Monday, September 01, 2014

My new book

So I wrote a new book, it's called Suicide Blonde.
Here's the elevator pitch: "A writer's offbeat, honest look at decades of living hard and her desire to delay senility long enough to bitch about it." Anyway, today Moon Magazine was kind enough to publish the only serious chapter in the book, though I hope you still have some laugh out loud moments, and you can read it right here. Let me know how you like it. xo.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No, I am not single. But this post is one... which I find out I am no good on my own….
So sorry to mislead people on Facebook about my single life – I thought I’d announced it everywhere that Gary was going to rock and roll camp to see our daughter perform and too funny, I hear it was Gary who ended up being the performer one night when the whole group of campers gathered around a bonfire and sang Beatle songs, the setlist for which was put together by Adrian and Gary. As for me, I had all sorts of things planned, none of which came to fruition except lots of meditation so I cannot call the week a total loss. Plus, I learned something interesting about myself. I am now completely helpless. Dinner Wednesday night was a ¼ container of leftover hummus which I ate with a spoon. The next night I ate a Ritter Sport bar and a glass of wine. Friday I did not even bother because I knew they were coming home and I was too excited. So what if they did not arrive until 7:30 a.m. on Saturday? I was wide awake and not even a little bit hungry. I am in a strange place these days. I have an awesome job; I am thrilled at how my kids’ lives have turned out, but I am plagued with niggling medical issues that are driving me nuts. I am down to about two food groups I can eat without feeling awful. The good news is, I am now a size six. The bad news is, I miss enjoying food. But I have had every test there is to have; I know I have a tiny gallstone in my bile duct, but I also know my teeth are the evil force behind everything and I have a whole lot of surgery planned. Feh. I would much rather be telling you about my new book. Or what amounts to the five unfinished books I have been working on for over four years. In fact, book five just started because I took the best lines out of the other four, illustrated them, and was going to call it “Unfinished Business” but then Eric gave me the idea to name is “Fractured Fragments” so I have a title but now I am unsure I should proceed with yet another project, especially one which might mess up the previous four. Oh, I am not myself at all. The good news is, Julie and Eric are in town this week. I actually got to spend my birthday with them Sunday, a birthday in which I reached an unspeakable age. We went to this amazing restaurant called Gojjo where I had this truly remarkable vegetarian combo. Cannot recommend it enough. Presents? Oh man, did I get presents. A Kindle and leather Kindle cover from Eric and Rachel, a handbag and beautiful turquoise earrings from Julie, and an unbelievable necklace and earrings from Gary. Yeah, it made my descent into senility a lot easier to take :) It has been great having the "kids" home. Jake the dog has been loving visitors during the day.
Both Julie and Eric have so much going on tour/music wise that it will probably require a second post, which is kind of what I am aiming for. I really need to get back to daily writing. Blogging would always lead me to my novels, but I stopped morning blogging in favor of meditation, and got a job offer last year I could not turn down - best job ever - so I no longer have lots of free time. But again, I have not been this happy in a very long time. Julie leaves tonight for Italy, where she has spent a good part of this year. I was supposed to meet up with her there but again, life got in the way and I am hoping to travel to see her in Europe in 2015 since she might actually be living in Berlin. And I cried when she moved to LA! But now that Eric moved to Asheville, I am over being shell shocked and again, keep asking myself, Why stay here? Well, because I have a great job, and because my house continues to climb in value even though I loathe my new wealthy neighbors. So I guess I will just stick it out until I can't stand it no more. (trying to quote Popeye here but the grammar is just too awful.) Eric has all kinds of things in the works but one of the funniest is that he is playing Jay Z's Philadelphia festival in Los Angeles at the end of this month. Why? Because his band has a show in Philly on September 13 so they would have canceled each other out. Are you going to the show at the Mann on the 13th? You'd better! It is going to be amazing. Get your tickets here. I have a ticket to see King Crimson the night before. Tell me how amazing that is going to be. Got your ticket for that yet? They are in Philadelphia for two nights and you still may be able to score one right here. I have this fantasy that Julie opens for them someday. I know, I know. But stranger things have happened. Meanwhile, she goes on a 40 city tour with Mr. Belew this fall and I will have much to say about that. Oh, I really hope I go back to my "reporting days". Let's see. What else. I am reading a spectacular book called A Life in Men by Gina Frangello. Just buy it. I promised Gina a review of her last book but it was during a time when my life was being turned upside down by all kinds of death and destruction so I never got around to it. I intend to make it up to her with this novel - it is truly rocking my world. In music news, just buy everything by Markus Reuter, Marco Machera, Tony Levin,Steve Lawson, Field Mouse, and of course, Julie and Eric. You cannot go wrong with any of these and you will be supporting indie music. My fantasy is to turn this blog into a haven for indie artists altogether. I need more confidence in my review writing but yes, I would love to review indie records and books every single day. It's how I get through life - words and music. And a healthy dose of family and Jake, who is, of course, the last child home. Later, xo

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Back by Popular Demand

This photo was taken eleven years ago at where my daughter, Julie is performing at this very minute. That was one of the best times of my life. I had never been to Germany and I do not have the time or space to tell you about the magic that is Zappanale. I wish I had kept this blog back then but I think they were a fairly new invention in 2003. Anyway, I refuse to live in anything but the present moment but it is nice reliving great memories from time to time. Do I sound like I have become an Eckhart Tolle disciple? Indeed I have. Now I know how John Lennon felt. He who stands with one foot in the past and one foot in the future pisses on the present. That being said, I do enjoy thinking about the crazy life I have led because I know I need to use it in my writing. So my new thing is getting out of bed on the weekends at around 2 a.m. and hanging out alone downstairs in the dark until 5 a.m., vegging out and watching the Food Network (bad Robin!) or meditating. But truth to tell, lately I am just sitting here, reading almost ten years of blog entries, and wondering who that woman was - the one who sometimes blogged twice a day; the mom who traipsed all over the world with her teenaged kids - the one who kept meeting celebrities when least expected and always had an insane backstory to report and a photo to post in breathless prose with lots of exclamation points. When I think of how different life was even five years ago, it is almost as if I am reading a stranger's autobiography. It could not possibly have been me. But it was me and I am very grateful. Back then I had a quick temper and was pretty excitable. These days I am happy and calm. Okay, I am calmer than I was. And I stay out of my kids' lives and don't give advice unless they ask, which, thank God, they don't. :) Of course if you follow me on Facebook, you know I am still groupie Mom, and I am sure I've lost a lot of followers because all I do is brag about Eric and Julie, who are now, gasp, age 27 and 28. You also probably know that Eric lives in Asheville, N.C. and Julie, who moved to LA almost two years ago, is now pretty sure she's going to try life in Berlin next. Once I got over the initial shock, and I admit, it took me a long time, I am bursting with pride. Those two are living the dream. They might not be driving around in limos, but they are earning a living as full time musicians, playing what they love with band members they adore while at the same time slowly building names as solo artists. And I realize with quite a jolt that they have freed me up - I thought I would never leave Philadelphia or this house and now the future, which of course I don't think about, is limitless. (Yes, okay, I do sometimes daydream about living in the mountains with my nearest neighbor 20 miles away after spending my entire adult life in downtown Philadelphia or at the beach on an island or country somewhere in Europe where I can live cheaply and get free medical care). Do I miss them? Hell, yeah. But since they are always touring and Eric's band is based in Philadelphia, I still get to see them and with texting and Facetime, sometimes I think we talk more than when they lived a mile away. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get lonely for Eric's weekly appearances at our Sunday barbecues or being able to call Julie up to meet me at Happy Hour at the latest trendy restaurant, but growing older is all about change and acceptance and trust me, that beats the alternative. I have also gotten very involved in Transcendental Meditation and I have this fantasy that I am going to take teacher training. This fantasy has replaced my fantasy of being a famous author. Gah, I wasn't going to talk about this but I have not exactly been working hard to finish any of my...erm...four novels in progress and yet that does not depress me. I don't think you can force art, and I've been debating back and forth which book I want to work on. Ultimately, after meditating last night non-stop (it works, I swear!) I decided to return to Suicide Blonde, a project I started this time last year. There is this meme going around on Facebook where other author friends of mine are tagging each other to post the first lines of the first three chapters of their works in progress and at first I was sad that no one picked me but then I let it go and was realistic. I haven't written a new book in five years and I kind of dropped out from hanging out on line with author pals. I will tell you honestly what got to me. I don't have it in me to find a new agent and start the query process; I know the odds of getting an agent at my age (not awesome); I know the odds drop even more when it comes to the agent selling the book, and I also know that in the event it does sell, there is no more huge advance money and I can look forward to publication in maybe 2019. With my genetic background, I will kiss the ground if I am still alive and healthy in 2019. Ironically, Suicide Blonde is probably the best thing I ever wrote, and I hate my work. So I am going to do my own version of the meme here. Oh, I should tell you what Suicide Blonde is about. My friend, author Debra Leigh Scott of Hidden River Arts actually spoon fed me my elevator pitch: A writer's offbeat, honest look at decades of living hard and her desire to delay senility long enough to bitch about it. Chapter One: "I never liked the telephone, so you can only imagine the cellular hell I’m in now." Chapter Two: "Hi, Robin, I’m a movie and television producer based in Los Angeles." Chapter Three: "The first time I had an attack of duck foot I went into shock and screamed like a lunatic because that’s how I always handle tragedies." So that's a tease and I am 200 pages in. Will anyone want to read it? I just finished a book by author Grant Jarrett called Ways of Leaving. The book had a powerful impact on me and here's why...well, this is my review for Amazon and I say it there - Grant had to have dug deep within his soul and pulled out some painful truths. I always try and make jokes because that is my way of coping. But after reading his book and repeating the mantra "I want to write what I want to read", I think I can do it with Suicide Blonde. Anyway, before I go off track more, here's my aforesaid review because I really want people to go out and buy this book because it is so freaking great. "Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye. Charles Bukowski in Ham on Rye. What do they have in common? The protagonists - one fictional, one autobiographical - were the modern day folk heroes of their time and in fact remain heroes to this date. Which brings me to Chase Stoller, the brilliant, tortured star of Grant Jarrett's debut novel, Ways of Leaving. Chase joins the ranks of Holden and Charles - he will delight you, engage you, enrage you, and in the end, you will never forget him. Why? Because he will never bore you and you will highlight sections of this book so that you can go back and quote him. Rather than give you a synopsis of what this book is about as others have succinctly done in previous reviews, I want to focus on what Grant has brought to the table here. The spoken dialogue is both witty and hilarious. Do you want quirky characters? Check. Laugh out loud, odd-ball sexual situations? Check. Scenes written so vividly you are right there with Chase while he "interacts" with police officers, doctors, the self-absorbed brother you will all recognize, the husband of his latest love interest, and the woman who got away....or did she? And as for Chase's inner thoughts? Even better. He is Holden all grown up; Charles would have grudgingly offered him the adjoining bar stool and even bought him a drink. Writers are taught to dig deep if they want to produce something extraordinary, but few are able to accomplish it. In Ways of Leaving, Jarrett has done that and more. He is almost painfully honest and while we know this is a work of fiction, the observations Chase makes...what makes him tick...what makes him cry...what gives him hope...all had to come from something deep in the writer's mind. It was as if Jarrett said, "You know what? I don't give a damn what anyone thinks, I am just going to put it all out there. I am going to give you my heart and my soul and everything I have, and I hope you can accept it and maybe even like it." Mission accomplished, Grant. This reader loved it, and thinks it is the top debut novel of 2014." So yeah, I am inspired to write again and I thought I would get my feet wet with this blog post. The old me would now commence spilling a ton of gossip about Julie and Eric. Now it feels intrusive. But I will share what they are up to musically because it's pretty damn cool. Eric has a solo record out called Out of Habit
He also has a new record out with Lithuania
And then there is the amazing cut he recorded with his band, Dr. Dog, and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips (actually, I am not sure but I think the Flaming Lips are on the record, too) and darn, I also don't know if the name of the song has been officially released so I better shut up. I just tried Google to see if it was, and I found this, which I did not know: Eric and Wayne Never content to be in just four projects, Eric is also recording a new record with Lithuania, another solo guitar record but this time with vocals and lyrics he also wrote, and he just put out this new tune with my future daughter-in-law (I hope!!!) Rachel Browne So Long They are so adorable :)
There will be upcoming news about those two - stay tuned. And now for Princess Julie, who, by my estimation, has now finished her set with The Crimson Projekct.
Julie has been living this totally amazing life as a modern day minstral. She gave up her apartment in LA and has literally been touring/traveling all of 2014. She has spent much of the year in Europe, where she has worked with brilliant fellow bassists Steve Lawson in England and Marco Machera in Italy.
She has also recorded with both and the results are extraordinary. Fourth Dementia
And here is the promo video Moving over to the UK, here is Steve, Julie, and Andy
After this tour with Crimson Projeckt wraps up next month, Julie returns to Europe to gig with Marco and Steve, too. Julie, Steve, and Andy
Okay, I know there are gigs in Italy with Marco August 7 and 8 but I can't find the links - I will come back and put them in for those of you lucky enough to be able to attend. So yeah, it is easy to see why Julie is so smitten with Europe and why Eric loves Asheville. At first I was like, whoa, how could they leave me, but now I realize I raised two strong, independent creative souls who are happy beyond belief. And I know without a doubt they love their father and me as much as we love them. So really, what more could any parent want? A book deal? :) Well, to quote Gabriel Marquez: “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” Here is to eternal youth. And guess what. I started this blog early today and just finished. Why? Because I wrote two new chapters of Suicide Blonde. Oy, don't tell me I am going to have to write that query after all...

