And the “band” plays on

 Curio & Co. looks at vintage fairground organ music boxes. Photograph. Curio and Co. 

It’s hard enough to make a living as a musician, without having to compete with machines for jobs.

Fairground organs were the first juke boxes, providing music for parks and fairgrounds at the end of the 1800s. Usually including a pipe organ along with percussion instruments, the organ used air pushed through concealed bellows to play music. If you’re fortunate enough to hear one of these organs today – well, you won’t hear much else, depending on how close you’re standing. They’re not exactly quiet.

But while the music is charming and sweet – the organs themselves are equally beautiful. The facades are usually ornate, with carved figures that are often animated to provide a little visual entertainment.

Nowadays, of course, you don’t see fairgrounds equipped with orchestrions, but if you’re in Winchester, California, you can see (and hear) several beautiful examples at the Dutch Mill Trading Company. In fact, there’s plenty of interesting things to catch your fancy. Run by the Van Gaale family, the Dutch Mill Trading Company is several barns of European carriages, antique furniture, and fascinating artifacts. You don’t even know you’re looking for it, but you’ll find it at the Dutch Mill Trading Company.

Be sure to ask to see the Callioporium they’ve got in the Music Room!