Monday, May 24, 2021

The Concert Posters of Michael Littrell


Chances are, if you ever attended a concert in Aspen, in the 1970s, you will recognize the poster art of Michael Littrell. 

A 1970 graduate of Hinkley High School, in Aurora. He headed to Metro State, after graduation, to pursue a degree in art.  After dropping out, in 1972, he went to work at Frye-Sills Advertising, in Denver. A year later he would move to Aspen, where he worked at Aspen Graphics, the go-to for concert poster art in area, including at the popular night spot, The Gallery.

I'll let him tell the story, from here...

"I was lucky to have a father who was a graphic designer, engineer, fine artist, and furniture designer, who had studied under Vance Kirkland at DU. My mom was from a family of musicians, but got her degree in broadcasting at DU, and she worked in Denver's early television industry. Also, I had great art teachers from K to 12. It was in high school where I learned to silkscreen. We were always called on to make posters for school events, like dances and plays.  

My first published design was a full page announcement for the 1968 Denver Pop Festival. It was all done in pencil, and appeared in the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. I was only 17, and it was for a class project. Harry Tuft, of the Denver Folklore Center saw it. I already had an in there, as my dad sold his handmade guitars there.  Harry submitted it to people he knew, who soon became people I would know. Early networking, at an early age. 

About the same time I was in a garage band & the whole rock scene in San Fransisco intrigued me. I started doing Family Dog Presents style posters for local bands. I also did a few event posters in college but I was already working a paid internship for Frye-Sills Advertising, and rarely did any poster-type work while there. Mostly brochures & multi-page publication stuff. 

 I went up to Aspen to visit a former girlfriend, and do some skiing with her. While there I became interested in the handcrafted signage and graphics I saw all around town - much of the work credited to Aspen Graphics. I decided to pay their studio a visit. David Jagoda & Gordon Brown made me an offer I just couldn't refuse to come work for them. It was a great opportunity for a 22-year-old kid, and things went very well for a couple of years. 

When I got to Aspen we would design and print the posters for Frank Wood, who owned The Gallery. We also did posters for Jim McDade's Aspen Inn, and Danny Wardell, at the Cooper Street Pier. The posters would be printed about a week before each show, all in one day. They would then be quickly distributed to almost every shop, bar, grocery store & business willing to display them in a storefront window. It was interesting that by the opening night of a show, every poster would be snatched up. It was fun to go to a party at someone's condo, and find a collection of them wallpapering the bathroom or bedroom. 


The first poster I ever did for Aspen Graphics is probably my favorite - Elvin Bishop, at the Gallery.  It was a great show too! Most of the posters were black & white, but once in awhile we got to do two or even three colors. I was honored to do our first three-color run, James Cotton Blues Band 'Cotton Comes to Aspen'. 

They were all hand-drawn posters, for the most part I'm very 'old school.' Everything I do begins with a pencil.  

The most difficult poster to create was The Coors International Bicycle Classic series. I think I did five or six of them. I had done the original designs for the Red Zinger Classic posters (the pre-Coors sponsors), and it was nice. I had to out-do it to appeal to Coors execs. Then I found myself having to compete with myself each new season, along with other entries, as it became a contest. 

I didn't keep track with how many posters I designed. Too many to remember throughout my career. I usually just took 35mm slides of everything we created, including the posters. David kept hard copies of every poster. He unfortunately passed away two years ago, but had put me in his will to receive the whole portfolio. I have yet to actually get it, as there is an estate settlement that hasn't been dealt with yet. I do have a couple of my favorites. framed and on display in my home studio. 

Due to some reasons that are better left unsaid, I decided to return to the agency work I had been doing in Denver. I eventually got out of the concert poster business, when computers and digital image making took over. I just lost interest. I'm almost 70 now, and retired. Over the past decade or so I designed and built a custom 25' sailboat. Now all I want to do is sail, and forget about being an adult.

Monday, May 17, 2021

John F. Kennedy High School (1967) Yearbook Music Pictures

Hey all! I recently obtained a HUGE box of Colorado yearbooks. Incredible cache, I'm very excited to have saved these from a potential end, in the trash. It's been a lot of fun going through the photos, and finding music-related pictures. Incredible time capsule of bands and singers. Probably some pictures never before seen!

