A Moonage Daydream: The Bowie Songbook comes to V Club
Ryan Hardiman of Huntington and Mark Scarpelli of Charleston have performed their Moonage Daydream — The Bowie Songbook show for years. An innovative and loving tribute to the musical genius that was David Bowie, Hardiman and Scarpelli brought a new take on the rock icon’s music, at first with just a piano and vocals, and now while backed up by a string quartet and upright bass.
Then, the news of Bowie’s death broke at about 2 a.m. Eastern Time on Jan. 11, 2016, two days after the release of Bowie’s “Blackstar” album. Like the rest of the planet, they were stunned by the announcement of Bowie’s demise, especially after two days of soaking up the new recording that dropped with no prior warning. It was the first new music released by Bowie in years, quickly followed by the shocking announcement 48 hours later.
The roller-coaster highs and lows rendered by those two events happening a short time apart were devastating for lovers of Bowie and his music.
“Just like everyone else, I heard about Bowie’s passing when I turned on NPR in the morning and that was a shocker,” said Ryan Hardiman. “I’m not usually one to be affected a whole lot by the deaths of people that I don’t know, but I felt a connection to him for a long time and that one hit me hard. I heard it on NPR the first thing when I woke up that morning. That happened just a few days after we had done our Bowie New Year’s Eve show, just a week afterwards. Mark and I talked soon after announcement, for sure.”
Hardiman heard from many music lovers on that morning two and a half years ago.
“I talked to several people that day,” said Hardiman. “You feel like your heroes are going to be around forever, and in a way, they are. Bowie is still with us through his work. That never goes away. He has been such a huge influence for me, not only his voice but his songwriting and the way he constantly and fearlessly reinvented himself. A lot of people do that these days, but he was the first artist that you really saw doing that, changing their persona and not just sticking to the formula, experimenting and presenting himself and his music in whatever way he wanted to. He was definitely a smart and talented man.”
Hardiman and Scarpelli began their David Bowie tribute duo back in 2012, performing every New Year’s Eve in Charleston and on other occasions. After Bowie’s death, after an honorable period had passed so as to not be seen as taking advantage of their hero’s passing, they began to expand their band.
Now, the Moonage Daydream — The Bowie Songbook has a new album out. The band features Hardiman on vocals, Scarpelli on keyboards and arranging, Alasha Al Qudwah on violin, Huntington’s Molly Lynn Page on violin, Jeff Lipscomb on viola, Dean Pauley on cello and Eli Chambers on upright bass.
Friday, Dec. 7, Hardiman and Scarpelli and crew will play at the V Club to celebrate the release of their new Moonage Daydream — The Bowie Songbook album, which can be found on CD, vinyl and digital outlets. The concert begins at 10 p.m. followed by a DJ playing more of David Bowie’s music. Tickets are $10 and the show is 18+. More information can be found at vclublive.com or 304-781-0680.
Hardiman, longtime art director for WCHS-TV and Fox 11, began to appreciate Bowie’s music while in high school. As his singing career leaned more towards this Bowie project, his hope was that Moonage Daydream — The Bowie Songbook would become more of a high-quality tribute than a cheap imitation.
“I graduated from high school in 1984 and then went to Marshall, so I wasn’t exposed to David Bowie’s music of the 1970s because I was just a kid,” said Hardiman. “My first encounter with him came with the Let’s Dance album and ‘China Girl’ and all of that. From that point, I went back into his catalog and delved into all of it. I just loved it and connected with it. He was an artist that spoke to me because no matter how you may feel like you are on the outside, his music made you feel like someone is always there with you.”
It is not always a good idea to sing iconic songs by a wellknown artist, but Moonage Daydream — The Bowie Songbook is such a different kind of tribute that it works in a delightful way.
“We are interpreting Bowie,” said Hardiman. “I think the fact that he has influenced my music and my singing, or at least is one of the main people that have influenced those things; I emulate him but I am not trying to do a Bowie impression. Our songs are also not approached that way because Mark has written the arrangements based on the strength of certain songs as it relates to a string quintet, piano and voice. Of course, there are certain songs that we had to try for fun like ‘Under Pressure.’ On that one, we imagined that iconic bass line being done by the cello and bass and the crunchy, percussive sound that you can get from those instruments. So, that one is a crowd favorite and always has been.”