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Interview with Louis Landon, September 2023
Interview with Louis Landon, image 1
I first heard Louis Landon's music back in early 2006 when he sent me his unwind album to review. We did our first interview in April 2008, and Louis became the first artist to perform a house concert here in Florence, OR later that year. He played here almost every year after that (until Covid brought the house concerts to a screeching halt), so we have become very good friends over the years! Louis and his wife, Christine, recently moved to New Mexico and have started a new phase in their lives, so it was time to do an update. Enjoy!

KP: Hey Louis! How are things in New Mexico today?

LL: Things are “Excellent and Better All the Time” in spite of what's happening politically, environmentally and socially, but there you have it. Joyous living is an inside job. ;-)

KP: I think you need to make some posters with that motto! 
     You are getting ready to release, Music In the Moment, your second album to drop this year (New Mexico Piano came out in May). I have to say that this might be my favorite of your many albums! Tell us about it.

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Click on album covers to
go to Kathy's reviews.
LL: Thanks Kathy! That music was totally improvised in the studio with my drummer friend, T. Xiques. What transpired was totally magical.

KP: I read that you and T. Xiques recorded in different rooms.Did you set a time signature or tempo before you started each piece? How did you know where or how to start?

LL: There was no visual cueing. We could hear each other, but not see each other. We had nothing planned. Zero. We didn't even talk about it. I would start playing and he would jump in, or he would start a groove and I would play off of that. The only negative was that we didn't have separate monitor mixes. That's something that the engineer and studio owner, Rob Stroup, said he would upgrade the next time we record there. It made T.'s job more difficult, but it worked out all right for me. I needed to hear him, but he ended up with too much of the drums in his head-phones along with being able to hear the drums in the room.

KP: That's a pretty amazing musical experiment that worked out incredibly well! What is the release date for Music In the Moment?

LL: The album will officially release on lucky Friday the 13th of October. I will be playing a trio concert in Sedona that evening. It will be an album release concert. I have created chord charts for eight of the improvised songs on the album. We will play off of the chords and form that were improvised on the album. We don't get a chance to rehearse other than the soundcheck. Should be interesting!

KP: I wish I could be there! Do you plan to do more collaborative albums?

LL: I will definitely record another album with T. next year. What happened in the studio with T. was mind-blowing for me. It's hard to imagine that we will create that kind of magic again, but hey, why not?

KP: It will be great to see - and hear - what happens!
I really enjoyed reviewing New Mexico Piano a few months ago. It was the first album you recorded in your new studio in New Mexico. Tell us about that album.

LL: I'm so glad you enjoyed New Mexico Piano! The music was totally inspired by my life in New Mexico. What is completely different and new about New Mexico Piano, besides the music, was the way that it was recorded. I did bring my Steinway D to New Mexico, but I soon realized that keeping temperature and humidity constant in our new house was not going to happen. Where we are in New Mexico is about 10% drier than Sedona, and that's way too dry for a happy piano. I tried keeping two house humidifiers going 24/7, but because we have 18 foot ceilings and because the piano is in the living room, I gave up on recording the Steinway. So, what I did was get a Kawai VPC1 and MIDI it to Pianoteq8, a modeled sound program that has Steinway endorsed sounds. That gave me a sound palette with many more colors. Most of the tracks on the album have different piano sounds based on what I thought went best with the music. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

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Kathy and Louis 2011
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Louis improvising with Doug Hammer at Whisperings 2018.
KP: You released Popcorn Jazz Piano in 2022, although you recorded it in 2021. I really enjoyed that album, too. I had wondered about the title of the album, but when I heard track 5, I thought to myself that the title of that piece must be "Popcorn" - and it is! Tell us a bit about that album.

LL: Popcorn Jazz Piano was the last album I recorded on the Steinway. It was also my last album recorded in Sedona. I started getting into more improvisation. You are so right about “Popcorn.” That piece named itself!

KP: Definitely! It's so light and upbeat!
You had been living in Sedona, Arizona for quite a few years, and then you and Christine moved to New Mexico last year. What made you decide to move?

LL: Christine and I had a great eight year run living in Sedona. Between the tourists, the price of housing and Covid, we felt it was time to move on. We had visited some friends in New Mexico and we found that we really liked what we experienced there. We started zeroing in on an area north of Albuquerque. We found the house of our dreams and we call it Castillo de la Paz, which means Castle of Peace.

KP: I think you told me that your home is at the top of a mountain or hill. Do you have a panoramic view from your home studio?

LL: Yes, Castillo de la Paz, is also the studio name. Our house is on the top of a mountain with 270 degree views of the Sandia Mountains, the Rio Grande, Cabezon, the Jemez Mountains, Valle Caldera, White Mesa and Toyuno. We found out a while ago that we are “perchers,” people who like to live high up with views. The best part is that it is totally quiet and we have no immediate neighbors. I have never lived in such a beautiful, peaceful place. It's not quite as visually beautiful as Sedona, but we prefer the living experience here. The one negative is that we get serious winds up here. I put up an anemometer on our roof and one time we clocked gusts of 85 mph. That's hurricane force winds!

KP: Yikes! That's even worse than here on the Oregon Coast! You mentioned that there were some other changes that you wanted to talk about. Tell us about them. 

