The Poudre River Irregulars

Home page About the Band (photo, history, musician bios) Gigs (recurring dates, specials) Our CDs (play lists, liner notes, order form) Our Music (CDs, music samples, video links) Band Photos (recent shots, band history) Contact Us (addresses for info & bookings) Northern Colorado Traditional Jazz Society

About the Band

Photo, Poudre River Irregulars, March 2016 The Poudre River Irregulars in March 2016 (Left to right) : Ray Leake (piano), Rory Thomas (banjo), Dave Dale (bass), Clark Burnside (clarinet), Larry Lagerberg (trumpet), Charlie Smith (trumpet), Len Kellogg (leader, trombone), Oscar DeZoto (drums). The site is the "clubhouse" structure in Avo's wonderful patio.

The Poudre River Irregulars are a colorful New Orleans and Dixieland jazz ensemble noted for their exuberant energy and sound musicianship. Drawing much of their inspiration from Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton, they play a wide variety of traditional jazz, from ragtime through the classics of the twenties and thirties up to early swing. Whatever they play, their music is always upbeat and joyful.

Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, this popular band plays for concerts, dances, and private engagements all over the Northern Colorado region. Their best-known gig is at Avogadro's Number, a hangout near the Colorado State University campus, where they play on the first Friday of each month to sellout crowds. See Gigs for current info about where you can hear them play.

They also have recorded six popular CDs – see CDs for CD contents and how to order. For information about their musical style, plus CD samples and video links to other music from their gigs, see Music. And for candid snapshots, including a selection of historical shots dating back to the band's early days, see Photos.

About the name:   The Cache la Poudre River was named by early French explorers who stashed gunpowder at intervals along its banks. Its upper reaches now provide recreation for kayakers, rafters, and fishermen, while supplying water for Fort Collins and surrounding agricultural areas. The local pronunciation is "POO-der."

As to "Irregulars": when the band was forming in 1994, personnel changes were frequent and abrupt. The group has long since stabilized but keeps the name because it suggests the free and easy spirit of their music. (Think of a motley militia ready at a moment's notice to take on an engagement with deftness and high spirits.)

Leadership:   Cornetist Bob Cooke founded the band in 1995 and was its leader until December 2010, when he retired and handed over the reins. Now trombonist Len Kellogg is the band's leader (head honcho, booking agent, and all-purpose go-to guy); you can contact him here.

The Musicians
The Regular Irregulars
  • Leonard "Lenny" Kellogg (leader, trombone) photo of Len Kellogg has been playing the trombone since age 10 and says he plans to continue until he can get it right! He holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in music education and is retired after 28 years of teaching middle and high school band in Colorado public schools. Lenny has played with Your Father's Mustache band, The Pearl Street Jazz Band, and the Blu Jazz Band. He has subbed with everyone from the Queen City Jazz Band to the Hot Tomatoes, and joined the Poudre River Irregulars in 2007. "That was it," he says; "I've let things slide ever since."

  • Charlie Smith (trumpet) photo of Charlie Smith says he loves playing Lead. He started playing trumpet at seven and graduated from UNC with a degree in Music Performance in 1985. He's played Lead with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Woody Herman Band, and backed up such well-known performers as Frank Sinatra Jr., The Four Freshman, Natalie Cole, Bob Hope, Jay Leno, The Four Tops, Bobby McFerrin, James Moody, and on and on. Currently he presides over AAP Automation Inc., an industrial automation company located in Colorado and Utah, and plays with Your Father’s Mustache, the Hot Tomatoes, and Lannie Garrett's Big Band in Denver, plus occasionally the Northwest Symphony Orchestra in Seattle.

  • Larry Lagerberg (trumpet) photo of Larry Lagerberg studied music performance at the University of Denver and the University of Colorado at Denver. He has played professionally in the Denver area for more than 25 years in a variety of genres. Some of the bands he has played with include Rhythm House, Shadberry Street, Blujazz and Samson Gulch, and he has subbed for the Queen City and My Father’s Mustache Dixieland bands. He also is a smooth jazz songwriter and performer and has several CDs for sale online and on iTunes.

