Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Already/Almost Famous: Julie Slick Solo CD and Eric Slick on tour with Dr. Dog!

Hey hey:

Well, now that I've recovered from my fabulous Keith Emerson/Greg Lake experience, there's other huge news to discuss.

Julie Slick's debut solo CD is now available! You can order it via her website, at Burning Shed, Abstract Logix, DGM, and very shortly at iTunes and Amazon.

To celebrate Julie's release, esteemed music journalist Anil Prasad has done an in-depth interview with Ms. Slick. Here's a short tease:

Julie Slick
Harnessing serendipity

by Anil Prasad
Copyright © 2010 Anil Prasad. All rights reserved.

"Composer and bassist Julie Slick is the epitome of drive and determination. At age 24, she possesses masterful bass chops, a unique voice as a writer, and a remarkable career trajectory. She’s best-known as one-third of the Adrian Belew Power Trio, a fiery progressive rock act led by the King Crimson frontman and guitarist which also includes her virtuoso drummer brother Eric Slick. And for six years, she was a key part of the Paul Green School of Rock, the famed performance-based music school where she got to work with an incredible array of rock legends. She’s also well-known for her contributions to alternative rock acts in her local Philadelphia scene including Paper Cat, Cheers Elephant, Sweatheart, and Love Gravy.

Slick’s latest and most impressive endeavor is her new self-titled debut album. It’s an all-instrumental effort that meshes progressive rock, jazz-fusion, funk, electronica, avant-garde, and world music influences. The album features an all-star ensemble comprised of Slick’s friends, including guitarists Robert Fripp and André Cholmondeley; drummers Pat Mastelotto, Marco Minnemann and Eric Slick; and Chapman Stick player Michael Bernier..."

Read the rest of the interview, including quotes from brother, Eric Slick, as well as answers to burning questions like, "How did you convince Robert Fripp to appear on your CD?" right here!

And as always, a huge shout out to Sid Smith for linking Anil's interview over at DGM News today.

By the way, Anil has a book coming out later this year which looks like a must read to me, that is for sure.

Innerviews Book Update
May 12, 2010

"The Innerviews: Music Without Borders book is due to be published in 2010 by Abstract Logix, the world's premier jazz-fusion label responsible for recent releases by John McLaughlin, Jimmy Herring, Gary Willis, and many others.

The book will offer exclusive interviews with artists including Björk, David Sylvian, Tangerine Dream, Bill Laswell, Jonas Hellborg, Ani DiFranco, David Torn, Public Enemy, Jon Anderson, Béla Fleck, Victor Wooten, and Chris Whitley, just to name a few. Stay tuned for more details."

The official CD release party for Julie's new CD will take place Friday, May 21, 2010 at The Khyber and you can buy tickets for that show right here. This show is going to be amazing - it's four of the best new bands out there right now: Cheers Elephant (featuring Julie's boyfriend, Matt Rothstein on bass and Jordan DelRosario on guitar, both of whom make guest appearances on Julie's CD), Paper Cat, which of course is Julie on bass, Eric Slick on drums, and Robbie "Seahag" Mangano on guitar, our good friends from Atlanta, Nerd Parade...and Nerd Parade not only opened for the Adrian Belew Power Trio in Asheville but their bassist, Rich Wilson, is married to the fabulous Miss Kat, who took the amazing photos of Julie featured on both her CD and website. and New Connection, another incredible local band...I believe Julie attended Drexel University with one of its members. And if that isn't awesome enough of a line-up, after all four bands play on May 21, Julie will take the stage with her "special guests" and do a couple songs off hew new CD, which will of course be available for sale at the Khyber that night.

Then we all head over to Julie's place at what, 2:00AM, for more partying...catered by both Julie and her fabulous Dad.

Julie also plans on doing some solo touring with some very special guests and may be opening for someone we all know and love...stay tuned for details on that in the very near future, too.

And now, moving on to Eric Slick, holy cow, you should have seen my face when I opened up yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer and saw this on the front page of the Arts and Entertainment Section!

"Dr. Dog coming home to Electric Factory

By Dan DeLuca
Inquirer Music Critic

On their sixth album, Shame, Shame, the sunny Philadelphia pop-rock band Dr. Dog lets a little darkness in.

"We've always been obsessively devoted to the notion that the band is a purely positive thing," says guitarist Scott McMicken, who co-leads the band with bassist Toby Leaman.

