Friends, fellow players, held event for drummer LP of The Molly Ringwald Project two days before his death

By Pamela Dozois

Contributing Writer

Lost Chord Guitars in Solvang held a tribute benefit for local musician and drummer with The Molly Ringwald Project, LP (Lasse Plum Bertelsen), on Wednesday night, Dec. 27. He had been battling stage 4 prostate cancer since he was diagnosed in May of 2019. 

Sadly, LP passed away on Friday, Dec. 29, at Serenity House in Santa Barbara, at the age of 52, just two days after he was able to view the concert given for him on YouTube. 

“To know Lasse is to love him, and we’re now wanting to demonstrate our love to him by helping him in any way we can during this challenging time,” said Sarah Sheppard, LP’s stepdaughter, and organizer of the GoFundMe page started for his benefit.

Chris Pelonis, owner of Lost Chord Guitars, opened the benefit for local drummer LP by singing two songs: “I Can Only Imagine” and “I Will Trust in You.” LP was able to view the event remotely on YouTube. Photo by Devyn Marseilles

The Central Coast music community came out in force to pay tribute to their friend and fellow artist in his time of need.

The evening’s music event was arranged by Chris Pelonis, the owner of Lost Chord Guitars, and also a long-time friend and fellow musician of LP. But Pelonis said the event was spearheaded by Carly Farmer and Ben Jordan, who took care of all the details involved in putting on the concert. 

More than 25 musicians of all genres performed throughout the evening paying tribute to LP. The small, acoustically perfect room at Lost Chords Guitars was filled to capacity with people standing shoulder to shoulder to hear the various performances and send love and support to LP, who was linked up to the livestreamed event on YouTube. LP was able to enjoy the event along with the many people who attended. 

The event can still be seen on the YouTube channel @chrispelonis. 

The evening began with a presentation of Mintang (John) Fitzpatrick’s Infinite Grapelings accompanied by pianist Matt McCarrin, artist in residence at Shepherd of the Valley Church, in the reception area where concert attendees gathered before the event to enjoy a glass of wine.

When all was set on stage, Pelonis opened the event by singing two songs, “I Can Only Imagine” and “I Will Trust in You,” followed by Teresa Pico on guitar and the T-Bone Ramblers. The merriment continued with a string of appearances by LP’s friends and musicians who had played with him over the years, including The Molly Ringwald Project, Lesley Lembo, Gary Foshee, Tony Martinez, Liz Brumfield, and more. His 19-year-old son, Lane, was also in attendance.

The number of people who attended the event could not be estimated because there was standing room only throughout the evening, which wrapped up by 11 p.m.

“When we found out about LP’s problem, Carly Farmer, my manager, approached me to put on an event for LP,” Pelonis said. “That was several months ago and at that time a lot of people were trying to put something together in a larger venue than mine, but none of them came to fruition. So, a couple of weeks ago Carly asked me again to do something. I was on tour in Hawaii, so Carly spearheaded the entire event. Carly and Ben Jordan took care of all the details and I provided the venue and the stage.”

Fitzpatrick was one of many moved by the event.

“What impressed me most was the outpouring of love and support from the Central Coast music community and of course our Valley,” he said. “The highlight for me was when LP FaceTimed us to say how much he was enjoying the event and how much he loved all of us. When we saw him and heard his voice, the mood in the room just shifted. It transformed from a tribute to a thoroughly joyous celebration … a beautiful reminder of what communal love and support means to each of us. 

“First and foremost, I know that LP’s Christian faith was really strong. I went to visit him on Thursday, Dec. 28, at hospice and played him a song that I had written for him called ‘There is a Place.’ He joined me, playing percussion on his body. When I was finished he asked me to play it again, which I did. In typical LP style, he just wanted to get it right. He was funny and happy when I was there, and deep for sure. He made some jokes. He sadly passed away the following day, but he did get to see the tribute.”

LP leaves behind his wife of 25 years, Stacey. He was a beloved husband, father, brother, son, uncle, and Papa. 

“It was beautiful to see our community come together for LP. Small towns are just that way,” said Pelonis.

To further contribute to LP’s family, visit Venmo@Stacey-Bertelsen.