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
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.
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.
Blueberry Candles and Cactus Plants
I'm Coming Home to You
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.
Listen to a sample of "A Little Piece of Love"
Listen to a sample of "No Promises"
“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.
“I also signed a contract with an acting agent and I did some commercials and industry film work, including training films. I did very well in Dallas.”
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.”
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.
Train Whistle Blues
The Farmer and the Bumble Bee
Royal Gorge Record Company
2006 Hollywood Drive, Pueblo
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:
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
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.
It is with great sadness that I report Paul Romero passed away Oct. 27, 2013.
Many of you remember this May 1, 2013 story. At the time I had very little information on this important Pueblo singer and his contribution to Southern Colorado music history.
Thankfully his son David contacted me recently, of which I am immensely grateful. I thank him for allowing me to tell his father's story.
"Music has been a part of my father's life since he was a young boy," he said. "At a very young age his mother began his musical training so he could help out in the church--so he learned how to play the piano, guitar, bass, and saxophone."
Paul Romero, sister Gloria, and mother Ann
In 1959 Paul and his family formed the Romero Gospel Trio, featuring mother Ann and his sister Gloria. The group even recorded a single, featuring young Paul on piano.
But for the Centennial High teenager, the Pentecostal church couldn't contain his appreciation for rock and roll.
Pueblo Centennial High School graduation photo
"As you can imagine my grandmother and grandfather weren't thrilled with the idea of my father recording secular music, but it was his dream, so they ultimately relented and supported him."
With his family's encouragement, Paul started to write songs. A fan of both Fats Domino and Ray Charles, he found inspiration in their melodies, and with the recent break-up with his high school sweetheart, he had the perfect subject matter for his first single.
Recorded in 1962, "Sit and Cry" and the flip "First Day of Spring," features the backing of the popular Pueblo band, the Rudy Guiterrez Orchestra.
Unfortunately details are unknown about the recording session, where it occurred, or how many of the singles were pressed. The single received extensive airplay on local radio, a mention in Billboard, and the attention of at least one major record label.
"He was heavily courted by Ritchie Valens' recording label, Delphi Records, post Ritchie's death," said Romero. "They were looking for the next young, Latin pop-star to replace Ritchie. From what I remember, Aspen records were in contractual buy-out talks with Delphi, but the negotiations ultimately fizzled due to Aspen's high financial demands. My father was handcuffed legally, and couldn't continue any further talks with Delphi."
Original acetate of "Sit and Cry"
In spite of the setback, Paul continued to perform, partnering again with the Rudy Guiterrez Orchestra on some of the band's recordings.
Rudy Guiterrez Orchestra
Paul Romero second from right
"Coqueta" featuring vocals by Paul Romero
On Feb. 2, 1963 he married his high school sweetheart Betty (the object of his affection on "Sit and Cry").
“Music, as is the case with many performers, was
a blessing and a challenge at times," said Romero. “The lifestyle that comes
along with being a professional musician isn't always financially or
spiritually conducive to keeping a strong and consistent home life. With that,
he ultimately chose to set music to the periphery and concentrate his efforts
on sustaining his marriage, and raising their
In 1972 the Romero family left Pueblo, and moved
to Denver. Four years later they left Colorado for Southern California.
“Although he did move into starting his own
painting contracting business, music never left my father. From that point, he
concentrated his talents back to gospel music and became the musical director
in a few churches, as well as performing with Latin gospel groups like The
In 1998 Paul Romero developed Parkinson’s
disease. His symptoms ultimately left him unable to sing or play music. In 2005 he and Betty moved to
Austin, TX to be near their grown children.
“We held memorial services for him here in Austin, the beginning of November, where my nieces, nephew, my Aunt Gloria Romero Vigil,
and I all performed music in tribute to him. It was a very emotional day, but
one he would have been proud of."
Paul Romero is survived by his wife of 51 years, Betty
Gettler Romero (Central ‘60), as well as sons Paul Romero III, David Romero, daughters
Natalie Romero Fish, and Isabel Romero Logsdon, and six grandchildren.
David Romero is currently digitizing his father’s
later gospel recordings, and plans to make them available online.
“My father's musical reputation continued to be
strong through the decades, and I was always proud of how many people knew,
respected and loved my father.”
I have found numerous hobby records about favorite pastimes, but this ditty from Trinidad, on the joys of bowling, is a first.
