Harvey Majeski Gifts Hammond B3, Leslie Speaker to Dunedin Brewery
We are so impressed with this magnanimous gift from Harvey Majeski to Dunedin Brewery, that we asked Jessica Majeski to provide the back story. It’s so good it needed its own post!
My dad, Harvey, decided sometime last year that Dunedin Brewery should have a house organ. We obviously love seeing so much great music there in that small venue. And the only thing that would make it better would be a Hammond B3 organ on hand available for musicians to play, since that is one of our favorite instruments to hear but one of the most difficult for musicians to travel with. So then Harv talked to Tommy Shugart, a B3 master, about it (since Tommy is one of his absolute favorite people/musicians), and they conspired to make it happen. Harv said this is the musical legacy he wants to leave in this town.
Somewhere along the way, we found out that local musician Sean Fote had purchased a B3 organ that we could use as the shell. He bought it because he started apprenticing with Dennis Toerpe every Friday (without pay) to learn how to work on and rebuild Hammond organs. So Sean, Dennis, Michael Lyn Bryant (Dunedin Brewery), Tommy, Harvey, and I all met in early September to confirm that this was “the” organ for this project the week before Tommy moved to Denver. (Because if it didn’t happen then it wouldn’t happen at all; Tommy’s thumbs-up was required in my dad’s book.) We all agreed to move forward, and here we are.
Dennis Toerpe is one of two local gurus for servicing B3 organs. He worked with the other guru — Paul Homb of Keyboard Specialities — for years. Keyboard Specialties built/rebuilt “super organs” for people such as Brian Auger and Chuck Leavell. The business isn’t really “active” anymore. Paul lives in Seminole and isn’t in the best health. Dennis lives 1-2 hours north and has been teaching Sean about how to work on B3 organs. He still performs on organ 6-10 times per year, too, I think mostly on the blues scene. It really is a diminishing art to be able to maintain and rebuild Hammond B3 organs. So hopefully Sean is soaking it all up!
I believe the case, pedals, and bench are from 1961, and some of the guts were from 1949. Using all these new electrical components, this rebuilt organ should be good to go for another 30-40+ years… which is a pretty cool legacy/impact that my dad will have on the local music scene by making that donation. The Leslie speaker is also rebuilt and is a unique tall/large style (31h) that was purchased from Paul and rebuilt by Dennis. 31h’s are taller than a 122, and are the only tuned cabinets Leslie ever produced which are known for their incomparable bass throw. They also both have re-coned field coil speakers which are rare and super warm in tone.
The Leslie speaker is a combined amplifier and loudspeaker that projects the signal from an electric or electronic instrument and modifies the sound by rotating a baffle chamber (“drum”) in front of the loudspeakers. A similar effect is provided by a rotating system of horns in front of the treble driver. It is most commonly associated with the Hammond B3 organ though it was later used for the electric guitar and other instruments. A typical Leslie speaker contains an amplifier, a treble horn and a bass speaker—though specific components depend upon the model. A musician controls the Leslie speaker by either an external switch or pedal that alternates between a slow and fast speed setting, known as “chorale” and “tremolo.”
And then of course the timing could not have worked out more perfectly when Sean told us the organ was finished this this week before Shugart’s Clearwater Jazz Holiday show November 26. It was very fitting to have Tommy be the first one to play it at that performance! And then Sunday Tommy dropped organ and Leslie off at its new home at DunBrew in the new Moon Tower building and gave Michael Lyn Bryant a primer on how to move it, use it, maintain it, etc. I have a feeling that Mike (and eventually Jazz, his baby son) will be learning how to play the Hammond B3 organ, too.
Here’s a video Sean sent to me where Chuck mentions Keyboard Specialties as the “go to” starting at 7:00:
And here’s what Sean sent to me about the organ Keyboard Specialties did for Brian Auger. My dad actually saw Auger play this organ live and never forgot it because of the color. So he thought it was super cool these local guys were the ones that built it! Brian Auger playing his Keyboard Specialties “Stealth” Hammond, which is a chopped mobile Hammond they built custom for him (silver metal flake).