Walter B. Conley (1929-2003) is considered to be the "grandfather" of folk music in Denver. He was born in Denver and was adopted by a couple in Scottsbluff, Neb., where he spent most of his childhood. In 1944, Walt returned to Denverand attended Manual High School. After graduation, he recieved a football scholarship to Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., where he was one of four black students. To make money during the summers, Conley worked at the San Cristobal Valley Ranch, a dude ranch outside of New Mexico, where he met Pete Seeger and other members of the Weavers. Pete Seeger reportedly gave Conley his first guitar and taught him his first folk songs. Conley served in the Korean War in the U.S. Navy. Following his service, he got a job working on the film crew for the movie, "Salt of the Earth," which began his lifelong interest in acting and film. He enrolled afterwards at Colorado State College, Majoring in Theater and Physical Education and graduating in 1957. While in school, Conley began performing folk music around the Front Range. After his graduation, he took a job as a junior high school teacher in Weld County but was asked to resign that position, as his other career as a folk singer was considered by the administration to be unseemly for an educator. Walt Conley's first professional job as a folk singer was to the Windsor Hotel in Denver, where he played Harry Belafonte-style calypso folk. He then played Little Bohemia, a folk club in Denver where he met Judy Collins, who was also beginning her career. The two of them also played Michael's Pub in Boulder and the Exodus, a folk club in Denver (19th and Broadway) opened by Hal Neustaedter in 1959, where Walt was the opening act for six months and Judy for the other six months. Conley also managed the Satire Lounge in Denver, where he booked acts such as Bob Dylan (in his first Colorado appearance) and the Smothers Brothers. He housed many of the arly folk performers who came to play Denver in the late 1950s and early 1960s and was known for his vast record collection for folk music - from which Bob Dylan infamously stole LPs during his 1960 stay in Conley's apartment. Conley also pursued an acting career in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He appeared as the musician and narrator in Stan Brakhage's 1969 short film, " Colorado Legend" (held in History Colorado's moving image collections), and had minor roles in "The Six Million Dollar Man," "The Rockford Files," The Bionic Woman," and other tv shows. During this time, he primarily lived in Los Angeles and continued his folk music career with appearances at the Ice House in Pasadena and gigs in Chicago and Denver. Walt Conley returned to Denver in 1983 and opened his own folk club, Conley's Nostalgia. Swallow Hill ran open weekly stages at the club, and Walt booked mational folk acts like Dave Van Ronk, John Fahey, and others. In the early 1990s, he turned his attention solely to Celtic music, forming the Irish group Conley & Company, with whom he played until his death in 2003. Conley married Joan Holden, his wife until death, in 1985, and had four children from previous relationships. He corresponded with friend and biographer Joanne Littman for decades before his death.