P.E.I. medical physicist finds balance in music, records first CD

A medical physicist at the P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre is preparing to launch his first CD, with the help of his musical mentor, who also comes from a science background.

'Most of the time I'm exercising the left side of my brain with math and equations and numbers'

Tony Landry picked up the guitar at 36, inspired by his move to P.E.I. 'I guess there is something in the soil,' he says. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

A medical physicist who first started playing guitar at 36 is preparing to launch his first CD.

Tony "Doc" Landry, originally from Halifax, works at the P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre and began playing music after he moved to the Island.

"My family and I moved here eight years ago and I'd never really played the guitar before or thought about songwriting," Landry said. "I guess there is something in the soil that made me want to try to sing and write songs."

Tony Landry's job involves lots of math and equations, using more of the left side of his brain. (Submitted by Tony Landry)

A light went off for Landry while attending a concert by Kris Taylor at Harmony House in Hunter River, P.E.I. The two met through running, but Landry didn't know much about his friend's music.

"I didn't really know what to expect," Landry said. "I was really blown away and really inspired. I had never had a friend that did that sort of thing." 

Landry decided to pick up the guitar and give songwriting a try.

"I wrote a song for my wife and a song for my mom," Landry said. "Some of those early songs I would send off to Kris to listen to and say what do you think of this? Is this any good? Am I crazy for even trying this?"

Kris Taylor has been a musical mentor to Landry. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

With his friend's encouragement, the songs kept coming and last December, Landry reached out again.

"I said, this songwriting thing has really grown on me and I'm not really sure what to do with it," Landry said. "He said, pick some songs, get some recording done, and see where you can take it."

Landry headed into the studio last summer and the songs are now being mixed and mastered, with an album launch planned for the fall. 

Creative outlet

For Landry, music is a way to balance the demands of his career.

"I'm a medical physicist at the Cancer Treatment Centre, so most of the time I'm exercising the left side of my brain with math and equations and numbers," Landry said. "It was really refreshing to exercise other side of my brain, which is very creative."

Landry is also juggling a family, including three young sons.

"As an adult and a parent and a husband and a full-time employee you don't always get to control all of your time so the songwriting became very much my thing, the thing that I get to do where I don't have to answer to anybody," Landry said.

"It's very rare I get dedicated time to sit and song write but it's something I do to fill in the gaps of parenthood and adult life."

Landry's sons are often the first to hear his songs as he plays for them when they're in the bathtub. He says "everyone sounds good in a bathroom." (Tony Landry/Facebook)

Kris Taylor can relate to that sense of balance from music. He owns and operates Harmony House, but is also trained as a pharmacist.

Taylor has enjoyed watching his friend's progression in music. 

"I don't believe in the idea of only trying something new when you are young," Taylor said. "I think everybody should challenge themselves to do that thing that they've always wanted to do. I mean, when else are you going to do it?"

Tony Landry and Kris Taylor rehearse for their first-ever concert together at Harmony House this weekend. Taylor describes it as a 'full circle moment.' (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

One of Landry's first shows last fall raised money for P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre Christmas Families. He said he suspects a lot of his future shows will be fundraisers as he wants his music to be helpful in nature.

"Right now it's exciting for me to put my songs out there, put an authentic part of myself out for people to listen to," he said. "If at the very minimum I can get my songs heard, both on P.E.I. and in Atlantic Canada, that would really fill out my life."

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About the Author

Nancy Russell

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water rowing, travelling to Kenya or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca