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During Labor Day holiday weekend, I spent the bulk of my time at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival where I purchased this songbook for $2 from the used books tables.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Using MuseScore, I rendered the first song listed in that book, “Elsie From Chelsea.” As I was looking through that book, I saw that there were songs that I definitely recognized, such as “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “Meet Me in St. Louis.” There was even one song printed in that book that I had already rendered in MuseScore, “Just A-Wearyin’ For You,” because I bought the sheet music for 25 cents at that vintage yard sale the previous summer.

So I decided that I would only use MuseScore for songs that seemed to be more obscure to me since most people know what “Give My Regards to Broadway” sounds like because there have been so many different recordings of that song. And anyone who has ever seen the Judy Garland film Meet Me in St. Louis would have heard the song of the same name.

I looked at the second song in that book, “Streets of Cairo (The Poor Little Country Maid)” and I didn’t recognize the title or the lyrics so I decided to copy the notes into MuseScore. When I heard the tune, I recognized it as a song my mother used to sing from time to time that went “All the girls in France wear tissue paper pants.” On top of it, I’ve heard the melody in numerous cartoons whenever there was a desert scene or a scene involving a belly dancer or a sexy exotic dancer. But the chorus to the “Streets of Cairo” song was unfamiliar to me because it suddenly changes to a slower tempo only to revert back to the familiar faster tempo when the next lyrics begin.

The Wikipedia has an interesting entry on that song and confirms that it has been known by other titles but “Streets of Cairo (The Poor Little Country Maid)” was the original title. Had I known that this song was something I actually recognized, I’m not sure I would have taken the time to render it in MuseScore. But I did and I even made a video where I threw up the original lyrics. Enjoy!

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I shot this video footage of the Linwood Taylor Band doing an awesome cover of Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom” live at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland on September 29, 2017.

If you like what you hear and see, you can check out some more of the band’s music at tunein.

Last year I was at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland where I checked out this band from Belarus, Stary Olsa, who specializes in doing classic rock covers using Medieval Renaissance-era musical instruments. The results sounded amazing and I stayed around the show despite the fact that my ex-husband and my ex-friend (whom he screwed around with while I was recovering from hip surgery and he married her just two months after our divorce was final) were also there. (I was across the room from them. I sat at the bar with one of my friends.)

This year Stary Olsa had released a new CD and they decided to do another tour in support of it and they made a return trip to the New Deal Cafe. Once again I went and I found myself elated when I saw that my ex and his wife were no-shows this time around. Once again I whipped out my camera (that’s the one I purchased used from eBay for $80 and I totally love it) and took a few shots of the band.

I also shot a few videos of the band in action that night, starting with their cover of The Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”

The band did a really mesmerizing cover of The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication.”

I shot two videos of the band doing live performances of some Belarusian songs that sounded really good. (Unfortunately I forgot the names of these songs.)

Stary Olsa did a traditional Belarus drinking song that got the crowd really excited.

The band closed their show by going back to classic rock with their cover of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.”

Stary Olsa did one encore performance with their cover of The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night.”

If you like any of the music in these videos I shot, you can buy it online right here.

Tom Petty died suddenly yesterday so I did this drawing based on the video “Don’t Come Around Here No More” which was based on Alice in Wonderland and he appeared as the Mad Hatter.

Like I’ve written numerous times, I recently purchased a used Canon PowerShot ELPH 190IS for $80 on eBay (after the dealing with an increasingly erratic smartphone camera app and a Canon Digital Rebel DSLR camera battery refuse to recharge) and I’m fast falling in love with that camera. It shoots pictures and videos that are just as high quality (if not more high quality) than my Droid Ultra smartphone but it’s incredibly lightweight so I can carry it in my pocket or bag or purse (which is in contrast with the older and bulkier DSLR camera).

I recently used my Canon PowerShot when I saw the band Frenchy and the Punk when they performed at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland earlier this month. In some ways it’s appropriate that I used this band to test my latest camera. I went through my older posts and I found that the last time I saw this band perform was in 2011 when they performed at—you guessed it—the New Deal Cafe. I was still married and my husband and I had just gotten our first smartphones (a Droid 3). I had recently done a Google search for tutorials on how to shoot photos and videos with my Droid smartphone (up until that point I had a flip top phone that didn’t take pictures mainly because, at the time I got this camera, having a cell phone with a camera cost nearly twice as much).