  • Clark Burnside (clarinet) photo of Clark Burnside is an exciting player who began playing Dixieland jazz in high school and was featured with the UCD Claim Jumpers (the University of Colorado's Dixieland jazz ensemble) at the Sacramento Jazz Festival. Our longest-serving band member, Clark has been the featured clarinetist with the Poudre River Irregulars since 2001.

  • Ray Leake (piano) photo of Ray Leake began studying classical piano at age four and has been playing professionally for over 30 years. While studying music at CU he found himself playing honky-tonk at Shakey’s Pizza, which fueled his interest in ragtime and jazz. Ray has performed with numerous Dixieland bands and with such jazz luminaries as Joe Venuti and Joe Darensbourg, as well as being a featured performer on the Mississippi Queen and the Delta Queen Riverboats. As well as the Irregulars, he plays with Your Father's Mustache band in Denver.

  • Rory Thomas (banjo) photo of Rory Thomas is expert at trad-jazz-style four-string banjo. Besides the Poudre River Irregulars, he's the regular banjoist with Denver's Queen City Jazz Band (and has played with many other bands including Karla West's Goodtyme Jazz Band). Rory earns a living as a graphic printing specialist, and his significant other, Sandy, helps the QCJB with sales and public relations.

  • David Dale (string bass) photo of Dave Dale started playing guitar in junior high school and by high school was performing with Denver bands. He included bass playing around '79. He's played in various Rock, Jazz, Bluegrass and Country bands locally and has a style that has grown from all of these genres. Having subbed for the Irregulars during the "Bob Cooke" years, Dave is now happily in charge of low notes in this high-energy group.

  • Oscar DeZoto (drums) photo of Oscar DeZoto is an exceptionally versatile drummer. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, he played R&B, rock 'n roll, blues, and country (his first paid gig was at age 11). In college, he spent several years studying theory, composition, reading, and performance in all styles of jazz. Oscar credits Jazz Professor Fred Radke (ex Harry James lead trumpeter) as a mentor and friend who helped round out his versatility. Now some 20 years in Colorado, Oscar continues to play regularly in groups offering mainstream jazz, big band, swing, fusion, classic rock, and Dixieland. He says juggling all this is challenging and rewarding for his soul: "If it's musical and fun, I'm in."

The Irregulars are blessed with good friends from the traditional jazz community who are happy to come and sit it when regular members are gone, or when a fuller sound is needed, or just to add extra pizazz to a gig. Some of the great trad jazz musicians who have appeared with the band are:

BANJO:   Dennis Condreay, Dave Marshall, Joe Petrucelli, Jim Tracy, Ted Turner, Maury Walker

BASS:   Roger Barnhart, Roger Johns, Gene Libbea

CLARINET:   Lance Acker, Roger Campbell, Bill Pontarelli

CLARINET/SAXOPHONES:   John Bredenberg, Andrew Vogt

CORNET:   Bob Cooke, Rick Crandell

DRUMS:   Kristin Anderson, Tim Clarkson

PIANO:   Mark Flory, Hank Troy

SAXOPHONES:   Paul Burnside, Ken Levinson

TROMBONE:   Glenn Shull, Eric Staffeldt

TRUMPET:   Colton Crandell, Bob Jackson, Larry Lagerberg, Tony Pierce

TUBA:   Jim Calm

VOCALS:   Mary Buirgy, Wende Harston, Ted Turner

GUEST JAZZ GROUPS:   Denver Jazz Club Youth All-Stars, Jazz Cookers, UCD Claim Jumpers, Rocky Mountain High School Dixieland Jazz Band

So, true to its name, the Irregulars' lineup is often in a state of creative flux, and it's always worthwhile to see who's in the area and might be sitting in with the band. As a patron at an Avo's First Friday gig remarked, "We never know what to expect, but it's always good!"

Note: If you like our kind of music, support the Northern Colorado Traditional Jazz Society