Friday, December 8, 2017

Willie Nelson, Durango-style

Most of you know I spent a good chunk of my life in Austin, TX, before moving back to Colorado, in 2015. While in the Lone Star State, I filled my ears with Robert Earl Keen, Slaid Cleaves, James McMurtry, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Bob Schneider, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, etc... I won't lie, I do miss being around that wealth of music (and good Mexican food). 

Of course, you can't call yourself a true resident of A-Town without genuflecting to one musical name in particular, Willie Nelson. In Austin, the man walks on Town Lake. A street is named after him, a statue has been erected, and no doubt, when he passes, the city will lower flags at half staff. 

So, imagine my shock when I discovered a Colorado-related Willie Nelson LP. An album so bizarre, you'd swear it was made aboard his beloved bus, while enjoying the braided one's favorite ground herb. I literally have no clue how the idea for this recording was even conceived.  

Released on the Soundmark label, out of Denver, Willie Nelson Family Album is credited as coming from the brain matter of The Sandpiper Agency, out of Durango. Willie Nelson voices a portion of the disc, with a biographical account of his life and career - through spoken word and song.

The album starts off with an intro from an unknown narrator, which segues into the same intro heard on his 1971 album, Yesterday's Wine - give a listen.

Side One:
Let Me Be a Man
Family Bible
Summer of Roses
Hello Walls
Crazy
Funny How Time Slips Away

Side Two:
I've Got a Wonderful Future Behind Me
Stay Away from Lonely Places
Remember the Good Times
Me and Paul
My Own Particular Way
Pick Up The Tempo
Heaven and Hell
December Day
Yesterday's Wine

Adding to the mystery is the large NOT FOR SALE - FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY across the back cover. So how many of these albums were pressed, and who received them? A quick Google search finds nada on "The Sandpiper Agency" of Durango, so that was a dead end.

The liner notes on the back offer absolutely no explanation:

This album is designed to guide the listener through the Willie Nelson Family Album in Willie's own words and music. The album is presented in four segments: Willie's early life in Texas, his first years in Nashville as a songwriter, the later years in Music City USA,  when his music and singing first became popular and his decision to move back to Texas, with a whole new sound.

As Patsy might say, "Crazy."



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lights, Camera, Action, Canon City: Blood on the Mountain

Hey all!
Yes, I'm still here.
So sorry I haven't been a very good blogger, over the past year (and a half). Got wrapped up in collecting and amassing CO vinyl, and have shirked the blog, in the process.

I can't guarantee I will be a regular poster, but darn it, I will try (grin).


I figure since I have been MIA, as of late, now would be a good time to post this recent find (as in I just found today), the soundtrack to the 1974 Canon City-filmed movie, Blood on the Mountain, and its soundtrack, performed entirely by the Minnesota family gospel group, the Lundstroms.

Fury explodes high above Royal Gorge in the spectacular Colorado mountains. A cop seeks revenge for his wife's death, on two fugitives who run for their lives. 

Oooohhhh, are you at the edge of your seat?

Blood on the Mountain was based around Canon City and the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Shooting began in the late summer of 1973. The movie was originally titled  “The Hawk,” and took about five weeks to complete. In addition to shooting in various locations around town, and employing locals as background extras, Blood on the Mountain would also call for Canon City’s police to help out with the film’s chase scenes. The production of Blood on the Mountain reportedly cost $110,000  to make.

The film’s world premiere was held in Des Moines, Iowa (home of Mark IV productions), at the Hoyt Sherman Auditorium on April 25 1974.


So, what about the soundtrack? Lowell Lundstrom, who headed up the prolific Christian family group, the Lundstroms,  had a long relationship with the producers of this flick (Mark IV), and was hired to compose and perform Blood on the Mountain’s theme song A Fugitive from God.”

The LP appears on the prolific religious label, Canaan, out of Waco, TX (CAS-9756).

