David BowieScrote and Mike Garson discuss "Celebrating David Bowie"
By Naughty Mickie 

Los Angeles guitarist and producer Scrote was playing with bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Mark Guiliana in a local jazz club when the trio received word that David Bowie had died. Lefebvre and Guiliana had both played on Bowie’s final album, “Blackstar,” but it was Scrote’s phone that began ringing, as he was known for music directing special events with high-end players.

“Right away people started contacting me to do some kind of event just as group therapy, pro players,” Scrote said.

Scrote held off at first, but then relented and, as he began making calls, he quickly discovered that many in the music industry wanted to do something. In three weeks he put together a show at The Roxy in Hollywood with more than 70 musicians, including Gary Oldman, Seal, actor Ewan McGregor and Angelo Moore (Fishbone). It was such a success that it evolved into the global tour, “Celebrating David Bowie,” which included a recent stop at The Wiltern in Los Angeles.

Scrote has always been a fan of Bowie, appreciating his music for its style and harmonic richness and admiring the talent of his band.

“Bowie is such a part of everyone’s life beyond music because he reaches people through style, fashion, films, the Internet. He was a leading innovator on the web. He was a leading innovator in music finance. He was so many different directions at the highest levels and so he was a part of everyone’s life. Not only that, he never did anything for money, he did it for interest, his interests were there. He was a Leonardo da Vinci of our times really,” Scrote said.

The “Celebrating David Bowie” featured a core lineup of 30 Bowie musicians, including Mike Garson, Earl Slick, Adrian Belew, Gail Ann Dorsey, Sterling Campbell, Zachary Alford, Holly Palmer and Catherine Russell, joined by more than 40 other artists.

“This is a very extraordinary show for a very extraordinary artist and extraordinary circumstances. It is a rotating ensemble. It’s like an amoeba, it never stops. Three hours straight, no talking. There’s less than a minute between songs. It just goes and goes and there’s singers and players shifting on every song, no song has the same personnel. It’s very complex and designed so it goes smoothly and the feeling of it is celebratory,” Scrote said.

David BowieScrote served as the music director and played guitar throughout the night.

Also on stage for the entire concert was Bowie’s pianist Mike Garson.

“I was actually the longest standing musician with him,” Garson said. “I was hired in 1972 to do eight weeks and I ended up doing his first American tour in 1972 and his last concert in the States with Alicia Keys in 2006. I had a long relationship with him.

“I did 1,000 concerts with him and none of them ever disappointed. There was something magical about his ability to go on stage and just always deliver an amazing show.” Garson said. “He was very, very warm, very funny, he had a great sense of humor, and also very smart, he was like a warehouse of information. He was self-educated and very well-read. He knew about art, philosophy and current events, just a frightenly great mind.”

Garson is a true working musician, playing lots of concerts and spending many hours in the studio, but he also wants to help others and is involved in The Music-Heals Project, an organization that promotes the research and creation of music to help people with brain-related disorders, such as autism and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

In 2014 Garson wrote and performed the “Symphonic Healing Suite,” which has since been released on CD and DVD. He is currently involved in a research program with children, who are monitored to see how different melodies affect their brainwaves.

“(The doctors) are trying to figure out what musicians know intuitively,” Garson said. “Over the next 20 years we’re going to see a lot in that area. I’ve worked with several neurologists and surgeons and it’s a fascinating area. I don’t get too involved in the science side because I understand that the music does magic spiritually, emotionally and physically.”

Garson is also planning to release five albums of Bowie music over the next five years. They will consist of him on piano with various vocalists offering their own interpretations of the material.

David Bowie“It will be something a little different. I’ve played all those songs with him and I’m looking for different singers who will make the songs their own, not copy him. I did one thing at a benefit a few months ago with Seal and he sang one of David’s songs and it was gorgeous,” Garson said.

Scrote has his own projects as well, including the bands, The Euphoriares, with Sting’s son, singer/songwriter and bassist Joe Sumner, and Quadruple Bari Sax Attack!, both of which will be releasing albums this year. He will also release the solo effort, “Afro Angular Suite.”

Scrote has not yet made plans to continue the “Celebrating David Bowie” tour this year.

Find out where to see Scrote at www.facebook.com/ScroteMusic

Keep up with Mike Garson at www.mikegarson.com

Learn more about the Music-Heals Project at www.music-heals.com

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