Rob Landes

A melodious mixture of pop, classic rock, classical music – and music to play video games by.

Only The Charles Bender Performing Arts Center in Humble could come up with a cool combination like that, and Rob Landes may be the only violinist who could perform something that innovative.

Last year, Landes astounded Lake Houston with his violin performance of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” and Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” at The Bender.

- Violinist brings his innovative fiddle playing to The Bender March 30 -

This year, he returns to The Bender stage Saturday, March 30, at 7 p.m. to again astound Lake Houston on his magic violin with music from America’s most popular video games.

Tickets are $15.

“Since you last talked with me last year, I now have almost a million subscribers,” Landes told The Tribune by phone, “and more than 130 million views.”

How did one of The Bender’s most popular artists get so many subscribers and views?

“I’m a big ‘gamer’ fan and I did a video of the evolution of game music, the kind of music in the background while video gamers play their games,” Landes said, “and things just took off.”

So, in addition to “Stairway to Heaven,” Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida,” and the beautiful “Gabriel’s Oboe,” Landes will include a few video game soundtracks such as “Mario Music,” the four levels of music played when video gamers play the always-popular Mario Brothers games.

“I grew up on video gaming,” Landes said. “I practiced the violin three to four hours a day and the only way I could keep at it was to practice for 45 minutes, then play video games for 45 minutes, then practice for another 45 minutes, then another 45 minutes on the computer. It was a great way to relieve the stress of so much practicing, but it took six hours for me to get three hours of practice.”

Because of the popularity of his gaming music, Landes finds himself negotiating with several gaming competitions and Comicon events – including one in Germany – who are interested in having him perform as the gamers do their video thing.

“The violin works well with ‘game music’ because there are no lyrics,” Landes said.

Recent research has found that video game music helps with concentration when working, working out or just relaxing, because the game composers design their music to be enjoyable but subdued enough so that gamers don’t lose focus while they play.

Landes, of course, isn’t your usual violin player. The Rice-educated violinist from Utah uses a loop pedal, a contraption that guitarists have been using for years to transform themselves into a one-person band. He saw a violinist using the loop pedal on YouTube a few years ago and right then and there decided “…I had to get one.”

“The loop pedal allows me to record short passages, then play them back in a repeating loop while I play the violin,” Landes said. “I can then create complex rhythms and harmonies while I perform.”

What a difference a year makes.

Since Landes, his violin and his loop pedal last performed on The Bender stage a year ago, he got married and acquired three adorable daughters in the bargain, worked with a manufacturing company to develop a high-quality violin that aspiring young people can afford, and will eventually launch an online violin school for anyone who wants to learn to play the violin.

He’ll arrive in Houston a couple days early so that he also can spend some quality family time with his sister in Spring and his friends from his days at Rice.

Built in 1929 as Charles Bender High School, The Bender was refurbished and refreshed with lots of love and care under the direction of former Humble Mayor Donnie McMannes and the Humble City Council. It now is the performing arts center for Humble and the entire Lake Houston area. Almost 6,000 guests have oohed and awed at the art deco lighting, the wood-stained columns, and the original hardwood floors on the stage – and at the diverse performances on that same stage.

Take a look at his quality string instruments at roblandesinstruments.com, get a preview of what Landes can do with his violin and that loop pedal at youtube.com/roblandes, then plan to watch him in person on The Bender stage on March 30. For tickets or for information about upcoming events at The Bender, call 281-446-4140 or visit humblepac.com.

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.