Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter. Issue #9.  Bringing the world of Doo Wop, R&B, Soul and Gospel Harmony to your Inbox.. 

Classic Urban Harmony
Newsletter #09

Welcome to Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter #9.  We realize it's been a little while since our last newsletter.  We've been busy as usual, last month going to New Orleans to cover the Jazz & Heritage Festival.  (We travel the world in search of vocal group harmony, so you don't have to!)  Lots of exciting things to write about this issue, including our preparation for the first Gospel Group concert we've ever produced.  It's coming up in Asbury Park, NJ, on Saturday night, September 28, so SAVE THE DATE.  Sad to say, we've lost more singer friends - it's becoming too regular of an occurrence.  And another landmark record store has closed.  But in many ways, the group harmony scene is going strong and we're doing what we can to keep it that way.  Again, thanks so much for your support.

Classic Urban Harmony LLC promotes the legacy of Rhythm & Blues, Doo Wop, Soul and Gospel Vocal Group Harmony through multimedia presentations, historical research, interviews, magazine articles, museum displays, radio guest appearances, our website,, and this free newsletter.  Here you'll find news of important events relevant to our music as well as updates to our website and summaries of our Classic Urban Harmony activities and projects.  To read more about and see more photos from the articles in this newsletter, check the What's New Page of  We hope you'll enjoy this issue of the newsletter and again find it entertaining and informative.  Please continue passing the word on to others who might want to receive it.  They can sign up by sending their names and email addresses to - Charlie & Pam Horner - May 14, 2013

Classic Urban Harmony' and the Asbury Park Historical Society to present our first Gospel Group Harmony Concert, September 28, featuring King David's Harp, Quiet Storm, Spiritual Five and more!

Save the date, September 28, 2013, as Classic Urban Harmony and the Asbury Park Historical Society will present their first ever Gospel Group Harmony Concert at the VFW in Asbury Park NJ.  So far the line up includes King David's Harp from Portsmouth VA, the Philadelphia acappella group Quiet Storm doing an all gospel set and from South Jersey, the Spiritual Five.  We may add more groups in the future.  The VFW building was formerly the historic Asbuty Park Armory that once held concerts by the Ravens and Orioles and many more.  We'll have more details in future newsletters and on  This concert is a benefit to raise money for the Asbury Park Historical Society.

Rare Photo from Paul Ressler's Archives - The Riffmen featuring Slim Howard

Unless you're either a fanatical music historian or an extreme devote' of Philadelphia popular music, the name Slim Howard may not be familiar to you.  That's a shame, because Slim Howard was an important figure in Philadelphia music.  Born during the World War I era, Slim Howard played piano for numerous Philly bands including Jimmy Gorham's band and the Four Blues.  When Slim Howard became the regular pianist for the R&B vocal group, the Sensations in the mid-1950's, it marked the beginning of a long association between Slim and Philly radio personality and record label owner Kae Williams.  Kae's wife managed young Solomon Burke and Slim Howard became Burke's road bandleader.  Howard later played piano on "Get A Job" by the Silhouettes and also became the Silhouettes' road pianist.  It's also believed that Howard wrote songs for the Ray-O-Vacs and Flamingos, though we're not sure which ones.  Howard got he nickname "Slim" from his stature - he was described by a newspaper article as being 7'3" tall.  Our friend Paul Ressler has again lent us a rare photo from his collection, to share with readers of this newsletter.  The photo is of the Riffmen, a Philadelphia combo from 1947 including (from left to right: "Slim" Howard (piano), Charles "Pops" Briley (guitar), Jimmy Johnson (bass) and Ernie Nocho (tom toms.  The photo is from 1947.  The only confusing thing is that the photo identifies Howard as James "Slim" Howard, while we always thought his name was Orlando "Slim" Howard.  We're fairly certain it's the same Slim Howard.  How many Slim Howard pianists could there be in Philadelphia in 1947?  Where do you come up with these photos, Paul?  We'll be posting more photos from Paul Ressler's Archives in future issues.