So I used that particular Frenchy and the Punk performance to practice my video shooting skills using that smartphone. I shot and uploaded a total of four videos from that particular show: “House of Cards,” “Magician and the Dancer,” “Yes! I’m French,” and a jam session the band did while people dressed in gypsy steampunk costumes danced in the audience.

I still remember that night like it was yesterday. My then-husband was also at that show along with a few friends of ours. Among those friends was a woman whom my husband would leave me for her just a few months later.

A few years later I saw Frenchy and the Punk’s booth at the Maryland Faerie Festival where they sold their CD’s and some handcrafted goods as well. I didn’t see them perform that day because, if my memory serves me correct, they were scheduled to perform later at a nighttime party that charged a separate $25 admission that was not included in the festival day pass. I not only couldn’t afford it but I was leery about making a long night commute through unfamiliar roads all by myself.

Let me see. In 2011 I saw Frenchy and the Punk perform at the New Deal Cafe while I was testing the camera function of my first smartphone that I had just recently acquired and I was still learning how to use. So it’s now 2017 and I managed to see Frenchy and the Punk perform at the same venue while I was testing a new camera that I had recently acquired and I was still learning how to use. Sometimes the past DOES repeat itself. LOL!

Well, anyway, I took a few still photos with my camera, which you can see below.

I also shot some video footage as well. I didn’t shoot as many songs this time around. (Well, actually I only shot three songs this time around while I shot four songs back in 2011. So I only shot slightly less footage this time.) First up is a song about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade which fought in the Spanish Civil War titled “¡Vive la Quince Brigada!”

I wasn’t able to get the title of the song that the duo performed when I shot this next video but it was catchy enough to get quite a few people dancing near the front of the stage.

Last, but not least, I shot the song that the band closed their show with: a very enthusiastic cover of the Mary Hopkin song “Those Were the Days.”

The band put on a show that was just as enjoyable as when I saw them in 2011. It’s like everything was the same in that I was testing out a new camera on the same band in the same venue. The only major difference is my personal life in that I’m now divorced. Otherwise everything was exactly the same as before.

Like I wrote last week, I had found this used music book, which I only purchased for $2, on the first night of the annual Greenbelt Labor Day Festival.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

This purchase gave me an opportunity to try rendering more songs through the open source sheet music program MuseScore. The last time I did something like this was last summer when I purchased some old sheet music for only 25 cents at a vintage yard sale.

So far I rendered one song from this songbook called “Elsie From Chelsea,” which was written and published in the 1890s by Harry Dacre. Once I finished with the input into MuseScore, I exported an audio file which I then imported into iMovie and made this video. I put lyrics on the screen so you can get an idea as to what the song is about. The graphics in this video are the same graphics that accompanied the song in the book.

Well, anyway, enjoy!

Previous in This Series

The Day Before the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 1)
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 2)
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 3)

Doing constant walking during the holiday weekend began to take a toll on me by Labor Day itself. I woke up feeling totally stiff and sore and I was facing a day that included the annual Labor Day Parade in the morning then the afternoon would be the fourth and final day of the Labor Day Festival itself.

I briefly thought about blowing off the parade until I remembered that some of my friends were marching in it and I really wanted to see them strut their stuff on the parade route. So I forced myself out of bed and ate a quick breakfast. I decided to drive my car as close to the parade route as possible. I figured that I would have better luck if I parked towards the early part of the route instead of Roosevelt Center, where the parade ends and it is also where the festival fairgrounds are located so it draws a larger crowd. I was proven correct and I really lucked out when I found a parking spot located just around the corner from the parade route.

