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From the Land of Band Box Records

Magic in the Music….

August 14, 2019
craigr244

Music Magic in Boulder….

There Were Hippies and then there Were Hippies!

I received the following email this past week from Lynne Parker Poyer:

“Hi Craig,

In reference to The Showmen, a 60’s garage band from Boulder, the person identified as Lynn Porter was actually Lynn Poyer. Lynn went on to be one of the founders of Magic Music as well as several other groups in the 60’s and 70’s.   A documentary about Magic Music and 1970’s Boulder was  produced last year. Although Magic Music was not a garage band  you might find the documentary interesting. There is a fb page about Magic Music and I believe the movie is available on Amazon and iTunes.
 
I really enjoyed looking at your list!  
 
Lynne Parker Poyer (sister-in-law)”

I nice surprise to learn about this Colorado-based band who sort of had the jump on the ‘gathering of tribes’ that occurred in the early 1970’s in the area west of Boulder including the Sugar Hill Road community and of course Nederland and famed Caribou Ranch scene – as well as in and around many Colorado mountain towns and communities.

“Magic Music” had it’s formative roots through band founder and Boulder resident Lynn Poyer who had been a member of Boulder’s “Showmen”.  Poyer, along with Marty Trigg, Will Luckey, George Cahill, Rob Galloway and Kevin Milburn would make-up the original lineup.  Poyer would depart and Chris Daniels would come join up in 1972 and Bill Makepiece replaced Galloway on bass – when Rob joined up with Carol King and Navarro who recorded at the Caribou. – Daniels would go onto Colorado music fame being inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame.  Daniels later formed “Chris Daniels and the Kings” and he would eventually record more than 15 albums.

Magic Music at Telluride Early 1970’s

Although Magic Music did not leave us with a long play album or a recording history, the did come close – flirting with large record labels but just not quite nailing it down.  (They did receive offers from Columbia , Asylum and Flying Fish).  The band was true to their ‘hippie image’ which was much more than an image – they were the real deal.  Initially they resided out of a converted school bus located up in El Dorado Canyon – a true hippie enclave – and then later migrating to Aspen Park outside of Evergreen.  One of their first local gigs was at the legendary “Sink” located ‘on the hill’ adjacent to the University of Colorado.

They opened for some big names at local concerts including Richie Havens

Thanks to record producer and TV program script writer Lee Aronsohn, Magic Music has returned to life in a 2018 award winning documentary titled “40 Years in the Making – The Magic Music Movie”/  Aronsohn, who wrote for television’s “The Big Band Theory” and “Two and a Half Men” garnered a handful of motion picture awards.

The movie is available on-line and is well worth getting a hold of – giving us a glimpse and listen to a significant time in Colorado’s musical past.  Aronsohn attended the University of Colorado and saw Magic Music perform live.  He carried around his memories of the band for nearly four decades before deciding to see if he could make the music happen once again.

Film Producer Aronsohn – CU Campus 1972

Getting in touch with Chris Daniels set the wheels in motion.  He tracked down original members and eventually it all came together.  The group reunited and the award winning film was the result.  A soundtrack film included some very early tape – set down between the years of 1970 and 1976.

Founding member and Showman garage band member Lynn “Flatbush” Poyer passed away in 2011.

Boulder’s Showmen – 1960’s

Click on the Magic Music banner below to visit their web site and to learn more

Roadrunners – The “Fabulous” That is….

August 10, 2019
craigr244

Coffee & More Memories with Sunderland…..

John Sunderland

Had a nice reunion with former Denver rocker, Denver Post Staff Photographer and soon-to-be Colorado Press Club Hall of Fame Inductee John Sunderland.

We met out on East Colfax appropriately enough – at Starbucks which John pointed out had started off back in the day as a “Red Barn” fast food establishment – We were also noot far from where John spent many of his growing up years as well close to a venue where his 1960’s group “The Roadrunners” appeared often – Le Bistro A-Go-Go located at 3100 East Colfax (today is “Annies”).  That venue went through several name changes including “The Bandbox” and “The Mad Russian”.

Image result for the red barn on east colfax restaurantImage result for the red barn on east colfax restaurant

For an historical narrative of John’s Colorado garage groups visit this Garage Group” page and scroll down to “The Fabulous Roadrunners” listing and then “Denver’s Super Sonics” page (with Bobby Swanson).  John had come to Bobby Swanson’s Sonics after his earlier group disbanded “The Emeralds”.

