Cult Music Fans Beware: A Jonathan Richman Impersonator Is On the Loose
The fake Richman was scheduled to play a festival in Olympia
Some scammers aim big, planning out complex schemes for fun and profit that allow them to make absurd amounts of money in the process. Others have more modest goals. This year has already brought news of a dedicated literary scammer at work for undisclosed reasons. However, that decidedly esoteric pursuit may well have been eclipsed by an even more bizarre con — namely, trying to convince music promoters that you’re actually Jonathan Richman.
Over the course of his long career in music, Richman has had a host of rarefied highlights. This includes everything from his work with the Modern Lovers to his onscreen appearance in There’s Something About Mary. Richman’s distinctive voice and his skewed lyrical sensibility have earned him a dedicated fanbase over the years.
One assumes that some of those fans were excited at the prospect of Richman playing a show as part of LoveOly Summerfest in Olympia, Washington. Except for the fact that, as Stereogum reports, the person who’d been in contact with the festival wasn’t Richman at all.
According to a statement from the festival’s organizers, they received a call from someone claiming to be Richman expressing his interest in playing. Since Richman had played Olympia a number of times over the years, this seemed entirely plausible, and the organizers made plans to go ahead with a show. Then, according to an article in The Olympian, a DJ for local radio station KAOS reached out to Richman’s publicist about doing an interview to promote the show.
Once Richman’s publicist had confirmed that the real Richman had not agreed to play, the scammer was removed from the bill.
“We are shocked that this happened. We’ve been booking bands for the past 30 years, and this is a first for us,” said Audrey Henley of the Olympia Film Society, who organized the festival. “We hope this does not in any way hurt our relationship with the real Jonathan Richman and that he will return to Olympia soon.”
Thankfully, Richman seems to have taken this in stride. “No hard feelings on my part and no apologies necessary from the wonderful people at OFS who have invited me and Tommy up to play so many times,” he said in a statement. “Did the guy who called you up manage to imitate my voice pretty good? Cuz if he did, you’ve got to hand it to him, most people can’t do it! But seriously now for just a second, I am sad for any disappointments and expenses caused to the Film Society and the fine people of Olympia. Of course I will come back to play for the Olympians!”
And somewhere out there, perhaps, a musically-inclined scammer is pondering which cult musician to impersonate next.
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