Sunday, 27 August 2017

USA 2017 - Laura with the Band organs part 2

After visiting the Herschell Company Caroussel Factory Museum Laura arrived back at Olcott beach after driving through a lakeside hamlet called Wilson, where Sasha collector Dorisanne used to spend her childhood summers

The band organ rally was in full swing with nearly 50 organs, large and small, playing in the park and in the street near to the Carousel Park.  And the weather was glorious.  The trees provided much needed shade in the blazing sunshine and Laura and her girl were pleased to relax and listen to a concert given by one of the larger band organs (built by its owner, a very good example of a home built organ) with a real live band of flute, clarinet, tubas, euphonium, trumpet and drum.  The music for the organ had been arranged to play with or without a live band and there had been no rehearsal, all the band members were sight-reading their (quite complicated) parts.  Recipe for disaster?  Not a bit - it was a brilliant 45 minutes of music, they had all done this kind of thing before and the organ was very good (the music was arranged on midi, with the owner playing Euphonium and controlling the start of the music via his small computer at the front of the organ). 

The live band plays with Trudy the organ as Laura rests on the table behind the band

Trudy the organ with the live band in Krull Park at Olcott Beach
See Stefan's video of Trudy and the band playing 'Florentiner March'.

After the organ and band concert Laura saw more mechanical organs which were using both old and new methods to play the music.  Many of them were paper roll playing organs which had also had midi electronic players installed so that they could play their old paper rolls or the new music programmed using midi.

An old Artizan band organ (from the Herschell Carousel Museum) which plays both paper rolls and midi music

The back of the Artizan band organ showing the double paper roll player (for a quick changeover of music, as rolls have to be rewound) and midi electronic action (below the paper roll players) controlled by the tablet computer on the left

This lovely Dutch street organ was built recently in The Netherlands and shipped to Canada. One of the side panels has a painting of the Niagara Falls on it.

Laura found icecream and fun in Olcott Beach Carousel Park.  This little amusement park was filled with rides for younger children and replaced the old, mainly for adults, Carousel Park which had once been in the Krull Park area.  Everything was in a clean, smart, well cared for condition and the rides were not expensive.

The information board about the restoration of the Carousel Park and the history of its carousel

The Olcott Beach Carousel - non travelling American carousels are in their own buildings

Laura liked the model boat in the Carousel Park

Laura pretended she was sailing

Laura had a ride on a Carousel horse in a small building which contained penny slot machines

Laura's Carousel horse (the romantic side)

In the early evening all the Rally people ate together in the Lions Shelter in Krull Park and this was followed by one of the organ people (who happens to be a very good wood carver of some beautiful organ facades) becoming Phineas Feelgood the magician. Laura's girl was called up to assist with the magic show which was a lot of fun.

Phineas Feelgood the Magician and his able assistant

Disappearing and reappearing foam balls trick

Most of the organs had closed up for the evening, however De Witte became one of the main evening attractions after the magic show.  The sun was setting over Toronto as some people gathered to enjoy a concert of music given by De Witte.

Saturday night sunset over Lake Ontario

De Witte serenades everyone at sunset

See my poor quality video (out of focus for most of it) of De Witte playing Dizzy Fingers or a much better quality video by Stefan of De Witte that evening ('At the sign of the swinging cymbal' from Pick of the Pops).

It was a magical evening.

On Sunday morning there was a small non denominational church service in the Lion Club shelter with all the hymns accompanied by some small street organs.

One of the small street organs which played hymns (with a parrot rather than a monkey)

It was another beautiful, hot day as Laura visited as many of the organs as possible.  Some were loud even if not large.  Band organs for fairgrounds were designed to 'take you by the ears and call you to the fair' (while street organs serenade you as you shop), the trumpet organs using the Wurlitzer music (even if they were made by other builders) were particularly loud.  Some such as Wurlitzer, Bruder, Gavioli and Artizan, had been built by organ builder companies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries either in Europe or the USA.  Some were more recently built by modern organ builders or enthusiasts who had spent many years researching, experimenting and making their creations for their own personal reasons, some copying old organ designs while others using a mix of styles and sounds.  Laura liked an organ made by a husband in memory of his beloved wife Judith Lynn, it did not have a carved façade but had lots of decorative fairground items surrounding the pipes instead.

