The Cosmic Staffers Project V.4 — Smokey’s Blues Hour Etc.

Long-time record store manager John “Smokey” Koelsch worked hard to bring Blues to Salt Lake City both before and after he worked at the Cosmic Aeroplane:

John Smokey Koelsch at his own store on 15th East and 15th South -- All photos etc courtesy of J. Loelsch

John Smokey Koelsch at his own store on 15th East and 15th South in Salt Lake circa 1990. (All photos et cetera on this page courtesy of J. Koelsch.)

Smokey is mentioned frequently in Joe Stohel’s History of the Cosmic Aeroplane as a friend and regular customer. He was a music collector and disc jockey (specializing in Blues at first) before taking the helm in the Record Department during the early 70’s.

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KMOR-AM was the first radio station to air this show, which would migrate to FM channels and last for two decades.

KMOR-AM was the first radio station to air this show, which migrated to FM and lasted for two decades.

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The newspaper Highland Rambler describes Smokey’s Blues Hour in 1970:

Highland Rambler article (Highland High School)

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Smokey’s Blues Hour filled a whole page of the Daily Utah Chronicle in 1981:

Daily Utah Chronicle article (University of Utah)

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(L to R) John Lee Hooker and Smokey Koelsch backstage at Park West Blues Festival circa 1983.

(L to R) John Lee Hooker and Smokey Koelsch backstage at Park West Blues Festival circa 1983.

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When Smokey opened his own store, he helped anchor another Alternative literary/arts district around the corner of 15th East and 15th South — following a Cosmic tradition.

Smokey Records later became a leader in selling New Age Music.

Carl Perkins is counting: One for the money, two for the show  … but “Smokey’s” diversity made the store a local leader in the New Age Music movement (see photo at top). They also became leaders in World Music, Women’s Music, Cowboy Music, Indies, Local Artists, and imported Punk/Post Modern Music.

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Smokey says: The name “Smokey’s Records” was chosen by agreement between my partners Vaninnetti and Setzer and me to try to get some mileage out of a connection with my long-running radio show, “Smokey’s Blues Hour,” which I kept on-air for the first year of the existence of Smokey’s Records.

Cosmic Generations Vol. I — Smokey’s Records

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The King’s English Bookstore still anchors the artistic community around 15th & 15th:

(L to R) The Kings English Bookstore in 2013; Mazza's restaurant was residing in the building that was Smokey's Records for almost two decades.

(L to R) The Kings English Bookstore in 2013; Restaurant Mazza was in the building that once housed Smokey’s Records (1981 to 1995) — A second Mazza opened in the 9th & 9th community during 2014.

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Further information on Smokey’s Records as an independent store can be read in:
Joe Stohel’s History of the Cosmic Aeroplane

Further pages about Smokey, Rev. Willis, and the wider Alternative scene are inevitable. We welcome input from friends and customers — contact  our blogmeister:

Blogmeister Michael Evans is an author and historian.

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There is more about KMOR Radio days with Curt, Reverend Willis, and Smokey in his book — The Great Salt Lake Mime Saga and Amsterdam’s Festival of Fools.

Email: mike_evans_exile@yahoo.com

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DISCLAIMER: Any advertisements you may see below this page are artifacts of our blog-hosting service and are totally unrelated to this project.

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About Michael Evans

Michael has lived in Montana, Washington State (East and West), Holland, and England, but he was born in Salt Lake City, and graduated from the University of Utah.
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One Response to The Cosmic Staffers Project V.4 — Smokey’s Blues Hour Etc.

  1. Jamie Gael (James R. Gallegos) says:

    Smokey was one of the first store owners to begin carrying and featuring my solo original music, from my very first album in 1988. He also sold more than any other store to date, because he played the albums in the store a lot, and tried to bring me to the attention of Narada and Windham Hill listeners. I will always owe Smokey a Huge one. ~ Jamie Gael, Cosmic Staffer v.3

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