The two have been making music together since they were eighth graders, growing up in West Grove, Chester County, and now Dr. Dog's national tour is bringing them home to the Electric Factory on Thursday.

"What I've come to realize over time," says McMicken, "is that there's nothing negative about a sad song."

Shame, Shame, the band's first album on the respected indie label Anti- - home to Tom Waits, as well as Philadelphians Man Man and Alec Ounsworth - is full of sad songs. Or so you'd think, perusing a lyric sheet to tunes with titles like "Unbearable Why" and "I Only Wear Blue."

"The good old days have passed, and the good times after that / And slowly I've become undone," the raspy-voiced Leaman, 30, sings on the opening "Stranger." "Yesterday's love defines you," the higher-pitched McMicken, 31, laments on "Jackie Wants a Black Eye." "But today that love is gone."

But even when McMicken and Leaman start with downcast raw material, it gets transformed by Dr. Dog's flair for melody and harmony. What might read as negative winds up sounding positive.

"There's so much you can do with a band when you arrange things and choose your instrumentation and dynamics," says McMicken, in his West Philadelphia apartment following a recent, packed radio-concert marathon for WXPN-FM (88.5) at World Cafe Live. After the broadcast, the band, including keyboard player Zach Miller, guitarist Frank McElroy, and new drummer Eric Slick, carried on with an 11-song encore.

"It always seems great to me how you can take a super-simple structure, like with 'Shadow People,' which has the same melody and chord progression over and over again in the verses," McMicken says, "and really make it feel like it begins somewhere and ends somewhere completely different."

McMicken smokes Camels as he sits in his kitchen, where the walls are hung with his own paintings. The sink and stove share space with a turntable and a few hundred LPs (lately he's been spinning a lot of Bob Dylan).

He points to "The Girl," from Dr. Dog's 2007 album We All Belong, as a song whose dreary mood was lifted by the buoyant music.

"When I wrote that, it was a dark broody thing," says the redheaded tunesmith, sporting a trademark Fedora but without the oversize sunglasses he wears onstage. "And then, sonically, in the instrumentation and the arrangement, we started to pull away from that as we started to dress it up.

"In a general philosophical way, that's super-important, because no matter how dark or depressive the subject matter of the song, it's not the be-all and end-all of how you're always going to feel. You need a way out of it."

When it came time to record Shame, Shame, band members felt as though they needed a way out of their normal routine, recording at the Kensington studio they affectionately call Meth Beach.

Working with the tiny indie label Park the Van, beginning with 2005's Easy Beat, Dr. Dog has been on a slow build to renown. Fate (2008) sold nearly 60,000 copies, twice those of its predecessor, We All Belong.

For its Anti- debut, the group decided to work with producer Rob Schnapf, who has worked with Elliot Smith and Beck at his Dreamland studio in upstate New York. "We'd kind of outgrown our own studio, and we just wanted to be a band on this record," says McMicken.

The experiment wasn't entirely successful. The band's DIY sensibility clashed at times with Schnapf's engineer Doug Boehm, and the pressure of "redefining yourselves and your future with a brand new label" was intense, at times, McMicken says. Plus, he says, "it was expensive as hell, and there was a finite amount of time."

Rather than finish Shame, Shame in a month, the band brought the tracks they recorded back to Meth Beach and completed them in Kensington. When they were done, they realized that the album they'd left town to record wound up being their most Philadelphian yet.

"Maybe it was being away so much," says McMicken, sussing out what gives Shame, Shame such a strong sense of place. All the Dr. Dog guys live in West Philly, except for Leaman, the sole married member of the band, who resides in Wilmington, and its sixth touring member, Dmitri Manos, who lives in Tucson, Ariz.

On "Station," when Leaman hits the road, he leaves behind a handful of tokens for his friends to use on the Baltimore Avenue trolley car. "Shadow People," which McMicken wrote with Dan Auerbach, takes a virtual tour of West Philly bohemia, from basement house parties to the Second Mile Center thrift shop.

With his new songs, McMicken has moved from an abstract to a more concrete approach to songwriting.

"The process for me used to be, how far could I reach out for an imaginary something," he says. Now, "the idea of what's in front of me, and where can I go from there, has become much more compelling. What is the obvious truth at exactly this moment? I try to start with that."

And if that wasn't enough, The Philadelphia Weekly has an interview with Scott McMicken right here, and I see it's Part One so if Part Two pops up later today, I'll come in and add it. Here's a great excerpt:

Q: "This was the first big tour with your new drummer, Eric Slick — that aspect of it went well?

