Poughkeepsie Journal - August 18th 2003

Dorsey to join Bowie for Chance encounter

Kingston artist part of legend's show in city.

By John W. Barry

Gail Ann Dorsey, bass player in David Bowie's band and an uptown Kingston resident, is scheduled to perform with Bowie Tuesday at The Chance in Poughkeepsie. The show, which is sold out, is an exclusive performance for members of Bowie's Internet fan club, Bowienet.

Her fitted coat was blazing red. Her eyes were opened wide. Her face beamed.

Her dance partner wore a white dress shirt - no tie - and pants - he had earlier in the evening discarded his suit jacket. He peeked out from beneath blond locks, one eye seemingly locked in the continuous motion of a perpetual wink. Over the course of several hours, he rarely stopped smiling.

They serenaded each other as if alone, recharging their chemistry with each verse. For a few moments, they didn't seem to notice the hundreds who were watching.

British rock legend David Bowie and his long-time bass player, Gail Ann Dorsey of uptown Kingston, shared many magical moments during his October 2002 concert at Manhattan's Beacon Theater. One of them was their duet on Bowie's 'Absolute Beginners.'

Scheduled for Tuesday

Tuesday night at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, Bowie and Dorsey will again share with hundreds the special relationship they have - a professional partnership that began in 1995 after he saw her perform on a British television program, tracked her down by phone and asked her to join his band.

The statesman of British rock royalty is scheduled to bring his band to The Chance to play songs from his soon-to-be-released CD, 'Reality,' during an exclusive concert for members of his Internet fan club, Bowienet.

'Reality,' on which Dorsey sings backup vocals, is scheduled for release on Sept. 16. Bowie brings Dorsey and the rest of his band to Copenhagen on Oct. 7 for a concert that will kick off a seven-month, 17-country tour that will likely stop at Madison Square Garden when it reaches North America in late 2003.

That night last year at the Beacon Theater, Bowie often wandered to the edge of the stage during a song and gazed out into the audience, remaining expressionless as though looking for someone in the crowd or smiling as if he had just found them. His stage presence was very personal, engaging and three-dimensional, traits that Dorsey said bleed into his off-stage life.

"He's very personable," Dorsey said last week during a telephone interview that came during a break in the fifth week of six-day-a-week rehearsals with Bowie. "He's a really nice guy. He makes you feel comfortable, he's really good at that. A lot of famous people aren't - they're off in the corner being famous. He likes to hang out. He likes to talk. He's funny. For me, he's just been like a father figure."

Additional insight on Bowie from Dorsey will be forthcoming in October, when she releases her third solo album, "I Used To Be..." The CD, executive produced by bass player Sara Lee of Gang of Four and B-52's fame, includes a song that Dorsey wrote two years after first playing with Bowie, about the entire experience of working with him.

"He's never heard it," Dorsey said of the tune.

The 11 original tracks on "I Used To Be..." were recorded over three days at Allaire Studios in Shokan, where Bowie recorded his last album, 'Heathen.'

Additional recording was completed in Dorsey's home studio.

Performing on the disc are local musicians Adam Widoff on guitar; Tony Widoff on keyboards, synthesizers and organ; Rob Arthur on Piano; and Zachary Alford, a former Bowie band mate, on drums. Joining in on backing vocals is Katherine Russell, one of Dorsey's current Bowie band mates.

But the driving force on this project, said Dorsey, was Lee.

"I probably wouldn't have done it without her," Dorsey said of her best friend, whom she met years ago while the two were living in London.

Dorsey had been working with Roland Orzabel of Tears for Fears on her third solo CD, following the release of 'The Corporate World' in 1988 and 'Rude Blue,' released in 1992, when Bowie called and asked her to join him for a tour.

Performing with one of the most famous rock stars of contemporary music consumed her time for years, keeping her from completing a product that fans constantly ask for after her solo shows as well as following performances with her other musical endeavor, The Chanteuse Club.

"I'd come home between Bowie tours and try to work on the CD," said Dorsey, a native of Philadelphia. "But it was very difficult to get a momentum going without a label or any other support. I just thought - I've got to break out of this thing. I'm very self-critical. Working so many years with Bowie, you go home and you do your little stuff - it's very hard to measure up to that in my own neurotic music head."

Lee knew Dorsey had an archive of songs she had written and challenged her friend to come up with 10 for a CD. The album will be released on Dorsey's own label and available initially through her Web site.

"I'm very happy with it," she said. "I'm a little nervous - it's just my Virgo moon in me again - being a perfectionist."

Maggie Moore, a part-time Woodstock resident who produces and performs in The Chanteuse Club with Dorsey and Kate Pierson of the B-52's, has tremendous confidence in the ability of her band mate, whether on stage or in the recording studio.

"I think she has got this magical personality that is so easy and sexy and subtle and confident," said Moore, who has starred off-Broadway in '"Hedwig and the Angry Inch." "Her abilities as a musician speak loudly and well.

"Once people know it's out there," Moore said of "I Used To Be...," "it's going to do extremely well. She has a lot of core fans."

One person who seems anxious to hear Dorsey's new CD is Bowie.

"He keeps saying 'I want to hear your record, what's going on?'" Dorsey said. "Then the next week he'll be, 'where's the record?'"

Such is the personal side of Bowie that Dorsey said transcends music.

Shortly before attending her oldest brother's funeral in 2000, Dorsey sat at the computer in her mother's home, reading through messages of condolence, sympathy and empathy - probably just a percentage of the 20,000 that had arrived for her.

She was tipped off to the massive amount of missives logged online when she received a single e-mail several days earlier from someone she did not know, who said in his message that he was sorry to learn of her brother's passing.

"I thought, 'How did they know my brother died?'" Dorsey said. "It dawned on me to go to Bowienet."

Bowie had met Dorsey's brother a couple of times, when he brought Dorsey and his band to Philadelphia for concerts.

"I told him my brother had passed away," Dorsey recalled from a conversation with Bowie. "He put up a posting on Bowienet saying that he had met him and that he had passed away."

Bowie's response and the feedback from Bowie fans who posted responses, passing on their thoughts and sharing similar stories of losing loved ones. - not to mention the volume of messages - left Dorsey overwhelmed.

"Unbelievable," she said.


Who: David Bowie and his band.

Where: The Chance, 6 Crannell St., Poughkeepsie.

When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.

Tickets: This concert is an exclusive performance for members of Bowie's Internet fan club, Bowienet, and is sold out.

Information: On David Bowie and Bowienet, visit www.davidbowie.com. For information on Gail Ann Dorsey, visit www.gailanndorsey.com