Once again, this one is a mystery. One can assume that the label Val-Bac is the amalgamated name for the song's composer, Ted Vallejo and the singer, Fred Baca. Based on the label number (SK4M-2180), I thought it might be a Rite pressing from the mid to late 1960s. However there is also an RCA Pressing "H" of note.
Address for the label is 627 Arizona Avenue, which a quick Google map search shows as an apartment complex, hugging the interstate.
Unfortunately Fred Baca left us too soon. He passed away in 1980, at the age of 53. Ted Vallejo passed away in 1988.
I just realized, in all of the years I have written about Southern Colorado recordings, I have never featured anything from Alamosa. It's not for lack of trying. To be honest I never found anything, until now.
It's come to my attention that the talented band and chorale groups at Adams State College actually recorded their performances. Below are the four I have located. If anyone knows of any other vinyl offerings from the school, I would love to know.
The earliest ones I could get my hands on date back to the late 1950s and early 1960s. The a cappella choir recorded an LP of a concert tour they took part in that year. The group traveled throughout Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California, throughout the month of April.
Adams State College A Cappella Choir
Maurice H. Skones, Director
Adams State College Choir
Maurice H. Skones, Director
(Century V12258) 1961
In 1969 the group traveled to Germany and also documented the trip on vinyl.
Interview with Maria Albo conducted Aug. 18, 2013.
On Nov. 22, 1963 Phil Albo learned, along with the rest of
the nation, that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX.The news shook the Trinidad
construction worker, and part-time musician to his core, and in his grief, he
picked up his guitar, and put his thoughts on paper.
“There was a music store here in Trinidad called Gordon’s, and
he would often go there with other musicians to mess around,” said Albo’s wife,
Maria. “After he wrote his song, he went there and recorded it.”
Listen to a sample (ending) of “The Ballad of John F. Kennedy.”
“He sent that single to Jackie, Ted, and Bobby, and he
received the nicest letter from them, thanking them for the record,” she said.
Albo had been a fixture around the Trinidad music scene,
playing guitar in Freddie Baca’s band at the local bar, El Rancho.Maria thought the back-up musicians on
the single were from Freddie's group.The single doesn’t provide any additional information beyond the title,
singer and publishing information.A search on the Catalog of Copyright Entries shows the song was entered
on Dec. 27, 1963.
Maria says Phil died of leukemia a few years after that
Built on the Rock
Praise to the Lord
O Lord God
My God How Wonderful Thou Art
Inscriptions From the Catacombs
Singe We Merrily Unto God Our Stream
They That Wait Upon The Lord
Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit
The Socolo Choir was a 60-member touring group, based out of the then Southern Colorado State College, in Pueblo.
During the 1968 spring tour, the group performed at Red Rocks, for the annual Easter sunrise service, "where thousands listened." It was also the same year the group recorded its first, and only album (Century 33921), recorded at St. John's Cathedral, Denver.
Typical heavy choral, religious-themed, offerings here. However on the "negro spiritual" number, "Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit," there is a stand-out, uncredited vocalist.
Gordon H. Carlson is listed as the group's director.
I received a nice e-mail from Larry Moore, who appears on the First Commandment LP, and was once a member of the Socolo Choir, from 1967-1968.
"A lot of the members of that choir have been involved in Pueblo's music for years. Several of them became music teachers in the Pueblo schools. Dr. Gordon Carlson passed away in Denver last year," he said.
I first heard of Joey Buffalo and Sonics probably five years ago, when I started putting together the idea for this blog. Numerous Pueblo friends, and Colorado record collectors, suggested I research the group, and locate their one and only single - one that eluded them, but they assured me existed.
So fast forward to this summer. I posted on a local Pueblo Facebook site that I was looking for the record, and if anyone knew anything about this band. Lo and behold, I received a note from a former Pueblo resident, living in Denver. She had the record, and offered to give it to me!
"No Credit"/"Ladder of Happiness"
Listen to samples of both sides of single.
There is absolutely no information on the single, minus a small "RB 114 / RB 115" on the bottom of each side ("Ladder of Happiness" appears to be the A-side).
The generous gift-giver admitted that she received the record at a local nightclub, but couldn't give me any other information on the single. "They were passing them out the same night I got
my Guys and Doll record, so up until that time I had never heard of them, except that they were a Pueblo group," she said.
