Jonathan Richman Impostor Scams Olympia Music Festival

Matt Cowan/Getty Images

Jonathan Richman Impostor Scams Olympia Music Festival

Matt Cowan/Getty Images

Jonathan Richman, the former Modern Lovers frontman, is a punk and indie legend with a huge cult fanbase, but he’s maybe not the first person you’d expect to hear about someone impersonating for money. But nobody, it turns out, is safe from the scammers. This past weekend, Jonathan Richman was on the bill for LoveOly Summerfest, a festival in Olympia, Washington. It would’ve been Richman’s first show since the pandemic started. But just before the show was set to happen, as Rolling Stone reports, organizers learned that Richman and his managers had never heard anything about the show. They’d been dealing with someone else entirely.

Richman was announced to play LoveOly Summerfest this past Saturday. On Friday, Mark “Markly” Morrison, a DJ for the Evergreen State College radio station KAOS, reached out to Richman’s publicist to try to set up an interview. The Olympian reports that Richman and his publicist knew nothing about the show before they got Morrison’s email. Instead, the Olympia Film Society, the group who organized the festival, had been fooled by someone who had called them, pretending to be Richman.

In a press release, Olympia Film Society executive director Audrey Henley says, “We are shocked that this happened. We’ve been booking bands for the past 30 years, and this is a first for us. We hope this does not in any way hurt our relationship with the real Jonathan Richman and that he will return to Olympia soon.”

In that same press release, Richman himself made a statement:

Hello everyone! This is the real Jonathan Richman! I just heard of your wonderful festival and sounds like an ideal place for me to play someday. 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. 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!

Olympia band Oh, Rose, who’d been booked to open for Richman, ended up headlining instead. Olympia police are reportedly investigating the scam. I would be very interested in hearing a Jonathan Richman song about this whole thing.

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