The Saints were probably the steadiest group around the Band Box studio, performing on over 80 cuts, most often as the backing band for other artists and sometimes recording as a stand-alone act. The Saints are listed on seven of the Band Box releases (see page 2) and were the backing group for Orlie Trujillo on his “Twist and Freeze U.S.A.” series of releases for national listening markets (see the Orlie Trujillo & The Saints page).
The earliest Saint line-up was an evolution from a nameless Denver group that included Doug Hole (sax), Doug Balterson (guitar), Balterson’s cousin (accordion) and drummer Joe Marisco. This ensemble formed early 1958 and found their way on to a program called “The Hop Spot” which was sponsored by Denver’s KIMN radio. The “Hop Spot” was located in Englewood. Band member Doug Hole recalls “My mother suggested we call the band “Double Dougs and the Boom Booms” but we passed on that as being uncool, today I think that is hilarious”.
Shortly after this in 1958 band made a few changes in personnel and became “Doug & the Saints” naming the band after their theme song “When the Saints Go Marching In.” This first Saints’ line-up included Doug Hole, Joe Holonbek (guitar), Dave Barhite, Joe Marisco and any number of lead vocalists who came and went. This would have been the time-frame for The Saints making their first recordings on the Band Box label.
Doug Hole: “We played all around Denver for a year or so. We did open for Bobby Darren at 3 shows around Denver. One of the venues was on East Colfax at a roller skating rink. There was also a teen dance venue around 1st and Broadway. If you can listen to the Tony Larson record, I was the sax on those cuts. We also connected with Latino community and played at a church hall for mostly Hispanic audiences, this at a time when Richie Valens was so popular before “The Music Died” in Clear Lake, Iowa.”
Doug Hole departed for college in the fall of 1959.
Dave Barhite became the next leader of The Saints playing guitar—sometimes lead and at other times rhythm. Other early Saint members included Rich Kimble on sax, Daryl Kennedy drums, Clinton Brown on bass, and Ray Anderson on drums.
I met Dave Barhite at his home in Wheat Ridge, Colorado – not far from the location of the old Band Box studios on 41st Avenue and Sheridan Blvd on the perimeter of the West Denver boundary. In the early days of Band Box, the late 1950’s, Dave recalls that the various Band Box artists would record in rented studio around the Denver area. “Vicky hadn’t yet bought the studio on 41st Ave in North Denver”, Dave recalls. “I do remember meeting with her on several occasions at her house on Reed Street in Lakewood,” he continues. “But there wasn’t a studio at that location.” The 1155 Reed Street address shows up on many of the early Band Box labels.
Local Denver radio personalities Gene Price and Rick Diamond, both disc jockeys at Denver’s KUDY promoted the Saints around the Denver area. The group had the opportunity to back national recording stars Bobby Darin, Donnie Brooks and Bobby Vee at various times in Denver or up in Wyoming. Dave recalls Donnie Brooks visiting Denver accompanied by recording star and producer Buddy Knox. “They were real good friends,” Dave recalls, “and we got the opportunity to hang around with them for a day.”
Barhite also recalls the Saints often performed at the Denver summer Show Wagon extravaganzas. These were free programs featuring local talent. The actual Show Wagon would set up in neighborhood parks during the summer and people would swarm to these locations for the free entertainment. “Ronny Kae also performed at the Show Wagon,” Dave remembers. Dave was a close friend of Ronny’s and backed up often on recordings. “He used us a lot and on a few sessions local Wheat Ridge national recording star Gary Stites (“Lonely for You”, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, “Shine That Ring”) also accompanied the local drummer.
Dave recollects that Ronny would often visit local radio stations and “sweeten the pie” in order to obtain additional radio air-play. Dave reported that the tactic was very effective. While records sales were meager – local front range Colorado colleges would pick up on the airplay and book Ronny and the Saints into their venues.
Joe still performs around the Denver area. He is an inductee into the “Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame”.
More from “Colonel” Doug Hole post Saints:
“I left Denver and went to the College of Wooster in Ohio. Had a band and we ended up as the featured band at the Peppermint Lounge in Cleveland in the 1962/64 time frame.
I joined the Air Force in 1964 and spent the next 28 years as an intelligence officer.
I was in Vietnam in 68/69 at Tan Son Nhut as the out country air war briefer for General Brown and the 7th AF staff. In 1969 I returned to the Pentagon and was the briefer on the Vietnam War for the CJCS, White House staff, and other senior government officials. I then went to Lowry in Denver, followed by assignments in Montgomery, Langley AFB, NATO in Denmark, CENTCOM in Tampa and finally European Command in Stuttgart, Germany.
I was promoted to full colonel in the fall of 1986, my last assignment was as Chief of Operational Intelligence for the European Theater. We then settled in Annapolis, Maryland. I taught school for another 13 years before retiring in 2006.”
(Click on the links to view recordings)
Band Box 237 – “Cool Yule” b/w “Bear Rug” (Tony Rodelle Larson & The Saints)*
This recording was probably cut in 1959 and released in 1960 sometime after Doug Hole departed for college. Doug Hole recalls “I also connected with Gene Price and Tony Larson when they were on KUDY radio in the Woodlawn shopping center. We used the studio to do dome recording.” Hole was featured on Sax on the Larson Band Box cuts.
* Tony Larson was a local Denver area radio jock in the 1960’s for KUDY and other stations
** Dave Barhite cannot recall recording with a Tom Allen nor does anyone else from The Saints
*** See the Orlie and Saints page for a complete listing of this recording’s variations