Friday, January 31, 2014

Is this thing still on?

Testing, testing. Well, while I have been away from blogging world, they changed blogger on me. So now I have to take a tour and figure out what is new and exciting. As far as my life: Wow, a lot has changed since I last blogged. Since 2014 marks this journal's 10 year anniversary and reading the archives makes me realize I was happy once :), I decided not to let it die a slow painful death and at least not have it end with a whimper. So let me reacquaint myself with the format here and I will be back. At least that is the plan.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rembering George Harrison on his birthday

The most gorgeous song ever written and/or performed. I dare you not to cry.

Happy birthday, George.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Dr. Dog Says: Control Yourself!

As a promo for their upcoming tour and new record, Be the Void, all of which (tickets, music, t-shirts, etc.) can be pre-ordered right here, please enjoy an amazing brand new Dr. Dog song, which you will find on the seven inch single in stores on November 25, 2011 in honor of Record Store Day but not on the upcoming release so get thee to a record store and (to paraphrase the lyrics)...just do it!

Also, quick reminder that Eric, Julie, and Tim Motzer will be playing tomorrow night at the Tritone Bar, 15th and South Streets, Philadelphia, PA. Erm...just do it? I see they are calling themselves SMS - that's the first I've heard of that and I like it! You know, as in Slick, Motzer, Slick? Now. Which Slick comes first? A philosophical question for first thing on a Saturday morning? Like wondering about the chicken or the egg?

For those who are busy pondering, I already have an answer for you about the latter.

A chicken and an egg lie together in bed.

The chicken smokes a cigarette and smiles with satisfaction.

The egg frowns and mutters, "Well, I guess we answered that question!"

And with that...


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Being the Void :)

Ho ho no...

Sorry. I'm not in holiday mood or mode yet - wasn't it just summer? Perhaps some eggnog will help. Eggnog made with Jack Daniels. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

Regarding the title of this post, Be the Void is the name of Dr. Dog's new record, and you will be able to pre-order it this coming Tuesday, November 29, 2011 right here.

I don't have to Be the Void, I am the void, but that's nothing new and I'm proud of it. All kidding aside, this music rocks and I'll have a lot more to say about it later on in this post.

So in case you haven't noticed, I've been taking an indefinite break from social medicine media including Facebook, Twitter, and really, all things internet. Can it be I'm finally bored of too much information -- in some cases, far, far, too much information -- the unending sharing and with that, the inevitable intrusion, etc. etc. blah blah blah. And so I find these days I would rather spend what little free moments I do have curled up on the sofa with the dog and a book or write my latest project on the laptop with the intraweb turned off.

Yeah, that appears to be what's going on. Also, I have to admit it - I'm obsessed with my new novel but it's a series written under a pen name so I can't really talk about it which both does and does not suck. :)

But to my new readers courtesy of Dr. Dog and Julie's huge base of fans internationally, if you've read Eric's latest interview, he does touch on a subject close to my heart:

"So I was reading about your mom and all of her accomplishments as an editor and author, what was it like growing up with that creative influence?

It was awesome. That was actually a relatively new thing. My dad is also a musician. So my dad was inspiring me in the music world and then my mom was also writing, but the Internet really cultivated that for her. Once we got the Internet in the house she was able to join online writer’s groups, very early versions of online writer’s groups. It reignited her love for writing. So because of the Internet my mom started publishing books, which was awesome. Just watching her do that, devoting hours and hours of time to do that was very inspiring. Some of them are erotic novels, which cracks me up

Is that weird for you?

No, it just became a funny thing to talk about at parties with my friends. [They’d be like] “Eric’s mom writes erotic novels.” I’d be like “No she doesn’t! Stop it!” They’d go to my bookshelf and read them. I’d be like “No that’s not them! Come on!” [Laughter.] It still happens to this day. You can definitely print that, because my mom would get a huge kick out of that.

So overall a pretty artistic household growing up.

Oh yeah. You should see my house where I grew up. It was crazy. It was like a Willy Wonka house. I’m not even joking.

Could you lick the walls?

You couldn’t lick the walls, although Frank often jokes that I ate paint chips as a kid, but that didn’t happen. The house was all leopard print and exposed brick. We have this big hand chair in the living room that’s made out of recycled gallons of milk. My parents have a very unique taste in furniture that’s borderline kitchy. We also grew up with like 3,000 vinyl [records] in our living room. My drum set was in the living room. All of my dad’s guitars were in the living room. So we really packed a whole lot into a Philadelphia row home. But people always wanted to come over. It was a funky house. It still is a funky house. I was over there the other day."

So now that you know I write erotic novels, please also rest assured that they are erotic COMEDIES and while, yeah, the sex is graphic, they are filled with laugh out loud (I have been told) scenes throughout. That would be the Three Days in New York City trilogy, with Three Days being the first in the series, Another Bite of the Apple being part II, and Bitten to the Core is Part III. If you would simply like to read my very, very creative non-fiction memoir which does not contain any graphic sex and talks about what it was like to tour with my kiddies, then you would want Daddy Left Me Alone with God. Here's a link to buy my stuff but as usual, I am begging that you make your purchases through your local, independent book stores. While admittedly they might not have all of my books in stock, they will gladly order them for you. If not, they're on Kindle and they're cheap as hell. So like, help a sister out.

