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The fight to preserve King Records’ legacy

People are trying to kiss Elvis’ microphone.

Tour guides at Memphis’ Sun Records, inundated most days by throngs of people paying homage to the musical heritage of America, try to put the kibosh on that.

No licking instead just talk a selfie with the mic.

But we want to embrace this special thing. Because T-shirts and key chains and memories aren’t enough. This is us. Who we are. We want to be where unique American gifts laid their grace on the global musical landscape forever.

Across the country, there are a few of these spots where magic happened and our history shifted. Motown. Preservation Hall. The Apollo. They are beloved. They are tourist attractions. Because someone recognized that and saved them.

Then there’s Cincinnati’s King Records, where rock history, civil rights history and Cincinnati history intersect at the corner on a dead end street just north of Downtown.

On Monday, we may lose not only the fight to save the building, but the city’s identification with the legacy as well.

This is the place, after all, where the rock ’n’ roll standard “Good Rockin’ Tonight” first became a hit in the late 1940s. Where hillbilly boogie – soon to morph into rock ’n’ roll – first got a listen in 1946. Where Tiny Bradshaw wrote and recorded “Train Kept a Rollin’ ” and made it immortal.

Where “The Twist” was written by a King artist. Where one of the songs on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of those who shaped the genre – The Midnighters “Work With Me Annie” – was recorded.

Where James Brown became, well, James Brown.

KING RECORDS James Brown and King Records | 1:07

James Brown, the legendary “Godfather of Soul,” started his career on the Federal label, a subsidiary of King Records. Here is a brief look at some of Brown's connections to the Cincinnati record company. The Enquirer/Michael Nyerges

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KING RECORDS James Brown tours King Records | 0:51

In June of 1997, James Brown tours the closed King Records iin Evanston. He signed with the company in 1956 and released several hits under the label in the 60's. WKRC

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It was where, in 1943, Syd Nathan set his sights on making music that could make money, no matter the color of the people making it for him. His was a big business on a small dead-end street in Evanston, where musicians recorded, records were pressed, album covers designed and printed and, finally, assembled and shipped. He made a practice of welcoming anyone who could do the work.

His was an integrated workforce in a time of segregation.

King artist Philip Paul came to Cincinnati in 1951, lured by Bradshaw to play at the Cotton Club in the West End, the lone integrated nightclub in the city that drew some of the greatest jazz talents of the era.

King Records, the 91-year-old performer said, was a place where “they weren’t concerned about

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Tahoe winter deluge will sustain Reno water for years

636235533923518344-REN-LAKE-TAHOE-DAM-01.jpgBuy Photo

Water is seen flowing through the Lake Tahoe Dam and into the Truckee River at Tahoe City on Feb. 23, 2017. Thanks to a snowpack that's at more than 200 percent of normal Lake Tahoe is expected to reach maximum allowable elevation of 6,229.1 feet for the first time since 2006. (Photo: JASON BEAN/RGJ, RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL-USA TODAY NETWORK) Buy Photo

When Donnelyn Curtis imagined an exhibit celebrating historic Sierra Nevada winters,  she didn’t expect to experience one herself.

Since opening the exhibit at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center on the university’s campus in Reno, more than 50 feet of snow has fallen on some of the spots documented in the old photos.

Reno is experiencing its wettest winter on record and Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts anticipate Fourth of July skiing and snowboarding.

“I just thought I might be nostalgic for the days when there used to be a lot of snow,” said Curtis, a librarian at the University of Nevada. “Then it turned out it was one of those winters.”

A historic amount of precipitation means more than a chance at recreating old photos and novel holiday skiing.

It’s likely to fill Lake Tahoe to its storage limit for the first time since 2006. And that means water from the largest alpine lake in North America will spill into the Truckee River for years to come.

“After Tahoe fills it is good for three years,” said Chad Blanchard, the federal water master in Reno. “We could have unprecedented dry (weather) and it still ends up being two years.”

The amount of precipitation since Oct. 1, the beginning of what water managers call the "water year," has already broken annual records.

With seven months of the water year remaining, Reno has recorded 12.74 inches of precipitation. The old mark for a 12-month water season was 12.72 from Oct. 1, 1982, to Sept. 30, 1983.

Totals near Lake Tahoe are more astounding.

Since Oct. 1, Tahoe City has seen 56.38 inches of precipitation in the form of rain or snow water equivalent.

That beats the previous record for October through February, set in 1969, by more than 10 inches. Even if it doesn’t rain or snow before the end of March, it would beat the October to March record, set in 1982, by two inches.

If snow and rain were to stop completely for the remainder of the water year, 2016-17 would still rate as the third-wettest year on record for the Tahoe Basin following 1995, 60.98 inches, and 1982, 69.21 inches, Blanchard said.

Since Oct. 13, the elevation of Lake Tahoe has risen from 6,222.46 feet, which is about 6 inches below the natural rim, to 6,226.74 feet, which is nearly 4 feet above the rim.

Bill Hauck, senior hydrologist for the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, said it’s a “foregone conclusion” the lake will reach the storage limit level of 6,229.1 feet for the first time since 2006.

“We are basically going from one extreme to the other in two years,” Hauck

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