From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rick Cooley) To: email@example.com Date: Mon, 9 Feb 1998 21:12:34 EST Subject: Kudos to Ron Schmuck and S. K. Goodman Hi MMD Subscribers. Occasionally during 1997, there was a thread started to verbally reward those in the business who had provided outstanding services for their friends or clients, in the field of mechanical music. I don't suspect that there was to be an overall winner(s) but, if I may be so bold, let me nominate two landslide "winners" for the first ever award for "Outstanding Achievement in the field of Mechanical Music, 1997." But first, I need to set the scene... After 25 years of negotiating with Walt Bellm and his museum in Florida, I was finally allowed to purchase his 3-figure life-size Robot Band. One robot actually plays a set of drums; the middle robot (a lady) simulates playing a player piano while a third figure had a full 120-bass accordion. The band had been Walt's pride and joy since 1972 when I first saw it operate in his museum. It was produced by the Blessing families, just after the turn of this century. It was imported in the 1950's by Lewis Graham and used in his 7-trailer caravan of wonderful mechanical music items, which were displayed between Washington D.C., and Maine. I have a copy of a November 3, 1957 New York Times article showing the Robot Band as it played in front of the Museum of History and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (Thanks to Art Reblitz for providing this valuable, historical information.) When we acquired the Robot Band in 1995, it was worn out from years of constant playing for tens of thousands of museum visitors who kept feeding it's coin slot. Even though our shop had completed many large machine restorations, we did not know where to begin. That is when we met two *world-class* restorers/technician/arrangers on the MMD: Ron Schmuck and Stephen Kent Goodman. Ron Schmuck of the Great Canadian Nickelodeon Company At one time, I believed that if we could not restore one of our machines, no one in their right mind would dare try. However, in May, 1997, the Band was safely in the Shops of Ron Schmuck, a subscriber that we first met on the MMD. The Band was returned on February 3rd, 1998 and the transformation was remarkable. The finished piece measures 18 feet wide, 12 feet high and nearly 6 feet deep. The top is a magnificent art glass panel filled with cut-glass jewels and five beautiful musical instruments in art glass. It has two large street lights (12 feet high) on the corners, filled with 10" globes. A German "beer garden" encloses the band on the back and top which is then interlaced with beautiful carvings. Ron's wife researched the proper clothing and outfitted the three figures with very authentic new clothing. The entire Band was rebuilt (including extensive work on the player piano). A MIDI system was added to compliment the roll system which was original to the instrument. Everything lost from the band during many years of use was carefully replaced to maintain as much of the original look as possible. The final product was absolutely amazing. (The Band will be described and shown in the April Issue of the MBSI Technical Journal, for those folks who are lucky enough to be members of the MBSI.) Stephen Kent Goodman, Mechanical Music Arranger Extraordinaire As magnificent as the rebuild on the Robot Band was in Canada, I only had two tunes for the roll playing mechanism which lasted about 7 minutes. The mechanisms for the Robot Band are extremely complicated with up to 50 other functions going on at the same time, not counting the nearly full range accordion and piano. Some of the arrangers I contacted promised music by the year 2005. Others, when they realized the scope of what was needed stated, "That is out of my league," and politely declined. About that time I responded to a MMD request from Stephen who was looking for rolls for an extremely rare orchestrion, a Berry-Wood AOW, that he had recently acquired. I knew that there was one in the Franklin, PA, Music Machine Museum that was previously owned by Jake DeBence. Stephen checked it out and found some of the information he needed. Initially, I had no idea who Stephen Kent Goodman was but soon I was sharing the story of my rare machine and the problem with more music. After asking around about this guy, Stephen, I soon realized that he has more credits to his name in mechanical music than at the end of a Star Wars movie. (You may recall that it took about 10 minutes to finally scroll by on the screen.) Stephen assured me that if anyone could do it, he could "do it better with greater customer satisfaction and at a very fair price". Without more music, the Robot Band is worthless. With more music, the Band is priceless. We now have 5 hours of the most amazing music ever created by any arranger, anywhere, any time. When the player piano performs, the arms and hands of the female robot follow the playing notes almost perfectly (extremely complicated maneuvers). The drummer robot can perform the most complicated drum sequences with absolute precision on bass drum, snare drum, rhythm and crash cymbal, Indian block and triangle. With flute pipes built into his chest, he can whistle along with any of the tunes. The accordionist robot plays 41 notes as his keyboard hand flies up and down while his body sways to the music. Each figure moves its head, eyes, brows, arms, hands, etc., as they perform antics that will have you rolling in the aisles. Both Ron and Stephen completed their work in magnificent style and in record time. (I am a very obnoxious, "pushy" client but they responded as true professionals.) Therefore, I nominate Ronald Schmuck and Stephen Kent Goodman for the "First Annual Mechanical Music Digest Award of Excellence" I have submitted a picture of the nearly completed Robot Band which, perhaps can be posted (for awhile) in the Archives. In that way, you can add your support to the fine work done by my two candidates. All consideration would be appreciated. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Respectfully submitted, Rick Cooley
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