Anyway, back to my current dislike of the internet...that being so, I still feel like I should touch base once in a while so I've resurrected the blog today to let you know I'm still alive (and so is the dog, by some miracle) and to play a little catch up.

First of all, Thanksgiving was amazing. It was just the immediate family plus Eric's girlfriend, Nicky, who is in fact the immediate family now so yeah, it was just us, which was wonderful and know, the way holidays should be? Let's start with the menu, which was concocted by both Julie and Eric. First, the appetizers:

Assorted cheeses with Devine family (Nicky's parents) preserved pears and warm walnut honey, pickled vegetables - turnips, brussels sprouts, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and carrots. With the exception of the cheese and pears, all were made by Julie. Amazing. I cannot even describe how good the warm walnut honey was - it had a squeeze of Meyer lemon in it and some rosemary, too, I think. That, and the sweetness of those California pears, was such a nice foil for the cheeses and Julie's tart, pickled vegetables. Iron Chef Jose Garces has nothing on Julie in that department. I say that because Julie and I had pickled vegetables for the first time at one of Jose's restaurants around three years ago and now of course they are the rage everywhere. Just watch an episode of Chopped. Trust me, Julie has managed to trump them all.

The turkey for carnivores Eric, Gary, and Nicky, was organic, free range and courtesy of Julie, cider brined the night before:

While that turkey was stuffed, Julie and I got our own tray without the poultry drippings - it was the same ingredients except totally vegetarian stuffing which was a combination of Challah bread, potato, celery, carrots, herbs, shallots, etc. We had a gravy for it made with fresh vegetable broth, freshly squeezed orange, and rosemary. To die for:

We needed a green so Julie came up with this crazy crispy baked Tuscan kale. I may have finally found a solution to my French fry addiction. That, and the accompanying frizzled leeks.

We also had fresh baked (we stole the recipe from) Devon Grill biscuits, yukon gold mashed potatoes with frizzled leeks and crispy shallots, fresh orange and cranberry sauce.

Here's how it all looked together jammed and crammed on the table...

We somehow made room and I'm so glad we did..for Nicky's home-made apple pie which we warmed and topped with vanilla ice pie being Eric's all-time favorite dessert.

Afterward, a walk was in order and Nicky snapped this photo of Julie and Eric hanging at the old playground where they grew up - except it's all changed now from cool wood and interesting shapes to one of those new plastic modular things. Blech. But I adore the pic and it captures them the same way photos did back when they were 10 and 11 - always joyous.

All in all, a lovely holiday, after which the family, except me (and Julie, who bugged out and went home), went to John and Peter's in New Hope, PA to jam with Chris Harford and the guys from Ween.

So of course there is even more music news. Friday was record store day, and Dr. Dog released a seven inch vinyl with Sides A and B - "Control Yourself" and "Warrior Man". The record comes in all kinds of crazy colors like hot pink and orange, purple, lime green - it's fantastic. Here's a You Tube of "Control Yourself". Eric sounds like Keith Moon...

Dr. Dog has attracted the attention of Tom Waits, who made this awesome comment and drawing on his Facebook page:

"Attention! Meet others! Hands On! Interact! Discuss! Survive! Congregate - at your local record shop."

See? He's got Dr. Dog written in there. Too freaking cool.

Also, the above video is from Dr. Dog's aforesaid Ninja gig at Kung Fu. Eric's dad was there - and he saw the Beatles in 1966. Gary is a skeptic - it's no secret that he wasn't sure Eric made the right career move when he left the Adrian Belew Power Trio to join Dr. Dog, but he came home from the show absolutely blown away. These are his exact words:

"It was like every film clip I've seen of the Beatles playing at the Cavern in 1962. Crowd screaming, jam packed, and the band on fucking fire."

(That's for you kiddies who can't even name all four Beatles but you should all watch it because it's so damn cool)

By the way, Gary actually saw the Beatles live in 1966 at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia - his mother took him - and he still has the ticket stubs ($4.00@). So he knows what he's talking about even without the Cavern video.

Also, there were two awesome reviews of that show, courtesy of the Swollen Fox and Phrequency. Links right here for Swollen Fox (where they say "...Eric Slick on drums. That kid is a beast" and here for Phrequency (where they say "To sum it all up, Dr. Dog's show last night was by far one of the raddest shows of the year.")


And then the next night, Gary went to see Julie play with her new band, Drgn Kng, and the first words out of his mouth when he got home were:

"Holy crap, it was like the Beatles at the Cavern all over again, Rob. They are really good. Really, really good."

So I'm thinking that Julie and Dom and the whole band should head out to LA when Julie hops on a plane in January (more on that later when I have more info myself) because one of Drgn Kng's members, Ritz Reynolds, is already on his way there with the number one hit on Billboard with Mac Miller. I kid you not.

Do me a huge favor, oh cyber people. Please visit Drgn Kng's Facebook page, and like them. The way the world works now, the more "likes" they have, the better chance they can book a tour.

Here's the direct link to hear some more of their music. They are very, very good. Have a listen and pick up a free download here.

And let us not forget about Julie's brilliant record with drummer Carl Bahner. You can have a listen and order it right here. Also, an insanely good You Tube from their record release party two weeks ago:

Also, in case you missed it, Julie did a show in Brooklyn, NY on November 11 - it was a Spinal Tap Tribute which featured a lot of NY heavy hitter musicians. In case you've ever wondered what Julie would look like with facial hair, well, here's your chance.

Ha ha, that was pretty epic. Loved it.

By the way, even though they didn't tell me this, because even though I have given up the internet I still stalk them on Facebook because otherwise, I'd never get any information, but Julie, Eric, and Tim Motzer have a gig next Sunday night at The Tritone at 15th and South in Philadelphia. It's not on their calendar yet, but trust me, they are playing. I'm sure Julie or Tim will tweet and Facebook the event with more details in case I don't bring my sorry ass back here in time.

So anyway, I started this post talking about Dr. Dog's new record, and I think I may end it that way since I just found a pretty nice review. I heard that some advance copies have been sent to a few fine folks and this will be the first of many popping up, I am sure:

No Mistake in Mix Tape

In their most rockin’ album to date, Dr. Dog comes down from the clouds to unfurl their breezy pop from the ground. Infusing bluesy notes on “Lonesome,” and a high-pitched guitar riff on “How Long Must I Wait” that wouldn’t sound out of place on the last Black Keys album, the Philadelphia quintet finds a more distinct groove. The biting phrase “You destroy all that’s good here/at your will/there’s a part of me though that/loves you still,” comes out like venom on “Vampire,” a mid-tempo number where the narrator can’t help but be seduced by the evil monster in question. Much of the album has the same bite, thanks to its percussive jab that feels indebted to Elvis Costello.

Of course, as is always a highlight of Dr. Dog’s music, beautiful harmonies float like feathers atop frontman Scott McMicken’s punctuated vocals. “Do, do, do, trick, tr’ trick,” echoes through “Do the Trick” like doo wop making sweet love to The Beach Boys.

While 2010’s Shame, Shame took Dr. Dog on a more reflective, gloomier journey, Be the Void is the band’s reemergence into its escapist tendencies. The common ground lies in the glossy production, a far cry from early lo-fi recordings. It suits them, especially on “Heavy Light,” a foray into the islandy afro-pop popular with bands like Givers and Friendly Fires.

Seventies psychedelia chimes through the trippy “Warrior Man” and album closer “Turning the Century” (is that a sitar?). “Big Girl” is an epic barnburner that starts with a jagged guitar groove and culminates in the sort of keyboard-heavy climax that makes dreams come true. If these songs translate live, tour dates supporting Be the Void could be the most raucous we’ve seen Dr. Dog yet. It’s gonna be a fun ride.


And in Honest Tune:

Beloved Philadelphia band Dr. Dog are poised to release a staggering burst of vital rock ‘n’ roll with their new record Be The Void. The album hits stores this February 7th via Anti-Records and is the raucous follow up to the group’s critically lauded Shame, Shame.

While the band’s previous records boasted meticulously crafted symphonic pop, this time around the band turns up the guitars and delivers a truly great cathartic rock ‘n’ roll album played with near reckless abandon and passion.

With the addition of new drummer Eric Slick and electronics-percussionist-guitarist Dmitri Manos, the band entered the studio (Meth Beach) with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and confidence, tracking the songs live to perfectly capture the rough and tumble energy of their renowned live show.

“We would just get in the pocket and go with it because it sounded great,” bassist-vocalist Toby Leaman explains. “There wasn’t this endless deliberating. We just went with our gut feelings on things.”

“It was reminiscent of when we were starting out and were these fearless weirdos in a basement, so confident and reckless and bold,” guitarist-vocalist Scott McMicken adds. “It was really liberating.”

The songs on Be The Void flawlessly combine Dr. Dog’s adventuresome and expansive arrangements with a far leaner and meaner primal sound. The beats are harder, the guitars louder and edged with a warm distortion. “Guitars stopped being problematic and started becoming very exciting to us,” McMicken explains.