The movie features actors Stracker Edwards, Tim Jones, Paula Preston, Cliff Turknett, and Rick Jury - yeah, the cast didn't ring a bell with me, but a quick search on IMDB revealed that Stracker apparently was a one-and-done actor, after this movie. Paula Preston had roles in three other movies, including the John Denver 1986 holiday flick, Christmas Gift. Tim Jones had a bit part in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

The star power came from Richard Jury, who appeared on I Love Lucy, My Three Sons, and Gunsmoke, and several other classic TV shows, as well as the movies Conagher, and One on One.

Monday, April 11, 2016

I'm still here!

Sorry for the lack of posts. I've spent the last few months on the radio show, which was great, but I've decided not to renew my involvement in the project.  The show was pretty time consuming, but what sealed the deal was the fact that the "on demand" ability to listen to the program was no longer available for listeners - so if you didn't listen to the show live, you were out of luck hearing it at all!

To be honest, I'm very quickly running out of records which meet this blog's criteria for "south of Highway 50." I knew, that after seven years posting, it was bound to happen.  Will keep this page open as an archive, and post when I find records which fit the bill.

That said, I'm back to posting on my other blog - North of Pueblo.

Thanks for the readership and support!  --Lisa

Thursday, October 8, 2015

New radio show!!




 Hey blog readers!

I'm thrilled to announce that the North of Pueblo blog is now a weekly radio show, heard on KCMJ in Colorado Springs, Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. (MT), and replayed Sundays at 9:00 p.m. (MT), via Tunein radio, and soon on the local airwaves on 93.9 FM.  Archived shows will be available on Soundcloud.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Mesa Verde Story


Lots of great memories going to Mesa Verde National Park, as I'm sure everyone does. However, I never climbed the Balcony House ladder, nor do I recollect seeing Esther the mummy - not sure how I missed that experience. Guess it's time to go back for a visit.

Eva-Tone red flexi on "The Mesa Verde Story."  Runoff shows 61071AXT, so guessing this is a 1971 recording. No indication who is voicing "Ranger Bill," or who is providing the Native American chants in the background. Cool little souvenir.



Saturday, August 1, 2015

White Pine



 Country honky tonk duo out of Pueblo.
1980 single on a vanity label.
Not much info on this, minus what's on the sleeve.
Recorded and mixed at Applewood Studios in Denver.
"J&S Christie" and Steve Klock listed as songwriters.
Maybe someone can offer some additional info.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Eric Karlstrom



Not sure where I found this endearing folk disc. It's been in my stash for a long time, so I assumed I did some research on it awhile back, or made a note that it had SoCo regional roots (it was stamped with a Pueblo address on the label), but I since lost those notes.

Back to square one.

So thanks again to the Internet Gods I tracked down Eric, who lives in Crestone, near the Great Sand Dunes National Park, about an hour north of Alamosa.  Come to find out, the record is actually out of Arizona, but since he is still an active performer in the SoCo region, I thought I would give his record a shout-out.

I'll let him share the details.

"I wrote those two songs my senior year of high school, this would have been 1967. 'A Red Flower' is something I wrote after reading the book, The Little Prince, in high school."



'The Race to Knowhere' kind of grew out of my readings on existentialism in high school - also perhaps the general mood of the country back then - this would have been 1967 - and the fact that both my parents were pretty high-powered academics. At the time, I kind of dreaded jumping into the rat race, but did anyway, of course.  I got a M.A. and Ph.D., and became a university geography professor, but kept doing music throughout, of course.

LEM (the name of the label) stands for Lunar Excursion Module, the vehicle that the astronauts were going to use on the moon landing.  My father was one of the geologists who trained the astronauts for the moon expeditions back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  He funded the 300 copies that were pressed.  Calling it LEM Records was his idea.

One of my high school friends' father suggested that I record the song at the local KAFF radio, in Flagstaff.  I played harmony guitar and sang, and another high school friend, Richard Cavanaugh played lead guitar, and Dennis Olesniwich played tambourine.  Before we pressed the tape into vinyl the guy at the record company suggested it needed a bass. So my father paid a local bass player $20 to dub the bass part.