While doing research I also managed to find out that Joey passed away in 1995. His widow, Donna Corsentino Buffalo, informed me that he graduated high school in 1965 (Pueblo County High), then joined the U.S. Air Force. After serving four years, he then went to work for the railroad. He met Donna in 1977, so she had very little knowledge about his time in the band.
A relative of Joey's told me to look up Bob Welborn, who at one time was the lead singer and drummer of Sonics, and was also in the American Beatles, a popular early 1960s, Pueblo-based, Fab Four tribute band. Unfortunately, Bob's memory of his time in both groups is very hazy. He thought, but couldn't be certain, that Sonics were made up of Fred Brescher (later of the Trolls), and a bass player, Leroy Brego, but then suggested that the same members were also in the American Beatles.
Bob admitted that he never knew that Sonics ever recorded a single - and it certainly wasn't him singing on the record I located.
To make it even more confusing, there was another Joe Buffalo in Pueblo (a cousin of Joey's), who was an accordionist for Chuck Spurlock's band.
That's all I have. I'm tapped.
If you have any additional information you can provide, let me know.
Do a search for "Jeff Valdez" and "Pueblo" in your favorite search engine, and you will find numerous stories, and background info. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel, by copying and pasting everything on here, but it's a pretty darn cool story: Poor kid from Pueblo, who found fame and fortune, etc., etc... (Wiki entry).
Valdez left Pueblo in 1974, after he graduated Central High. Somewhere between his time up in the Springs, doing stand-up comedy, and before he high-tailed it to California and became a media executive, he got together with Colorado Springs record producer Tom Gregor (who produced the Starr LP), and cut a single.
"Blown Away" is a reggae-infused, ode to ganja, co-written by Rick Kocor, who played in the Colorado Springs-based band Giving Tree, of which Valdez was a member.
On November 22, 1981, "Blown Away" was featured on the Dr. Demento Show, sandwiched inbetween "Granny Won't You Smoke Some Marijuana" by John Hartford, and Noel Coward's "Let's Do It."
The flipside of the single features a 45-second "advertisement" for the fabricated movie "Farts From Hell," and a 3 minute monologue, "Your Friendly Neighbor."
For some reason the name Margie Bortles rings a bell with me, but for the life of me I don't know how. Maybe she rings a bell with someone else out there...
I did time doing news on Pueblo's KIDN country radio, back in 1980, and it's possible that's where I know the name from. Local groups and singers would come in and drop off their singles for airplay, so who knows. My brain only holds so much information nowadays (grin).
This is the first record I've come across on a Pueblo West record label (DJM OV 22). Unfortunately the label doesn't note a year, or any other clue, on the runoff. The only other name is Bob Sordon, who is listed as the songwriter for "Mississippi Woman." Margie is accompanied by the similarly named Sordon Sound band.
Haven't a clue what DJM stands for (not to be confused with Elton John's early label, of course).
The flipside of the single is a cover of the Wanda Jackson hit, "Silver Threads and Golden Needles."
Was able to find Kama Music Publishing, in a 1973 Billboard, as a project of Larry Coryell. Whether this is the same Larry Coryell as the jazz guitarist, who knows.
The Abbey of the Holy Cross in Cañon City, founded 1924, started out as a former monastery of the Order of St. Benedict in the United States. That same year, monks opened a boarding school for boys. In 1927, the school had its first graduating class.
Boys who lived at the school took part in daily regimented activities: Up at seven, breakfast in the dining hall of the basement of the monastery building, then back to their rooms where they picked up their books and went to class. Chapel was every day before lunch, dinner at 6 p.m., study time, then lights out.
When there was time for extracurricular activities, the students enjoyed swimming, tennis, and occasional trips to downtown Cañon City, where they took in a movie, or enjoyed a soda.
In 1960, the school's glee club recorded an album, "Songs of Yale."
(note: the spelling of Cañon City)
Choral Director Mark Cumrine.
Standard issue choral offerings.
Hail, Holy Queen
O Sacrum Convivium
My Horn Shall Weigh a Willow Bough
A British Tar (Trio: Pat Bachechi, Tony Segura, Tony Cable)
Medley: Down Over The Hill, Where the Elm Tree Grows, Neath the Elms, Whiffenpoof Song, High Barbary, AJ Lucka Lucka, As Off to the South'ard We Go, Humble (Larry Didcoct), Aura Lee
Bulldog on the Bank (Rob Carricaburu, Larry Didcoct, Don McLennan and Tom Anelmi).
