Welcome to the Walnut Hill Gazette. The month of September sees the site reaching over 72,305 visitors, the average now being around 900 visits per month. During 2007, we broke an attendance record with 26,442 viewers. Many of these folks are young people from the large art communities in cyberspace, where we have built portal pages such as those at deviantART and Renderosity, to name a few.
In This Issue Of The Gazette...
The Founding Father of Walnut Hill Productions,Fred Willis passed away in a hospital in Bakersfield, Calofornia on Friday, September 26th, 2008 after attempts to stop a massive kidney failure and internal hemorraging failed. He was seventy-three years old.
Also headed to glory is none other than the wonderfully funny man, Stan Kann, who passed on on Monday, September 29th, 2008. Stan was the house organist at the Saint Louis Fox Theatre in Saint Louis, Missouri. He too will; be greatly missed.
As Hurricane Ike plowed through Texas, power was knocked out from Galvaston to Houston. The storm caused widespread flooding and as a result, the city lost municipalities and the server that hosts this site was down from the 12th through the 15th. Most of the city will not be back to normal for some weeks to come, but the downtown area seems to be getting back to some small degree of normalcy. Our prayers go out to the citizens of the Lone Star State.
The Second Relocation Fund Drive is now open for collecting money which is needed to move the Walnut Hill Office of Operations to Sweden sometime in late 2009. Already, a total of $645.00 has been collected, though operating expenses such as repairs and upgrades to the Main Data Server and office expenses have taken a bite out of the fund and there remains $250.00 in the PayPal account. For more details on this fund and to learn how you can make a donation, see the Second Relocation Fund Drive topic in the Headline News section further on down this page.
Walnut Hill Productions has a new business partner, the soon to be wife of the Bone Doctor, Erika Laur. She is highly skilled in business as an IT working at a bank in Stockholm doing usability testing. Also, she has equipment that will allow her to act as a field reporter for the company, doing remote on-site audio recordings and high-resolution photography. Her first project will be covering the story of the restoration work being done on the 2/7 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ that was originally installed at the Skandia Theatre in Stockholm.
The Sub Urban Cowboys are back in session again, this time working for a fellow from Las Vegas, Nevada by the name of Ken Douglas. Ken is an award winning poet who has posted material at Poetification.com, the International Society of Poetry, a world renouned organization with some of the world's finest writers in the genre. This partnership between the talents of the Cowboys and Ken has brought a major cash flow to the studio and promises to generate lots of material that will see airplay on many major radio stations across the Western United States. Stay tuned as the story unfolds...
I want to thank each and every person who visits this site as the Summer Season draws to a close, giving way to Fall. Without you, our loyal patrons, there would be no Walnut Hill. We are indeed making a difference in the Land of the King, preserving a wonderful and important slice of American and World History. Blessings be to one and all.
Richard Mogridge Webmaster/Executive Producer Walnut Hill Productions Ridgecrest, California
Stan Kann the Vacuum Cleaner Man Promoted To Glory
Stan Kann passed away Monday morning, September 29th of 2008 at Saint Louis University Hospital from complications during a heart procedure. He was 83. A resident of Saint Louis, Stan had been the organist at the Fox Theatre for 50 plus years. He was also known in the comedy world for his vacuum cleaner collection and his routines where everything usually went wrong. Stan was a terrific gentleman, superb organist in the authentic style, and hilarious performer with impeccable comedic timing. He was one of the people who brought real dignity to the Theatre Pipe Organ profession, and he was a fine human being.
God speed, Stan. You will be missed by many the world over.
The theatre organ world is less one more great enthusiast, the Founding Father of Walnut Hill Productions, Fred Willis. Fred passed away in a hospital in Bakersfield, Calofornia on Friday, September 26th, 2008 after attempts to stop a massive kidney failure and internal hemorraging failed. He was seventy-three years old.
He will be missed by all of us at Walnut Hill Productions. Survivers include his sister, Louise and his brothers, Paul and John. Services are planned at Ridgecrest Medical Center where he was staying during the end of his life here on Earth.
Fred was a war hero serving the United States Navy as a technician aboard a submarine and also serving in Viet Namm with the Navy Seals in cooperation with the Korean Special Forces.
Always one with great enthusiasm for the King of Instruments, Fred had built a massive installation of the Mighty MidiTzer Style 260 Special VTPO running on three computers, which Walnut Hill now owns. The main machine will carry the installation, now dubbed the Fred Willis Memorial Mighty MidiTzer.
It was Fred's final wishes that he be cremated and his ashes buried in Washington, his home state. More news on the memorial service to follow as we learn the details of the event. An obituary will run shortly in the Walnut Hill Gazette.