Laura looking at a home built band organ 'Judith Lynn'

Carousel decorations for 'Judith Lynn'

'Judith Lynn' bass drum and pipes

A 1911 Military band organ by Wurlitzer

Information about the 1911 Wurlitzer which had even provided music for a movie once
In the street beside the Carousel park, under a covered walkway, so sheltered from the sun, was a long line up of small street organs ('monkey' organs), some very old and some quite new.  Laura got the chance to hand turn an old barrel organ which sounded very good (sometimes barrel organ pins become misaligned and the music doesn't sound so good).

Laura hand turns a barrel organ

Laura couldn't see the barrel in the organ as she wasn't quite tall enough

A very serious monkey

Laura had seen the animated monkey puppets before in Waldkirch so wasn't surprised to see a monkey dressed in lederhosen and a green felt hat sitting with one of the small street organs.  His name was made up of the first letter of each of the names of the owner's seven children.

Bardell the JA-FI marionette


A small street organ with animated dancing figures and marquetry decoration

A tiny table top barrel piano (a real honky-tonk sound)
Back in the park Laura encountered the most unusual and unique organ of them all - the Rock organ! The builder and owner had drilled a series of holes into a lump of granite and each note was produced by blowing air across the hole, a bit like playing a flute (it was another midi controlled organ).  Laura liked his hat - he looked a bit like Abraham Lincoln!

Real Rock Music by the Rock organ

The front of the rock organ, showing all the holes and metal tubes blowing the air across the holes


'Abraham Lincoln' plays rock music!

De Witte was playing at the other end of the park, Laura and her girl rested in the shade to listen to the wide variety of music which came from its pipes. 

Laura and her girl relax with De Witte

(See my video of a short extract of De Witte playing Mary Poppins or Stefan's video of De Witte playing Bach)

During this final concert the owner switched from midi to book music so I could film it playing one of the books I had hand-turned 28 years ago on the keyframe (book reader) I had assembled as an apprentice.

De Witte's owner prepares to play a real cardboard book on the organ instead of midi
It was very sad to watch as De Witte played her last book then the shutters were lowered (I was filming at the time, I admit to some tears).  Who knows when and whether we shall see her again, however at least we have some video, the new CD and 4 days of very happy memories of music and new friendships to treasure.

We walked down to the beach for toes to go into the waters of Lake Ontario.  The lake water level is much higher than usual so there isn't much beach at the moment, however there was a family swimming off a half submerged pier and having a lot of fun.

Laura's girl with her feet in Lake Ontario on the shingle upper beach

Lake Ontario on the glorious Sunday afternoon
After a meal in a nearby restaurant with many of the rally attendees and plenty of goodbyes, Laura returned to the park to hear the 'Diamond Jubilee' Gavioli organ (the largest band organ at the rally) play a final concert to close the rally as the sun set.  Those who had remained sat in camp chairs or on park benches and chatted in between pieces of music and everyone stood for the US national anthem which uses the same tune as the British national anthem!  Then the organ façade was lowered and the shutters closed as the Olcott Beach Band Organ rally of 2017 came to a close.

Diamond Jubilee plays the last concert at the 2017 Olcott Beach band organ rally

Sunday sunset for the band organ rally

Diamond Jubilee façade being lowered

Laura returned to the hotel and her Sasha and Gregor siblings - it had been a long and very happy weekend at the band organ rally enjoying 'The Happiest Music on Earth'.

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You may be wondering about the different spellings of Carousel in these posts - the Herschell Museum spelled it Carrousel on their building whereas most people spell it Carousel - I have used both spellings).


3 comments:

Serenata said...

Wow, what amazing organs and time you had. I have had a quick read through, but will be revisiting in the morning to have another closer look at all the pictures, as they look fascinating and so much to see, that is often missed first time round.

Nanna said...

This is fantastic! I'm not a great traveller myself, so being able to share your wonderful road trip is the best thing! Those barrel organs are works of art. I've seen a few at steam fairs and they are wonderful :) Jane x

Kendal said...

I have seen a few Barrel organs with their real live monkeys in my time over the years but never a Band Organ.
Most interesting and what an unusual hobby that you all share.
The Carousel Park looked fun too.