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4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer
Hybrid Theatre Pipe Organ
Granada Theatre in Old Town Kern
Bakersfield, California

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the console of the Granada Theatre's 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
The console of the Granada Theatre's Mighty Pipe Organ.



This month's featured organ is the 4/24 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ installed at the Granada Theatre in Old Town Kern, Bakersfield, California.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the Bone Doctor at the console of the Granada Theatre's 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
The Bone Doctor plays the Granada Theatre's Mighty Theatre Pipe Organ.

The tonal colors of this fine Theatre Pipe Organ were endless. There was magic that thrilled all who gave the old gal a go. Seen in the shot above is the Bone Doctor in seventh heaven as he cuts loose with some bluegrass and old time gospel music, something one normally does not hear being played on the TPO.



A Closer Look at the Console


Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the keydesk of the 4/24 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ installed at the Granada Theatre in Bakersfield, California.
The keydesk of the 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer
Theatre Pipe Organ installed at the Granada Theatre.

Jim Spohn spent years assembling this unique Theatre Pipe Organ from parts he has been a long time collecting. Two organs were combined to build this massive machine, a Robort Morton and a Mighty WurliTzer. The console from the three manual Robert Morton was enlarged to hold four manuals by inserting wood spacer panels below the keydesk side panels and boster end blocks of the horseshoe.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the playing table of the 4/24 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ installed at the Granada Theatre in Bakersfield, California.
The playing table of the 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer
Theatre Pipe Organ installed at the Granada Theatre.

In this shot, we are looking up at the keydesk of the console. The only illumination provided is the light coming from the horseshoe lights.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the left bolster of the 4/24 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
The left bolster of the 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

This is the left end of the horseshoe containing the Pedal and Accompaniment stops. Note the extra room for the addition of more stops in the future as the organ is expanded further.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the center bolster of the 4/24 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
The center bolster of the 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

Moving on around the horseshoe, we come to the center bolster and fallboard containing the Solo stops in the top row, the Accompaniment stops on the left, Tremulants in the middle, some of the Great stops to the right, and on the fallboard are found the Pedal Second Touch voices and Great tuned percussions.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the right bolster of the 4/24 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
The right bolster of the 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

At the right end of the horseshoe are found the Bombarde stops in the top row and the Great stops in the bottom row. Note the tree indicator lights for pistons that control Wood and Brass presets along with a light that illuminates when the crscendo shoe is depressed. No more guessing if that shoe is down or not!



A Closer Look At The Chambers


When one looks along the side walls of the auditorium, the large chambers are evident and dominate the front part of the theatre with their multiple swell shades of immense size which allow the full power of this huge instrument to fill the room from a whisper to thundering loudness. We ventured inside these pipe filled rooms to take a look deep into the belly of the beast.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the Mainn chamber box of the 4/24 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
The Main chamber box of the 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

In this view, we are looking toward the left of the auditorium where the Main chamber box is located. Each chamber houses 12 ranks of pipes and serveral percussions and toys, some of which are unenclosed on top of the chamber boxes. Dean Cook can be sighted at the console just behind the Main chamber.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the pipework of the 4/24 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
The pipework of the 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

Here, we see some of the pipework in the Solo chamber. Note the full compliment of wooden Tibia Clausa pipes and the Color Reeds and Strings mounted on the unit chest in the front of the chamber facing the entry door.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the pipework of the 4/24 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
The pipework of the 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

There is a virtual sea of pipes in the Solo chamber of many different kinds which allow this magnificent machine to sing forth with thousands of tones from very quiet and delicate sounds to powerful thundering and room shaking notes in the bottom end.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the toy counter of the 4/24 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
The toy counter of the 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

This instrument does not lack special effects. The enclosed toy counter of the Solo chamber has something for every occasion, from drums to sirens, sleigh bells, blocks, and other neat gadgets.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the  of the 4/24 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
The of the 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

There are enough toys in the Solo chamber alone to accompany anything you would want to do during a silent movie. Note the large air raid siren and the cymbals, along with a large triangle and jingle rack.