From the rollicking re-imagined blues of the disc’s title track to the searing guitars of “Vampire,” the frenetic punk urgency of “Over Here Over There” and the beautifully fuzzed out rock of “Warrior Man,” Dr. Dog’s Be The Void is a truly great rock ‘n’ roll record and the unmistakable sound of a band whose moment has arrived.

Be The Void Track Listing:
That Old Black Hole
These Days
How Long Must I Wait
Get Away
Do The Trick
Heavy Light
Big Girl
Over Here, Over There
Warrior Man
Turning The Century


Okay, I am officially wiped out. How I used to do this every day I have no idea but then again, I was blogging instead of novel writing and it really was time to get my priorities back in order. So look for not one but two new books from me soon. Like, really soon. Only you won't know the second book is me. Unless I blab and tell you.

Blab? Who me? Never.

Ooh, ooh, but here's a hint in a recent interview I did for a newspaper in Rhode Island with many thanks to writer/broadcaster/and all around book lover Robin Kall.

Okay, now I'm outta here for real. Books to read, novels to write, dogs to feed, and the final day of a four day weekend to enjoy.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Some people get to ride around in Danny Carey's Lamborghini

So yeah, that's my daughter, Julie, "tooling" around with drummer Danny Carey, who will be joining the Two of a Perfect Trio tour tonight through Tuesday. Unbelievably enough, tickets are still on sale for the show tonight in Santa Ana at the Galaxy Theater right here.

Yeah, that's a Lamborghini. No wonder she's smiling.

More later..


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Stick Men and Slick Women - continued

So here's something I bet you thought you'd never see...a crazed Arnold Terminator competition between drummer extraordinaires Eric Slick and Tobias Ralph.

There's a history behind that. When Eric was still with the trio, there were long, ten hour drives some days and to break the monotony, Eric, Ade, and Julie would launch into various comedy routines. I am happy to say that Tobias has totally filled the void and he's also a brilliant drummer. Check out his interview in Drumhead Magazine this month. It's pretty special.

So Eric and I trained it up to NY last week for the Stick Men, ABPT, Crim-centric show at the Iridium, which was so much cooler than BB Kings where the ABPT has played many times before (and the food way better, too)...and man, those bands owned that place. The bartender came over after the show and said to Tony Levin, "I've worked here four years and that was the absolute best show I've ever seen."

Seriously. The music is ridiculous. You know I have to post all the reviews and blog blurbs I found so I'm warning you in advance. In my humble opinion, this tour is indeed a beautiful tribute to Robert Fripp, but it's also a lot more because he knew how to pick musicians and they are doing him proud with wild and innovative music influenced by the Mighty King but also quite different in its own right, too. I know the effect his and his bands' music had on Julie and Eric growing up, and how it shaped them as musicians and as people and it was pretty major.

So yeah, Eric and I had a blast, and as usual, I'm not allowed to say anything about the freaking amazing things going on in his life, other than he is presently on a plane to LA with the rest of Dr. Dog where they are on a top secret mission. All I can tell you is, everyone in America will know soon enough. It's just crazy what those boys are up to. When I finally am allowed to tell you all that's going on, it's pretty jaw dropping. By the way, if you click on the link to Eric's website above, you'll see that he's added some amazing artwork he's done recently.

Back to the show. It was an awesome night and it was cool to see Eric and Ade joking around like old times. Our only regret was that we couldn't hang out all night afterward but hopefully the opportunity will arise again. I am really considering one of these shows - hey, I'll hop a plane for even one night - if Eric is up for tagging along...cos' you know, this is pretty damn sick and I lifted it right off Danny's website:

Seriously, with all due respect to Eric, Marco, and Tobias, how freaking cool is this going to be? My daughter playing with Danny Carey of Tool. As my son tweeted, "I moshed to him when I was 13." And as one of his friends tweeted back: "Didn't we all."

I'm talking myself into hopping that plane as I type this. How can I miss seeing at least one of those shows? Arghhh...must.find.a.way.....

Okay, as promised, here are some nice things I've found on line about the tour, and my beautiful daughter, of course, about the shows so far. There not even half way done, so if they are coming to a city near you and you haven't make up your mind about going, maybe this will seal the deal.

King Crimson will not be appearing tonight!”

…proclaimed a recorded sample of Robert Fripp’s voice as the Stick Men eased into a roaring performance of Smudge (if one can use ‘eased’ and ‘Stick Men’ in the same sentence at all). So, I guess even Fripp didn’t escape being present in some form tonight, I thought, while adjusting my “FRIPP” baseball cap that I purchased from DGM a few months ago. I was in the audience at the Mod Club in Toronto for another excellent date of the Two of a Perfect Trio tour, and it was near the beginning of a great night that I thought I’d share my thoughts on with all of you.

However King Crimson already made a musical appearance, as the Stick Men began their set with a rendition of VROOOM VROOOM, setting the tone for the evening and getting the whole audience smiling and cheering. Even before the show started at this relatively small (couple of hundred person) venue, I felt a very good vibe – unlike King Crimson concerts proper, which usually play at 2000-seat theaters here, this felt intimate, with the audience packing the house but not spilling out or going nuts. As I showed up to the venue, I was greeted by knowing smiles – this felt more like a secret little family gathering than a trumpeted “PROG ROCK LEGEND” concert, with most in attendance being in-the-know enough to know the beast hiding behind the mostly-unassuming AB Power Trio/Stick Men label. It was a much more relaxed, less expectation-laden atmosphere than KC shows, I thought – with some credit definitely due to honest advertising of the show as not some grand reunion tour, but two bands + special encore.

The Stick Men were great as always – aside from the pieces already mentioned, they also played a stomping, hilarious rendition of Soup, Slow Glide, and the full Firebird Suite. And of course the talk of their set this time – Breathless from Fripp’s Exposure. Yes, it’s as good as everyone says it is, and the faithfulness of this trio’s recreation of it is pretty startling. It’s like Stick Men were actually transported back into 1979 and secretly put it on Fripp’s record, returning to 2011 to play it live with the very same feel. Tony was in top form, standing out especially with his crushing groove on Soup. Markus fit right into the band – last I saw them, Michael Bernier was still the other Stick Man, but Markus is just as comfortable in the same shoes. Comparing the two, Markus seems like the more experienced but also more reserved player – perhaps it’s his Crafty background, or the stereotypical German exactness, but he really struck me as an incredibly professional, disciplined, well-tempered musician with a great sense for appropriate, non-flashy play rather than fireworks. He kept a calm composure throughout and covered quite a lot of ground – including Fripp’s role in many Crim pieces, more on which later. Pat, on the other hand, was a real madman behind the drumkit – grinning the whole night through and trashing about with both unexpected percussion (including squeaky toys) and grooves that had all the subtlety of massed cannon bombardments. The Stick Men continue to strike me as a band where both Pat and Tony look mainly to do musical mischief – pushing things a little over the top, but having a lot of fun doing it. The middle break of Slow Glide, for example, stretched on a bit long this time, I thought (last time I saw them play it a year ago, it was more haunting and to the point) – but you can’t say no to it when the guys on stage seem to be having a blast holding a captive audience in their ambient playground. At the end of the set, Tony created what was probably the quickest rush to the merchandize stand I’ve seen by mentioning that he was coming out to sign items in a moment. Great timing for marketing! True to his word, the Stick Men made their way into the crowd during the 15-minute break between sets and mingled with the happy crowd. The overall response to their set was great.

After the break, Adrian and his crew made their way onto the stage. An adoring response erupted for Adrian from the moment he appeared, and was more than returned by the star of the show – honestly speaking, I feel like Adrian was really the happiest person in the building that night. I think from his perspective, this was as good as it was gonna get in lieu of a real 80s Crimson reunion, and he was having the best time of it all. He looked great, too – last time I saw him, I couldn’t help but think that Adrian had really aged when he walked on stage (only to look at least a decade younger within 15 minutes of playing guitar – startling transformation really) – but on Tuesday night he looked and played in top form, start to finish. Sounded great, too. The Power Trio covered a good amount of ground too – Neurotica appeared, in a rendition that I thought wasn’t entirely to Crim’s level (to be fair, I think that piece is a little more than a trio can chew), but nevertheless performed with a lot of fun had by all. Bow and Drum plus Young Lions covered Adrian’s old materials – again, lots of fun and an almost punk twist on them, but here I think Adrian’s power-electric sound and Julie’s crushing base were almost too much for these poppier, simpler pieces. Then Power Trio pieces proper – Beat Box Guitar, Madness, and e. This is where the band truly comes into uncharted territory of great musicianship. I was surprised just how much Beat Box Guitar and Madness continue developing – they’re not new pieces anymore, but they sound more and more interesting every time I hear them played. E is a demon – even Crimson proper would have trouble squelching that beast, but Adrian’s got it all figured out by now. I think he practically flattened the audience with it, and when it ended the response was indeed pretty uproarious.

