Sunday, December 1, 2013

Adams State College

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

Note of another release, 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.

Adams State Choir 1969-70 Alamosa Colorado
(United Recordings UAS 561-50190). Randolph Jones, conductor.

The following year, the college's concert and stage bands produced an LP.

Adams State College Concert Band and Stage Band
Al Anderson, Director

Friday, November 1, 2013

Phil Albo and the Ballad of John F. Kennedy


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.”

“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 recording.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Socolo Choir

Side One:
Built on the Rock
Wondrous Love
Praise to the Lord
O Lord God
My God How Wonderful Thou Art

Side Two:
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.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Joey Buffalo and Sonics

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"

 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.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jeff Valdez

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."

Monday, July 1, 2013

Solve the Mystery - Margie Bortles

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.

As always, drop me a line if you know anything.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Abbey School Glee Club

The Abbey School (1956)

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.

Side One:
Hail, Holy Queen
O Sacrum Convivium
Christmas Hymn
My Horn Shall Weigh a Willow Bough
A British Tar (Trio: Pat Bachechi, Tony Segura, Tony Cable)

Side Two:
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).

 The school closed in 1985.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Paul Romero

NOTE: See update on this story HERE.

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.

Released in 1962, the soulful "Sit And Cry" features the Rudy Gutierrez Orchestra.

While the single garnered airplay on Pueblo's KDZA radio, it did not receive much notice beyond Colorado.  A 1962 Billboard column said it had "limited sales potential," and that was that.

No idea what happened to Paul over the next several years, but he would resurface on the Rudy Guiterrez Orchestra single, "Coqueta" (audio sample in Rudy Gutierrez Orchestra story).

The rest remains a mystery.

Let's all wish Paul well.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Marty Spritzer - Jade

(Monty Baker comments added June 2013)

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.

The psych-tinged B-side is a stark contrast from the flip, showcasing the band's diversity, and allows each member to shine.

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.”

Friday, March 1, 2013

Marty Spritzer - The Chandells

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 element.

“Norman Petty said we needed keyboards on the record,” said Spritzer.  “So that’s him on the Hammond.”

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 concerts.

“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.”

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 biography…

(Marty Spritzer and the story of Jade coming next month)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Pueblo East High - Les Jongleurs

(NOTE: Edited on Oct. 4, 2014 with addition of 1968 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."

Listen to "The Creation"

Listen to "East High Hail to Thee"

Go Eagles!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

4 Corners Four

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).

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.