Notice that this newspaper does prefix the band’s name with “The Fabulous”.  They were then backing a local soul singer – Kenny Jay.  Le Bistro featured a large glass window facing Colfax where the owner would place a live Go-Go Dancer to attract the attention of passing motorists (notice “In the Window”) listed in the ad.  John told me that he still knows the dancer’s name – She is now in her mid 70’s and we both agreed it would be fun to locate her and revisit Denver’s 1960’s Go-Go Scene!

The Denver night club scene was very competitive and a rivalry among bar owners was not always that friendly according to Sunderland.  “We must have been evacuated 10 or more times in the midst of a nightclub appearance due to a phone in bomb scare” Sunderland recalled.  Though nobody was ever identified – John knew the scare call had to come from a competitor.

Another time John remembers two very large tough looking guys entering into the nightclub where the Roadrunners were playing – both taking a seat near the stage – then glaring up at the band or rather threateningly scanning the club.  “Then just like that, one of them stood, grabbed a chair and flung it through the bar”, John exclaimed.  A knockdown drag out fist fight instantly broke out between the ‘messengers” and the night club’s bouncers – clearing the club – a little more proactive than a bomb scare – but effective all the same.

Fireman’s Hall – Surf’s Up in Aurora!

No Surf City in the Mile High City

John related another tale – His group – The Emeralds, were playing at Aurora’s “Fireman’s Hall” a small venue in the east Denver suburb – When they entered the hall and were about to set up they were approached by the manager who casually informed them they would be performing on the same bill as Jan and Dean!  “We just looked at him thinking – Jan and Dean?  We don’t play surf music!”  Before the could regroup – out walk two blond haired – young – surfin’ types.  They were introduced – stepped up to club microphone – and then commenced to lip sync one of their songs.

(Note that the “Fireman’s Dance” was yet another Pogo Poge production)

“It was horrible”, recalls John.  “The speaker broadcasting from the microphone was inferior, crackling and difficult to hear.  Kids in the hall just sort of sat on their hands, looking rather embarrassed.”  They only ones who should have been embarrassed were Jan and Dean and the Fireman’s Hall manager – The two certainly were not Jan and Dean – just two blond haired locals – impostors!

The Mammoth

Another local venue – which had served Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood located just off East Colfax as a roller skating rink, was Mammoth Gardens.  In early 1960, KIMN’s very popular Pogo Poge began presenting a weekly teen dance at the venue – probably in April of 1960 which was billed as the “Pogo Poge Teen Dance”.

John remembered that Mammoth was still functioning as a roller rink during the week and then would be set up on Saturdays for the Teen Dance.  “The kids all had to take off their shoes to protect the skating rink surface”, he remembers.  John said that typically a couple of local acts would play each Saturday and that Swanson’s Sonics were more or less regulars.  John said there was another four-piece local garage group which played several times on the same dates as the Sonics.  “They were really good.  They had a great tight rock and roll sound” he remembers.  “They all wore slick blue jackets.  After the Mammoth, I never ran into them again.

Vincent – Hurricanes

On occasion the Sonics would be on the same bill with a national act – John recalls playing on the same date as Johnny and the Hurricanes one time and another time with Gene Vincent.  The troubled rocker had very recently just made his comeback after being involved in a horrific automobile accident which damaged his ribs, collarbone and further damaged a bad leg which plagued him throughout his brief career.  The accident also claimed the life of rocker Eddie Cochran and severely injured Cochran’s song-writing girl friend Sharon Sheeley.

“I remember going down into the basement of the Mammoth – a rather bleak depressing catacomb-like area where acts changed – and there was Vincent.  He wasn’t accompanied by the Blue Caps at this point.  He just sat there all alone on a little wooden bench with holding his head in his hand, lost in thought.  It was sad.”

Into the Hall

John Sunderland enjoyed a long career with the Denver Post serving as a staff photographer and because area musical events generally took place on weekends and nights he was tapped as the music photographer.  This provided John with many opportunities to see some great talent and to meet many of the stars.  Bob Dylan, Elton John, Fats Domino were among the many he met up with.  The Denver Press Club is located at 1330 Glenarm Place in downtown Denver.  The club opened in the 1860’s and today is protected by the National Historic Register

This coming October, John will be inducted into the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame – a tremendous and well-deserved honor indeed!

