The Return of the Santa-Hatted Thereminists

This Thursday, Dec. 13, the Lothars return to local Somerville haunt PA’s Lounge, where they’ll be supporting one of Kris’ other projects, an 8-piece free-rock ensemble known as the Concord Ballet Orchestra Players. Also on the bill are Carlisle Sound, featuring members of Major Stars, Pants Yell!, Ponies in the Surf and Reports. Once again, Dr. T will be providing visuals during our set.

The Lothars are the meat in the CBOP/CS sandwich, going on second at around 10:15pm. Expect to hear some Christmas melodies warbling out of a theremin or two, although if previous experience is an indicator, you may not recognize them.

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Pete Ick at the IckMusic blog has some nice things to say about the Sandinista Project, and the Lothars track in particular:

“Two of my favorites from the album are “The Call Up” and “The Leader”. On the tribute, theremin – yes theremin – ensemble The Lothars take on “The Call Up”. This would fall under the category of totally and completely devoid of resembling the original. But there’s something very strange and alien about it that pulls me in.”

He also makes available mp3s of the original as well as our version.

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The Architectural Dance Society, and Other Stories

The Sandinista Project has been getting lots of reviews, both good and bad. And the Lothars are mentioned in a few of them, both good (“much thanks to the Lothars’ eerie rendition of The Call-Up“) and bad (“The Lothars… struggle through The Call Up…, proving that the soul of a stellar band is often what sells the most difficult of its tracks.”)

But two recent reviews stand out. First, in this past Sunday’s New York Times, Jon Pareles writes, “Songs skew toward Appalachia with banjos, plunge into psychedelic loops and echoes, unleash theremin on The Call Up and the Persian wail of Haale on One More Time,” OK, it’s not much, but it is the New York Times (full article here). Second, there’s a very thoughtful piece in a blog called The Architectural Dance Society about how the best cover versions are ones that bring out elements of a song that you hadn’t noticed before and make you want to relisten to the original. As examples of this, he makes available mp3s of four of the tracks on the compilation, including the one by The Lothars. I think that this is our first appearance on an mp3 blog. I feel like this is an important milestone and we’ve truly arrived.

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The Sandinista! Project

This Tuesday marks the release of the long-awaited (by me, anyway) Sandinista! Project double CD. Here’s what Amazon has to say about it (with an Amazon link added for your convenience!):

Even those who prefer the punch of the Clash’s classic London Calling to the sprawl of the subsequent Sandanista! will find plenty of revelation here. Spearheaded by rock journalist Jimmy Guterman, the project accentuates the original album’s expansive range through a roster of artists that is transatlantic, transgenerational, and transgenre. Jason Ringenberg (of Jason and the Scorchers) and Kristi Rose transform “Ivan Meets G.I. Joe” into a hardcore country duet, while Katrina Leskanich (of Katrina and the Waves) puts plenty of bounce into “Hitsville U.K.” The versions of “The Magnificent Seven” by Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers and “Police on My Back” by Willie Nile remain true to the the Clash’s hard-rocking spirit, with the loopy atmospherics of Wreckless Eric’s “The Crooked Beat” and the Lothars’ multi-theremin arrangement for “The Call Up” exploring the outer fringes of the album’s musical adventurousness. This project has the musical strength, variety, and inventiveness to stand on its own, but it will likely do what tribute albums should: Drive listeners back to the source. –Don McLeese

Read more about The Sandinista! Project here.

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The geek who captured the Castle

That’s the headline for the interview with me that appears in today’s Boston Globe. The print version has two really nice photos, one of which made it to the online version:

Jon Bernhardt (right, performing with the Lothars) plays the theremin for a new White Castle Commercial. (Wiqan Ang for the Boston Globe)

I’ve been interviewed a bunch of times over the years. Inevitably the writer always gets something wrong. Either misstating some fact, misquoting me, or putting one of my quotes out of context. This piece is the first I can remember where the writer got it perfectly. She edited down a long and rambling conversation into a fast-paced Q&A, yet managed not only to keep the facts straight, but also to allow my personality to get through.

So, kudos to writer Linda Laban, and also to photographer Wiqan Ang who took some great shots.

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Digitally Delicious!

I just made a couple of changes to the Lothars website:

  1. I added our SNOCAP widget (kindly provided at no cost by CD Baby) to a new “Digital Download Store” page in the Merch section. I put our iTunes Store links on the same page.
  2. I noticed some formatting problems when viewing the Lothars site with IE7. I fixed them, I think, but did so in a rather ugly manner. I’m going to need to do a bit of research to create a more elegant fix.
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Open Sourced

In the Lothars News email I sent out at the beginning of last week, I mentioned that the Lothars might be heard on the NPR program Open Source. Well, that didn’t happen, but it doesn’t mean we were totally shut out.

During the program, which you can download here, I was quoted (in actuality, they quoted me quoting Herb Deutsch) and then thanked at the end. I highly recommend listening to the whole thing. Thereminist Pamelia Kurstin was a guest; she performed live and played beautifully! Also, they posted a brief but very nice interview with me where I talk about the White Castle Saga, how I first became interested in the theremin, and other fascinating insights.

This White Castle thing’s really got legs. Earlier this week, I was interviewed about it by the Boston Globe, who say they’ll be running the story sometime in the near future. Of course, I’ve probably jinxed myself by talking about it now.

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Lothars News

This is a copy of what we have just sent out to the Lothars Mailing List:

The Lothars: Live(!), On the Radio(!!) and On the TV(!!!)


On April 29, The Lothars return for their annual visit to local Somerville haunt P.A.’s Lounge. This time around, we are opening for Alasehir, a side project of Bardo Pond brothers John and Michael Gibbons with drummer Michael Zangha. Also on the bill are D.C. psych improvisors Kohoutek. Come for the theremins; stay for the barrage of psychedelic noise!

On the Radio(!!)

Listen closely to your local NPR radio station over the next day or so and you may hear some Lothars music! Open Source is a radio program syndicated by Public Radio International to radio stations around the country. The episode being taped this evening (Monday, April 23) features the theremin. The guest will be the always charming Pamelia Kurstin, who will perform and be interviewed by host Christopher Lydon. We’ve been told that they will be playing tunes by the Lothars coming out of the breaks.

Open Source airs live in Boston at 7pm EDT on WGBH, 89.7FM, and either live or pre-recorded elsewhere. Here’s a list of stations that carry the show. You can also listen to WGBH streaming live over the Internets.

On the TV(!!!)

Lothars member Jon Bernhardt was recently “discovered” by the folks at White Castle who whisked him to Los Angeles to film a pair of 30 second ads. Trying to cram all the details into this email wouldn’t do it justice, but you can read all about it on the Lothars Blog. It’s the hilarious but heartwarming tale of a small town thereminist trying to make it big in the City of Angels. Or not.

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