Seal Beach Silent Movies
 4 manual 57 rank Paramount Mighty Wurlitzer
Live Music Featured at the Bay Theatre

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copyright D.STOCK
Scenes from Bay Theatre's Silent Movie Mondays include Jim Riggs 
at the organ and Dick Loderhose, owner, with a television news crew.

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NOTE: The Mighty Wurlitzer was removed from this theater and is now in a private collection.

 

It's hard to believe quaint, little downtown Main Street, Seal Beach, California has a theatre organ second only in size to Radio City Music Hall. Owner Dick Loderhose did something different. He took an 800 seat theater and reduced the seating to half its capacity, so he could install a Wurlitzer pipe organ which encompasses the Jesse Crawford studio organ from New York City, Times Square. 

 

Seniors and their grandchildren, twenty somethings and middle aged folks all lined up on Main Street to buy tickets to the Silent Movies, featuring Rudolph Valentino in "Son of Sheik," and a short comedy with Charlie Chaplin.  The Bay Theatre in Seal Beach contains the largest organ West of the Mississippi "straight from New York's Radio City Hall to Seal Beach", and has acquired a guest organist of great talent to play. 

 

Hailed by many in the organ community as one of the world's greatest performers, Jim Riggs, emerges from behind a black velvet curtain, with a spotlight shining on him, sitting at an organ which moves along a platform out to an elevated stage. His hands and feet constantly in motion, he plays original scores with the audience breaking into applause. 

 

For two hours, Riggs plays so well, sometimes you don't notice him at all. Other times, the music is so enjoyable, you feel you're getting a concert for the price of a movie admission. Either way, it is one of the greatest experiences and something every person who's watched a movie should see. (Those PBS broadcasts of silent flicks just don't deliver the experience provided by a Mighty Wurlitzer).

 

"A theater organ like the Mighty Wurlitzer is meant to sound like an orchestra. It's made to sound like each instrument: piccolos, tubas, strings, drums, cymbals, traps . Basically, it's like a one-man orchestra.'' Riggs said. "It always grabs people, gets their toes tapping. My aim is to have people walk out feeling better than they did when they walked in.'' 
 

Jim Riggs

OCCUPATION:  Theatre organist, producer of my own theatre organ recordings, owner of "Melody Masters" (a mail-order concern specializing in "vintage music").  Active concertizing across the nation and in the United Kingdom, Australia & New Zealand. Silent film scoring a specialty.

 

POSITIONS:
House Organist-Paramount Theatre, Oakland California (4/26 Wurlitzer)
Organist-Stanford Theatre, Palo Alto California (3/21 Wurlitzer)
Organist-Castro Theatre, San Francisco (4/21 Wurlitzer); Organist-Grand Lake
Theatre, Oakland California (3/13 Wurlitzer); Organist-Avenue Theatre, San
Francisco (3/14/Wurlitzer)

5 recordings:  Real Rhythm! (Grand Lake Theatre, Oakland); Singin' In The Bathtub (Alabama Theatre, Birmingham, Alabama. This was the first ever theatre organ CD recorded "in-theatre".); Paramount On Parade (Paramount Theatre, Oakland) Granada (Granada Theatre, Kansas City Kansas) Paramount On Parade, Vol. II (Paramount Theatre, Oakland)