God Speed Fred, you now get to play the Mighty TPO in the sky. May the Heavens ring out with that wonderful sound. Amen.
Ever wonder what the inside of a modern Digital Classical Organ looks like? Here, we get a view looking straight into the heart of the 4/89 Mighty Allen Digital Classical Organ installed at NAWS China Lake All Faith Chapel near Ridgecrest, California. You can plainly see the stop jambs flanking the manuals above and all the PCB's, the computer cage, and power supplies. In the middle of the interior below the matrix PCB's is the black perforated sheet metal cage for the swell shoes. Click here to learn more.
Eugene Hayek has been a very busy man. On fire for the King of Instruments, he is continuously sending us new material as one of our most active field reporters.
As you well know, Eugene has one of the most elaborate Mighty MidiTzer installations around, and has graciously posted new material recorded on it. To listen to this new material, please visit his page and scroll down to the MidiTzer music section. Enjoy!
Dan Bellomy at the 4/36 Mighty WurliTzer Senate Theatre, Detroit, Michigan
Dan Bellomy could make a TPO giddy up and go. His style was so unique you never forgot it, and so refreshingly new you could not get enough. He could play jazz on the King that made you dance in your seat. He knew so many chords I was amazed at how he figured out where to put them all. You simply have to hear this man playing for yourself.
On August 29th of 2008, Dan left this world to play the Mighty Theatre Organ in the sky. We who are left behind will miss him much. The TPO community is now less one more highly talented player and enthusiast, who will be remembered as one of the greats.
Nobody played like Dan played. If you have not yet heard him, you still can. His recordings are available. You owe it to yourself to listen to the pure genius he possessed while on the bench. Below are some of Dan Bellomy's YouTube videos, provided by Ron Reseigh. Embedding was disabled on these tracks and the links will take you directly to the web page where they are posted. So, when you are done listening to one, hit your backspace key to see the others. Enjoy!
Save The Mighty WurliTzer and Grande Barton Theatre Pipe Organs At Ceder Rapids, Iowa
CEDAR RAPIDS - Cedar Rapids' two original theatre organs, rare treasures that were damaged by the flood, will be stored at The History Center, 615 First Ave. SE, while their caretakers determine whether they can be restored.
The consoles — or keyboards, controls and seats — of the Paramount Theatre's 3/12 Mighty WurliTzer and the Iowa Theatre's 3/14 Grande Rhinestone Barton pipe organs were both damaged.
The two organs are among about 40 in the country that remain in the theatres they were built for. They were once used to accompany and provide sound effects for silent movies.
The Paramount Theatre's 3/12 Mighty WurliTzer Balaban 1A was installed when the Paramount opened in 1928. The Mighty WurliTzer organ was removed from the Paramount Theatre on June 18. The Grande Barton organ was removed from the Iowa Theatre on Tuesday. That removal was sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. What happens next for the Mighty WurliTzer depends on what happens with the Paramount. The city of Cedar Rapids owns the theatre and the organ.
The Iowa Theatre's 3/14 Grande Barton console was damaged by the floodwaters, but the impact to the organ was not as visible and dramatic as the Paramount's Mighty WurliTzer. The Barton console, hit with 4 feet of floodwater, remained standing on the 4-post Barton lift unlike it’s sister at the Paramount which was toppled over and tossed around, subjected to 8.5 feet of water and weakened significantly by the experience.
The 3/14 Grande Barton organ is owned by Cedar Rapids Barton Inc., a non-profit group formed exclusively for the maintenance and preservation of the organ. That organization and the Cedar Rapids Theatre Organ Society have set up an organ restoration fund. Gifts are tax deductible, and donations can be submitted by visiting www.cr-atos.com. You can also send a donation via Pay Pal by clicking the "Donate" button below:
To see a complete photodocumentary of the damage to these instruments and the movie palaces they once lived in, click here. Be warned. The images are very graphic, enough to make any TPO buff cry like a baby.
The figures below represent the approximate daily hit count for the site since going online on April 2nd of 2004. Counter checks begin around ten in the morning and end around ten in the evening, Pacific Daylight Savings Time. Currently, that total stands at over 72,305 happy campers in the Land of the King!
Here is another YouTube presentation. This may be a YouTube first - an Audience Sing-a-Long with the words on the screen with around 1,000 people singing (hopefully). This one was done during the Radio City Music Hall Concert on August 9, 2008, yours truly at the organ console, Father Gus Franklin changed the slides and the words were on two giant LED screens on either side of the stage almost above each of the organ consoles. Who knows, this sing-a-long might even have been the first ever presented in the Music Hall with the organ.
To see more good stuff from the Colonol at Radio City, click here and then scroll down to the Headline News section. You can see still more good stuff from Jack on his YouTube Channel.
