Honoring David Bowie at this summer’s BandHouse Gigs tribute concert was a no-brainer. BandHouse Gigs, a not-for-profit collective primarily of area musicians, holds two shows a year honoring musicians who are either deceased or aren’t really performing any more. When Bowie died of liver cancer in January at age 69, BandHouse producers decided to tribute him because he appeals to so many people, said BandHouse co-founder Ron Newmyer.
Bowie was known for his theatrics—think of his 1970s alter ego Ziggy Stardust—and had an ever-changing style of music. The innovative artist was essential to several genres, most notably glam rock.
“He’s just monstrous in his impact,” Newmyer said.
The Aug. 13 show at the Fillmore Silver Spring will include more than 50 local performers and feature songs spanning Bowie’s five-decade career.
“Bowie had so many good songs over a 50-year-long career,” Newmyer said.
That made it easy to come up with a set list—in fact, it was almost hard to pare it down, Newmyer said. The show will feature 30 songs and include an intermission. There will be some well-known tunes, like “Modern Love,” and some lesser-known songs. The show will also include music from later in Bowie’s career, including songs from “Blackstar,” his 26th and final album, which was released two days before his death.
BandHouse producers will mix and match artists from a variety of genres to perform the different songs, and they’ll even participate in a few themselves. Newmyer said he’ll play bass on a couple of numbers, co-founder Chuck Sullivan will play drums and producer Greg Hardin will play bass on a couple of tunes.
Bowie featured dancers on some shows and that’s something BandHouse wanted to properly tribute, Newmyer said. So, for the first time, BandHouse is including a dance group in its show.
Bowen McCauley Dance, an Arlington-based contemporary dance company that rehearses at the Maryland Youth Ballet in downtown Silver Spring, will perform as back-up dancers during three numbers: “Fashion,” from the 1980 album “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”; “Let’s Dance,” off Bowie’s 1983 album of the same name; and “Lazarus,” from “Blackstar.”
“I’m excited to be asked and to be a part of it,” said Lucy Bowen McCauley.
Bowen McCauley, a choreographer and artistic director, is no stranger to the rock scene. She’s done a lot of work with local rock group Tone, and also performed “Lucy’s Local Playlist,” a dance performance set to music by Washington, D.C.-area bands. The decision to perform with BandHouse was a logical one, she said. “It seemed like the right match.”
The performance will be fun and there’ll be some makeup and costuming, she said. Bowen McCauley is choreographing the dances and will perform with dance company member Dustin Kimball. Bowen McCauley said to honor Bowie, she’ll involve some of his dance moves creatively in her choreography to “capture his essence and what the song is about.”
“I’m semi-retired, but it seems for Bowie, I’ll step up,” she said.
The show will feature an “exciting and eclectic” group of artists, Newmyer said. Some BandHouse veterans, like songwriter and vocalist Margot MacDonald, and singer Martha Hull will perform. Other artists will make their BandHouse debut, like indie rock band Young Rapids and rock band Johnny Fantastic.
“We always go to showcase a wide variety of the amazing amount of talent in the D.C. area,” Newmyer said.
This is BandHouse Gigs’ 24th show. Previous tributes have honored artists including Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman and Stevie Wonder. The organization was founded in 2004 after Newmyer and Sullivan produced a Nils Lofgren tribute—Lofgren, a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band grew up in Garrett Park—with several area local artists as part of the Washington Timeline concert series held by the Washington Area Music Association and Strathmore.
“It seemed like too good of a thing to do just once,” Newmyer said.
A BandHouse Gigs Tribute to David Bowie will be held 7:30 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Fillmore Silver Spring. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. It’s a seated show. An acoustic pre-show will begin at 6 p.m. in the Vertigo Lounge. Buy tickets at www.fillmoresilverspring.com.