Former Sidney resident and Cheyenne County teacher Kip Dubbs had a big surprise involving a song he wrote decades ago that he recently found out was recorded and released on a Christmas album. Even more surprising, the album was recorded 1983. And for one last surprise, the album was recorded in Australia.
The story of how a Sterling, Colorado native had a song included on an album recorded in Australia 40 years ago is a curious one. After studying at the University of Colorado from 1953 until 1955, Dubbs left his hometown of Sterling to follow his dream of being a jazz musician in Hollywood, California.
"I came in at the tail-end of jazz being very popular, but there were still places to play in Los Angeles and was able to perform with many talented artists," Dubbs said. During that time, many of the top jazz composers were hired by television networks to provide theme music, backing tracks and to perform live on many popular shows of the day. As music styles changed, many of these composers and artists were let go by networks like NBC. Dubbs then enrolled at the prestigious Westlake School of Music in their jazz program. Many of Dubbs instructors were composers that used to work in television during the mid to late 1950's.
Through performing and his studies, Dubbs was offered many opportunities, and one he took stands out. Dubbs played trumpet and toured with Ray Conniff for a few years, one of the most popular bandleaders and composers of the time.
"Ray was a great guy, and a I was fortunate to work with him. At a time when most touring bands traveled in old buses and were lucky to even get a motel room for the night, everything for us was first class. We would fly to our shows and stayed in great hotels. It was a special time," Dobbs said.
After his time performing with Coniff, Dubbs went to work for Capitol records, in the iconic Capitol Records Building in Los Angeles, in the recording and publishing division. He went on to compose music performed by Pat Boone, Doc Severinson and other legendary performers of the time.
He eventually moved back to the panhandle area, and taught music in the Sidney Public School system, as well as at Leyton and in Lewellen. This is where the mystery of the recording of "A Night Out For Dobbin" starts. In 1981, Dubbs traveled to the Nebraska All State Choral Festival at Doane College, and ran into Rodney Eichenberger, a former teacher of his when he studied at USC, when he lived in California. Dubbs gave copies of "A Night Out For Dobbin", which Dubbs wrote in 1979 while in Sidney, to Eichenberger for him to give to his students to perform at the festival. Dubbs had recently published the song, which was set to the tune of the Christmas standard "Jingle Bells".
"I had given him copies of the song, and he seemed to like it very much, but I was never really sure if he had given it to his students or if they had ever performed the song," said Dubbs.
Fast forward to 2020 when Dubbs' son found a link on YouTube of "A Night Out For Dobbin", performed by the Faye Dumont Singers, a very popular Australian choral group.. Dubbs had never heard of anyone recording the song, so he was intrigued and started to do some digging. It turns out the song was included on an album released in 1983 by the Faye Dumont Singers. Dubbs continued to investigate, and eventually was able to contact the engineer who recorded the album back in 1983. The story unwound, with Dubbs discovering that Faye Dumont had studied at USC under Eichenberger, earned her degree, and returned to her native Australia with a copy of the song. Eventually it was recorded and included on the album "O Come All Ye Faithful."
Dubbs was never contacted about the recording, but doesn't hold a grudge or is looking for recompense after all these years. He said, "The song was recorded by one of the best choirs in Australia, and they did a great job with the piece." Dubbs seems to be happy that his music was able to be enjoyed by people half a world away, and that it had an impact on their lives.
"It was just such a surprise, after all of those years, to find a recording of something I had written so long ago turn up in such a beautiful rendition. It's actually pretty amazing," said Dubbs.
A native of the panhandle area that had his time out in the glitzy world of Hollywood during its golden age, then returns and teaches music, then has a song of his recorded in Australia only to discover the recording nearly 40 years later, sounds like a story that came straight out of Hollywood. But it is all true, and it happened to a man that taught music here, to students in Cheyenne County, many years ago. To hear "A Night Out For Dobbin", go to YouTube and search for "Kip Dubbs", or go directly to the recording at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9PzHZwnyJ0.