Caleb N. Ginyard, III dies.  Music historian, author, singer, son of famous quartet singer.

While we were away in New Orleans we lost another long time friend. Caleb N. Ginyard III, singer, music historian and author died Sunday April 28, 2013 at the age of 72. Caleb was the son of Caleb N. Ginyard, legendary quartet singer with the Jubalairs, Dixieaires, Du Droppers and Golden Gate Quartet. More than a decade ago, Caleb III began a quest to find out more about his father, whom he barely knew, and document both his father's musically legacy and this quest in a book entitled "My Name Is Caleb N. Ginyard". At the time, Charlie assisted Caleb III with the research and even helped arrange for Caleb to sing one of his father's recordings, backed by the Sheps, at the United in Group Harmony Association's Hall of Fame induction of the Jubalaires. Charlie also was one of three historians Caleb invited to write a guest blurb on the book's back cover. 

Gervis Tillman, Owner of Vibro Label to receive Asbury Angels Plaque on Saturday May 18.

On Saturday May 18 at 1:00 PM, Gervis "Gus" Tillman will be one of the honorees receiving Asbury Angels plaques on the Asbury Park Boardwalk of Fame.  Presented by the Asbury Angels Foundation to honor those major major figures in the Asbury Park NJ music scene, Gus Tillman is very deserving of the recognition.  As a song writer and record label owner, he recorded such Asbury Park singers as the Ray Dots, the V-Eights, Bobby Thomas, Tony Maples, Delmar Goggins and Mike Robinson.  Tillman's Vibro label was the first Asbury Park record label of the Rock & Roll era.  Also being honored this year are  Leo Karp, owner of the famous West Side nightclub, Leo's Turf Club. Other inductees are Chris Barry (music journalist, promoter), Big Danny Gallagher (musician, songwriter), George Iocca (sound technician, owner of Dynacoustics), Kevin Kavanaugh (musician, piano teacher, Asbury Juke), Terry Magovern (icon), Phil Petrillo (master luthier, musician), Madame Era Tognoll (opera singer, founder of Metro Lyric Opera) and Bobby Williams (musician, Upstage veteran).  The plaque dedication will be on the Asbury Park Boardwalk at the 2nd Avenue entrance.  A photo exhibit of Asbury Angels inductees is on display at the Asbury Park Musical Heritage Gallery, 708 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park.  We are advisers to the Asbury Angels Foundation.  For information on the Asbury Angels Foundation, visit

Artifacts from our Vaults

Our Classic Urban Harmony Archives contain many music related treasures, some buried so deeply in our vaults that they've been long since forgotten.  We've begun bringing out these items, one per issue.  This issue's artifact is a 1952 mail order catalog from Randy's Record Shop in Gallatin, TN.  Randy's Records was started by Randy Wood in 1947 and sold records throughout the South and Mid-West.  In rural areas where record stores were absent, Randy's mail order was one of the only ways to obtain many popular and obscure recordings during the 1950's.  Randy's catalogs had a huge selection of all types of music.   Randy's Record Shop was also the home of Dot Records, one of the largest independent record labels of the 1950's and 1960's.  By the late 1950's, Dot Records was identified more with Pat Boone, but in the early days the label spotlighted great R&B records by the Griffin Brothers, CapTans, the Four Dots, Joe Liggins and many more.  Dot also released great gospel records by the Fairfield Four, the Dixie-Aires and others.  Randy Wood sold Dot Records to Paramount Pictures in 1957 for $3 million but stayed on as president.  ABC bought dot in 1974 and the label closed down in 1978.  Randy Wood died in 2011 at the age of 94.  His old catalogs, like this one, are full of artists photographs and give precious insight into days gone by.     

Still Seats Open for our Free Screening of the 2000 Documentary "Jubilee Singers" at the Franklin Township Public Library May 22.

