Sunday, August 13, 2006

Adrian Belew Power Trio on tour - raves and reviews part II

Julie Slick on stage performing at the Grand Finale at Zappanale in Germany a few weeks ago

So the cool emails and reviews continue.

First, there's a fantastic interview with Julie (and Eric) over at Big Bottom News for Bass Players, but, you know me and you're probably tired of me saying it, I'm far too OCD to just give you the link, here's the actual interview:

"This month’s Under-Exposed Bassist is Philadelphia native Julie Slick, graduate of the Paul Green School of Rock Music, Music Production student, and at 20 years old is currently touring with guitarist extraordinaire, and Frank Zappa alumnus, Adrian Belew. I caught up with Julie at the Turning Point Cafe in Piermont, NY, a 75 seater on the Hudson River where Adrian had just finished a scorching set with his lastest power trio. Rounding out the trio is Julie’s brother, 19 year old drummer Eric Slick.

First bit of background: The Paul Green School of Rock Music is as much a phenomena as an institution. Instead of teaching kids Sousa marches and trying to graduate them to soft-jazz arrangements, The PGSORM puts rock instruments in their hands, starts them with three-chord thrillers, and moves them through increasing levels of complexity, culminating in the “Omega” program: performing the Music of Frank Zappa. The school is experiencing some rapid growth lately, and has been the subject of a major documentary film release, but Julie and Eric were members of the first class of musicians to complete the curriculum. The Zappa connection led to Adrian performing Zappa’s City of Tiny Lights (a Belew feature-piece during his short tenure with Zappa’s band) at a Paul Green School show, with Eric and Julie as his backing band. “We played that song about 3,000 times with the Rock School. Paul invited us up to play with Adrian even though we had graduated. Adrian was looking for a drummer and after the show he told Paul Green that he was looking for a bass player too.”

Eric and Julie received and invitation from Adrian to formalize their impromptu audition: “It was like: finish midterms, learn these 15 songs in three days, fly down to Nashville, come back, take finals, go on tour. I’m still tying to digest the whole thing.” In an interview that Adrian did in the run-up to headlining the Zappanale festival he talked about his project with Julie and Eric: “Secretly I am drawn to the role of teacher but likely they’ll end up teaching me more than I’ll teach them. I needed a clean slate, to start fresh with players who aren’t ‘jaded’ to the oppressing music business, people who respect my work and are willing to put as much into it as I do.” More background and tour updates can be found at the website of Julie’s mom, author Robin Slick.

Julie plays with a very calm, almost serene demeanor, and a very relaxed approach to the instrument. I have seen her perform twice with Adrian Belew, and she switches deftly between pickstyle, fingerstyle, tap, slap, and some flamenco-ish flourishes, all while avoiding “bass face” or distractions. “I think it is most likely my natural approach. I worked very hard when I first joined the rock school. I remember listening to Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 and just crying because I couldn’t get it. Paul was my teacher and he wasn’t even a bass player, so I pretty much made up my own technique. By the time I had played for about a year and we had learned the Zappa stuff, watched movies like Baby Snakes, and Cream videos. I always had all of these resources. I guess subconsciously took things in. I also just have music in my blood. My dad (Philadelphia guitarist Gary Slick) is an awesome guitar player and I have a lot of support from him, and access to his amazing guitar collection… we just have so much music in the family. I did have to work on some of the things like slapping, tapping were things that didn’t come natural… I never had to tap until I learned these songs. I never played Elephant Talk. I can feel myself building up the stamina and I try to make it sound as much like the Stick as possible.”

Julie has been playing a red 2001 Fender Jazz bass as her primary rig on the Belew tour. She has also been doubling on a Gibson fretless on loan from her Dad. “I learned on that bass, actually. It sounds like an upright bass, almost, because of the Gibson pickups.” She owns a Music Man Stingray and a new Rickenbacker, but chose the J for the versatility. “I think that the Rick would sound excellent on some of this stuff, but I needed a bass that I could slap on. I ended up trying Jazz basses and not liking them, trying P basses and not liking them, and then finally I found that bass… that bass just fit right with me.”

On the opportunity to tour with her brother Eric: “Eric and I used to play songs on my synthesizer, with Eric playing bongos… songs about my mom. Eric and I have been playing together for the past eight years, bass and drums, we’re pretty comfortable with each other and it works out when you are so comfortable with two thirds of the band going into it.”

With a degree in music production on temporary hold due to the tour, Julie will be working on a new studio, producing, and rehearsing during her “downtime,” and heading out with Adrian Belew for another tour in late 2006. To see a young player land a dream gig and have no trace of “rock star” syndrome is rare. Knowing the Slicks it isn’t surprising. They seem to have found that balance between work ethic, fun, and skill that players of all ages could learn from."

