Judy Collins exhibit features:
• Dress worn by Judy Collins onstage in the early 1970s
• Blue ribbon award from American Film Festival in New York City
• Judy Collins albums in different formats: LP, 8-track, cassette and open reel
• The Judy Collins Songbook (1969), containing autobiographical writings along with the sheet music
Judy Collins claims Colorado as her home state, as her family moved from Seattle to Denver in 1949, when she was 10. Her father was a singer, composer, and broadcasting personality, and she appeared as a youngster on his KOA radio program, Chuck Collins Calling. Shortly after arriving in Colorado, Collins began the study of classical piano with Dr. Antonia Brico, a conductor and pianist who devoted her life to fighting prejudice against women in the orchestral world, and she debuted with the Denver Businessmen’s Orchestra when she was just a teenager.
By the time she was a Denver East High School student, Collins had traded the classical piano for a second-hand guitar, a gift from her father. Turning to folk music, she combined her dad’s love of popular Irish tunes with the influence of Lingo the Drifter, an enigmatic Lookout Mountain resident who taught her the songs of Woody Guthrie and Josh White. At the age of 20, the now mother and wife won an audition for a job at Michael’s Pub in Boulder, earning $100 a week plus pizza and 3.2 beer. She launched her singing career performing at the Satire Lounge and the Green Spider and various mountain bistros such as the Gilded Garter in Central City and the Limelite in Aspen. The Exodus was Denver’s local point for local beats, artists, poets and a sprinkling of button-down college kids; Collins and folk singer Walt Conley were asked to be opening acts, and they were featured on the Folk Song Festival at Exodus LP.
Collins had gained her social conscience and the special gift of turning folk songs into art songs. Her crisp, clear soprano voice electrified audiences, carrying her to New York’s Greenwich Village and onto international fame. Her first album, A Maid of Constant Sorrow, was released in 1961 several months prior to Bob Dylan’s debut record. Collins stayed mainly with readings of traditional material on her early recordings, but she transitioned to singing the music of her contemporaries, bringing a wider audience to Joni Mitchell (“Both Sides Now” was Collins’ first commercial hit in 1967). Leonard Cohen and Randy Newman. She also became the foremost American interpreter of the French composer, Jacques Brel and began to write her own songs. At the close of the 1960’s, Collins scored another hit single with Ian Tyson’s, “Someday Soon,” singing about a cowboy from Colorado, and Stephen Stills wrote the Crosby, Stills, & Nash classic “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” about her. Collins enjoyed more commercial success with the 1975 Grammy-award winner “Send in the Clowns” from the Broadway play A Little Night Music and an a cappella cover of “Amazing Grace”.
Simply linking the prolific Collins to the folk music tradition would be too limited a platform for her talent. At last count, she had recorded three dozen albums, produced a documentary with director Jill Godmillow about Dr. Brico;s life entitle Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman (which earned an Academy Award nomination) written several autobiographical books and a novel, and received numerous humanitarian awards for her work with UNICEF and alcohol abuse and suicide prevention programs. She continues to record and perform music worldwide.
Serendipity Singers exhibit features:
• Tickets for the group’s performances on Hootenanny and The Ed Sullivan Show; sheet music for the “Closing” sequence of the Hullabaloo show
• Sheet music for the hit singles “Don’t Let the Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man)” and “Beans in My Ears”
• Program and song album
• Crooked Little Man French EP
The folk boom of the early 1960’s spawned numerous purveyors of well-scrubbed folk-pop, and one of the most popular ensembles to emerge was the Serendipity Singers, founded at the University of Colorado. Bryan Sennett and Brooks Hatch worked in the Harlin Trio, organized at the Delta Tau Delta house. When Sennett was inspired to expand the group, they recruited another trio of Delts, the Mark III – John Madden, Jon Arbenz, and Mike Brovsky – and two other CU students, Bob Young, and Lynne Weintraub. The ensemble, then called the Newport Singers, proved popular in Denver through stage performances and radio commercials.
The groups moved to New York in the spring of 1963, hoping to land a recording contract. Expanding again with the addition of Texas-born folksingers Diane Decker, and Tommy Tiemann, the nonet performed at the Bitter End, one of the top clubs in Greenwich Village, and gained the managed expertise of its owner, Fred Weintraub. Billing themselves as the Serendipity Singers, they passed an audition to alternate as the headline act on Hootenanny, the weekly ABC-TV folk music showcase taped at different college campuses.
