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| 2 January 2017 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

The Mind Warp Pavilion celebration of the life & times of David Bowie, to be held on Saturday, 7 January – which would have been The Starman’s 70th birthday, and is three days before the first anniversary of his death – at Gate One Theatre, Claremont Showgrounds, Perth, is set to feature over 40 musicians and artists, interpreting songs from across Bowie’s stellar career.

CLICK HERE to read about the background of the show in an article I wrote for AROUND THE SOUND (nee The Wall Of Sound). In addition, I asked some of the musos involved about their connection to the man who was Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, Major Tom, Aladdin Sane, The Goblin King, and so much more.

What is it about David Bowie that made you want to be a part of this event?

STEVE PARKIN (Autopilot, Newport record Club): David Bowie is my all-time hero. My favourite artist, my favourite singer. Add to that the amazing WA musicians and singers involved, plus the fact we’re raising money for cancer research and it was a no-brainer!

TANAYA HARPER (Bells Rapids): Bowie is an inspirational music icon for all musicians. Whether it be his unique arrangements, vocal ability, theatrics, individuality and aura, industry knowledge or his passion for creative expression in general, there’s no reason why being a part of this event wouldn’t be an absolute honour for any musician.

NICK TURNER (The Rogues, Tingley-Turner): He was at the core of my discovery in my early teens of music that could be “different”, and hence, I could be different too. And as I grew up I was (and remain) staggered by how he could adapt and change and create stuff no one else could come close to, again and again.
He was unique, and to be part of a celebration of his creativity and genius is very special.
Which era of Bowie’s work moved you the most – and how did that influence you as an artist?

STEVE PARKIN: That’s a very, very hard question Shane. If I have to answer, I guess it has to be Hunky Dory. It wasn’t the first Bowie album I got into or discovered. I actually came to that album later on. In 2004/2005 when I was writing and recording my first solo LP Sandytown, it was a definite influence. It gave me the bravery to be different, put songs together with unexpected and very “non-pop” chord changes, be free lyrically and melodically. Definite influence.

TANAYA HARPER: Because I didn’t grow up with Bowie albums playing in the house, I have to say that his later works (mid 70s onwards) were most influential for me. This might simply be due to the lack of exposure during my childhood, because all the hard-core Bowie fan friends of mine are completely in love with his Ziggy days. But Let’s Dance honestly has to be in my top 10 songs of all time. It’s clean, it’s simple, but it’s extremely infectious.

NICK TURNER: Tough one! The whole era of constant metamorphosis from Space Oddity to Scary Monsters is my “core” Bowie. Heroes is my top studio recording listening ever, it’s almost 40 years old and is still crazy edgy and brilliant and sweeps you along in complete immersion. Album? Very difficult! Scary Monsters. The congruence of song writing, collaboration and production all just line up. Magnificent. His influence on me as an artist is to write and perform the song that is IN you, believe in it and make it work, not the one you (or others) THINK you should be writing.

How do you approach interpreting a song from such an influential chameleon-like artist?

STEVE PARKIN: I actually think Bowie is an easy artist to interpret! That sounds very arrogant, but I’ll explain: Bowie himself was such a chameleon, even with his own material, and especially with other artists’ material (see: Pin Ups!) so I think you can feel free to go crazy with your take on Bowie’s songs, it’s what he would have wanted! Conversely, you cover a Beatles song or Stones, or even You Am I or, say, Kim Salmon – you can still interpret your own version, but they are so perfectly idiosyncratic, I think the shadow of the original looms a lot larger. Also, Bowie was white soul, blue-eyed soul. He’s a singer’s singer. The emotion and range in his voice is a challenge and a clarion call.

TANAYA HARPER: I deliberately chose not to alter the song Golden Years from its origins. It’s a funky song that speaks a universal message of being present, enjoying the now for all that it is. I think the best way you can interpret any song, particularly that of such a prolific artist is simply to understand the message being communicated (as you individually interpret it) and re-tell that story with conviction and respect.

NICK TURNER: Very carefully! Frankly, I cover only a handful of Bowie songs – if you’re gonna do one, do it justice! But for the few I DO cover it’s a delicate balance of “owning” it and staying true to the original. I’ve worked on many – mostly ‘cos I love them, not necessarily to perform – and “left them in the living room” ‘cos they didn’t bring anything new to the song. My cover for the tribute is Amsterdam, which I busked for decades across Europe and America, and which I feel I bring something extra and different to.
What do you feel is Bowie’s greatest legacy?

NICK TURNER: That he could have stayed in a groove and milked it comfortably and that he never ever did. I can’t think of any other artist that has taken such chances with such apparent effortlessness to produce album after album of stuff that STILL jumps out of the speakers at you now.

The transition from Diamond Dogs to Young Americans was probably his biggest leap. And frankly I didn’t get it at the time, but now Young Americans and Fame are among my favourite songs (and of course I still love Diamond Dogs!). How he could create something so different and iconic in so short a time while touring so hard is testament to his genius. And an example to all of us trying to create wonderful music and songs, that… well, you really can do ANYTHING… if you’re David Bowie, anyways! Thank you David.

TANAYA HARPER: Hmm. I feel if not his music, then it’s actually all the interviews with Bowie. He had so much wisdom to impart to those who wished to listen and learn about creativity and individuality from this absolute genius. He almost lives with a guru status in my mind. He often spoke of being true to yourself, which in essence is exactly why one would embark on creative expression in every sense of the word. A classic example is, “I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I’m working for me.”

STEVE PARKIN: His legacy is one of artistic fearlessness and experimentation. His legacy is to fly the flag for the outsider, the “other”, the “queer”, the fringes of society and culture and encourage those afraid of ridicule or persecution in any walk of life to stand tall. I’ve reeled out his quotes quite a lot since the great man passed. I guess he’s been on my mind, and his voice has been in my head pretty much constantly since January.

I’ll end with these two Bowie quotes which are my favourites and, I think, sum up the legacy left by David Jones quite well…

“The only real failure is trying to second-guess the taste of an audience. Nothing comes out of that except a kind of inward humiliation.”

And this one slays me: Bowie’s final words to his friend Gary Odlman just before he died. Explains why THIS particular 43-year-old songwriter, this getting-long-in-the-tooth, still-no-real-job-or-mortgage-or-kids dreamer, this local singer getting better and better and better (but balder), the now-referred-to-in-interviews-and-articles-as “Perth industry stalwart” or “veteran WA musician”, kooky random bipolar dude called Steve Parkin, for some unfathomably insane reason, keeps on making music. And resisting that counter job at Bed Shed. Thanks Bowie.

”Music has given me over 40 years of extraordinary experiences. I can’t say that life’s pains or more tragic episodes have been diminished because of it, but it has allowed me so many moments of companionship when I have been lonely and sublime means of communications when I have wanted to touch people. It has been my doorway of perception and the house that I live in.’”



Gate One Theatre (Formerly Woolshed Pavilion) – Claremont Showgrounds

Saturday, 7 January, 2016 

Tickets – Oztix

Facebook event


Category: Articles, Interviews

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