I found the temperature to be quite reasonable. It was in the low 70s with low humidity and it was bright and sunny outside. I set up my folding chair, pulled out my new Canon camera (which I bought off eBay for $80 and it arrived just a few days before the holiday weekend), and waited for the parade to begin. I started taking pictures when the marchers arrived.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Paul Downs, who won the Greenbelt’s Outstanding Citizen Award just three days ago, was in the first car in that parade.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

A colonial-style fife and drum corp marched behind the car carrying Paul Downs.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Mayor Emmett Jordan and the Greenbelt City Council rode in this vintage red fire truck.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen took part in the parade.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

The parade continued with more marchers, some of whom were on horseback.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

There was this ominous looking military vehicle in the parade. There were no signs indicating who this vehicle was aligned with or anything like that.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

The next two photos show robots that were created by a group of students known as The Irrational Engineers.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

It was the unions who helped to create Labor Day to begin with so a few local unions took part in this parade.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Some local political groups and politicians took part in this parade.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Maryland State Senator Paul Pinsky worked the crowds as he marched in the parade.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Maryland House of Delegates member Anne Healey preferred to ride instead.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

There were a contingent calling for affordable health care available for all U.S. citizens.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

This one politician, David Grogan, managed to get Spider-Man (or someone dressed like him) on his side.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Here’s one of my friends, Patty Daukantas, who was riding in the Toastmasters parade float.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Makerspace 125 finally showed off its completed parade float, which I saw being constructed during the last few days.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Some more of my friends were marching with the New Deal Cafe. This group won the Best in Parade award and they were awarded $400. Here are a few still photos I shot.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

I also shot a short video of this group in action. They took a festive New Orleans Mardi Gras jazz approach, which probably explains why they won.

Here’s the rest of the parade that I photographed.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

Finally here is the Mission BBQ truck which ended the parade.

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 4, 2017

After the parade ended I went back home where I ate lunch (mainly because it was cheaper than eating yet another meal at the festival).

Next in This Series

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 4)

For the past few weeks I’ve been complaining about dealing with not one—but two problem cameras. The camera that’s in my smartphone has been acting more and more inconsistently since last Christmas. I would frequently get those dreaded “Camera Error Please Restart Camera.” I would frequently complain about it in this blog. (You can read the most recent example here.)

That problem got so bad that I went back to using my 15-year-old Canon Digital Rebel EOS DSLR camera. That camera was once a top-of-the-line camera but the newer cameras have more megapixels plus that camera only does still photography. (I’m well aware that the newer DSLR cameras does videos as well as still photographs.) It’s also bulky and heavy compared to my smartphone.

For a while I brought the DSLR camera whenever I was going somewhere where I was sure that I would want to take photographs and I didn’t want to risk relying on the smartphone alone. But lately the DSLR camera’s battery isn’t charging (even though I make sure that I charge that battery ahead of whatever event I was taking it to). That came to a head when I made sure to charge it a day or two before the recent solar eclipse only to find that the battery wasn’t working at all. I was lucky that my smartphone camera decided to function just like old times so I was able to get a few photos of that eclipse. But then my smartphone camera reverted back to that “Camera Error Please Restart” message when I went to a Meetup event that took place just a few hours later.

I subsequently looked up replacement batteries for my DSLR camera and I saw that it varied widely between $8 to a whopping $60!

Then there was the issue of having to lug a heavy camera plus there are times when I want to shoot video and I would have to hope and pray that my smartphone camera is up to that challenge. I decided to shop around for a relatively cheap point-and-shoot camera that’s small enough to be portable (so I can easily carry it in a bag or in my purse), provide as many megapixels as the smartphone cameras, and is capable of shooting video.

After doing some Internet research on various camera prices and reading various online reviews, I decided on a Canon PowerShot ELPH 190IS. I purchased a used camera for only $80 on eBay and it arrived in my home just in time for the Labor Day holiday weekend. I got a camera, a battery, and a battery charger. The one thing missing was an SD card but I already had one on hand so it was no big deal to pop it into the camera. The only other thing missing was the manual but I was able to find a .pdf copy by doing a Google search then downloading it.

By the way, that’s the best way of finding a new copy of any missing manual. These days you can find a missing manual for just about anything no matter what the product is or how old a certain product is. (Don’t be like this guy and email some random stranger asking to scan a copy of a manual then email it to him for no compensation and to email it ASAP. It’s just quicker to do your own Google search and you won’t have to irritate random strangers either.)

Since the camera just a couple of days before upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend I decided to give it a real workout at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. On the Thursday night before the start of the festival and the holiday weekend I decided to use the video feature to record a friend of mine who was performing at the New Deal Cafe’s regular Thursday night Open Mike. He usually performs as one-half of the duo The Bachelor and the Bad Actress and I did that animated music video to the duo’s song “Butcher the Hog” not too long ago. (They were also the same couple who held a public outdoor wedding in the middle of a music festival a two years ago and I have the video and a bunch of photos to prove it.)

