Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bethlehem Baptist Church - Pueblo

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. 

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. 

 Merry Christmas, one and all...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Prairie Hornets

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).

Monday, October 1, 2012

Highway Robbery

Rob Stokes interview conducted March 2012.

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."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dan Potknojak

Dapam Plus label (20703-no year)
Recorded at Steel City Sound-Pueblo

Listen to a sample of "The Auctioneer"

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, 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.

"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."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Happy 136th Birthday, Colorado

History lesson: On August 1, 1876, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation admitting Colorado as the 38th state. Colorado is nicknamed the "Centennial State" because it was admitted to the Union in 1876, the centennial year of the United States Declaration of Independence.

In 1976, to celebrate the state's 100 birthday, Colorado lawmakers were looking for a theme song to mark the occasion. Ernie Kemm (who I write about in this 2010 post) penned a song, and entered the statewide contest to find the best tune - and won.

So Kemm, with help from Gunnison's Western State College singers, recorded "Here's to Colorado" (Dr. Lee Keilson, director and Perry Arnett, arranger).

The song was released on Ernie's own Ernaco label (no label number).

You'd think there would be a second Colorado celebratory song on the flip, but the b-side is the jazzy "We Met in Paris" (lead vocals by Kemm).

Happy Birthday, Colorado!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Larry T. Coen's Tribute to Red Sovine

 Red Sovine would have been 94 years old this month, so I thought it would be appropriate that I post a tribute record from a Pueblo artist this time around.

Not a lot of info on this one.  Actually tracked down the family of the singer, Larry T. Coen, but they declined to talk about him, or his music.  I always hate it when I hit a brick wall - especially on a record this fabulous.
Listen to "How Far is the Road Up to Heaven"

Larry's ode to Red was recorded in 1984 (Red Sovine died in 1980), at the Steel City Sound Recording Studios, in Pueblo.  Joe Salazar produced the disc, and played keyboards, Bill Cohen (I'm assuming is some kin) played bass, while Jimmy Schaffer handled the fiddlin' duties.  Other credits include Chris Koroshetz on drums, while Larry is on guitar.

Reg Montano is credited for the narration.  Larry, along with Carolyn Tuttle are labeled as the vocalists.

Carolyn gets her own shot to standout, with the flip-side of the recording.

Is it just me, or does this sound completely out of place (in a good way) for 1984 country?  I mean 1984 was saturated with Alabama, Reba, and Hank Williams Jr.'s "All My Rowdy Friends..."  God bless Carolyn for not going down that path.

Unfortunately, reaching out for info on her has resulted in no additional information.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Velma Stapleton

Velma Stapleton interviewed March 2012.


Side One:
Here We Are
Love Grew Where the Blood Fell
Mercy Rewrote My Life
It Made News in Heaven
A Vessel of Honor For God

Side Two:
There is a River
He's Ever Interceding
I Have to Worry
Spirit Song
I Love Him Too Much

Velma Stapleton loved country music. In fact, her dream had always been to be a country performer, and record an album. She would eventually record an album – but it wasn’t country.

 “Back in my day it was all I wanted to do – sing country,” she said. “But I realized the words were not positive, so I discovered gospel music.”

Velma’s move from secular to spiritual music wasn’t an overnight switch. She had already been singing Christian songs at an early age, growing up in Lamar (she graduated Lamar High School in 1971). When she married, her family, which included her boys Michael and Steven, would take to the road to perform in Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

“Wherever I could perform, I did. My husband ran the sound.”

In 1983, at the urging of her pastor, she recorded her one and only album.

“My pastor foot the bill for me to record,” she said. “I recorded it in Denver. I think it took about two hours to make.”

She said her back-up musicians were actually pre-recorded songs, of which she simply sang to in the studio. “I think we pressed 500 copies of the record.”

Standard issue gospel here, but Velma gets to use her country chops on at least one song, "It Made News in Heaven."

The picture on the front cover of what was to be titled Mercy, Love and Praise, was taken at her church.

"The picture on the back was done in a studio,” she said.

Velma gave up singing to care for her husband, who has been ill for the past 12 years. She currently resides in Pueblo. “It was always on my bucket list to record an album,” she said. “And I did.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mozart Festival 1972

 Johann Friedrich Reichart - Te Deum
Mozart Festival 1972
PSO 8125 (no label name)
Pueblo, Colorado
Side One:
Overture and "Te Deum Landamus"
Terzetto: "Te ergo quaesummus"
"Salvum Fac Populum Tuum"

Side Two:
"Dignare Domine"
In te Domine speravi"
March from The Magic Flute
Chorale and Fuge

Performed on January 23, 1972, Memorial Hall, Pueblo.

Listen to a sample of "Te ergo quaesumus"
Lori Von Gundy - soprano
Charlene Vecchio - mezzo soprano
Kathie Marcum - alto
John Pinner - tenor
Jerry Matthew - bass

Gerhard Track and Sid Rosen - conductors

The festival, which was started in Pueblo in 1971 by former Pueblo Symphony director Gerhard Track, returned the following year with a performance of "Te Deum," by Johann Friedrich Reichart (1752-1814).

The concert featured a 300 voice choir, made up of high school students from Crowley (Ordway), Fountain, Lamar, Las Animas, Lake County (Leadville), La Junta and Rye.  The Pueblo Youth Symphony accompanied the performance.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dave Jackson

Jerry Dolby and Clara Reida interviewed March 2012.

On my most recent trip back home to southern Colorado, Pueblo-based record dealer, and dear friend, Joel Scherzer presented me with an album for my collection – one that would turn out to be probably my favorite find of the weeklong record search.

Dave Jackson Singing Folk Style Music - Morning Town Ride (Valerie VR 7000) is a collection of 16 songs of the genre. "Many of the songs selected are personal favorites, but there has been no attempt to display any of my own views or personal feelings," he writes on the back cover.

Included are Jackson's renditions of songs penned by Donovan ("Colours"), Tom Paxton ("I Wonder Where I'm Bound"), Rod McKuen ("Two-Ten, Six Eighteen"), Pete Seeger ("Turn Turn Turn"), as well as several traditional folk numbers.

The LP isn’t produced well. In fact, I dare say there is any production whatsoever to this album. It almost sounds like the recording was made in a closet. But the sad, loner vocals, and the barely audible guitar easily makes the record memorable.

I had to find out who Dave Jackson was. But there were few clues to go on. The album appeared to be a product of the Custer County Independent School District, based out of Westcliffe. The school’s science teacher, Jerry Dolby, is listed as the school sponsor of the recording.

“I did find the 1969 yearbook for Custer County High,” Dolby said. “The picture of Dave Jackson is the same as the one for a sixth grade teacher of the same name. I can find no evidence of his being on the faculty for more than one year.”

According to Dolby, the annual also shows a “Mrs. Dave Jackson” on the faculty, who was the pep club sponsor.

“I'm confident the class sold Dave's album as a fund raiser for a class trip.”

The cover art was done by Margaret Locarnini.

“Margaret was quite an artist, she was a super talented person,” said Clara Reida, who also worked at the school, and later bought a ranch with her, to raise horses. I remember there was a big brewhaha in the area, and she had to leave her job at Custer County, to go teach in Florence. Apparently the valley was being developed and a billboard was cut down, and how it was pinned it on Margaret I don’t know. But she had to leave her job.”

Attempts to locate Dave Jackson were unsuccessful.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Taking a break...

Taking a few months off.
Headed back to Colorado to visit family and friends....and do some record diggin'. Going to take some time to reevaluate the blog, and decide what the next phase of it will be.

See you in April.