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MMD > Archives > January 1998 > 1998.01.31 > 12Prev  Next

Prison Band Organ Follow-Up
By Matthew Caulfield

The responses to my posting a couple of weeks ago about inmate
Roy E. Johnson who wants to build a band organ while locked up were very
interesting.  Jean Potteck, Scott Olson, and Damon Atchison offered to
help him, while a couple of other MMD'ers cautioned to be on guard when
dealing with convicts.

I received a reply from Mr. Johnson.  He was not at all discouraged by
anything I told him.  I mentioned that he could probably make the pipes,
though voicing reed pipes can be difficult, but that he'd need either
machinist skills to build a tracker frame or funds to buy one ready-made.
I also told him that his starting point should a decision on the type of
roll his organ would play, because that would determine the organ's size
and instrumentation; I made no mention of MIDI operation.

It turns out that he has a carnival background, which is how he fell in
love with band organ music.  However he has never seen the inside of a
band organ, except for a glimpse once inside a Reithofer organ.  So
I doubt he understands the complexity of the pneumatic system yet.  But
he could have lots of fun trying his hand at making a rank of flute pipes
as a starter.

He told me nothing else about himself personally except that he is from
Vermont and is serving time in Maine because Vermont doesn't have a state
penitentiary.  What a law-abiding state Vermont must be, clean and pure
in every sense.

But taking seriously the cautions a couple of MMD'ers sent me, I wrote
to the warden to ask about Mr. Johnson and to say that I would send him
some cassettes of band organ music, if he is allowed to receive home-made
ones.  Mr. Johnson said that commercial tapes are allowed but not private
ones.  I will find out for sure.

If he still intends to pursue his dream, I can send him some pages from
Doyle Lane's Wurlitzer pipe scale book as a starter, and a couple of us
are talking about chipping in for a copy of the Stanoszek manual or on

We will see what develops.  His postal address is available from me
via e-mail if you want to advise, encourage, or discourage him.

(Message sent Sun 1 Feb 1998, 02:40:28 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Band, Follow-Up, Organ, Prison

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