I've had Paul Romero's record "Sit and Cry" for years, and had tried in vain to find any information I could about this Pueblo single.
Then three years ago, I located Paul.
He was living in Texas with his wife, who had moved him into their daughter's home, so he could be cared for. She wouldn't elaborate on his condition.
Every few months I would call her back to check on him, and see if I might be able to ask him a few questions about his singing career, and his time in Pueblo. She always told me, "Not today, maybe later."
Sensing a reluctance to share his life with me, or his wife's fear that the conversation would tire him, I respected their wishes, and finally gave up.
That said, this single is too important not to share - with, or without the history behind it.
Left to right: Monty Baker, Murray Watson, Marty Spritzer,
and Cabell Shepard
Picture courtesy of Marty Spritzer and Joyce Nielsen
In the late 1960s, the Pueblo Colorado music scene was pretty much a family affair – everyone knew everyone, and when bands broke up, it didn’t take long before the former members found their way in a friend’s band. So was the case of Jade.
“I met Monty Baker back before he was in the Trolls,” said Marty Spritzer. “He was in his Minnesota band, the Radiants. We all knew each other when we played at the Honey Bucket. When he moved to Pueblo, The Chandells and the Trolls just hung out together.”
By 1966, while the Chandells were at the height of their popularity, the Trolls were headed for a break-up. Monty would take his bass and leave the Trolls, joining the Colorado Springs band, The New World Blues Dictionary. But by 1968 he was looking for another band.
And so was Marty.
There was talk of forming a super group with members from the now-defunct bands. Once all of the friends got together, things quickly took shape.
“We all knew each other socially. Monty brought in keyboardist Cabell Shepard from Dictionary, and drummer Murray Watson, who was playing in a Trinidad band, The Fuzz. Then I joined.”
Spritzer named the new band Jade.
“I was on a dragon kick, back then,” he said.
Thanks to Cabell Shepard's auto mechanic father, the band also soon had
an official touring vehicle - a 32-ft. long school bus. "His dad redid the whole thing. He put in a 396 motor, and we had Jade painted on the side."
The four members practiced at Monty’s house, where it became quickly evident to Spritzer that this wasn’t the Chandells.
“I really had no clue what kind of music we would play. So when they started playing the psych stuff, I literally had to learn it – stuff like ‘Purple Haze.’ This was 1969, so we had to keep up with the time, and follow the trend. Monty was so diverse, and I hadn’t really done much with the psychedelic sound of the time. He brought a lot of that from his time with the Dictionary.”
"Marty had a voice that would bring tears to your eyes, and a guitar that would bring joy to your heart," said Monty Baker.
The band kept a steady pace of gigs, and perfected the stage act throughout Colorado Springs, and Southern Colorado.
“Monty’s first wife made a three-foot long sequin dragon that we used to hang on stage.”
In spite of the dictated setlists, the band was able to branch out, playing originals, penned by Shepard.
“He was the songwriter of the group. He had just written a couple of songs, and we all decided we should record them. So we went over to Summit Studios in the Springs, and laid down the tracks for the single.”
The A-side of the recording, "That Was Yesterday," is a moody, soft rock, slow-dance number, which spotlights Shepard's keyboard.
Listen to a sample of "That Was Yesterday."
The psych-tinged B-side is a stark contrast from the flip, showcasing the band's diversity, and allows each member to shine.
Listen to a sample of "I'm Leaving You."
Spritzer believes only 500 copies were pressed.
As is usually the case with local bands, Jade’s members quickly realized they could only go so far, and began to splinter.
“Monty wanted to move back to Iowa. So I bought his PA system, and we tried to move on with the band.”
Spritzer brought in Jerry Suthers, who handled some of the vocals. He had kept in touch with former Teardrops guitarist, Ernie Watta, who soon became a member of the new Jade line-up (playing keyboards), along with his wife Maxine.
“Maxine made a lot of our stage clothes. I remember once she made me a whole outfit, with bell bottoms.”
Change would continue for Jade, when drummer Murray Watson left to join the band Joint Session. He was replaced by Joe Yates.
Spritzer admits that this stage of Jade was pretty much a free-for-all, and he was unable to keep the new line-up together. The band soon broke-up.
Ernie and Maxine Watta established a home base in Denver where they performed as a duo, before later moving to California. In 1983 Maxine Watta released a self-titled LP, along with the single “Real Love” (Rocshire Records 95062). The b-side, “Give Back My Love” was written by Ernie.
