When local musician Ryan Porter received a Facebook message from Thomas Dolby, he thought he was being pranked.
"At first I said, 'Who knows who this could be?'" Porter says. "But I did a little digging and realized he lives in Baltimore."
Dolby, who was a pioneering musician best known for his 1982 hit "She Blinded Me With Science," indeed lives in Fells Point, and is Homewood Professor of the Arts at The Johns Hopkins University and an artistic director of the program in Sound on Film, a joint venture between Hopkins and MICA.
But, in this message, he was simply making an inquiry about Porter's band, the Psycho Killers.
"Apparently, he was at a show at The 8x10 when we saw one of our posters," says Porter, who plays bass in the Talking Heads tribute band. "He checked us out on YouTube, said that he's a huge Talking Heads fan, and that he would love to sing a song with us."
In fact, Dolby was being a bit modest. While he does consider the Talking Heads a big musical influence, he also has a personal relationship with the band members, as they all came up together during the 1970s. In fact, Dolby and David Byrne have performed together in the past.
A plan came together and Dolby will play a few songs with the Psycho Killers on November 27 at Baltimore Soundstage. At first, the two acts wanted the show to be a secret, but once Dolby heard it was a benefit for Toys for Tots, he encouraged promotion.
"I never thought we'd play a show with him," Porter says. "He and The Talking Heads are contemporaries, so it's pretty cool we're even on his radar. He was so innovative with samples and electronic music. He's a guy who still has a ton of influence today."
While the band hasn't gotten together with Dolby to rehearse yet, the goal is they will collaborate on a few songs on stage.
"When he first reached out, he was naming songs he wanted to play and these were not songs that the average Talking Heads fan would know," Porter says. "He has a deep knowledge and was pulling out all these rare tracks."
Local funk band Litz will be opening the show, where attendees are encouraged to bring toys to donate in exchange for a chance to win a pair of free tickets to an upcoming Soundstage show.
"This worked out perfectly because obviously he's from England, so he'll be around for Thanksgiving," Porter says. "And this is one of our favorite shows to play because it gives us a chance to give back to the community."