The Human Jukebox: “Hard Work and Elbow Grease” Pay Off

By Daniel Gelman

Editor’s Note: Last August we brought you a story about local Baby Boom musician Jim Cathcart  keeping the spirit of his generation alive. Here’s a follow up on a peer across the country.

We don’t often hear stories about the internet bringing joy and fulfillment to good people. We do hear plenty about its’ appeal to the lowest common denominator and the prurient dark side of the human psyche.

Youtube is no exception. Look at a video about a cat eating frozen yogurt or a circus clown on a unicycle and you’ll probably find vicious and combative comments. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. The digital revolution can bring the world to your doorstep and create social, cultural, and educational opportunities we could only dream of 20 years ago.

Larry Lud of Laurel, Maryland chose to open his heart, bare his soul, and share it with humanity on the World Wide Web. If you want to find a “cover” version of a popular song from the past 50 years, you will inevitably stumble upon one of his roughly 1,100 youtube videos. After 20 years as a successful “event band” leader in the Washington D.C. area,  Lud, 57, turned to the internet for a wider audience and a chance to share his passion for the music of his generation.

After some of his loyal fans wanted to know more, the unassuming musician/singer made a video called “My Life,” to address their questions. There he took down his guard and humanized the medium with a remarkable lack of pretense. For some it was this display of emotional, unguarded honesty and love that solidified their admiration for what would otherwise be a singing stranger.

He opens with a token of gratitude: “I really cannot express how much I appreciate and thank everyone who watches, keeps me encouraged, let’s me do it, and makes me feel that it’s worthwhile to do. I thank you. I feel the love for you and I know you feel it for me. I am so grateful for that.”

Larry’s love for music began at age seven when he heard the popular R&B hit “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen. “I got that record and I played it again and again. That was the moment in my head when I knew that I was a little different. I heard the mayhem of that record and the raw energy of it. It touched something even in a seven year old boy that has remained with me to this day.”

As a Polish Catholic who once considered the priesthood, Lud recognizes the pagan influence that rock music has had on contemporary society. He addressed it in our interview:

“The lack of discipline that it encourages at once frees us and makes us lazy. The human spirit needs discipline to function at its’ best, but it also needs freedom to release. Rock is a ‘Catch-22.’ Some would say that pagan spirit is superior to the restricted one that existed before rock. I prefer a combination of the two. I was a very well-behaved kid and I didn’t feel any guilt about listening to rock.”

Although his admiration for girls in high school and his love for modern music played roles in dissuading him from the cloth, he never embraced the wild abandon of Heavy Metal music or Grunge. He found them “derivative” of the more naturally raw Blues-Rock of his own era as characterized by the Rolling Stones. But he gives enormous credit to the gentle pre-Rock influences of his parents’ era like Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams.

As did Jim Cathcart in our earlier piece about a local Baby Boomer keeping the spirit of his generation alive, Larry references Glen Campbell as his ultimate musical idol. His talents were showcased on the popular Glen Campbell Good Time Hour. Memories of Campbell in his prime bring Lud tears of joy. “I loved this guy. He was so good. I wanted to be exactly like him, so I worked and worked. I’ve never gotten close, but I’ve tried, and I’m still trying. I just kept going and I never stopped.”

He never took any lessons on piano or guitar, but he did take Clarinet lessons. He credits his private tutor, a member of the U.S. Army Field Band, with teaching him the musician’s work ethic. “I’ve never been a business man. I’ve never been a big success. I worked my job, I did my thing, and I’m a musician. I love music more than anything else in the world. “I think I’m a serious musician. I work hard at it. Although I haven’t been what you might call tremendously successful, it’s been my life and my motivation.”

“The whole youtube thing has allowed me to be myself as a musician and put out all of my influences. I just wanted to see how people would feel about it. For the most part, people have responded to that, so I would say that I somehow feel successful and worthy of making a video like this. I do feel a little strange about it, because I’m thinking why would anyone care about me?”

But they do care. His adoring fans constantly remind him so in their comments like these:

“Such a profound life you have lived. You have touched so many with your emotional and moving performances.”

“Dear Larry: You don’t seem to realize that you did join the priesthood. Great musicians are high priests and when music is performed, God hears.”

“You have a way of making your subscribers feel like your pals. I enjoy how you can remind us of the way we ‘absorbed’ our music.”

“I like hearing people’s stories when they are completely honest, let their guard down and be themselves. I wish everyone would do that. The they would see that we all have our own battles and desires in life.”

“Glad to hear that you had to work at your musical abilities. Hard work and elbow grease are the best ingredients for success.”

Without youtube, Larry Lud’s circle of influence and opportunity to share his joys and passions would remain in his home region. But through the miracle of technology, someone can wake up in Tasmania and discover Larry standing on his backyard deck with a Scotch and a Cigar introducing his latest take on a classic.

Larry does live streamings at http://www.streetjelly.com/ (usually Saturdays) as Larry L Podline 66.

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Daniel Gelman has been a Reporter/Writer for several years, specializing in News, Business, Feature, and Op-Ed.

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