Saturday, August 30, 2008

Back in the U.S.S.R...Part II

"Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the West behind
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout...

Okay, that photograph is hilarious. Look at the expressions on the faces of Ade, Eric and Andre. You have to know that these are three men who truly love their significant others so this is obviously a "requested by someone" shot. This is when I wish I knew how to do those comic book voice balloons. I'd have Ade saying "Martha, they made me do was not my idea though I am vaguely amused..." Eric would be parroting Ade, except substitute "Katy" for "Martha" and add "Who, me? You want me in this pic?"...but Andre...hmmm...he looks a little too "Why me-ish", doesn't he? Ha!

So speaking of Andre, the information continues to roll in from him, though I did have a hysterically funny conversation with Julie and Eric last night as I wildly tried to use Skype, only to learn after hours of research that when you use a mac without a built in microphone, only an iMic will work so now I've got to run out to an Apple Store or the like today. But I did end up talking to them on my cell phone (which blows me away - T-Mobile works from Russia to Philadelphia but oy, I do not want to see my monthly bill for that) was 1:30 a.m. their time when they called and they were obviously feeling no pain. Taking a quote from their now good friend Tony Levin's diary, "Entre-acte here at the Sotvorenie Mira 'Creation of Peace' festival. I had meant to update some photos from Moscow and the trip here, but with the many rehearsals, and usual scientific quest to find the best vodka(!) I have not had time until now."

So in speaking with a very tipsy Julie and Eric who yes, are obviously both on that same scientific quest, I learned that for whatever reason, Julie was given a suite at the hotel with two sofas, the nicest room in the hotel, which therefore also made her place the designated hang-out, rehearsal room.

"Mom, I have such stories and pictures for you but I'm really tired and I can't transfer the photos from the camera to your computer because the internet cost many many rubles here...but all I can tell you is, we really bonded with Tony Levin and Eddie Jobson and they spent all afternoon in my room rehearsing with us. Tony, Eddie, Adrian, and Eric are doing a killer version of Larks' Tongue in Aspic...anyway, we're really tired and we want to go to bed, but I just wanted to tell you we are going on at 6:00 p.m. which will be 10:00 a.m. your time in Philly so wish us luck!"

Oh God. So that's how she left me last night, but then I came downstairs this morning to another amazing email with many photographs from Andre, who apparently is willing to shell out those rubles! (Damn kids...if they weren't so toasted last night, I would have told them to just bill me like they always do, anyway. Ha!)

So again, edited post for privacy sake, but here's Andre:

"I started the day out with going down to the festival grounds to set Adrian up for the CRIMFEST soundcheck. As I met up with Tony Levin and others, we were all wondering out loud "Why soundcheck BEFORE the scheduled rehearsal?"

...ANYWAY - cutting to the chase -- after a comedic Keystone cops-like series of jumping through hoops to get the schedule changed so we could pull this special show off, I was able to set Ade's mini-rig up (a Johnson head and controller pedal, whammy pedal, Jimi/fuzz pedal, and Keeley compressor. Instead of what was confirmed by the backliners and then mysteriously absent (cough...cough) we used a pair of Fender twins (for their speakers only). I'm extra delighted since this will confuse the net-gear nerds "Wow! Adrian used a a pair of twins!!" What?? No way man! Er - I hear it was only the speakers." "Naw, I have checked the recording on my spectral analyser... they're twins alright!" Etc....

THIS WOULD BE the first time Tony Levin, Eddie Jobson, Pat Mastelotto and Adrian Belew --all Crimson alum
(Note from our author to my new friend Martyn: I know, I know) -- have played on the stage or anywhere together.... certainly the first time it all was joined by Eric Slick. They worked out LARKS' TONGUES IN sounded great outta the box with the inevitable rough spots and a couple of Fripp's parts that needed to be re-assigned and re-arranged...but in general it was great to hear them together. Of course the very special rare treat was hearing THAT violin sound again-- that of Eddie Jobson...the one and only tone from so many UK, Tull, Zappa and solo albums and shows. Eddie said later that his last show before this would have been the end of the Tull "A" tour!! With the exception perhaps on coming on stage once when Tull did some a show on Bach's 300th birthday on March 21, 1985....Eddie is returning to the prog world and live performance with his new group UKZ, more on them later.

Interviewers were on hand... crews gathered around to watch.....besides seeing the Emerson Modular beast come alive, this was the rehearsal to watch!

The soundcheck came along great and soon our time was up. I broke Ade's gear down, they rolled Pat's incredible set of DW drums and Roland trigger pads offstage, on it's riser. It came to rest just next to the GIANT cases marked "EMERSON" and "ELP"...

Pat had just got done with the KTU rehearsal...the trio he is in with Trey Gunn and Kimmo Pohjohnen....and Tony stayed onstage as he was about to start another check/rehearsal with Geoffrey Oryema of at least three times Tony would appear onstage at this huge fest!"

Here are some photos which Andre was kind enough to send from said sound check...first up is Eric Slick and Pat Mastelotto, who have an amazing, natural chemistry together which, as I mentioned in a prior post, really gave me the chills during the Friends of Crimson King show in Quebec City in July. Plus, they really, really like each other and are in each other's respective fan clubs:

Here's Eddie Jobson and Adrian Belew:

Here's Tony taking a photo of Eddie and Ade...