My friend was doing a solo set that night under the name Joey Campfire. (His wife wasn’t at the cafe that night.) He sang two songs and I shot a short video for the last one as a way of testing out my new camera. I have to say that I liked the results, which I uploaded on to YouTube. Here it is below.

I also took a couple of shots of the various carnival rides that people were setting up near the cafe in order to be ready for the festival’s opening the following evening. I took a boatload of photos and another short video that holiday weekend. I’m trying to get everything sifted, edited, and uploaded as fast as I can. I’m trying to aim for next week when I’ll show off what I took with my new camera.

American Flag

For September 11 this year I decided to try something that’s a little different from the usual remembering the horrible terrorist attacks in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania. The terrorists all came from the Middle East and I came across something that reminded me that the Middle East wasn’t always a hotbed of terrorism.

A few months ago I came across this recording of the Hurrian Hymn Number 6 (also known as Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal), which is the oldest music to have survived to this day. The song was written on clay tablets that were found in the ruins of the ancient city of Ugarit (which is located in what is now Syria). I thought it sounded cool enough to write a blog post about it.

After I wrote that blog post I did a Google search on Hurrian Hymn Number 6 to see what would come up. I found that there have been different interpretations of those clay tablets which held the music notations and that recording I found was just one of those interpretations. I found three different published sheet music from three different people with wildly different interpretations of that song. The big issue is that the clay tablets used a music notation system that’s different from the system that’s commonly in use today and there are different arguments as to which ancient symbol represented with modern-day music note.

I managed to input the three different sheet music in the open source sheet music software MuseScore and I found that each sheet music sounded differently. So I made my own video combining the three songs (each song is relatively short) while adding in various graphics I downloaded off the Internet along with some factoids I found about the song and the area that the clay tablets were found it.

So, without further ado, here are the three different interpretations of Hurrian Hymn Number 6 (a.k.a. Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal) as rendered by MuseScore.

Not too long ago I decided to do some miscellaneous Facebook surfing by lurking on a group that has been set up for alumni of my old high school. Part of the reason was to keep my mind off my continuing job hunt and the latest political news. (I remember that was the night when new White House communications direction Anthony Scaramucci went off the profanity-laden deep end. Scaramucci was fired soon after that incident—after he had spent only 10 days working at his new job.)

While I was lurking on that high school alumni group on Facebook and scrolling through old posts that one recent night, I learned that my former music teacher, Tim Landers, had died last year of complications stemming from a liver transplant. He was either 63 or 64 (I was only able to figure out his age because he wrote this Facebook post on October 14, 2013 where he said that he was 61 so I did the math and, no, I don’t know the date of his birthday so I have no idea if he managed to celebrate his latest birthday before his death or not). In the comments section someone posted a video of a song that he wrote and sang about Ocean City, Maryland. I watched the video and I kind of liked the laid-back vibe of the song. It’s the quintessential summer song that’s perfect to listen to if you’re on a beach anywhere in the world. Here’s the video below, titled “It’s a Shore Thing.”

If you like “It’s a Shore Thing,” you can download it for 99 cents from CDBaby, Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes.

I also found another video he did as part of a trio known as The Landers and Heinz Project. It was a live performance of another song he wrote as he and his partners were playing on a local radio station in Ocean City. The song is called “Scotch and Soda” and it is just as laid-back as the other song. (Tim Landers is the guy in the glasses and mustache playing his guitar and singing.)

If you like “Scotch and Soda,”  you can download it for 99 cents from CDBaby or iTunes.

Anyone who has been reading this blog on a regular basis would know that I don’t have too many fond memories of my old high school. In fact, last summer I went back to my old school for the first time in many years just so I could photograph my hand giving the middle finger to that school. I was on my way to the latest Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School event in Baltimore (link is NSFW) when I did this. Yes, I took advantage of the longer days so I could check out my old school quickly before driving on to Baltimore.