A high school buddy, Dave Fronske, was so taken by the sentiment of 'The Red Flower,' that he personally distributed it to all of the juke boxes in the local restaurants in Flagstaff. The radio DJs in Flagstaff also played it a lot - so I had my 15 minutes of fame pretty early in my career."

Check out his website.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Little Louie Gonzales



Collector friend of mine in south Denver found this Pueblo record - of which I am eternally grateful. Kid singer, with some pretty impressive chops, singing the gospel.

Getting a Donny Osmond, Tony DiFranco vibe.

Louie Gonzales is the eldest son of the Rev. and Mrs. Manuel Gonzales.  Dad was a preacher at the 1st Spanish Christian Church of God in Christ, located on Beech Street on the east side of town.  A quick search found that he was still active until about five years ago, then the trail got cold. The bio on the back of the LP notes that Little Louie was born in 1967, so best guess is this probably came out in 1975-1977, thereabouts.


Other players on the record are Joan Peterson on piano, drummer Steve Adams, Bob Vigil on bass, lead and rhythm guitar, and Philip Abeyta on trumpet.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Gypsy Hale





Found this single shortly after I posted the previous blog entry on Carol Rose, so it's back to Grand Junction this month.

As noted in the previous story, a bio on Carol Rose mentioned that she owned the Misty record label.  This record was put out the same year as her debut LP.  No clue who the band members are on this,  if Gypsy Hale is the name of the band, the female vocalist, or if Carol Rose is, in fact, Gypsy Hale.  I'm sure someone can fill me in.  The only other names on here are producers Frank Chamberlain and Don Jones. Sorry for the quality of this sample. Sounds muddy to me, but I guess that's how Frank and Don mixed it.


Sample of Sleepy Lovin Summer Sunday Sunrise
Misty 784 (1978)

Flipside is a country instrumental, "Black Mountain Boogie."

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Virginia Unrein

  NOTE:  DivShare has been acting up (again) and a good chunk of my audio has disappeared.  Sorry if you have tried to listen to the samples and instead hear the the sound of silence. Going through the monstrous task of moving over all of the DivShare audio on here to my own hosting and embedding my own player.

I'm a sucker for the whole song-poem genre. For those unfamiliar, the concept was this: Write a song (or poem), then pay a company to take your composition, set it to music, back it with studio singers and a band and viola, you have a record! Check out the outstanding American Song-Poem Music Archives site.

Take for example Virginia Unrein of Montrose, and her ode to her nautical love, Sailor Joe.



No idea on when this was recorded, or who the studio singer is.  Virginia's song appears to be part of an EP with three other folks who handed over a few hundred bucks to the prolific Halmark label.

Virginia left this world in 2013. Her obituary mentions that she "successfully wrote and published several of her own songs on CD."

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Carol Rose

Going back to 1978 for this vanity release from Grand Junction's own Carol Rose.


Hi...I'm Carol Rose (Misty Records MSA-78-127) was recorded at Real to Reel Studios in town, and published by Mountain West Music. Studio players include Bobby T (just Bobby T) and Bob Mueller on guitar, Stormy Lee on drums, John Velarde on violin, and Jim O'Connor on bass. Jim also produces the album, and pens the lead off cut, "Tears of a Broken Lady."



In 2008 Carol Rose was inducted in the Seattle Western Music Society’s Hall of Fame as a pioneer in western swing. Her bio notes that she was born in 1943, in Oak Creek, Colorado. "After spending several years performing in the state, she moved to Vegas and did the nightclub/casino circuit." Bio also shows that she actually owned the Misty label, and that she has a total of three LPs. 

In 2013 the local Grand Junction paper had a mention of a concert she gave, featuring Big Band music.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Imogene (Gene) Bloomfield



 I first ran across the name Gene Bloomfield on the 1983 Ace Ball album, Ace Ball Sings Gene Bloomfield And Some Of His Own. You can read all about Ace's Pueblo years here.



