¡Mamacita! I was aware that the “David Bowie Is” exhibition will be making a US stop in Chicago this fall [in the only scheduled US stop through at least 2016], but what I was blithely unaware of was the supersalient fact that Mr. Bryan Ferry was giving a talk on the subject of Mr. David Bowie at Chicago’s Museum Of Contemporary Art a week or so prior to the David Bowie Is show opening on September 23rd! It fell to my wife, who I am deeply indebted to in more ways than I can count, to make me aware of this red letter fact. If there’s one thing I have learned by attending Moogfest it’s that panel discussions with iconic musicians can often be even more rewarding than their performances. [In the case of Brian Eno – don’t hold your breath for any performances]
While the dynamic continuum between the twin axes of Ferry/Bowie have informed most of the music that I have enjoyed in this life, the two artists have been linked in many ways. I always thought that Bowie must have been blindsided by the appearance of Bryan Ferry, fully formed as though from the head of Zeus with the dazzling, multifaceted art of the debut Roxy Music album. Ferry had seemingly appeared from nowhere with an achievement that still stands the test of time for audacious artistic reach and overall game changing. While Bowie had slogged away for nearly a decade before winning his hard-fought spoils of fame, Ferry opened the door and walked through in months.
It bears mentioning that Ferry came to the game with a head full of ideas nurtured by his tutelage under pop artist Richard Hamilton at University. So when it came time for him to make his move, he had a coherent worldview forged in the flames of academia. Bowie had skipped University and while intelligent and auto-didactic, it was a much harder game for him to reach those heights. When he finally cracked the market with the not-facile construct of Ziggy Stardust, he did the sensible thing and obtained the talents of Roxy Music as an opening act on his triumphant British tour since: 1) reflected the wise move of forever associating himself with Bryan Ferry and 2) it’s good practice to keep potential rivals close at hand.
Of course, Brian Eno was the tie that bound both Ferry and Bowie by adding his potent element X to both of their finest works. So it’s not without substantial interest that I would love to hear Ferry discussing the art of David Bowie. He will not be alone at the podium. British author Michael Bracewell, the author of no less than four books on the subject of Roxy Music in addition to his numerous other fiction/non-fiction works will be joining Ferry in the discussion. Tickets are available for a pittance here, and though it pains me to know that there’s no way that I can attend this event, for those in the Second City reading these words, attendance is a no-brainer. Tickets are not on sale yet, but expect them to fly out of the [virtual] box office when that day comes. Then, on the 21st of September, Ferry will play a concert in Chicago at the Chicago Theatre, capping off a week spent in his favorite US city.
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