The Old Town Music Hall
Old Town Music Hall is a concept that started in 1958 by Bill Coffman and Bill Field with the purchase of the Mighty Wurlitzer from the Fox West Coast Theater in Long Beach CA. This concept became a reality in 1960 when this fully restored instrument was installed in a small studio in Los Angeles for the purpose of presenting organ concerts and silent films to public and private audiences. Due to inadequate space the instrument was dismantled and stored. In November 1968 search for a new and suitable location resulted in its present home of 188 seats in the original El Segundo State Theater on Richmond Street.
In Old Town Music Hall, you are in the year 1926 before the advent of sound films and electronic instruments. Our programming is built around the theatrical productions of the 1920s when the theater organ was used to present accompaniment to silent films, perform incidental music for theater audiences as well as solo concerts. The WurliTzer Organ Company (located in North Tonawanda, up state New York) was the largest manufacturer of these instruments. When talking pictures entered the scene in 1929 live musicians were no longer needed. Therefore, the theater organ suffered a sudden death. A revival on the part of collectors and hobbyists in the 1950s resurrected these instruments and brought them out of the theaters to be heard once again. But not until most of these instruments had been destroyed, damaged, vandalized or hauled away just to get rid of them -- or in some instances during World War II the organ pipes were melted down for scrap metal.
Bill Coffman and Bill Field were already professional organists in 1958 when they entered into a long partnership which resulted in the birth of Old Town Music Hall. Their mechanical expertise has been useful in the restoration, maintenance and complete installation of this organ in El Segundo. They continue to maintain it and share it with audiences on a regular basis.
Performances of theater organ concerts, silent film presentations, ragtime and jazz piano and turn-of-the-century orchestras are regularly presented. Many of our fine performers publicly heard for the first time on our stage have gone on to professional full time careers in music. These artists have helped to keep alive the historical music of ragtime, jazz and theater organ thus bringing this music out of obscurity to be heard once again in public.
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