Monday, October 31, 2005

Robin Slick and family hang with Jack Bruce, Adrian Belew, Les Paul...and more

Julie and Adrian Belew:

My future son-in-law, Matt, with Jack Bruce

Matt with Adrian Belew:

Les Paul from behind - you can't see Eric on drums, but Eric's girlfriend had the great vantage point for that so I'm waiting for her to email me her photos:

Louie Graff with John Mayer

Hi there!

Just got back from a week in England where I had an incredible time and am so jet lagged I've been up since 3:00 a.m. I realize I never got a chance to talk about the amazing experience that was Music Player Live the evening before I left the U.S. and of course now I have a whole week of the UK to talk about as well so I don't even know where to begin.

Once again, I have to thank Paul Green and Rock School for this unbelievable, almost surreal event. Every time I think he can't possibly "top this" he pulls something like MPL out of his hat.

Unfortunately, Adrian Belew did not get to play with the kids but all got to talk with him, Jack Bruce, Ron Carter, John Mayer...the list is endless. My favorite moment other than seeing my kids on stage at the Roseland doing their own set was having a Rock School private session with Les Paul where he talked about building his first guitar -- really, his whole career and it's just the most amazing story ever. And then of course Eric, C.J., and Max got to play two tunes for him while he sat on stage and grinned from ear to ear and to say it was a proud mother moment is putting is mildly.

I hope the above photos will suffice for now. I made the mistake of giving the camera to Julie and of course she took all pictures of her boyfriend, but since I love Matt, I'll forgive her. But it would have been nice to have one of her with Jack Bruce, too, though the fact that he autographed my all access pass will suffice for sure!

So England was fantastic...more pics and a whole write-up later. There's way too much to tell.

Favorite city there? All of them. I cried the whole way home; I didn't want to leave.

Best time had? In Leeds!


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Adrian Belew to play "ELEPHANT TALK" with Paul Green School of Rock Music Hall of Famers Eric Slick, Louis Graff, and Max DiMezza

Adrian Belew

Okay, a moment here for me to take some deep breaths so I don't hyperventilate.

On Saturday night, at the Roseland Ballroom in New York for the Les Paul Tribute, my son, Eric, will be on drums along with Rock School Hall of Famers Max DiMezza on bass and Louis Graff on guitar, where they will be joined by ADRIAN BELEW for King Crimson's "Elephant Talk".

(Hall of Famers are Paul Green School of Rock School Music All-Stars who have graduated the program and are really the shining examples of Paul's most amazing teaching and mentoring skills -- and all of these musicians are now in bands of their own and actively gigging).

And okay, one more time, here's a recap off the Music Player Live website of what else is going to occur that evening, and to say I'm excited is a major understatement.


Music Player Live

Join all of us at Music Player Live! in the concert that pays tribute to the musical innovator of the century, Les Paul!

The Les Paul Tribute & Celebration Concert features an evening of music dedicated to the legend, the spirit, and the rock 'n' roll that Les Paul has cultured, innovated, and promoted over the course of his amazing 90 years.

Come to the historic Roseland Ballroom and check out Les Paul, Grammy-award winning Larry Carlton & Firewire, the School of Rock All Stars, Jack Bruce, Ron Carter, Adrian Belew, Jon Brion, Bakithi Kumalo, David Ellefson, Will Lee, Billy Burnette, Lisa Loeb, Doug Wimbish, Robben Ford, and more very special guests!

Also, you will see awards presented to Bass Player magazine will present Ron Carter with a Lifetime Achievement Award; Jack Bruce will receive a Lifetime Achievement award from Bass Player magazine and Hartke; and Les Paul will receive the Innovator of the Century Award from EQ Magazine!

Buy your tickets now, before they run out!

The Lineup:

* Larry Carlton & Firewire (Steely Dan, Billy Joel)
* School of Rock All-Star band
* Adrian Belew (Frank Zappa, King Crimson)
* Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Kanye West)
* Bakithi (Paul Simon )
* David Ellefson
* Will Lee (Letterman, Fab Faux)
* Billy Burnette (John Fogerty, John Mellencamp)
* Lisa Loeb
* Doug Wimbish (Rolling Stones, Living Colour)
* Robben Ford
* Les Paul
* Jack Bruce (Cream)
* Ron Carter

And here's the schedule for the Paul Green School of Rock Music at Music Player Live, which will take place during the entire weekend October 22 and 23 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Times Square, New York, NY:

10 AM-11 AM: OPEN HOUSE! Come by and meet Paul Green, Claude Coleman, and the rest of the staff.
11 AM-12 PM: Bergen Country NJ School of Rock!
12 PM - 1 PM: The KISS ARMY from PGSORM Bucks County PA branch.
1 PM - 2 PM: PGSOR Graduate Bands: ATLAS & FLAMINGO.
2 PM - 3 PM: The School of Rock All-Stars
2:35 PM - 3:15 PM: Advanced Band Techniques w/ Paul Green
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM: Les Paul Master Class w/ the School of Rock!

