Cosmic Music — Jordan River / Avant Garde

Avant Garde Musician Curtis Setzer performed with Cosmic Co-Founder Sherm Clow … at services led by Rev. Willis, in a band named Lucky Thinks, on KMOR radio’s Night Song program, and as part of the expansive Up River Skool collective at the University of Utah. Later, Curt played acoustic music with singer Sandy Duncan at the Underwater Poetry Festival, featuring Charles Bukowski.

(L to R) Multi-instrumentalist Curt Setzer and singer Sandy Duncan -- Photo courtesy of Curt Setzer

Curt Setzer and Sandy Duncan (Read the text below about Jordan River Uptown Band etc.) — Photo courtesy of Curt Setzer

Curt Setzer was also a partner in two record shops that started out by serving the Alternative Community — One near the location of the original Cosmic Aeroplane storefront at 9th South and 9th East, and the second near 15th East and 15th South. Round Records at 9th & 9th struggled bravely for a number of years, but Smokey’s Records on 15th & 15th was a major success, and a notable Cosmic spin-off business that prospered for over a decade, fostering a creative commercial district that was co-anchored and continued by Salt Lake’s King’s English Bookstore.

Sixties Radical Rock & Fusion

Program/flier for Corkroom collaboration with Upriver Skool and Lucky Thinks.

Front of program/flier for Cork Room collaboration with Upriver Skool and Lucky Thinks in 1970 —  Graphics/Printing by L.T.

Setzer championed modern composers Sun Ra and Charles Ives — note their quotations on the poster above, plus introduced master improvisors like Don Cherry and Cecil Taylor to a wide range of people around him. The Upriver Skool could be controversial. Curt and Lucky Thinks played inside of a vinyl balloon, inflated by an electric pump, in the main ballroom of the Student Union Building at the University of Utah, until surging dancing throngs inside made it collapse later that evening — along with some other Upriver constructions.

The next day: Upriver Skool Spring Stomp at the University Student Union April 1970 -- Photo courtesy of Patrick McGuire.

The aftermath of Upriver Skool’s Spring Stomp at the University Student Union April 1970 — Photo courtesy of Patrick McGuire.

When Upriver Skool and Lucky Thinks worked together again, three stories higher in the Union Building, a few musical art students like Michael (Toilet) Whipple played guitars onstage, and even more art students decorated the Cork Room with odd kinds of creative playthings, which would later make Upriver Skool’s de facto leader Paul McCarthy internationally famous in the field of Conceptual Art. The poster for the evening caused a stir with the authorities, though. NOT because of Sun Ra (shown above), but because someone noticed the underground student protest cartoons printed on the back (shown below):

The two cartoons from the back of Lucky Thinks' Cork Room Poster -- courtesy of P. McGuire.

The two cartoons from Lucky Thinks’ Cork Room program . (L) Signed by artist Tieciorka; (R) Unsigned, but identified as artist Greg Irons — courtesy of P. McGuire.

After at least one meeting, the performance was allowed to go on as planned, but all stray fliers were confiscated. Sherm Clow withdrew from Lucky Thinks in further protest against this Post-Kent State censorship. At the gig itself, as “Thinks” were winding down, another band, carrying horns, marched into the Cork Room and spontaneously took over the musical chores of the night by playing Jazz tunes. Curt Setzer collaborated several more times with the Upriver Skool over the next year, including appearing in a film by Al Payne, and performing once again with Lucky Thinks in the ground-level Union Art Gallery for the opening of a show that was literally on and off the wall.

Round Records and the Ninth & Ninth Community

The original Cosmic Aeroplane store started business in a row of numbered commercial retail spaces at the northwest side of the intersection of Ninth East and Ninth South streets in Salt Lake City. The entire corner had been a commercial district, serving the local neighborhood with grocery stores, pharmacies, barber shops, etc for generations, there was even a movie house on the southwest side called the Tower Theater, which is still open as of this writing in 2016.

Besides the Cosmic Aeroplane, Desolation Row and Phillips Gallery began at the 9th & 9th. Afterward, a cluster of Alternative Businesses coalesced around that same corner — Mother’s Earth Things, Skin Company, Daryl Barton’s Signs, Stone Balloon Waterbeds, The Connection, Stone Age Crafts, Nature’s Way, and Round Records.

