Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Well, I'm back home from touring; I have about nine million stories, all of which you can read in my new book tentatively titled "Merch Woman" because it would be a travesty to blog about them for free har har, and in case you haven't caught up with my agonized posts on Twitter, my first day back had me at the periodontist on Monday having the absolute world's most painful dental surgery so I need to make this brief -- I want to go back to bed and sleep this off!

I'm on Vicodin for Christ sake and woe is me, I like it. Not good for someone who gets addicted to everything from shopping to chocolate but luckily I only have twelve pills and it's a non-refillable prescription.

Oh, I'm kidding. Like I'd really allow myself to get hooked on narcotics for a tooth problem; I'm just happy it works because Oh Boy Do I Feel Pain when it wears off but unless I develop an infection, the discomfort should be gone by the end of the week, anyway, and I only like the Vicodin for the relief it gives me; not the weird high. Seriously, that feeling of not being able to touch bottom is not cool.

Here's a photo I adore that Julie took of Eric and me, wearing my e-shirt of course, in my favorite city in the world other than Philadelphia, namely, Quebec...but oh, add to that list Toronto...but I think that is mainly because my two best meals of the tour were had there (dinner at Utopia, where I had dinner consisting of curried zucchini soup, tzatziki with grilled naan, and mushroom and goat cheese salad which contained warm sauteed portabella and white mushrooms, goat cheese, roasted red peppers in a warm soy & balsamic dressing over a bed of field mix and plum tomatoes and sprinkled with walnuts -- and breakfast at Auntie and Uncles, where our server, a very funny guy and a huge prog rock fan who inexplicably loves Genesis but didn't know Adrian gave us complimentary "prog cakes", i.e., fresh berry wheatcakes); I met Martin Popoff***, and had the absolute world's best after party at the Mod Club until 3:00 a.m. -- Hello, Sasha and Emily! Hi, Jason!

I have even lost more weight since that photo - the new vegetarian me has now lost a total of ten pounds since August 20...I realize this is in good part due to my dental surgery this week and will taper off but I am determined to lose another ten by the end of October. I'm liking how I am looking and feeling (other than my teeth) in a big way!

Anyway, I'm sure most of you have already seen this, but in case you haven't, The Buffalo News contains probably the best review ever of an Adrian Belew Power Trio show...when I first read it, I burst into tears. It does contain one inaccuracy, though, which is that "e" is not available yet. "e" is not only available, I was at the venue that night, selling it, and woo hoo, I will be at the merch table on the entire west coast tour beginning October 5 through October 25. To see where I'll be, and in case you are in another part of the world and would like to buy "e" off of Adrian's website, please go right here!

Belew Power Trio delivers exuberant set

By Jeff Miers
September 12, 2009, 7:05 AM /
Adrian Belew has nothing to prove.

"He’s already had a hand in the most interesting, creative, and groundbreaking music of the past 30 years. Whether working with Frank Zappa, David Bowie, Talking Heads, the Bears, King Crimson, or with his own bands, Belew always went for the creative jugular, and in the process made a significant mark on whatever musical situation he found himself in.

Most musicians who have done far less have already taken the incentive package and semiretired to the “play your couple of hits over and over again” circuit. Belew, on the other hand, has proven to be an artist of an entirely different temperament.

On Friday, the Tralf Music Hall hosted Belew’s Power Trio, and an appreciative audience acted as witness to Belew’s testimony. The man has played on many “hit” songs, can write a pop hook like almost no one else, and has proven his deep love for the craftsmanship of the Beatles repeatedly. Going for a higher commercial profile and playing bigger places was definitely one of Belew’s possibilities whenever he took a break from his ongoing role in King Crimson. The man definitely took the less-traveled road.