Jade’s one and only single has become a rarity among collectors, looking to find obscure local rock recordings. If money is an object (the single goes for up to $100, if you can find it), “I’m Leaving You” can be found on the Garage Zone LP set, and on the 2007 CD compilation, Psychedelic States: Colorado in the 60s.
Spritzer still performs, and is currently in the group One Night Stand, which includes his daughter, Karen.
“We play a variety of stuff, and I’m still writing – but playing in bars now is much different then playing in bars back then.”
Marty Spritzer and Joyce Wickizer Nielsen interviewed January-February 2013
Marty Spritzer’s contribution to the early Pueblo music
scene is legendary.As a member of
both the Chandells, and later Jade, the guitarist’s influence spans the diverse
Southern Colorado rock genres of the 1960s.
But, as with most Southern Colorado rock and roll pioneers,
his history starts with polka.
“I was raised on it.We were surrounded by it when I was growing up, and, of course, I
learned how to play the accordion.”
But the popular music of the time quickly eclipsed his
family’s expectations that he follow in Myron Floren's or Dick Contino’s
footsteps.At the age of 16, he
asked his parents for a guitar.Armed with a Sears Silvertone, which he learned to play on his own, his
musical path would be sealed when a classmate approached him.
“I was a sophomore, when Steve Crockett, who was playing
guitar in a school assembly with Del Cunningham, asked if I knew how to play my
guitar, and if I could sing.I told
him I did, and that morphed into us playing together.”
After he graduated from Pueblo South High School, in 1962,
he and Steve met up with singer Anthony Zamora, who wanted to form a band. With
the addition of drummer Ronnie Chandler, they called themselves The Chandells
(Spritzer says contrary to the similarity, it is purely coincidental that the
name of the band bears a close resemblance to Ronnie Chandler’s name).
“It’s quite possible we were playing off of Tommy James and
the Shondells, when we named the band,” he said.
(NOTE:The Chandells are not to be confused
with The Chandelles, the Portales, NM band, which recorded on the Dot label)
The group’s first performance was a gig put together by a
friend of Steve Crockett’s. The locale needed a band to entertain a group of
people, so the band jumped at the chance to play before a live audience.
“It was at the Colorado State Hospital,” said Spritzer.“We were playing for the patients.I’ll never forget playing these fast
songs, and seeing the audience really get into it.But there was this couple, which was totally oblivious to
the beat, and there they were, slow dancing to everything we played.I’ll never forget that.”
Not all of their early gigs would find such a receptive
audience—as evident when the band played a Tuesday night at the Honeybucket.
“Our cut was the door,” said Spritzer.“It was $.25 per person to get in, and
we made a grand total of $3.25.We
weren’t asked back.”
Before the Chandells could establish themselves with their
originating line-up, life intervened.
“Ron ended up getting drafted, so we replaced him with Steve
Yamamoto, who I had met at Southern Colorado State College, where I was going
to school.Then Steve Crockett
left the band, although I don’t remember why, and we found Dave McBee, who had
been playing around town.Then
Anthony got drafted.”
The new line-up would also include Gus Trujillo, who was a
bartender at Jerry’s Keg Room.
"I was at Jerry's, with my friends Diane and Sherry," said Joyce Wickizer Nielsen. "I remember the exact date, Oct. 11, 1964. Sherry got mad and left, and Diane and I were stranded, without a car. Diane had dated Anthony, so she said he could give us a ride home. Anthony told Diane he didn't have a car, but Marty did, so he could take us home. It was the first time I laid eyes on him. The attraction was almost instantaneous." Joyce and Marty soon became a couple.
More changes would soon come, as word got out that the Hi-Fi Club needed a new house band,
after the Sting Reys left. The Chandells got the job.
"Marty never liked it when he opened at a club, because he got nervous," said Wickizer Nielsen. "So the night they opened at the Hi-Fi, my girlfriend and I sat in the car, outside, so I could hear them."
To look the part of a professional band, the Chandells took
a page from another, more established group.
“Our manager, a kid named Richard Rink, thought we should
all wear these matching Beatle suit jackets—so we went that way on stage.”
The Chandells would spend the next few years making a name
for themselves around town, while aligning themselves with other local bands–including the Teardrops.
“We were all friends with each other,” Spritzer said.“We would jam with them, and then one
day, this would have been 1965, they said they were going back to Clovis, to
record their next single at Norman Petty’s studios.We had a few original songs under our belt, and thought we
would tag along with them, and record our own single.”