If you've never seen the 2000 documentary, "Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory" (or even if you have and would like to see it again), this outstanding one-hour film will be screened at the Franklin Township Public Library at 7 PM on May 22, 2013.  Pam & Charlie Horner of Classic Urban Harmony and the Franklin Township Cultural Arts Council will introduce the film and answer questions at the end. The Library is at 485 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ. Admission is FREE but registration is required. You can now register by calling the Reference desk at 732-873-8700.  Before or after the film screening, you can visit our exhibit of black gospel group memorabilia at the same location.

Save the Dates: Future Classic Urban Harmony Multimedia Presentations Announced

While many of our multimedia presentations on doo wop music are given to private communities, we do a number of presentations each year at libraries and these are usually opened to and free to the public.  If you haven't yet been to our "Under The Street Lamp: Tales From the Doo Wop Era - Part 1" on Sunday October 27, 2013 at the Montville, NJ, Public Library.  We'll also be giving Part 2 at the Hillsborough NJ Public Library on Thursday, August 8, 2013.  Registration is not yet opened but we'll let you know when you can sign up.  Visit the Events Calendar of for the latest details. 

Acappella - Doo Wop Extravaganza #2 in Paramus NJ Another Great Show for VGHA

Our congratulations to Nicky G and friends for another super doo wop concert on Saturday night May 11 in Paramus, NJ.  There were seven great groups, each of which gave us some fine vocal harmony.  Performing were Grand Central Echoes, the Whiptones, Still Around, Lisa & the LoveTones, Re-MemberThen, Echoes Of Time and Silk City.  Pictured above are the Whiptones, a teenage group (14 - 16 years old) from Whippany NJ, whom we had the pleasure of seeing last year at Lead East.  The next VGHA Acappella Extravaganza will be October 12, 2013.  For info on VGHA visit

Next Five CD's in Bear Family's "Street Corner Symphonies: The Complete Story of Doo Wop" Series Now Out!

Volumes #11 through #15 of the Bear Family label's "Street Corner Symphonies: The Complete Story of Doo Wop" series are now out.  The latest CD's cover the years 1959 through 1963.  Each CD contains 35 doo wop songs from a particular year, along with an 80+ page booklet with the story of each record, great photos of the groups and many label scans.  Song quality is excellent and Bill Dahl's liner notes are informative and right on track. We've been following this series since it's inception and have even contributed a few photos for the booklets.  Selection songs are very representatives of the respective years.  For instance, the 1959 CD (Volume 11 contains not only the hits such as the Flamingos "I Only Have Eyes For You," the Crests' "The Angels Listened In," and the Clovers' "Love Potion #9," but also more obscure but still great records like "Dearest Darling" by Huey Smith & the Clowns and "This Broken Heart" by the Sonics.  Bear Family is out of Germany.  Visit their website at  

Dixie Cups are a real crowd pleaser at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

We saw the Dixie Cups perform at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz Festival on April 26, and they were impressive.  What a thrill to see the trio performing in their home city.  Our only complaint is that we would have liked to see them sing longer.  The Dixie Cups performed on the big outdoor Acura Stage for thousands of people, as part of the New Orleans Divas Review, that also included Jean Knight ("Mr. Big Stuff") and Wanda Rouzan (remember the Rouzan Sisters' "Men Of War"?).   The New Orleans raised trio began singing in the early 1960’s, scoring the #1 record “Chapel Of Love” in 1964 and the follow up hit “Iko Iko” a year later. The Dixie Cups were a big hit at this year’s Jazz Fest, singing a medley of “Stand By Me” and “Don’t Play That Song” that ended with some acappella harmony. They followed that with “Chapel of Love” and “Iko Iko”. The group sounded great with original members Barbara Hawkins (lead) and her sister Rose Hawkins, plus newer member Athelgra Neville (sister to the Neville Brothers). Outstanding backup for the entire New Orleans Diva Review was supplied by the Brian Quezerque Band.  To read more about our trip to New Orleans and see 50+ photos, visit the Link on the "What's New Page" of  

Mellows' Lillian Leach Boyd dies.

