On May 19, the Pink Martini founder and the iconic Oregon surf music group Satan’s Pilgrims released Thomas Lauderdale Meets the Pilgrims, an album sparked by the 1993 moment when Lauderdale stumbled into a Pilgrims performance and imagined a surf version of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

A pandemic hiatus from touring with Pink Martini led Lauderdale to unearth the long in-development project. New contributors to the album include vocals by the Portland State University Chamber Choir and self-proclaimed “All-American Jewish Lesbian Folk Singer” Phranc, who sings on a cover of the Beach Boys’ “Girls on the Beach.”

Lauderdale, who created fresh mixes of 11 songs with engineers Steve Sundholm and Dave Friedlander, stated in a press release: “One hot summer night in 1993 I saw the Pilgrims play, and I fell hard for these über-sexy studs wearing capes, playing irresistible surf instrumentals. I made my way backstage and suggested that we create a surf version of Rhapsody in Blue. We started working together soon after.”

He added, “This album is a physical manifestation of an era of unbridled optimism and artistic collaborative spirit in Portland, Oregon’s cultural history.”

Drummer Ted Pilgrim added: “Thomas and the Pilgrims share a love of catchy melodies, classic songs, and midcentury art and culture. We both brought our own worlds to this project and enjoyed finding out where they intersected. Thomas’s unique style and vision infused our creative process, and I think he also loved being able to let loose a bit with us.”

Bennett Campbell Ferguson (For Willamette Week)

Bennett Campbell Ferguson is WW’s assistant arts and culture editor, a Portland-based journalist and film critic. When not writing, he enjoys playing the piano, hiking and reading comic books.

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