10 AM - 11 AM: OPEN HOUSE! Come by and meet Paul Green, Claude Coleman, and the rest of the staff.
11 AM - 12 PM: Downingtown PA School of Rock: Performing Prog Rock
12 PM - 1 PM: NYC School of Rock: Performing The Ramones
1 PM - 2 PM: Seminar w/ Claude Coleman, Jr, NYC School of Rock manager and drummer for WEEN
2 PM - 3 PM: The School of Rock All-Stars
3 PM - 4 PM: The original Philadelphia PGSOR presents: TEAM DEVO Q: Are We Not Men
4 PM - 5 PM:SHRED CONTEST! Open to all MPL attendees 17 and under. Come challenge the best from the PGSORM!


Oh god. Okay. I'll be calm now. And I promise I won't even mention DO I BELIEVE I MAY GET TO MEET JACK BRUCE?



Oh brother, what a meeting of the minds this is gonna be...

And if that photo doesn't make you nauseous enough, read the article:

WASHINGTON - In town for a concert, U2 rock star Bono was invited to lunch Wednesday with the president. White House president secretary Scott McClellan said the meeting at the executive residence would be a follow-up on talks he had with President Bush in July at the G-8 summit in Scotland.

"They had a very good discussion about some of our common priorities," McClellan said. "Both share a deep commitment to combating AIDS, preventing malaria and expanding trade to lift people out of poverty."


McClellan said Bono also planned to meet with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley later in the day, before U2's concert at the MCI Center. The spokesman laughingly told reporters that Bush was not planning to attend the concert.

(Another response from Ms. Slick: Oh, well, that's good. Because if so, Bush at a U2 concert would surely be on the video screen 24/7 in hell when I die and it's bad enough I'm going to have to be listening to Bono singing duets with Satan)

(Just kidding. You all know I'm a heathen who believes that when you die, you are dead, end of story.)

Okay...just wanted to post this little tidbit -- will resume regular blog posting with more exciting music, writing and this news...later this afternoon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Eric Slick plays Toad's Place with Doctor Dark and Project Object

So the above photographs -- and oh my god, yes, Eric is in pigtails in a few of them -- are from Sunday's concert at Toad's Place in New Haven, Connecticut where he gigged with yet another band he's joined, Doctor Dark. In the last photo, where the pigtails were mercifully removed, Eric sat in with Project Object where he drummed on Peaches en Regalia (thank you, Glenn Leonard, for being kind enough to give up both the song (which of course Eric can play blindfolded with one hand tied behind his back) and your seat behind your new set of drums...which you were also kind enough to let Eric play during his Doctor Dark stint.)

The last shot is a pic of Toad's Place, where, as you can see, everyone from Stevie Ray Vaughan to the Rolling Stones have performed. It's a very, very cool venue.

Well, what can I say about Sunday's show? It was fucking awesome. But I don't want to skip ahead, so let me start at the beginning.

We drove to Connecticut, which is about a four hour drive in traffic, on a gorgeous fall day. Unfortunately, the trees are all still green -- stupid global warming -- so I didn't get to experience the changing of the leaves in New England. But it was still a lovely ride and for once, we didn't get lost; no one yelled at anyone, and we arrived at our destination pretty much on time -- the destination being the New Haven home of Bill Saunders, front man for the Beefheart tribute band, Doctor Dark.

First of all, let me say this. I love Bill! He's one of "us", meaning, an old hippie who loves music and hates what's become of this world. He's extremely political and as it turns out, his knocked out beautiful Victorian home is actually a commune of sorts -- seven people live there, all artists of some type (musicians, a poet, and a couple painters).

Bill himself is an incredible artist; in fact, I want to buy one of his paintings. I wrote to his significant other, the lovely Nancy, this morning and asked that she send me a few digital pics so that I can post them here. I understand there are also great music stories connected with each painting, and I will share that information as well. By the way, Nancy is the one who sent me the very first photo of Eric in pigtails as well as the second to the last when his hair is back to "normal" for the Project Object set.

Anyway, Bill's house was full of great vibes. He's turned his basement into a soundproof practice room and apparently all kinds of bands play there nightly. Gary and I sat in his backyard while Eric and the band jammed in preparation for the concert. Oh my god, the weather was so magnificent, and the yard was an extension of the house, meaning, there was incredible artwork propped up against the wooden fence; and even better, naked mannequin legs planted like trees so that the toes point toward the clouds. (A fabric store went out of business in the neighborhood, Bill told us, so he inherited the mannequin legs. They looked so cool! Now I have a new goal in life -- to find me some legs and plant them in my yard, too!)

So we sat outside for a while and listened to the band jam, and they are all incredible musicians. On guitar are Travis Moody and Joe Nolan. On bass, is Warren and I'm so sorry, I didn't catch his last name but will insert it here when I get it. But trust me on this, you will know his name in the future -- he's that good, and I loved his axe, which is an old Vox.

We had a couple of hours to kill before showtime so Gary and I went for a walk into town, which, as it turns out, is Yale's campus. Hahahahaha - not to repeat a comment I've been making non-stop since Sunday, but if there's one place I never expected to ever see Gary (who, by the way, is Eric's dad in case you are new to this blog) is Yale's campus. Gary is a musician who is not at all enamoured by anything related to the world of academia; add that to the fact that Yale is Dubya's alma mater, and well, I just kept laughing because it was so NOT a place for Gary to be. Actually, the city itself is charming but you won't see anything like a GAP or Dunkin' Donuts on Yale's campus...nope, the stores were high end boutiques; the restaurants extremely pricey, and the Yalies quite entertaining.

We ended up having coffee and panninis at Atticus Books, which of course pleased me to no end, because I of course am extremely enamoured by the world of academia and couldn't get enough of it. But sadly, no, no, Atticus Books does not carry my novel.

I checked.

Anyway, the concert itself was just terrific. Doctor Dark, as I said, really has some fine musicians and they ended the set with a favorite of mine, Beefheart's collaboration with Frank Zappa, The Torture Never Stops. They did a kick ass version and Eric as usual ruled on the drums.

Project Object was the headliner, and to say they are amazing would be putting it mildly. They're on tour right now and if they come to a city near you, you really need to check them out. Musicianship like that doesn't come around often. The guitars and keyboard were other worldly -- that's Rock School's Downingtown music director, Berklee graduate extraordinaire Eric Svalgard on keys -- Dave Johnsen on bass is brilliant, Napoleon Murphy Brock (sax, flute, and vocals) was his usual awesome self (and he rapped a Grandmaster Flash Song at the end of a Zappa song, Pygmy Twylyte! This is the first time, ever, that I could honestly say I LOVE RAP!), and I was happy to see guitarist/vocalist Ike Willis looking and sounding really, really happy both up on stage and prior to when we spoke at length. Ike is an amazing musician and it sounds like he's going to be involved with Rock School when they open their LA branch. But I guess my favorite in the band would have to be Andre Cholmondeley, who is not only a kick ass guitarist but a political activist who urged the audience to do something about the current administration and took several shots at Bush which I adored. He said some things to me about Eric which left me teary eyed, and I'd repeat them here, but I don't want to embarrass him, my son, or cheapen the moment by broadcasting it internationally. But let me just say this: Andre, as special as you think Eric is, well, Gary and I think you are on an equal playing field and we are really thrilled to have you be even a small part of our world.
Oh, and P.S. My biopsy was negative! I'm going to live after all and in five days I leave for England! More on that, and the Rock School Music Player Live event this weekend, tomorrow.

Finally, I leave you with what I think is just a beautiful photograph of Eric and his significant other, Carolyn Pagnotta, taken at Carolyn's house prior to a night out on the town. Aren't they just the most gorgeous couple?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I'm going to the UK...Julie and Eric Slick are playing a tribute to Les Paul...and this is not another post about Neil Gaiman!

So yeah, this is not another post about Neil Gaiman.

But I still wanted to post his pic, anyway. Jesus, talk about eye candy. And my luck, he'll be on tour in the UK exactly six days after I leave London!

Because, yes, it's true. I'm going to the U.K. on October 23 with my daughter, Julie, who is playing bass in McRad.

Here's the list of cities where she'll be performing:

October 25: Newcastle
October 26: Lancaster
October 27: Leeds
October 28: London
October 29: Liverpool

I am so freaked out! I've wanted to go to England ever since I heard my first Beatle song when I was a little girl.

I have a lot of friends in England so if any of you reading this will email me if I have forgotten to email you directly with this news, we can make arrangements to meet up. I also have a complete list of all of our hotels and the venues where they'll be playing.

