The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars by David Bowie



Photo: Christopher DeVargas

Phish October 31, MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Ziggy played … by Phish Let’s cut to the chase. For its Halloween night musical costume—where someone else’s album is covered in full—Phish chose widely rumored The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars by David Bowie, and despite the fairly straightforward interpretation by the improv-rock masters, it was a no-brainer for many reasons: It’s poignant not just for Bowie’s passing last January, but its tragic narrative; it’s a tribute to the man whose name titles one of the Vermont quartet’s most revered songs; Ziggy is a benchmark album in line with previous musical costumes (Phish’s own Fuego and Disney’s Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House sound-effect album excepted); and it offered the band a chance to showcase talents not easily exhibited during its more jam-heavy material. For instance, each band member showcased their vocal strengths throughout the 50-minute, second-set performance (often aided by three backup singers and a six-member string section), including drummer Jon Fishman’s standout singing on “Soul Love” and “Star,” and Mike Gordon, whose confident intonation on “Star Man” held the line despite his simultaneous recreation of its prominent bass-line and the MGM Grand Garden crowd’s deafening singalong.

That being said, Phish’s signature musicianship soared during the swaggering “Hang On To Yourself,” with pianist Page McConnell particularly leveling the roughly 17,000 spectators, and a rendering of “Moonage Daydream” so outstanding, it could have closed the set if not for its early placement on the album, with credit mainly due to guitarist/singer Trey Anastasio’s Bowie-similar croon and heavenly leads, made even more celestial when paired with the backing vocalists. In all, Phish’s Ziggy may not have been as imaginative as diehards might have expected, but few could quibble with the veneration, precision, enthusiasm and care its players demonstrated. What a thing to have witnessed.

Halloween parade Phish’s Halloween show is as much about the crowd—and, specifically, what they’re wearing—as whatever the band has musically donned. And even though the “phans” always seem to exceed the quota of Dudes and Walter Sobchaks, Marios and Luigis and Hunter S. Thompsons, their costume craftsmanship and creativity still abounds. There was a Bucky Larson, the most glamorous Medusa ever, the couple that went as Phish songs (“Maze” and “Possum”), the chef that had “Fe” on his apron (think the periodic chart of elements) and the dude dressed as the Stranger Thingsalphabet wall Winona Ryder’s character uses to communicate with her missing son, Will. So how do you possibly stand out in such a vast congregation of characters? Go as stick figures, like the one couple in Section 5, wearing nothing but black bodysuits and bright green electroluminscent wire, which was visible even when the arena lights went out.

Trey attacks Ziggy was the second of three sets Monday night (which, with a single-song encore, made for a nearly five-hour show), during which Anastasio shone not only as an occasional Bowie, but as electric guitarist Mick Ronson’s stand-in. He was also the star of the preceding set, which sounded unusually muscular and strident for the early portion of a Phish show. His “Kashmir”-like riffage in opener “Carini” drew one of the loudest crowd roars of the night, his frenetic fretwork stole the show during “AC/DC Bag,” his clarion chords for “What’s the Use?” soared even with his other three bandmates contributing more downcast tones and the only thing cooling down his scorcher of a solo during “Run Like an Antelope” was the immediate gearshift into a ragga jam—one of several turn-on-a-dime transitions that made that particular song such a perfect end to a bracing first set.

Play it again, band Of the 31 songs that comprised Monday’s prodigious setlist, five overlapped with Phish’s last local Halloween show two years ago in the same venue: Set-three one-two punch “46 Days” and “Sand,” “Tube,” “Your Pet Cat” (from Chilling, Thrilling) and set-one highlight “Wolfman’s Brother,” which was also featured in Phish’s first Vegas Halloween show in 1998 at Thomas & Mack.

Other notable appearances from the Phish catalog: “What’s the Use?” from the band’s experimental and mostly instrumental album, The Siket Disc; “Ass Handed,” an interlude-like Fishman ditty that didn’t make the recently released album Big Boat, whose sole inclusion Monday night was one of its better songs, the narrative-rich opus “Petrichor”; and “Also Sprach Zarathrustra,” otherwise known as Richard Strauss’ dramatic theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey and one of Phish’s most beloved covers. During the latter song, Trey teased the chords from Bowie’s “Fame,” sealing his status as the night’s MVP.

It’s worth noting that Phish didn’t perform anything twice during its MGM weekend run. That’s 90 different songs over four nights.

Rough landing As it turned out, the third set couldn’t compete with the robustness and adventure of the first or the grandness and resonance of the second, despite “Sand” being almost as much a space opera as the entirety of Ziggy and the numerous peaking “Zarathrustra.” The latter set a high bar of fun that “Backwards Down the Number Line” couldn’t reach, though Anastasio certainly tried during a commendable end-jam. Ditto for closing chestnut “Slave to the Traffic Light,” which felt like a jog to the finish line.