 Not much is known about Imogene Eleanor BloomfieldFound out she was born in 1914, and the 1940 census shows she lived in Illinois with her husband, Leo (who passed away in 1972).

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, in 1949 she penned "Forever and a Day" with song-a-minute guy David Hall of Nordyke Publishing, the big song poem racket out of Los Angeles.

Somewhere along the way the Bloomfields made it to Pueblo, where she continued to write songs, eventually partnering with Ball.  At the age of 71 she recorded what is believed to be her only solo record, the endearing "My Letter of Prayer." Found this demo via my buddy Joel Scherzer.



She left this world in 1992 and is buried, next to Leo, at the Imperial Cemetery, off the Beulah Highway. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Monty Baker and the Trolls, in pictures.


(NOTE: Pictures are watermarked)


The Trolls
Doug Rymerson, Fred Brescher, Monty Baker, 
Phil Head, and Richard Gonzales
Pueblo, Colorado
September, 1965

As I mentioned in the last post, Monty Baker and his family gave his collection of Trolls, New World Blues Dictionary, and Jade memorabilia to me, to keep his memory alive. I truly didn't know where to start, as I have been entrusted with pictures, videos, and reel-to-reels of never-before-seen pieces of Southern Colorado music history. The gift is truly overwhelming.

Unfortunately when I met with Monty, shortly before he passed away, he couldn't recollect much about these images.  He remembered that they were shot in and around Pueblo, in the summer and fall 1965, but that's it.





Monty thought the first picture might have been taken at a school dance. The Trolls were regulars at the Pueblo nightclubs The Honeybucket, The Columbine, and Jerry's. He thought the other two pictures originated from one of those locales.






 Monty Baker, Fred Brescher, Phil Head, 
Richard Gonzales, and Doug Rymerson

Photos above were taken during a photo shoot for a gig poster (below).


As noted in the 2011 profile piece, Monty recollected the photo shoot for the band's one and only picture sleeve for "I Don't Recall"/ "Stupid Girl":

“Freddie wasn’t in the picture. Two nights before we took that shot, he touched his amp with one hand, while he played the organ with the other, resulting in a violent jerk of his arms, collapsing his lungs, and he ended up in the hospital."


Alternative picture sleeve photo for "I Don't Recall" / "Stupid Girl."

The above photo was deemed "too serious" for the picture sleeve, so the group (minus Fred) headed over to Mineral Palace Park, for a more lighthearted shoot.


"Our manager, Tony Spicola took that picture (of the sleeve)," Baker said, in 2011. "He wanted us eating ice cream. When he took the shot, Phil’s ice cream came out of his cone.”


Below is an "after the fall" shot (note ice cream residue on table and both Richard's and Doug's ice cream has been consumed).


My sincerest thanks to Monty and his family. Stay tuned to the blog for more posts from the Monty Baker archives.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Monty Baker (1944-2014)



It is with great sadness that I report that Monty Baker, the bassist for the Minnesota-based band The Radiants, and the Pueblo-based bands The Trolls and Jade, along with the Colorado Springs-based New World Blues Dictionary, passed away on Nov. 19, 2014, after a long illness.

I had regularly kept in touch with Monty over the past few years, documenting his time in these bands for a 2011 story. He was immensely supportive of this blog, and the effort to call attention to the history and wealth of music which came out of Southern Colorado.

I was honored to visit with him at his home in Northern Iowa, just three weeks before his passing.

We talked about his band memories, and shared a few laughs and tears. Before I left, he gave me a present - a large bag of memorabilia from his band days, items his family is entrusting with me to preserve and use to further memorialize him, and his music. I will be posting some of these pictures, reel-to-reel audio clips from concerts and studio recordings, and Super 8 movies, along with the stories he shared on our last visit, here.

Monty, thank you for the music.