Now, let's talk about Eric, who to say is a little busy in the music world right now would be putting it mildly.

Last night, he worked at Rock School as Music Director of Team Devo, who will be performing their AWESOME show once again tomorrow night for the Katrina Relief fund as follows:

with Stinking Liziveta and the Dito Van Reigersberg Band
The Tritone
1508 South Street
Philadelphia, PA
Friday, October 14, 2005 at 9:30pm

Everyone in the area reading this should try and be there tomorrow night and if you mention this blog, I'll buy you a beer!

Anyway, today, Eric woke up at 3:30 a.m. to take a 5:00 a.m. train to New Haven, Connecticut, where he'll be in rehearsal all day for Sunday's show with Doctor Dark/Project Object mentioned here yesterday. There's a "rumor" that Eric will also be sitting in on a song or two with Project Object, which is amazing, because Zappa alumnae Napoleon Murphy Brock and Ike Willis are with the band the whole tour, and of course both musicians are also Rock School alumnae as well, having played many concerts with the All-Stars. So it will be a sort of Rock School reunion for Eric to gig with them again. Ike tells me everytime he sees me that "Eric is on the list", meaning, Ike is gonna be in a band with Eric someday. Yeah, you and everybody else, Ike, har har. Nah, I'm just joking. Eric would love to be in a band with Nappi and Ike; they are two of the coolest guys I've ever met and musically, they really click with my boy. I may have mentioned this a few thousand times before, but one of the coolest conversations I've ever had was with Ike in Germany when he told me he was on stage performing with Frank Zappa the night John Lennon died. As any music historian knows, Zappa and Lennon were friends and collaborated on a few projects. So as a huge Lennon fan, it was both thrilling and quite sad to hear Ike's story of that fateful night. I was one of the unlucky ones who heard the announcement of Lennon's death via Howard Cosell during the Monday night football broadcast. I didn't believe it...I went into shock...and immediately turned on what was still free form FM radio and every station was playing Lennon so I knew it had to be true. I think I went on a two week bender...stayed out of work...and just got drunk. I don't think kids today realize what an impact the Beatles had both musically and on society to those of us growing up in that era...and John Lennon was my hero.


So after taking the three and a half hour train home ride from rehearsal in Connecticut today, Eric's got to rush over to Rock School with sister Julie for a two-three hour rehearsal for the Les Paul tribute at the Roseland Ballroom in New York.

Here's the press Release regarding that "little" event:

Join all of us at Music Player Live! in the concert
that pays tribute to the musical innovator of the
century, Les Paul!

The Les Paul Tribute & Celebration Concert features an
evening of music dedicated to the legend, the spirit,
and the rock 'n' roll that Les Paul has cultured,
innovated, and promoted over the course of his amazing
90 years.

Come to the historic Roseland Ballroom and check out
Les Paul, Grammy-award winning Larry Carlton &
Firewire, the School of Rock All Stars, Jack Bruce,
Ron Carter, Adrian Belew, Jon Brion, Bakithi Kumalo,
David Ellefson, Will Lee, Billy Burnette, Lisa Loeb,
Doug Wimbish, Robben Ford, and more very special

Also, you will see awards presented to Bass Player
magazine will present Ron Carter with a Lifetime
Achievement Award; Jack Bruce will receive a Lifetime
Achievement award from Bass Player magazine and
Hartke; and Les Paul will receive the Innovator of the
Century Award from EQ Magazine!


Do you think I'm a little bit excited about that? My kids are playing for freaking Les Paul on a stage with the above mentioned rock stars at the freaking Roseland Ballroom in New York, and then the next day, my daughter and I leave for England.


Okay, getting back to Eric, so he's drumming/rehearsing all through the day and night today. Hey, isn't that how every Jew spends Yom Kippur? I'm fasting, if you don't count coffee, but trust me, if I didn't have coffee, I might end up murdering someone and that would not be in conformance with asking that my sins for the year (what sins, she asked innocently) be absolved. Tomorrow Eric wakes up at dawn again, practices all day with the Shannon Penn Band, comes home, grabs dinner, then races to Rock School to gather up equipment to take to the Tritone, which is a very, very cool spot, and then runs Team Devo until the late hours of the night. And then, in another bizarre version of Groundhog Day, he wakes up early Saturday morning to teach drums all day at Rock School, then hops a train to Malvern so he can take the lovely Carolyn to her Homecoming Dance...and then, gets back home I guess either in the wee hours of the night or at dawn Sunday so we can all drive up to Connecticut for the Doctor Dark/Project Object gig.

