"KEN GRIFFIN DEDICATION SHOW"
The North Suburban Home Organ Society,
Woburn, Boston, Massachussettes
On Sunday 28th of October 2007
Eric Larson & Kurt Armsden
Ken Griffin's 'traveling' Hammond AV
Kurt Armsden outside his home in Maine The rental truck ready to transport the Hammond AV
Kurt & friends ready to move the Hammond AV out of the house Ken's Hammond AV
The heavy Hammond AV is no effort for these guys
The Hammond is tied down to protect it in transport
Ken's Hammond AV, safely set-up at Woburn, Boston
It wasn't all plain sailing. The AV along with Kurt's other Hammond organ was almost lost when Kurt's home was badly flooded during a storm when a weir burst and the stream which runs adjacent to Kurt's property rose to flood level conditions. Thanks to quick thinking Kurt called Eric and they saved the day by tipping both Hammonds on their sides and completely disassembling the organ pedal switch assemblies, drying off the pedal switch assemblies as much as possible and then applying electric fans over two-three days. Because the AV had cotton covered wiring from the pedal switch to the tone generator, this necessitated unsoldering the entire pedal switch cable, removing the wires from the wiring tube beside the expression pedal, and then unlacing the pedal cable and spreading the wires out to dry. The pedal boards also needed drying out and some adjustment and also the repairing of some of the glue joints in the woodwork at the heel or back end of each pedal board. Both Hammonds were standing in fourteen inches of water for perhaps four to six hours. Fortunately, both Hammonds survived this flooding, and suffered no permanent damage. It was fortunate that Kurt discovered the flooding right after it occurred so that he could get Eric up there in time to do the repair work. It is also fortunate that for years Eric had been a Hammond service technician and was familiar with the intricacies of tone wheel Hammonds, although Eric said that this was definitely his first flood repair job..
When it came time to setting up the AV at the Ken event, Eric discovered a fault in Ken's A20 Speaker cabinet, which was original with the organ. The power amplifier's original oil-filled capacitor shorted out. Fortunately, Kurt knew a neighbor lady where he lived who had a Hammond C2 with an HR40 cabinet, so Eric drove the truck back to Maine to get the HR40, which finally allowed Ken's AV Hammond to sing forth with wonderful tone. But then, within five minutes, everything went dead! Eric began checking through everything and discovered, much to his considerable chagrin, which evoked some choice words, that two of the six wires in the cable had dried and brittle insulation for their entire lengths. Not having ready access to a replacement cable, Eric ran two external wires along the outside of the cable to replace those with dried out insulation and then soldered these wires to the appropriate pins in the plug and socket at the ends of the cable. Finally, everything appeared to work! The next day, there was another fault. Eric discovered a loose connection in a mixer unit Eric was using however it was too close to show time to go back for a replacement. This unfortunately prevented the successful use of two digital signal processors, which Eric had planned to use to simulate tape echo and other special effects that Ken used. However, even without that, the AV sounded absolutely magnificent playing through the big Hammond HR40 cabinet which worked perfectly and gave the AV a big, magnificent sound with real floor-shaking bass.
Ken's AV organ is in excellent condition considering its age and there are only a few superficial markings on the framework, which includes three cigarette burns that were made by Ken. You can just make them out on the left hand side of the lid top and an inch or two along the top of the music stand. There is marking left from, probably a wet music or magazine print on the left side of the organ bench. I enjoyed giving the organ top and keyboards a light wash and dry to remove some dust.
The Hammond AV all set up at the venu ready for next days' show
With the back off the AV while Eric checked out the electrical fault with the cable I took the opportunity to photograph the inside workings. The white object to the right is an electric heater that keeps damp at bay.
Also available for our use was a Hammond X66, which is permanantly at the North Suburban Home building
Kurt & Eric at Rehearsals. You can see the replacement HR40 speaker in the centre. At the back is a Leslie Speaker plus a special X66 Speaker just out of view to the right. There was also two smaller speakes plugged into the system, forming five speakers that created a great organ sound.
Kurt making the opening introductions
Eric describing the overdubbing arrangements that Ken used on many recordings
Kurt & Eric discuss the overdubbing of their next Ken Griffin Arrangement
Kurt at the AV and Eric playing accompaniment and overdub on Ken's arrangement of 'Ain't She Sweet'. Eric used a Yamaha Keyboard for this arrangement
Eric plays overdub on the Hammond X66 while Kurt plays Ken's arrangement of 'In An 18th Century Drawing Room'
SOME VIEWS OF THE AUDIANCE
It was nice to see some young people there too
KEN's HAMMOND AV
This particular Hammond AV was one of two such Hammonds built for Ken, which were painted in white with a Mother-Of-Pearle surround. Other than this they were normal Hammond organs. One of the organs was in permanant residance at the Old Heidelberg Restaurant in Chicago where Ken played for many years. It is also where Ken collapsed and died in 1956. That Hammond AV disappeared after Ken's death and hasn't been seen since
The Hammond AV which Kurt has was purchased from Ken's niece, Kay Griffin Vegan and was transported from Oregon to his home in Main. This was one of Ken's travelling organs. It is the same organ (seen below) as appeared in the advert for Ken's arrangement of 'Once In A While' that was sung by Ann Gilbert. We are not sure if this actual AV was used in the recording. While Ken had a number of Hammond organs there was more than often one available at the organ studios where he recorded.
With this famous organ available for the Dedication Show a number of people were keen to be photographed at the keyboards and I was pleased to do this for them.......
Bill Lambert from Rhode Island
David Sylvester from Rhode Island. You can make out Ken's cigarette burns on the organ lid.
