Talking Story With Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale


Pink Martini’s “little orchestra” draws inspiration from the romantic Hollywood musicals of the 1940s and ’50s and crosses genres to make an eclectic, modern sound. They’re coming to the Kahilu Theatre for two shows – October 31 and November 1. See the ticket info at the end of the article for more info.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Pink Martini’s founder Thomas Lauderdale while the band is currently touring the West Coast. Like the band’s quirky music, I threw out some fun rapid-fire questions that he might not have been asked before.

Is this the band’s first visit to the Big Island?

No, we’ve been to the island a couple of times, and we’re always excited to come. We’re from Portland, Oregon, where it’s not as paradisiacal as it is in Hawaii. So, we’re very anxious to come back.

You’re currently on tour to celebrate twenty years since the first record was released, Sympathique. What can folks expect at the Kahilu show?

There will be songs in twenty-five different languages… songs in Turkish, Arabic, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and hopefully by the end of the show there will be a big conga line.

Will there be any songs in Hawaiian?

That’s a good idea! The first time I came to Hawaii I met Martin Denny who recorded those exotica songs from the late ‘50s. But that’s not Hawaiian music really. I have a bunch of Hawaiian albums that I need to go through. I think the song “Now is the Hour” was originally in the Hawaiian language… sort of Western song with Hawaiian lyrics, but I love it!

Where did the inspiration for the band’s name come from?

We started the band by doing political fundraisers. I was working in politics, and thinking about running for Mayor, and I wanted to create a band that could play at political functions. The name was inspired by the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Tell me about the promo video you put together for the Kahilu Theatre?

Oh, China and I did that in my loft in downtown Portland. It was composed on the spot.

OK, it’s time for some rapid-fire questions! What did you want to be when you grew up?

Mayor of Portland.

Most pivotal career experience?

Probably going to the Cannes Film Festival and signing a French record deal.

Best advice for up-and-coming musicians?

Be flexible and say yes to everything.

Weirdest concert experience ever?

Probably playing a concert in a parking lot in Gresham, Oregon, at a street dance.

What super power would you choose?

I’d like to fly.

What’s a normal day for you?

Smoking. Having coffee. Procrastinating. Practicing. Doing interviews. Sound checks. Concert.

What’s next for the rest of 2018?

We’re about to do some East Coast dates, a tour of Asia… some stuff with the San Francisco Symphony… France in December. We play Disney Hall in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve.

Thanks for your time, Thomas. We’re looking forward to your upcoming Big Island shows.

My pleasure.

Ticket Info

Pink Martini – Two shows at the Kahilu Theatre
Wednesday, October 31, 2018 7:00pm
Thursday, November 01, 2018 7:00pm
Ticket Prices: $68 / $48 / $28
More info:

Steve Roby is a music journalist and best-selling author originally from San Francisco. He’s been featured in the NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.


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