The author and Monty Baker
Oct. 26, 2014 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Clyde Casebier and His Arkansas Valley Boys



Clyde Casebier and His Arkansas Valley Boys

Clyde Casebier - lead guitar
Lloyd Swan - accordion and piano
Willie Wheeler - steel guitar
Tommy Drake - double bass
Frog" Gentry - rhythm guitar (1914-1986)
Vocals: Coy Palmer and Gene Dunn

Formed sometime in the early 1940s, Clyde and his band started out in Wichita Kansas (sometimes billed as the Ark Valley Boys), before moving to Pueblo.

"My grandfather heard Spade Cooley and his band play, and decided that after he was out of the U.S. Navy, that he would have his own band. He based his sound on Spade Cooley and Bob Wills," said Lori Giebel.

Establishing themselves in the area, they became so popular that they opened the Arkansas Valley Barn to play their music, which was regular packed with adoring fans. A regular on KGHF in Pueblo, Clyde also had his own all-request program, where he and the band performed live, on the air.

"He went on to be the leader of a band in Phoenix and had a radio show as The Money Men," Giebel said. "The band also included his oldest daughter Jeannine on violin. He continued his band throughout the years and included his other two daughters, Janet on violin, and Joyce on bass.  Our home always included our jam sessions, as grandpa taught me, I was on guitar, and my little sister, Sheri on drums and bass. Later on, he taught my oldest daughter, Jennifer to play guitar."

In a 1949 issue of Railroad Journal, I found an advertisement for Clyde and the boys:

DONAHUE'S COSMOPOLITAN CLUB — DANCING EVERY NIGHT
Music By Clyde Casebier's Arkansas Valley Boys
Your Favorite Drinks and Beer 
315 Bay State Ave.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tony Martinez


 
"Asta El Ultimore Rayo" - Tony Martinez
Musica Del Corazon (1983)

I've had this Trinidad single for quite a few years, but haven't been able to find anything on it.  In an effort to clear out some of these neglected discs in my collection, I thought I would post it on here.

Nice Hispanic single by Tony Martinez.  Lots of guesses on this one.  Internet doesn't really help much.  Band members are noted on the label, so that fills in a few holes. Found out that drummer Felipe "Dunnie" Orlando Romero, Sr. passed away in 2013. Bassist Henry "Hank" Vargas was later in the Rocky Ford-based group Chickens of Depression.

Recorded at Steel City studios in Pueblo.

I'm pretty darn sure that the Tony Martinez on this record, is the same who appears on the Flintstone Brothers single "Hungry Hungry Hungry," recorded at Norman Petty studios (note the name "Dunnie" on the label), as well as the Shag label single, also noted below. If anyone has any additional information, or can provide audio of these two records, drop me a line.





Monday, September 1, 2014

OMI Express


Interview with Ron Ueckert conducted March 2014.

Band members:
Jim Lamb - guitar and vocals
Ron Ueckert - bass and vocals
Sam Hendricks - keyboards and vocals
Dave "Duke" Arnold - drums

In 1976 guitarist Jim Lamb, and his longtime friend, drummer Dave "Duke" Arnold, were looking for a couple of other players to be in the club band at Jim's bar, The Old Miners Inn, in Creede. The duo recruited mutual friend and former Tennessee Hat Band and Tumbleweed keyboardist Sam Hendricks, and another local player, bassist Ron Ueckert.

They called themselves OMI Express.

After several years together, playing covers and some original songs, the band thought it was time to record an album.

 "A friend of ours, Bob Roberts, was working at the University of Texas, at their new recording studios," Ueckert said.  "He invited us to come to Austin, for a trial run on the new equipment. It was during the Christmas break on the campus, so nobody was around when we recorded."

Recorded in 1983, the session featured original songs, penned by Ueckert ("Don't Know Do You"), Hendricks ("Time"), and Lamb ("Rock & Roll" and "Can't Change the Rules").


As the band's live audiences back home favored the OMI Express flavor on cover songs, the band decided to add a couple, as well ("I Got a Line On You," and "Magic Carpet Ride").


The round trip, made in the band's Ford van, became the inspiration for the LP's title.