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(Left) The Cosmic Aeroplane in 1967 — Courtesy of S. Clow; (Right) Polk’s Business Directory listing of the Cosmic Aeroplane etc. in 1967 — Courtesy of Steve Jones.


Later in the 80’s, 875 E. 9th South housed Chameleon Artware, a clothing emporium managed by Skin Company/Cosmic veteran Camille Chart. The corner of 9th & 9th continued to incubate creative businesses, like Salt City CDs, Cahoots, Millenium Dance Studio, Great Harvest Bakery, and the Coffee Garden, maintaining a popular identity serving Alternative Culture well into the 21st Century. This portion of 9th South was officially named Harvey Milk Boulevard in 2016.

Curt Setzer and Dave Fagiolli opened Round Records in November 1971 …

… which occupied the commercial slot at 873 — east of the first Cosmic Aeroplane at 871, and just west of the temporary Cosmic location at 875 E. South Temple.

(L) Fearless Fosdick matchbooks and metal signs by Al Capp studios; (R) Conan by Capp's former assistant Frank Frazetta.

(L) Fearless Fosdick matchbooks and metal signs by Al Capp Studios; (R) Conan by Frank Frazetta.

(Left) Get Wildroot Cream Oil, Charlie! said Fearless Fosdick in an aggressive Post-WWII ad campaign illustrated by Al Capp, who employed young Frank Frazetta, plus teams of assistants. This cartoon cop was a satire on Dick Tracy by the authors of Li’l Abner.
(Right) In contrast, beautifully-colored prints of well-crafted paintings by independent artist Frank Frazetta in his maturity graced the walls of Curt and Dave’s store.

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Sketch by Patrick Eddington, found on the back of a flyer found at Round Records — Courtesy of Dave Fagiolli

Build it up,
Tear It down,
Start all over,
Make it ROUND
Albert Ayler ( 1936 – 1970)
Jazz composer and saxophonist

Advertisement by Larry Farrington and Bo Holman -- courtesy of Dave Faggioli.

Advertisement by Larry Farrington and Bob Holman — courtesy of Dave Fagiolli.

Round Records specialized in leading-edge music. The ears of Curt and Dave were always open to any kind of sonic expression, whether it meant Classical, Modern, Folk, R&B, Rock, Jazz, or what became later known as World Music. Round Records stocked many albums from labels like ESP, Nonesuch, World Pacific, Lyrichord, and other sometimes-obscure vendors.

Advertisement by Neil Passey -- courtesy of Dave Faggioli.

Advertisement by Neil Passey — courtesy of Dave Fagiolli.

Quality Posters were their second line of products. Dave was already involved with the poster business, and had even distributed some publications through the Cosmic Aeroplane. (Check out his current mail-order poster business at Postergeist.)

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Image by Virgil Finlay, popular magazine artist, and a favorite among Round Records’ clientele of collectors and connoisseurs — Ad courtesy of S. Clow and D. Fagiolli.


Like the Connection and  Cosmic Aeroplane, they stocked Underground Comix and sold small-press independent publications by artists like Richard Corben, who would later become world-famous for his work in Metal Hurlant (Heavy Metal) Magazine.

In the Cosmic tradition, Round Records also printed work from local artists.

Round Records advertisement circa 1972 -- Drawing by M.E. Layout by Dave Fagiolli.

Round Records advertisement circa 1972 — Layout by Dave Fagiolli. Drawing by M.E. Thanks for those second-hand drums, Ringo!

They distributed untold dozens of handbills and fliers from around the Alternative Community and Northern Utah every month. Round Records kept an amazing stack of free local fliers on a small table near the door. They displayed the fine posters they were trying to sell on their walls, so these ‘handbills’ literally went from hand to hand instead of littering windows, kiosks, and posts.

Examples of fliers from Round Records -- KUER was the University radio station; Mama Eddy's was an iconic Alternative business; Edison Street was later the home of Cosmic ally Sensible Media; The Cosmic Aeroplane was on South Temple; Curt Setzer and Sandy Duncan were in the audience at Westminster College's Mayfest and would play on the main stage in the future.

