How do you recapture the glitter-dusted, fixed-gear magic of last year's David-Bowie-inspired bike share benefit concert, an event that was dialed up from the arena-rock age and transported straight into downtown Collingswood?
Bike Share Director Joseph Bonaparte doesn't have all the answers just yet—but he's working on it.
"Last year, I was kind of knee-deep in getting it together," Bonaparte said, "and this year I’m completely over my head."
Fortunately, the borough's foremost authority on sustainable transportation has a lot of support.
"People are a lot more enthusiastic about helping, and the people who were involved with it last year are contributing enormously to the success that we’re anticipating for this year," he said.
In terms of achieving its fundraising goals, the 2012 event was a complete success, raising $3,000 to buy a pair of public bike repair stations and selling out the ad hoc second-floor stage at the Perkins Center for the Arts.
This year, the borough is helping up the ante, offering the historic Scottish Rite theater as the venue for the November 16 event, and with it, the chance to sell more seats.
Commissioner Joan Leonard, liaison to the bike share said last year's concert "was the most fun fundraiser she’d been to," Bonaparte said, and Borough Administrator Keith Hastings said, "Why don’t you get the Scottish Rite?" for 2013.
"A lot of people contacted me online and didn’t believe that we were going to sell it out last year," Bonaparte said. "And then we sold it out a week before it happened."
The Scottish Rite doesn't only offer a greater seating capacity; it's far better equipped to facilitate the over-the-top theatrics of a fully realized glam-rock spectacle.
That's due in no small part to the musical directorship of bandleader Kevin Monko, who has channeled the enthusiasm of the inaugural benefit into several repeat performances since.
Candy Volcano, the pick-up band of neighborhood rockers behind the 2012 Bike Share benefit, has tightened up its routine in 2013, taking a repertoire anchored by David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, and adding in tunes from bands like T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, Sweet, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop.
Those numbers are performed by a rotating cast of singers that numbers into the teens, with an urgency and energy that Monko said is unique to the project.
"It started as a fundraiser and everybody just loved it so much, everybody was like 'we’ve got to do this more'," he said. "It was hard to not do it again."
"The thing that sets it apart is that there’s no place to go and hear stuff from that era," Monko said.
"The revolving door of singers...there’s always a curiosity factor. You never get lulled into anything at a Candy Volcano show because there’s always fresh meat. Nobody wants to be the weak spot."
"After every show, there’s three people that want to join the band and we usually get asked to play something else during our show, or right after," Bonaparte said.
"The band is a party even without the audience, there’s so many people in it."
For Bonaparte, there's also a deep personal connection to the music that inspires every performance.
That comes from his late friend, Marcus, who introduced Bonaparte to glam rock, and to whose memory every song feels like something of a tribute.
"It’s so near and dear to my heart that for [this show] to happen, however good a time anyone has there, I feel like I’m probably having the best time," Bonaparte said.
A model program
Not to be lost in the fun of throwing a big-venue rock concert is the fact that the bike share is an example of the kind of volunteer-run community program for which Collingswood has earned an excellent reputation.
The bike share has put more than 350 bicycles on the road, Bonaparte said, with annual membership for borough residents a scant $25.
That fee buys not just a unique set of wheels, but access to the bike share garage, where the ten-person volunteer staff teaches renters how to keep their rides on the road.
The program is also a model to other communities in Camden County, including North Camden, Parkside and Runnemede, Bonaparte said, as well as to the county-wide bike share, which is working to add other points of distribution.
"The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive," Bonaparte said.
"It’s like one of the many places in Collingswood where people meet up and meet other people."
Tickets to the 2013 Beef, Beer, Bikes and Bowie event ($25 general admission, $30 for preferred seating) are on sale now at the Scottish Rite box office (856-858-1000), Collingswood Borough Hall (856-854-0720), and Frugal Resale (856-858-0700). The event is Saturday, November 16.
More sale locations will be forthcoming in advance of the show date, Bonaparte said. Sponsors include Casona of Collingswood, which donated the food for last year's event.
(Those who've never seen Candy Volcano before can catch a preview performance October 12 at the Before the Bridge music festival.)