Monday, December 28, 2020

"I've Got a Million Dollar Baby" from Phippsburg, Colorado


Can't say that I have ever run across a Colorado music item from the tiny town of Phippsburg (population 204, as of 2010). That noted, I certainly wasn't prepared for going down a very interesting rabbit hole, with this obscure find.

"I've Got a Million Dollar Baby" was written by Daniel C. Brockman, with music by Burrell Van Buren. The address on the sheet music notes Brockman Publishing House, Box 114, Phippsburg.

If you are thinking the title sounds familiar, you aren't alone. I immediately thought of "I Found a Million Dollar Baby (In a Five and Ten Cent Store)." But this piece was written in 1930, and the the Fred Waring hit was published in 1931. The lyrics are completely different, between the two.

I'm so happy today 'cause things have changed and how
Met a girlie and say, she is my weakness now.
Her Dad made a pile of dough in Wall Street. Do you wonder that she makes my heart beat?
I've got a million dollar baby
She's one in a million to me.
She loves me and I don't mean maybe
That's why I'm so happy you see
Although she's rich, she isn't haughty
A sport and still she isn't really naughty
I've got a million dollar baby. She's one in a million for me.

Phippsburg is located 150 miles northwest of Denver, and 35 miles south of Steamboat Springs. I located the lyricist Daniel C Brockman in the 1930 census records, as living in Phippsburg. The records list him as being born in 1898, in River Bend (in Elbert County), Colorado. However, the 1940 census listed him living in Jefferson County, in the now-ghost town of Bancroft, with his wife Dora, and children. The records show that he died in 1964. He is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery, in Wheat Ridge. 

Along with being a songwriter, Mr. Brockman was also an inventor. In 1924 he received a patent for his vehicle turn signal lighting device. 

As for Burrell Van Buren?

Long before there were song poem rackets (businesses which took an amateur lyricist's words, and set them to music, recording the songs with studio singers - popular in the 1960s and 1970s), there were guys like the Chicago-based Burrell Van Buren (born 1884). In the early 1900s he would place ads in newspapers, promising to compose music for anyone with poems, which he would publish as sheet music (all for a fee).

Sandusky (Ohio) Star-Journal - January 10, 1920

When a prospective client would contact him, he would hype the fact that "there is no reason why your song should not find a ready market" (see third picture below). He would also laud his credentials as a successful composer, with the client's songs being played at large venues, including the Chicago Rialto:

(click to enlarge)
It's estimated that Van Buren composed the music to more than 60 published works of sheet music, written by mail order clients. He would include the city where the lyricists lived, on the sheet music, to make it appear that their hometown was home to not only a publishing company, but also a well-known songwriter (solving the mystery to the one and only piece to be printed at the "Brockman Publishing House" of Phippsburg, Colorado).
Van Buren was hardly the only person getting the hopes up of amateur composers. In the era, there were several companies, including Success (believed to be the first), Madden, Melville,  Simplex, USA Music, etc. 

One of the earliest Van Buren vanity-published sheets (1918). Lyrics credited by Morris H. Abell   courtesy of the Library of Congress
The long-gone musician magazine, Etude often ran editorials on "song sharks," warning its readers of these companies.

The jury is still out as to whether or not clients were actually promised more than he could deliver. While they were supplied with actual sheet music of their lyrics, the definition of "a ready market" might be up for discussion.

Van Buren continued to write music, well into his years. I found an article, in the Walla Walla Union Bulletin, dated March 13, 1950, noting that he had been a music composer "for the past thirty years," and currently lives in Oregon. He passed away in 1957.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Karl Zomar - Philosopher, Magician, Radio Host, and Denver Record Label Pioneer

Karl Zomar (1936)

Chances are you have read about Karl Zomar in previous blog posts, as the founder of Denver's Columbine Records, which later morphed into Band Box (after it was sold to Band Box founder Vicky Morosan). However, not much as been written about Mr. Zomar, his pre-Denver days, and his contribution to early Denver music history.