While I was mostly miserable in the five years I attended that huge school complex known as the Old Mill Educational Complex (one year in Old Mill Middle School-North and four years in Old Mill Senior High), there were a few teachers there who provided a few bright spots in what was otherwise a miserable existence. Like I wrote in last year’s post where I included that picture of my hand giving the finger:

Why was this school so bad? While there were plenty of teachers at the school complex who were dedicated at their jobs, it was the attitude of the administration that considered athletics more important than academics.

Among those teachers who were dedicated at their jobs was Tim Landers, who taught music (mainly guitar). I took four semesters of guitar class with him until I had exhausted all of the guitar classes that my high school offered. The one thing I never realized about him until after I learned about his death and I started reading his Facebook postings is that he was only 9 or 10 years older than me. (I know it sounds kind of strange but it wasn’t that unusual to have a teacher who was close in age to the students he/she taught in my high school. When I was a senior I had an English teacher who had only received her teaching degree the year before and she was just five years older than me.) Mr. Landers bore a slight resemblance to Mr. Van Driessen from the Beavis and Butt-Head cartoon series, more in terms of temperament than his looks. (He didn’t have a beard and he wore his long hair in the feathered style that was very popular back in the 1970s.) Here’s a photo of him I scanned from my sophomore high school yearbook.

Looking at his personal Facebook page, I found that he was a spiritual person like Mr. Van Driessen with the big difference being that he expressed himself as a devout Christian while Mr. Van Driessen was more into New Age spirituality. But he definitely shared Mr. Van Driessen’s hippie vibe in terms of his outlook on life and the funky clothes he wore to school. The main difference was that Mr. Landers was far less of a pushover than Mr. Van Driessen. He was the kind of person who was willing to help you unless you crossed him. If you did anything to push his buttons, he would not hesitate to send you to the principal’s office or to even fail you for not doing the required coursework.

Here’s one example of Mr. Landers not being a stereotypical pushover hippie. I remember it was the end of the semester when we not only took our final exams but we also were given an evaluation form where we could write about what we liked or didn’t liked about the class. Unlike the final exams, we were not required to write our names. The idea was that we could freely give our opinions without repercussions.

So we turned in our exams and the evaluation forms then returned to our seats while waiting for the bell that would signal the end of the class. Mr. Landers happened to glance through some of the exams and evaluations at his desk until he came upon an evaluation form where, according to Mr. Landers, someone had written “Mr. Landers can do something to himself.” (Given the fact that I saw that Mr. Landers was visibly angry at the time, I suspected that the wording was stronger than what he indicated—somewhere along the lines of “Mr. Landers can go fuck himself.”) By that point it was almost the end of the class but Mr. Landers was determined to get to the bottom of who wrote that evaluation form. He said that he would read what we wrote on the evaluation forms out loud and if he came upon something that one of us recognized that he/she wrote, that person was to go up to the class and pick up that form then bring it back to his/her seat. Mr. Landers eventually came upon my form (where I basically wrote that I wished he hadn’t done so many classical guitar songs because I prefer rock guitar) so I picked mine up. It wasn’t until Mr. Landers came to the last of the evaluation forms that a boy in the class confessed that it was he who wrote that nasty message on the evaluation form.

At that point the bell rang, we returned our evaluation forms to the teacher’s desk before we headed to the next class, and Mr. Landers escorted that boy to the principal’s office. (I’ve long since forgotten who the boy was or even what he looked like—other than he was a thin white kid with dark hair—mainly because I wasn’t friends with him.)

Fortunately I got along pretty well with Mr. Landers and I enjoyed his classes. I think he had a high opinion of me as a student. I managed to get him to sign my yearbook only once, which was during my sophomore year (the same yearbook where I posted that photo of him).  His signed it “Kim, Take care of yourself and be good. I’m sure you will. Love, Tim Landers.”

I remember that Mr. Landers’ real ambition was to be a rock musician and he only got into teaching to pay the bills. He turned out to be one of the many talented musicians who never quite made it to the big time and it was not due to a lack of trying. He would spend evenings, weekends, and school breaks writing new music and recording demos that he would try to shop around to various agents and record companies. (I remember the times when he would occasionally play one of his demo songs in class.) I remember that he was a big Beatles fan and he used to drop tidbits about the band and their music because he was such a fan. In fact I remember one of the first songs he taught the class in Guitar I was “Let It Be.”