A: Incredibly well, yeah. He’s brought, like…with our old drummer that we had, the thing with him not being in the band anymore, it’s not at all because of his ability or lack of being an amazing drummer. It was kind of other things. So I was quite content performance-wise with the band that we were, and then that all changes when Eric shows up. He’s brought a whole ‘nother thing to it, which is pretty much awesome. He’s the best musician in the band at this point, so all of us are absorbing a lot off of him. I feel like he’s making us all better musicians. He’s definitely added a whole new element not only to the way the songs are being played, which is really exciting, but adding a whole new element to how we think about our situations on our instruments and everything. He’s a great person, hilarious and excited, and there’s a whole new kind of energy coming from him. So it’s actually kind of overwhelming sometimes. It all happened so fast, but the results have just been so awesome and helped us with a lot of confidence and everything, so it’s been great."

Yeah, that's way cool and not the first time they've made mention of Eric in that regard. In another recent interview, Scott had a similar response:

"NC: I actually saw you guys at SXSW, and you guys have a new drummer. How's that going? Has he influenced or affected the way you guys present your songs live?

SM: Yeah, his name is Eric Slick. He joined the band in January. He’s absolutely influenced our live show; I can’t overstate that enough. I fell like everything about what our band is doing right now has resulted from the addition of Eric to the band. It was a t such a welcomed time. We were all really feeling the need for that, and he’s come in with so many new ideas and such a different feel with so much enthusiasm. Technically speaking, he’s a far superior musician to any of us, which is awesome because he’s pushing us a lot harder. The first time I ever played with him I thought, “Oh my gosh, this rules. I’m going to have to get so much better!” There’s a foundation here now that’s so unwavering, that there really is no more room for me to hide. And of course, Toby being the bass player has a whole new rhythm section to work off of. We’ve all been so incredibly affected and inspired by playing with Eric. It’s great, it worked immediately, but it’s still so much fun to play with him because it’s still pa pretty new thing. There are changes occurring that you can feel and we’re taking things in slightly new directions. There’s a real freshness about playing these days because we also have this new record out. It’s a perfect time for him to have joined the band, and it really has brought so much positive influence on our shows and just the experience of being in a band."

Nashville Scene also reviewed the show right here and remarked "Oh, and brand-new drummer Eric Slick is absolutely fluid, by the way."

Ha ha, what a surprise.

The Dallas Observer also reviewed a recent show and said:

"...if the giant sound coming from the stage was any indication, it seems the combination of new material and new drummer Eric Slick has pushed the band's live show to ever further heights...."

There are so many great reviews out there I can't possibly post them all, but if you are interested, just hit Google.

Have you bought tickets yet for Dr. Dog tomorrow night at the Electric Factory? Better hurry! Last I heard, it was 80% sold out and that was a few days ago. In the event you haven't taken care of that yet, I'll make it easy for you. Here's the link to buy tickets!

We are celebrating Eric's 23rd birthday that night, though he won't be 23 until Saturday, May 15, where he will be celebrating again at Terminal Five at Dr. Dog's last show on this U.S. run before heading for Europe on May 22. Haven't bought your NYC tickets yet, either? They are also almost sold out, too. I know it's going to be an awesome night involving God knows what the band might be planning so it's a Don't Miss Occasion. Here's the link for tickets to the NY show!

But rest assured the Philly show is going to feature, if I do say so myself, awesomely decadent chocolate birthday cake(s) if you are lucky enough to snag a backstage invite.

If you don't grab tickets for NY or Philly, you're outta luck on the east coast. Both Boston shows this week are completely sold out and Friday night's show in Washington, D.C. is sold out as well.

Dog Power!

Oh, God, speaking of that, I opened up a Twitter account for our dog, Monty, as a joke for Julie and Eric but I woke up yesterday to all these followers. So now I guess I have to manage Monty's Twitter account on a daily basis to keep up with his fans. If you love dogs, or are interested in just how insane I can be, please follow him/me on Twitter, okay? Cool? Cool.

Okay, enough writing about my brilliant progeny. Time to return to working on my novel, which is gathering steam like you would not believe. I've never been more psyched about anything I've written to date.

And last night at yoga, we learned an anti-anxiety/insomnia position. It was ridiculously easy and I literally felt the stress and toxins leave my body within seconds. If anyone wants me to describe the position, just let me know. I'm about to do it now, just for the high.

Yep, life is pretty damn fine right now.