On Thursday, July 11, Portsmouth Music and Arts Center has teamed up with 3S Artspace to bring us Bowie and The Moon.

What is Bowie and The Moon?

In summation, the event is inspired by the 50th anniversary of two events (both occurring in July, 1969): The release of David Bowie's “Space Oddity” and Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon.

Indeed, both were, in their own ways, one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind…

Though it didn’t quite take five decades for the idea of the collaborative event to emerge from PMAC Executive Director Russ Grazier’s psyche, it didn’t come quick either.

“I had thought a lot over the years about the many ways PMAC could partner with 3S Artspace on this type of event,” he said. “Over the years, 3S has been one of our best and most consistent community partners. Our teen rock bands and Jazz Institute ensembles have performed at 3S many times. We even held our annual gala, Spring Fever for the Arts, at 3S Artspace twice. It seemed like 3S Artspace would be the ideal partner for this type of show – especially considering the multimedia aspects of the event. We knew that visuals would play a key role in the concert, and we also wanted to showcase many of the arts and culture activities that happen at PMAC and 3S every day. So we reached out to Beth Falconer at 3S and set up a meeting to pitch the idea.”

Falconer hesitated for a moment – not because she didn’t like the idea, but more because 3S needs to put some thought into “tributes,” as they’re more in the business of tackling and celebrating contemporary working arts and artisans.

“Once we talked more about the collaborative nature of the event – about the capacity to use the theme to inspire our youth programs, the modern take on the songs, the opportunity for star-gazing and dreaming, and the simple message that PMAC and 3S Artspace bring complementary opportunities to the community through the arts – I was hooked,” said Falconer. “It's hard to say what I'm most excited for. The 3S staff might say it's an excuse to feature Tang on the concessions menu. Or having my photo snapped with a life-size Bowie cutout. (I’m) pretty excited to see what the youth have been up to in our respective programs!”

Bowie and The Moon is, as suggested, a celebration of the past through the lens of myriad local and regional talent and collaborative programs.

The event commences at 4:30 p.m. upon the 3S loading dock, where live music and art displays from youth students in PMAC's Summer Jazz Workshop, Time Machine Madness art camp, and 3S Artspace's Fashion ReWERKED workshop – all of which will be the culmination of intensive work developed by students attending these respective camps and workshops leading up to the show.

“Like many passion projects, this one originated in my 15-year-old self, who listened over and over to a cassette tape of “ChangesOneBowie” in my knockoff, non-Sony "Walkman" each morning while I walked to school in the early 1980s,” said Grazier. “I've been listening to Bowie all my life and was lucky enough to see him perform live three times. In fact, Jon McCormack (who, with Billy Butler, is joining my band for a special guest appearance for this show) and I were at the same Bowie show in 1987 – about 15 to 20 years before I first saw Jon play in his band Starch. It's exciting for me that two audience members in that show (more than 30 years ago!), who had no idea their lives would later cross paths in their work as musicians, are now celebrating Bowie's music together on stage.

At 8 p.m. an assortment of acts take the mainstage at 3S to put their own unique spin on Bowie’s work. Confirmed bands include: STL GLD, fiveighthirteen, Jim Dozet Band, Rhegos, Russ Grazier Quartet with Billy Butler and Jon McCormack, and, Mother Superior and the Sliding Royales.

The latter, Mother Superior and the Sliding Royales, have reunited for this event – taking the stage for the first time since May of 2017.

“David Bowie gave us all who were listening the confidence to just be ourselves and was by far one of the coolest humans to ever walk this earth,” said Mother Superior’s Greg Glasson. “'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust' was the first album I had to replace as a kid from attempting to figure out the guitar line on the end of 'Hang On to Yourself.' I still to this day never learned it correctly. That particular song just resonated to me as a youngling. Revisiting his earlier catalog 35 years later it is hard to grasp the diversity of material that came from one mind over a 45-year career. When Russ proposed the idea to get Mother Superior together for a set of Bowie, it was an immediate yes from everyone. It's a privilege to be part of a show celebrating the music of rock's definitive chameleon.”

Musician Eric Klaxton, who helped shape the bill for the evening, strategically focused on a diverse lineup – in part to help represent the diverse musical underpinnings that are associated with Bowie’s career – he never hung his hat on any one particular genre or style, but rather, kept things relatively open ended to help his expansion as an artist.

“David Bowie, much like space travel, was larger than life and both deserve to be remembered and celebrated,” said Klaxton. “His whole image and artistic output was always pushing the boundaries of cultural aesthetics, just as space travel is literally pushing the boundaries of human achievement and exploration. It’s no surprise that the theme of space is prevalent throughout the body of Bowie’s work. I’m thrilled that this event will be a multimedia affair. One medium tends to enhance the next until the whole experience is elevated. I’m very excited to see the visual spectacle that will unfold throughout the course of the evening.”

Bowie and The Moon has a bit of something for everyone. From the performances to the extracurricular activities that include face painting (I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want to get down with a Bowie-esque makeover intact, right?), stargazing (literally), and other interactive engagements. It’s equal parts celebration and exploration. Dull moments will simply not exist.

“This concert has provided me with a great opportunity to really dive in and do my homework on Bowie’s music,” said Mike Walsh. “I’m performing with four different groups throughout the night, yet I’m largely unfamiliar with Bowie’s entire catalog of music. I’d say I’m one of the musicians in this concert that is the least familiar with Bowie ... well, aside from his radio hits.

"I have no real good excuse for this other than Bowie is one of those major artists that I just haven’t listened to yet. By playing with a few groups for this concert I’m getting the opportunity to play music from each era of Bowie’s music. What I admire most of this music is how much it evolves and changes styles drastically through the years yet it is all still uniquely and undeniably David Bowie," Walsh said.

Don’t be shy. Uncap that hair gel, dress up in that spacesuit you long ago stashed in the depths of the attic, pack your stardust, keep an open mind, and be ready to be mesmerized.

“In a way, I've been celebrating Bowie's music my entire life,” said Grazier. “I'm excited to hear that Beth and her team at 3S are considering including Tang as one of the many refreshments at the big show. They are a creative crew and the idea has grown and flourished with the addition of their energy. In our early conversations, we did talk a lot about the culture shift 50 years ago, in many ways led by the mind-expanding event of the moon landing. At that moment, innovation in the arts, technology, and even in culture seemed to kick into overdrive and I'm not sure it's slowed a bit to this day. That's part of what makes this collaboration so exciting. It's so much more than the music that's being celebrated.”

Go & Do

What: Bowie and The Moon: Prepare For Takeoff

When: 4:30 to 6 p.m., Thursday, July 11

Where: Loading Dock, 3S Artspace, 319 Vaughan St., Portsmouth

Admission: Free and open to the public, all ages

More info: Visit www.3Sarts.org


What: Bowie and The Moon: Main Moon Landing Event

When: 8 p.m., Thursday, July 11

Where: 3S Artspace, 319 Vaughan St., Portsmouth

Tickets: $20 for 3S members and PMAC students; $25 for general admission; 21-plus

More info: Visit www.3Sarts.org