David Bowie fans are always treated to a rush of emotion when it comes to the top of any year. Along with his Jan. 8 birthday (his 75th) to cheer, there is also the Jan. 10 date of his death in 2016 to mourn – a passing marked, then, by the release of his final, new studio album, “Blackstar.”
Coming into 2022, however, there is much to help ease the pain of his loss.
There is Friday’s much anticipated release of Bowie’s posthumous studio album “Toy” (together with its deluxe edition, “Toy:Box,” featuring proposed B-sides and remixes). There is Saturday’s second annual A Bowie Celebration, curated by his longtime keyboardist Mike Garson, featuring members of Duran Duran, Def Leppard and Evan Rachel Wood, and available to stream through RollingLiveStudios.com for 24 hours.
Announced on Thursday, Bowie’s 2002 “Heathen” and the rest of Bowie’s Columbia/ISO catalog will be remixed exclusively, for the first time in 360 Reality Audio for all supported streaming platforms, such as Tidal, Deezer and Amazon Music Unlimited, starting Jan. 21. There is this week’s news of Bowie’s estate selling the songwriter’s formidable publishing catalog to Warner Chappell Music for upwards of $250 million.
In Philadelphia – the city that helped him break Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972 and 1973, the city where he taped 1974’s “David Live at The Tower Theater” before hitting up N. 12th Street’s Sigma Sound Studio later that year to record the plastic soul-strewn “Young Americans” – however, we just happen to go bigger when it comes to all things Bowie.
That’s where the annual Philly Loves Bowie Week (Celebrating the City of Brotherly Love for The Starman) comes in; this month’s Philly Loves Bowie Week being Jan. 7-16. Sort-of.
Co-created by beloved Sigma Kids (tagged that for camping outside those N. 12th Street studios during “Young Americans” sessions until Bowie eventually let them in for a listen) Patti Brett, Marla Kanevsky and Mary Dunham-Smith, along with DJ Robert Drake, the initial Philly tribute to Bowie came after his passing in 2016 with a large-scale tribute concert featuring local bands at Market Street’s Hard Rock Café.
Selling out that space and missing Bowie more as time passed meant the creation of a citywide tribute, one that not only involved music, but booze and beer (Brett – the prime motivator of Philly Loves Bowie Week also owns the legendarily beloved Doobie’s Bar, complete with its Bowie-centric jukebox), food, film, fashion and an art gallery exhibition. A full blast Philly Loves Bowie Week was born in 2017, one with a built-in charitable base of the Cancer Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Bowie/CHOP fund.
“We do everything for the love of David Bowie,” says Brett, who not only has struggled with having to close Doobie’s throughout most of the pandemic, but, after only having re-opened Doobie’s at the beginning of December for full-time business, is closing its doors, albeit temporarily, for Omicron.
“We had to put pretty much all of Philly Loves Bowie Week 2021 online and, now, with Omicron, we’re having to move things around again,” says Brett.
What that means is that, while Friday’s events such as the Philly Loves Bowie Week WXPN Kick-Off Free at Noon Concert with Candy Volcano are cancelled for the public, its performance can be heard on the radio and online at XPN.org. That same day, the Bowie Masquerade Ball with DJ Baby Berlin & DJ EBGIII at Underground Arts is in full swing, and Weckerly’s Ice Cream parlors in Fishtown and West Philly will commence selling Blue Blue Electric Blue – an original ice cream sandwich of “Pea Flower Blue Sweet Cream Ice Cream with a Ziggy Stardust cocoa cookie crumble, a layer of Life on MARShmallow, topped with a Thin White sugar cookie, complete with a lightning bolt of red berry jam, and finished with a Black Star cocoa cookie.”
Also on Friday, Philly’s National Liberty Museum will commence its major winter gallery exhibition “Deconstructing Bowie: Freedom in Eccentricity,” during the museum’s regular opening hours, but will hold its grand opening soiree in March.
As for Bowie’s Jan. 8 birthday, Robert Drake will transform Broad Street’s Divine Lorraine ballroom into a ballroom blitz with a Let’s Dance! Dance Party.
The potentially shifting schedule of Philly Loves Bowie Week events can be found at www.phillylovesbowie.wordpress.com.