On the musicians – Adrian’s great, he really needs no comments. He’s continued working on his Power Trio sound over the last few years, and has really brought in a fuller, heavier tone than one might hear on most Crimson records. He still stands out for playing the WHOLE guitar – not just strumming his way happily while pushing the frets, but really bringing every inch of that instrument into some sort of productive sound making. His use of loops and other effects is natural and casual – he really needs to get that whammy bar tightened up though! (It kept escaping his grasp and twirling about at particularly frenzied moments). Tobias, like Markus in the Stick Men, struck me as a well-tempered professional rather than showman – although some of it, surely, is because of inevitable comparisons to the crazed monkey-man Pat. He showed some good improv chops later on as well. Julie is truly a mistress of her instrument – proving that she has nothing to prove later on in the set while sharing the stage with Tony. Her playing is hardly derivative of TLev or Les Claypool whose shoes she originally filled, and her sound commanded a lot of my attention even in the double trio. She’s a technically-outstanding young player – and the latter quality, being young, actually stands a lot to her advantage. She’s not jaded by any particular style of playing and plays prog with ease (like it’s the simplest and most natural thing ever), while having no trouble at all filling even the simpler Belew-pop songs with unexpected licks. But even more importantly, she does it all with a lot of confidence – that’s a quality I love in a bass player, and there is indeed nothing tentative about Julie’s grooves.

So with the Power Trio taking their bow, it was now the promised encore time (after a short break). First it was the Pat-Adrian-Tony trio. I don’t think I can quite adequately relate the feeling of joy of seeing Adrian and Tony on the same stage, singing the chorus to Three of a Perfect Pair together. Perfect indeed! No, this really was a kind of family gathering. Elephant Talk followed, and was probably the best live version of it that I’ve heard. Then Markus came on stage, and Red followed. Again, probably the best take on the piece that I’ve heard. Then the rest of the set… what magic! Frame by Frame, One Time, B’Boom-THRAK, Dinosaur, Indiscipline, Thela – I don’t even know where to start.

Perhaps one of the best compliments I can make here is that what was being played was not just careful recreations of good ol’ pieces, but really live music in the best sense of the word. I loved hearing the new take on One Time especially – the piece matured a lot, and Adrian and Markus reached into some interesting territory for it. Dinosaur in a double-trio rendition is THE way to hear that piece – too bad the middle break was cut, but the band screeching to a halt a second time to let Adrian do some roars and howls on his guitar more than made up for it (the Power Trio also does Dinosaur like this, but the added weight of 3 more players only makes this pause more striking).

Some comments on the earlier shows complained about Tony hanging back too much in the double trio, but to be honest, I saw no such issue in this show – Tony only held back a couple of times, and in those cases (e.g. One Time, Frame by Frame) I thought it was more than appropriate – for the rest of the pieces he was more than fully engaged, though it was definitely interesting to see him playing mainly bass (rather than the stick), yet focusing more on soloing – Julie held the primary groove for many of the pieces.
The longest intro ever accompanied Indiscipline – but Adrian’s infectious playfulness with the vocals on that song had the audience going as always. Thela came as the final encore, and so it ended. But the biggest question, of course, was what was present and absent that evening… Was it Crimson? Could it be, without Fripp?

My answer would be as follows: a certain element was certainly missing from the puzzle, namely Fripp’s intensity and spontaneity. His ability to pull unexpected sounds from thin air in even the most calculated of pieces was definitely noted – but really the only piece where it was apparent to me was the improv portion of THRAK. Elsewhere, other remarkable players, particularly Adrian, Markus and to a lesser extent Tony, more than filled the gap – where Fripp’s parts were primarily functional (for example the background passages on Frame by Frame), the exacting Markus Reuter’s playing was up to the challenge. Where Fripp’s role as musical glue in the band is concerned, the musicians didn’t seek to reassemble the pieces in the same Fripp would’ve – instead settling on their own instincts and resolutions. Fripp’s absence was also, in some sense, enabling. Last time I saw King Crimson in Toronto, an air of tension hung over the concert – emanating from the audience as well as Fripp’s painful responses to the performing situation he obviously disliked. Back then, in 2003, I posted a comment noting that although the musicianship was great, it felt like something was truly amiss, that I couldn’t help but feel a sense of disappointment – in other words, that the show was professional, but never found its wings and joy. Robert replied to my comment in his diary, noting that even a purely professional performance was hard to achieve these days, confirming my own impression that he, too, was disappointed with the situation. But this time, there was no such sense – and I have no apprehensions of this nature about it all. Fripp was not there – but the show was more than professional, it was full of pure joy and the energy of the audience and the musicians was decidedly different, meeting in the middle without any real inhibitions. Requests for photographs and autographs were met with enthusiasm; requests for songs weren’t even yelled out because the audience’s expectations were managed by a clever, honest promotion campaign for the tour – and the setlist of the special encore hit the right note with the audience and the musicians alike.

By Fripp’s own definition, King Crimson is not the “Robert Fripp Band”, but rather a particular way of doing things and energy available to a certain group of people in a certain situation. With that in mind, I believe that King Crimson did indeed appear that evening. And it was good to see an old friend alive and well.

To all those of you still in the path of the tour, go and see it!


Concert Review: “Two of a Perfect Trio” Fairfield, CT

“Two of a Perfect Trio” featuring King Crimson members Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto
Date: Friday, September 30th, 2011
Venue: FTC’s Stage One in Fairfield, CT
Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

As King Crimson’s Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto took the stage at FTC’s Stage One, a keen observer of detail in the audience decided to point out “Hey!! You’re missing your Fripp!” However, from the first note played to the final closing bows, the crowd that gathered for this stop of the “Two of a Perfect Trio” tour were enthralled and mesmerized with all-things Crimson (and many things non-Crimson) even if Robert Fripp, the ever-esteemed founder of one of progressive rock’s most heralded bands, wasn’t the master of ceremonies.

The “Two of a Perfect Trio” tour was conceived of during the “Three of a Perfect Pair” Camp, a week-long music camp that took place in mid-August that allowed its campers – musicians and non-musicians alike – to learn from and hang out with Belew, Levin and Mastelotto. The resulting show allows two trios Tony Levin’s Stick Men and the Adrian Belew Power Trio to each perform a set, and concludes with a third “Crim-centric” set in which various combinations of each trio’s members perform together.

With bass guru Levin on the polyphonic Chapman Stick (as well as his trusty Music Man 5-string electric complete with his patented “Funk Fingers”), Markus Reuter from Innsbruck, Germany on a custom “Touch Guitar” of his own design and drummer extraordinaire Pat Mastelotto delivering a solid funky beat interlaced with a myriad of electronic percussive sounds, the Stick Men set the tone for the three-hour show with a mighty roar in the form of the instrumental “VROOOM” from King Crimson’s 1995 album “Thrak”. The trio then dove into a number of Stick Men originals and concluded their set with an improvisational rendition of Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite”. Despite Reuter’s stoic stance throughout the band’s entire performance and Levin’s sometimes goofy lyric and semi-spoken lead vocals, all three “Sticks” were clearly enjoying themselves and never failed to deliver virtuoso performances and music that, while progressive and complex, was always accessible and – for one particular audience member – reason enough to put on her buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-boogie shoes.

Adrian Belew and the other two members rounding out the “Power Trio”, longtime bassist Julie Slick and newcomer Tobias Ralph on drums, began their part of the show with a sampling of Belew’s solo work (including “Young Lions”, “Beat Box Guitar” and “Of Bow and Drum”) that had much more of a pop music feel than the thickly-layered and sometimes semi-schizoid songs that King Crimson are well know for – although the trio did manage to sneak in the seldom-heard “Neurotica” from King Crimson’s 1982 album, “Beat” which served to remind the audience that they aren’t just a trio – they’re a POWER trio. As was the case with the Stick Men, Belew and company closed their set with a long-form instrumental piece, a section from Belew’s “e”, a five-part suite that Belew performed in tandem with a full orchestra in Amsterdam earlier this year.

With her long curly hair and bare feet, the Power Trio’s Julie Slick revealed that she can lay down a serious bass groove that perfectly accompanies the extensivearray of bending, swirly and occasionally aggressive sounds that Belew can deliver via his signature series Parker Fly guitar. Drummer Tobias Ralph delivered all of the goods and then some. Taking the place of Julie’s brother, Eric, for this tour, Ralph positioned himself behind a fairly simple drum kit (at least in comparison to Mastelotto’s) and pounded out rhythms and beats that would make former King Crimson and Yes uber-drummer, Bill Bruford, envious.

The much-anticipated “Crim-centric” final portion of the show opened with Crims Levin, Belew and Mastelotto doing spot-on renditions of latter-day King Crimson tunes such as “Three of a Perfect Pair” and “Elephant Talk”. Other players from each trio joined in to accentuate other powerhouse Crimtunes such as “Frame by Frame” “Thela Hun Ginjeet” and the always-blistering “Red”. Even the ballad-esque “One Time”, featuring a subtle yet powerful solo vocal by Belew, managed to work its way onto the set list.

But the defining moment of the show happened in the improvised back and forth drum duel that prefaced Belew’s lyric in “Indiscipline”. Instead of the serious and somewhat cold super-precision that was at the core of the battle between Pat Mastelotto and Bill Bruford when this song was performed throughout the 1995 “Thrak” tour, Mastelotto and Ralph brought a whimsical and humorous quality to their bombastic exchange of phrases and licks that would rarely (if ever) be seen at an actual King Crimson show. As Belew exclaimed at the end of the song with arms outstretched in a Rocky Balboa-esque stance, “I LIKE IT!!!” As did all who had assembled in the Court of the Crimson King."


