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Bowie show celebrates life and career of a genre-bending persona


Thomas Mulready has spent a lifetime collecting material on David Bowie's chameleonic career, from his early musical development to the symbol-heavy albums that preceded the enigmatic rocker's death one year ago.
 
Mulready, founder of online newsletter Cool Cleveland, will share his trove of Bowie goodness during a two-part performance called An Evening With(out) David Bowie, set for January 13-14 at the Bop Stop, 2920 Detroit Ave.
 
The multi-media show includes rare video, recently unearthed music, trivia contests and archival photos, all meticulously researched and organized around Bowie's versatile creative output.
 
"This is a vein that artists are still tapped into," says Mulready. "Bowie has been such an influence on so many different people."
 
Part one of the performance, slated for 7:30 each evening, covers the English musician's early struggles up to the Ziggy Stardust persona that blasted his career into the stratosphere. Part two is a retrospective of Bowie's worldwide stardom, a journey that led him through drug addiction and recovery, as well as fascinating musical experimentations and a successful run as an actor. Bowie's final studio album, Blackstar, was released on his 69th birthday, just two days before liver cancer ended his life.
 
Via music and video, Mulready aims to capture the entirety of his favorite artist's strange and wonderful livelihood. In putting together the show, he found touchpoints celebrating Bowie's dizzying creativity, a portfolio including fashion, film, music, design, theater and politics.
 
Bowie also changed the meaning of sexuality and gender, telling the world he was gay in a 1972 issue of English pop magazine, "Melody Maker."
 
"He was ahead of his time on sexuality," says Mulready. "He told young people that no matter how weird or freaky they were, they could live their lives exactly how they wanted. Bowie never worried about what people thought, and that's very instructive."
 
As a lifelong fan of the influential Starman, Mulready combed through personally collected archives of books, DVDs, compact discs and digital files. Among the clips is footage of a concert at Cleveland's Public Auditorium in 1972, marking Bowie's U.S. debut. Mulready found so much good material, both famous and rare, he split the show into two parts.
 
"It's going to be a long evening," says Mulready, whose glam-rock band, Vanity Crash, will take the stage for a selection of Bowie tunes and original tracks.
 
Ultimately, the performance stands as a celebratory showcase of a genre-bending persona who paved the way for generations of musicians.
 
"This is my way of grieving," Mulready says. "It's something everyone can share."
 

Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Fresh Water, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture.   
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