I'll be going through all of the yearbooks, and making this a semi-regular feature on here. Enjoy!

When John F. Kennedy opened, in the spring semester of the 1965 - 1966 school year, it served both grades 7 - 9 and grades 10-12. There was no junior high school in the area, so the new school was designed to accommodate both junior and senior high school students.  The 1967 annual notes that it is Volume 1, which implies this was the first yearbook for the school.

(link to the Colorado Music Experience story by Dr. George Krieger)
Picture notes that the group performed at the Mardi Gras dance.

Group Hysteria
I couldn't find any information on this group, minus the band members first names (on the banner): Paul, Todd, Mike, and Bill. Picture notes that they performed at the Sophomore Party.

Beggar's Opera Co.
Dennis Flannigan  (keyboards)
Bob Webber (guitar)
Bob Macvittie (drums)
Gene Chalk (guitar)
(shows five members in the photo. If you can identify the fifth member, please contact me). Picture shows that they group performed at the Shamrock Dance.

Viva Brass
Picture notes that the group performed at the Senior Prom.

Junior class photo of Duncan Tuck

Performer was not identified in the yearbook. If you know the name of this person, please contact me.

Band was not identified in the yearbook. If you know the name of this band, please contact me.

Monday, May 10, 2021

KUAD Radio, Windsor (1972)

Hey all! While many know I collect and archive obscure Colorado vinyl, my other passion is radio station records. My first radio job was in 1980, reading the hourly weather and news headlines, and changing out reel-to-reel tapes at KYNR, in Pueblo, the local Muzak station. From midnight to six I made sure that the Steel City had continuous "elevator music" overnight. Don't ask me how I managed to stay awake, but for a 19-year old kid, it was magical.

So I'm going through my collection and spot this 1972 aircheck from KUAD in Windsor, Colorado. The audio comes via Programmer's Digest, the vinyl magazine for disc jockeys. The albums only lasted from 1972-1974 (33 releases), but it included a fantastic time capsule of radio. Each disc included a (edited) sample of a disc jockey's air shift.

Ground breaking ceremony - January 9, 1969 (Windsor Beacon)

KUAD-AM signed on the air April 15, 1969. It served the Windsor-Greeley-Fort Collins-Loveland market. It has since changed hands and is now KJJD, playing Spanish-language music. In 1975, KUAD-FM went on the air. 


1970 advertisement (click to enlarge)

I'll have other archived Colorado radio audio samples to share, but let's give a listen to 1972 radio from Bob McBride, Phil Brewer, Brad Crandall, Frank Green, Jerry Hale, and others at KUAD, Windsor.

KUAD - Windsor, Colorado (1972) 9:10

Monday, May 3, 2021


Normally, when I find Colorado faith-based records, they are usually heavy on the choirs, big haired gospel, or sanitized family vanity projects. That is, until I discovered TreeTop (also noted as two words - Tree Top_.

This Arvada-based foursome's one and only album is not your typical Jesus record. 

Listen to "Tell Me Where Have You Gone" (wait for the guitar break at 1:10)

TreeTop was comprised of Tim Wacker (vocals and rhythm guitar), Bill Gleason (lead guitar), Dan Geisler (keyboards), and Dave Rohlf (drums). 

Released in 1984, Goin' The Other Way is probably one of the best Colorado faith-based records in my collection. Truly. 

According to Ken Scott, in his fantastic book faith-based record collecting book, Archivist: "An appealing dreamy acoustic sheen surrounds this good understated rural-edged soft rock custom from the Colorado male foursome Tree Top. Wholesome summery melodies with a warm blend of 12-string guitar, piano and gentle airy harmonies. A few harder-edged tracks with basement electric guitar, like the opener ‘Jesus Is Coming’ or the rocking ‘Tell Me Where Have You Gone’. Delicate synth accompaniment on a couple tracks, bringing a wispy ethereal edge to ‘Pamelove’. I’d say more of a ‘70s sound than ‘80s. All twelve songs written by member Tim Wacker. Very uplifting." 

I have emails out to a few of the former members. Hopefully they can tell me more about this record. Stay tuned.