The Treasury of Claremont Music launches
Back in April of 2017, this column reported on the efforts of long-time resident, Tom Skelly, to find a home for a project he had been working on, The Treasury of Claremont Music.
As Tom got further and further into the endeavor, and faced with an imminent move out of state, he approached Claremont Heritage for assistance to ensure that his vision came to life. Executive Director, David Shearer and Archivist, Sean Stanley, began working with Skelly on completing the task.
It turned out to be a daunting task to do research, collect photos, conduct inquiries, write biographies, archive music, identify links and secure permissions and releases. In addition, the website had to be designed and developed.
As with many endeavors such as this, it takes time, especially given the fact that the archivist position at Claremont Heritage is part-time, Tom Skelly moved out of state, and a constant turnover of interns and volunteers at Heritage must be trained and tasked with the development. Such is the workings of a nonprofit.
But, almost three years later, the Claremont Heritage website is now available at www.treasuryofclaremontmusic.com. The Treasury was celebrated at an evening launch party at Garner House on Saturday, February 15, that was attended by over 200 music lovers.
The musical offerings of the evening were provided by an eclectic sampling of the artists featured on the website that included Alan Medak, Falcon Eddy (Amy Maloof), Sugar Mountain Mama Serenade, Hai Muradian, Michael Ryan and Ken Soderland. In addition, a photo exhibition was presented in the Ginger Elliott Center at Garner House, and KSPC DJs spun short sets between performances.
Tom Skelly, artist, musician, radio persona at KSPC and 40-plus year Claremont resident, began working on the project almost seven years ago. He began researching Claremont musicians, putting together bios, securing photographs of each artist and gaining permissions for a sampling of their music.
This anthology of Claremont music is intended as a primer for people who wish to dig deeper into the subjects. His vision was that the Treasury would be an online resource.
“I am archiving the city’s rich and varied musical culture,” Tom said, “so that much of the past, present and future musical accomplishments will not be forgotten. It is my intention to put the vast array of genres under one easily accessible roof, to honor those music people and their achievements and to share these accomplishments for personal and educational enjoyment.”
The Treasury of Claremont Music is an online resource that showcases local musicians and artists through photos, biographies, and music. The website will be continuously updated with new additions, while also featuring content on Claremont’s musical history and to promote musical events to further establish and celebrate the Treasury. This repository of local music aims to be an encyclopedia of all things Claremont music and will be an invaluable research resource for schools, libraries, non-profit organizations, radio, and other appropriate institutions.
Over the years, there has been much talk about who’s who in the greater Claremont music scene and what their musical connections might be. Much of the information is obscure, elusive, and made up of word-of-mouth stories.
It makes sense that the myths should be clarified in order to document and preserve the musical history of the area. The artists included in this project have demonstrated long-term vision, commitment, creativity, and skill toward the practice and dissemination of their music. The scope of personalities included in this project are musicians and sound artists currently living in Claremont and surrounding neighborhoods, those who have left and reside elsewhere, and those who have passed away.
When one lands on the website home page, one is met with a colorful photograph of guitars that cannot have been taken at any other locale than the celebrated Folk Music Center of Claremont. The initial listing includes 32 artists and groups and 12 DJs from KSPC 88.7 FM. The website also acknowledges the photographers who have contributed to the endeavor.
Inaugural artists include Henry Barnes, Patrick Bayer, Michael Brewster, David Brock, Steve Cahill, Dennis Callaci, Claremont Orchestra, Claremont Voodoo Society, Ray Collings, Chris Darrow, Tom Flaherty, Emad Gabra, John Harrelson, Joel Huschle, Larry Jackson, Chet Jaeger, Aaron Kenyon, Claudia Lennear, Amy Maloof, Alan Medak, David Millard, Marguerite Millar, Hai Muradian, Jen Rosen, Michael Ryan, Squeakin’ Wheels, Lou Styles, Sugar Mountain Mama Serenade, Norma Tanega, Wckr Spgt, The Wild Reeds and John York.
Featured also is KSPC 88.7 FM, which has been providing noncommercial, educational and entertaining programming for almost 70 years. KSPC began as KPCR (Pomona College Radio) in the 1950s, operating out of a closet in the student union. Earlier on, the student programmers could only reach listeners on campus with their then-current technology. In order to extend their reach beyond campus, legend has it that some of the KPCR students experimented with connecting their radio signal to the nearby railroad tracks.
The experiment was a success as an agent from the Federal Communications Commission soon visited them and informed them that if they wanted to broadcast off-campus they would need to apply for an FM radio license. The station was licensed for FM operation in 1956 with the call letters of KSPC, Students of Pomona College. The programming eventually required volunteers from all of the Colleges and the community as well.
Inaugural DJs include Randy Brian, Larry Fox, Junior Francis, dj diA, Jessica Hardy, Steven Hertz, Taylor Kingsbury, Tony Palkovic, Tom Skelly, Ryan Stern, John Stout and Erica Tyron.
The Treasury of Claremont Music is intended to be an anthology that grows and is added to over time. Already there is a growing list of people and groups to be researched for inclusion in the Treasury. There undoubtedly will be more as others step forward and nominate individual musicians, composers, bands or others for inclusion.
Should you want to assist with development or have names, information or documentation that could assist Claremont Heritage, please make contact at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for more on this endeavor by visiting www.claremontheritage.org.