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:

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

Saturday, February 1, 2014

UPDATE - Paul Romero

Interview with David Romero January 2014.

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.

Paul Romero
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 four children.”

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 Latinos.”

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.”

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Let's Go Bowling!

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.

According to Fred Baca's daughter, who sent me a note after I previously (and incorrectly) posted her father had passed away (apparently there were two Fred Bacas in Trinidad):

"Hi. I just wanted you to know that Fred C. Baca, of Trinidad, CO, who sings on this recording did not pass away. He still lives in the Trinidad area and occasionally still plays his fiddle and his Rickenbacker guitar. Fred and The Serenaders regularly perform on weekends at the El Rancho Club in Trinidad for close to two decades. They were a very popular band - one that continued to perform for weddings, reunions, and other special weekend events well into the late 90s. How do I know all of this? Because Fred is my father. I am so grateful for the recording you provided - only a couple of the original physical copies survived within our family - they were seemingly lost. Thank you for this post!!!"

Ted Vallejo passed away in 1988.