Herald JournalHerald Journal, Sept. 29, 2003

Pair of LP teachers release muscial CD

By Julie Yurek

Call it fate or a coincidence, but Greg Landkamer and David Rue were meant to meet.

Little did they know that they would end up collaborating in a musical release called "Lauderdays: Everybody and His Brother."

Both men started teaching at Lester Prairie in 1996; Landkamer in science, and Rue in music.

It turns out that Landkamer lived in the same apartment in St. Paul in the early 1980s that Rue's sister, Beverly, lived in one year after Landkamer moved out.

Landkamer never met Beverly or Rue, but later the two discovered the coincidence.

Landkamer and Rue have more than just that story in common; they also have music.

Landkamer started the album in February 2000, and Rue came on board later that summer. The album was completed in October 2002.

This is Landkamer's sixth album and Rue's first, Landkamer said. Landkamer's fifth CD was made in 1990, he said.

Landkamer wrote all of the 14 songs except "Little Tabla Boy," which is traditional.

Rue and Landkamer each sing on about six of the songs, and both sing together on a few.

Landkamer spent about 345 hours on the album, Rue has about 116 hours in, and Landkamer's nephew, Tony Landkamer, has 12 hours invested, Landkamer said.

"It was a treat," Rue said.

The CD was recorded at Landkamer's home studio in Watertown. Through the years he acquired keyboards, computer, and other items necessary to produce an album. He began recording music on and off in his home since 1985.

"It's a hobby," he said.

Landkamer never wanted music to become a job. "I never wanted to have to play for a living," he said.

Landkamer began college as a music major, but switched to science midway.

As a senior in high school in Mankato, he was in a band who had one of their songs played on the a.m. radio station, KTOE.

Making music

Landkamer did a lot of the writing for the CD in July 2000, he said. He also recorded all of the songs with just him singing.

When he asked Rue to come on board for the project, the two spent many hours critiquing, arranging, rerecording, and changing tempos on what Landkamer recorded.

The pair tried to meet once a week, but sometimes only met about twice a month or would skip a month. Rue gave guitar lessons one night a week, got married, and moved to Mankato in that two-year period, so sometimes they couldn't meet for a while.

They would spend an average of about three-and-a-half hours working per session. They usually focused on three songs (at most) per session.

Some sessions were longer, and sometimes Landkamer would work on some parts by himself, he said.

Rue's expertise was in hearing the right note, or knowing what to add, Landkamer said.

Rue mainly produced the CD, while Landkamer did more of the music making, Rue said. "It was fun."

The CD's cover was created by Lester Prairie foreign exchange student Meena Nikander from Finland.

The cover represents a part of most of the songs on the track, Landkamer said.

Landkamer asked art teacher Lisa Klobe to recommend a student. She gave Nikander's name, which Landkamer recognized because he had seen one of her art projects.

Landkamer gave her a rough sketch and idea of what he was looking for, and she put it together.

Nikander spent between 20 and 25 hours on the design. The original is a colored pencil drawing on 16 -by 10-inch paper, about the size of a vinyl album cover.

Landkamer wanted a "home-made feel to the cover because it is homemade music," he said.

Variety of sounds

The CD can't really be categorized, Landkamer said. The songs are a mix of folk, blues, Caribbean, rock and roll, new age, and ballads. There is no country or rap, he said.

Instruments include synthesizers, guitars, drums, bass, udu drum, sitar, and tabla, which is an Indian drum.

The drums and bass were played by a computer that Landkamer programmed.

Putting together a song was like a "mosaic," Landkamer said.

It was layering the sounds, Rue said.

"That's the nature of recording this way, recording one instrument at a time," Landkamer added.

Fellow colleague Tracy Cederstrom gave rave reviews about the CD.

"'Everybody and his brother' can relate to at least one, if not all of the tracks on this CD," Cederstrom said. "It's a wonderful exploration of the human experience, with thoughts and feelings that so many of us have in common," she said.

The two also experimented to get different sounds. For example, in track three "Lauderdays," a guitar is being strummed very lightly with a garbage bag, Rue said.

In another song, the microphone was held upside down in a glass mixing bowl in front of a guitar.

In the song "Go Back to Sleep" they used a snippet of a political recording from Barbara Streisand that Landkamer had on his answering machine.

Landkamer's inspiration for his songs are from all over, he said.

Some songs are very meaningful, while others are less so, he said.

"Greg can work on 14 songs at one time," Rue said. "It's like he's working in a garage. First he toys with the lawnmower, then the snowblower, and then something else. Eventually, he gets all the projects finished, but is working on all of them simultaneously."

Landkamer takes bits and pieces from everywhere and jots them down, he said.

"You Kept My Name" came to him while supervising a study hall and he found himself tapping a coffee cup and thinking about pizza.

Another song "Thinking of You" was inspired by his friends Brian and Karen Hopps of Minneapolis.

Brian traveled a lot for his job, Landkamer said. "Thinking of You" is "for every husband who just wants to get home to his wife and leave all the BS behind," according to the description in the album cover.

Even though there is a 16-year age difference ­ Rue is 33 and Landkamer is 49 ­ they really enjoyed working together.

Their taste in music differed a little, but it didn't interfere in their work, Rue said.

The duo also played guitar together at the Prairie Arts Festival in 1999 and again in 2000.

They both agreed that they would "absolutely work together in the future" if there's an opportunity. Right now though, both have other commitments going on in their lives, Rue said.

When Rue's not giving guitar lessons, he likes to play music with his wife, Katherine, who plays the drums and piano. She is an occupational therapist.

Rue lived in Winsted for five years before moving to Shakopee. He grew up in Hibbing.

One of Landkamer's other hobbies is to build sandcastles with Brian Hopps.

The two entered the castle category at the St. Paul Aquatennial almost every year. They started competing in 1989, and have done it every year except 2002. They have won their division five times, and made the front page of the Star Tribune.

Landkamer is also currently working with friend Mick Bates of Lester Prairie on performing bluegrass music.

If anyone is interested in purchasing the "Lauderdays: Everybody and his Brother" CD, they are $10. To request a copy, send it to JHF Music, PO Box 66, Watertown, MN 55388.

"Not available on eight-track or cassette," Rue said with a laugh.

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