Mike Garson leads A Bowie Celebration back to the Keswick Theatre

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Rock On Philly: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today! Where are you guys headed now?

Mike Garson: We played New York City last night. I’m in Albany tomorrow, then Syracuse, then somewhere in New Jersey. And Philly on Sunday. That’ll be the fifth one in a row. So we should be ready for you when we get there. Cause the more we play the better we get.

ROP: Wow! Have you guys been changing up the lineups a bit during the tour?

MG: I’ve been doing that for three years, I’ve had about five different bands. We have had some other alumni, but they’re doing other projects now. And on this tour, we’re pretty stable. We have Charlie Sexton, which is a wonderful addition because he had been with David in Australia back in the 80s and he’s been with Dylan for 20 years. He’s a great guitar player and a great singer and a great personality. So we have him, and we have Bernard Fowler who is an amazing singer. And Corey Glover who is also an amazing singer. So those are my three singers. And then we have Earl Slick who has been with me since ‘74, and then we have Carmine Rojas who did “Let’s Dance,” “Modern Love” and “China Girl.” And he did the Glass Spider tour and Serious Moonlight tour. So those are our alumni but we’ve also passed down to another generation, Earl Slick’s son Lee John is playing drums and he’s doing great. So we have quite the band, I’m playing piano and I’m enjoying it. You know, we’re at about 47 concerts in now. Believe it or not.

ROP: Yeah I believe it. I went to the show you guys did last year at the Keswick, which was amazing. When you guys did the Celebrating David Bowie tour, were you imagining it as a onetime tour or from the beginning was there a plan to see where it led?

MG: When David first passed, I just thought I would do some very simple concerts sitting at the piano, and telling stories, but there became a need for people wanting to hear his songs. So it’s sort of by default; it landed in my lap and wasn’t what I initially thought. Once it landed in my lap, I decided to go full force ahead where I could see doing it various combinations over the next five, ten years.

ROP: It sounds like it’s been going well. Have there been any particular highlights for you going through this journey on this tour?

MG: Um, you know, we’re a very well self-contained band, so we don’t necessarily need any guests, but we were very blessed in New York last night because it’s New York City and David lived there and we had three alumni drummers from the past: Omaha Kim who played on “Let’s Dance,” Sterling Campbell who played on “Heroes” and Zach Olford who played on “Aladdin Sane.” I’m not aware of any of that happening in Philly, but sometimes the last minute someone calls or pops in, you know, but I’ve made sure that the show is amazing with just who we are. I wanted to make sure that we weren’t dependent on a famous person or a star or another alumni, I wanted to make sure my band was great because you have to have the infrastructure.

ROP: Yes, totally. And it sounds like you guys have it down.

MG: This is the best band to date. And I’ve had like five or six over the last three years. David did the same thing. I’m trying to follow his template and his paradigm of not staying in the comfort zone, moving things around, changing it. I worked with David not only for a thousand shows but with thirteen different bands and twenty albums. So it was always different people and some were the same and some would go and then ten years later they’d appear again. And, and that’s how he was. So I’m following that, and the same way I changed the show every night a little bit, just to keep everybody on their feet and prevent myself from being bored and to give fans who come other times some variety.

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