Musicians are Good Citizens

June 7, 2018

It was The Three Amigos- Ryan Balthrop, Eric Erdman and Randy Landers


Of course I am familiar with the first two listed but I had not heard Randy Landers. We were at The Zebra Club on Sunday afternoon/evening. I learned Randy played (or plays) with Boogie Chillin (The band of the late, great Hank Becker).. He had me at Boogie Chillin.


The place was packed. There was someone’s bottom resting in every available seat. There were those who stood, some who danced and some who sat in the laps of others. It was a friendly, happy gathering of people.


I heard wonderful vocal harmonies, blended guitars and pure hearts of the professionals on that stage. The atmosphere was exciting, happy and it felt like the-place-to-be.


Randy played and sang some popular oldies and you could tell he loved playing them. He certainly had played them many times, as he sounded great! It is so satisfying to watch a seasoned musician perform and enjoying themselves. 


Ryan and Eric played some of their most popular originals and a new one or two. Eric played a rare performance of a song in Spanish, he had begun playing while doing a concert series in Isla Mujures, Mexico a couple of week earlier. These two (Eric and Ryan)are perfect back-up singers for one another and it is a beautiful thing to watch and hear.


These guys have very busy schedules, as they attempt to succeed in this world and this very difficult industry of entertainment. As a musician’s mother I can tell you first hand; it is not easy and it is not always pretty. They are as skilled in their trade as a surgeon is in theirs. Yet often they do not receive the respect from noisy, audiences who are filled with indifference. Imagine being on the stage with no one even noticing you are there, when people are shouting over the “Noise” that is you! 

That was Not the case at Zebra Club!  The owners and all of the patrons were happy, enjoying and appreciating the music and; without even knowing it, they were restoring the souls of these three men who were pouring their hearts out from the stage.

We are always grateful for a listening audience. (It wasn’t “listening room” listening but close enough).


Almost all of the local musicians are community minded. Some are involved in animal rescue, fostering cats or dogs, some volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Eric does free shows for benefits of all kinds, and for Autism Speaks, Down Syndrome, Mobile ARC, for Veterans and other causes. Ryan is a person who cares about his community; he is a good citizen of Mobile. He doesn’t just see things that are problems and turn the other way; he takes action. I remember a story he wrote on Facebook about riding his bike and stopping by a little cutout by a creek on the side of the road (Dauphin Island Parkway)…it is located on the east side of the parkway just before the big bridge over Dog River. The place is set up for people who may want to drop a line into the small creek that passes there. Finding a free place to fish is not always easy for folks. He noticed people had dropped their trash hither and yon with little care. Some of the trash was right next to the big trash can that is provided by the city. While shaking his head he picked it all up and placed it in the receptacle where it belonged. That is the kind of guy he is.

Ryan Balthrop is working hard to protect the waters of Mobile Bay and Dog River as well as all the watersheds that feed them. These watersheds do not ONLY feed water to the bigger waterways…they bring refuse of all kinds with that water. Things people have carelessly thrown in the ditch, or creek or in some cases things that washed from the banks into the waterways…it is disgusting, and it is PREVENTABLE.

Ryan lives on the edge of Eslava Creek in Mobile, It is a tributary(or watershed) that feeds directly into Dog River. It carries tons of garbage as it makes its way downstream. He has regular clean ups scheduled and ask others who have kayaks (or canoes) to join in and help pick up the trash from the water (there is a catch system at the Eslava Creek Bridge on McVay Dr, but it cannot catch all of the debris)…it is up to concerned citizens to complete the job. His group is called Eslava Creek YAK Club and he asks anyone who can to join him in this battle for clean waterways.


Sorry for jumping on my soapbox but I wanted to let you know. Hopefully the next time you listen to musicians singing, you will remember they are not one-deminsional people who only sing; they are often people with causes and passion and hope for our great city and the people who live and work in it. 


Everything we needed for a fun night at The Zebra Club was there on Sunday. Great atmosphere, friendly staff and owners, plenty of seating, nice breezes, fantastic music by three exceptionally talented men.


Thank you Zebra Club for having us.

Thank you Ryan for making it happen.

Thank you Randy Landers, Eric Erdman and Ryan Balthrop for a great show!

Thank you to these wonderful people of our city who really care and who do their part.

Juanita Smith

Music Mom

(picture courtesy of Ross Peterson)  Randy Landers, Eric Erdman, Ryan Balthrop



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