a solo performer, the leader of Little Brazil and part of Son, Ambulance,
Saddle Creek records veteran Landon Hedges is finding his way back
to the road.
Hedges : Return Engagement
story by tim mcmahan
Lazy-i: February 12, 2003
w/ Stop at Line, Joel Libentritt
Friday, Feb. 19
9:30 p.m., $3
49th & Dodge
Hedges is a long way from living the life he wants to live.
Today he's behind the
counter at Ted and Wally's, an ice cream parlor in the heart of
Omaha's Old Market. Thin but not gaunt with a childlike face, glasses,
green wool cap, and weathered Cursive T-shirt, Hedges looks like
everyone's little brother behind the business end of an ice cream
scoop. It was only a year ago that he was living his dream life,
on the road with two of Omaha's most successful rock bands -- The
Good Life and Desaparecidos -- driving
all day, playing all night, threading the U.S. countryside in a
He practically beams
when he describes it. "You constantly drive to get to the next
city. You get lost. You scavenger hunt to find the club. You find
the club. You get there too early and have time to kill. You find
the weekly paper and see if you're in it. When everyone sits down
to eat together, it's like a family. It's a bonding experience.
Then you play a rock show, you party afterward and you go to sleep;
then wake up and do it all again. Before you know it, you're in
North Carolina and wonder how you got there."
Hedges has been on six
national tours with Saddle Creek bands and desperately longs to
return to the road. He's been mapping his way back ever since he
unceremoniously left both bands for reasons neither he nor the bands
His return strategy involves
three separate projects. First is his solo work performed under
the name Fine Fine Automobiles, which will be showcased as part
of an acoustic singer/songwriter night at The 49'r Wednesday, Feb.
always been afraid to play music by myself," Hedges said. "I've
just felt really uncomfortable without drums and bass. You can hide
behind a band. I wanted to overcome that fear, and Fine Fine Automobiles
is me learning to be comfortable with myself."
At a practice space above
a mid-town business, Hedges gave a private performance of three
Fine Fine Automobiles songs accompanied only by his electric guitar
(he never plays acoustic). None of them titled, one of the songs
recaps a dark time in his life, with phrases, "I've been
told I'm an asshole / Been called a monster," and "This
town talks too much." The other songs were about relationships,
with lyrics like "You told me once when you were whispering
/ I'm the only boy for you." Hedges' quiet, high-register
voice, was barely audible over the simple guitar lines that follow
melodies reminiscent of Elliott Smith or Sebadoh's Lou Barlow.
Sebadoh is an influence
on Hedges' second route back to the road -- his band Little Brazil.
Originally the name for his solo work, Little Brazil has evolved
into a rock band with bassist Dan Maxwell and drummer Corey Browman,
both members of Hedges' first real band, the emo-flavored Secret
His third project is
yet another Saddle Creek band, Son, Ambulance,
headed by singer/songwriter Joe Knapp, and consisting of Hedges,
Daniel Knapp, Erica Peterson and Browman. Hedges was part of Son,
Ambulance's first incarnation, playing bass on the 2001 Son, Ambulance
/ Bright Eyes split LP Oh Holy Fools. He rejoined Knapp and company
after seeing them perform a blistering set at The Junction last
summer, only months after his departure from The Good Life.
wanted to overcome that fear, and Fine Fine Automobiles is
me learning to be comfortable with myself"
like I've always been the youngest of my friends, sort of
everyone's little brother."
has the same plan for all three projects -- write songs, record,
then hit the road. He's already recorded three Fine Fine Autombile
songs and will work on Son, Ambulance's next CD being recorded at
Presto! Studios in Lincoln.
"My main focus is
getting Little Brazil up and running," Hedges said. "We're
just now to the point where we're starting to play shows. We don't
have the money to go into the studio yet."
He said Little Brazil
is ready to get the respect it deserves. "The other day my
friend Roger Lewis (drummer of The Good Life) asked me how old I
was. He said 'You're supposed to be 18 forever, dude.' Seems like
I've always been the youngest of my friends, sort of everyone's
little brother. Little Brazil isn't a 'little brother' band anymore.
We've done a lot of growing up."
Hedges admits a big part
of his music maturity came from being in Saddle Creek bands, especially
The Good Life.
"I learned a lot
from the experience," he said. "It brought me from where
I was with Secret Behind Sunday to where I am today. The Good Life
approached music from every angle -- from songwriting to preparing
the band to recording and touring. I learned that that's what it
takes if you want to be serious about music. You have to work hard
and keep pushing it. I've made up my mind that I just want to make
music as long as I can. It's the only thing I know how to do, and
I want to put everything I have into it."
Portions published in The Omaha Weekly-Reader Feb. 12, 2003. Copyright
© 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved. Photo by Sarah Xiong. Used