On Stage Extra: Julia Othmer returns to the Delaware Valley

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

Julia Othmer

In some ways, there are many similarities between Julia Othmer and Andy Reid.

Both are Kansas City residents and are loved in that city.

Both are former Philadelphia residents and are still loved in this city.

Both excel at what they do and have built a legion of fans around the world over the last two decades.

Reid may be more well-known – because he is an NFL coach who has won the Super Bowl.

Othmer, meanwhile, has carved out an impressive career as a singer, songwriter and keyboardist.

In a recent post on her Facebook page, Othmer wrote, “I’ve been on a bit of an adventure over in the U.K., Prague, Sweden and Germany — playing some shows, some festivals, writing, working on some collaborative arts projects, exploring my roots, going on adventures.

“Now I’m back in the States and here’s what’s coming up! For anyone attending the NERFA Music Conference, I have my private showcases there. AND I’m finally playing again in the Philly area.”

Othmer’s much anticipated return to the Delaware Valley will be a show on November 7 at The Living Room & Cricket Café (104 Cricket Avenue, Ardmore, livingroomardmore.com). The venue is Laura Mann’s latest musical venture.

Mann is a talented singer-songwriter who has been a staple in the Philly music scene for years. She is also a music venue owner who, in recent years, has had two “Living Room” venues in Ardmore. They now have been replaced by the brand-new listening room — The Living Room and Cricket Cafe.

“I’m excited to be coming back to the East Coast,” said Othmer, during a phone interview last week from her home in a Kansas City suburb.

“I haven’t been there since COVID hit. I decided to do NERFA (Northeast Regional Folk Alliance). I decided to look for a show venue and Laura Mann said — come here.”

There are three major cities in Othmer’s life – Kansas City, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Kansas City is where she was born and raised. Philadelphia was where her career as a singer/songwriter/keyboardist came to life. Los Angeles was her home for most of the last decade.

“I started doing Livestream shows during COVID when I was in L.A.,” said Othmer. “I did a concert every Saturday night from my front lawn, and we’d Livestream them. I also did daytime streams from the studio for listeners from different time zones. Now, it will be nice to meet new faces from concerts I did during the pandemic.”

The last time Othmer performed locally was when she toured in support of her “Sound” album, which was released on April 12, 2019.

The album was recorded in Los Angeles with composer-producer James “JT” Lundie. It was produced, recorded, engineered, arranged, mixed and mastered by Lundie at Frickin’ Awesome Studios in Los Angeles.

The album credits list – Othmer: vocals, piano, Rhodes, piano, organ, accordion, tambourine, shakers, piano strings, foot stomps and hand claps; Lundie: “Almost everything else including guitar, slide guitar, bass, charango, ukulele, synthesizers, organ, tambourine, shakers, programming, hand claps and foot stomps.”

“I did a Kickstarter campaign to get the time and space to make the album I really wanted to make,” said Othmer.

“James and I made a promise not to stop until we got what we wanted. It was a garage studio album. James has his own studio, and it’s a great studio.”

Lundie was Othmer’s one-and-only choice for the job. She pursued the goal relentlessly. And she got the man.

“I kept banging on his door,” said Othmer. “I wouldn’t leave him alone until he agreed to produce my album. We created the ‘Sound’ album together.”

Othmer not only got “the man,” she got “her man.”

“James is now my creative partner – and my husband,” said Othmer.

Last year, Othmer was one of only six artists chosen to represent the USA for Global Music Match 2021 — a selection of 78 artists from four continents who are collaborating with and sharing one another’s work

Using music to connect to people and social issues inspires Othmer’s work.  Recent projects include “Songs of September,” a 30-day online voter registration drive concert series resulting in “Seeds, Volume 1”, which is a listener-curated collection of her live piano-driven performances of songs of change, protest and hope.  “Seeds, Volume 2” was released on the spring equinox – March 20, 2021.

“James and I wanted to figure out how to make the world a better place,” said Othmer. “So, we did the voters’ rights project. We released a new song every day the month of September.”

The first CD Othmer released was “Live at the Tin Angel” CD, which was recorded in October 2002. In 2004, Othmer was nominated at the Philly Music Awards for “Best Female Entertainer”, “Best Female Vocalist” and “Best Keyboardist”. Her most recent album was “Oasis Hotel,” which was released in 2006.

Tracks from “Oasis Motel” have been featured on such shows as “Witches of East End,” “Switched at Birth,” “The Lying Game,” “Army Wives,” “Party of Five,” and “DeGrassi: The Next Generation” and earned her songwriting awards from the Billboard World Song Contest and the International Songwriting Competition.

After waiting for more than a decade for a new album, Othmer’s fans were treated to a stellar new LP release in spring 2019.

“There are 10 songs on ‘Sounds’ and they come from a variety of eras,” said Othmer. “The album’s 10 songs tell a story. It has an arc.

“Musically, the songs are very intimate, honest and immediate. The production is lush. We created a lot of soundscapes. The songs are really different. But they hang together well.”

As good as Othmer is in the studio, she is even better in stage. Othmer is known for her energetic live performances – and her powerful expressive voice.

Facing the audience while playing her keyboard, Othmer is a bundle of energy unleashed. She delivers each song with intensity and rarely stays seated for long. When the music starts, she never holds back.

“I have a lot of projects going on right now,” said Othmer. “One is a global project highlighting seven parts of the world – the music and the language. I also have a new album in the works but it’s not ready. There will be new music in the spring.

“In my live set now, I play at least a few songs from the early days. I’m very open to satisfying what my fans want to hear.”

Video link for Julia Othmer – https://youtu.be/1JdpYBMdUVM.

The show at The Living Room & Cricket Café on November 7 will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Other upcoming shows at The Living Room & Cricket Café are Kricket Comedy Night on November 8, “Your Voice, Your Night: Open Mic” hosted by Larry Ahearn on November 9, “Jazz Night with Chico Huff & Friends” on November 10, solo show by Eric Bazilian of the Hooters on November 11, and NRBQ on November 12.

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