It’s been nearly three months since Bowie and the Moon. If you were at the show, you understand the amount of work, artistry, and creativity that went into the event – thank you for being a part of it. If you missed the show, there are some links below to video that was captured at the event. It’s all video from handheld smartphones, so it’s far from the experience of being there, but these clips serve as a modest documentation of an event that was very special to all involved.

Mother Superior and the Sliding Royales! Reunited! #bowieandthemoon

Posted by Portsmouth Music and Arts Center on Thursday, July 11, 2019

It was interesting to see/hear how each band approached Bowie’s music. Both my band and Mother Superior were honoring the original music, with faithful interpretations that were not exact reproduction of the originals (far from it), but came the closest to sounding like Bowie. Jim Dozet’s band did exactly what he promised: taking the source material and making it their own. The audience could hear the entirety of each song in their versions, but they were stylistically Jim’s, and in some ways dramatically different than Bowie’s original versions. Still, the audience sang along, knowing all the words to the songs – which in some cases surprised me. I had no idea how many people knew the lyrics to the Labyrinth soundtrack. And while that was a shock for me, it was no surprise that the audience sang along with Jim on Let’s Dance, China Girl, and Ashes to Ashes.

Here is another great video from last nights show! See if your recognize the Bowie tunes performed by the Jim Dozet Music Band! #bowieandthemoon

Posted by Portsmouth Music and Arts Center on Friday, July 12, 2019

Rhegos and fiveighthirteen dissected the music and and presented versions that defamiliarized the songs for the audience. You could hear references popping out of the music throughout, but the sonic explorations were in many ways wholly original re-imaginings of the source music.

Fiveighthirteen! #bowieandthemoon

Posted by Portsmouth Music and Arts Center on Thursday, July 11, 2019

STL GLD took a completely different approach. They brought it on with their original music that was bookmarked by video and audio tracks of Bowie talking about his work, instrumental fragments from the early Bowie albums sampled and used as launching pads for their own repertoire. The reveled in the spirit of Bowie, and it came through during their set in the energy of the audience throughout.

STL GLD #bowieandthemoon

Posted by Portsmouth Music and Arts Center on Thursday, July 11, 2019

I’d like to say that rather than jumping right in to writing the final blog post in this 3-part series, I took time to reflect and was being thoughtful in my response. But the reality is we jumped out of the Bowie show on July 11th right into PMAC summer camp performances, art shows, and preparing for the new school year. And while there wasn’t much time for thoughtful reflection, I have spent a lot of time over the past three months thinking about the show; what it meant for me, the audience, and the community.

The day was much more than the concert. We kicked it off with a mini-festival for families, where students from 3S Artspace’s Fashion ReWerked summer camp displayed their projects, PMAC Time Machine Madness campers showed their artwork, PMAC Summer Jazz Workshop youth musicians performed for the attendees, including a jazz version of Space Oddity, and an interactive lunar art project was led by PMAC teaching artist Sarah Sheffield.

The children who participated got to experience music and art in a variety of different ways. It was a kinetic experience, with hands-on activities, a lot of movement through the space, and connections to science and space exploration – topics of fascination for Bowie.

Teen Jazz Camp! Live!

Posted by Portsmouth Music and Arts Center on Thursday, July 11, 2019

The children who participated got to experience music and art in a variety of different ways. It was a kinetic experience, with hands-on activities, a lot of movement through the space, and connections to science and space exploration – topics of fascination for Bowie.

The concert attendees got much of the same, not only through the music, but also via the kaleidoscopic visuals designed by PMAC teaching artist Catherine Stewart, projected on the stage screen throughout the concert. Our plans of stargazing were thwarted by the weather – we had to move everything indoors due to rain and overcast skies, including the family portion of the afternoon, which was originally intended to take place outside. But everyone involved adapted to the quickly evolving situation, and the end result was a day long festival that exceeded expectations.

Over the past three months, as the world has celebrated anniversary after anniversary, I’ve begun to truly appreciate how dramatic and important a year 1969 was. For me it all kicked off with the anniversary of the release of Space Oddity, which this event celebrated exactly 50 years later. And then, of course, the moon landing commemoration on July 20th. But we also recognized the fiftieth anniversary of the Woodstock music festival. We saw 50 years pass since the famous Abbey Road photo of The Beatles, as well as the 50th anniversary of the release of the album of the same name, just last week. And though Let It Be would be the final Beatles album, much of Let It Be was recorded prior to the Abbey Road sessions; fifty years ago the world was witnessing the apex of the career of this important band, just as Bowie’s career was launching.

For me, Bowie and the Moon was more than a celebration or commemoration. It reminded us that being creative means not playing it safe. That every cultural shift is accompanied by artists who seek to escape the norms of their time. That there are connections everywhere, in music, science, fashion, art, literature, and so on. That each generation can break new ground artistically and socially, without completely discarding all that came before them.

Thank you for coming along for the ride. My band’s set is below – the music starts at 7:15 after introductions and words of gratitude to our sponsors. Which, by the way, this event could not have happened without their support. Many thanks to Paul and Jessica McKeon, Brandartica, 3S Artspace, and the team at PMAC. We couldn’t have “Bowied” our way to the moon and back without you. – Russ Grazier, PMAC CEO and co-founder

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