As bandleader for the Celebrating David Bowie Tour, keyboardist Mike Garson is doing a lot of juggling.
"Let's see who's playing in Minneapolis," he said as he checked his notes the other day en route to an airport.
There are different former Bowie sidemen and vocalists performing in each city. In Minneapolis on Wednesday, it's the core band of guitarist Earl Slick, bassist Carmine Rojas, guitarist Gerry Leonard and Garson plus multi-instrumentalist Mark Plati and singers Bernard Fowler, a longtime Rolling Stones backup vocalist, and newcomer Gaby Moreno.
"She's a wonderful vocalist from Guatemala," Garson said. "She really understands David's music. I went to England two months ago with her and we did the whole 'Aladdin Sane' album in order."
Since Garson called a few days ago, singer Abby Jeanne of Milwaukee has joined the lineup for Minneapolis.
Other cities might get to hear the vocals of Evan Rachel Wood, Corey Glover (of Living Colour), Joe Sumner (Sting's son), Mr. Hudson, Fantastic Negrito or Sass Jordan.
"Each band brings something different," said Garson, a New Yorker living in California who has also worked with Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails. "We have five alumni in Minneapolis. That separates us from a tribute band. I want several singers so they bring different aspects of his music. I don't want any of the singers to be karaoke or clones. I want them to have their own voice. David would not like it if we were just a cover band."
Bowie changed band members — sounds and images — periodically. Garson, 72, his most frequent sideman, played more than 1,000 Bowie concerts, including his first and last in the United States.
Because he worked with the rock icon so often, Garson received inquiries about organizing Bowie concerts long before the Thin White Duke died in January 2016. That was partly because Bowie hadn't toured since 2004.
"This tour evolved very spontaneously," said Garson, who was doing jazz concerts and writing classical music during the past dozen years. "Suddenly David passed and put the world in shock. People were reaching out to me and other alumni to do something.
"I had to become an administrator and figure out who's available. It wasn't fun, that part of it. It landed in my lap almost by default. We musicians just want to play."
The first Garson-connected tribute didn't happen until after Bowie's death. He joined Lorde for one song, "Life on Mars," at the Brit Awards in February 2016.
He has since done three Celebrating David Bowie Tours, including one that just finished in Europe in January.
The members of his core band have logged considerable time with Bowie. Garson is heard on 16 of his albums, ranging from 1973's "Aladdin Sane" to 2003's "Reality." Slick traveled on the Diamond Dogs and Serious Moonlight tours and played on the albums "Young Americans" and "Station to Station" in the mid-'70s and "Heathen" and "Reality" in the '00s.
Rojas toured with Bowie from 1983 to '87 and appeared on the "Let's Dance" and "China Girl" records. Leonard was involved in Bowie's later career, recording on "Heathen," "Reality" and "The Next Day" albums and touring behind the first two projects.
Garson noted that this tour is not sanctioned by Bowie's estate. Hence, the musicians can't use any images of Bowie — photos or videos — save for a silhouette.
So this isn't quite a sound-and-vision tour. It's the songs, with a new set list every night.
"It's a combination of hits and beautiful, esoteric pieces that I thought the fans would really appreciate," Garson said.
One song likely to turn up at every show is "Space Oddity," the tune blasting from Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster as it headed to Mars and beyond on the Falcon Heavy rocket ship.
"It makes me very happy," Garson said of Bowie in space. "I've had a few conversations with Elon. It feels right."
Twitter: @JonBream • 612-673-1719
Celebrating David Bowie
Who: Keyboardist Mike Garson, guitarists Earl Slick and Gerry Leonard, bassist Carmine Rojas, singer Gaby Moreno and more. When: 7:30 p.m. Wed. Where: Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. Tickets: $53.50-$200; 1-800-982-2787, State Theatre Box Office, ticketmaster.com.