"We walked in right at 8, and Stick Men were already on stage and playing. Originally comprised of ex-King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto and Tony Levin and Michael Bernier on Chapman Stick (hence the name Stick Men … get it?), Bernier moved on and was ably replaced by Marcus Reuter on touch guitar. During the 45-minute set of their own material, Levin let the cat out of the bag. After their set, the Adrian Belew Power Trio would play a set of their own stuff, and finally everyone would converge on the stage for the King Crimson set. Holy crap, a Crim-head’s fantasy! For their finale, Stick Men played a piece from their Soup disc, four movements from The Firebird Suite. Igor Stravinsky never sounded so good.

Then the Power Trio. Adrian Belew was accompanied by Julie Slick on bass, and replacing her brother Eric on drums was Tobias Ralph. Belew commented that Julie was “really slick on bass.” Nice play on words, Ade, but she wasn’t slick. She was ferocious. She kicked ass, pure and simple. I hadn’t listened to much of the Trio’s material before, but after last night, I need to become more familiar with it. The phrase “power trio” really sums up their approach. Both bands, but especially the Power Trio, were short on lyrics and heavy on instrumentals … magnificent instrumentals from virtuoso musicians.

Next up … Belew announces that he, Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto (three three former King Crimson band-mates) will, for the first time ever, play as a trio. And they launched right into Crimson’s Three of a Perfect Pair. The Crimson material never stopped after that. A couple more tunes, then Marcus Reuter returned to the stage and they launched into Red, a blistering guitar-focused instrumental. Then the rest of the Power Trio came back on-stage and we were treated to a reincarnation of the famed Double Trio, with two drummers, two bass guitarists (well, sometimes it was one on bass and one on the Stick), and two amazingly talented guitarists. Interestingly, although Levin and Belew introduced the songs for their respective bands, not a word of introduction was spoken during this part of the show. We Crim-heads didn’t need to be told what they were playing.

Interspersed among spirited renditions of such classics as Frame by Frame, Elephant Talk, Neurotica and Indiscipline, they snuck in Conundrum, their mind-blowing drum duet. Finally, the double trio went through the “end-of-set-walk-off-the-stage” drill until the ceaseless applause brought them back for the encore. It could only be one song, I thought. And I wasn’t disappointed, as the first notes of Thela Hun Ginjeet brought me to my feet. Oh yeah.

I’ve got a collection of Crimson concert recordings spanning 1982 to 2009. Deep down in my heart of hearts, I’d worried about Belew and Levin getting older and less nimble, about Belew’s voice giving it up. But they were in top form, their performances as dazzling as ever.

Throughout the show, I was in a state of nirvana. Throughout the show, I felt the physical impact of the music, the bass thudding through me, the sonic assault enveloping me. I was at times vaguely aware that my wife was sitting across the table from me. And, as her tastes in music tend more towards Jimmy Buffett and show tunes, I fear it will be a cold day in hell before I get her to join me for another concert."

Note from our author: That is so sad! But it cracked me up. That is why I am glad I am not dating. You used to be able to sum a person up by looking at his/her CD or album collection on the first date. Ah, the good old days, when you'd flee the room from the sight of Abba or Styx. Or in my case, U2 or Aerosmith.

Continuing on, and I am no longer so OCD that I feel I have to correct every poster's typing and grammar/spelling - I know people use iPhones now and this is the new English...sigh...but hey, say something nice about my daughter and I don't care if you use crayons and...never mind :)

"i didnt want to babble too much after the show , but i also wanted to say how much i enjoyed the performances . it seemed very easy going , and humorous , but the musicianship blew me away . i was moved during dinosaur and again in one time . Julie has gotten even better since the last time i saw her , how is that possible ? your new drummer , well at first i was skeptical , but i really loved the different things he added , where do you find all these fantastic drummers ? . Tony and Pat what can i say , except it was a treat and i am really impressed with Pat's ability . i never enjoyed those KC songs as much as i did that evening . what a thrill , and i am so happy that you were able to do this tour . seeing Tony's band was such a special bonus , what a great show."

"I had the immense privilege to see the double trio shows in both Phoenixville and Buffalo. I can report that there is NO PAINT left on the walls of either the Colonial or the Tralf. Fused hair on three-quarters of the departing audients. Any of you out west who are Crimson lovers, take a drive. You will not be disappointed. That having been said, Adrian's trio once again blew the doors off both places. And, I ended up enjoying the Firebird both times, much to my surprise, as I love the ballet in its original guise. Stravinsky was a fire-breathing metalhead, and we never quite knew it (though Tony probably did--I think he played under his baton, if I remember right).

Julie is a fire-breathing monster with the Lakland in her hands. It was interesting and wonderful to see Tony made to sound elegant and sophisticated (which he is anyway) in contrast.

What I wanted to say, but did not have time to stay for (two hour drive and work the next day), is a huge thank-you to Julie, and all six of these incredible musicians for giving us this opportunity to hear them. It takes so much work and preparation, not to mention bravery, to play such difficult stuff for us. When I hear music at this level, I always feel like I received much more than I deserved for the ticket price. Thank you, Julie. Please pass this along to the others, if you have the chance."

There are also a couple of great interviews in connection with the tour. Here's one from No Treble Magazine and the always brilliant Innerviews.

Also, Tony Levin is keeping a daily journal of the tour, complete with photos of Julie cooking for the band (whole 'nother story which you can read about on her blog but yeah, Tony's is something special and you start here and just keep on clicking - he's up to page 8 I think.

Okay, I really need to do this on a more regular basis. It's getting harder and harder to keep up! But between Julie, Tony, and me, and the stuff trickling in from Eric (oh, wait until November!!!), it's all good.

One more thing - I will be at the Push to Publish Writer's Conference at Rosemont College on Saturday. Just mark it on your calendars. I'll be back to talk that up in a few days, complete with linkage.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Of Slick Men and Stick Men and Slick Women...a/k/a I'm Back!

I can't bring myself to declare this blog officially dead.

So I won't.

ETA: Fantastic interview by Anil Prasad of Innerviews with Tony Levin! Here'a link for the iPaid/Pod verson: Click!


Okay, back to the blog...

It started in 2004 when Julie and Eric were 17 and 18 respectively and our family had just begun the amazing whirlwind that would come with their surprising and successful musical journeys. Obviously they were still living at home, and every day was an adventure.

For Julie and Eric, that still remains true. For me, not so much. Unless you count spending your days for the past year and a half worrying about your about to be fourteen year old dog who suffers from Cushing disease and goes from being really sick to his old self every other day which is enough to make a sane person go mental and let’s be real here, I am not stable to begin with. So you can only imagine…

But that's okay, and it's the natural evolution of things. Yikes, did I really want my 24 and 25 year old to be still living at home? I love them dearly, but um, no. But do I wish I could freeze time and have the dog be young and healthy and be with us until our lives are a wrap?

Hell, yeah.

I know that I was incredibly fortunate to be very close to Julie and Eric while they were growing up and I got to go on tour with them not only during the Rock School years (and in case you’ve been living under a rock or are somehow new to this blog, you can read all about that in my very creative non-fiction book, Daddy Left Me Alone with God) but five years later when they were both in the Adrian Belew Power Trio. Looking back on it, I feel like the luckiest person in the universe. And there was so much to write about!

In fact, two years ago this month, I was on tour with the ABPT and we were about to leave for the west coast part of the tour after spending two weeks on the east coast where we had the rare luxury of two days off in one of my favorite cities in the universe, Quebec, and yep, I ate at Chez Victor both days. Ha ha, we were all across America and Canada and what do I mention? Chez Victor. Know why? They have probably the best French fries I have ever eaten in my life. And as everyone who knows me is aware, French fries are my favorite food in the entire world. (Do I sound like a seven year old idiot? Oh well. Better than a seventy year old idiot .)

I think I miss hanging out with my kids more than anything.

But there’s so much greatness to look forward to.

And there’s been a lot of greatness this year, too, mixed in with the craziness. My God, where do I start?

Though I guess because the majority of you are probably my Facebook friends, most of the stuff I’m going to post here is old news, but I’ll try and make it interesting.

And I guess since there’s so much to tell, I’ll do it in alphabetical order: Eric, Julie, etc.

Eric. Holy cow, his career is on fire. He just wrapped up his first record for Anti with Dr. Dog and the advance buzz on it is through the roof. I was lucky enough to hear some cuts and it’s beyond good…in fact, I think my brain exploded when I heard it. I don’t want to jinx things by saying anything more but this is pretty much life changing stuff. They’re going to be just about anywhere major you can think of in 2012 – if there’s a festival, they’re playing it, and there’s some really cool surprises on the horizon within the next several weeks for both fans all over the world and for some of us local folks and that’s all I’m saying.

By the way, Anti is the record label for Wilco, Bob Mould, Tom Waits. Just sayin…

In the meantime, Eric did an amazing interview for Kick-Snare-Hat, and you can watch the video portion below. Click on the link to read his very insightful commentary on his career, the new record, etc.

Eric Slick/Dr. Dog K/S/H Interview from Kick/Snare/Hat on Vimeo.

Eric is also on the soundtrack of a major motion picture to be released in November and those of you on Facebook already know I blabbed the details about that because I saw someone else did and thought it was okay but apparently it is not okay so those of you who don’t know anything will have a bit more to wait. Sorry. Friend me on Facebook, what can I say?

And if you want to see Eric live, up close and personal, in a totally different mode, he’s going to be DJing at Johnny Brenda’s on October 3. I don’t see it on the website yet but I’ll come in and edit this post when it does appear or I’ll tweet/Facebook or all of the above.

