Duluth residents Sam Chandler and Laney Goei have known one another since kindergarten. Though they spent years passing each other in the hallways, a musical collaboration wasn’t proposed until the spring of 2015 when Goei, a vocalist, asked Chandler, a pianist, to accompany her.
“Laney was getting into some jazz singing at the time and she knew I had been playing piano for a while,” said Chandler. “She has a voice like nobody else’s. I was impressed right off the bat.”
Because Chandler had a basic knowledge of theory at the time, he was able to put together arrangements from a lead sheet for their practices. The two began frequenting the Music Resource Center (MRC) after school and were paired with a music mentor who gave them advice for improving their sound.
Following their first performance together—a talent show performance at the MRC—Laney and Chandler performed at the Zeitgeist Arts Center’s atrium space. Perhaps it was their rendition of “Autumn Leaves” that attracted the attention of acquaintance and bassist Grant Carl. Scrolling through their Rolodex of musically-inclined friends brought them next to Hans Larson, a drummer.
The group was rounded out in October 2015 to include Laney Goei, Sam Chandler, Grant Carl and Hans Larson. All four members have been involved with the school band since their sixth grade year and have been taking individual lessons for their respective crafts as well. Just this past November, classmate and guitarist Ryan Zelen joined the band for Duluth East High School’s talent show and continues to rehearse and play with them now.
The current 10th graders find time to practice for their gigs at an hour that is abhorrent to most their age: before school starts. A current repertoire of 16 songs takes the group to gigs at Beaner’s Central, the Visit Duluth’s Tour Operator Convention at the Duluth Depot, numerous talent shows around Duluth and an opening for a TED talk presentation at the Zeitgeist Art Center.
While Chandler’s training in jazz gives his compositions a mostly jazz sound, Carl’s blues-based playing gives them a nuanced edge. While they play mostly jazz standards, a few pop and blues songs also make the cut. Not to be underestimated is the influence of Goei’s voice, especially when they cover songs like “Creep” by Radiohead.
“She really makes the whole group shine,” said Chandler.
Networking at gigs, improving musicianship and writing originals are immediate goals for Laney and the Tramps. An appreciation for the brevity of these four years doesn’t escape them, however.
“In the long run, we’re just trying to have fun. High school only lasts so long and I think being a part of Laney and the Tramps will be a memorable part of our high school experiences,” said Chandler. “We just love making music together and I think that is what’s keeping us together and pushing us forward.”
Examples of the group’s past performances can be found on YouTube.