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"A few weeks later, Connie got the call from New York from the film's soundtrack editor. He didn't know that we had already been on the set. They had received mine and Connie's CDs and were adding the wedding scene to the movie and needed music for it. They asked if we could do it, and of course we said, 'Sure.' It was sort of a no-brainer."
Landes and friends quickly went into research mode, trying to find the perfect song for a Civil War period wedding. There were thousand of songs to choose from, and they wanted to make sure that their selection would be historically accurate. In the end, the film's music supervisor, Alex Steyermark, and director Ang Lee picked the song themselves.
"At first, I wasn't sure that they would do the right thing. But in the end, I must admit, they chose the right tune. It's a Scottish tune called 'Miss McLeod's Reel,' which is probably the most common fiddle tune in all of Missouri. The name it goes by back home in Missouri is 'Uncle Joe.' It was kind of perfect, we thought, that they'd picked that tune and then picked us to do it. We do Celtic music, and we were from Missouri."
From that point on, the musicians had to quickly find authentic period outfits, and more importantly, age-appropriate instruments. Landes played a Martin guitar that dated back to the 1870s and a mandolin from the early 1900s. "There probably wouldn't have been a mandolin in Missouri in the 1860s, but that's what they wanted, so that's the instrument I chose," says Landes.
Finally, the band, authentically dressed in period duds, made its appearance on the set to "finger-synch" the music during the wedding scene.
"The next week, they brought us out to shoot the scene," remembers Landes. "They brought out me on mandolin, Zan McLeod, who wasn't in the studio but was in the film playing guitar. John Whelan was there on the accordion, and Kelly Werts with the fiddle. Connie's brother Jeff played percussion in the studio, but at the last minute they asked a young boy to play the drums during the scene. He was an extra that they had in the wedding dinner scene, and they liked the way that he looked, so he's in the film as a little drummer boy."
The experience was, to put it mildly, one the musician will remember for a lifetime. Although Landes and his companions are seen in the movie just briefly, his music is there during the entire scene, and his mandolin is the first sound to be heard in the film.
"They spent the better part of an hour shooting, but I swear, I'll remember it for the rest of my life," Landes says. "It was a fun and strange experience. I've been reading the history of the border war for something like 25 years, and to be a part of a movie that documents those important events is something rather special. I don't know if I can consider myself an actor now or not, but those experiences may be the closest I ever get. Maybe I should get an agent."