Born in Hopkinsville, KY., in 1903, he studied philosophy in college, but was drawn to show business. In the late 1920s, he started his career in entertainment, as a stage actor and magician, with the RKO and Fox companies.

In 1932, he began a career in radio in Galveston, TX., then later moved to WBRC, in Birmingham, AL. Soon his radio show took off, and so did he - to a bigger station, in Charlotte, NC. By 1934, he was mentioned in Variety, as a "radio psychologist" on WSOC radio, in Charlotte.

Variety - April, 1934

Somewhere between 1934 annd 1936, Karl joined the staff at KOIL-KFAB in Omaha / Lincoln, NE. In 1936, Karl moved to Springfield, MO., where he took his popular radio show to KTWO. During that time, he began publishing several volumes of his own poetry and essays, in a booklets entitled Karl Zomar's Scrap Book.

The first edition of Karl Zomar's Scrap Book (1936)
Known as the "Friendly Philosopher," on KTWO, Karl was a popular local announcer, known for his "Man on the Street" interviews and involvement in local non-profit groups. He was also writing radio jokes and on-air gags, in his spare time.
Radio Daily - August 10, 1937
His Scrap Book books were so popular, that he decided to create a radio show, based on its contents (at first called "The Old Family Almanac"). The Scrap Book radio show was syndicated across several stations - I found listings of the show in more than 60 cities, through the national Mutual Broadcasting Service. 
Karl Zomar
In 1942, I found him mentioned in the Cincinnati Enquirer, working at WKRC. The story mentioned he came to the Buckeye State, after working at WMC in Memphis.

It's not known when Karl arrived in Denver. The first story I found, related to his time in Colorado, was located in a 1944 issue of the Central Union Reaper (the publication of Seventh-day Adventists) "Carl Zomar and the Olinger Male Quartet gave a performance, February 18" (note misspelling of first name).

Interestingly, I found a mention of him, in a December 11, 1944 issue of the Greeley Daily Tribune - not as a radio personality, but as a performing magician, at a Ladies Night for the local Lions Club.

Listen to this rare recording of a 1947 Karl Zomar radio show 

(courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame) 

I found an ad, in the 1947 Radio Annual, for The Karl Zomar Library, in a home, located at 546 Emerson Street. The ad noted that "Services offered: Scripts and transcriptions. Specializing in one-man shows, quiz shows, and a recording studio for special productions." His secretary was listed as Vera Burdette. His son, Karl Jr., was also listed as a staffer.

It was in this south Denver house, where the origins of the Columbine record label begin. 

One of the first pre-Columbine records was a 78rpm square dancing box set, with Joe Lang and the Haylofters, released in 1949 (Thank you to Tom Merry for adding this great find to my library)

(Note the address listed, 2950 W. Mississippi, is the home of the 

Hayloft Square Dance Club / Knights of Columbus)

The Hayloft Square Dance Club - 2950 W. Mississippi, Denver

In March 1950 he applied for a patent, complete with artwork, for a renaming of his record label. According to the filing, Zomar started using the name Columbine, about a month previous to the paperwork submission.

Karl would go on to record other Colorado singers and groups, mainly in the country music and orchestra genre.

Partial discography below (all records shown are from the author's library):


Columbine 50

Marvin Meiers with Johnny Neil and his Orchestra - Dark Shadows / I Remember The Day

 Columbine 51

Marvin Meiers with Johnny Neil and his Orchestra - Will You Remember / My Lovely Lady

Columbine 101

F. White  - Caravan / 12th Street Rag

Columbine 102 

F. White and B. Butterfield  - Linger Awhile / South

Columbine 104 (note the flower has been replaced with a microphone on this release)

Will Graves And His Rhythm Rangers  -  Guess I’m Better Off Without You / When The World Has Turned You Down

Columbine 105 

R. Eberhardt  -  I Can Dream, Can’t I / All of Me 

Billboard  - March 25, 1950

Columbine 106 (note the flower has been replaced with a microphone on this release)

