I attended the two excellent COAA (Carousel Organ Association of
America) rallies in Jamestown and North Tonawanda, New York, and
thought I'd share some thoughts.
I went to the rally at Midway Park, near Jamestown, on Saturday, July
19. It was the largest rally I have been to; there were at least 23
large instruments spread around the park. The weather was perfect;
totally clear but not the least bit hot, and actually cool in the shade.
It was the first rally I had attended where the weather was so mild.
I really liked the coin-operated 1920 Seeburg nickelodeon in the park's
museum. It played an especially nice rendition of "Tennessee Waltz."
I went to the rally at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in
North Tonawanda on Saturday, July 26. There were at least 14 large
instruments at this rally; nine of these had been at Midway Park
the previous weekend. Unfortunately this time, the weather provided
another first in my visits to organ rallies: rain. There was light
rain on-and-off throughout the latter part of the afternoon, which
really kept people away. But I guess if you love band organ music
enough, you don't mind being rained on lightly while hearing it!
A couple of organ owners had to close up their trailers, but most were
able to keep playing.
Adding up the large instruments from the two rallies, there were at
least 28 (in addition to the small crank and monkey organs). There
were five organs playing Wurlitzer 165 rolls: a large Stinson, a small
Stinson, a Gebr. Bruder, and two home-built organs. The Stinsons and
one of the self-built organs, a Ruth replica, also play Stinson rolls.
Six organs played Wurlitzer 150 rolls: two Wurlitzer 153s, three 146s
and a converted North Tonawanda organ. There were seven organs playing
Wurlitzer 125 rolls: a Wurlitzer 125, two 105s, a 103, two converted
Artizans (styles X-A-1 and A), and a converted Niagara organ.
There was an Artizan style X-A-2 which still plays 46-key Artizan/
B.A.B. rolls. There were two more home-built organs: a large organ
playing its own unique rolls and a Ruth replica playing book music.
There were four Bruder organs playing book music. There was a large
(but hand-cranked) Dutch street organ playing book music, a
Calliophone, and a very unique Bursens dance organ which said
"Harmonica - Jazz" on its Art Deco facade.
A great variety of music was heard at the rallies, from 19th century
classical selections all the way through 1960s tunes. The instruments
were brought from within New York and from states including
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Michigan,
Oklahoma, Texas, and even California. I had been looking forward to
these two rallies in a row for some time, and they did not disappoint.
Both of these locations were return visits for the COAA. I hope the
group will keep returning to both for more rallies in the future, and
I plan to, someday, bring a band organ of my own to as many rallies as
Keep the music alive!
Rochester, New York