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Oregon professor finds rare music; revives The Revelers

EUGENE (AP) — Craig Phillips can't wait to revive The Revelers.

A vocal quartet — a bass, a baritone and two tenors — accompanied by a pianist, The Revelers had a harmonious sound known around the country in the 1930s thanks to the power of radio broadcasts. But, due to the lack of recording in their era, many of The Revelers' hits have gone unheard for decades.

"I'm very happy to be hopefully playing a role in reestablishing a bit of their legacy," said Phillips, a music professor at the University of Oregon.

Phillips, a bass singer, is organizing a Wednesday, July 11 performance at the National Opera Center in New York, which will be live streamed online. The song lineup includes once-lost tunes by The Revelers.

A fan of The Revelers, Phillips did some internet sleuthing in 2015 to find long lost scores for the group's broadcast music in a Connecticut attic. He found a treasure trove of handwritten tunes, about 500 arrangements from the 1920s and '30s.

"These are the scores that the guys used. These are the scores that they used when they were singing on the radio," he said. "... They are 100 percent unique, there are no copies of these scores anywhere."

Musicians at the Shedd Institute for the Arts in Eugene have taken on similar music revival projects, said Jim Ralph, executive director at the Shedd. "What is particularly interesting about Craig's project is that he's working with some of the original manuscript arrangements, which provides exceptional insight into The Reveler's creative processes."

Into thin airwaves

The Revelers produced albums in the 1920s and became American popular music sensations. But record companies scaled back recording during The Great Depression in the 1930s. During this decade The Revelers often performed only on the radio.

Phillips' discovery represents the lost artifacts of what The Revelers put out over the airwaves way back when, and what for nearly a century went unheard. The collection includes arrangements by pianist Frank Black, who also became music director for NBC and who created music with the likes of George Gershwin. No, he's not Frank Black (aka Charles Thompson), former Eugene resident and Pixies front man.

For vintage pop music buffs like Phillips, The Revelers and the original Frank Black were big names. But, due to their lost hits, the group's name is unfamiliar for many people. The Revelers expanded the musical bounds of an all-male quartet from barbershop to jazzy dance songs. They introduced many listeners to songs from the Great American Songbook, such as "Blue Moon," I Got Rhythm" and "Singin' in the Rain."

"It's hard to believe how this era (less than 100 years ago) has faded from our collective memory," Phillips wrote in an email. "It was a wildly creative time in our history and a huge 'flowering' in terms of American popular culture! It's not an exaggeration to say that The Revelers ... were pioneers of broadcast entertainment."

Music in the attic

So how was the treasure trove of The Revelers arrangements found?

"It's quite a story," he said.

Phillips mainly makes music with another quartet called New York Polyphony, which sings music from the 1600s and has earned two Grammy nominations over the past decade. His manager asked him to look into American music and while he didn't find songs that fit the group, he found himself hooked on digging through America's musical past.

Music can mark technological innovations, Phillips said, and the advent of the microphone in the early 1920s brought in the Jazz Age.

"The Revelers were a result of that change," he said. "They were a group that was singing under a different name. They were singing as The Shannon Four and they were doing kind of old timey, old fashion music."

Their record label made the switch to electric and a new sound for the group came with the new name of The Revelers.

"I just fell in love with sound," he said. "It was so charming and such personality and it suddenly became American."

Phillips kept digging, wanting to find if anyone ever published The Revelers songs.

What he learned about their history: The group had disbanded in 1940, but then one of the original members, Wilfred Glenn, brought back the name and the music in the late 1940s and toured until 1955. Enter a man named Tom Edwards who purchased The Revelers name and all of the arrangements from Glenn. This rendition of the group performed into the 1970s.

But that's where the music stopped. Phillips couldn't figure out what had happened to The Revelers arrangement.

Then Phillips was looking at a blog about the original Frank Black in 2015 and in the comments saw mention of a man whose father had been in a singing group —the version of The Revelers led by Edwards — and he had inherited an old crate of sheet music.

Through some Internet detective work, Phillips contacted the owner of the "mother lode" of lost The Revelers arrangements.

"Two days later I was in a rental car driving from North Carolina to Connecticut, where these scores had been languishing in his attic," he said.

For 70 years the paper had been lugged around the country, from person to person. He says its amazing they survived.

"They weren't, in the state I found them, performable," he said, "because they were fragmented and there were road mapping problems and the wrong pieces were with the wrong scores. So that's what I've done for the past almost three years is restitch, reconstruct these arrangements and convert them into a modern performance score so they can be performed again."

The Revelers discovery has Phillips wondering what other musical treasures might be hidden away in attics around America.

"There is stuff still out there and I am hopeful that I can continue to track things down," Phillips said.


AP
Detroit businesses do well despite water advisories

SALEM (AP) — Summer tourism around Detroit Lake is business as usual despite several water advisories issued in the area in recent months, business owners said.

Detroit businesses reported seeing only slight drops in sales.

Many of the campgrounds and motels in the area have still been full for major holidays such as Fourth of July.

"We're booked solid," Detroit Lake Marina owner Scott Lunski said. "One person canceled and two people called to make reservations."

