Monday, October 25, 2021

Emmett Ryder

Emmett Ryder and his Orchestra poster - no year (watermarked) 

Found this Emmett Ryder poster at an estate sale, up in Denver, recently. Great piece of ephemera, for a concert down in Manitou Springs.

I mentioned Emmett and his band in a piece I did on some University of Colorado newspapers.

Hiawatha Gardens postcard

Emmett Ryder was a very popular band leader. In doing research, I found his band mentioned in almost every college prom and dance announcement, of the era. 

For this concert (no date noted) he included vocalist Dominic Cesario, and vibraphonist Bob Hanna.  

Photos from the author's collection (watermarked)

I first found a mention of Emmett Ryder, in a 1933 story, in the Rocky Mountain Collegian, the Colorado State University student newspaper, as a student performer. The last entry I found, of his band performing, was in 1946. As is often the case, the trail goes cold, after that.

Hiawatha Gardens was a historic "gentleman's resort," beer garden, casino, ballroom, concert venue, and restaurant in Manitou Springs. The original Hiawatha Gardens main building was built in 1889 by F. L. M. ("Flimflam") Smith, and burned down in 1920. A separate open-air dancing pavilion (built in the late 1890s) survived the fire, and was incorporated into the current structure, which was built to replace the one that burned. The new building continued to operate as a dance hall and night club into the 1950s. In 2021, the structure underwent a partial demolition along Fountain Creek just east of City Hall. The city is tearing down additions to the original dance hall that were made between 1921 and 1955 and have become structurally unsound over the years. 


Monday, October 18, 2021

Bob Roller Recordings


Found this Denver label flexi-disc record, during a thrift dig, recently. Not a lot to go on, so hoping a reader can fill me in.

Bob Roller Recordings - "Perfection in the Wax" is noted on side one of the record. It also shows a phone number of "Race 1424." According to Denver telephone history notations, 1941 saw two new exchanges added - Race in the spring and Alpine in the fall. Dexter was added in spring 1942. 

Sadly, as you can image with a flexi that's possibly 80 years old, the disc quality is atrocious, so I won't be able to share any audio clips.

Side one includes a church choir, singing an unrecognizable song. The flip side includes an unidentified male announcer. He indicates that the recording is from the choir of the Calvary Baptist Church, in Denver. He notes that "hundreds of men, and a few women" in the church are currently serving "in the war effort," so this just reaffirms that we're talking around 1941. He also mentions that the new church bulletin is now called The Messenger. On the church's own history page of its website, it too mentions the bulletin's name change, that year. 

I found a Bob Roller mentioned in a 1964 issue of the Denver Catholic Register as being the president of Electronics Services, Inc.  

In a 1968 issue of the Denver Catholic Register, I discovered a photo of Bob Roller, who is listed as the English teacher at Blessed Sacrament school. He is shown in a photo, with his students, at the KLZ television studios.

(click to enlarge)

I could find no other information on Bob Roller, or the label which shares his name. As always, if you have any additional tidbits on this, please let me know.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Randy Lee

Picked up this Colorado Springs LP from my friend, Mike Stelk, the "encyclopedia of Colorado music history," recently. Another "off my radar" find, I'm grateful that he offered to me.

This all-instrumental jazzy piano lounge record doesn't offer a lot of clues, as to its history. No year is noted. I'm going to guess 1964, based on what I dug up, below. It doesn't sound like a "live" recording, as there is no audience banter or applause. Bill Cook, of KRYT radio is listed under "sound."

Listen to "You Came A Long Way From St. Louis"

A few credits are mentioned, namely Jerry Teske on bass, drummer Tommy Thompson, and Herman Raymond, on bongos. 

I noted Jerry in a story I did, back in 2018. In that piece, I found out that he was a private vocal coach, and regular entertainer at Figaro's Restaurant, who also served as the choral director for Palmer High School, in Colorado Springs. He passed away in 2017.  His obituary indicated that he also performed for the Grace Episcopal Taylor Choir, Colorado Springs Chorale, Abendmusik, Colorado Opera Festival, Opera Theatre of the Rockies, and the western group, The Trailriders.

Drummer Tommy Thompson would appear on the Just Jack LP by Jack Harry and the Sammy Colon Trio.

Bongo player (and also listed as "art director") Herman Raymond was a Colorado Springs fine artist, and was listed as "a friend" of Lee's, and who also wrote the liner notes, on the back of the LP.

Bill Cook was the owner of  KRYT radio. He sold the station in 1979 (the FM side later became KKCS). He was also behind the recording of the Mike and Fran LP.

It's quite possible it was recorded at the old Alamo Hotel, on S. Tejon, where Lee was a regular entertainer, for several years. The front cover picture was shot at the Alamo Hotel. 

 (Colorado Springs Gazette - June 14, 1964)

In a 1964 newspaper ad, it noted that he was coming back from a six-month engagement in Hawaii. It also noted that he played for three years at the Ent Air Force Base Officer's Club. 

Lee made the rounds, when it came to Colorado Springs venues - I found stories and advertisements of his performing at the Eldorado Lounge, on east Pikes Peak, the Embers on Wahsatch, the Garden Valley Restaurant, on S. Circle, Wee G's on Pikes Peak Blvd., the Gourmet Table, the Medallion Hotel on Bijou, and the Chateau Motor Inn, and Pierre's, both on South Nevada.

The last newspaper notation I found on Mr. Lee was in 1970, performing at the Sportsman Steakhouse, located on W. Las Vegas.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Betty Finch - Short in Stature, Big in Voice


Digging at an estate sale, last week, and discovered this Audiodisc recording of "You're The Cause of it All" by a singer named Betty Finch. There was nothing on it, noting if it was a Colorado recording, but I'm a sucker for these mystery discs.

Put it on a turntable, and discovered it a cover of the 1946 Sammy Cahn-penned (Freddy Martin) song, of the same name.

 Listen to "You're The Cause of it All" - Betty Finch

A quick Internet search revealed that the singer, Betty Finch, was indeed a Denver resident, with aspirations of being a professional singer. I found a 1939 story noting that she had won a whopping $2,000, as a winner in a movie quiz.

Greeley Daily Tribune - February 28, 1939

The undated photo of her (above) shows a cutline on the back:

"This is to aquatint you with the forthcoming honorary presentation of an award of merit to Miss Betty Finch, of 4544 Zuni Street. On February 26, Miss Finch, a 3 foot high glamorous young lady will be given honors by Governor Dan Thornton on behalf of Fanfare Community Service, on the occasion of her 150th benefit performance. Miss Finch, one of Fanfare's thirty emcees, also qualifies as a combination vocalist and pianist. She will receive the certificate award at the 1550 benefit show, of the organization at Fitzsimons Army Theatre, with 1500 patients. Betty is a graduate of Boetcher School, in Denver, and has won in several competitions, one of which was the runner-up honors on the Broadmoor Radio Competition."

Governor Thornton served from 1951-1955, which indicates that she probably entertained Korean War soldiers.

Sadly, as is often the case. I couldn't find any additional information on her.