Will Graves and His Rhythm Rangers - Have I Told You Lately That I Love You / I'm Paying with a Broken Heart


Columbine 108 

Will Graves and His Rhythm Rangers  - Iron Horse / You Two-Timed Me One Time Too Often 


Billboard - June 24, 1950 (joint ad for Ozie Waters "Iron Horse" [on the Coral label] and the Will Graves Columbine label version)

Columbine 109

Will Graves and The Rhythm Rangers  - There’s a Star in the Sky / You’re Gonna Be Sorry

Columbine 110 

H. Hartley and the Columbine Trio  -  September in the Rain / Somebody Mentioned Your Name 

Columbine 111

Dick Mango's Band - When It's Cherry Blossom Time in Loveland / ?

Windsor Beacon - March 2, 1950
(b. Richard J. Mango, July 15, 1912, Pennsylvania; d. June 8, 1975, Olmsted County, MN) was an American bandleader and saxophonist, originally from Detroit.

Columbine 113

Red Allen  - Lonesome Me / Red’s Talking Blues 

Billboard  - November 25, 1950  

Columbine 116

Winnie Linsenmaier - It's Prom Time / I See it Now 

Columbine 117

Carl Thorn and his Saddle Pals - Tennessee Waltz / Two Eyes, Two Lips, But No Heart

Columbine 118

Roy Eberhart with the Musette Trio - Out Where the West Begins /  Little Grey Home in the West

Columbine 121

Johnnie Dwyer with Billy Lee and the Rocky Mountain Playboys - Love Grown Cold / Automobile Gal

Columbine 122

Floyd Buell with the Rhythm Kings - My Girl / Lonesome Me

Columbine 225

Dana LeBarron with Sonny LeBarron and his Rhythm Rodeo Wranglers - Merry Christmas and Goodnight / Garden of Forget-Me-Nots

Apparently he kept a home in Springfield, as I found a story, in a 1951 Missouri newspaper, that he and his wife often "travel from the West, to his home in Springfield."

The last public notice I found for the label, was in a Billboard magazine, dated March 15, 1952 (the address of the company was listed as 3120 Federal Blvd, Denver).

On December 30, 1952, Karl Zomar died, at the age of 49. He is buried at Fairmount Cemetery, Denver.

On October 12, 1953, about a year after his passing, I noticed a patent filing for a Columbine Records, based in Colorado Springs (the address listed was 38 Marland Rd.). In the 1954 Musicians Guide, I also saw a listing for Columbine Records, with the same street address.

It's believed that the label was sold to Vicky Morosan, in 1954, which means the Zomar family held on to it, for almost two years after his passing.

Connecting the dots, the widow of Karl Zomar moved to Colorado Springs, shortly after his death. I found a later 1970 story, in the Arizona Republic, about a young magician named Roy De La Garza. In the story it mentions that the widow of Karl Zomar gave the young man all of her late husband's magic act items "from Colorado Springs."

Monday, December 14, 2020

Denver Dixieland Jazz Extravaganza (1984)

Picked up this large concert poster (and a pin - posted at the bottom) at an estate sale, last weekend. It came from the home of a local jazz enthusiast, where I also picked up several Denver jazz records, and wanted to share.

Held July 6-8, 1984, at the Regency Hotel, the event featured 16 bands from not only Denver and Colorado Springs, but also Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Memphis, Portland, and Seattle. Guests included Henry Cuesta (clarinetist for the Lawrence Welk Show) and coronet player Wild Bill Davison (of the Freddie Condon Band). Proceeds from the event benefited the local Children's Museum.