I loved his wacky sense of humor and his vast knowledge of famous guitarists like Jimi Hendrix. I still remember the time when it was the last class before Thanksgiving break and he played Arlo Guthrie’s classic “Alice’s Restaurant” song and we laughed at some of the humor. (It was the first time I had ever heard that song. Up until that time the only Arlo Guthrie song I knew was “The City of New Orleans” and that was because it was a hit on the radio and my father had purchased that song on a 45 r.p.m. record.) He also introduced us to the original soundtrack to the Broadway show Grease as he brought the album to class one day and he played it for us. (This was about a year before the movie version came out with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.)

I still remember the year when Frank Zappa came out with his disco parody hit “Dancin’ Fool,” which was played quite a bit at the major rock stations in my area. Mr. Landers brought in a couple of Zappa records where he not only showed us what a gifted guitar player Zappa was but he introduced us to an another disco parody that Zappa did just a few years before “Dancin’ Fool,” which was called “Disco Boy.” The lyrics to that one was even more hilarious than the “Dancin’ Fool” lyrics.

At one point he mentioned in one of his classes that he was trying to get the school to approve his idea of a new semester-long music class that he would teach. It would be called “The History of Rock and Roll” and it would take a look at rock’s beginnings in the 1950s all the way to the present (which would’ve been the late 1970s at the time). He talked about how it would involve listening to various records as well as watching movies like Jailhouse Rock, which starred Elvis Presley. I was really eager to take such a class but, for whatever reason, he wasn’t able to get the school to consider his idea so I never had the opportunity to take it. I don’t know whether that class ever happened after I graduated from high school or if it was something that the school administration refused to ever consider offering.

The most memorable thing he demonstrated was the time he went to the piano to demonstrate how classical music influences pop culture. I don’t remember the context in which he did this but I vividly remembered what he did to this day. He started to play the song “Chopsticks,” which is the one song that nearly all beginning piano students are taught as their first song. He then started to hum the tune to the theme song from the TV show My Three Sons while he was playing “Chopsticks.” We all laughed and chortled at his contention that this theme was based on “Chopsticks.” Soon afterwards I was home when I was changing the channels on the TV set when I happened to catch the beginning of My Three Sons rerun right at the moment the theme music was playing and I began to notice the underlying “Chopsticks” melody and I realized that Mr. Landers was right. Here’s the link to the full version of the My Three Sons theme song where you can clearly hear “Chopsticks” as the melody.

Despite the fact that he loved The Beatles and other rock bands of the 1960’s, he was a traditional music teacher in many ways. He was adamant that we learned how to read music, which was a skill that many of his favorite 1960s bands, including his beloved Beatles, didn’t have. Thanks to him, I learned the mnemonic method of music reading where I learned the lines of EGBDF as Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge while the spaces between the lines spelled out the word FACE.

He was also adamant that we learned how to do chord building, which I quickly learned was not my strongest suit. Chord building involved learning the music notes that make up a certain chord and it involved a lot of memorization (which we later had to regurgitate on the final exam). The only reason why I still know that a D chord is made up of the notes D, F#, and A is because I made up my own mnemonic sentence that went “Dick Fucks Sharp Asses.” (I didn’t dare share that secret with Mr. Landers.)

During the time that I was taking those guitar lessons from Mr. Landers, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” was frequently played on the local rock radio station for many years after it was first released back in 1971 and it would go on to become one of the biggest rock hits of the 1970s. Many people were turned on by Jimmy Page’s exquisite guitar playing throughout that song. Naturally many of Mr. Landers’ guitar students, myself included, wanted to learn how to play that song. Mr. Landers was frequently inundated with numerous requests that he teach us this song. Some kids wanted to go from a relatively easy song like “Let It Be” straight into “Stairway to Heaven” while they were in the first few weeks of Guitar I.

Eventually Mr. Landers relented sometime around Guitar III or Guitar IV and he handed out mimeographed copies of “Stairway to Heaven.” That was when we got a dose of reality about how complex that song really is as we struggled with the various chord formations. From that time on the students in the advanced guitar classes stopped wanting to learn how to play “Stairway to Heaven,” while I’m sure that the students in Guitar I were probably still begging Mr. Landers to teach them how to play that song while they were learning how to play their first chords.