Fronting the Power Trio — 22 year-old drummer Eric Slick and his 23 year-old sister, Julie, on drums and bass respectively — Belew offered a dense, challenging and exuberant set of music centered around an album that hasn’t come out yet. That record, “e,” out in a few weeks time, is a song-cycle based on repeated, expansive motifs, polyrhythms, daring harmonies and a jarring interpolation of grooves, to boot. Not exactly a case of coddling the audience, Belew and company’s set, but an exhilarating encounter for those willing to take the risk.

Belew opened with an early, pre-Crimson favorite, “Big Electric Cat,” but before anyone at the Tralf caught the whiff of nostalgia, the three ran off into dangerous, rocky and previously uncharted terrain. The Trio’s new album, “e,” was revealed in segments, and the first — encompassing the initial four movements — spent a quarter of an hour moving from a lyrical, classical introduction, through bits of industrial near-metal, African polyrhythmic motifs, a purely “free” section of improvisation, and some Beatle-esque psychedelia before its race was run.

The crowd, unfamiliar with this unreleased material, offered a visceral, chaotic response to its airing. Belew and the Slicks seemed pleased.

Belew is a wonderful singer, with a pure, high tenor, and a penchant for heartrending melody. That particular aspect of his genius was perhaps underrepresented on Friday, but when he did take the mic for a more pop-structured song — say “Ampersand,” “Young Lion,” “Of Bow and Drum,” though none of these follow any of conventional pop’s rules — he made it count.

It should be noted that the Slick siblings have developed, since their stop at the Tralf in 2008, into two of the finest rock musicians extant. Eric’s drumming was superb throughout, blending elements of Bill Bruford, John Bonham and Chad Wackerman into a wholly new hybrid. Slick is simply a stunning musician.

Bassist Julie brought low-end oomph, substantial melodic invention, and dizzying, John Entwhistle-like flurries of blues scales and more “outside” patterns to her side of the stage. Throughout, the Slicks appeared to be communicating in a manner that transcended language. It was all quite incredible to bask in.

And Belew? The man appeared to be walking on air, so comfortable in his element, so childlike in his enjoyment of the musicians around him. When the joyous interplay between the musicians on the stage can be parlayed to the audience, when those gathered take the journey with the players— that’s a beautiful and rare thing."

Ah, I love me a good review. It's sad, but with newspapers going out of business all over the country and laying off writers, it's becoming more and more difficult to actually have a real live rock music writer at your shows.

Which leads me to Martin Popoff and the *** I put next to his name. So here's that footnote:

***Martin Popoff is an amazing highly credentialed rock writer. Please click on the link I provided above and read all about him because it was such an honor to have him come up to me during the show and tell me that Eric may be the best drummer he's ever seen -- and this is a man who wrote extensively about Neil Peart -- and he was blown away by Ms. Julie Slick as well. Look for an interview/review he is writing on the ABPT to appear in a future issue of Goldmine Magazine.

Alas, he is not the mystery special guest to whom I referred while live tweeting that night -- Martin had invited Rush's Alex Lifeson "and friend" to the show but if Alex and friend were there, I did not see them. So to those of you who speculated that Robert Fripp was in the

Oh man, I have so much more to say but it's going to be the best book I ever wrote - for real - and my first true work of non-fiction although trust me, I couldn't write fiction crazier than some of the stuff that I better end this now before I blab too much.

Love you guys, and oh, starting this coming Saturday I will be collapsing for two weeks at the beach and working on said novel; then the very next day upon my return, October 4, I hop on a plane for Minneapolis to begin the west coast leg of the tour which will take me everywhere from Vancouver to San Francisco to Aspen, Colorado...but yeah, yeah, I'll have the trusty laptop with me and will certainly live Tweet the entire should really follow me on Twitter, I am both entertaining and informative. Ha ha, and apparently an egomaniac as well.

Oh, and one more thing - make sure you read Julie's account of the tour. She is really hilarious though yes, when she hit her head in Piermont, New York, I was not laughing and I did scream that I was terrified that this could be another Natasha Richardson incident. I was glad to be there because I was the one who ran to get ice and watched her carefully to make sure she wasn't concussive. Hey, once a mother, always a mother, eh?