published Thursday, July 4th, 2013

City Beat: Tivoli’s Mighty Wurlitzer roars to life

I had the rare but welcome opportunity to hear part of Jonas Nordwall’s concert on the Tivoli Theatre’s 1924 Wurlitzer Style 235 Special organ on Monday.

Nordwall was there as part of the American Theatre Organ Society’s annual convention in Atlanta. A group of participants made the trip up for the afternoon show, as well as Walt Strony’s patriotic concert at Memorial Auditorium on the historic Austin pipe organ there that night.

I’ve never seen or heard the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ, as it is also known at the Tivoli, so it was a treat to watch a pro put it through its paces. This machine looks like something Jules Verne imagined. It sounded even better than it looked.

It has been at the theater since 1924 and cost $30,000 new. Nordwall sat with his back to the audience as he manipulated the rows and rows of colorful levers and keys on the horseshoe-shaped console. He stepped to a microphone between songs to talk a little about the organ and to introduce the next song.

Highlights included “Tijuana Taxi” by Herb Alpert and a rollicking version of “The Mexican Hat Dance.”

Hopefully, there will be more opportunities to hear this amazing instrument.

n Look for local actress Victoria Galen on this Sunday night’s episode of “Devious Maids.”

The new series from “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry airs at 10 p.m. on the Lifetime network. It stars Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez, Roselyn Sánchez, Edy Ganem, Judy Reyes and Susan Lucci.

“I’ve been watching it, and I really like it,” Galen says. Galen plays the friend of one of the four main couples in the show in the episode. The show is set in Los Angeles but filmed in Atlanta.

Galen also can be seen in “The Great Divide,” a feature-length DVD now available at Red Box outlets and on and

Galen has a featured part in “The Great Divide,” and is “in it from beginning to end.”

She plays a pregnant woman in the ensemble comedy about a group of friends with varying personalities and needs in life. The independently produced film was directed by Ibraham Yilla and also stars Tichina Arnold, Golden Brooks and Dacia Fernandez.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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