Angel City Jazz Band - Los Angeles
Broadmoor Jazz Club All Stars - Colorado Springs
Chicago Six - San Diego, CA
Gramercy Six - Sacramento, CA
Desert City Six - Phoenix AZ
Fulton Street Jazz Band - Sacramento, CA
Hot Cotton Jazz Band - Memphis, TN
Hot Tomatoes Dance Orchestra - Denver
New Orleans Jazz Gathering - Denver
Nightblooming Jazz Men - Claremont, CA
Oregon Jazz Band - Portland
Platte River Jazz Band - Denver
Summit Ridge Jazz Band - Denver

Sutterville Stompers - Sacramento, CA
Uptown Lowdown Jazz Band - Seattle, WA
Your Father's Mustache - Denver

 A bit of info on the Colorado bands noted:

The Broadmoor Jazz Club All Stars

Gerry Ripper – drums, Harry Divine – banjo, Roger Sims – tuba, Dan Johns – trumpet, Tom Ross – clarinet, Dick Donahue – tenor sax, and Floyd Frame, trombone.

Hot Tomatoes Dance Orchestra

Founded in 1982, by Ron Cope, the group is still performing (group link below photo).

New Orleans Jazz Gathering

Formed in 1970, by Verne Baumer (previously of Big Tiny Little, the Summit Ridge Jazz Band, the High Sierra Jazz Band and the Wild Bill Davidson Legacy Band. The group is now known as the Mile High Jazz Gathering (link below photo). 

Platte River Jazz Band 

Members included Bob Cooke - trumpet, Verne Beebe- trombone, Bill Pontarelli - clarinet, Ray Leake - piano, Dennis Condreay - banjo, Al Brisson - tuba, and Gordon Ellinger - drums. The group put out three albums and appear on the Central City Jazz LP (1978). Bill Pontarelli now plays with Pete Wernick (Dr. Banjo)

Summit Ridge Jazz Band

Formed by Bob Craven (who passed away in 2005)

Your Father's Mustache

In 1965, the Your Father's Mustache night club chain opened in Larimer Square. A band was formed, and became the regular house act. Members included Joe Petrucelli, Craig Hugo, and Ray Leake. In 1975, the Denver club closed its doors, but the group continued playing (link below photo).  


Monday, December 7, 2020

Played in Pueblo: Chuck Bricker and the Harlequins

Hey all! Added this real photo postcard to my stash, after discovering it on the big online auction site. The front shows Chuck Bricker and the Harlequins. The back says "Moose Ballroom Pueblo Colorado 1953."

While this postcard looks much older than 1953, the Kodak stamp box on the back (which was first used in 1950), confirms the time period.

I rarely spotlight a group not from Colorado, but this one felt like it needed a mention, since the band apparently played in the Steel City, but the group's actual history is sparse.

Not a lot to go on with this group. I found some references to Chuck and the boys, twenty years earlier, in a 1933 South Bend IN newspaper, and again playing at the University of Michigan, that same year.

Excerpt from March 15, 1933 Michigan Daily archives:

"Frosh Frolic Band "Chuck" Bricker and his Harlequins, the new orchestra engaged for the Frosh Frolic Friday night in the Union ballroom, have made progress toward national recognition in an unbelievably short time. Organized less than a year ago, they have won favor on the Pacific coast and at a number of Big Ten universities, have broadcast over several radio stations, and are soon to go on the air for their first national broadcast. The Harlequins made their experimental debut on the San Francisco peninsula in the late spring of 1932. After spending several months on the coast, including an engagement at Leland Stanford University, they came to the Middle West, where they have since been playing. Purdue, Indiana, Chicago, and Valparaiso have danced to their music, while they have appeared twice at the University of Illinois. They are well-known in Chicago, having played at the Town Club, Amalfi Gardens, the Garden of Allah and several theatres there. The Stanford Daily said the following in a review of the Harlequins' music: 'Here we have an orchestra that makes you happy and makes you feel like dancing-an orchestra that has rhythm and variation, and, best of all, what it plays is music. Something else you'll like is Bricker's weakness for medleys of old and new tunes. This orchestra even manages to play the St. Louis Blues in a way that is different.' "

But that's it.

Anyone attend this show, or have any additional information? Contact me.