God. I'm exhausted just typing that. And to think I was worried about him deferring his sophomore year at college this year and spending a lot of time on the sofa watching TV. Nope, this kid is already a working, respected musician.

In fact, here's a fun thing I just stumbled on. As I've pasted on billboards all over the internet, Eric played a fantastic gig with Chris Opperman in New York in July and will be touring with him again this coming May. Chris has a My Space webpage as well, and in it, he lists his eight top favorite people in the world, which must be pretty difficult for him as he's got over 2,000 friends on his My Space site. So guess who made it to the top eight? Here's what he writes:

"Eric Slick - 18 year old drumming FREAK. The guy has the skill and precision to play the most difficult of my pieces, but can hit the fucking drums like he's in Led Zeppelin. Deadly. He's probably at least 33% of the reason why I'm excited about touring the east coast next year."

How fucking cool is that?

Sigh..I think that may be it for now. I sent my new novel off to my publisher yesterday and am biting my nails nervously, waiting to see if they like it. So rather than sit here checking my email every two seconds, I think I may actually do some domestic goddess chores today. The family is understandably resentful that I'm home all day and they have no clean clothing.

Peace and Love. Oh, and Happy Yom Kippur. I'm thinking of breaking the fast with a six pack and cheese steak from Jim's. Mmm...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A few minutes with Rock School's Eric Slick...

Eric Slick in East Germany for Zappanale 16

So you know I've been awful quiet lately, but yesterday, ta-da, I finished (finally!) my novel Another Bite of the Apple, which is the sequel to Three Days in New York so now I have that the meantime, I have so much news I'm bursting -- in fact, there's so much excitement going on in this house I'm going to have to report each item in a separate post so that nothing gets buried here because, well, here's just a taste: Julie and I are leaving for England on October 23 where we'll be until October 30 because she's going on tour playing bass with the punk band, McRad; both Julie and Eric are participating (as Rock School All-Star Hall of Famers) in the Les Paul Tribute at the Roseland Ballroom in New York on the night before, October 22...where, get this, Jack Bruce is also going to be be honored by Bass Player Magazine...(and wait until I list the other rock stars/musicians who are going to be there that night as well as additional incredible information connected with this event), but I'll get to all that later today or tomorrow.

Let's talk about Eric right now, who is drumming for Doctor Dark Sunday night at a gig in Connecticut where they will be opening for Project Object. They'll be playing at the legendary Toad's Place in New Haven, where the Rolling Stones kicked off their Steel Wheels Tour.

Eric was interviewed by Play New Haven Magazine, and the issue just came out in print today but it's also on line so without further ado, here ya go:

A few minutes with Rock School's Eric Slick

By: Nick R. Scalia , Staff writer 10/12/2005

You can catch Eric Slick - graduate of Philly's Paul Green School of Rock, as seen in the documentary Rock School - performing Sunday with Doctor Dark at Toad's Place, but before the show we thought we'd pick his brain to see what it's like to grow up schooled in the fine art of rock.

PLAY: How long have you been attending Paul Green's School of Rock?

E.S.: I've been there since I was 11 years old, which was back in 1998, and finally this year I graduated. It's been a hell of a ride, this year we started to play with pretty big people - Jon Anderson from Yes, Ann Wilson from Heart, Stewart Copeland from The Police, Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam... this was promotionally for the movie that came out. It's been crazy, I remember playing in a little café and now we've been playing on these huge stages. My final performance with the school will be Oct. 22 at Les Paul's birthday party in New York.

PLAY: Is Paul Green really as fanatical as the doc sometimes makes him look?

E.S.: Well, if you look at the movie, every time Paul gets really mad he's wearing the same shirt - he was in a very bad mood that day, and the bulk of the freakouts you saw in the movie were from that day - most of the time he's a really nice guy.

But overall I think the documentary's pretty close to what it's like - I think they kind of captured the spirit of Rock School in the movie very well.

PLAY: How did you first hook up with Paul?

E.S.: My friend Spencer was a guitar player, and at the time Paul had been giving lessons is his apartment, this really crappy apartment. He decided to have a showcase with all his students, and they were all really terrible but I loved it. So, my sister joined and then I joined, and that's how I got into the program.

PLAY: What's the most important thing you learned in all those years of being there?

E.S.: The main thing I learned from Rock School, besides improving my instrument-playing, was the performance aspect, how to play in front of a lot of people. I guess I used to be self-conscious onstage in my teens cause I was kinda fat [laughs], but after I lost the weight I really started to focus on my performance. Before I was doing difficult things but I didn't look like I was really into it - so I definitely learned some stage presence there.