"Not only did we have several flats getting there and back, we also ran through a stop sign, because the brakes went out," Ueckert said.  "It ended up costing us about $1100 to repair everything. We had no brakes."

Returning to Creede, the band continued to play for several years until the original foursome lost two of its members, Sam Hendricks, and founder Jim Lamb.

"Sam left to go back to Austin to get his doctorate in chemical engineering, and Jim took a job playing with David Allan Coe."

Jimmy Lamb died in Alamosa, in 1989. He was only 40 years old.

Ueckert re-formed OMI Express with Arnold, recording and releasing a cassette, Still the Boss.

"It was our tribute to Jimmy," Ueckert said.

A 1994 story in the Pueblo Chieftain noted a Lamb Jam Community Benefit Concert, including Tom Dessain, Bruised Bones, Laffing Buddha, The Feggarri Bros., Zoomin' Noomin', Tumbleweed and the OMI Express. Proceeds went to the Jimmy Lamb Memorial Fund which is given by the Creede Elks as a scholarship for a Creede High School senior. 

David “Duke” Arnold went on to play drums in the Gunnison bands Blue Moon, Hwy 149, and Sneakers. He passed away in 2008. That same year Ron Ueckert held a benefit concert for him at the Old Miners Inn, in Creede.  Accompanying him were drummer George Egbert, saxophonist Rich Gallegos and guitarist Rob "Robear" Bosdorf.

Sam Hendricks stayed in Austin, and is currently the keyboardist for Flounders without Eyes.

Ron Ueckert has a carpentry business in South Fork, CO. He still occasionally plays around town.




Friday, August 1, 2014

Richy C and the Casanovas



This one is a head-scratcher.  First off, the label says 1979, but it sounds like it was cut 20 years earlier.  Cover of the 1961 Gene Thomas hit "Sometimes."

Flip side is a standard Hispanic ballad ("A Medias De La Noche").

Was told this was a Pueblo-based group, on an Albuquerque label (Alta Vista 1148), but can't find anything on them, so I will throw this out there, and hope someone can offer up some info.  Thanks in advance.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Five years ago this month....


It all started with this record.


I was an avid record collector, who had a fascination with vinyl originating from the Southern Colorado region, and specifically my hometown, Pueblo. I certainly didn’t need another genre to collect, but something drew me to the homemade, heartfelt recordings made by those singers who never became national stars, never earned gold records, and were so obscure they didn’t warrant a mention on an Internet search engine.

The Pueblo City Limits blog has been more than an archival project for me. For the past five years it has been a labor of pure love – love for my hometown and the region. I hope, by telling the stories of these unsung performers, and hearing their music, readers collect not only a sense of pride for the area, but garner an appreciation for the pure heart and soul of these recordings.

If you haven’t searched through the five years of stories, I encourage you to dive into the pages of this blog (the story about the record above can be found here). There are still many more stories to tell, and I can’t wait to share them all with you. Thank you for your readership and support these past five years.

Special thanks to Joel Scherzer, who five years ago helped me get the turntable spinning with this project.   --Lisa

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Ghost Town Echo



Band members:
Hal Langer - banjo
Dorrie Langer - bass guitar
Nancy Langer - drums
Kay ?? - fiddle
Jim Starr - guitar
Dan Bright (passed away, 2006)

Nice bluegrass and square dancing singles out of Grand Junction. After the band dissolved, Dan Bright went on to form The Ghostriders Square Dance Band (still active), based out of California.

Releases (all 1977) 
Ghost Town label
Boot Hill Boogie / Ghost Town Boogie- GT1
Jesse James (called by Dave Kenney--passed way, 2013) - GT2
Ashes / Jenifer's Jig - GT3

Sets in Order
July 1977

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Job Timothy Vigil



 Job Vigil interviewed February 2014

Job (pronounced Jobe) Vigil’s life story could be a screenplay—personal struggle, hardship, perseverance, redemption, triumph, and concluded with a happy ending.

