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As 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.

Landon Hedges : Return Engagement

 
story by tim mcmahan


 

 

Lazy-i: February 12, 2003


Fine Fine Automobiles
w/ Stop at Line, Joel Libentritt
Friday, Feb. 19
9:30 p.m., $3
The 49'r
49th & Dodge

Omaha

Landon 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 beat-up van.

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 will say.

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. 19.


 

 

"I've 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 Behind Sunday.

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.



 


"I wanted to overcome that fear, and Fine Fine Automobiles is me learning to be comfortable with myself"


 

 

 


"Seems like I've always been the youngest of my friends, sort of everyone's little brother."


 

Hedges 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."



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Portions published in The Omaha Weekly-Reader Feb. 12, 2003. Copyright 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved. Photo by Sarah Xiong. Used by permission.