Monday, November 29, 2021

Instrumental in Pueblo’s Growth - The Origins of Steel City Music Stores

NOTE: This piece is also published in the December 2021 issue of the Pueblo County Historical Society The Lore.

In the late 1860s, Michigan physician and surgeon, Dr. J.W.O Snyder came to the newly-established town of Pueblo with a hope of setting up his medical practice. But when he arrived in town, he discovered that only a handful of businesses lined the dirt roads, and stores for basic necessities were nonexistent.

 Fourth and Fifth Streets of Santa Fe Avenue, Spring 1870. Picture shows the X-10-U-8 Saloon, Dr. J.W.O. Snyder’s shoe store and news depot (center), and the office of lawyers A.A. Bradford and Henry C. Thatcher (photo courtesy of the Pueblo City-County Library) 

Having just been appointed the city’s postmaster, he decided to open a book and stationery business. But his entrepreneurial spirit didn’t stop there. The store also carried toys, games, shoes…and musical instruments – violins, guitars, and banjos. 

June 20, 1874 Ad – Colorado Daily Chieftain (Pueblo)

By the 1860s, Pueblo civic leaders were focused on establishing the new city’s infrastructure. While there had been Masonic balls, and occasional dances and concerts, entertainment was low priority. But by 1869, on the northside of Seventh Street, Conley Hall (later known as the Thespian Theater and Montgomery’s Opera House) was built. The Pueblo Cornet Band would be one of the first organized music groups, in the city. 

Dr. Snyder’s music-related inventory also expanded, and he began carrying larger musical instruments, including pianos and organs. An 1874 ad in the Weekly Chieftain noted “If you want a fine piano or good organ, go to Snyder’s book and music store.” 

 In 1873, William W. Knight arrived in Denver, along with his brother Frank A. Knight. The two had left Michigan to find their fame and fortune in Colorado. The two teamed up with Asahel K. Clark to open a sewing machine business. In 1876, they added musical instruments to their offerings. Three years later Clark decided to leave the business, and sold his ownership to W.W. Waterbury. The store would go on to be renamed Knight Brothers and Waterbury. By 1879 their Lawrence Street music store was a huge success, and the owners began to think about expanding, to Pueblo. The following year they set up shop on Santa Fe Avenue.

March 5, 1881 – Colorado Weekly Chieftain (Pueblo) 

The store employed Mrs. D.M. King, as manager. In a May 1881 Chieftain story, it was implied that the new business, under her leadership, was trying to keep up with the demand for pianos. “Mrs. D.M. King, in charge of Knight Brothers & Waterbury’s Music Store in this city, has disposed of a piano every day this week so far, and informed us last evening that she anticipated negotiating another sale today. She deserves all the success with which she is meeting.” 

Possibly following the lead of the Knight Brothers, Pueblo began seeing more and more non-music stores carrying music-related items. In 1880 J.R. Shaw, a Santa Fe Avenue sewing machine seller, expanded his offerings to include sheet music and instruments. In 1881, brothers F.A. and C.M. Wells purchased the Richardson Building, at the corner of Sixth Street and Santa Fe, and announced that they too would be opening a music store, known locally as “The Temple of Music.” Interestingly, the clothing store Roworth & Veatch, located at 81 Union Avenue, also carried sheet music, and was known as “The Temple of Fashion.”

September 30, 1883 – Colorado Daily Chieftain (Pueblo) 

With three major music dealers on one street, the Chieftain took notice. A May 12, 1882 story announced that Santa Fe Avenue will “give people music day and night.” 

 In 1883, the Schreiber Rowcroft Quartette made their performing debut. The band was being booked for almost any engagement, which required musical entertainment, and they became instant local celebrities. 

November 8, 1883 – Colorado Weekly Chieftain (Pueblo) 

At some point the group became known simply as the Schreiber Orchestra. Possibly parlaying on their popularity, the family opened a music store, at Seventh and Main.

January 21, 1896 – Colorado Daily Chieftain (Pueblo) 

By 1885, the Knight Brothers and Waterbury store had changed ownership, to become Knight-McClure. They highlighted the addition of A.G. Haupt, a piano tuner “direct from Steinway & Sons, New York.” 

April 28, 1890 – Colorado Daily Chieftain (Pueblo) 

Opening in 1888, in the basement of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, at Fifth and Santa Fe, Crews-Beggs Dry Goods promoted “thousands of pieces of sheet music” at its store.

By the late 1800s, possibly sensing a goldmine in a newly-established town, additional Denver music stores began expanding to Pueblo. 

In 1882, at age 21, John Henrich moved to Denver, and worked as a clerk in E. F. Merriam's piano and organ store. Soon joined by his sister and brother-in-law, Lydia Henrich and Charles H. Walker, the trio soon opened the J. S. Henrich & Co. music store. Within five years, the store opened in Pueblo. 

“He(i)nrich & Co have decided to open a music store in Pueblo, and have rented the east room in the Maple Block, on west Fourth Street.” – Colorado Daily Chieftain, 1887. 