Born and raised in Pueblo, his interest in music started at a young age. “I started piano lessons before I was 5 years old,” he said. “I took 15 years of classical piano and 12 years of classical violin.”

After graduating from Pueblo East High in 1969, he was offered a full ride music scholarship to Adams State College, Alamosa, where he became a concertmaster for the school’s orchestra his freshman year.

Then he lost it all.

“I became involved with drugs and alcohol and at the end of the spring semester I lost my scholarship and dropped out.”

After floundering back home in Pueblo, unsure of his next move, Vigil got in his car and went to Denver to stay with a cousin. “He took me to a nightclub on the eastside of town, to see band a called Offspring [which featured Marc Gonzales, and another cousin, Charlie Vigil, formerly of Genesis]. As we walked in the door I heard the band playing "With A Little Help from My Friends" and I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be a performer.”

He was asked to join the group—as the band’s bus driver.

“After a while I moved back to Pueblo. I then got a call from my cousin Charlie. He wanted me to join a band.” The band was Kismet, which had a regular gig at the Foothills Ramada Inn, as well as Taylor’s Supper Club, in Denver."

It was around this time Vigil started writing songs. While admittedly he said he was naïve about the process, it allowed him to get his feelings on paper. In 1975, after finishing several heartfelt compositions, he decided to take them into the recording studio.


Side One:
Blueberry Candles and Cactus Plants
Gail's Song
I'm Coming Home to You
No Promises

Side Two:
Workin' My Man's Hands
Come Stay With Me
My Best Friend
A Little Piece of Love

Enlisting the financial help of his parents, and including his sister Elizabeth (background vocals), Marc Gonzales (bass), drummer Phil Tamez, and guitarist Dave Kintzele, Vigil booked studio time at Viking Recording in Denver.

Feeling positive about the finished product, and with the encouragement of family and friends, he had an estimated 200 copies of Blueberry Candles and Cactus Plants pressed. While the record received no local airplay, and would go on to sell only a handful, the experience only fueled his desire to get his music heard by a larger audience.



“A friend connected me with a songwriter friend of his who was living in Hollywood. He agreed to share his one-room apartment with me. Both of us went out every day knocking on doors to try to get our music out in front of anyone who would listen. Mostly, they wouldn't even let us get in the door.”

After countless rejections, Vigil found a willing and encouraging ear. “After she listened to bits and pieces of a few of those songs, she said, ‘Do you have anything else?’ I pulled out a couple of songs and one of them caught her attention. She liked it, but said it needed more work. She told me to work on it and come back when I felt I had it improved enough.”

But the money started to run out.

“A moment that is forever etched in my memory was the turning point for me. While going from door-to-door, trying to sell my music, I would bump into the many street people in downtown Hollywood. There was the bag lady, the guy with the shopping cart full of his life, and at night there were the drug addicts and so on. My roommate had connected with the owner of a restaurant just a block off the corner of Hollywood and Vine. He would sometimes let us wash dishes in exchange for a meal.”

After witnessing the hardship of life in Hollywood, he dug out the open-ended return air ticket he had kept, and flew home.

Not deterred by the experience, he continued to perform, eventually re-connecting with Marc Gonzales, in the band Cheeks. The two kept the band going for about three years. Vigil and his wife, Gail, then packed up and moved to Dallas where he found work in area nightclubs. With the steady paycheck, and additional work as a nightclub manager, it appeared he finally found some stability in his life.

"My following at the North Park Inn grew quickly and I added a happy hour gig at another bar. One night a regular customer told me he really liked my original music and thought I should record. I said I would love to, but didn't have the funds to do so. He was pretty wealthy and said he would invest the money for a single and then we would see what would come of it. By then I was also the manager of the North Park Inn nightclub, as well as the other gigs. I decided on the two songs and flew Marc Gonzales down to play bass and used a drummer from my trio from the bar. Another group of musicians had become friends of mine and I loved their vocals, so they agreed to sing backup for me on the recording. We did the session all in one day and I had about 250 records were pressed."



