Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Media: May 2015

| May 1, 2015

Landecker and Gardner

In 1996 John Records Landecker was the popular morning man at WJMK, Oldies 104.3. A big part of his shtick in the morning was creating parody songs about stories in the news. His band Landecker & The Legends toured the Chicagoland area every summer performing those songs, and they drew large audiences. So, when the guitarist of his band called in one morning to let John know his son had just been born, John put him on the air.

Mark Gardner announced the news to the WJMK audience; “His name is Dylan”. Dylan Gardner grew up in that rock and roll world. When his dad performed with Landecker & the Legends, Dylan was usually backstage in a stroller. Landecker remembers the moment he realized that little Dylan was more than just a youngster in the crowd.
“We were doing a block party, and we were putting stuff away afterwards and I heard this perfectly pitched clear tiny voice singing a song. I thought what was that? There was this little kid. I mean little kid singing into a karaoke machine. And his voice was incredible.” Dylan remembers it too. “My mom told me if I got up and sang, she would give me Spongebob Squarepants Season 2 on DVD. And I got it too.” By the time Dylan was 12, he was performing with the band.

“I recall it was the last Legends gig with my dad before we moved to Arizona, and we did a show in a really nice theater. So we decided to do “Roadhouse Blues” (The Doors)” and “Play That Funky Music” (Wild Cherry) which were just two songs I liked to do. We did it as a bit, as I recall. I would wander onto stage, and John would say ‘Who is this kid that just wandered up here?’ and I would grab a guitar and jam. And I got so into that song – I had never been allowed to play “Funky Music” before, and I showed my dad that I could hold my own. He learned a lot about me that night.”
It certainly was a sign of things to come. Flash forward a few years later and Dylan Gardner is now signed to a major record label – Warner Brothers. His song “Let’s Get Started” has more than 200,000 views on YouTube, and he’s in the midst of a nationwide tour. That tour made a stop in his former hometown of Chicago a few weeks ago, and Dylan knew exactly who had to introduce him on stage that night: John Records Landecker.

Landecker is a huge fun of Gardner’s music and he jumped at the chance. “Dylan’s music is the kind of pop/rock that the music scene really needs today. It’s real, great guitar rock with a great melody and lyrics. Rock on, Dylan!”

Landecker told the story about the Spongebob Squarepants moment on stage, which amused Dylan’s young fans. But it might have amused the older segment of the audience even more; all of the surviving members of his Dad’s old band were in the audience. That meant a lot to Dylan. He clearly idolizes his father.

“My dad was the one who taught me stage presence. He taught me humility. He taught me to how to set up, how to milk the audience, how to talk to the audience. How to do the bits. That’s all my dad. When I do the jokes on stage, I’m really just doing an impression of my dad. He’s taught me everything. Dad was the first one to hear a song I had written. He was always the first one. He knew I was going to be a songwriter when I was 8 years old – singing in the shower. When we moved to Arizona and I wrote my first fulfilled song, Dad walked into the room and said ‘Did you write that? Tell me the truth.’ And he’s always great to have in the green room too. He’s the parent that knows how to enjoy the moment, and not ask ‘did you eat? Did you get dressed? Did you brush your teeth?”‘

Dylan has come a long way since he jumped on stage with Landecker & the Legends and sang “Play that Funky Music White Boy”, but nobody who knew him back in those days (including me – full disclosure: I was part of that original Landecker & the Legends crew too) is the slightest bit surprised. Even Dylan knew this was where he was headed.

“I left Chicago knowing I was going to do music in some way, shape or form, but the answer wasn’t clear to me yet. As soon as I moved to Arizona I didn’t know a single soul. We only moved there because my brother was going to ASU, and that’s how my parents are – they follow their sons. I was a freshman in high school and I didn’t know anyone, so I would go in the piano room at lunch time and write songs. I wasn’t even thinking ‘Oh I want to be a songwriter,’ it just happened. Sooner or later I had these songs and showed my dad, and learned how to record them. I learned the whole world of songwriting and song craft and I started to play some shows. I’ve become a better person, a better songwriter, and a better performer.”

It’s a story that began with a phone call to a radio show in 1996.

But it’s also a story that has many more chapters yet to be written.

– Rick Kampfer

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