We had the good fortune of connecting with Rick Landers and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rick, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?

At this point, I suppose I have two businesses related to music. Since 2004, I’ve published an on-line guitar magazine that was initially named Modern Guitar Magazine, and in 2009, I changed the name to Guitar International Magazine. The magazine has always been free and readers, whether they were guitarists or music enthusiasts, have had access to all of the site’s interviews with not only legends, like Les Paul, Judy Collins, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Webb, Carlos Santana, Jose’ Feliciano, but also other musicians who I thought deserved attention. During the past two decades of its publication, I’ve seen many other guitar-related on-line magazines start up and soon disappear. I’ve been able to keep the site going with the help of other very professional contributors, and an excellent business partner, Dr. Matthew Warnock, who decided to start his own very successful guitar instruction site. Matt and I remain great friends, and I found his work ethic, his integrity and sense of fun exceptional and admirable. My expectation is the magazine’s interviews have helped other musicians get inspiration from experience-based insights of their favorite musicians, who themselves have navigated careers to success, as well as their fretboards, or in the case of someone like the legendary pianist, McCoy Tyner, their keyboards. Being a very early on-line resource, Guitar International has always been accessible to the poorest of poor readers throughout the world with an Internet connection, or those with relative wealth. My hope is Guitar International brings others some joy and inspiration to live their dreams, even it’s as simple as learning to play a musical instrument. And, I plan on the site outlasting me, so fifty years or more from now, readers yet unborn will be able to learn about and discover musicians by reading what the legends themselves have wanted to convey. I expect to soon be looking for a university to take over the magazine, and help continue it on its journey; as a teaching tool for music and journalism students.

About three years ago, just prior to the pandemic, I began to perform my own songs. And, really no different than others, my intent is to bring well-written songs to music enthusiasts whether at house concerts, farmers markets, near and far away venues, and festivals. I also played at a cemetery in Dawson, New Mexico, a very tender and special moment for me, but that’s a whole different story. I suppose a key role I want to embrace, both in publishing and performing is to inform others by composing songs about others who have inspired me, like Nick Drake Judee Sill, Nelson Mandela and others, but to simply bring joy to others for the time we’re together.

I’ve also embarked on writing a children’s book series called, “The Adventures of Digit & Tess” about a young Canadian girl and her artificial intelligent robotic cat named, Digit. The series is both educational for several age groups and has a travel adventure story line where the two head to Niagara Falls, Paris and various music spots around North America, that include the obvious places like Memphis and Nashville, but also the Navajo Nation and Bakersfield, California. My illustrator has some wonderful illustrations to help move the story lines along. Again, to inform and to bring joy, seem to be my main objectives in my work. Others, obviously do much, much, more, like first responders, animal rescuers and others who help the disenfranchised among us, so a big “hats off” to them (My Shout Out!)

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

Along with Guitar International Magazine and my newly published children’s book series, “The Adventures of Digit & Tess,” a lot my focus these days is on writing songs, performing and recording them. I find that I get a great amount of satisfaction during the writing of songs, especially when a cool lyrical phrase shows up that fits the melody, chorus or bridge of one of them. A few arrive and are unintended double entendre’s such as one song, “Red” has the line, “No more loving words were said,” so it can be read as the characters said no more loving words, or the words they said could not be more loving. On occasion, I’ll write about others that have included, songwriters Nick Drake and Judee Sill, Nelson Mandela, a Civil War soldier, or two very tragic mining disasters in Dawson, New Mexico, in 1913 and 1923. I’ve played guitar since I was thirteen, and during my business career I had occasion to speak to large audiences, but I have to tell you, singing your own songs can be a bit unsettling. But, once my band and I start, we’re on a roll. Tribute and cover bands have their rightful place and audiences, but I only perform my originals, I’ve grabbed a couple of songwriting awards and I’ve been grateful to get quite a few repeat gigs. Most importantly to me are my songs. I love to perform them, but my objective is to have as many people playing and singing them as possible…I love my songs and I’ve been very fortunate to have some great folks recording with me, including the great violinist, Dave Kline (Chick Corea/Dwight Yoakam), Northern Virginia’s symphony conductor, Christopher Johnston (flute/piano) and more. And, I’m looking to join a respected label to join, big or small….a pretty common dream, I’d guess!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

As far as meeting someone in Nashville, as a guitarist I’d first take them to George Gruhn’s vintage guitar shop to check out his current inventory and grab a guitar or two to play. And you never know who you might bump into at his shop. The last time I was there I met Johnny A., who was noodling around with a ’59 Epiphone, while George pulled out two very expensive late 1950’s Gibson Les Pauls. to show me. We’d check out the Grand Old Opry to see if there was a performance, and with luck and good timing, we’d spend hours walking around NAMM to check out all the latest in guitar and other gear, and see notable folks who might show up, like guitar builders, performing artists and the leaders of the top notch guitar companies. And then we’d find a few local venues to grab a beer and enjoy some of the amazing local talent. We’d make a special trip to visit a third-generation producer, Stacy Hogan (A Writer’s Paradise Studio), who’s a genius – really! – and fronts his very hot band, Sin Shake Sin.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many who have helped support me in my ventures, far too many for the space we have here. As far as my writing and publishing, I’d have to say my Canadian friend, Dr. Matthew Warnock who helped me keep my magazine going through some wreckage by a bad sort, and helped build it into the thriving Guitar International magazine that it is today, now in its twentieth year. He now publishes his own “Matt Warnock Guitar’,” a remarkable on-line guitar instruction site with thousands of students. He’s a remarkable young man and a nice guy. As far as my latest pursuit of being a performer and recording artist, at an early open mic a fella named Ron Goad approached me and then helped me navigate the world of music so that now, he’s a stalwart friend, the drummer in my band, Heartland, and an executive producer for my upcoming debut album. Ron’s won seven annual Washington Area Music Awards for being the best supporter of music in the area, he’s played percussion on over one hundred albums, and he’s indefatigable! He’s like the Energizer Bunny! Our band is now playing good sized venues and festivals. As a band, our original members include: John Werntz (bass) and Jim Nagle (dobro) Ron and i and we’ve gathered some new members, Kim Zhao (violin), Tim Spong (bass) and Tom Smith (lead guitar). We’re all working on our debut album, with all originals. Your readers can listen to our songs at my performer site, for free. If they go to www.ricklanders.com, we’d be grateful.  Back to Ron and Matt, they have been gems and to those two men, here’s my shout out and heartfelt thank you!

Website: www.ricklanders.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rlandersmg/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpaTyzwdSY0

Other: www.guitarinternational.com

Image Credits
Adam Stern Mike Davis Photography John Werntz Dustin Delage Joseph A. Rosen Michael DeMarco

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutTennessee is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.