker Dan Obarski. "It wasn't until I was in my 30s, I saw a picture of Jim Morrison playing at DU, and about fell out of my chair. I went searching for this Family Dog thing, and found this one website, that a guy named Mike Stelk had - it was the only website with the only piece of information out there, on the Family Dog. It listed all of the concerts. Nobody knew this. It was completely unknown. Then I saw Scott at a poster show, and he was the only other guy who knew anything about it. And we both thought it was important, and we needed to tell this story."

The movie's first hand interviews, with former Family Dog employees, poster artists, band members, and even the former Denver police officers, who contributed to the demise of the club, is incredibly thorough.

Family Dog doorman Marcello Cabus, Mike Stelk, and the author

After the showing, the filmmakers, and a few members of the cast, took part in a panel discussion.


 From right to left: Film narrator Rick Lewis, Otis Taylor, Scott Montgomery, Brent Warren, Melanie Wannamaker, Paul Conly, and Dan Obarski.

While making the movie was the primary topic of discussion, the audience got to hear some little-known music trivia and fascinating stories, including how one (then) little-known comic tried his hand at experimental music.

"When the band [Lothar and the Hand People] left Denver - the band started at DU - and when we left to move to New York, and try to make it big, we started working at clubs in the Village, and one of them was the Cafe A-Go-Go, in New York City," Paul Conly told the audience. "One thing about being in the Hand People was, we got to share the stage with a lot of great bands of that era. At the Cafe A-Go-Go, we shared the stage with Richard Pryor, who had not been on television yet, but he was working the stand-up clubs. We were hanging out with him backstage, and he saw the theremin. He asked, 'Do you mind if I go out and play the theremin?' We said 'Of course, go ahead.' So he improvised his whole set, riffing with stuff he came up with, on the theremin. I wish there was a film of it, because he was so brilliant. I still have the theremin, which we called Lothar. It still works great. It was made by Dr. Bob Moog."

"When I got to Denver, in 1964, it was a big folk scene, and I came out of the folk world," said Brent Warren. I sang with a guy named Michael Dunn. But then all of a sudden, a bunch of guys said 'Hey do you want to try out to be a lead singer, in this band [Eighth Penny Matter]?' I came out of the world of theatre, and so I tried to apply some theatre to the act, too. I wore a corduroy jacket, and one of the things I discovered was that I could pour lighter fluid on my sleeve. During our cover of 'You're a Better Man Than I,' by the Yardbirds, our guitarist's job was to drive me into such a frenzy, with his fuzz tone guitar, that I would pour lighter fluid on my sleeves, and set myself on fire, and then stand backwards and jump off the stage backwards, into the crowd. So I think I invented the mosh pit."

Suffice to say, it was an amazing evening, and it is a must-see film. The Tale of the Dog will be shown on March 26, at the Mayan Theatre, Denver.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Elk Bugles - Show 20 (78 rpm)



And welcome to show #20! I'm digging deep into the stash, and playing all 78rpm records. Yup, scratches, pops, and all! Some really (really) old and obscure Colorado records on today's episode!

Listen to the show 
(links to the KGNU AfterFM audio)


Wolf of Wolf Creek Pass
Pete Smythe with Walt Shrum and the Westernaires


Mother Goose Boogie
Gene Lewis and the Dude Ramblers


Trinidad Twister
Marvin Shilling 


Christian Cowgirl
Jeannie Bradway


Jesus Paid It All
Gospel Melody Men 


Life is a Wonderful Thing
Dave Krane 


I Love Girls
Max Morath


Molly Lou
Norma Lou Tackitt with the George Marvin Orchestra


Coax Me
Norma West 


Ti-De-Oh
Estamae McFarlane


Out of Sight Out of Mind
Buddy and his Buddies (vocals by Paul Moyers)


Jess Hunter Song
Ted West and Buddy Watkins (Buddies of the West)


There’s a New Star in Heaven Tonight
Ozie Waters 


On Top of Pikes Peak
Billy Briggs


Boom Song
Colorado A&M College


The Denver Mountain Parks
B Lee Pace


No Credit
Joey Buffalo and Sonics