As summer draws to a close, so does the 2018 Music on the Half Shell concert series — but not without a bang. Crowd favorite Pink Martini will return to close out the season at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
This is the multi-genre band’s seventh time as a headliner at the Half Shell. When the band first played in Roseburg over 20 years ago, it was newly formed. However, when the band returned for its sixth performance in 2016, its unique blend of music, including jazz, classical, Latin and lounge, drew the series’ largest crowd of that season.
According to an interview in 2016 with Clint Newell, Music on the Half Shell committee president, the band has told him several times that “this was one of their favorite venues, they love playing here, and they love coming back.”
Pink Martini formed in 1994 by bandleader and renown pianist Thomas Lauderdale, who noticed a poor representation of music at political venues like conventions and fundraisers. A year later, he contacted his Harvard University classmate, singer China Forbes.
They began to write songs together. Their first song, “Sympathique,” became an overnight sensation in France and was nominated for Song of the Year at France’s Victoires de la Musique Awards.
The band’s first album, also titled “Sympathique,” was released in 1997. The group later released albums that reached gold status in countries around the world like France, Turkey, Greece and Canada.
“We’re very much an American band, but we spend a lot of time abroad and therefore have the incredible diplomatic opportunity to represent a broader, more inclusive America … composed of people of every country, every language, every religion,” Lauderdale said in an online biography.
Pink Martini’s ninth album, “Je Dis Oui!” was released in 2016 and is described as “a rollicking around-the-world adventure, ‘Je dis oui!’ features a cavalcade of songs — many of them original — in French, Farsi, Armenian, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, Xhosa and English, and affirms the band’s 22-year history of global inclusivity and collaborative spirit.”
The ensemble features a dozen musicians and even more instruments. Besides Forbes and Lauderdale, the “little orchestra” combines Timothy Nishimoto as vocals and percussion, Robert Taylor on trombone, Gavin Bondy on trumpet, Phil Baker on bass, Dan Faehnle on guitar, Pansy Chang on cello, Nicholas Crosa on violin, Maureen Love plays the harp, Brian Lavern Davis on congas, drums and percussion, and Anthony Jones on drums and percussion.
“(Pink Martini) is such a great example of world reflective music with their lush instrumentation and their multi-languages that they sing in,” said Leonard Kelly, Music on the Half Shell committee member.
According to Lauderdale, neither of their regular lead singers will be available for Tuesday's performance. Instead, Pink Martini decided to invite their favorite collaborators from the past several years for an all-star show. Featured guest singers will be Ari Shapiro, former Miss America and violinist Katie Harmon Ebner, Jimmie Herrod, Edna Vazquez, Ikram Goldman and the von Trapps, who are the descendants of the family from "Sound of Music."
Though the band calls Portland home, it has performed in over 25 languages on concert stages and with symphony orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South America and North America.
“We always feel lucky to have them and we are so happy they keep us on their list,” Leonard said.
Spots at Stewart Park can be claimed on a first come, first serve basis starting at 5 a.m. the day of the concert.
Limited parking is available at the park, Legion Field across from the park, and in the paved parking lot connecting the YMCA to the softball fields along Stewart Parkway.
"The Half Shell is truly one of my favorite places to perform!" Lauderdale said. "I love the energy of the crowd, and it’s so wonderful to have a series of major concerts like this offered free for the whole community every summer."