Two weeks ago, we ran the first part of my interview with Tim Landers. Tim does a solo, duo and trio act wherever he performs. The trio - Landers, Heinz and Pic. When a duo is in order, Tim switches back and forth between John Heinz, fiddle virtuoso, and Michael Piccirilli, keyboard, depending on the occasion and who is available.
From playing the lead roles in Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, to hosting the Easter Seals Tellathon for over 20 years in the Poconos Mountains featuring Jay and the Americans, Ronnie Dove and the like, to working with handicapped kids his whole life, Tim’s story is one of constant growth, music and people, always lots of people. In 2006, Tim was integrally involved in the building of the first fully handicapped accessible playground, which is in Hazleton, Penn.
Since I interviewed Tim about three weeks ago, he moved to Nashville for the winter and was getting settled into his home that he bought last June. The last time I talked to him, he was about to have lunch with one of the members of Pink Floyd.
RandyJamz: Tim, you talk about Nashville a lot. What was your first experience there and how did that come about?
Tim Landers: I was 27 at the time and my cousin who had lived in Nashville for three years by then, invited me to come down and stay with him. I had just finished recording a song at home and right off the bat, one of my songs gets a lot of attention. I was playing venues on a regular basis, as well. This one guy would come into one of the clubs I was playing regularly by the name of Elmer Alley. We exchanged names and numbers and lo and behold he calls me and wants me to do his TV show. I show up at 5:30 in the morning with my one and only suit that I owned. Some opportunities could have arisen from that but, at the time I didn’t see the potential and headed back to Baltimore to finish my masters degree in music, as I only needed six more credits.
After I got my degree, I had an opportunity to play in the Virgin Islands seven nights a week and I jumped on that. That was the first time I had ever had a club manager tell me that I should take a break. I asked why. She said there are people here who would like to meet you. The only way they are going to get that opportunity is if you take a break and go around and introduce yourself. That is where I learned to get out and schmooze with the audience. It was a big deal to go around and say hello to the patrons. They loved my act and I was booked the next year, and then Hurricane Hugo hit and that left me out of work. My wife at the time asked me why I didn’t consider Ocean City.
RJ: How old were you when you made your debut here at the beach?
TL: I was 32 and just about sleeping in my car and I got introduced to the owner of Huckleberry’s where I got my first gig here. I met Harry O and he helped me get on my feet by giving me a place to stay. He is one of the most giving people you will ever meet. Huckleberry’s is also where I met Darin Engh and eventually, Bobby Wilkinson. They soon became Opposite Directions and are still going strong today.
RJ: How long did it take you to get up and running here at the beach?
TL: I assimilated in pretty fast. I was playing golf with a bunch of guys and working out almost every day and doing like nine gigs a week. Life couldn’t get any better, at that time. All of a sudden, I’m not feeling too good. I wind up over at Atlantic General and they literally saved my life, for like the third time. They did the tests and they are all looking at me like I was a drug addict. In all my years in the music business, I was around it, but never took part in it. Then they asked me if I had ever gotten a blood transfusion and I said I did back in 1972. And it was determined then, that when I got the blood transfusion, I also got Hepatitis C, of which there was no known cure. They told me I had to stop working out. They wanted me to slow down. They told me, Tim, you need to rest. Now, keep in mind, I’m teaching school and playing gigs from West Virginia to Ocean City. It was 1994, and I was told I have a year and half to live. Needless to say, I was lost and had no idea what to do.
Since then, I have been living with the knowledge that my days were numbered and any day could be the big day - my last. Then in the third week of October of this year, I was back at Johns Hopkins and they informed me that there was some medicine cocktail that should get me back on my feet and probably even be a permanent cure. Randy, I knew this interview was coming up and I haven’t told a soul about this great news yet. You are hearing it first. Feel free to print it any way you see fit. For the first time in many years, I can live feeling like I am going to be around for a while.
RJ: Is music all you’ve ever done for a living?
TL: I taught school for Anne Arundel County for a lot of years. Other than that, music is my life. In fact, all my education and teaching career has been in music, as well.
RJ: How did you get connected up with John Heinz?
TL: John and I got together and started gigging around 2006. I had to head back to Nashville for some business and I asked John to go with me. He decides he wants to go. We get off the plane and go straight to the Commodore and do an open mic. We got offered a house band job but, again, I decided to come back north and continue teaching and playing music locally here.
RJ: Wrapup: No matter who you talk to, Tim Landers is always described as a really great guy. Over the summer, a friend of his called him, told him he was a little down on his luck and said he wanted to check out the music scene here in Ocean City. Tim called me and asked if I could help get the guy any gigs. The next thing you know, Tim’s friend is sitting at my kitchen table and telling me how Tim paid his way here and back to Jacksonville, Fla., put him up in his house, drove him everywhere, let him use his gear and introduced him to lots of club owners and managers, just to see if this was a place where he would move his family to and start a new life. I watched Tim go way beyond the call of duty to help his friend over a three week period. The friend ultimately decided to head back to Florida and will eventually move back to Nashville to begin again in the recording business. Talk to John Heinz and all you hear about Tim Landers is what a good friend he is, and that’s after 10 years of gigging together. And the list of references goes on.
It will take another week to finish my interview with Tim Landers, so come back in two weeks and read the last segment of this ‘all in’ musician.
RandyJamz is the frontman for The RandyJamz Band and half of the duo with, The Baltimore Boyz, featuring Jay Vizzini. Available for gigs of all types as a solo, duo, and full band act. If you would like to be interviewed for a Meet The Band article, contact him at email@example.com