There was only one time I felt Mr. Landers was wrong about something. It was when punk rock became a huge such deal in the UK that the US media started doing stories about this new phenomenon. I was intrigued by the music I heard in snippets while watching news stories about this new punk rock phenomenon so I purchased The Sex Pistols’ debut album. I found that record to be a revelation in that it was so unlike the heavy metal and disco music that was prevalent on the radio at that time. A few weeks after I purchased Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, Mr. Landers openly disdained punk rock in class and he felt that all of the punk bands consisted of untalented musicians who were destined to not last very long. A few other students piped up talking about how they disliked punk rock as well. I disagreed with Mr. Landers’ low opinion of punk but I kept my mouth shut because he was one of those people whom you could never provide a contrary opinion once he made up his mind strongly about something because he never attempted to listen to the other side. (In addition, I was having a hard enough time constantly trying to avoid being someone’s bully target and I didn’t want other kids to pick on me because I owned a Sex Pistols album. It was bad enough that there were kids who called me “retarded.” I pretty much listened to my punk rock records on the down low in the privacy of my bedroom at home until college when finally I met other punk rock fans and I felt comfortable enough to admit that I liked punk as well.)

Okay, Mr. Landers was right about The Sex Pistols being a short-lived phenomenon because they disbanded soon after they hit the big time but he was wrong about punk rock’s longevity because there were other punk bands (such as The Clash and The Ramones) who had longer careers and who released albums that are now considered rock classics right alongside albums like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. What’s more, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones, and other punk bands have been inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which definitely proves how wrong Mr. Landers was about his assessment of punk rock.

Mr. Landers also formed the school’s official folk rock group known only as the Old Mill Folk Rock Band. (Yeah, I know it sounds original. LOL!) The group performed at school assemblies. Each year they would go into a local recording studio to make an EP record, which consisted of four songs (which were all covers of the big hits of that era). Once the record was printed, the members would sell copies of that record among the student body. I wanted to join that band as a guitarist but competition was intense. (I had a few friends who were in that band.) While I was an okay guitarist, there were other students who were far more talented than me and, to be honest, I was too intimidated to every try out.

I didn’t know much about his personal life aside from a few times that he mentioned that he had a wife when I took my first guitar class with him. By the time I took my second or third guitar class he briefly mentioned that he was separated from his wife a couple of times. Then he briefly mentioned that he was divorced once or twice by the time I took my last guitar class with him. (He never mentioned why he got a divorce nor did he ever say anything nasty about his ex-wife during any of classes I took with him. He also never mentioned having any children from that marriage.) When I saw his Facebook page for the first time and he listed his marital status as “single,” I thought that my memories were wrong. But then I read an interview he gave with a local newspaper (which I’ll get to in the next two paragraphs) and he briefly mentioned “my wife at that time.” I guess he must’ve gotten married sometime in his early 20’s and it only lasted just a few years until the two of them decided to go their separate ways. It’s very likely that, by the time he created his own Facebook page, he probably felt that he had been divorced for so many years that he might as well list his marital status as “single.”

I looked on his personal Facebook page and searched his name on Google after I learned about his death and I found that he later transferred to a different high school as a music teacher before leaving the teaching field entirely in order to work as a full-time musician and songwriter. (Of course all this happened years after I graduated from high school and moved out of Glen Burnie.) He had a professional Facebook page focusing on his music career but it hadn’t been updated since 2013. At one point he had his own website, which basically had a short biography and dates of upcoming performances, which I was able to access thanks to the Internet Archive. (The last update was done after his death, which announced that he was deceased.) He even wrote a Christian musical called Walk With God, whose official website can only now be accessed through the Internet Archive.

I saw on his personal Facebook page that he had adopted a Golden Retriever puppy just a couple of years before his death. He frequently posted pictures of that dog and it was obvious that he loved his dog. I only hope that this dog found a new loving forever home after his owner died.

Recently I came across this extensive interview Mr. Landers did with a local Ocean City publication called The Coconut Times in 2014 where I was not only able to catch up on whatever became of him after I left school but I even learned about his early life before he became my music teacher. This interview is so extensive that it’s divided into Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. It’s really quite a fascinating read that I would highly recommend to anyone regardless of whether you actually knew him personally (like I did) or not. I learned that he grew up in Baltimore (in the same neighborhood where the since-demolished Memorial Stadium was located) in a very large extended family that included numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. Many of his relatives were singers and musicians and he even had a cousin who was a singer whose main rival was Patsy Cline. He landed his first job at 12 helping out in a local music store where he met professional musicians who played with the big acts like Buddy Holly.

