House to House | The Janissary Stomp | Dragon Reels
Productions & Future

House to House (2004)

Two friends of ours, Dale Kennedy and Angela Welford, encouraged Randal and me to make a recording and such was their commitment to the concept that they offered to finance it for us.  We thought a lot about how we wanted to approach it and neither of us could gin up much enthusiasm for another studio production of Irish music, so we started talking about recording it live.  Only problem was we hated the idea of getting a sound system on tape so it occurred to us to record in setting where we didn’t need sound reinforcement—house concerts!

Once we got used to the idea we realized that many of our favorite recordings were either field recordings or live concerts. And we both believe that the new/old tradition of house concerts is returning the music to the community, taking it out of the usual commercial setting. So we planned a few house concerts, hired an engineer and rented a pile of gear. We recorded on the west coast: Vashon Island and Oysterville, Washington, and a month later we recorded one concert in Petersham, Massachusetts.

The music is presented just as we played it, with minimal editing and no overdubbing or added effects. You can hear the occasional squeaky chair, tapping foot, etc., but also the excitement and good energy of those musical evenings.

Many thanks to Dale and Angela for their generous support and for believing in us. And thanks to those folks who graciously hosted the house concerts: Steve Austin and Marilyn Kleyn of Vashon Island, Washington; Sydney and Nyel Stevens of Oysterville, Washington; and the Susan Ott/Terry Burch and family of Petersham, Massachusetts. Thanks to recording engineers Tom Stiles (west coast) and Bob Mills (east coast) who captured (almost) every note, and to our musical guests Leo McNamara (flute) and Susan Waters (fiddle).

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The Janissary Stomp (2001)

Buy the Janissary Stomp CD Here!A joint effort by Roger Landes and Chipper Thompson, two of Taos, New Mexico's finest players. These two dramatically different musicians had long appreciated each other's abilities and styles, and had even jammed together at some Irish-style sessions and live performances (one backing the other, or a third party, never playing in true collaboration) but they'd never actually recorded together until this landmark CD of original bouzouki music was produced.

The Janissaries were the elite "shock troops" of the Ottoman Sultan, and the intense, vaguely militaristic, rather eastern tenor of much of the music Chipper and Roger wrote for the project suggested it's name... but the recording has gone far beyond those beginnings.

The original idea was that even though Roger and Chipper played the same instrument, the Irish style bouzouki, the resulting music was dramatically different Chipper's background was an eclectic blend of Appalachian ballads, rock-n-roll, blues, and a smattering of Mediterranean-based "world music", Roger's mainly the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland, as well as medieval music and that same dash of Oriental flavor. As much as they loved each others different styles, couldn't they compose some tunes to play together...?

The result is an amazing tour de force of startlingly exciting and interesting music played entirely on the bouzouki, supported by the brilliant percussion of Paddy League, the bass of Mason Brown, and two blazing vocals by Chipper. There are no guitars or mandolins or dulcimers to cloud the sound of this versatile and personality-dripping instrument. (We might add that all the bouzoukis on the CD were built right here in Taos by master luthier Stephen Owsley Smith, and they are a sound and sight to behold.)

Composed mostly of original tunes, with a few nods to the traditional musics that inspired them, the CD ranges from the Balkans and Greece, the home of the original bouzouki, with the slippery "Jovano Jovanke" and the rocking title track, to Mexico on 'The Guanajuato Mummies' Farewell to Budapest" and "Los Penitentes," to the Celtic homelands on "The March of the King of Laos" and two Galician and Asturian Spanish Celtic tunes, and from there to the Mississippi Delta to the Appalachians and all the way to "The Mountains of the Moon." These two bouzouki guerillas leave no stone unturned, and you will be stunned and amazed.

Official Stomp Site!
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Dragon Reels (1997)

Recorded in December 1996 in Nashville, Tennessee, with Grammy Award-winning producer and engineer Bil VornDick with John Whelan (accordion), Zan McLeod (guitar), Connie Dover (vocal and keyboard), Chris Grotewohl, and Mike Dugger (fiddle), among others.

Producer/Engineer Bil VornDick used state of the art equipment and techniques to faithfully capture the true acoustic sound of the unique instruments and the musicians’ energized playing during the sessions for this recording.

Dragon Reels showcases Roger’s revealing playing of the Irish bouzouki, drawing on a wealth of material from Irish and Scots traditional music, as well as several new compositions by himself and others, Roger takes the bouzouki to new heights.

Nine of the CD’s twelve tracks feature Roger’s innovative and muscular bouzouki playing. Two numbers highlight his unique and lyrical guitar style, and another centers around his driving mandolin. On what is perhaps the most surprising selection, "The Devil and the Farmer’s Wife," Connie Dover’s incomparable singing combines with Roger’s twin bouzoukis, Bob Burns’ fretless bass, and the haunting slide pipes of Celtic music-newcomer Sir Angus McGarrish, into a blend that is hypnotic, otherworldly, and mysterious.

On Dragon Reels, Roger’s bouzouki, guitar and mandolin move out of their customary supporting roles and into the foreground, where, in such capable hands, they can lead an ensemble comprised of more "traditional" instruments. With this release, Roger documents what other musicians have known for years: he is among the best string players in Celtic music -- an innovator with a unique voice.

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Mike Dugger “At Early Dawn” (1996)

Chris Grotewohl “Under the Influence” (1996)

Roger Landes & Gerald Trimble “Greetings from Bassanda” (1999-unreleased)

Dan Grotewohl “Bear in the Greengrass” (2000)

Gabriel’s Gate “Departures” (2001)

Chris Smith “Coyotebanjo” (rec. 2003, rel. 2005)

For the Future

Another solo bouzouki album is on the horizon and I’d I am considering a CD of duets. I’m also planning a record of my compositions. Eventually Chipper and I will probably make another duo CD (if the first one ever sells enough—hint… hint…).

Sound Clips

(coming soon)


<< "House to House" CD named by Irish Times' Siobhan Long to the top five Trad Albums of 2005!



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