Signing with Philips Records, the Serendipity Singers reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Don’t Let the Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man),” and the song was nominated at the 7th Grammy Awards in the 1965 for Best Performance by a Chorus. The follow-up, “Beans in My Ears,” hit #30 a few months later, although a few radio markets banned it because some teenagers took the song literally. Charting albums were The Serendipity Singers (#11 in March 1964), The Many Sides of the Serendipity Singers (#68 in June 1964) and Take Off Your Shoes with the Serendipity Singers (#149 in January 1965). The group appeared on such network television shows as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Tonight Show, Shindig!, and Hullabaloo.
The Serendipity Singers’ upbeat, massed vocal sound broke on the charts just as the continued impact of the Beatles and the British Invasion was about to sweep the music landscape. New member Patti Davis succeeded Lynne Weintraub, and the group performed at the White House with President Lyndon B. Johnson in attendance. The group shed its last original members by 1970; the name was sold and the Serendipity Singers continued with new lineups as a concert attraction into the 1990’s.
Bob Lind exhibit features:
• Caricature of Kim King by artist Llloyd Kavich
• Don’t Be Concerned LP; Band Box Studios demo; The Elusive Bob Lind LP
• Hardcover edition of poetry book (1971)
While not a Colorado native, Bob Lind called the state home. He graduated from high school in Aurora and enrolled at Western State College in Gunnison, where he focused on playing guitar to the exclusion of academics. He dropped out circa 1964 and moved to Denver, where he became immersed in the folk music scene and took coffeehouses such as Exodus, the Green Spider, and especially the Analyst by storm. Late one night, Lind wrote a song with vivid imagery and an extended, metaphoric narrative – “Elusive Butterfly”
Al Chapman, the owner of the Analyst, had made a tape of Lind and suggested he take it to record labels. In early 1965, the singer-songwriter left for California and shopped it with World Pacific Records, and his first session with noted arranger Jack Nitzsche yielded the single, “Cheryl Goin’ Home”. It had been out for about a month during the Christmas season of when a disc jockey at a Florida radio station flipped it over to the B-side. Listeners flipped, too. With “Elusive Butterfly”, Lind helped define the folk-rock ferment – his groundbreaking combination of emotionally literate lyrics with lush yet tasteful orchestration peaked at #5 on March 1966.
“Elusive Butterfly” was Lind’s only Top 40 hit. Out of his own pocket, he had recorded an acoustic demo tape during his Denver days at Band Box studios; Verve Folkways Records overdubbed new accompaniment without his input and released it as The Elusive Bob Lind. Follow-up singles charted on Denver’s KIMN radio but barely cracked the national charts.
During the 1970’s, Lind began easing out of the music business, concentrating on writing screenplays, novels, plays, and short stories. Over the years, more than 200 artists recorded his songs. In 2004, he resumed performing worldwide, and his 2012 album Finding You Again has been hailed by some critics as his best work ever.
Chris Daniels exhibit features:
• Shirt worn by Chris Daniels at the 1976 Telluride Bluegrass Festival
• NBN “R-2” guitar built in 1971
• 1982 monthly planner
A Minnesota teen inspired by folk music and acoustic blues, Chris Daniels settled in Colorado in 1971. He joined Magic Music, one of the first acoustic jam bands, and the act performed at the second and third Telluride Bluegrass Festivals in 1975 and 1976, held its own in local clubs and was often booked at Boulder’s the Good Earth with the funky Freddi-Henchi Band. After leaving the area to earn a B.A. in music and journalism at Macalester College and Berklee College of Music in Boston, Daniels returned to found Spoons, an influential Boulder rock band. In the early 1980’s, he toured with former Amazing Rhythm Aces frontman Russell Smith and founded the notorious After Hours Jams at the at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
In May 1984, Daniels formed a rhythm & blues horn band as a “one-night party” at the Blue Note in Boulder. After building a following on the Colorado circuit, Chris Daniels & the Kings hit the road and established loyal regional audiences in such places a Nashville, Minneapolis, New York, and even the Netherlands. In large radio markets, they made a dent on the new “adult album alternative” format. Forty years after inception, Chris Daniels & the Kings have produced a dozen albums, toured Europe twenty times, and remained a top local concert draw.
Daniels also played a hefty role in shaping the Colorado music scene. He spent five years as executive director of the Swallow Hill Music Association, during which the roots, folk and acoustic music school and concert organization won both the Governor’s Award and the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. He began teaching at Arapahoe Community College in 2002 and became an Assistant Professor for music business at the University of Colorado-Denver in 2007, winning the 2011 award for Excellence in Teaching from its College of Arts & Media. His 2012 release, Better Days, marked a return to his folk roots and found its way onto the national Americana radio chart.