Two Little Tooters


The Granada Theatre in Bakersfield boasts more than one organ, as a matter of rfact, there are three. The biggest is the main feature of this month, but it would not be correct to leave the other two organs of much smaller size out of the picture. So, we will take a look at the first of them below.

The 2/9 Mighty WurliTzer Style F
Theatre Pipe Organ in the Lobby

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the console of the 2/9 Style F Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ installed at the Granada Theatre.
The console of the 2/9 Style F Mighty WurliTzer
Theatre Pipe Organ in the lobby of the Granada Theatre.

In the lobby of the Granada Theatre lives a neat little console that is a typical example of a real working man's Theatre Pipe Organ straight out of the roaring twenties. These were numerous across America during the golden years for silent movies and the King of Instruments.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the stop sweep of the 2/9 Style F Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ installed at the Granada Theatre.
The stop sweep of the 2/9 Style F Mighty WurliTzer
Theatre Pipe Organ in the lobby of the Granada Theatre.

Looking down at the stop sweep of this beautiful console, we can see that it is well endowed for a smaller instrument, containing everything one needs to make gorgeous music. Along with the nine ranks of stops, there are also traps and tuned percussions galore.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the left bolster of the 2/9 Mighty WurliTzer Style F console.
The left bolster of the 2/9 Mighty WurliTzer Style F console.

We begin our tour of the horseshoe, starting at the left end of the two manual playing table. In this shot, we are looking at the Pedal stops along with a few of the Accompaniment stops. Note the Empire styling of the console, with the straight unscrolled edge on the horseshoe lid.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the center bolster of the 2/9 Mighty WurliTzer Style F console.
The center bolster of the 2/9 Mighty WurliTzer Style F console.

Continuing around the horseshoe, we are looking at the center bolster and fallboard, we see a wealth of back rail stops below more of the Accompaniment and a few of the Solo stops. Note the array of Second Touch voices in the Accompaniment and Solo manuals.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the right bolster of the 2/9 Mighty WurliTzer Style F console.
The right bolster of the 2/9 Mighty WurliTzer Style F console.

We finish our look around the horseshoe by arriving at the right bolster which contains the Solo stops. Note the two switches that patch the traps either to the Pedal or the Accompaniment, or both of the two switches are down at once. Also note the lights without wooden hoods, simular to those found on the J. Tyson Forker Memorial 4/32 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ installed at Grace Baptist Church in Sarasota, Florida. You could say this Style F console is the little brother to the larger organ in terms of styling, though the smaller console has a much darker finish on the wood.


2/3 Mighty Spohn Pipe Organ
Upstairs Organ Shop

Click here to download a 1944 x 2592 JPG image showing the tools of the trade in the organ shop upstairs.
The tools of the trade in the organ shop
upstairs at the Granada Theatre in Bakersfield, California.

We will now take a look at the other of the two smaller organs installed at the Granada Theatre. When one enters the theatre, there are two staircases on either side of the lobby that take you to the men's restroom and projection room on the left and the ladies restroom and organ shop on the right.

Click here to download a 1944 x 2592 JPG image showing the 2/3 Mighty Spohn Pipe Organ installed in the organ shop upstairs.
The 2/3 Mighty Spohn Pipe Organ installed in the organ shop
upstairs at the Granada Theatre in Bakersfield, California.

If you take the stairs up to the organ shop, you find a neat little three-rank two-manual and pedal pipe organ built by Jim Spohn. This is truly a magical little instrument, the likes of which we have never seen before.

Click here to download a 1944 x 2592 JPG image showing the 2/3 Mighty Spohn Pipe Organ installed in the organ shop upstairs.
The 2/3 Mighty Spohn Pipe Organ installed in the organ shop
upstairs at the Granada Theatre in Bakersfield, California.

In this view, we can see the entire pipe organ as it sits in the shop, ready to play. This marvel of orga engineering was constructed entirely by Jim Spohn from parts he had on hand, being an avid pipe organ afficionado and collector. The sound it makes is rather unique, and the Walnut Hill Production team plans on taking a special return visit to the Granada Theatre in order to make some recordings of this tiny but powerful instrument.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the playing table of the 2/3 Mighty Spohn Pipe Organ installed in the organ shop upstairs.
The playing table of the 2/3 Mighty Spohn Pipe Organ.

