Sunday, February 14, 2010

Rick Ludwig: The Danny Gans of Des Moines is ready to take his act to Las Vegas

Attention, Las Vegas! Rick Ludwig is prepared to step up to fill a big pair of red socks and black-and-white spectator shoes.

We told you about musical impressionist Rick Ludwig and his "i-man show" as part of our series on artists across America who plow on, inspired by the work, life and example of Danny Gans.

Some rely on a tux, a microphone and a band. Rick Ludwig does it all, with costumes, props, and his own musical accompaniment, and as a result he is the one-man musical impressionism star of greater Des Moines, Iowa, and definitely qualifies as one of the hardest-working men in show business. Definitely a homegrown Heartland talent, he's dedicated to his family and community, while working overtime at entertaining with everything from DJing to karaoke parties to singing telegrams to his locally legendary i-man shows wherever he can pull out his trunk and set up.

Last night, it was the Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Altoona. Tonight, Trophy’s Sports Bar & Grill in Des Moines. Soon, Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip? In an exclusive online interview, Rick Ludwig tells us he’s prepared to bring his act to Las Vegas and, just maybe, fill the void left by the passing of the great Danny Gans. And like Garth Brooks, who took over the showroom Danny Gans left vacant, he’s willing to fly in on weekends so he can have the rest of the week with his wife and kids.

Tabloid Baby’s Sam Peters put up the questions .

So, you’re obviously a big talent. What shows have you got lined up?

All local Des Moines shows for now. Haven't pursued too much nationwide yet, but I wouldn't rule that out for future. Still fine-tuning the show here locally.

How long have you been doing your show?

My very first i-Man show was New Year's Eve 2007, which was the low-quality (I apologize) video that you have seen on YouTube. However, I have been singing since I was 4 in my mom's former church in front of 100 or so (so that would be 1970 roughly).

In 1985, I began as a part-time DJ while attending Central College in Pella, Iowa (Harry Smith's college). In 1991, I purchased my first karaoke system, began doing it at private parties and weddings and then expanded into the clubs in 1993.

In 1994 I left my day job as a computer programmer and in 1995 when full-time into the DJ & Karaoke business.

I began singing in clubs as a performer in about 1996-1997. Began doing Singing Telegrams around 2001.

So you’re a show biz vet. Are you a native of Des Moines?

I’m from Ottumwa, Iowa. That’s the hometown of Tom Arnold and, fictionally, Radar from M*A*S*H. I moved to Des Moines in 1989 to begin a day job at the Principal Financial Group downtown.

Say you get the call from Sin City. Would you be willing to relocate?

If the right opportunity came along, I might be willing to relocate in a few years, once my kids are a bit older. I have four (three girls aged 14, 7 and 6, with one boy, 13). However, I think it would be fun to maybe perform in a Las Vegas casino one or two nights a week-- say a Monday or Tuesday-- and then fly back home to Iowa. Airfare is cheap from DSM to Vegas.

A talent like you was bound to get noticed. Have you ever applied for a show like America's Got Talent?

As for American Idol, was always too old. They need Geezers Got Talent or Old Farts Got Talent and I'd be all over that. Just kidding. I haven't done the America's Got Talent because I'm way too busy with my DJ, Karaoke and Singing Telegram business. I don't know when I'd get time off! I guess it wouldn't hurt to pursue some day and give them a taste of i-Man or something.

I did win $2,500 in a karaoke contest at Prairie Meadows in Altoona back in 2007. I got second place, dressed as my Big Elvis and Disco Dude characters (kind of a pre-cursor to i-Man, I think). I used some of that money to buy additional costume stuff. (See pictures on RickLudwigShow.com.

Of course, it all gets back to Danny Gans. How did The Man of Many Voices inspire you?

A couple visited one of my karaoke shows back in 2006 while I was singing a few Elvis and Johnny Cash songs. I wasn’t in costume, just imitating their voices, and they told me I reminded them of Danny Gans from Las Vegas, who they went to see at least once a year. I said, “Danny who?

I basically lived under a rock at that time, because I had only been to Vegas twice before that for DJ conventions and still didn't know who Danny Gans was. A few weeks later, this couple returned to the show with a videotape of Danny Gans and loaned it to me to watch. “Wow! That's what I wanna do” I said.

Maybe not Vegas right away, but I loved the idea of imitating voices and also dressing the part.

So that's how I got hooked. I went to see Danny in February 2007 during a DJ convention and I was like a little kid in a candy store. He was awesome!!!

Okay. You run the gamut. But what are your favorite impressions?

Elvis, Johnny Cash, Elton John and I do a split-personality character of half Toby Keith, half Willie Nelson. I sing the duet Beer For My Horses, doing both parts back and forth. lol. People go crazy over that one. It's unique for Iowa.

I also just added Ozzy costume and am still working that one out.

See Rick Ludwig live tonight at Trophy’s Sports Bar & Grill iN Des Moines tonight from 7 to 10, and next Saturday, February 20th at Rookie's Sports Bar & Grill 9-1 in Clive, Iowa.


Rick A. Ludwig said...

Hey, thanks again for another great blog! Who knows, maybe via your blog someone in Vegas will notice i-Man!

Anonymous said...

This guy is perfect for Chip Lightman... Danny's former "manager". Hey, Chip...give Rick a call... you could make him a BIG star!! Or, would you like a "mutual friend" to introduce you??