Walnut Hill Productions To Move In 2009
Walnut Hill is on the move again, this time overseas. The move will take place sometime in the fall of 2009, hopefully at the end of September. Details are not clear yet, but we can tell you that we are relocating to the Stockholm, Sweden area. This will afford us the opportunity to help out with the only known instrument of its kind in the country, the 2/7 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ now being restored for possible reinstallation in its original home in the Skandia Theatre. Click here to learn more about this wonderful little TPO and the folks who love her and are working hard to bring her back to life.
Skandia 2/7 Mighty WurliTzer Console
Another reason for the move is so that I can make a home with a fine lady who lives there, one whom I intend to marry, the lovely and talented Erika Laur of Åkersberga, which is a small community to the north of Stockholm in the Osteriker municipality of Uppland, Sweden.
I met the one I affectionately call the Rain Woman on deviantART in the fall of 2006 and we immediately became close friends, but it was not until the spring of 2008 that we began to fall in love, after many electronic letters and video conferences. During the summer, we began to colaborate on several projects in the art community. Today, we are inseperable and want very much to be married. We have lots in common, our love for the great outdoors, music, technology and art.
Walnut Hill Productions has been operating at Mister Todd's residence in Ridgecrest since October of 2007. This location, though serving us well, was known to be temporary at best. Operating the fledgeling company is continuing to be quite difficult and expensive, and things have changed in the Bone Doctor's life that spell major changes and historic events in the near future.
It cannot be determined exactly how long the Bone Doctor will be at this current location in Ridgecrest, but it is expected that he will remain here until the latter part of 2009 when he will be on the move once again, this time to the Stockholm, Sweden area.
Walnut Hill is relocating to Sweden in order to help fellow Walnut Hill Organ Club and Wall of Fame member Per Olef Schultz with the restoration of the 2/7 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ, this instrument being the only one of its kind in the entire country, which originally had a home in the Skandia Theatre in Stockholm. Our goal is to see this great instrument returned to the theatre.
The Bone Doctor, after relocating to Sweden and settling in sometime during late 2009, is to be married in early 2010 to his his dearest Erika Laur, seen in the photgraph below. This is her business side of sorts, for she is very talented not only as an artist, but also as a computer programmer. She is currently employed by a major bank in Stockholm where she is team leader for usability studies. She was signed on as co-owner of Walnut Hill Productions in August, 2008.
Erika is an accomplished musician who plays electric bass guitar and sings, along with writing songs, poems and stories. She is the loving mother of three wonderful boys aged 4, 6 and 10, named Hampus, Pontus and Emil. Doc is looking forward to helping her raise these gifted young men, having already accepted them as his own.
Erika is also known on deviantART as the Rain Woman. Here, she showcases the various styles of art she does, including her magnificent drawings of the Woodland Faeries of the Whacky Wood.
She is also an accomplished stock photographer and has a second account dedicated to this collection of works known as Whacky Wood Stock. And finally, she specializes in very tastefully done nude photography as fine art prints. You can see her incredible work in this area of study at Prints From Laura on deviantART. You must be eighteen years old or more to see these photographs.
The Bone Doctor and Erika also work together as a colaborative team in the art community, and have a third account dedicated to their collective efforts known as Eel-Rem, Queen of Oceanica Pacifica, where you will find literature and pictures from the land of Regelia Prime where live the Power Guppies, a race of technologicly advanced flying electric merfolk who rule this large water world.
Erika and Doc have many projects planned when they finally get together, including constructing a new studio for audio and video production as well as photography, forming a combo band to perform original music in the Stockholm area, and revamping the Walnut Hill website which is long overdue to go to version 5. Her knowledge of HTML and its varients will come into play as they implement cascading style sheets, a search engine, and some really nifty shopping code for the Walnut Hill General Store.
There will be many close friends they have made over the years waiting for Doc once he arrives, so the transition should not be too dificult. However, the move is expected to be rather expensive, and at this point an accurate estimate cannot be made.
Further details about how we intend to accomplish this lofty goal of getting Walnut Hill relocated to Sweden will be released soon. Once the location of our planned first home together is known, we will update the Office address and phone numbers posted throughout the site and begin forwarding company mail to the new office in Åkersberga.
The company should be able to relocate in the fall of 2009 if the paperwork is successfully filed by then, including a Passport and Permanent Residency Permit for the Bone Doctor. If all goes as planned, Erika and Doc will be married sometime in early 2010. He will remain a permanent US citizen even after the move, but it will take some years for him to attain Swedish citizenship.