PLAY: What did your parents think about you traveling the world, living the rock star lifestyle with the School?

E.S.: They were very supportive, I still see my parents all the time and they're so supportive. What's really great is that I kind of turned them onto Zappa - they had the preconceived notion that he was kind of a joke, but I played them all his really beautiful music and now they can't get enough of him. They've been turning me onto music since I was 2 years old, they were playing me Hendrix and Cream and Zeppelin and Beatles since I was really little, and a lot of jazz and classical... they were really surprised to find that Zappa mixed all three of those genres.

Rock School
Eat your heart out, Jack Black, because Paul Green is the real thing.
Turns out that one of the most contrived comedies in recent memory - the Black-starring School of Rock - wasn't actually all that contrived at all, because the documentary Rock School is a look at a dedicated, slightly-crazed teacher who really does teach kids how to unleash their inner rock gods.

The title institution is the School for Rock Music in Philadelphia, an afterschool facility started up by Green - a guy who's endlessly passionate about teaching music, though he's prone toward profanity and aggressiveness in his instruction, and you'd probably think twice about sending your own kids to his establishment (although the parents in the movie are awfully positive about it).

The documentary, directed by Don Argott, follows a crop of kids that Green is grooming to perform at Germany's Zappanale Festival, a concert honoring his rock idol Frank Zappa.

While the loudmouthed instructor (who regularly makes hilariously Black-like declarations such as, "I want to give you the gift of rock!") teaches the finer points of wanky guitar soloing and rock and roll stage presence, the film also introduces viewers to some of his pupils - like a girl from a Quaker community who puts piousness before punkishness, and a 12-year-old guitarist named C.J. whose playing puts grownup axemen to shame.

Whether Green (whose wife and baby get some illuminating screen time here, too) is a fantastically effective educator or simply a guy vicariously living out his rock and roll dreams Argott leaves to the viewer to decide, but one thing is for sure - Rock School is cooler than any extracurricular activities most folks were involved in.
And in that same magazine, right here, Bill Saunders, a/k/a front man for Doctor Dark, is also interviewed, and he has absolutely wonderful things to say about both Eric and Rock School. You can either click on the link or just read the cut and paste below:

One from the Beefheart
By: Nick R. Scalia , Staff Writer 10/12/2005
Some things you do purely out of love.

Like, for instance, playing the music of Captain Beefheart, the notoriously eccentric experimental rock artist and Frank Zappa crony who, with his Magic Band, put out one of the past century's most mind-bending albums with 1970's Trout Mask Replica.

Bill Saunders — best known in these parts for co-masterminding the annual Ideat Village festival and making an in-drag run in the New Haven mayoral race on behalf of the so-called Guilty Party - has been doing it for years, as frontman for the Beefheart tribute band Doctor Dark.

"I've been known to have off-the-wall ideas that seem to turn into something," says Saunders, who conceived the covers act as his previous band, The Mess-Ups, was preparing to end its five-year career. "We put it together for just a spot at the first Ideat Village — I performed in the Mess-Ups the first day and performed in Doctor Dark the last day, so I retired one band and started another."

The Beefheart project eventually did turn into something, as Doctor Dark began to get some fairly high-profile gigs. In 2003, they played the annual Zappanale Festival, an international celebration of Frank Zappa's music held in Bad Doberan, Germany, and returned for another appearance earlier this year (The Zappa and Beefheart legacies are a part of each other - the two were friends and collaborators, and Zappa produced Trout Mask Replica). Back on our shores, Doctor Dark has played stages as prestigious as NYC's Knitting Factory, and this Sunday comes to Toad's Place with the Zappa tribute Project/Object, featuring original Zappa bandmembers Ike Willis and Napoleon Murphy Brock.

Doctor Dark's current lineup includes Saunders on vocals - in full Beefheart regalia - with Travis Moody and Kimono Draggin's Joseph Nolan on guitar, The Vultures/Goose Lane's Warren Brelsford on bass, and a new drummer with a unique Hollywood connection.

Nineteen-year-old Eric Slick comes from Paul Green's School of Rock, the bizarrely awesome Philadelphia educational institution that was profiled in Don Argott's recent documentary Rock School. Run by failed rock star-turned-music teacher Green, the PGSOR is an afterschool program that teaches Philly kids of many different ages and musical proficiencies things like stage presence, how to whip off an insane guitar solo, and appreciation for all things Zappa-related. Each year, Green brings his students to perform at Zappanale, and that's where Slick and Saunders first crossed paths.

