Pink Martini excited for return visit to Melody Tent

BMS talks with bandleader Thomas Lauderdale about the state of the band and more

, Contributing Writer

It’s not hard to imagine Thomas Lauderdale, bandleader and founder of the ensemble Pink Martini, running around the Harvard University campus in drag. In fact, he often did so as a student at the Ivy League school where he studied history and literature. It’s also not hard to imagine the talented pianist from Portland, Oregon working in politics and wanting to run for elected office there. Lauderdale still believes he would make a good mayor but, for now, his focus is on creating beautiful, fun and engaging music.

Currently on a summer tour that’s taking the “little orchestra” around the country, Boston Music Spotlight was able to catch up with the gregarious Lauderdale earlier this week to preview Pink Martini’s show at the Cape Cod Melody Tent on Saturday.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): How’s the tour going?

Thomas Lauderdale (TL): The tour is going really well. We’re labeling this tour the “And Then You’re Gone Tour”.

BMS: Why is that?

TL: We have a bunch of people coming and going. We have China who’s preparing for her vocal surgery, and so she’s not on this tour. And then we had another singer, Storm Large, who came and then had to step away because her throat was damaged, but then she’ll be back. Actually, she’ll be back in time for the Cape Cod Melody Tent. And then we’re working with another vocalist, named Lucy Woodward who’s fantastic.

BMS: Was it difficult to decide to continue the tour without China?

TL: Well, the thing is the practical part is we all have mortgages to pay [laughs] and it’s been a sort of quiet half of the year for the band and while difficult [to tour without her] it would be much more difficult to cancel than play. What I’m finding out to, is that it’s an opportunity now to feature more of the members of the band like Nicholas Crosa, who’s our violinist plays Mozart and Gavin Bondy, our trumpet player. And then we get to collaborate with other singers like Lucy and Storm and Martha Wainwright sang with the band in Montreal last week. And on Sunday Joey Arias will play with us in New York. It’s a constant cavalcade of schedules and flights.

BMS: In terms of Lucy and Storm, how did you settle with them and is it working out for you?

TL: It is, actually. You know, Storm had some commitments early in June and so I think I’ll be listening to a lot of different singers and figure out ways to collaborate with them. It’s amazing, you know, it’s so haphazard in a way but it will certainly will be entertaining. Never a dull moment. And it challenges you to keep calm and to not let anything ruffle the feathers.

BMS: Speaking of entertainment, I watched the video for “Tuca Tuca”, which I love. It was so much fun.

TL: It was entertaining, right?

BMS: It was so fun, I was, like, I want to do this, and I’m obviously in Boston, but I want to go back to Europe and go back to Italy and do it there. It looked like so much fun.

TL: We did that last summer and the initial edits of the video weren’t right but they got it really right with this edits and it’s great. I love it.

BMS: What inspired you to remake the song and who came up with the concept for the video?

TL: Have you ever seen the original version?

BMS: I haven’t and I should probably YouTube it.

TL: Take a look on YouTube, “Tuca Tuca” is originally done by Raffaella Carrá and she comes out on a black and white television show in the 70’s and she does this dance and the orchestra and it’s fantastic. And I just really wanted to do the cover. It’s entirely a beloved song. Everyone knows it inside of Italy. Outside of Italy, not many people know it, so it’s good fodder.

BMS: So, you’re going to be here this weekend at the Cape Cod Melody Tent. Some of our readers may have never gone to a Pink Martini concert, so, I want to know what you hope people take away from a Pink Martini show. What’s the experience like?

TL: First of all, Cape Cod Melody Tent is one of my most favorite places to play in the world.

BMS: Really?

TL: It’s amazing. I love it, love it, love it. It wins off the bat. So, the music is old-fashioned, global pop. Does that make sense? And it draws a lot of influences based on beautiful melody and the great music of the 30’s and 40’s in America. And it takes that aesthetic and combines it with a global, 2011 head and tries to skirt together classical, pop and world music. And it’s hopefully really inclusive and not exclusive.

BMS: This is a silly question but are there pink Martini’s served backstage at a Pink Martini show?

TL: No, just Pellegrino. Pellegrino, sparkling water. And actually the boys do have Jack Daniels after the show. You know, touring is always a series of feedings. You arrive at a city and get fed and then you do sound check and then you go shower and take the stage and then you get fed again. It’s not good for the diet.

BMS: Do you get tired of touring?

TL: No, I love it. I’m lucky. We’re lucky. Most people don’t get to travel so much and to bring apparent, immediate joy to people and get applause at the end of the night. It’s amazing. And we get paid.

BMS: It’s nice to get paid to do what you love.

TL: It’s kind of amazing. I can’t quite believe that it’s worked out. And we’re independent. We’re an independent band we started our own record label and everything is in-house and we share the profits with the band and so we’re very lucky. Very, very lucky.

BMS: Anything else you want our readers to know?

TL: No.

BMS: No? Nothing?

TL: No, there’s nothing that I want anyone to know. I think we’re just happy that we’re asked back.

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