Mr. Landers totally opened up about his life in that interview, including admitting that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in the 1990’s due to a tainted blood transfusion he received in the early 1970’s. (Which probably explains why he underwent a liver transplant in the first place.) He also mentioned that, when he was 21, his father took him to a bar so he could have his first legal alcoholic beverage while engaging in some father and son talk. His father would suddenly die of a heart attack just nine months later. (Reading that interview and seeing his old Facebook posts, it seems like longevity wasn’t exactly a family trait. Not only did his father pass away at 45, he had a brother who died in a car accident at 52, and a cousin who also died an untimely death as a result of being exposed to Agent Orange while serving in the Vietnam War. And that’s not to mention Mr. Landers’ own death while he was in his early 60’s.)

Amid the bad times there were plenty of good memories as well. He mentioned in the interview that he had recently ate lunch with a member of Pink Floyd whom he did not identify. (I can safely say that it wasn’t with Syd Barrett or Rick Wright since they were both dead by 2014, when the interview took place.) He also mentioned meeting many famous musicians, such as the band Danny and the Juniors, who is best known for the big 1950’s hit “At the Hop.”

As I read that extensive interview, I realized that Mr. Landers lived a very interesting and fascinating life and I found myself wishing he had written a book or even started a blog about his memories. That 2014 interview is about as close as we’ll ever get to an autobiography and I’m glad that it exists. (You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

As I look over that three-part interview and those Facebook posts, I have to admit that the saddest thing about his death is that it seemed like Mr. Landers was at a point in his life where he was basically content with the things that was going on in his life over the last two or three years before he died. He had a thriving music career despite never becoming a major recording artist who sells millions of copies of his music. He was spending his summers in Ocean City where he was doing gigs at various bars and nightclubs throughout the Delmarva region. The rest of the year he was in Nashville where he was recording music and meeting people in the music industry. He had even contributed a song to this independent movie called Patapsco Valley that, as far as I can tell, only exists as a location camera test on Vimeo. (That is his song, “The River,” playing in the background of that video.) He had a dog whom he seemed to have loved very much. He achieved a point in his life where he was basically happy and content then he dies while he was in his early 60s. Yet there are a lot of loathsome people who are still alive and kicking and many of them are older than he was when he died. (I don’t want to elaborate on this any further or else this post will veer into something that would be as inappropriate as President Trump’s recent notorious speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree.)

I had pretty much cut myself off from most of the people I knew back in high school mainly because I wanted to protect myself from reliving any painful memories. (I went to my five-year reunion and that was enough for me.) I have to admit that Mr. Landers is one of the few people from my old high school I wished I had a chance to re-connect with before he died. I would’ve loved to have visited him in Ocean City (where, in his remaining years, he had spent his summers while living in Nashville the rest of the year) and I definitely would’ve brought my guitar with me so we could’ve done a jam session or two.

Ironically I used to go to Ocean City with my then-husband, his sister, her son, and an invited guest (some years it was a friend of my nephew’s while other years it was a friend of my sister-in-law’s) for a week-long family vacation every year until 2011 (just a few months before my husband left me). If I had known that Tim Landers was also there as a performer, I definitely would’ve made the time to at least spend one evening attending one of his shows. (My then-husband and sister-in-law could’ve either come with me or stay behind in our rented condo.) It would’ve been really cool if I had brought my guitar with me and we could’ve gotten into a jam session. If only I had actually taken the time to thoroughly read those various free publications that used to list various events that went on in Ocean City, I would probably have come across his name and gone to one of his shows to see if he was actually my high school teacher. Oh well. It’s my loss and I have to deal with it.

I still have those mimeographed ditto sheets of guitar chords and song lyrics that Mr. Landers handed out in class stashed away in folders. They have survived various moves over the years. Writing this post has inspired me to pull out those old ditto sheets, take a look at them, pull out my guitar, and start playing it using those old sheets from years ago.

R.I.P. Mr. Landers.

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