"The first time I met Eric was in Germany two years ago, and then we had a show opening up for Paul Green's School of Rock at the Knitting Factory in New York," Saunders says. "We chatted up his parents, chatted him up, and it turns out he's a huge Beefheart fan. I told him at one point, 'You look out, you're gonna wind up being my drummer some day." And he's like, 'I've learned all of Trout Mask Replica!' He comes fully prepped with all the proper skills."

"I saw their performance at Zappanale and I thought they were really great," says Slick. "And after they opened up for us at the Knitting Factory I've been e-mailing them, leaving messages in their guestbook... so we met up again this year at Zappanale and we got to talking and they kind of called me when they needed me."

While he'd been into Zappa for years, it took Slick a long time to make the Beefheart connection. "I got into it fairly recently, about two years ago, I had been a huge fan of the Zappa album called Bongo Fury, where Captain Beefheart was the lead vocalist," he says. That led him to check out Trout Mask Replica, and he became an instant fan - "I thought it was one of the greatest albums I've ever heard."

Beefheart is certainly an acquired taste, however, as even Saunders is quick to point out. "My first experience with it, I was like, 'What is this? It sounds like kids playing instruments,'" he admits. "But once you listen to it, you hear that they're real songs and they're actually composed and orchestrated... Beefheart's music is this strange amalgamation of Mississippi Delta blues and free jazz, with everything in different time signatures, just going like gangbusters..."

Some people, Saunders says, just never really get it at all — "Everybody knows the name because it's on rock and roll lists, the stuff you 'need to listen to'... but the fact is, that doesn't usually translate into big audiences necessarily." That's not the case in Germany, however, where Slick says he got a whole new perspective on the importance of Zappa and Beefheart. "You go to Europe and they worship that kind of music," Slicks says. "Frank Zappa is like John Lennon over there. In Germany there are, like, religious posters of Zappa - in the center of the town there's a miniature statue of him! That would never happen in America."

So, again, digging into the wonderfully weird canon of Captain Beefheart is something one does not to get rich or famous in America, but strictly out of reverence. Saunders, Slick, and the rest of the band have the adoration for the music to do it, though, and they're all committed to putting on a show that pays homage to Beefheart in both song and style.

Eric Slick can't wait to get all dolled up to show his Beefheart love — "Hopefully I'll be dressed as bizarrely as possible — I'm thinking about putting my hair in pigtails," the young drummer says, laughing. "Be forewarned that Eric Slick will look very strange and probably a little feminine."

(Trust me on this: My son will not look feminine. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But his girlfriend Carolyn Pagnotta will be the first to tell you, he's all male.)

So how cool is that.

Watch this space for my details on all of the other stuff I've mentioned, and no, damn it, I do not have my biopsy results yet. They said ten days, tomorrow will be two weeks, so I guess I'll give them a call then if I don't hear today.


Sunday, October 09, 2005


Oh god, my son Eric and his girlfriend went to see Beck last night and opening for Beck was McRorie, the guy in the above photo.

Eric, who enjoys torturing me, made me go to McRorie's website.

I thought I would share the experience.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Hey Philly Rock School kids....and Philly writers, readers, etc....

Once again, I've been living under the rock, and wasn't even aware that the 215 Writers Festival in Philadelphia is already underway.

What's very cool is that there's a free event tonight right across the street from Philly Rock School from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. in get this...what is now being called "The Jakes Pizza Building". Ha! Anyway, here's the info and you guys should try and make this - everyone connected with this event is incredibly hip and insane:

5:00 - 8:00 pm. "TOSSED ART" EVENT. It's a 215 free-for-all, with songsters and writers. Including, from Opium Magazine (the online and now print humor magazine) Todd Zuniga, Heather Kelly, and Dennis DiClaudio; Writers Against Writers, a Philly writer's group for the broken-hearted; Timber Masterson, who came all the way from Toronto; and a few crazy free-flying authors and poets. Jake's Pizza Building, Broad & Race, 4th Floor. Free.
Anyway, hope you guys head over there and support this project. And hey, 215 people -- last time Bob Dylan was in town, he actually ate at Jake's and some of the Rock School kids were in there at the time and almost had heart failure.

That's all for now. I may or may not be back later...I'm still in novel hell (not really) and knocking out chapters like a madwoman. I've got plenty of new info to report here as concerns both the music and writing world and will spill all as soon as I get the chance.