Thanks to Pete Brunelli of Doot for writing and posting this...and I see he's got another blog where he has this to say about the Belew show in Piermont, NY Thursday evening:

"DOOT! (Pete and Stephen) took a ride out to Piermont, NY to catch Adrian's power trio at the Turning Point. Eric and Julie Slick are jelling nicely and we got to hear Adrian with his full assortment of gear. At Zappanale his gear never made it (his guitars did), but we were treated to a thrilling performance with Adrian knocking out his set through a Marshall Half Stack. That was an outdoor festival. The Turning Point is a 75 seater in a little village on the Hudson. In short, an amazing place to see a player like Adrian Belew.

This show was a real thrill, and I'll be sharing some pics very soon."

Again, thanks Pete -- that was amazing.

And now for some more comments I've received via my blog and Eric's:

Joe said...

"Tuesday's show in Times Square was one of the best shows I've seen in years. You Rock kid. I hope you have a great career. I saw Mr. Belew on the flight from Frankfurt to Newark and I assume you were the young man with the School of Rock T. I'm sorry about your friend Ken. That was a tragedy.

I didn't know what to expect on Tuesday night, but you guys performed like the pros you are and just blew us away. Having just seen Zappa plays Zappa at the Beacon about a month ago, my buddy and I looked at each other after Ampersand and said "This kid is better than Bozzio." Have fun in Philly, you deserve to enjoy it. You've earned it."

Tickledrop said...

"See Eric. :) I remember after the first show in Indy telling you that your Ampersand was the best. I think the drumming you do on that is just amazing. So fast. It's what I looked forward to the most the next night in Ohio.

How cool Joe. I saw the ZPZ show out west in San Francisco. Terry was injured, but I believe you when you say Eric is as good. Wait. I think you said better.

I look forward to the tour coming out west."

Joe said...

"Yup, Bozzio must've blown out his arm for a reason, age does matter. It's nothing for us old guys to be ashamed of. Just don't tell Mr. Belew, obviously he doesn't believe it.

Bozzio was great at the Beacon in June, but Eric was amazing at BB's the other night.

Maybe it is because I respect and admire Mr. Belew so much and I empathized with his recent personal loss, but I was just pulling for this band. Eric and his sister really did Adrian a solid and held up their end with class, enthusiasm and style. We spotted the barefoot sis before Adrian pointed it out, and by that time she had really caught our attention with her suberb mastery of the bass. Eric kind of hits you between the eyes right away and then builds from there.

My other friend said, "I knew it would be good, but I had no idea it would be this good." I felt the same way. I new Adrian Belew would be great, but I can't believe the level that Eric and his sister performed at. It was truly amazing and exciting.

Thanks for a great show Eric!."

Ice said...


I have seen every show that Adrian has played here in Pittsburgh for the past few years. I am extremely excited for tonights show. I read this entire blog at 5AM and really enjoyed the perspectives...especially Julie's description of the trip to Europe from Nashville.

I hope that you all have some time to chill after the show, at least for a bit...I have to run to another show where my drummer is jamming with another band.

Also, "Joe" said that he couldn't believe the level that you and your sis' played at....would he expect anything less from Adrian? Would the "White Rhino" tour with mediocrIty? I think not! The Side One tour threw "Big Mike" on the Bass with amazing results...not bad for a guitar player!"

Andre' Cholmondeley of Project Object says:


"Adrian is on tour right now with his amazing new POWER TRIO, featuring my good buddies ERIC SLICK (drums) and JULIE SLICK (bass) - as you probably know--Eric is the DRUMMER FOR PROJECT/OBJECT! The NYC show at BB King's on Tuesday was just INCREDIBLE -- huge sound, power-pop-fusion-experimental-soundpainting-madness-exhilirating-
guitarification!! Don't miss this tour -- It's short but sweet and only hits a few stops - GET TICKETS NOW!! SOME SHOWS ARE SELLING OUT, you do NOT want to miss this -- Setlist includes the BEST of Adrian's ENTIRE catalog, great new stuff from SIDES 1,2,3, and of course some 80s KING CRIMSON CLASSICS!"

So yeah, I'm loving this, and thanks to those of you who keep writing and leaving these great comments on my blog and Eric's tour blog, which, I noticed, he updated again! Yeah, Eric!

I see the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday edition has a listing in their Entertainment Section today:


Sideman star Guitarist Adrian Belew livened up music by David Bowie, Talking Heads and Frank Zappa, but aficionados know that he's a quirky, accomplished solo performer as well. He plays at 7:30 p.m. at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. Tickets are $25. Call 215-222-1400."

I probably mentioned this before, but one thing I'm really excited about, other than tomorrow night's show which will probably be the highlight of my "career" as a mother, is that for my birthday this coming Thursday, Julie and Eric bought me airfare and three nights in a hotel down in Florida so that I can catch the last two shows on this portion of the tour. I've never been to West Palm Beach and am really looking forward to it and can't believe J&E were so generous and did such a cool thing for me. Wait. Yes I can. As I mentioned to a few people, these last couple of months I've been waking up every morning pinching myself that all of this is really happening. And it just seems to keep getting better and better.