In August 2019, Tommy Clark, known by his artist name Bovian, said goodbye to his soulmate, Chris, who was terminally ill with a rare form of blood cancer. About a week before Chris passed away, in a rare moment alone in the hospital room, Chris shared his dying wish.
“The day after we got the really bad news that there was nothing else that could be done and that he was just going to die, we were having a conversation and he told me, ‘I really want you to pursue a career in music because that’s your passion,'” Bovian says.
He took this wish seriously. Though Bovian self-identifies as a “standard issue, nine-to-five guy” at his employer Microsoft, he threw himself into building his musical persona, creating what would become his first album, Dom Bovian, and eventually, participating in forthcoming project Tour Around Town, a music-based film that features performances from Bovian and other musicians, and is designed as a fundraiser for small Seattle venues in need. The video is officially set to release for free viewing on Vimeo and YouTube, October 8th.
In all honesty, Bovian’s foray into music and live performance has been a long-time coming. For decades, Bovian has been writing songs and playing for himself—a practice he began as a kid growing up in Buffalo, NY.
“Buffalo was a very impoverished city. It was, you know, fairly dangerous,” says Bovian. “There wasn’t a whole lot to do that didn’t involve gangs or whatever. So I just kind of secluded myself. I was very introverted and I was really into music. I started playing and writing music around nine or ten, and my parents kind of knew, but they weren’t really interested. It was my big secret for a long time.”
Growing up in the ’90s, he was particularly enamored with grunge, and dreamed of moving to Seattle to participate in the vibrant music scene. “I had a very romantic notion as a budding musician on the other side of the country that I would move to Seattle one day and be a musician one day and life would be so cool,” he recalls. “So, five years ago I decided to move in that direction and I moved out here.”
Still, Bovian says it wasn’t until Chris passed away that he realized his full dream of becoming an artist in Seattle—just in time for the pandemic to hit and thwart his ability to perform. “My first public performance in front of people was actually at my partner’s memorial. I wrote a song for his eulogy and played it on the ukulele,” Bovian says. “Then, I ran into a pandemic where I couldn’t perform.”
But he was determined not to betray his word to Chris. He decided to start performing on rooftops and closed venues and invited a few other musicians to join him to make Tour Around Town, a music movie of their performances to benefit small, independent venues in Seattle who he saw struggling during the pandemic.
“Necessity was the mother of invention because I was like, I wonder if these venues will let us come in if we’re just in small groups and we can raise money for them? So, I just reached out to a bunch of folks,” Bovian says.
Tour Around Town takes place at several iconic music venues, including Paramount Theatre, Lo-Fi, Café Nodro and the Rendezvous, and includes performances from Bovian, as well as Yawa, a Portland-based one-woman atmospheric act that uses instrumental loops and synth, and Seattle’s luxe disco-pop act, Bijoux.
Adé A Cônnére, one half of Bijoux, says they were happy to support Bovian, who is an old friend, as they come out into the Seattle music scene. They were also eager to support small venues around town as a bartender at Pony (a legendary queer bar and venue in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood), and Re-bar (another small bar and venue near Capitol Hill that remains closed due to the pandemic).
“The loss of Re-bar was a big loss for me because I’ve seen so many shows there, so many plays there – we’ve even played there. It was kind of like my home away from home,” says Cônnére. “So when Bovian said he wanted to do this thing to benefit small venues, I was like, yeah, absolutely – we can’t lose any more.”
Bovian, who’s previously participated in a few independent film projects, began creating the film last October, which he calls a “blend of a concert and a documentary.” To tell the full story, Bovian peppered in the pandemic-era performances from each legendary venue around interviews with major players on the scene, and their thoughts on the times.
Bovian did a soft release of the video with Seattle Film Forum last April, at which point he launched the fundraiser for small venues, which is ongoing. So far, they’ve reached $20K of their $50K goal.
On October 8th, the film will be officially posted for free viewing on YouTube and Vimeo with links to the donation page. Donors can contribute directly to one of the venues by following the links provided, or if they’d prefer, they can donate to the project itself and funds will be split between all participating venues. Microsoft, as well, has pledged to match whatever money is raised.
“Once we post the film officially, we’re going to apply for licensing with Hulu and Netflix,” says Bovian. “Otherwise, we’re just going to leave it out there indefinitely and hope that people will continuously donate to these venues.”