Sunday, March 18, 2018

RIP: Kathi DeFrancis


 While attending the Vintage Voltage Expo, today, I heard news that Kathi "Katzi" DeFrancis passed away, on March 15. Kathi was a fantastic Denver femme folk artist, who put out a stunningly beautiful LP, in 1985, Home Before Morning.


In 1973, Kathi was a founding member of The Mother Folkers, a group comprised of a dozen female Denver-area performers. Kathi would leave the group, 20 years later, but it continued on, in her absence.

A Facebook page has been set up, in her memory.

Ironically, while at today's Vintage Voltage show, I found a copy of Kathi's 45 release of "The Magic Song" / "San Antone" just a few minutes before finding out about her death. 

RIP, Kathi.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Safety Through Songs


 I love (and collect) radio public service announcements. The fact that, in 30 or 60 seconds, you can creatively convey an audible message aimed at encouraging or preventing something, has always fascinated me. Maybe it was the decades I spent doing radio, and the level of creativity I often heard on these messages, which made them so enduring to me. Who knows.

So, I'm in a local thrift, when I spot this coloring book and record combo, from the Colorado Association of Realtors. Cool, a Colorado and a PSA score!

Released in 1981, the association promoted safety tips to the kiddies with a coloring book and 7" 33rpm record of 10  tunes, complete with a coloring page for each tip (plus sheet music and lyrics).

"Each year, many Coloradoans of all ages are injured or killed in preventable accidents, and many more are victims of crime." Geeze, if that doesn't put the fear of God in the kiddos, what will? Nothing a catchy little number can't resolve.

The "Safety Through Songs" public service campaign was endorsed by Governor Richard Lamm, who penned the "Open Letter to Parents" on the inside (along with the state's Commissioner of Education and the Director of the Division of Highway Safety).

Credits show music and lyrics by California-based Janice Lipis Prall, who also went on to produce a similar PSA campaign, "Sing No to Drugs."

Friday, February 16, 2018

More Life: From Ideas to Empires!

Just when I thought I had uncovered every vinyl genre, produced in Colorado, along comes this seven-record, self development set (packaged in a handsome brown vinyl case), promising me "More Life."

Ironically, I discovered "More Life" at an estate sale. That noted, who wouldn't want to bust open this case to find out its secrets?

More Life was produced in 1970, by Growth Unlimited, whose location was listed in a W. Fillmore Street strip mall (home now to a tattoo parlor, insurance company, and vape shop). The set lists one Winston Parker, as president.

Each single offers tips on how the listener can be more successful in work ("... guarantee a secure future and retirement, if you never earn more than $5,000 per year") and life ("Your life is what your thoughts make it"). The set was recorded at KCMS studios, in Manitou Springs, and narrated by Lee Weeks.

Is it just me, or does this sound much, much earlier than 1970?

Grow Unlimited boasts a bit of moxie, regarding its credentials ("...years of research from the most trusted laboratory in the world - the Laboratory of Practical Experience"), but who am I to judge "years of research?"

Winston Parker left Colorado, and moved south, several years ago - presumably to follow his own advice, to enjoy more life.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Western Heralds Quartette

I admit, I have an affinity for obscure Colorado religious records. While most collectors shun the genre, I have become a safe haven for any and all.  And why not? I mean, church-goer, or not, some of these recordings are pretty damn, er I mean, darn good.

Take for instance the on-point harmonies of the Western Heralds Quartette. What? You have never heard of the Western Heralds Quartette? Let's remedy that, right now.

The members of the group got together, while students at the Western Bible Institute, in Denver. The school, founded in 1948, was later merged with Rockmont College, to become Colorado Christian College. Now you are caught up on that part of our story...

In 1956, the Institute decided to diversify its classroom attendance, and launched a foreign exchange missionary program. Students, from different parts of the world, were offered scholarships to attend the school. This instantly changed the look of the campus, with students of different nationalities bringing their own international flavor to the little Bible college.

Alifereti Yaya arrived from Fiji. Victor Griffith and Wilfred Hunte came from Barbados - and all three brought with them a love of not only the holy word, but also the holy song. They soon teamed up with Larry Morehead - who came all the way from...Denver - and began singing four-part harmonies in the dorms.

Somehow the group caught the ear of higher-ups at the school, who thought their talents could serve as a promotional opportunity. In 1961 they headed to the recording studio.


Released on the custom Whitney Records label, the Western Heralds Quartette is accompanied by Marie Shuler on organ and Phil Shuler on bass, while Larry Morehead handles guitar.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

The other Ray Charles

Hey all!

Sorry I haven't posted in a spell. Got busy with one thing, or another. No excuses. Can't guarantee I will be a regular blogger, but will certainly try to be better. Thank you for all of the e-mails, asking about my status on here. Makes one feel pretty damn good.

Actually, part of the reason I haven't been posting, is due to the fact that I have contracted a case of collecting madness (grin). You wouldn't believe the number of esoteric Colorado records I have unearthed - like this fantastic instrumental LP, from Colorado Springs keyboardist, Ray Charles, otherwise known as "Mr. Music."