And Pat, Tony and Eddie jamming with Julie Slick standing in the wings, watching:

There's Julie watching Tony own daughter is stealing my fan girl crush! (Oh come on, I know it's now become a lame joke but I feel the need to continue because I am such a huge music nerd, what can I say?)

What you see from the stage:

And the provider of all this great gossip, Andre, in front of whatever it is:

Speaking of Andre, let's hear some more from him, which confirms what Julie on "wodka" told me last evening but in better detail:

"One gas guzzling bus ride and several text messages-to-organize-amps later, we re-convened to Julie Slick's room...Crimfest' lads plus Julie, Mark (Jobson's tech/studio engineer) and yours truly. With only two small amps and a shared mattress and some glass lampshades and garbage cans for drums & percussion, they again ran through LARKS' TONGUE and RED for the special appearance. Pretty unforgettable to see these gentlemen with the 140-150 years of accumulated progressive music history between them, just tightening up and re-arranging two of the classics of the canon in a large hotel room far inside Mother Russia...incredible. Stay tuned for pics of all this...

Then before you know it, off we were to a local restaurant ( for some decent japanese food (I had miso soup, tempura, avocado roll, and a GIANT dark beer)....lots of good sushi and good in house brews, wine and bread filled the table...I had the pleasure of sitting between Eddie Jobson and his tech Mark. I got to clear up ALL kinds of stuff that I lie awake nights wondering, like, about King Crimson, Curved Air, Roxy Music, Eddie's solo on "PROMISE NOT TO COME IN YOUR MOUTH" on Zappa in New York.

Eddie replied: "Oh, man, people always tell me they love that solo...I dunno...I think I'd better go check it out again! See, I had just gotten the Moog...I was just trying some stuff out, y'know? Is it that good?? I haven't heard it in years."

Here's a photo of the gang and yes, Andre, that is one huge beer for sure...and Eric, I hear there are huge mosquitoes over there so I'm guessing that has to do with what you are up to...

Back to Andre again...

"We also heard more in depth about how the Jethro Tull "A" album was supposed to be an Ian Anderson solo release but morphed into a proper Tull album. Of special interest was his tales of an unreleased album with many great people on it, including Bruford, Levin, Bulgarian choirs and one of my fave singer/songwriter guitarists Francis Dunnery on there! If you don't know of Francis, pause right now - check out his site and bio, and grab yerself some youtube and iTunes. He is unreal. AWESOME guitarist -- his prog/pop bad IT BITES opened for Tull a few times, and he has toured with Robert Plant, also plays on Plant's "Fate Of Nations" as well as albums as far-flung as Lauren Hill and Santana.

OK - back at Nerd-Central Restaurant, poor Eddie is sandwiched between Eric Slick and myself. It was good to give poor Adrian a break. Ponder the significance for a minute, the fate of a willingly talkative living legend caught between two freaks like us...groan!! Can you say Restraining Order?
(Ha ha, note from our author...just to clarify, both Eric Slick and Andre Cholmondeley are total music nerds and walking music encyclopedias and Eric especially knows stuff there's no way he should know...detailed facts about every freaking musician out there from like every single period of music, ever)

Okay, back to Andre again:

"Eddie is telling us cool stuff about the well known early 70s' invite he had to join YES, and of course he mentions his friend Pat Moraz. I then remember to mention that I met him twenty years ago at the Bruford/Moraz show in a small room at Montclair College in New Jersey. He is silent for a few seconds and says "I remember meeting you."

Way to make a fanboy's night, Eddie!

...I better get to sleep. I have a major day ahead making sure my people get on stage and kick ass. Emerson band is playing, Eddie Jobson's return to the stage for the first time in twenty-seven years or so...(he starts the day with FAIRPORT CONVENTION, of course with bassist Dave Pegg, who also did many years on with Tull). I'm really looking forward to giving my old buddy Tony Shanahan a coronary when I sneak up and surprise him -- he is Patti Smith's bassist and he has NO IDEA that I am here. And -- having seen many many Patti! What a bonus to catch one here!

LATER: Meeting....the great Keith Emerson yesterday!

P.S. Manna For Geargeeks Section: Besides Adrian Belew's stripped down rig, Eddie Jobson is playing his CLASSIC clear plastic violins...wireless to a rack offstage, with a Line6 POD XT rack, and a MIDI foot controller onstage. Clean, compact and replaceable in just about any modern city. Pat Mastelotto has his custom DWs, plus his laptop and a couple Roland units -- the SPD-S sampler/drumpad and the SPD-15 Handsonic. Tony Levin had a couple of Boss and other footpedals and his trusty Chapman Stick and an Ernie Ball Musicman bass and Eric Slick is on a compact set of house drums..."

Oh man, that was great, wasn't it? Thank you so much, Andre, and let me add that Eric and Andre will be back on the road with Project Object for a week in November - more on that as the information rolls in regarding venues, etc.

Okay, then, that's a wrap for now but I'll be back with another post as soon as I hear from everyone later today...assuming they do not continue on their, um, scientific quest for vodka which I suppose is entirely possible and inevitable.

But hope remains eternal...and that tease Andre gave about Keith quote Tom Petty, "the waiting is the hardest part!"