Examples of fliers from Round Records — KUER was the University radio station; Mama Eddy’s was an iconic Alternative Business; Edison Street was later the home of Cosmic ally Sensible Media; The Cosmic Aeroplane was on South Temple then.

Blind Melon Chitlin’ (see the Mayfest flier) consisted of musical luminaries like Nyle Steiner, Stu Goldberg, Al Wing, Ralph Forbes, George Souza, and the Fowler Brothers.

Curt Setzer and Sandy Duncan were in the audience at Mayfest.

Curt expressed great admiration for Blind Melon Chitlin’ (above) during research for this page. Curt and Sandy would play on the main stage of Mayfest themselves in subsequent years.

Mayfest poster from 1975 -- Art by Steve Keefauver. Thanks to Charley Hafen.

Mayfest poster from 1975 by Steve Keefauver — thanks to Charley Hafen Jeweler’s Gallery.

After five years, clarinetist Alan Badham bought Round Records from Dave and Curt. Then composer Lloyd Miller bought the business. Both continued to advocate for progressive music in the marketplace.

Jordan River Uptown Band

Curt Setzer eventually returned to the Cork Room — in a slightly different context:

Hardin Davis, Tom Krug, Sandy Nelson, and Curt Setzer in 1978.

Hardin Davis, Mark Jardine, Sandy Nelson, and Curt Setzer in 1977 — courtesy of Hardin Davis.

Singer Sandy Duncan had worked at both the Cosmic Aeroplane and Round Records while making acoustic music with Curt Setzer, sometimes including fiddler Mark Jardine or Mark Nelson on bass.

(Inset) Trolley Square and Salt Lake City in the mid-1970's -- Portion of Pub advertisement thanks to Hardin Davis.

Trolley Square and Salt Lake City in the mid-1970’s, plus portion of Pub poster thanks to Hardin Davis.

They performed  at a place called “The Pub” in an urban redevelopment called Trolley Square — former bus garages converted into a mall.

Jordan River Uptown Band in 1978: Tom Krug, Woody Whitney, Curt Setzer, Hardin Davis, and Sandy

( L to R) Tom Krug, Woody Whitney, Curt Setzer, Hardin Davis, and Sandy Duncan

The Jordan River Uptown band became regular entertainers at The Pub through the late 1970’s and into the early 1980’s — also playing at the Art Barn, Mule Hollow in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and dozens of other venues.

The Jordan River Uptown Band were welcome in the very best places around Salt Lake -- including Kingbury Hall (above), the Hotel Utah, and Abravanel Hall, built for the Utah Symphony.

The Jordan River Uptown Band were welcome in the very best places around Salt Lake — including Kingbury Hall (above), Ladies Literary Club, Hotel Utah, and Abravanel Hall, built for the Utah Symphony.

Woody Whitney soon became the regular fiddler for the group. Tom Krug and Ann Downey played bass. Other musicians included Rand Keith on jug, and Stuart Curtis on sax & clarinet.

(L to R) Woody Whitney, Laurie Bogart, Hardin Davis, Tom Krug, and Curt Setzer circa 1980.

(L to R) Woody Whitney, Laurie Bogart, Hardin Davis, Tom Krug, and Curt Setzer circa 1980.

After Sandy moved to Colorado, a lyrical lead singer named Laurie Bogart capably held the front line with Hardin.

In-jokes from the Stage

Next to Trolley Square was a remarkable all-night diner named Bill and Nada’s Cafe — renowned for its jukebox, its outdoor paintings on the walls, and its freaky nightlife. Out of his fondness for this place, Curt created a recurring joke at the Pub by referring to a mythical band named Crosby, Bill, and Nada:

Post-midnight choir at Bill & Nada's.

Post-Midnight Choir — featuring Crosby, Bill, and Nada.