If we move in close to the small instrument, we see the stops on the playing table of the console. Note the theatre organ style tonges and the engraved naming on the stops. Though it has only three ranks, many stops are required to control the full unification of this wonderful organ.



A Closer Look at the Granada Theatre


The Granada Theatre in Old Town Kern was constructed as a neighborhood movie house in 1928. It served the community well through the fifties, whereupon it closed and fell into disrepair.

During the sixties, it was refurbished and reopened for a short time, but once again, the doors closed and it sat vacent awaiting a new owner. During the time that elapsed until Jim and Lucy Spohn purchased it, squatters had taken up residence inside and the auditorium had flooded due to a leaky roof.

Jim began the long process of restoring the building, which entailed repairing the roof, cleaning the auditorium, repainting everything and returning the projection booth and concession stand to their former glory.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the entrance to the Granada Theatre in Bakersfield, California.
The entrance to the Granada Theatre in Bakersfield, California.

Here, we see the entrance to the Granada Theatre in Old Town Kern, Bakersfield. Note the marquee which proudly states "There's a WurliTzer Here!" Indeed, there is, one of mighty power with a golden voice, truly a one-of-a-kind instrument.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the lobby of the Granada Theatre in Bakersfield, California.
The lobby of the Granada Theatre in Bakersfield, California.

Looking into the lobby of the theatre, we see a Style F Mighty WurliTzer console flanked by antiques that the Spohns have collected over the years. One either side of the lobby are stairways leading up to the restrooms, projection room and the organ shop.

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the consession stand of the Granada Theatre in Bakersfield, California.
The consession stand at the Granada Theatre.

To the right of the lobby we find the consession stand of the theatre, home of Lucy's juicy cheeseburgers, fresh buttered popcorn and fountain drinks, along with a selection of tempting candy and other snacks. If you go away hungry after your visit here, it is your own fault!

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the auditorium of the Granada Theatre in Bakersfield, California.
The auditorium of the Granada Theatre.



Free Music Downloads


On Saturday, May 5th at 8AM, the doors of the Granada Theatre in Old Town Kern, Bakersfield opened to greet theatre organ enthusiasts to a first time annual event of historic perportions. Representing Walnut Hill was Cyrus Roton, the Bone Doctor, and Russ Ashworth.

The Walnut Hill Production Team attended and had the cameras and recorders rolling to document the event. Look for this instrument to be featured in August 2007. We made some recordings using the Samson Zoom H4 and took dozens of photos using two digital SLR cameras, our trusty Canon Power Shot S2-IS and the Kodak D70 belonging to Fred Willis. We were unable to get video, however, because the laptop was not available as a file repository. Some of these are posted below. There are more to follow. Stay tuned as we sort through this new material and post more here in the days ahead.

Members of WHOC that played the massive instrument were Cyrus Roton, Russ Ashworth, and the Bone Doctor. All were recorded and photographed. We present some exerpts from the results of our efforts below for all to enjoy.


Exerpts From The Bone Doctor's Sunday Performance

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing the Bone Doctor at console of the Granada Theatre's 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
The Bone Doctor at the console of the Granada Theatre's
4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

On May 5th and 6th of 2007, fellow Featured Artist Bone Doctor took the bench of this great instrument to play the following selections for you to enjoy.

  1. My Father's World
    Playing time = 3:25, file size = 3.18MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  2. Never Grow Old
    Playing time = 2:53, file size = 2.67MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  3. Noodling on the way to the Steel Guitar Rag
    Playing time = 4:06, file size = 3.81MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  4. Norwegian Wood
    Playing time = 2:45, file size = 2.56MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  5. Wildwood Flower
    Playing time = :, file size = .MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  6. Just A Closer Walk With Thee
    Playing time = 3:25, file size = 3.17MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  7. Saint Louis Boogie
    Playing time = 3:01, file size = 2.80MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.