“I remember taking two cars down there,” said Teardrops
drummer Ange Rotondo.“We recorded
our record first (“Armful of Teddy Bear” session), then the next night they did
theirs.That’s about all I
remember, as there was a lot of booze involved.”
The Chandells decided to record “Little Girl, Pretty Girl,”
penned by a friend of Dave McBee’s, Budge Threlkeld, and co-written by
Spritzer, who sang lead on the single. But when it came time to record, the production lacked a certain
“Norman Petty said we needed keyboards on the record,” said
Spritzer.“So that’s him on the
Listen to a sample of "Little Girl, Pretty Girl"
The actual A-side of the record, the psych-pop “We Are The Ones,”
was composed by Spritzer and McBee. The single, with lead vocals by McBee, was the group’s own ode to the band.
The group pressed 500 singles, on the Chanteur label (a play
on the group’s name), and sold them at local stores, and gave them out at
“The song ‘We Are the Ones’ got quite a bit of airplay on
KDZA.We got up to #17 on Steve
Scott’s radio show.”
Listen to a sample of "We Are the Ones"
The band continued to play local gigs at Jerry’s Keg Room,
and the Hi-Fi Club but, shortly thereafter, began to disintegrate.
“Gus had a fulltime job, and Dave moved away,” he said. “We
tried keeping it together with Roger Uyeda (on keyboards), but we all
started going in different directions. So the Chandells broke up."
Spritzer had a civil engineering degree from SCSC, but music
kept calling him.He kept in touch
with Ange Rotondo, after the Teardrops broke up, and the two briefly formed Ange and
the Wild Turkeys.
But it would be a meeting with a member of another
pioneering Pueblo rock band that would begin the next chapter of Marty Spritzer's musical
(Marty Spritzer and the story of Jade coming next month)
(NOTE: Edited on July 14, 2013 with addition of 1970 LP)
I'm a product of Pueblo East High School (class of '79).
Lots of great memories of my time there: Tennis practice, writing for the Eagles' Cry newspaper, my basketball team boyfriend Dennis, Styx, REO Speedwagon, T.J. Swann parties, wrecking the family car trying to drive up a frozen road, near the campus... but I digress.
Back then the EHS choir group, Les Jongleurs, were considered about as cool as the chess or math club. "The L.Js," as they were called when I was there, were made up of vocally talented teens, who dressed in formal attire and performed concerts throughout the state, and won lots of awards. That's about all I remember.
I had a few friends in the group, namely Carol, Mike, Cheryl, and my next-door-neighbor, Bill. Couldn't tell you where they all are now.
My Pueblo buddy Dwight Hunter clued me in to a 1970 album, the self titled Pueblo East High School Les Jongleurs, languishing on eBay with nary a bid - until I nabbed it on the cheap.
Released on the prolific Century label, the album lists Herbert Goodrich as the group's director.
Lots of classical choral stuff here, but the group has fun with "Happiness Is," and "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown," both from the 1967 musical.
The last song on side one features vocalist Ron Rivera on "Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In".
Man, I really, really wish he had been mic'd better. Wow.
Earlier this year another dear friend, Pueblo record dealer Joel Scherzer, found the follow-up to above LP.
Songs of the Pride School was produced in 1971, on the Audicom Corporation label. Herbert Goodrich is still listed as the group's director.
The selections on this one are almost all spiritual or public domain standards, but the group gets to let loose on "Heaven on Their Minds," from Jesus Christ Superstar, and the rock cantata, "The Creation."
I'm usually not a fan of square dancing records, as they all seem to sound the same to me - that is, until I heard this happy little single from the 4 Corners Four, out of Durango.
Love their take on this Lesley Gore hit (instrumental on the flip side).
Listen to a sample of "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows"
Pressed on the 4-Corners label (not to be confused with the Kapp Records subsidiary). I came up empty on any additional information. No notation on a year, and there is absolutely no mark on the runoff.
Address shows 970 Main Street, which is now home to the La Plata Abstract Company.
Getting into the holiday spirit with this wonderful offering from the Bethlehem Baptist Church, Pueblo.
From the prolific John Law label (3868), the congregation really has a good time on this disc.
Lots of enthusiastic choir offerings here, with a few standouts, including a duet by India Jackson and Brenda Golden.
Listen to a sample of "Steal Away."
