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From Jp – Ashes to Ashes, Funk to Funky

February 13, 2016

On June 27, 1986, a month after I turned nine, the film Labyrinth was released in the theatre. I was a huge fan of the muppets, so this was a must see. Little did I know that seeing this movie would serve as a formative moment in my young musical life. I had heard David Bowie on the radio and on MTV, largely from his hits off the “Let’s Dance” album, but was never really that drawn to him. To my cloistered coal region sensibilities, he seemed like a bit of weirdo. But in Labyrinth…  Bowie was playing with muppets! And to boot, I feel in love with the music. I grew up in a house that always had musicals playing, pretty evident in a lot of my artistic work, but this was different this wasn’t a musical for my parents; this was all mine. It was new, it was fresh, it was everything I loved. The Muppets. MTV. The 80’s.

My friends and I would run around singing all the songs from the soundtrack.  I knew every lyric Bowie penned from that movie. As I grew older, I never out grew it. It just laid the base for an ever deepening appreciation of David Bowie. Throughout the years, I’ve gone through different phases of life that have brought me in touch with the different phases of Bowie’s career. Mesmerized by his endless talent, each re-introduction engrained itself in my musical voice. While I wouldn’t ever say “I’m the worlds biggest Bowie fan”, I certainly count myself amongst the millions of musicians who he has had a profound affect on and continually find inspiration in his music, theatrics and style.

Recently, Touchstone Board Vice President and owner of The Lesson Center, Lori Roberts, invited me to play some songs at an upcoming Leukemia and Lymphoma Society benefit, featuring the music of Bowie and Glenn Fry.  (You should all check it out)  What better way to honor one of my musical idols? I was allowed to pick three songs to perform. This is what I settled on:

“Fill Your Heart” – Originally written by Tiny Tim as the B side for Tiptoe Through the Tulips; covered by Bowie on Honky Dory

“Within You” – Bowie from Labyrinth (I’m imagining a distilled version something akin to the first 1:35)

“All the Young Dudes” – Written by Bowie (usually performed by Mott the Hoople)

And to back me up, I’ve enlisted some of Touchstone’s finest friends and family!

Emma Chong – Flute, backing vocals
Of course you know Emma, from… well anything that Touchstone has done in the last 8 years.

Erick Black – percussion, backing vocals
Erick has served as percussion with the Ulysses Dreams pit band and most recently in Journey from the East.

Dan Leathersich – guitar, backing vocals
Dan was a multi-instrumentalist in the Ulysses Dreams pit band, but most recently you would have heard a song he wrote “Outside the Box” song by a teddy bear, in this years Follies.

Jason Hedrington – Accordion, backing vocals
Former Touchstone Apprentice and best keyboardist I’ve ever met in my life.  You’ve seen Jason in past Follies, the Ulysses Dreams pit band, Journey from the East, and Don Quixote.

Kevin O’Boyle – Piano, banjo, backing vocals
Two-time Follies Musical Director and leader of the Ulysses Dreams pit band, you can also hear Kevin and some of the Touchstone family in his project The Sugarpills.

Anna Russell – Viola, backing vocals
One of last season’s apprentices, we got to hear Anna make music in three projects: Follies, Journey from the East, and Dear Tamaqua.

Steven Barnett – 12 string guitar, backing vocals
A featured performer in the last half-a-decade of Young Playwrights’ Festivals, Steven has also taken the stage in featured roles in A Resting Place and Journey from the East.

Christopher Shorr – Cajon, backing vocals
Last but certainly not least, Christopher has been involved in too many Touchstone projects to list, but most recently you’ve enjoyed his work as Co-Playwright of Journey from the East.

Playing Bowie music with this talented group of people is going to be an amazing experience.  I hope you’ll all come out and see us!


“Keep your ‘lectric eye on me babe.
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah!”
  • David Bowie, Moonage Daydream
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill permalink
    February 14, 2016 9:35 am

    So sad I can’t be a part of this! Sad, Sad, Sad.

  2. Wendy permalink
    March 19, 2016 3:57 am

    Huge Bowie follower for 42 yrs…Im soooo…impressed by your performance. Please connect me….I met you at the Bowie/ Frey event… and the music awards. I want to see her for best spoken word poet 2015 I would love to talk to you about something that I have a concept for

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