Exerpts From Dean Cook's Sunday Performance

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing Dean Cook at console of the Granada Theatre's 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
Dean Cook at the console of the Granada Theatre's
4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

Two fine musicians, Dean Cook and Greg Rister, blew our socks off as they played the huge instrument in concert and silent movies with masterful skill. Several other enthusiastic folks took a go at the old gal, including her builder, Jim Spohn, who plays quite well indeed. First up is some material from Dean Cook's Sunday show, played with great registration and a firey style.

  1. Puttin' On The Ritz
    Playing time = 2:36, file size = 2.42MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  2. Moonlight Serenade
    Playing time = 4:13, file size = 3.91MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  3. Marche`De Zacatecas
    Playing time = 4:32, file size = 4.19MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  4. Bridge Over The River Kwai
    Playing time = 4:10, file size = 3.86MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  5. Besame Mucho
    Playing time = 3:12, file size = 2.96MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  6. Sabre Dance
    Playing time = 2:40, file size = 2.48MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.


Exerpts From Greg Rister's Saturday Performance

Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing Greg Rister at console of the Granada Theatre's 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
Greg Rister at the console of the Granada Theatre's
4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

Greg Rister wowed us next with some very smooth renditions of difinative theatre organ music, played in a style that is easy to listen to and well registered on the horseshoe.

  1. Speak Easy
    Playing time = 3:01, file size = 2.80MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
  2. If I Loved You
    Playing time = 3:59, file size = 3.69MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.


Exerpts From Jim Spohn's Performances

Click here to download a 1944 x 2592 JPG image showing Jim Spohn at console of the Granada Theatre's 4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
Jim Spohn at the console of the Granada Theatre's
4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.

Jim Spohn enetertained us with some silent movies and a few selections he arranged for silent movie accompaniment. We present exerpts from those performances below for your enjoyment. Jim played well and really knew his way around the console, as to be expected since he built the organ!

  1. Amos & Andy Medley
    Playing time = 5:52, file size = 5.42MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.


Exerpts From Other Performing Artists

There were other artists who took the bench and entertained us. It is not yet known who did the track below, and so the file name will have to be changed when the information becomes available. There was a lot going on that day! We were in a whirlwind just trying to keep up. There will be more selections added as they are processed. Stay tuned for those...

  1. Unforgettable Medley
    Playing time = 9:49, files size = 9.05MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.



About The Music


Click here to download a 2592 x 1944 JPG image showing some of the conventioneers posing in front of the console of the 4/24 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ.
Conventioneers pose in front of the console of the
4/24 Mighty Robert Morton/WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ
installed at the Granada Theatre in Bakersfield, California.

These recordings were made live using a Zoom H4 digital audio recorder provided by the Founding Father of Walnut Hill Productions, Fred Willis. There is audience and other racket made by the huge beast which is evident in these tracks. We chose not to edit out this extra spice so as to give the same ambiance to the listener that we experienced during this informal event.

The recorder was placed at front row stage center directly on one of the seat cushions. The arms of the seat acted as gobos which greatly increased the left-to-right channel separation. The Main chamber is in the left channel while the Solo chamber is in the right channel. Once the tracks were uploaded to the computer at the Office of Operations, each was treated to the following post edit sequence:

  1. Open the track in Sonic Foundry SoundForge 6.
  2. Remove low frequency rumble below 20Hz to correct DC offset.
  3. Normalize each channel to -3dB.
  4. Run Waves MaxxBass to restore the bottom octave.
  5. Run Waves L3 Ultra Maximizer to make the signal broadcast ready.
  6. Run Waves Noise Reduction to eliminate any electrical noise.
  7. Normalize the track to -0.3dB for maximum saturation.
  8. Fade in the head and fade out the tail.
  9. Add two seconds of silence at the head.
  10. Save the track and open in Windows Media Encoder 9.
  11. Save the file as a 128KB/sec streaming WMA file.

We have found this procedure to yield a file that streams well over most internet connections and plays back at the loudest possible volume with the least amount of noise with no distortion in the signal. The resulting files are good enough to burn to CD once stored on the remote computer after a download.

Since the recorder was set up to mic the room and not the organ directly, the listeners get to hear what we heard, as if they were sitting in the best seat in the house. It must be noted that only 17 of the 24 ranks were under wind when these tracks were cut.



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