The awwwww cut on here has to go to little James Chandler, who looks as if he's barely in grade school.
With backing from the junior choir, "Little James," as he is billed, belts it out on "Happy on My Way."
Bethlehem Baptist is still going strong in the Bessemer part of town, on Spruce Street.
Reverend Chandler retired from preaching in 2003, after almost 35 years at the pulpit, to live closer to his now-grown son James, who is also a reverend.
A few months ago I read in the Pueblo Chieftain that Elmer Swartwood passed away at the age of 87 (December 3, 1924 - July 17, 2012). Elmer was the founder of the Prairie Hornets, a local Pueblo country and western and square dance music band.
Somewhere along the way Elmer teamed up with caller/singer Al Horn, and his Prairie Recording label, out of Denver.
The partnership resulted in several recordings for the group, including "Mr. In-Between" (PR 1004), "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" (PR 1009), and "Coon Dog" / "Square Chords" (PR 2001), among others.
Al went on to be a pretty prolific caller, recording almost 100 singles for the Desert, Mountain, and Ocean labels, and later a Hillbilly bopper on the Do-Ra-Me label, "Where Does Love Go" / "It's Much Too Soon" (1424).
Rob Stokes found his way to Durango, via Louisville Kentucky, after he joined up with several friends who moved to town to be ski bums.
"I moved out there with that wave and was working one day a week at the ski area. I was playing guitar in some bands in Kentucky (the rock band Live Bait), and I wanted to see if I could play here. I thought I could make money doing music."
"They were having an open mic night at this bar in town, and that's where I met up with R.B."Stoney" Stone. He was playing there, we hit it off, and thought we could get a band together. So we hired a bass player and then we were a trio. Then we hired a drummer and it took off."
It was Rob Stokes who came up with the name of the band.
"We were sitting around thinking about what we going to call ourselves, and I thought of it--because it had “Rob” in it. And it stuck."
Stone took charge as the band's leader, booking gigs, and writing songs for the group, which would include Jeff Boyden on drums, Jimmy Candelaria on rhythm guitar, and Andy Janowsky on bass. After several months of playing around town (mainly at the local Sundance Saloon), the group decided to record an album.
(Click on photo to see entire band)
"We went up to Paragon Sound in Fort Collins, mainly because it was inexpensive."
They titled the LP Keep on Ridin' (Wild Stallion Records 12237 - 1984). The cover art was taken from a painting by Durango artist Jeff Ellingson.
The group's co-producer, Steven D. Geier provided liner notes:
Highway Robbery, a group of talented men who have chosen music as their life, their beginning. These men have done so with the need to give you happiness, a smile, that distant tear, and a longing in your heart to hear more..."
"It had some local airplay and somebody took my song (the instrumental "Joseph M. Jones"), and used it for a radio advertisement for a Farmington muffler shop. We had a little fan club, and we'd sell the album at gigs."
Highway Robbery would go on to open for Charlie Daniels, when he came though town, but they never achieved fame outside southwestern Colorado.
Soon tensions arose between band members.
"It was a little bit intense because I owned the P.A., and I got a little extra money for that. That always seemed to upset some members of the group, and one of the guys got so pissed off that he took a swing at me, and that was it. I quit."
The band would only be together two years.
According to Stokes, Stone still performs around town. Andy Janowsky went on to be a policeman, and plays bass in the band High Rollers, while Jeff Boyden works with his family in Montrose. He said Jimmy Candalaria passed away.
Stokes would find success as a sound engineer, working for Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas, in Nashville.
"Being in Highway Robbery--that was just one chapter of my musical life."
As is probably the case with many collectors, I'm a sucker for those auction shows on television. You know the ones where they open up an abandoned storage room, and four type-A personalities give dirty looks at one another, and try to outbid each other for whatever junk...er, I mean potentially high-dollar collectibles, are in the locker.
On that note, here's an ode to the fast-paced talent of bid calling, courtesy of Dan Potkonjak.
Another brick wall attempt to find info on this one. After calling every similar surname in Colorado, nobody offered a hint. Oh well.
Dapam Plus label (20703-no year)
Recorded at Steel City Sound-Pueblo
"The Auctioneer" is actually a cover of a 1956 Leroy Van Dyke song, and Dan really lets 'er rip with this nice country ditty (contrary to the credit given on the single, Van Dyke and Buddy Black wrote the song).
The a-side is a Potkonjak-penned farmer anthem, "Ain't Givin' Up."