Updated with Slideshow: Boise Says 'Sayonara to Starman' at The Record Exchange 

Local band takes on David Bowie one last time

Davey Jones and the Spiders from Bars: The band that fell to earth.

Jason Sievers

Davey Jones and the Spiders from Bars: The band that fell to earth.

Tyler Walker's phone chimed past midnight on Jan. 10. He looked at it sleepily.

"Did you hear the news?" the text message read.

Walker was irritated to be woken up. He didn't want to text back and start a conversation with whoever had woken him up in the middle of the night, but figured someone important must have died.

"I didn't believe it at first. I thought it was a joke or a hoax," Walker said. "I had to sleep on it and wake up the next morning before I realized it was true."

After that, Walker was flooded with condolences. He got text messages and phone calls as if a close family member had died. The outpouring of sympathy stemmed from a show Walker and a few friends played at Neurolux in November, covering a bunch of David Bowie songs under the name Davey Jones and the Spiders from Bars.

They thought it was a onetime thing. The group of local musicians all play in other bands ranging from bluegrass to metal, and have full-time jobs. As a side project, they thought it would be fun to pick one band every fall and put on a cover show.

Last fall, they just happened to pick Bowie. Only a few months later, on Jan. 10, the rock legend died of cancer at the age of 69.

Drummer Rick Shodeen and singer Lawrence VanBishop received similar reactions from their friends upon learning of Bowie's death. They got text messages asking if they were OK, how they were holding up and apologizing for their loss.

"I mean, I like David Bowie as much as anybody else, but I'm not, like, freaking out about it," Shodeen said. "I'm not going to dress up like him and go walk around."

Nonetheless, the makeshift band, which also includes piano player Peter Thomas and bassist Dillon Wardwell, will perform Bowie's songs one more time on Thursday, Jan. 28 at the Record Exchange for "Boise Does Bowie: A Celebration of the Music of David Bowie Live."

The free event kicks off at 6 p.m. with Archie's Place food truck on the scene and a special raffle for those dressed in their best Bowie costumes. The show will be emceed by 94.9 FM The River's Tim Johnstone.

VanBishop said the Facebook event page has gotten more attention than other in-store performances the Record Exchange has hosted. As of Jan. 25, nearly 800 people had expressed interest in the show, but the Record Exchange only has capacity for a few hundred, so organizers will be giving out wristbands starting at 5 p.m. on Jan. 28 to guarantee admission.

Ten bands will play the best hits from Bowie. The lineup includes Sun Blood Stories, Marshall Poole, Thomas Paul, Phantahex and—of course—Davey Jones and the Spiders from Bars.

"If we would have thought we were going to do this again, we probably would have spent more time coming up with a better name," said Walker. "David Jones is David Bowie's real name. He had to change it because Davy Jones [was] in the Monkees, and they had just come out right before he started recording music. And then, Spiders from Mars was the name of his Ziggy band, and we all know each other from bars so... it was very clever."

The hardest part of putting together a Bowie setlist was deciding what songs from the artist's iconic repertoire to play.

"We initially grabbed every song we decided you have to do if you're doing David Bowie, and put it into a playlist," he said. "The playlist was two and a half hours long."

Walker said there's no way they had time to learn that much material and no one would want to sit through a set that long, "unless David Bowie himself is on stage," he said.

Some songs were out because they contained an entire orchestra. Others were simply too complex. That part came as a surprise to Shodeen.

"You hear something all your life and you're really used to hearing it, then you try to play it and realize how complicated it is," Shodeen said. "The trick is to make it sound not complicated at all."

The group doesn't strive to sound exactly like Bowie—rather, they put their own spin on his most famous songs. VanBishop's voice sounds pretty close to Bowie's, though. He chalks it up to "years of training and packs of cigarettes."

"I kind of feel like I'm people's weird connection to him, now," VanBishop said. "People are acting like he was my family. I've become that projection."

For the members of Davey Jones and the Spiders from Bars, the singer's passing has been cause for an education—thinking about Bowie "more than I ever have in my life thought that I would," Shodeen said.

"We put all this time and energy into learning his music. He was the only one not in the band room, to tell you the truth," he added. "We focused on him for such a long time, then to find out he died—it was like we knew him, in a weird way."

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