After that, of course, he will probably gig here and there with his other projects but there’s a two week Dr. Dog tour starting November 2 and they’re going to be debuting stuff from the new record so you really don’t want to miss their show in your respective city…here’s the schedule:

Wed November 2, 2011
Cleveland, OH
Beachland Ballroom

Fri November 4, 2011
Bloomington, IN
Bluebird Nightclub

Sat November 5, 2011
St. Louis, MO
The Firebird

Mon November 7, 2011
Tulsa, OK
Cain's Ballroom

Tue November 8, 2011
Fayetteville, AR
George's Majestic Lounge

Wed November 9, 2011
Oxford, MS
Proud Larry's

Thu November 10, 2011
New Orleans, LA

Sat November 12, 2011
Orlando, FL
Orlando Calling

Mon November 14, 2011
Charleston, SC
The Music Farm

Tue November 15, 2011
Athens, GA
40 Watt Club

Wed November 16, 2011
Knoxville, TN
Bijou Theatre

Thu November 17, 2011
Boone, NC
Legends @ Appalachian State

Fri November 18, 2011
Chattanooga, TN
Track 29 @ The Chattanooga Choo Choo

The show in Orlando on November 12 is a pretty big deal. It’s a festival - Orlando Calling and Dr. Dog is playing along with some bands you might know:

It’s at the Citrus Bowl, which holds 70,000 people and it’s going to be full. Too freaking awesome, huh.

Eric also just moved into a very cool house with his fabulous girlfriend and he’s been cooking up a storm and giving his sister a run for her money. He made arugula scrambled eggs with hash browns the other morning and he’s finding he’s really into it. I’m not surprised. Most musicians are also artists and artistic people are usually into food and cooking, too. Anything art connected. And his Dad the guitar player gave him the hash brown recipe.

But yeah, Eric stopped over the other day and we were talking about all this stuff and it really hit me that he’s a mature, grown man, not my baby son anymore, and more importantly, he’s interesting and smart and funny and just a joy to be around. I will take some credit but much of who he is today comes from some pretty amazing life experiences – being on the road and traveling all over the world since age 18, doing a lot of reading, studying and utilizing TM – I dunno, I think it’s probably a million times better than any college is offering kids today and I doubt most 24 year olds are as level headed and wordly.

But I could be just a tad prejudiced.

Oh yeah, d’oh, Eric, Julie, and Tim Motzer did an amazing two hour jam. Here’s a teaser:

1ks e11 preview clip from Dejha Ti on Vimeo.

You can download all 120 minutes of goodness right here.

Also love the band shot…

And Eric and Julie have a project called Springs with Mike Visser which is pretty damn cool…

Springs - Big Black Sky from Jonathan Low on Vimeo.

Okay. That wraps up the Eric portion of the program, though it’s killing me not to be able to blab the big news just on the horizon. Bah! That’s okay. The minute I see Dr. Dog posts it, I’ll be posting it here, too. So there!

And now to Ms. Julie, who, you might have noticed, is on a sweet little tour of her own. Click here for the fun stuff (Thanks to Tony Levin for the cool diary posts)

By the way, I take that back about saying my life is no longer adventurous. Friday night I got kissed and hugged by both Pat Mastelotto and Tony Levin. Ahem. Just two guys who have played with everyone from King Crimson to John Lennon to Peter Cabriel to XTC. So, um, no. My life rocks. And yeah, that's a pic of Tony wearing the official tour t-shirt with MY DAUGHTER'S FACE ON IT! I'M SO EXCITED! Okay, okay, I'll calm down. But it's not easy, that's for sure.

So let’s start with some reviews of the first week of the tour I found online:

“The basic set-up for the tour is:

Stickmen: Tony Levin, Markus Reuter, Pat Mastelotto
Adrian Belew Power Trio: Adrian Belew, Julie Slick, Tobias Ralph

Big Combined Crimfest: all of the above doing nothing but Crim repertory.

The Stickmen set was probably the most adventurous and varied set of the night (also the most dissonant and projeKct-like). Both trios did relatively streamlined 40-45 minute sets to leave room for the big pile o' KC at the end. The setlist for Stickmen included Smudge, Soup, Slow Glide, Big Dog, Unrelenting, and the Firebird Suite. I thought Slow Glide was probably the highlight of the evening, covering a lot of sonic ground and featuring a climax where both Tony and Pat were using bows (on their Stick and cymbals respectively) to create a swirling metallic shimmer of harmonics that was sort of in the general Glenn Branca/Sonic Youth end of the spectrum. The Stickmen set also included the most Seizure-like musical moments of the evening, which is always a good thing.

Adrian did a set that included no KC material, as he wanted to save it for later. Thus we got a shortened set that included Matchbox Guitar, Young Lions, Of Bow and Drum, Futurvision, and e, along with a few other short instrumentals. The new drummer is very strong, so although I was always a big fan of Eric Slick I can't say I was unhappy with his replacement. Julie if anything is getting more adventurous on bass, with more unusual effects and freedom in her playing. Ade's finally gotten completely comfortable with the on-the-fly looping, so that whole process seems seamless now. Ade was clearly charged up for the first gig of the tour, and anytime Ade gets happy and excited he really elevates the whole concert.

Following the ABPT, there was a short introductory foray into Crim with just the Crim veterans: Adrian, Pat, and Tony. They did 3OAPP, ET, and Sleepless (the last of which being the first time Tony put down the Stick and pulled out the big orange bass and funk fingers). My expectation (... a prison, I know ...) was pretty much that the full group would do Dinosaur, Thela, Indiscipline, and maybe something like Red and call it a night. I was surprised and delighted (as in sitting there with a big stupid grin on my face) when the very first piece out of the chute from the full lineup was B'BOOM. You know it's going to be a relatively deep and creative set when you begin with B'BOOM. And of course the follow up question, if you open with B'BOOM, does that mean the next song will be...? Yup. THRAK. Complete with goofy improv in the middle. Not one of the better Thraks I've heard, but if they keep doing it on tour I suspect it will get better and more extended as the group gets a feel for it. And on some level doing Thrak feels like an attempt to genuinely engage the spirit of the double trio, rather than just give the fans some nice oldies.

The rest of the setlist included (not gonna try to get the order completely right here) Dinosaur, One Time, Frame by Frame, and Indiscipline. Any time there's a question in the back of your mind about "but who got to be Robert?" the answer is Markus. That was particularly impressive during FxF, but Markus also turned in commendable version of Robert's bits on B'Boom and One Time (obviously not full looped mini-soundscapes for One Time like recent performances). Indiscipline was particularly amazing. Was a bit disappointed with the audients in that a fairly large number clapped during the fakeout on Dinosaur. As the band left the stage, I told the guy next to me "they'll be back -- they still have to play Thela". Sure enough: encore= Thela hun ginjeet.

Token appearance by Robert at one point in the form of a sound clip that I assume Pat is responsible for, where we hear Robert say "Good evening, gentlemen! Gentlemen ... and lady ... perhaps even two!".

On the whole, it was closer to a genuine KC experience that I expected. I'm not sure I ever fully felt the dark fairy make her presence known -- songs like Elephant Talk and Indiscipline were comparable to genuine Crim, but those are also sort of the jokey side of KC. Without something like a Level 5, Larks 2/4 or for that matter TPTB2, there are big regions of KC that aren't getting touched, and the whole thing lacks a certain depth. Probably the closest they got to nailing the haunting side of KC was the end of One Time (it started shaky, but coming out of the middle section it was very strong until the end), and they don't really have any of the big audient flattening instrumentals in the set, though I think it would be very manageable to add Red or Vroom/Marine475 to the set.

Incidentally, for fans of the "hypothetical Robertless lineup" game, definitely start including Markus Reuter in your list of candidates. Tony, Pat, Ade and Markus (with maybe Gavin Harrison) makes a hell of a band that could probably work out most of the Crim repertory with a little practice. Though I still want to hear Kimmo Crimson”

Followed by…

“I wanted to avoid this thread before last night's show, and now in light of what we heard, I say Sebz's post is dead on target. On the drive up I remarked to the mistress that while I enjoyed the hell out of Stick Men mk1, I was excited to hear this lineup since Markus's style & approach are significantly closer to the Fripp/ProjeKct mold. I'm happy to say that both that group and the entire sextet benefited a lot from his sensibility. He never tried to sound like Robert per se, but he did a great job at filling in those various spaces (rough & thrashy, looping and 'scaping, etc) in a way that's true to himself and entirely fitting for the material.

The Stick Men set was largely as described above. I agree that this was the most ProjeKct-like portion, combining the best of that Crimsoid forward-thinking attitude (much like TUNER, KTU or BLUE) with enough bounce and funk to have some of the audience dancing in the aisles (not exaggerating). The set was the same as in that first post plus Fripp's "Breathless," which really lived up to its potential. Powerful stuff. Tony introduced it by saying that the bands were leaving the KC material out of their individual sets, but they considered this track a good way of bending the rule.

Apparently the rule didn't apply as strictly to Ade, since he slipped "Neurotica" early into his set and mentioned during the band intros that since the song's about New York, it seemed fitting to play it with "their New York drummer." I was most impressed with Tobias. He's got power and groove to spare and still made tackling the intricacies of this music seem effortless. And as impressed as I was, I have to say Julie was even more exceptional. Set was similar to the above but with no "Futurevision."