However, within the year, the Pueblo store closed. It’s inventory was acquired by W.W. Montelius and Co., a Denver music store, who had recently set up a Pueblo store front at 112 West Fourth Street (later Seventh and Main). As noted in the ad below, Charles Schreiber would later be affiliated with the Montelius Piano Company.

February 16, 1896 – Colorado Daily Chieftain (Pueblo) 

Around that same time, George C. Harper and his wife, Annie opened the Pueblo Music House (sometimes known as “Harper’s Music Store”). The shop was located at 307 N. Main, and offered pianos and organs “sold on easy payments.” It’s claim to fame was offering the Harper Guitar, an instrument designed by Mr. Harper, and sold exclusively at the store.

March 14, 1896 – Colorado Daily Chieftain (Pueblo)

In 1898 the Pueblo Music House went out of business, and its contents were sold to N. E. Motherway and partners A.V. Bradford, and J.H. McCorkle. 

On October 6, 1898 the Chieftain published an article of incorporation for Silver State Music. The owners were listed as Ohio transplant (and former Knight-McClure music store employee) L.M. Kieffer and jeweler Frank H. Frankenberg, Jr. While previous music stores had barely received a note in the local paper, the arrival of Silver State Music was announced with a lengthy story. “Music loving people of Pueblo and the public at large are assured that a long felt want is being supplied by the location of such a desirable branch of grade, and it will and much to the many industries and the progressiveness of “the Pittsburg of the West…the Chieftain hails them welcome.” 


April 23, 1899 – Colorado Daily Chieftain (Pueblo) 

Silver State Would set itself apart from the other music operations, by publishing its own sheet music. In 1900 “Where the Golden Daisies Grow,” composed by Silver State owner Lowell Kieffer (with lyrics by Francis E. Nelson) was published. 

Silver State wouldn’t be the only early Pueblo sheet music publisher. Western Music Co., housed at 205 E. Fourth St., would press its own compositions, including the 1906 “When the Columbine’s In Blossom Bessie Dear,” by Frank W. Sterns and Edmund Leischke.

The new century would bring adversity to Silver State. In 1916 a fire at a nearby store spread to the shop, destroying it, along with Dondeo Woolen Mills, and Scribner and Co. 

As World War I raged, Pueblo would soon be home to other local sheet music publishing houses, which quickly took advantage of the need for patriotic songs. These companies included E.D. Moyer (1917’s “Bonnie Land of Freedom”) the Cooperative Music Union (1917’s “Betty My Own”), and the prolific F.B. Martin (the 1918 compositions “America in War,” “Follow The Flag,” “Off to France,” “The Pacifist Song,” “Uncle Sam Will Fight,” and “At the Call of the Bugle”). 

Lowell M. Kieffer would pass away in 1918. Silver State Music would continue, but its location would be destroyed, in the 1921 flood. According to a story in the Chieftain, “The management of the Silver State Music Co. estimates that it will require sixty days to clean up the debris, and then the business will he resumed.” 

The business would later move to 206 N. Main. 

Between 1918-1919, the city would see two more music stores open – Knight-Campbell, and D.Z. Phillips. The Denver-based Knight-Campbell, previously of Knight-McClure mentioned above, opened a store in Pueblo, at 420 Main Street. The grand opening included a performance by Denver singer, Rose Hilts. D.Z. Phillips’ store was located at 627 N. Main. 

When it came to promotion, Phillips Music would one-up Silver State’s sheet music publishing, by creating its own band, the Phillips Crusaders. Members included musical youth, who would later wear military uniforms, and subtlety hyped the music store, while being staples of Pueblo parades during that era.

Phillips would later become vice president of the Bennett Music Company, in Santa Barbara, CA. He died in 1952, in California.

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Spring Singers


Photo courtesy of The Harmonizer - July/August 2019

Added this doo-wop LP to my stash, courtesy of my fellow Colorado digger Mike Stelk. I immediately noticed the KCMS notation on the label, which indicated that it was recorded at Bud Edmonds' Manitou Springs studio.

 Listen to "How Come You Do Me Like You Do / Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas"

Nice barbershop harmonies, with an evident doo-wop vibe. The label reads that it was recorded in 1956. It noted Bill Trego as the producer. The group included tenor Bill Butler. lead Bill Brooks, baritone Vic Holmes, and bass Monty Duerksen. I'm guessing this is a very limited edition release, as it notes "present for our friends" under the singer credits.

A quick search finds that Duerksen, formerly of Newton, KS, formed the Spring Singers when he arrived in Colorado Springs, while stationed at Camp Carson (later Fort Carson). According to his obituary (he passed away February 25, 2020), "While there, he put up a bulletin board notice seeking quartet singers and thus was born his first barbershop society quartet, the Spring Singers." In 2004 he was inducted in the Barbershop Harmony Society's Central States District Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any information on the three other members. Of course, drop me a line if you know more.