The steady flow of visitors may be due to people being unaware of the current water advisory that has been in place since June 28, rather than people ignoring the advisories, the Statesman Journal reported Wednesday.

The area's economy has been also been impacted in recent years by a drought, low water levels and nearby wildfires.

When the first advisories warning visitors of the toxic algae blooms at the lake and the North Santiam River were issued, businesses saw an immediate drop in sales and many customers cancelled their reservations.

Most people that come to the lake and see that the blooms aren't so widespread end up renting a boat, Lunski said.

The toxic blue-green algae blooms were first sighted in May in locations including Blowout Arm, Heater Creek Arm and the near the dam.

The first water quality alert of the year was issued on May 23 and was lifted on June 8. A second alert issued June 13 lasted one day. Another alert was issued June 15 and lifted June 25. The most recent alert was issued June 28 and is still in place.

The Oregon Health Authority's advisory warns against drinking water from Detroit Lake, swimming and participating in power boating or water skiing in areas where algal blooms are identified.

The algal blooms' toxins can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and skin irritation, cause additional liver or kidney problems to people who already have liver or kidney diseases and can injure the nervous system.

Sicknesses only result from drinking large amounts of water.

For that reason, Lunski is worried that the advisory make the situation sound scarier than it is.

"If you were to call the water department and ask them how many people have gotten sick from them, it's zero," he said.


AP
Herbicide may have killed other trees in central Oregon

BEND (AP) — A weed-killer that killed thousands of ponderosa pines near Sisters has been linked to the deaths of other trees outside the Sunriver resort community and possibly across Oregon.

An investigation spurred by the incident in Sisters found that the active ingredient in the product known as Perspective may have killed dozens of ponderosa pines outside Sunriver and other trees in central Oregon, said Dale Mitchell, an Oregon Department of Agriculture program manager. The department monitors pesticides and herbicides in Oregon.

"We are looking at gathering additional information on this ingredient," Mitchell said.

The Deschutes County Road Department sprayed the herbicide along two main roads that lead in and out of Sunriver in 2013 and 2014, the Bulletin reported . The roadside spraying is done to reduce the amount of flammable grass, said Chris Doty, the road department's director.

Employees for the road department and the U.S. Forest Service found ponderosa pines with brown and ill-formed needles in the area where the herbicide was applied and reported it to the agriculture department.

Results from testing in 2015 showed that the damage had spread, according to a U.S. Forest Service report.

Although it's not confirmed if the herbicide caused the damage, Doty said some of the tree deaths and damage were the result of root damage or other unrelated issues.

In any case, the damage was much less than in the Sisters incident.

The active ingredient in Perspective, aminocyclopyrachlor, has been linked to deaths of thousands of spruce and pines trees outside of Oregon, according to The New York Times.

Tree damage was also reported in other parts of Deschutes County after Perspective was applied near several roads. But Jean Nelson-Dean, public affairs officer for the Deschutes National Forest, said research shows the damage could have been caused by mountain pine beetles.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the situation. The offices are discussing the possibility of strengthening the language on the label for Perspective.

The county has discontinued its use of Perspective, Doty said.


AP
Man sentenced to prison after 2011 kit linked him to rape

PORTLAND (AP) — A 64-year-old man has been sentenced to more than 30 years in prison after a sexual assault kit linking him to a 2011 rape emerged from the backlog.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Tuesday that Curtis Clint Williams is the first defendant in Multnomah County to be found guilty by jury since police and prosecutors have started working on clearing the backlog of thousands of untested sexual assault kits.

Williams was accused of raping a 19-year-old woman in 2011 after meeting her near a TriMet ticket machine. The woman told police Williams invited her to his apartment where he raped her.

Her sexual assault examination kit was tested in 2011 and the DNA on the kit matched Williams.

Williams is scheduled to go to trial for a second attack later this month.


AP
Man accused of threatening Oregon Lottery headquarters

SALEM (AP) — Oregon State Police arrested a man accused of threatening to kill people at Oregon Lottery headquarters.

The agency said an email sent to the lottery office in Salem on Tuesday contained a threat to shoot people. Within hours, detectives arrested 42-year-old Jason Ouellette at his home in Lebanon, Oregon.

Police spokeswoman Mindy McCartt said Ouellette was "recently unlucky at the lottery," and did not target specific employees in the email. Police have to say if they seized firearms at his home.

He was charged with menacing — a misdemeanor — and released from jail because of overcrowding. It was not immediately known if he has retained an attorney or will be appointed one at his first court appearance.


AP
Man arrested in Beaverton for threatening black teenage girl

BEAVERTON (AP) — Beaverton police have arrested a man after witnesses say he shouted racial slurs at a 17-year-old black girl and threatened to hurt her.

Police said Wednesday that 37-year-old Samuel Harris Corbett was arrested on charges of intimidation, menacing, disorderly conduct and harassment after the Monday incident.

Authorities say the bystanders kept Corbett away from the teenager, who took shelter in a nearby AM/PM store until police arrived.

A victim's advocate is in contact with the teen and her family.

No attorney for Corbett was listed in court records and it wasn't immediately clear if he had retained one yet.