“I have been so fortunate”, John exclaims.  I got to play rock and roll in Denver during a great time in this city, and then I landed my dream job as a photographer.”  Truly a wonderful life.

The Sonics

The Rathskeller with The Fabulous Roadrunners

John told me the white Corvette below belonged to the photographer who took the picture.

L-R: Hernandez – Swanson – Sunderland – Corrigan

L-R: Hernandez – Corrigan – Sunderland – Swanson

L-R: Bobby Swanson, Mike Corrigan. Tony Hernandez and John Sunderland

Back to the Fort

August 9, 2019
craigr244

Glenn Miller – Colorado Music Hall of Fame Inductee

Hall of Fame Inductee Display Board

 

This past week my wife and made the trip out to Fort Morgan – once again to visit the one-time hometown of big band legend Glenn Miller.

MILLER GLENN BIO PHOTO

(NOTE:  I have gleaned notes from a publication I obtained during my visit to the Museum titled “A Boy… A Golden Trombone.. and a Dream” by the late Tom Yates – a long time Fort Morgan resident and a dedicated Glenn Miller enthusiast and local historian.)

I had made this trip once before – a couple of years back – with no special purpose in mind other than to visit the Glenn Miller Museum which is housed in the town’s centrally located Library located on – appropriately enough – “Main Street” as all good small town libraries should be.  Coming into Fort Morgan is rather reminiscent of driving through parts of Nebraska and Iowa – with the vast number of corn fields lining the highway – Departing Fort Morgan – as we did – to the north on a series on long dirt roads is more reminiscent of good old Kansas.

Driving North out of Fort Morgan

This trip I had a slightly different purpose – to deliver my entire Glenn Miller long play and 45 rpm collection to the Glenn Miller Museum.  I never collected Miller’s vast output in 78 rpm format – There were just too darn many and my house basement simply wouldn’t accommodate that many of the old recordings.  (During Miller’s stint in the U.S. Army Air Corps his military version of the Glenn Miller band recorded 85 12-inch 78 rpm “V-Discs” alone!)

More than one source or locale likes to take credit for Alton Glenn Miller.  Glenn (actually spelled Glen at birth but never used again after becoming a band leader) was born in the town of Clarinda, Iowa.  The Miller’s remained in Iowa for a very short time. Today, of course, Clarinda – a town of about 5,400 residents, proudly boasts of being the “birth place of Glenn Miller”.

Clarinda, Iowa

So after a few short years in Clarinda – the Miller family would move on to Nebraska to take a shot at ‘dry land farming’ – a risky endeavor at best.  Little Glen was only one year old at the time.  The family took up residence in a very small sod hut where they attempted to farm without access to irrigation water as well as raising a few animals.  They rode out the entire five years of a homestead grant.  Glenn’s father Elmer landed a job with the Rio Grande Railroad working mainly as on special construction projects along the railroad’s path.  Before long they moved out of the country and the sod hut to the town of Grant, Missouri where Glenn and his older brother Deane would attend elementary school right up to his high school age years.

Then in 1918, the Millers packed up once again – this time actually riding in a Rio Grande box car and headed for the town of Fort Morgan, Colorado.  Mr. Miller was offered a custodial job at Fort Morgan high school – a position he continued with until the end of his life.  Glenn was 14-years old when they arrived in town.

Fort Morgan Main Street – 1918

We had made arrangements to meet with the Fort Morgan Museum curator, Brian Mack.  After bringing in the boxes of Miller recordings, Brian (who was born in nearby Brush, Colorado) kindly gave me a short tour of the museum pointing out some of the Glenn Miller highlights.  The town museum is one of the more impressive and professionally arranged small town museums I have ever visited.  Surprisingly, the area designated for Glenn Miller is modest but informative  and expertly displayed.

Home of the Glenn Miller Museum (and much more)

The Fort Morgan Museum

The Mick-Miller Melody Five

Brian took me downstairs to a lower level where special displays are set up periodically for on a non-permanent basis.  It was there that I viewed a very early photo of Glenn Miller in his very first band – taken while he was enrolled in high school  – the “Mick-Miller Melody Five”.