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Radio Days and KRCL

Curt also played the music he enjoyed on local radio stations like KMOR and KRCL — he’s mentioned in the following article, along with Reverend Willis and Smokey Koelsch:

Daily Utah Chronicle article about Smokey’s Blues Hour

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Another Retail Spin:

Curt’s association with Koelsch led to a partnership at 15th East and 15th South in a very successful Cosmic spin-off business named Smokey’s Records. Like the Cosmic had done at 9th & 9th, Smokey’s helped anchor an artistic business district at the corner of 15th & 15th between the University of Utah and Westminster College, along with the neighboring King’s English Bookstore.

smokey_store95web01f

Photo courtesy of Smokey Koelsch

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Read more about Smokey’s Records at Cosmic Generations Vol. I

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Who put Avant in the Avant Garde? En Garde!

Well, who put the Ram in the Ram-A-Lang-A-Ding-Dong? Curt Setzer has had a lifelong devotion to original composers and improvisatory music in the many forms it takes. He regularly participated in extraordinary sonic events held at private studios and unconventional public spaces, as well as a few bohemian venues around the Salt Lake City area. The Nameless Uncarved Block emerged in the wake of Lucky Thinks. Curt Setzer and Rodney Daynes acquired talented musical partners Von Bailey, Neil Passey, Rod Dankers, Richard Jonas, Dave Faggioli and others. They also made room for guests like Nick Snow, Sherm Clow, Wayne Christiansen, Kenny Breinholt, and even Blogmeister Michael. Other occasional N.U.B. members in the mid 70’s were flautist Julie Freeman, bassist Eric Freeman (her brother), and cellist Mary Lee Tyson.

The nameless Uncarved Block jammed regularly at a studio shared by Setzer and Webmaster Michael in 1973 and 1974.

The Nameless Uncarved Block jammed regularly in a “block house” studio rented by Curt Setzer and Blogmeister Michael near the northeast corner of 9th & 9th during 1973 and 1974. Michael shot several art videos with live models during these sessions. The N.U.B. performed for the legendary Art Department Picnic at Box Elder Flats in Millcreek Canyon and other places — Photo by M.E. circa 1993.

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Listen to the Nameless Uncarved Block — as recorded by Curt Setzer and embedded in Rev. Willis Holy Ground Blogpost: NUBing Sun Ra

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Dankers later started a commercial band called Ragazine that utilized the talents of “Block” musicians in bars around town. Curt and Harry Hultquist rehearsed the music to at least one Dance performance by playing along to a videotaped rehearsal on Michael’s equipment. Drummer/artist Steve Fawson also hosted N.U.B. jams at his own studio, which was furnished with a pipe organ. The Nameless Uncarved Block appeared a decade later at The Painted Word, a venue known for Punk-Rock and Alternative Culture, on the Winter Solstice of 1984.

The Nameless Uncarved Block included Saxophonist Dale Carlson, as well as Curt Setzer and Dave Faggioli -- Graphic courtesy of Curt and Dave.

The Nameless Uncarved Block included Saxophonist Dale Carlson on this night, as well as Curt Setzer and Dave Faggioli — Graphic courtesy of Curt and Dave.

ZioNoiz (Pronounced: Zion Noise) was an improvisation ensemble including Curt and Dave, who played music in some places that were somewhat off the beaten track, like Marmalade Hill Church:

Miraculous Zion Noiz poster -- Thanks to David Parish, Salt Lake Punks FB page.

Faggioli writes: I think the above ZioNoiz poster was created after the early 1983 event and most likely after the winter solstice 1984 Painted Word gig (thus the use of the skull & crossbones dotting the “i”) — Miraculously found ZioNoiz poster — Thanks to David Parish, Salt Lake Punks FB page.

Firsthand from Fagiolli: The initial Zion Noiz (or ZioNoiz) gig was held in a gymnasium / rec hall in Marmalade Hill Church … in February or March of 1983 – This was the first use of the term that I am aware of, since I was pondering what to call the six hours of Noiz … Ken Rudd (played) drums along with misc percussion & drummer Aaron Ruschetta.   Richard Jonas played electrified viola, Neil Passey showed up for awhile and played bass, Rod Dankers on Guitar, Curt on Guitar and piano mostly, I played Alto, Tenor and Baritone saxes … When some of those same musicians played at Perry Shepard’s Painted Word, a local Punk Rock haven run by a deejay at KRCL, they used the name Noiz Ziontists.

Spring Solstice at the Paited Word circa 1985 -- poster/flier courtesy of Dave and Curt.

