Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Equipment Stolen In Canada

Soul-rockers' vintage theremin among missing gear in crime that echoes Sonic Youth theft earlier this month.

For the second time this month, thieves have victimized a stalwart band from New York's Lower East Side music scene.

Early Thursday morning (July 22), vintage instruments and equipment belonging to arty New York soul-rockers the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion were stolen from a rental truck in Vancouver, British Columbia. The theft echoes the heist earlier this month of two dozen customized guitars from New York avant-garde rockers Sonic Youth in Orange, Calif.

Among the items taken from the Blues Explosion was a 1962 theremin, an electronic instrument that emits eerie sounds from a console and figures prominently in the group's live show.

"Jon's really upset about the theremin," Deborah Orr, a spokesperson for Matador Records, said Thursday. "He's afraid they're going to find the stuff in a trash can somewhere."

Unlike Sonic Youth, whose equipment has yet to be spotted, the Blues Explosion found a pawn shop in Vancouver that they believe was offered the stolen gear, tour manager Dick Meredith said.

"We opened at 10:15, and two guys bring [the instruments] in," said Ducamh Nguyen, owner of the So Many Things store. "We asked them about it, but they didn't have picture ID, so we didn't take it."

Along with the theremin, thieves nabbed a drum, a sampler, numerous microphones and other equipment, Meredith said. Tour shirts also were taken, one of which was discovered later on a local homeless man.

Since forming the Blues Explosion with guitarist Judah Bauer and drummer Russell Simins in 1990, Spencer has put a twisted spin on traditional rock 'n' roll, soul music and funk. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's latest album, Acme (1998), includes the track "Magical Colors"

(RealAudio excerpt) and features dashes of hip-hop.

Long a staple of science-fiction and horror movie soundtracks, the theremin got its biggest break in pop music as the wavy noise in the Beach Boys' 1966 single "Good Vibrations"

(RealAudio excerpt of live version). Spencer's fascination with the instrument was evident on the cover of Orange (1994), which includes a line drawing of the device.

Constable Anne Drennan of the Vancouver Police Department said officers are investigating the theft of eight cases of equipment that were taken from a rental truck parked outside the Sheraton Suites Le Soleil Hotel between 1:30 and 4 a.m.

"Whoever did it probably just followed us back from the club and waited," Meredith said. On Wednesday, the band played at Vancouver's Vogue Theatre. It was the first night of a six-date West Coast tour to be followed by shows in Japan, Hawaii and Europe.

The Blues Explosion will finish the tour. Spencer already has borrowed a theremin from a friend in Seattle, Meredith said.

Sonic Youth lost their equipment in the early morning of July 4, when a rental truck containing their gear was stolen from the parking lot of a Ramada Inn. The truck later turned up empty in downtown Los Angeles.