LL: I think the biggest change for me is slowing down and learning how to relax. I used to be driven. I wanted to be successful and to be respected as an artist. It was mechanical and ego driven. Now I want to “drive” consciously. Or choose not to drive. I just had my 71st birthday in May. I never thought I would live this long. At this age, my mortality comes more into focus. It helps me to live more in the present moment with gratitude for this life experience. Christine and I like to quote Ram Dass, “We're just walking each other home.” I would say that gratitude and grace go hand in hand. I have come through some very difficult times in my life. I am now in this wonderful place of just being and enjoying life. It is a gift and I am so grateful!

KP: That's a very major awakening! No wonder your more recent music seems somewhat different!
I know you and Christine have been doing a lot of traveling. What are some of the places you have visited this year? 

LL: We are always on vacation at home, so why travel? Kidding. This year we road tripped our way to Las Cruces, NM; Truth or Consequences, NM; Sedona, AZ; Telluride, CO; Crested Butte, CO; Eugene, OR; Los Angeles, CA; Santa Barbara, CA; Carlsbad, CA; Fallbrook, CA; Atascadero, CA and many places in between.

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Click on album covers
to go to Kathy's reviews.

KP: It was SO good to see you and Christine as well as Neil Patton and David and Julie Nevue at the concert you did in Eugene, OR this spring! That was SO much fun - especially when you and Neil pulled out all the stops in the closing duet. That was jaw-dropping! 

LL: Yes, great fun! That was such a fantastic concert! I had planned to come to Eugene to see my 102 year old Aunt Harriet, her daughter Ellen, and her son-in-law, Ed. My Aunt Harriet is a “super ager.” Amazing woman. If by some miracle I hang on to life that long, I want to be like her! Anyway, I called David Nevue and Neil Patton about a possible concert, and to my surprise, David and Neil were up for it. I almost didn't ask David because he's the heavyweight in the Eugene area and he can fill a concert hall by himself, but he was into it. It turned out to be a super great event and such a pleasure to play with David and Neil. If it wasn't for David, I wouldn't have had the success as a solo piano artist that I have now. Again, gratitude!

KP: David created something truly phenomenal with Whisperings. It's been a real joy to be involved in the background all these years! 
Are you touring much these days? I know Covid really curtailed concerts and touring for so many artists.

LL: Covid sure took the wind out of my sails in terms of touring. I had to cancel a NE tour at the beginning of Covid. I played one weird masked concert as a solo piano artist at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens early on during Covid. I also played one trio concert in Sedona back then. Other than that, the first non-Covid (if there is such a thing these days) solo piano concert started again with the one you saw in Eugene. Then, in May, I played a few concerts in Sedona and in California. I have a trio album release concert for Music in the Moment coming up in October in Sedona. Other than that, I'm not sure I will get back into touring as much as I used to. I really don't need to, but I do enjoy it when I do.

KP: Do you have more albums ready to release?

LL: As I mentioned, my Music in the Moment album will be released on October 13th. I have been releasing singles from it every couple of weeks for the past few months. My next album will be a very down tempo album called Bedtime Stories for Sweet Dreams and Sleep. My plan is for this to be my most relaxing album yet. Nighttime Piano for Relaxation and Deep Sleep was very down tempo. I want to dial it down even more.

KP: I just went back and read our three previous interviews from 2008, 2013, and 2021. Man, there is a lot of water under the proverbial bridge, isn't there? You were the first artist to perform a house concert here in October 2008, and became the artist who played here the most times. You were one of the first Whisperings Artists and have been a very big part of that group. That's a lot of music history! What do you see coming up for you musically next?

LL: Other than the Bedtime Stories album mentioned above, I plan to record another piano/drums duo album next year. Beyond that, quien sabe? (who knows?)

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Whisperings Concert 2016.
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Louis and Kathy 2012
KP: When I first met you, you referred to yourself as "The Pianist For Peace." That has gone through several modifications and changes over the years. How has your mission evolved and what is it currently?

LL: I still consider myself a pianist for peace except that that is no longer my mission. I felt I could make a difference in the world through music. Perhaps I have with some people. The mission was a larger than life mission. Additionally, I was also looking for my own inner peace. My mission(s) have evolved over time. I have come to a peaceful place with who I am. I feel grounded and at peace most of the time. It's very difficult considering the current world we live in today. What makes it easier is the ability to tune out the mechanically thinking mind and be fully present and aware. In a way, everything is always perfect in the present moment. It's life. Is it good? Is it bad? It's a life experience. Being alive in these bodies is a miracle! Every second on the planet is precious and it will come to an end one day. The trick is, if one has lived life fully, and aspired to the higher emotions of love, joy, gratitude, empathy and grace, there will be no regrets. One has done one's best.

KP: Amen to that! 
Okay - my usual question near the end of interviews: If you could have any three wishes, what would they be?

LL: 1. I wish that I could be fully present during all my waking hours.
2. I wish that everyone, including myself, would be kinder and more open-minded.
3. I wish that Democracy will survive the current political situation in the United States.

KP: Amen to that, too! Is there anything else you'd like to talk about?

LL: Kathy, you asked great questions. I think we've covered a lot in this interview. I could talk about our kids; they've become really wonderful people. I could talk about my USTA tennis matches; I love to play tennis! I could talk about the great garden that Christine and I have. I could talk about the friends we've made here in New Mexico. But, I think we're good. Thank you so much for your reviews, interviews and friendship. Gratitude!

KP: My pleasure!

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Louis and Christine

Many thanks to Louis Landon for taking the time to update our interviews! The three previous interviews are all available from Louis' Artist Page as well as from the Interviews Index. You can also visit his website here.
Kathy Parsons
September 2023