Spring Equinox at the Painted Word 1985 — poster/flier courtesy of Dave and Curt.

Firsthand from Fagiolli: I created and distributed the two Noiz Ziontist flyers with the computer lettering created by former Imitators & later “A Plague of Locusts” synthesizer musician fantastique Greg Howes, who appeared at these gigs as well.  There was no leader for either of these two ensembles.   This event included the creation of the Doo Dah Manifesto via my passing out index cards to the audience so they could pen a few lines to form the manifesto from. (I still have those cards I believe). Setzer was part of The Imitators ensemble too. They played more than once over the air on KRCL-FM, with Dave Fagiolli , Ken Rudd, and Greg Howes. Other musicians included Herc Ottenheimer, Richard Jonas, and Nick Gioello. They practiced at a space reportedly owned by someone with the actual name of Jim Kirk. (Beam me up!)

Impresario and the Maestro

Setzer promoted a concert by Sun Ra, one of America’s most innovative composers, who ranks with Charles Ives and Duke Ellington:

Poster for Sun Ra's first and only concert in Utah.

Poster for Sun Ra’s only concert in Utah — Wednesday, October 8, 1986 — Art by Virgil Finlay.

Cosmic continuity is still in play, since Marshall Allen leads Sun Ra’s Arkestra to international success in the 21st Century. ———————————————————————————————————————

Reverend Willis conducted more than a few weddings:

(L to R) Dave Faggioli; Curt Setzer; Richard Jonas; Left Front: Willis Clow -- Photo courtesy of Reverend Willis.

(L to R) Guest musicians from ZioNoiZ/Noiz Ziontists/Imitators/N.U.B. Dave Fagiolli; Curt Setzer; Richard Jonas; Left Front: Willis Clow on triangle — Photo courtesy of Reverend Willis.

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Curt Setzer accompanied adult guitarist Willis Clow on piano at Salt Lake City’s Kilby Court for a then-young audience from Gen X during the Millennium:

Kilby Cout in 1999 -- during Mesh, a multi-media event with poets Alex Caldiero, David Cranes, and Street Legal Theater.

Views of Kilby Court — Mesh, a multi-media Internet event with poets Alex Caldiero, David Cranes, and irrepressible Burning Man acolytes Street Legal Theater. Photos taken in 1999 by M.E.

As of 2013, Kilby Court still sponsors a wide variety of Alternative events. Recent visits make me think that they’ve hardly put a dime into the place since the late 1990’s and it largely looks the same as the photos above.

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Additional images courtesy of Smokey Koelsch, Hardin Davis, Sherm Clow, Dave Fagiolli, and M.E. We actively request your contributions of pictures, memorabilia, and oral histories concerning the Cosmic Aeroplane — please contact our blogmeister:

Blogmeister Michael Evans is an author and historian.

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There is more about the music of Curt Setzer, David Faggioli, the Nameless Uncarved Block, and others in his book — The Great Salt Lake Mime Saga and Amsterdam’s Festival of Fools.

Email: mike_evans_exile@yahoo.com

————————————————————————————————————– 258_logo_combo000wwDISCLAIMER: 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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5 Responses to Cosmic Music — Jordan River / Avant Garde

  1. Pingback: Cosmic Music & Cosmic Bands | Cosmic Aeroplane 1960's to 1990's

  2. Pingback: Cosmic Roots and Branches: The 9th & 9th Community | Cosmic Aeroplane 1960's to 1990's

  3. Teri Barrach says:

    Julie and Eric Freeman are my cousins. I know that Julie married Rod Dankers and died two months later reportedly a suicide. Can you or anyone tell me about her and her love of music? I was 15 when she died and living in Tennessee so did not know her well.

    • Rod and his wife both passed away at early ages, sad to say. I knew Dankers from playing Chess in the old Huddle at the U of Utah, his Rock & Roll bands, and The Nameless Uncarved Block, but wasn’t around when the end came.

  4. Curt Setzer says:

    Personnel of of ” Lucky Thinks” at the cork room gig was: Richard Jonas and Edrick ” Vredo” Vredenburg- Electric violins, Larry “the accordion player”- accordion Curt Setzer-Electric guitar Rodney Daynes -Electric bass and Eddie Bileck – drums

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