However, it may have wound the crowd down for the fitting encore: a four-man a capella version of Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” which, unlike the faithful Ziggy renditions, was more characteristic of Phish, even as it sounded just as reverential and affectionate. (The song also nods to 2001, the sort of cross-association at which Phish excels.) I was hard pressed to find anyone around me not singing along with the band, and I presume those same audience members also shared my goose pimples. A stunner of an encore, an ideal capper for the night—and a sublime way to send the marathoning faithful back home.

If you create digital art – Royalties & Misconceptions

This Article comes from:

Travis Dickerson


Travis Dickerson Recording Studios

I have been asked on many occasions what I think about music downloading, file trading and music on the internet and its effects on the music business.

I want to be clear here, I’m talking about out of print studio recordings, live recordings, videos and other art produced by working artists that are commonly traded or downloaded freely.
As long as there has been music or art there has probably been the question, how does the creator of things we all enjoy get compensated for the time and talent he or she puts into creating those things? After all, art is not something you have to have to live, it’s just something that’s hard to live without. In other words it’s not life-sustaining, it just makes living more enjoyable. I also think that since the beginning of art there have been the people who make it, the people who consume it and the people who make money off it, and these are three distinct groups of people. In the past it was the collective society or the ruling elite who were patrons of the arts. The Pharaoh, King or socialist state realized it was in their interest to patronize the arts, to show their power or status. With the coming of the digital age, the traditional roles for the players have changed.
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East Sacramento: Arts Intersection

Arts Intersection

Music Teacher Brings Education Into the Mix at Performance Center

imageby Deb Belt

Published on Wednesday, 30 November 2013

Ben McClara stands in the lobby of the GPAC, a modest building in Oak Park just off Stockton Boulevard, where he runs the Sacramento Preparatory Music Academy.

“We seem to be in the invisible building here,” he says with a laugh. “When I describe the location, people ask: ‘There’s a performing arts center there?’”

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 11.54.40 AMIn spite of the seemingly phantom locale, McClara describes a rich schedule of performance, theater and music education happening at the center. Productions of  “Cabaret” and “Spring Awakening” have been performed there over the past two years, along with student recitals, classical, baroque and bluegrass concerts. The music academy offers lessons in piano, woodwind and string instruments, basic percussion and musicianship.

“We have an amazing music education program going on here, just under the radar,” he says. “We are having the time of our lives.”

McClara works with two other Sac Prep Music teachers and three visual artists also occupy studios there.Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 11.53.37 AM They all chip in for the rent. McClara and a friend converted the building from a decrepit office space into a funky, intimate performance venue and school, complete with a 47-seat theater, dressing rooms and music studios.

IMG_4813Students at the academy range in age from 5 to 62, and McClara grants scholarships to about 30 percent of his students, meaning they get free music lessons. “When I see something like a grandma paying for her grandson’s lessons with her Social Security check, I offer a scholarship,” he says. The academy also has a free string ensemble that students can join.

IMG_3547_2The school benefits from donated instruments that are passed on to students. “You know you’re doing something right when someone calls out of the blue and says: ‘I have a keyboard to donate,’ which happened recently,” McClara says.

The center has been running for two years at the intersection of Stockton and V Street. A community group called California State Grange helps make it happen. Bob McFarland, president of the agricultural organization, wanted the building to be a performing arts theater. When McClara heard of the idea, he told McFarland he needed a space to teach music.

“Bob offers affordable rent to artists, and I am grateful for that,” McClara says. “We put in the blood, imagesweat and tears to transform the building, hauling out the old cubicles, putting down new flooring and painting every square inch of the theater black.” The theater seats came from Sacramento City College’s old venue. Tickets to performances at the theater range in price from $10 to $20 and generate money for upkeep of the center.

A recent performance called “When the Bass Hits the Fan” featured Thomas Derthick, principle bassist of the Sacramento Philharmonic, who performed Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 at pitch on a double bass, an extremely difficult feat, according to McClara. “He received the longest standing ovation I have ever seen,” McClara recalls. “We go out of the way to bring special music here and that benefits students, the neighborhood and the public.”

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 11.54.20 AMUnderstated and amiable, McClara started playing music in the fourth grade, beginning with the violin. He went on to play trumpet, baritone, tuba and electric bass before settling on stand-up bass. He recalls playing at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee in the seventh grade and says he’s attended about “every college in town,” completing the music program at American River College, where he studied with Joe Gilman. At Sacramento State, he received a bachelor’s of music in classical performance, and he’s now working through a master’s program in music theory and bass performance at Sac State. “I am the product of wonderful Sacramento teachers,” he says.image

Growing up in the neighborhood near the center where he now teaches, McClara recalls going to the Coca-Cola Company on Stockton Boulevard to watch the green glass bottles roll by on the conveyors. He says he’s proud to be working in his old stomping grounds of Oak Park. “It’s important to me to teach in this neighborhood and help prepare students to compete at the collegiate level,” he says. “I’m keeping it local, and I believe in that.”

For more information about Sacramento Preparatory Music Academy, call 382-2770 or go to