The Ade/Tony/Pat portion was pretty short, only two songs (3PP and E-talk). I was surprised to see Markus come out next, but nobody else. What? Hmmm, what would they need an extra guitar for? Of course. "Red." A too-obvious choice, but this lineup really sold it. The song never quite seemed full enough when played by the Stick Men trio, but this combination of instruments was perfect. The double-trio part began after that song.

I'm glad I didn't read this earlier review, since "B'Boom" was a super surprise to start off with. They had fun stretching with the improv section, starting with a nice quiet dialogue between Markus and Tobias, while Julie and Tony wandered around taking pictures. The drummers nailed the piece itself - maybe not as perfectly as Pat and Gavin did together, but it was enough to flatten the ol' ear hairs pretty handily nonetheless. Then we got "Thrak" (again with a wandering middle improv), "One Time," "Dinosaur," "Frame by Frame" and a really fierce extended "Indiscipline." Here they took the song's usual intro setup (bass vamp with drum improv) and turned it into a wicked (and funny!) solo-trading face-off between Pat and Tobias that ran for what felt like four or five minutes by itself. You could tell that everybody on stage had been having a fun time throughout, but this had the biggest smiles and laughs of the night. Adrian rolled with it by messing with the words a little, e.g. pretending to forget a line until prompted by the audience. Apparently sometimes humo(u)r is permitted after all.

The encore was "Thela" again. I would have loved a couple less-obvious tracks like "Sheltering Sky" or "Vrooom," and I thought at the time "Sleepless" would have made a killer encore jam. But this was effective enough, at least judging by the amount of abuse Ade's guitar got, which I suppose is as good a criterion as anything else.

The idea of KC members playing KC music may have been the biggest advertising gimmick, and it would have been pleasant enough to see in itself, but happily this show is a whole lot more. These are all top-notch musicians in any combination and getting to see these two trios alone is always a treat, so getting to hear them play together and change around and explore in a new context is even better. Ignore that gimmick and those expectations and it's still a hell of a show.”

And finally:

“I was at the Phoenixville show as well, and don't have much to add to SK's or Geno's comments. Excellent, excellent show all around. I was thoroughly impressed with Markus Reuter.”

Here’s a simply gorgeous You Tube of the double trio doing “One Time”…

I was at the show Friday night and it was chill rendering. Tobias Ralph really impressed me on the drums with the ABPT – he had some big shoes to fill in that Eric was with the band from its inception for four years and then he was followed by Marco freaking Minnemann but he is one hell of a drummer and I can’t imagine what it must be like for him to not only be on this tour but to drum with Pat Mastelotto every night…in any event, he deserves to be there and I think people are going to be saying a lot of nice things about him on this tour.

Stick Men. What can I say? They rule. They are like no one else. See them. Buy their records. End of story.

Listening to my daughter trading bass licks with Tony…I know I’ve seen it before in Canada, but trust me, it will NEVER get old. Julie is fucking awesome – she gets better and better. Not to talk about that Tim Motzer download again, but the musicianship that goes on between Julie, Eric, and Tim is mind numbing. Just a beautiful thing to witness.

Back to the tour, I also know they are shaking up the set list every night which is awesome except for the fact that it makes me wish I could be at every show. That being said, I am going to the Wednesday night show at the Iridium with Eric and we’re both spending the night in NYC so we can all hang out afterward (Damn you, Amtrak, and your last train to Philly at 11:05PM. Who picked that arbitrary time? NYC Hotel owners?) …anyway, we’re really looking forward to that.
Here’s the rest of the tour schedule. Again, a must see. Music of this quality just does not come around often.

Sept 27 Boston, MA / Royale
Sept 28 New York, NY / Iridium
Sept 29 New York, NY / Iridium
Sept 30 Fairfield, CT / Stage One
Oct 1 Northhampton, MA / Iron Horse
Oct 2 Montreal, QC / Corona
Oct 4 Toronto, ON / Mod Club
Oct 5 Buffalo, NY / Tralf
Oct 6 Covington, KY / Southgate House
Oct 7 Detroit, MI / Magic Bag
Oct 8 Chicago, IL / Old Town School of Folk
Oct 9 Minneapolis, MN / Cedar Cultural Center
Oct 11 Boulder, CO / Boulder Theater
Oct 12 Salt Lake City, UT / The Depot
Oct 14 Portland, OR / Aladdin
Oct 15 Seattle, WA / Triple Door
Oct 17 Sacramento, CA / Harlows
Oct 18 San Francisco, CA / Regency
Oct 19 Solana Beach, CA / Belly Up
Oct 21 Agoura Hills, CA / Canyon Club
Oct 22 Santa Ana, CA / Galaxy
Oct 23 Phoenix, AZ / The Foundry
Oct 24 Santa Fe, NM/Santa Fe Brewing
Oct 26 St Louis, MO / Old Rockhouse
Oct 27 Indianapolis, IN / Birdys
Oct 28 Nashville, TN / Belcourt
Oct 29 Ashville, NC / MoogFest

I also see that Julie just announced she’s bought a hot plate and she’s picking up her pressure cooker while on this two day hiatus from the tour so she’s planning on cooking for the guys. I also see her first dish is going to be asparagus mushroom risotto. Dear God, they are all going to want to marry her when they taste her food. Kidding, kidding. Adrian already has been the beneficiary of her meals many times and I think Ade and Martha would love for Julie to come live in Nashville permanently.

Anyway, the band is in for a serious treat and I can’t wait for Julie to post the food porn photos.

Julie also has a new record out with drummer Carl Bahner.

You can buy it right here, and yes, I introduced them just like I was the one who was the brains behind Paper Cat.

By the way, this is not Julie’s second solo CD. This is a completely different project. Look for Julie’s next disc in 2012. I believe she’s busy rounding up some special guests ☺ That being said, this record kicks serious ass and it looks damn pretty, too.

Speaking of records, Julie has another new one coming out shortly with another one of her bands, Drgnkng, and click on that link for a free download. Also, have you seen the video for this? Hey, Julie isn’t just another beautiful face in a blue sequin cape – that’s her slapping away at the bass and she rules…as does everyone else in this band. I’m really excited to see how this record does and if this band can get a tour together soon. Their local shows are amazing so if you are anywhere near Philadelphia, check them out.

Hey, this one just popped up from their gig the other night. Cool!

Okay, I think I’ve covered the kiddies for now but I’m hoping to be back here on a more regular basis and even better, with a cool story or two from my night in NY with Eric on Wednesday and maybe permission to blab some of his news.

And now to me. Also known as, you can leave now if you want to. (With a nod to Jimi Hendrix)

Let’s see.

I just finished the first draft of my first new novel in almost two years. It's called Squirrel Jam and the original tag line was "a grieving widow must rescue her children from the clutches of a madman" or something like that but then I gave the grieving widow panic attack disorder and when I started researching that and similar anxieties, I realized it's what I wanted the focus of the book to be, instead of on the madman, which was my original plan. Christ, I even had an outline I was actually sticking to for the first time in my writing career. Anyway, I got hooked reading about cognitive therapy, and didn't realize...okay, I knew it damn well...that I suffered from a lot of the phobias and neuroses about which I was passing on to my character in the book but once I started my research and I actually used some of the "cures" myself. I have to admit, it led to some bittersweet humor in the book. One of the techniques of coping with panic is to make actual coping cards. Like, on one side you write, "I'm afraid I'm going to hurl in public." On the other side you write, "I'm going to take deep breaths and since I'm not a fortune teller, the chances are pretty good that I will be vomit free.”

Needless to say, I am having a ball with what I wrote on my protagonist's cards, too.

By the way, not to be condescending, but for those of you who are not writers, the protagonist is the main character, the narrator, in the book. Her name, in this case, is Allison. In keeping with the Squirrel Jam theme, one of the sections of the book is called “Allison in Chains” and those of you who are music fans will get it.

What I am seriously deliberating now is this: Do I go through the motions of querying a new agent and subjecting myself to all that torture again where even if I get really lucky, my book probably won’t be out until 2013 and by that time, everyone and their mother will have a Kindle, anyway? Or do I say the hell with it, I’m not putting myself through all that waiting and rejection, I am staying indie and putting this out as soon as my incredible editor takes a look at it and gives me the thumbs up. Because really, anyone who thinks publishing isn’t going the way of music is insane and with over 300,000 visitors to my INACTIVE blog, why the hell should I even consider the traditional route? It’s all in the marketing and promotion. Sad but true.

Anyway, you know what? I’m exhausted. So maybe I’ll devote an entire post just to me in a day or two. I just remembered I have a lot to talk about after all. But for now, here’s two things to put on your calendars, har har:

(1) I’ll be at the Collingswood Book Festival this coming Saturday, October 1 hawking Daddy Left Me Alone with God and handing out free chocolate;

(2) I’ll be a panel member at the Push to Publish Conference on Saturday, October 15 at Rosemont College. I’m on the genre panel and um, Steve Almond is the keynote speaker. Yes, I will be needing CPR.

Actually, I’m kidding. I’ve already met Steve, had drinks with him, and had him totally captivated for a couple of hours telling him my Three Days in New York City story. I could tell he was dying to steal it, but I burst his bubble when I told him I’d not already written it, it was about to be published. But a good time was had regardless. At least on my end.

Alright, enough. It’s time to feed the dog (fun, fun, fun, playing hide the pill in the hamburger), feed myself, and stick a straw in a bottle of Jack.