Pike's Peak Records Proudly Present "Mr. Music" Ray Charles
LP 1920 (1971)

Can't find a thing on this musician. Zilch, zero, nada. As always, dear reader, if you can't assist, please drop me a line. Apparently there was, believe it or not, another "Mr. Music," in Colorado Springs, the clarinetist Ed Nuccio.

2016 obituary for Mr. Nuccio:
Professional clarinetist Ed Nuccio was famous for nurturing children, teens and adults in their pursuit of music, so much so that he earned the moniker "Mr. Music."The longtime band director, educator and founder of New Horizons Band of Colorado Springs died April 12 from cancer. He was 80 years old. Nuccio arrived in Colorado Springs in 1958 to play with the Air Force Academy Band where he earned an Airman of the Year award in 1959. He performed with Arthur Fiedler, longtime conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, and in bands for Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dean Martin and others who played in concert at The Broadmoor.

Released, in 1971, on the Pike's Peak (apostrophe noted) label, this disc isn't on the same Pikes Peak label, of which Pueblo polka duo Frankie and Connie Bregar appear. Again, any help would be great.

Damn fine instrumental album, with lots of spacey keyboards - really diggin' that cover of "Caravan" (audio below).

Side One:
Sweet Georgia Brown
Alley Cat
St. Louis Blues
San Antonio Rose
Tennessee Waltz

Side Two
Steel Guitar Rag
Ramblin' Rose
Caravan (listen to sample)
Satin Doll
Down Yonder

No acknowledgements or credits for the other musicians on this disc (who the heck is that fantastic guitarist?). Liner notes on the back:

From the majestic snowcapped rockies has emerged a fresh sound - the sound of Mr. Music, Ray Charles, who has appeared in person and thrilled audiences at most of the smart, plush nightclubs from coast to coast! The Hammond organ, always a lush, pleasing sound, seems to take on a new depth and dimension under the talented fingers of Mr. Music.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day courtesy of Dick Lamm

Hey all, given that today is Earth Day, I thought I would dig out this very obscure ecology recording, featuring then-Colorado House of Representative, and later Colorado Governor, Richard Lamm.

Elected in 1964, Lamm was an early leader of the environmental movement, and was President of the First National Conference on Population and the Environment. In 1972, as a member of the Colorado General Assembly, Lamm led the movement against Denver's hosting of the 1976 Winter Olympics. Denver had already been awarded the games, but the movement succeeded in cutting off public funding for the games, forcing the city to cancel its hosting. Innsbruck, Austria replaced Denver as the host. Lamm's successful effort made him known statewide.

He was elected governor in 1974.

 In 1984, his outspoken statements in support of physician-assisted suicide generated controversy, specifically over his use of the phrase "we have a duty to die."  His dire predictions for the future of social security and health care ("duty to die") earned him the nickname "Governor Gloom."

No clue when this LP was produced (pressed on the Ecology label).  According to a 1975 Billboard article, Lamm said the LP was used as a fundraiser for his legislative campaign, so it was released before 1974. Besides the spoken word numbers, narrated by Lamm, there are a few lo-fi folk songs by Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductee Harry Tuft, plus Dick Weissman, Ed Trickett, and Jan Hannah (her first vinyl appearance) and includes a cover of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall."


Lamm was elected Colorado governor three times. When he left office in 1987, after three terms and twelve years in the office, he was the longest-serving governor in state history (his successor, Roy Romer, matched this record).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Black Canyon Gang - Ridin' High (1974)

Yeah, yeah, it's 4/20 and everyone is diggin' out their stoner songs...

Thought I would play one from the fantastic mellow Colorado country LP, Ridin' High "(featuring the finest in Colorado Country head music)," from the Black Canyon Gang.

(yes, that's how Acapulco is spelled in the title--
no need to send me a typo correction)

The Black Canyon Gang (Montrose/Olathe area brothers, Bill Bland Austin and Russell Austin, Robert Dale Mount, Bart Lyons and Paul Hunter) signed on with promoter Dick Woods, who worked extensively with Gladys Hart, the Colorado country music promotions queen. According to a 1975 issue of Billboard, Woods purchased Mountain Records from Ethel and Steve Mengee. The story goes on to report that Woods also signed Mike Bowman and Dick Kerns to his new label, along with the Black Canyon Gang. The LP was recorded at Viking Studios, in Denver.

In 1974, the band was on the bill for the first annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

Categorized as singer/songwriter "hippybilly," the Black Canyon Gang made a resurgence this year, when the band's song "Lonesome City" appeared on the Numero Group compilation, Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music.

According to the liner notes: "The Black Canyon Gang were a group of farm hands who simply enjoyed making music together: “The boys spent afternoons playing music, hunting rodents, drinking beer and smoking herb." As Black Canyon Gang vocalist and electric guitarist Russell Austin reflects on that decade, he recalls, “Apathy was everywhere. We gave a generation of weary downtrodden youth hope. It actually brought hippies, rednecks, bikers, warriors and regular people together … We were trying to make it through a rough time in history and help as many people as we could. And it worked.”