Julia Othmer’s smoky voice and thought-provoking musical elements conjure images of her writing lyrics on a crumpled cocktail napkin by the light of an old neon jukebox, in her favorite after-hours joint.
Friends and fans – both old and new – will make Saturday night at the Brew Pub Stage special for Othmer, who has rich local ties in the metro area, including Independence and the Englewood Arts District.
Othmer, who is putting the finishing touches on her new album “Sound,” will be performing with Kansas City musicians Tim Braun (guitar), Johnny Hamil (bass) and John Whitaker (drums) on stage behind the Pharaoh Theater at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the 44th annual Santa-Cali-Gon Festival on the historic Independence Square.
“I am so excited to be performing in Independence Saturday,” Othmer said by phone, as she is spending the week with her parents in Parkville. “I absolutely love getting back home, and I have so many good friends in Independence.”
Those friends include movers and shakers in the art and philanthropic arena like Tammy Parsons and Darlene Carpenter from B-Vogue Salon and Art Gallery and Russ Lawrence from Secret Garden in Englewood.
“It’s going to be like a homecoming for me,” said Othmer, whose songs have been featured on television programs like "Witches of East End," "Switched at Birth," "The Lying Game," "Army Wives," "Party of Five," or "DeGrassi: The Next Generation."
“We’re going to play some new music, from our new album ‘Sound,’ some familiar music to our longtime fans and a few covers to keep it lively!”
Radiance and gusto emanate from the phone as she talks about her passions – and they are many.
“I know it’s a cliché, but none of us know how long we have here on earth, so why not make the most of every minute?” she asked, he voice sparkling and cracking with energy. “I love what I do, and I want people in the audience, or people who listen to my music, enjoy it, too.
“Whether I’m playing in someone’s living room or playing at the Brew Pub Stage on Saturday, I want everyone to have a good time – including me!”
For the past decade, Othmer’s talents have been showcased in a wide variety of venues, ranging from performing alongside Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris, Heart and Ingrid Michaelson on the Lilith Fair Tour, to releasing her critically acclaimed album “Oasis Motel.”
She was born in Kentucky and grew up in Kansas City. When she was 17, Othmer moved to New York City to go to school.
After spending a short time in Boston, she returned to Kansas City. Then she made moves to San Francisco and Philadelphia, and now calls Los Angeles home.
“It’s kind of funny,” she confessed. “Weather is never really a concern in LA, but I’ve been checking the weather for Saturday night. While I enjoyed the rain we had this week, I’m pleased that it looks like we’re going to have a nice, cool, dry Saturday night at Santa-Cali-Gon.”
For the type of fans who would crawl through broken glass to watch their favorite hometown performer, Othmer promises the type of evening that is spent with good friends, good drinks and unforgettable musical tales.
Her first album, “Oasis Motel,” highlights her writing skills and incredible voice on tunes that range from the haunting “Hold Me Back,” to the upbeat “Hey Hey.”
“I’m really proud of that album as it’s a very accurate picture of where I was when it was recorded,” Othmer said. “The musicians who came together went above and beyond… we recorded the main instrumental tracks in only three days and we all met the morning of the first day. I literally had a stack of songs and we kept choosing songs off of the top.
“Everyone was truly professional and it brought me out to live in LA. Now I am really looking forward to my next studio project. It’s exciting to bring new material out and also to show what I’ve been up to and where I am now. I’ve experienced a lot of musical transformation since the ‘Oasis Motel’ and I am excited to share that.”
While no exact date has been determined, “Sound” will be out this fall, and it was funded via a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Fans who donated received items ranging from photos and handwritten lyrics to items Othmer knitted while completing this new labor of love.
“I have such wonderful fans,” Othmer said. “I don’t know where I’d be without them. You know, I never sit down with the intentions of writing a hit song. There are just times when I hear this little voice – and my father is a psychiatrist and he tells me I’m not crazy – and I listen to that little voice and I just go with it.
“And that’s how the creative process oftentimes starts with me. It might sound a little funny, but it works.”
And it’s been working for more than a decade of passion, fun, creativity and joy that she is eager to share with fans old and new Saturday night at Santa-Cali-Gon.
To find out more about Othmer and her music, go to www.juliaothmer.com.