Ken Demko Live at the Lamplighter Inn

Fine food, good drinks, and organist Ken Demko combine for an evening of entertaining pleasure.

As a youngster, my parents used to take me to a restaurant called the Captain's Inn in Toms River, New Jersey. Capain's Inn had a fellow just like this Ken Demko -- he sat behind an incredibly complicated machine with three keyboards and dozens of switches, entertaining us as we ate our lobster and shrimp scampi with delightful renditions of Songs Everyone Knew. I can remember spending many hours (or at least the good part of one hour) watching him throw switches, press footpedals, and somehow get this monstrosity to make music.

The folks at Century/Advent records must remember, too. This disc captures the atmosphere perfectly, right down to the restaurant noises in the background. Demko plays a 1928 Kimball Theatre pipe organ (I read it on the liner notes) while his patrons dine, chat, and otherwise socialize to the tune of Tie a Yellow Ribbon, Beer Barrel Polka, Hava Nagila and even 2001. I don't know whether Ken Demko is still performing today (or even if the Cleveland-based Lamplighter Inn is still open), but with Ken's best performances in the can, does it really matter?

Ken Demko Live at the Lamplighter Inn
(click picture to magnify)
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Tie a Yellow Ribbon (Real Audio) Wherein Ken Demko and the 1928 Kimball meet Tony Orlando and Dawn. A little slow at first, but it picks up.

Your Comments:

Senator Jeff Sessions ( says:
I love this! And my decision is not based on my background as a white Christian male from the small town of Hybart, Alabama who went to the Methodist Chruch, belonged to the Boy Scouts and was president of the Young Republicans in college. (07-13-2009)

Joe Klamut aka smegma ( says:
Ken and I have been friends now for the past 25 years. I just talked with him today and he's doing just fine. He had some meducal problems but has made a full recovery. He still looks the same and acts just as silly as he always did. He told me the Lamplighter was closed quite some time ago and the organ is in someone's garage on the west side of town. Pretty sad huh? (09-24-2008)

Jim Moran ( says:
Hi Frank. I've been looking for a copy of
this everywhere. I'm determined though.

To Harold G.

Sir,you clearly made up that entire story (05-27-2008)

Harold G. says:
The Lamplighter was a run down place. Cleveland's slobs went there thinking it was 'high class'. The bathrooms were filthy and had old plumbing. The owners put signs up asking patrons not clog up the toilets with toilet paper but it didn't help. One night the toilets overflowed full force into the dining area. A tidal wave of Cleveland's worst bodily waste. I actually saw patrons get up on their chairs. Women screamed. We had to call the Cleveland Fire Dept. twice because they thought it was a prank call at first. They pumped the place out which made a bigger mess in the street.

I always felt bad for Ken. He was such a nice quiet guy who really loved playing that organ. The patrons were sometimes rude and stupid to him but he always laughed it off. (12-09-2007)

michael thomas (pickup.99@hotmail.comKens ) says:
Ken is my best friend and I know he's in the hospital but he is going to be OK. (03-19-2007)

Kelly says:
I can only imagine the atmosphere at the Lamplighter Inn back then. The organ used to be a common site at bars and restaurants in the early 70's. I remember a place called the Organ Grinder where they served great pizza while some dude hammered out The Sting on the organ. It seems that sporting events have become the common place to hear an organ solo. I visited that Stadium Sports Music site and listened to some of those clips of the baseball and hockey organ music. Seems like they use a different type of organ at the games today or maybe they use a synth or something. Anyhow, great tunes! (01-30-2007)

fnord says:
Jesus! I nearly lost my mind listening to this. Frank, you are so truly, lovingly insane. Ken Demko is rivaled only by the great Bob Dobbs for SLACK! (01-10-2007)

Phil McRevis says:
You've got to listen to the Rockettes kickline ending Ken does. Priceless. A quick googlizing will show you that Ken is still out there working his magic, proving that tulips on your organ are still better than roses on your piano. (11-29-2006)

ArtFart ( says:
It's interesting to listen to one of the low pedal notes rattling all the dishes. Wonder what it did for peoples' digestion. (11-23-2006)

Scott ( says:
Lawrence Welk if he actually had a personality and a Song book of modern songs people actually like. (05-12-2006)

Bob Sheppard says:
Sounds like Eddle Layton on the organ at Yankee Stadium. (03-12-2006)

Tommy10756 ( says:
Hey, if it wasn't for Ken Demko, I never would have learned to play The Beer Barrel Polka with such finese! Being a former busboy at the great Lamplighter Inn, I saw the crowd come alive whenever Ken would take to the console! So what if he used the cresendo pedal a little too much? It was the only way to get all the ranks (or most of them) going at the same time! Rock On Ken! (10-04-2005)

Rod Schoonover says:
Where do dreams go when you awake? Modern biologists argue that dreams are just spontaneous firings of the neurocortex while one is asleep. A sort of reorganization process of the data accumulated while awake. To these liars I say no.

In reality, upon awakening, dreams stay alive, floating out through your cranium undetectably, only to gather with other dreams, undoubtedly on top of a cloud somewhere up in the heavenly skies. There they gather, frolicking and singing, dancing and laughing, while the unsuspecting mortals below go about their normal days, nose to the grindstone, grunting and snorting while shoving chicken fried steak in their fat little faces. How did these dreams, so pure and vivid, arise from the pigpeople below?

Discarded and forgotten, they shall have their day. The trumpets have sounded and the army of dreams has begun to amass, my friends. They will gut you and me like bluegills as they prance around half-naked, giggling like ritalin-soaked children, with blood on their hands. Get down on your knees right now and pray for forgiveness, cause that is your only hope now. Do you know what color blood looks like in the darkness? It is quite dark, black really. Oh, it won't be long, for if you look skyward early in the morn, you can see them peeking down, ready to pounce like pumas -- except they're made out of pure energy. And whose dreams will be leading the massacres of mortals in a bloody post-modern Ragnarok? Ken Demko's. (09-27-2005)

Scott ( says:
His playing should have been louder and his clothing should have been quieter. His ideas about rubato are certainly ... interesting. (06-11-2005)

Lefty Demko ( says:
What's so special about a one-handed organ player? I play my organ with one hand almost every night. (05-19-2005)

Bubba Demko says:
Shame on all of you for making fun of cousin Kenny. Let's see YOU try to play the organ with only one hand!!! (05-18-2005)

Pardon Me While I Rock You says:
The rumors of Ken's death are premature, I'm afraid. Ken is alive and well, I'm happy to say, although he still dabbles in Satanic worship and can occasionally be seen cruising past the high school looking for "far out chicks". (03-23-2005)

Turd Ferguson and Friends says:
It is interesting to note that Ken Demko also had a successful acting career, most notably playing "sheriff roscoe p. coltrane" on "the dukes of hazzard". Tragically Ken Demko died of a massive heroin-induced heart attack while partying with Guns n Roses in a NYC hotel room in 1989. He is now jamming out with Zevon and Hendrix in the great Lamplighter Inn in the sky. We miss you Ken Demko. (12-27-2004)

Jocko Homo ( says:
Between the pants, the music and the interested diners listening to the wonderful whirling sounds of "Tie A Yellow Ribbon", I am safe in the knowledge of knowing my job as a horse stable shovel boy isn't so bad after all.

God bless you, Demko. (12-27-2004)

Wendell Ebersole ( says:
I just sang with Ken for his concert at St Cyril Methodius in Lakewood, OH on November 28, 2004. If you would like us to perform for your group send an Email.

P.S. It's nice to hear pop music with those rich organ tones. (12-07-2004)

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