Monday, November 15, 2021

La Dama De Los Ojos Verdes

Was recently offered this incredible find, from my dear friend Joel Scherzer. A Spanish-language take on Denver-based band Sugarloaf's Top Five hit, "Green-Eyed Lady," by The White Lines de Paco Sanchez.

Listen to "La Dama De Los Ojos Verdes"

Now, before I get messages on this, this is not the same Paco Sanchez, who is considered the "Father of Hispanic Radio" in Denver. That Paco came to town in 1948. Yes, while he was a lead singer of a musical group (and later a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, and namesake of Paco Sanchez Park), he had moved on to social reform causes, which I doubt included him resurrecting his musical career, at this late stage in life. He passed away in 1973, at the age of 57.

It's actually the group Las Lineas Blancas.

Paco Sanchez is listed as a member. The band put out an 1971 self-titled LP, which includes "La Dama De Los Ojos Verdes" (Caytonics CYS 1293). I found a listing of this group in Florida, and also Mexico.

So now I'm wondering how many Colorado-centric English-language songs were recorded in different languages? Idly wondering if there is a version of "Alto De Las MontaƱas Rocosa" out there. I'll keep hunting!

Monday, November 8, 2021

Stairway to Heaven from Gateway High School, Aurora

(NOTE: Rick Kurtz, who I interviewed for this piece, passed away on October 27).

Hey all! So 50 years ago today, Led Zeppelin released the signature power ballad "Stairway to Heaven."


I had always wondered if I would run into a Led Zeppelin cover in my quest for obscure Colorado vinyl finds. A Page/Plant song had always eluded me, until I found this Aurora high school LP in a Colorado Springs thrift. To my absolute shock, the record was inside another Colorado high school album, so sadly there isn't a cover to go along with it.

Listen to "Stairway to Heaven"

The kids at Aurora's Gateway High School are to thank for this find. Recorded in 1974, and directed by Eugene Matsuura, the album features several pop covers (included the Beatles "Hey Jude," Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," Simon and Garfunkel's "Dangling Conversation," and "The Theme From the Men" the short-lived TV show, with the theme written by Issac Hayes). 

Gateway High School Pops Ensemble (click to enlarge). Rick Kurtz standing in second row, holding guitar - Photo courtesy of Kenton Adler

I tracked down a few members of the group who filled me in a bit on the recording.

"I don't know if you would call me the lead singer on that record," said Kenton Adler. " I sang the opening verse, and the harmony parts. I'm pretty sure it's me on 'As we wind on down the road...'. Marianne Ledder was one of the flutes."

"Everybody was all for including the song on the album," said Marianne Ledder Sellers. "I think Gene [Matsuura] just gave it to us, and we were cool with it. He did all of the arranging. I think it took more than one take to record the song."

"Gene Matsuura did a really cool arrangement on that record," said Adler. "I think Robyn Smith was the other flute, along with Marianne. The electric guitars were Rick Kurtz and Dennis Guin. Rick went on to a music career in Nashville." (Side note: Rick Kurtz was a guitarist with Delbert McClinton, T. Graham Brown, Webb Wilder and others).

 "I don't have a great memory of the Pops Ensemble," said Rick Kurtz. "I think Kenton has a better recollection, than me. All I remember is that it was the only class I enjoyed, and one of the only I took, as I had quite a few credits from attending Australian schools, for a few years, previous to Denver."

Other members included Dave Dawes, Brad Westhoff, Sarah Maruyama, Kim White, Lud Villani, Calvin Erbert, and Mike Collins.

"A guy named Dan Daniels was the recording engineer," said Adler. "He brought portable equipment, and microphones, and we did it in the choir room at Gateway, in one day. He had a studio near Hinkley High School, in an industrial complex."

Monday, November 1, 2021


Here's a genre head scratcher.

"Rhinestone rock, featuring an expressive disco-influenced female vocalist, invoking powerful visions of a 70s couple under mirrored balls, in downtown velvet sofa nightclubs, decorated with day glow zodiac wall paintings. Mystic sideshow under tones of occult and science fiction." - Subliminal Sounds

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Listen to "The Rings of Saturn"

Saturn is singer Flavia Williams and a backing band - Peter Anthony, Perry Sheafor, Bard Hoff (Street School, and later of Kinesis), and later-Zephyr percussionist, Ken Lark (Heartbeat). Recorded Radiant Star, in Loveland. The LP comes with a nine-page lyric booklet.

The six-song album also included an invitation to the group's LP 1978 release party, in Fort Collins (including a talk on the record engineering process, by Radiant's Bruce Brunson). The invitation also noted that attendees would have an opportunity to purchase a "special limited edition, signed album."

Flavia Williams passed away March 23, 2017.  According to her obituary, Flavia Williams-Florezell was born in 1955. She graduated from Colorado State University, with a degree in theatre.  The tribute noted that she was closely associated with director Peter Anthony.

She would go on to appearing in a number of Fort Collins and Denver theatre productions. Her last performance was in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Wonder of the World at the Bas Bleu Theatre, in Fort Collins.

In 2020 the LP was re-released by Subliminal Sounds, in Sweden.