Lillian Leach Boyd, renowned lead singer for the Bronx R&B vocal group, the Mellows, died on April 26, 2013 at the age of 76. Born in Harlem, Lillian Leach moved to the Morrisania section of the Bronx at a young age. She began singing in church and then joined a neighborhood group called the Mellows in 1953. The Mellows recorded four singles for Joe Davis' Jay Dee label in 1954 and 1955. Lillian Leach led such classic group harmony songs as "How Sentimental Can I Be," "I Still Care," "Yesterday's Memories" and their best seller, "Smoke From Your Cigarette". In 1956 they moved to the Celeste label where they recorded "I'm Yours" and "My Darling". Many of the group's other Celeste recordings remained unreleased until issued on an LP by Relic Records in 1974. The Mellows also recorded "Moon Of Silver" for the Candlelight label in 1957. In 1984, Lillian Leach & the Mellows reunited to sing at the United in Group Harmony Association. They continued as a group into the 21st Century. Lillian also recorded with the Morrisania Review in 1994. Over the years we have heard Lillian sing at UGHA on many occasions and have talked with her several times. She was always gracious and friendly and we came to know her as a wonderful person besides a talented singer.

Save the date:  Acappella group, Nostalgia 5, to give free doo wop concert July 10 in Somerset, NJ
The fine Philadelphia doo wop acappella group, Nostalgia 5, will give a free concert on Wednesday evening July 10 at the Franklin Township Public Library, 485 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ beginning at 7 PM.  The event will be emceed by Charlie & Pam Horner of Classic Urban Harmony.. While there's no admission charge, you must register, as space is limited. Registration will open sometime in June.  We'll let you know when on the Events Calendar page of   

Gospel Tent at 2013 New Orleans Jazz Fest features Zion Harmonizers, many more!

There were 12 different stages at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, each with it's own genre of music.  We spent a lot of time in the Gospel Tent listening to quartets like the Zion Harmonizers, a group that's been singing in New Orleans for the past 74 years!  Of course, we've got 45's by the group going back to the 1950's (Gotham label) as well as some of their more recent CD's.  While all of the original members are now gone, the group still sounds great, even doing an acappella version of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot".  Other groups we enjoyed at the Gospel Tent were the Friendly Travelers, the Famous Rocks of Harmony and Doc McKenzie & the Gospel Hi-Lites.  To see more photos from our New Orleans trip, visit the link on the What's New Page of   

Another Legendary Record Store Closes Its Doors - This Time It's Bleecker Bob's in NYC

When will this madness stop?  One by one, we're losing our precious vinyl record stores!  This time it's Bleecker Bob's record store in New York City's Greenwich Village.  The store was first opened in 1968 by Robert "Bleecker Bob" Plotnik.   After selling vinyl records (and over the last couple decades, CD's) for more than 40 years, the store closed its doors forever on April 30, 2013   Rumor has it, the famed record store will be replaced by a frozen yogurt shop.  Dare we say, we know of other places to get frozen yogurt, but there are now precious few places we can go to get an original copy of "219 Train" by the Moonglows on the Chance label.  [Actually, Bleecker Bob's probably never had "219 Train" for sale either, but you get the point.]

Good News!  There are still Vinyl Record Stores in New Orleans

With all the record stores closing in our area, we were afraid of what we'd face in New Orleans, especially since we hadn't been there since before Hurricane Katrina.  We stopped by the Music Factory in the French Quarter (pictured above) and found it doing well.  When we were there they even had a jazz band giving a live performance in the store.  We didn't have time to visit Jim Russell's records but we understand that store is also still open.  Both store have a large vinyl stock including 45's and even carry 78's. 

Val Shively's R&B Records' Website adds many more great photos!

Speaking of legendary record stores that are still with us, have you checked out Val Shively's R&B Records website lately?  Val succeeded in documenting his life in photos, from his childhood through trips to Times Square Records through all the incarnations of R&B Records.  Val's posted over 450 photographs that are bound to bring back memories for anyone who has collected vocal group records over the years.  There are also Val's personal photos of just about anyone who's anyone in our music.  To take a look, go to and click on the Photo Galleries (#1-4).  Be prepared to spend some time on the website.  It's hard to stop looking!