Second Relocation Fund Drive Now Open
We are now opening the Second Relocation Fund Drive, which is much more ambitious than the first since the distance is greater and there is the matter of doing a container shipment from Ridgecrest overland to New York or some other available port on the Eastern Seaboard of the US prior to shipping overseas to Stockholm, where the container will once again go overland to Åkersberga, Sweden.
The four conputers along with a collection of mics, stands, and a mixing console and reference speaker system are worth thousands. But we can always remove the drives and put them in new cases once we get there if need be to cut shipping costs. However, the cost to rebuild will be high, as the only thing going over will be hard drives in that situation. Since the new hardware needs new OS's, we would have to relicense a lot of specialized software designed to run on older code. The current systems can be switched to 240VAC@50Hz via toggles on the power supplies, so adapters will be all that are needed to get them plugged into the local power grid.
Things We Need To Do
Most of the company's original equipment was left in Tennessee before relocating to California in 2006, due to the high cost of shipping. The studio machinery will travel overland and then by sea ahead of Doc's flight out. The Mighty Conn 650 will be replaced with a computer system running the Mighty MidiTzer Style 260 Special VTPO.
Below is a partial listing of the items we need for the studio in order to get back to the recording sessions Doc would like to complete, including albums from the Sub Urban Cowboys and Doc at the Mighty MidiTzer.
Schector Precision Replica Electric Bass Guitar (Ship to Sweden from Tennessee or replace)
Yamaha FG335 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (Ship to Sweden from Tennessee or replace)
Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar (Ship to Sweden from Tennessee or replace)
Console gear for the VTPO, including three 61-note MIDI manuals and a 32-note MIDI pedalboard.
We are going to have to raise a lot of money to pull this off, there is no doubt. Airfare alone for a one-way ticket bought in advance will be between $1,000 to $1,700. Passports and Permits will cost around $200. Shipping equipment could be incredibly expensive. Just to ship the collection of studio gear, which currently includes four computers and lots of periphrials, a 16-channel four-buss audio mixer, mics and the uninteruptable power supply and collection of power strips and signal cables could be over $2,000, bringing the total cost of the move to a conservatively estimated minumum of $4,000.
How To Make A Donation
As before, the original Pay Pal account which Doc and Tom Hoehn created is still active. Here, you can make your donation to help us relocate Walnut Hill Productions to Sweden. The Second Relocation Fund Drive will run all the way to the time Doc actually arrives and is settled in with Erika. He will be joining her upon his arrival, and she will already have the beginnings of a home started by then. She is to begin this process around January of 2009.
You can also send checks via standard mail to the following address, should you choose to not use the Pay Palaccount. Please make checks payable to Richard Mogridge, with the words "Relocation Fund" in the memo line. The address is:
Richard Mogridge Walnut Hill Productions 1229 Sims Street Ridgecrest, California 93555
If you have questions about the relocation fund, you can call the Bone Doctor at the Walnut Hill Office of Operations to learn more. That telephone number is 1-727-230-2610.
Become a part of history by making your donation today. Please help us to continue the work we are doing as we steadily grow and evolve, adding new features and more services such as broadcasting audio and video for all to enjoy. You'll be glad you did, knowing you will be helping to keep the King of Instruments in the public eye so that it will not be lost to future generations.
You can also become a part of this growing team of hard working Theatre Pipe Organ enthusiasts. We need the help of all those who can send in pictures, documents and recordings as audio and video clips for use in future featured organ and artist articles. Get your name in lights on our site. Call the Walnut Hill Office of Operations to learn more and get started.
Funds received during the Second Fund Drive: $645.00
All contributors will get recognized at the site should they choose, or they can remain anonymous, simply by letting the Bone Doctor know their preferences via email. Below is a listing of those individuals who have generously contributed funds and items to date:
Erika Laur Rosenback
These most kind and generous folks have earned memberships in the Walnut Hill Organ Club and will be notified of their membership status when the club goes official after the move to Sweden. We have decided to push forward with the organization while awaiting an ATOS charter. We will post our progress in the Gazette during the fledgeling phase of this project which must still undergo much planning.
This is yet another major move forward for Walnut Hill Productions, one of the fastest growing and most visited TPO sites on the internet. We are trying to keep the Walnut Hill Productions website a free place for all who love the Mighty King of Instruments. We are also trying to keep it vibrant and ever changing. We do this to preserve a very important slice of history, but we need your help to keep it going. This move will allow Walnut Hill Productions to continue making major strides forward for the King of Instruments, doing the same thing for the organs of Europe that was done for those in the United States. We are thanking you in advance. The best is yet to come!
Below are to be found links to the folks who sponsor this site and also those who freely promote the King of Instruments, the Mighty Theatre Pipe Organ. To find out how you can get an ad placed here, see the contact information for the Walnut Hill Office of Operations shown above.