The story behind the organ music at the Greenport Carousel

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Michael Sarlo and his organ, Celebration, at the Greenport Carousel in Mitchell Park Saturday.
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Michael Falco and his organ, Celebration, at the Greenport Carousel in Mitchell Park Saturday.

The carousel at Mitchell Park in Greenport felt a little more festive Saturday, as it was accompanied by a 1919 Wurlitzer 105 Military Band Organ that played carousel music courtesy of Michael Falco.

Four years ago, Mr. Falco, an engineer from Shirley,  stumbled across an old trade magazine called ” Wurlitzer Building Plans and Voicing Tips, Model 104/105,” written in 1978 by a man named R. M. Stanoszek.

It showed hand-drawn figures and dimensions for how to rebuild a Wurlitzer 105 Band Organ, which piqued Mr. Falco’s interest.

“It’s not something where I woke up one morning and I thought to myself, ‘What am I going to do today? I know, I’m going to build a band organ!,'” he joked. “I had come across handwritten notes, dimensions, drawings all done by hand in a binder. And since I am an engineer by profession, I was looking at this and thinking that whoever did this put a lot of effort into documenting these things.”

Back in the 1910s, the marketing for these type of band organs also was pretty interesting, Mr. Falco said.

“They would suggest things like ‘Now you can replace all of your band members. No longer will you have to worry about salaries or band members coming in drunk,'” he said.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The back of Celebration at the Greenport Carousel in Mitchell Park Saturday.

All these decades later, and four years after Mr. Falco’s discovery, the band organ is ready for prime time and it even has a name, Celebration.

Saturday’s performance at the Greenport carousel was only it’s second time performing in public.

The band organ, located in a trailer that Mr. Falco uses to transport it, has organ pipes, two drums and a cymbal that all play themselves. Mr. Falco says he has about 430 songs for it.

“Right now, I have it set up to play carousel music, but it also has “Mary Poppins” medleys, for example, as well as a 1952 and a 1953 modern hits medley.”

There are still people that write music for these types of organs, he said.

The most modern song in its arsenal is a version of The Beatles’ “Back in the USSR,” Mr. Falco said.

“It’s really dreadful,” he added.

Arlene Klein, a member of the Greenport Village Carousel Committee, said her organization didn’t have to find Mr. Falco, he found them.

“He made an appointment and played it for us, and he said he wanted to do this gratis,” Ms. Klein said. “When somebody says they want to do something just for the fun of it, it’s an offer you can’t refuse.”

Mr. Falco said bringing the band organ to Greenport was an obvious choice.

“Everyone knows you have this wonderful carousel,” he said.

Ms. Klein said the reaction to the band organ was almost entirely positive.

“I like it a lot,” she said. “I like the music … it’s a joy. It’s what a carousel should sound like, and it adds a dimension we didn’t have before.”

So far, Mr. Falco was only scheduled to bring his band organ for the one day, but he’s put some of the music on compact discs, which Ms. Klein says could be played at the carousel in the future.

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