Philly Group, Quiet Storm, shows their versatility.

If you live in the Philadelphia, New Jersey or New York area, you're probably well aware of the talented doo wop, R&B and soul acappella group, Quiet Storm.  This past weekend (May 11), Quiet Storm displayed a new dimension to their group, performing with their own five-piece band!  The group's musical director, Dr. Winston Collins (cousin to funk star, Bootsy Collins), led a talented group of musicians from the Philadelphia/NJ area.  The debut of the Quiet Storm "review" got a rousing reception from the crowd.  While the quintet will still also perform as an acappella group, they can now sing with a band when the venue calls for it.  Quiet Storm has also put together a great gospel acappella set for our Asbury Park benefit concert on September 28.  Quiet Storm now has the ability to sing jazz, R&B, soul, doo wop and gospel.  What a versatile group!  

Music Historians Meet Up in New Orleans

Back in the 1980's, when Charlie Horner was just coming up in the music world, three quartet music researchers that inspired Charlie the most were Doug Seroff, Lynn Abbott and Ray Funk.  While we sometimes see Doug at jazz record conventions, Charlie had not seen Lynn or Ray in years.  Coincidentally, Lynn Abbott lives in New Orleans and Ray was coming to the 2013 Jazz Fest with his son.  We used the occasion to all get together for lunch.  We had a great time getting caught up on each others' activities and trading music stories.  Ray Funk is now very active in researching Calypso music.  Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff have just published the outstanding book, "To Do This, You Must Know How," a reference book on how quartet singing styles were spread across the country.  To read our review of this book, visit the Bookshelf Page of  (Above photo, left to right: Pam & Charlie Horner, Ray Funk, Lynn Abbott) 

Bobby Palese of the Unique Echoes dies.

Bobby Palese. drummer and vocalist for Echoes/Unique Echoes, best known to group harmony enthusiasts for their rendition of "Zoom" on the Southern Sound label, died Monday, April 29, 2013 at the age of 74.  The Echoes were from Camden, NJ, and first recorded "Scratch My Back" for the Swan label in the late 1950's.  They are also reportedly the uncredited group that supplied vocals for Frankie Greer's "Lonesome For You", also on Swan.  Palese is on the far right of the above photo.  Our thanks to Bob Bosco and Ray Garcia for this item.  Photo courtesy of Bob Bosco.

Cosimo Code Finally Broken!

Nothing intrigues record discographers more than knowing the matrix numbers (those etchings in the inside run off groves of a vinyl record) contain some hidden information about the record's date and history.  Cosimo  Matassa operated the only significant recording studio in New Orleans (J&M Studio) from 1946 to 1956 and then the Cosimo Recording Studios from 1956 to 1968.  Without Cosimo Matassa we would have never had Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Little Richard plus dozens of groups like the Spiders, Hawks, Huey Smith & the Clowns, etc.  It was at Cosimo's studios that the New Orleans R&B sounds were born that played a major role in the development of Rock and Roll music.  Major labels were frequent visitors to Cosimo's studios to find new artists and to have their artists incorporate the New Orleans sound.  Cosimo Matassa was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.  But in October 1960, Matassa introduced a new master recording number series, etched into the "dead wax" of recordings made at his studios.  These master numbers and their prefixes have now been decoded by John Broven, Red Kelly & John Ridley, allowing records recorded at Matassa's New Orleans studio between late 1960 and the 1970's to be listed in discographies and dated.  This is a masterful work of research.  If you love discographies, visit

Past Issues of the CUH Newsletter Now viewable on line

Want to catch up on any past issues of this newsletter that you may have missed? Now you can. Just go to the top of this newsletter and click on "View it in your browser". Then you be able to click on "Past Issues" on the upper left of your screen.

More Details and Photos from the Above Articles on our Website

There's just so much we can fit into one newsletter issue, but many of the articles here are repeated on our website with additional details and photos. To read more visit the "What's New Page" of And while there, don't forget to visit our other pages, like Our Events Calendar Page, Our Bookshelf, or our section on Articles We've Written.
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