L to R: Glenn Miller (trombone); Mickey McGrew (slide trumpet); Phil Layton (piano), Chink Bader (sax); and Ben Zersen (banjo)

In actuality the combo featured a female piano player – Alice Spencer – She would not appear in band photos due to her father’s religious views – and so Phil Layton would take her place during photo sessions.  Glenn spent most of his time in Fort Morgan with his brother practicing their instruments and perfecting their playing styles – but Miller did find time to play on the high school football team – and during his senior year in 1920 was selected to Colorado’s high school All State team – identified as the “best left end in Colorado”.

Miller – All State 1920

The Miller family was by no means wealthy and when I inquired from Brian the location of the “Glenn Miller House” I was told that the Millers had four different residences in Fort Morgan, all rentals.  Janet and I would make our way around town to view the homes – take a few pictures and get the lay of the land.  We learned that their first residence – located at 510 West Street – had long since been demolished making way for the town Safeway.  Show below are the three homes that stand today – none of them identified by any plaques or historical markers.

The Miller Homes

Glenn’s story beyond Fort Morgan is oft-told – first playing locally with Elmer Wells and his dance band (Wells being the inspiration for Glenn’s hit “Elmer’s Tune”.  Next, Glenn would head for Denver where he joined the Boyd Senter Band which appeared regularly at Denver’s Albany Hotel.  Then came Boulder, Colorado and a stint with Holly Moyer’s Canyon Park Band.  Around the same time, Glenn would enroll in the University of Colorado where he would study business and enroll in a music class – which he failed!  He didn’t hang around the Boulder campus long – moving onto the West Coast where he landed a job with MGM as a music arranger.

Then came Miller’s migration East Coast where he would come into contact with the famous band leaders of the day.  His first couple of attempts at putting together his own big band met with lukewarm results and at one point he nearly gave up.  He was always searching for a ‘special sound’ for his band but it was elusive until one day his lead trumpet player suffered an injured lip.  In a rather spontaneous move, Miller moved his clarinet player into the lead spot vacated by the trumpet – instructed a sax player to drop one octave and follow the clarinet and then have the remaining saxophones blend into a smooth harmony supporting the two.

The Glenn Miller “Sound” was found at last.  The band didn’t rise to immediate fame – and in fact broke up once again.  About a year later in 1939 in New York – he formed yet another band – and the outlook wasn’t good – not until a promoter named Cy Schribman stepped up to the plate announcing he liked what he was hearing and offered to bankroll Miller’s band.  That was that – and it was off to the races.  Miller had over two dozen number one songs and is rated by Music VF – He had over 130 hit recordings with 69 going Top Ten.

Music VF is a tallying organization as the 8th most successful recording artist of all time.  (Interestingly two other Colorado artists rank ahead of Glenn – with Billy Murray coming in at number 5 and Denver’s Paul Whiteman at number 3.  Rankings are tabulated based on recording success and the output of over 120,000 world wide recording artists.

Image result for university of colorado 1920's

Glenn’s sad end is well documented.  He perished most likely on December 14th, 1944 somewhere over the English Channel as has been best determined.  His missing aircraft and he along with pilot and co-pilot were never found – They were on their way to France where troops had just successfully entered the country after the Normandy Invasion.

Fort Morgan today is a bustling town but not overly so.  During our couple of hours in town we were drawn to music being played – jazz melodies – not sure where it was coming from.  It seemed to come from somewhere in the park adjacent to the Library/Museum – but then upon riding our bikes along main street – the melodies persisted – We then discovered that the Fort Morgan fathers have installed audio speakers at each intersection along main – not for special events -but for the ongoing pleasure of citizens and visitors – And yes, the Museum staff assured me – quite often the sounds emitted from the sound system was that of the great Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Image result for fort morgan downtown

Fort Morgan 2019

Billboard – November 8th, 1941

Billboard – June 13th, 1942

Billboard July 25th, 1925

Billboard – November 7th, 1942

Cash Box – November 8th, 1947

Visit the Glenn Miller 78 RPM Singles Page

Visit the Glenn Miller 45 RPM Extended Plays Page

Visit the Glenn Miller 45 RPM Single Page 

Visit the Glenn Miller 33 1/3 RPM Long Play Page