"I either sold all of them or gave them away. I didn't get any airplay that I know of, but it was a great experience. The recording studio was an amazing place, the name of it slips my mind, but all in all I liked the final product. These two songs were a little better than the songs on my first album, but still not strong enough to boost my career.
Vigil also found work acting in TV commercials and local training films.  "I did very well in Dallas, he said.”

But that was about to end.  “My wife and I were on the verge of a divorce. So we moved back to Denver. I joined a band, but my heart was not in it. My marriage was falling apart because of all of the time I spent on the road.”

As if fate would have it, his cousin Charlie contacted him. “He had become a Christian and was playing in a church band. My wife and I went to see him one night, and we liked it so much we kept going.” Vigil was so moved by the experience he knew he found his calling – as a Christian musician.

“I eventually traveled the country with my family, performing Christian music. During our final road trip, in 1992, I was hired as a worship pastor at a church in North Platte.”

Finally feeling like he had found his true calling. He started his own church, and became its pastor. The bubble burst when the board of the church he founded discharged him. “My wife and I did not want to leave North Platte for our children's sake. We had just opened a coffee house at that time and since it wasn't making enough money to support us, the publisher of the North Platte Telegraph, where I had done some stringer work, offered me a full-time sportswriter position. I became the sports editor and then was promoted to managing editor.”

Married 36 years in May, he and his wife also run two coffee shops in town (Da Buzz). He continues to perform music in a three-piece band, Job, Peter and Chuck.

“We play 60s and 70s music and have been selected as the area's favorite band for 6 years running.”

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tom Withrow

Hard to believe, after several years of doing this blog, that I find yet another Pueblo record I never knew existed. Outstanding, homey country, with folk overtones, and lots of harmonica.

This needs to see the light of day, and it needs to be heard.


The Farmer and the Bumble Bee
Royal Gorge Record Company
2006 Hollywood Drive, Pueblo
ZTSC 68171
No year
 
My dear friend, and Pueblo-based record dealer, Joel Scherzer tells me that several years ago a friend of his found a copy of this record, and went to the address listed on the single, to get more information. The friend apparently talked to Mr. Withrow back then, who told him the recording was possibly made in the late 1950s.

Unfortunately Tom Withrow is no longer with us, as he passed away in 2001. His wife left us in 2004, and his son, in 2008. Was able to find an obituary in the Chieftain:

"Loyd Thomas 'Tom' Withrow, born Nov. 8, 1920, in Miller, Mo., passed away Oct. 9, 2001. Loyd was the son of John Thomas "Tom" Withrow and Martha Matilda (McVey) Withrow. He was a communications specialist for three years during WWII where he proudly served his country in the Philippines with honors. Tom worked as a telephone lineman upon his discharge from the service. He later became an electrician and worked in this occupation for 45 years at the time of his retirement. He was a member of Local Union No. 12 of the IBEW and would have had 60 years of membership in January. He was very proud to have worked in his chosen profession."





Saturday, March 1, 2014

Bala-Sinem Choir



Organized by Mark Romancito, a Fort Lewis College student from the Pueblo of Zuni, the Bala-Sinem Choir serves as the campus Native American choral group. Bala-Sinem is the Hopi word for red people.

Each Fort Lewis College student member makes a contribution of traditional music from their tribes.  The group, which celebrates its 44th year in 2014, performs for social and ceremonial functions throughout the year.

Located two LPs recorded by the group - American Indian Songs and Chants (1973 – Canyon 6110), and the pictured at the top Walk in Beauty My Children (1976 – Canyon 6149).


Also found this 45 single EP, on the San Juan Silver record label.  There is no date on the recording. The name Leroy Watts appears on the record runoff (and is listed songwriter of the four cuts). A quick Internet search finds that Leroy Watts was a local cowboy poet, who also held a trademark on the name San Juan Silver jewelry (1976). He passed away in 2011. Record is narrated by local disc jockey Doug Benton.



Side One:  The Sleeping Ute / Las Animas
Side Two:  The Sand Painter / The Anasazi