Jonnie Spaceman



Shopping at Bazaar Bizarre: Not just a mall world after all

When the vendors at the holiday bazaar bear such names as Wicked Cliché, Damned Dollies, and Art School Dropout, mall Muzak seasonal classics just won't do. Unless, of course, they're wrapped in novelty and beribboned with irony. ''Silver Bells" performed on a theremin -- played by moving one's hand between two electrodes -- by Jonnie Spaceman proved the point earlier this month at the Bazaar Bizarre held at the Boston Center for the Arts. His haunting -- and at times hilarious -- renditions drew a crowd to the stage in front of 70-plus tables of indie crafts.

''I've heard of the theremin, but I never saw one," said Linda May Ellis, 52, a well-tattooed librarian who took a break from browsing for a closer look at the Russian-born instrument that requires no touch, literally. ''It sounds like Martian music," said Ellis. ''I love it!"

Sporting red Chuck Taylors and a look of intense concentration, Jonnie Spaceman played without cracking a smile. The 41-year-old Somerville musician, who offstage answers to Jon Bernhardt, deftly conducted the invisible field around two antennae as he segued from ''Silver Bells" to a sui generis cover of Nirvana's ''Smells Like Teen Spirit." Alternating Christmas songs and alt-rock classics, he delighted the hundreds in attendance. Well, not all of them.

''I want to blow it up," said Kim Wright, 33, a Harvard Law School employee. ''At first it was amusing, but now it just sounds like a blender."

Rendering the familiar unfamiliar was the order of the day at the tables and on the stage.

''This is not your grandmother's mall," said Stacie Slotnick, 33, who has orchestrated the music for the past two bazaars. ''This is not your mother's mall -- unless you have one of those really cool moms."