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1931: Talkies arrive; and the Royal Columbians Orchestra

By JIM

Columbia's Rialto Theatre, successor to the Paramount, opened in August 1928 with the screening of Don Juan. Less than three years later, the opening days of January 1931 found Adair County abuzz with news of a major upgrade when manager John Ritchie Walker and his partner Vernon Yarberry announced the talkies were coming to town.

These gentlemen had "contracted with an Indianapolis concern to install a Photophone in the local picture show house" with necessary equipment would ship immediately. A crew of workmen would arrive with the equipment to do the installation.

The News went on to state, "The Theatre will be completely rewired, all walls will be padded to eliminate echo, new screens will be used, in fact, it will be a new and modern picture show house in every respect, one that would do credit to a much larger place."

From that point, changes came quickly, and a large display ad in the January 13 edition of the paper announced screenings of the first two talking pictures: For the Love o' Lil on Friday and Saturday nights, January 16 & 17, and Rain or Shine on Monday & Tuesday, January 19 & 20. The ad urged readers to attend and "See them--Hear them."


Some five months later, the ad shown below appeared in the June 10, 1931 News with an intriguing final line, "Music by the Royal Columbians." Only a scant handful of mentions of the ensemble appeared in the paper, one of the others coming a month earlier, the Royal Columbians Orchestra having provided the musical entertainment for the C.H.S. Senior play, "Oh Kay!," a comedy-mystery.

The News reported the group entertained that audience before the play and between acts, and noted, "This is a new orchestra made up entirely of young gentlemen and to say they are good is putting it mildly, they are great."

Members of the group, as named by the newspaper, were Messrs. Thomas Burdette, Bob Ingram, Rollin Feese, Larry Barger, Kenneth Coffey and Emanuel Judd, instrumentalists, and Billy Bullard, vocalist. Larry Barger at 23 was the senior member of the group; Thomas Burdette was youngest at 15.



This story was posted on 2021-06-06 10:27:04
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The Royal Columbians



2021-06-06 - Columbia, KY - Photo courtesy JIM.
An ad that appeared in the June 10, 1931 Adair County News with an intriguing final line, "Music by the Royal Columbians."

Only a scant handful of mentions of the ensemble appeared in the paper, one of the others coming a month earlier, the Royal Columbians Orchestra having provided the musical entertainment for the C.H.S. Senior play, "Oh Kay!," a comedy-mystery.

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