Coffee with a Tenor…
Years back I end up crossing paths with this burly Irish kid from Lynn. Being the prototypical young Dot Rat, I didn’t care much for people outside my own neighborhood but this kid was different. It seemed no matter what he did, it was with a massive smile on his face. The people he surrounded himself with had this affection for him…his personality was as big as his shoulders and everyone seemed to enjoy hanging out with him. Through circumstance and the company we kept the both of us ended up at Dunkin Donuts on Morrissey one night sipping on coffee. It wasn’t long before this guy was striking up a convo with me, cutting right through my tough exterior. Within the hour we were talking as if we had known each other since kindergarten. Maybe it was our blue collar backgrounds or our love of music but, over the course the next few years and under the influence of many a case of beer, this kid from Lynn became one of my close friends.
One night over a case of Michelob and a bottle of Bushmills this kid starts singing old Doors tunes while myself and another friend sit and watch in a drunken awe. I really couldn’t believe how good of a singer this kid was. He always had great impressions and seemed like a natural mimic….but I was stunned. As the night dragged on all three of us decided sing our own favorites….me opting for some Led Zeppelin and my other friend going with the Seattle scene. I typically never had the balls to sing myself…but beers just seemed to bring it out of me. We kept up this weekend ritual for a good year or two, much to the chagrin of my neighbors around Toohig Park and some beagle who thought he was the sh*t and wanted to join in from time to time. It seemed like every weekend this dude would pull something new out of his back pocket. Van Morrison, Ozzy, Sinatra, Stevie Wonder….it didn’t matter…Brian Landry could sing it.
That was roughly 20 years ago….but it’s always at the forefront of our conversations to this day. Our paths took us in different directions, we all needed time to find our way into the next chapters of our lives. Most of us seemed to land in just the right spot doing jobs we loved with the exception of Brian who tried his hand at many things but never seemed truly happy. It certainly wasn’t a lack of intelligence, this was one of the most brilliant and well spoken people I had ever known. It became apparent that nothing out there could provide this kid with enough possibilities to keep his gears turning. But, then again there was music…classical to be exact. Enough complexity, possibilities and nuances to keep the most analytic minds this planet has ever known completely occupied.
It was inside the towering granite walls of a grand old church over in Cambridge that I really got to witness the next evolution of my friend. Many of us have heard Ave Maria at quite a few masses over the years and never given it much thought. On that evening, all this changed for everyone who listened to Brian’s rendition. This huge space just seemed to come alive like nothing I had ever witnessed. There where people choking back tears across the entire church as Brian went through the motions from the rear balcony. After he finished, everyone seem to just stare at each other almost in shock until the priest chimed in over his microphone “That is Brian Landry everyone”. The church erupted with a standing ovation. It seemed as though Brian had found his calling…
Never being a guy to half ass anything…once the light bulb was lit…Brian was off to the Accademia Verdiana in Busseto, Italy. It was time to immerse himself in the world of Verdi, Puccini and Rossini. He studied with Maestro Carlo Bergonzi and then made his international debut as a highlighted performer at a concert in the Teatro Verdi in Busseto, which was televised on Italian National Television on the program Loggione.
After his pilgrimage, Brian headed back home to make his mark here in the states and start a family. It wasn’t long before I started getting videos of his performances from all over the country.
How could I have known that I was having coffee with a legit tenor 20 years ago? Isn’t life funny sometimes?
Brian has been always been a source of inspiration over the years….he helped me think of the world outside of Dorchester’s borders and all of it’s possibilities during a time when I needed it. He’s always supported my efforts here at dotrat.com and encouraged me to keep writing….even when some of my articles completely sucked. Just keeping it real…
And like any loyal Dot Rat, I want my friends to be successful. I figure with all four of my readers working together I could get Brian some good exposure : )
Man would I love to see this kid do the National Anthem at Fenway. His version of Danny Boy may just bring a tear to your eye….watch out Ronan!
Follow Brian on Twitta! https://twitter.com/BrianLtenor