Homer musician Tyler Munns has always been an avid David Bowie fan. So when the pop musician’s album “Blackstar” was released Jan. 8, Munns didn’t waste any time listening to it.
He wasn’t disappointed.
“It was so much more challenging and innovative than any artists in their prime right now. It was just kind of mind blowing to me,” says Munns.
Two days after the album’s release, the 69-year-old Bowie was dead of cancer.
His death on the heels of the album’s release had a profound effect on Munns.
“When you knew he was dying the whole time he was making the album, I can’t put into words what level of generosity that is. He didn’t have to release an album at all. … My first instinct was I have to do a tribute show for him.”
He immediately started planning.
The result is “A Solitary Candle: The Music of David Bowie.” The show happens at 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Alice’s Champagne Palace.Both shows are already sold out. The performance will be repeated May 14 at TapRoot in Anchorage.
Those lucky enough to get tickets should prepare to be amazed.
The three-hour performance covers more than four decades — 47 years — of Bowie’s compositions and includes 30-plus songs and 17 Homer musicians. There will be one intermission.
“It is a meticulously crafted, heartfelt, beautiful show for one of the absolute most important artists in pop music history,” says Munns, the musical director of the show, lead singer and guitar player.
The core band of the performance is The Homo Superior, seven of Homer’s most well-known musicians, joined by nine string, horn and flute players. The band was formerly known as The Mother Superior and performed the Beatles’ White Album show to a sold-out crowd at TapRoot in 2014.
The core band has spent nearly four months preparing and rehearsing for this weekend.
“We have paid strict attention to every detail that we possibly could, knowing all these songs were recorded in a studio. … We have done our best to recreate every sound,” says John Bushell, aka Johnny B., who plays the piano and keyboards in the show.
What Munns and Bushell don’t share is that they’ve spent countless hours scoring the music for the performance, says Megan Murphy, who sings and plays percussion and keyboards in the show. As a performer in both the White Album and the Bowie tribute, that’s a big difference in the shows and adds another layer of complexity to this performance.
“The attention to the minutia of everyone’s parts impressed the heck out of me,” says Murphy.
If you’ve been a David Bowie fan, you won’t be disappointed in the show. And if you think you might not really know Bowie’s work, you’ll still recognize about half the songs, says Bushell.
“It’s a show that you can listen to the musicianship. You can dance to it. It covers the gamut of styles that can be involved with rock music,” he says.
While Murphy was familiar with the artist and his music prior to “A Solitary Candle” rehearsals, she says the performance has given her a far deeper appreciation for the man and his music.
Bowie is known for his eclectic, ground-breaking style.
“Where before, artists and groups either evolved their musical style and appearance or remained unchanging, David Bowie seemed to be in permanent revolution.
“He defied any label. Music, fashion, sexuality: all were Bowie’s playthings. He was truly an artistic chameleon,” wrote BBC in Bowie’s obituary on Jan. 11 of this year.
Bowie released his first single in 1964 and his first album three years later. He was a prolific musician — his work includes 27 studio albums, nine live albums, 59 music videos and 121 singles.
“A Solitary Candle” inspires on two fronts, Munns, Bushell and Murphy agree.
There’s Bowie’s work, which, as Munns says, is beautiful enough.
But, then, there’s the community effort of musicians coming together to pay tribute to one of pop music’s finest composers. That may be as inspiring as Bowie’s music.
For Bushell, the favorite part of the tribute is “playing some quality rock and roll with great musicians from my community. These are not three-chord rock and roll songs. There’s jazz, classical … there’s so much involved with this music that it makes it a challenge. And I love that.”
Those in the show think you will too.
Lori Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Homo Superior Presents
A Solitary Candle
The Music of David Bowie
What: A tribute to pop musician David Bowie,
who died Jan. 10, 2016, at age 69; two days earlier, Bowie’s album Blackstar had been released
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Alice’s Champagne Palace
The Homo Superior:
Johnny B. – piano, keyboards
Steve Collins – guitar, vocals
Jennifer King – bass, violin
Ian McCullough – drums
Tyler Munns – vocals, guitar , musical director
Megan Murphy – percussion, vocals, keyboards
Dylan Smith – bass, vocals
The band is joined by:
Guitar: Rudy Multz
Strings: Daniel Perry, Trina Uvaas, Cathy Stingley,
Tom Klinker, Bobby Creamer and Lisa Schallock
Horns: Jon Sharp and Amy Johnson
Flute: Mary Langham