While seemingly every talented musician on earth (and Lady Gaga, too) was lining up to pay tribute to David Bowie in the weeks after his death Jan. 10, the guy who led the popular Bowie tribute concerts at First Avenue for 11 years was on the fence about doing it again.
“When everybody starts doing tributes, they tend to get watered-down, and I didn’t want ours to be in the same boat,” said local pop/rock veJohn Eller, the bandleader for the First Ave tributes — which had been called off in 2015 because of the passing of the shows’ longtime drummer, Tommy Alsides.
Thankfully, Eller had a ch-ch-change of heart about this year’s installment: “We’re doing the show for the same reason we’ve always done it: because we love his music, not because he died.”
Thus brings us “Rock for Pussy XII: A Tribute to David Bowie,” happening Friday and so named because it doubles as a benefit for Feline Rescue.
Eller will cover a wide range of the Bowie canon — particularly the ’70s-era tunes — with a cast of local all-star musicians, including guest singers such as Chan Poling, Jeremy Messersmith, Lori Barbero, Maria Isa, Venus DeMars, Chris “Little Man” Perricelli, Jayanthi Kyle and the Prairie Fire Lady Choir.
He and other participants contemplated covering something off the new record, “Blackstar,” but decided, “It’s so personal and so like a deathbed confessional, it wouldn’t seem right.”
Local radio queenpin and Bowie fanatic Mary Lucia — who co-hosts the show with her former 89.3 the Current co-worker David Campbell — was also a bit wary about doing the tribute when first asked about it the day of the singer’s death.
“I was walking into walls and had no idea if I could pull [it] off, let alone could I get dressed and go to work,” she said. After hearing the collective mourning from listeners and friends all that day, though, “It was all too obvious we had to do the show,” she said.
Noting the omnipresent loss of another of rock’s other great oddities in the interim, Lucia added, “We’re grieving Prince with the same passion and sadness — the shared wonder of Prince and Bowie both being shape-shifting icons whose talent should make us take stock of our good fortune as music fans.”
That’s a good way to look at both deaths: Be happy we were alive when they were.
Fresh off his wave-riding Soundset appearance, Prof has announced his third annual outdoor bash at Cabooze Plaza: Sept. 10 with Grieves, Hopsin, DJ Tiiiiiiiiiip and more. Tickets go on sale Friday at noon, and will likely sell out again ($25, eTix.com). … Prof’s label Rhymesayers has signed only the second woman solo artist in its 20-year run, Atlanta rapper Sa-Roc. She just dropped a new mixtape available for free, “Metamorpheus,” and is working on her first album. …
Duluth rocker Mary Bue is opening her Imbue Yoga Studio in Minneapolis with a party Saturday that will predictably include a lot of musicians, including herself, Katy Vernon and Dirty Knobs (3-8 p.m., 2223 E. 35th St.). … A harmonious, ’60s-flavored pop/rock trio that cut out for Portland, Ore., a few years ago, the Lower 48 returns Friday for an Icehouse gig touting their latest album, “Hot Fool” (11 p.m., $8). They’re playing with another exiled local fave, Kid Dakota. …
From last week’s purple- and paisley-tinted NPG celebrations to red-velvet smoking jackets this weekend, the Parkway Theater will host the 20th anniversary bash of vintage big-band leader Vic Volare and his Volare Lounge Orchestra on Saturday with guests including Charmin Michelle and Terry Walsh (7 p.m., $15-$18). … After months on the road touting its irrepressible new record “7 Hearts,” Kitten Forever has booked a 10th birthday party for itself July 23 at First Ave — the band’s first main-room headlining set ($12, eTix.com). About time. …
After a falling out with Dan Murphy’s young replacement Justin Sharbono, Soul Asylum has recruited Ryan Smith of the Melismatics to fill in on guitar for its June 18 gig at the Minnesota Zoo and its upcoming summer dates with the English Beat. … Akin to the Cabooze’s “plaza” set-up, the new Lee’s Liquor Lounge team is planning to host outdoor concerts this summer, including a July 23 date with outlaw countryman David Allan Coe. Sounds like a good idea. A bad idea, though: Using a promo photo of Coe in front of a Confederate flag backdrop to promote the show.