Of course, ever since hearing of this famous Hammond AV I have wished to actually see and hear it and it was a great pleasure to finally accomplish this when visting Kurt's home and to be involved in the transporting of it to Boston for this years' Dedication Show. Likewise, I too wished to have a photo sitting at the AV and as you can see above, I finally made it.
Bill Reid's Report
With everything set-up and ready only last minute things required attention before the show got off to a start around 1.15 pm on Sunday 28th of October. There were no problems or hitches throughout the day and our two organists, Kurt Armsden and Eric Larson were able to relax and enjoy their musical selections. The Hammond AV produced the correct 'Griffin Sound', while the X66 and Yamaha Keyboard added the perfect accompaniment.
Eric Larson started the day's events off with the presentation of one programme from Ken's TV show "67 Melody Lane" on a large screen TV set. This gave everyone the opportunity of seeing and hearing Ken as he was in 1954, making a good intoduction as to what this Dedication Show was all about..
Kurt Armsden started the playing off with an intoduction and explanation of the Ken Griffin Dedications Shows and how he came to own Ken's Hammond AV. The format of the show was for Kurt and Eric to play three or four tunes individually then play as a due on the AV, X66 or Keyboard for overdubbed arrangements. Ken was a forerunner of using two tape recorders to first play the melody then add one or more overdubs that went onto the final recording. On some overdubs Ken played a piano rather than an organ, which created some very interesting arrangements as some of you may know, in such numbers as When You Wore A Tulip or Apple Blossom Wedding.
Together, Eric and Kurt played straight numbers almost as if it were Ken himslef and added overdubbed arrangements, if not exactly and precisely, at least for those who know Ken's recordings were left in no doubt as to what was being played. It is no easy task to play these overdubs as a duo compared to Ken using two separate recordings and editing them together. However our organist due did an excellent job with precision and timing, proving just how good organists and musicians they are. They both kept the audiance fixated and with each number the applause got louder and longer until the audiance gave a well deserved standing ovation for the final numbers.
We had three hours for the show, which included a half hour interval. I would guess that we had a good hour two hours and more of music.
If I Had You
Side By Side (On The X66)
Eric & Kurt
Cruising Down The River
Have You Heard
Kurt & Eric
Eric Larson (On AV)
Beautiful Island Of Somewhere
Eric Larson & Bill Reid
Limberlost (Eric on AV and Bill on X66)
Eric Larson (X66)
Kurt Armsden (On AV)
Object Of My Affection
This included a Raffle run by Peggy Pratt. Refreshment prices were by voluntary payment .
Eric Larson and Kurt Armsden
When You Wore A Tulip
Tea For Two (Eric's own arrangement with rapid key changes)
Sentimental Journey (Eric's own arrangement)
Wonderful One (Dedicated to his wife)
Kurt Armsden and Eric Larson
In An 18th Century Drawing Room (With Eric, who played the fast counter-melody at the X66)
Beer Barrel Polka
Ain't She Sweet (with Eric at the keyboard)
Five Foot Two, Eyes Of Blue
White Cliffs Of Dover
Dream A Little Dream, Of Me
Eric Larson and Kurt Armsden
You Can't Be True, Dear
Eric and Kurt were given a well earned standing ovation after these two numbers then concluded the programme with "Take Me Back To The Ball game" that had the audiance singing along.
This concluded an excellent dedication to Ken Griffin
Our thanks to Margaret (Peggy) Pratt, Vice Presedent of the Organ Club, who assisted Eric in the arrangement of the venue and who worked very hard to set up a very nice table presentation for the audiance.. Likewise thanks to the members of the Woburn Suburban Organ Club who made food and refreshments available.
Read Eric's excellent article on Ken's Hammond AV on the Home Page, at Link 28
Photos by Bill Reid. Using a Canon 350 Digital Camera.
Watch these pages for the 2008 Dedication Show. It 'can' only get better!
Footnote: Last year you will possibly remember my mentioning Robert Ridgeway who was involved with the Sanfilippo Estate, where he looked after the mighty Wurlitzer organ and all the restorations and repairs of the large collection of Fairground organs, railway and musical instuments. Robert suffered from severe Rhumatism and had to have two knee joints replaced. However, his insurance didn't cover the very expensive operations and through the kindness of his many friends and especially the organists who he is involved with at Sanfilipo they kindly recorded enough tracks to produce a two-cd set, at their own time and expense, to raise money for the operations, which took place in Thailand, because it proved faster and so much cheaper than in the U.S. So much for those in the U.K. who would like to see the National Health Service privatised, this will be the end result for those who won't be able to pay for Private Health Insurance. If you are for it I hope you have as good and as many loyal friends as Robert has, should you ever require it. However, Robert's operations were very successful and he is now getting around comfortably. However he has still been left with a large bill for the operations and is working hard to try and clear them. You can help by simply purchasing the two-CD set, which has the greatest collection of World-Known organists ever to appear together on one set of recordings.
The nine organists playing are: Steve LaManna, Jack Darr, Chris Gorsuch, John Ferguson, Chris Elliot, Jim Zodak,
Jelani Eddington, Mark Herman and Lew Williams, At the Wonder Morton 4/26. Recorded at the Wheaton Fox Studio.
Email Robert Ridgeway at www.magneticlab.com for full info. The CD price is $30 (Appx. £17). Check for postage to the U.K. or Europe etc. This is a two-Cd set, containing a total of 28 tracks. You will not only have a very unique collection of organ music but the cost will be going to a very worthy cause. Two CD's and twice as rewarding. Couldn't ask for more!
Further information at: www.wheatonfox.com
Sanfillipo Estate Visit: Link
"Ken's music just goes on and on"