But for now...holy cow, it's only 5:30 a.m. I need coffee!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Neil Gailman is Number One!

Sigh...he sure is.

But yep, Anansi Boys is #1 on the NYT Best Seller list; his indie film Mirror Mask opened last week in a limited release -- $7,000.00 per screen (ack...when I think about the numbers for Rock School I want to scream in frustration!) -- and life is pretty damn good for him right now. I love that he keeps a daily on line's so fucking cool.

So I've been in full writing mode the last couple of days which is why there have been no blog posts but I did want to mention a couple of things:

(1) Three Days in New York City received another awesome review in Single for Now Magazine written by a wonderful writer, Kathryn Lively. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I encourage you to check out Kat's books and this magazine -- both are totally, totally cool.

(2) I just picked up the newly released Cream Reunion Tour Live at Royal Albert Hall DVD from their May, 2005 concert and I cannot freaking wait to watch it! I'll be back later with my review but like, don't expect me to say anything bad. I mean, my son is named Eric if you get my drift...

(3) Julie is now playing bass in a band with the guy responsible for writing and playing the bass line on Billy Joel's River of Dreams. (His name is Chuck Treece and he plays many different instruments). Okay, so I think Billy Joel is way lame and will definitely be on the soundtrack in hell when I die along with Sting, U2, Indigo Girls, and Aerosmith, but who cares. Of course being a heathen Jew, I don't believe in hell, anyway...and besides, with Bush as President, aren't we there now already? Anyway, watch this space for MAJOR touring news as concerns Julie and Chuck Treece. And check out Chuck Treece -- all kidding aside, he is a major player and we won't hold that Billy Joel thing against him now, will we. His current project in which Julie is bassist is a punk band. Woo hoo - can't wait to go to their next show and get moshed.

Oh god, please don't let me get moshed. That happened to me once, and I actually prayed for death.

Okay, back to working on my novel. I've given myself a self-imposed deadline, so I'm outta here.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Tonight and tomorrow: Neil Gaiman visits my two favorite cities!

That's my official Zoetrope bio photo, of which I am inexplicably proud. Zoetrope Virtual Studios is the baby of Francis Ford Coppola, who created this incredible venue for writers to collaborate. It's where I hang out, and where I have met some of my very best friends, both cyber and in the real world. In fact, let me say Happy Birthday to one of them, Steve Augarde, who has been my closest virtual drinking pal for the past couple of years. Steve has a new novel coming out next month courtesy of Random House. It's called Celandine and it's the second book in a magical, wonderful trilogy. The Various, which was the first in the trilogy, has won some prestigious awards in the UK and deservedly so. It's one of my all time favorite books.

Sorry about using the Zoetrope bio photo, which I know many of you have seen ad nauseum but as usual, my kids aren't around to help me upload anything new. Actually, I don't mind because I really do love that photo since it's me in Bad Doberan, East Germany, paying homage to Frank Zappa with a bunch of strange guys looking on. What's so cool about it is that the bust of Zappa is in their town square, in a place where any other city or town would have a statue of a war hero or something. But in Bad Doberan, they have Zappa, and how fucking insanely hip is that.

So in Neil Gaiman news, he must be a heathen just like yours truly because I see he has signings tonight and tomorrow night in my two favorite cities in the universe, Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Yes, Seattle, Washington, where just a few months ago I had pizza with Eddie Vedder. Hahahaha - maybe some day I will stop bragging about that and the fact that my son played drums with him, but I doubt it. Anyway, getting back to Neil being a heathen, since Rosh Hashanah starts tonight, I can easily make the above assumption. So. Just why aren't you going to be in temple tonight, Neil? Ha! For further information on where and when he'll be, follow this link!. Seriously, if you are in either city, you should really go and get his autograph. I've just ordered almost everything he's ever written, even...gasp...the graphic novels. For those of you as uncool as I apparently am, graphic novels are comic books. This is recent news to me, that comic books now have a politically correct title. Funny story about that, speaking of Zoetrope. About a month or so ago, one of the writers there posted an inquiry as to best publishers for graphic novels and I automatically assumed he was talking about a genre in which I oocasionally write - fiction which contains graphic sex. And so I replied to him, telling him that, and giving him the name of my publisher. Christ, did I feel like an idiot when I found out he meant comic books.

Hey, I just realized I'm lying when I say I don't celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Technically, I do, because I eat chicken matzoh ball soup both nights, which my 100% gentile significant other stayed up until 1:00 a.m. last night cooking for me because he loves me and he's worried sick. What's so funny about that is he makes the absolute best chicken soup in the world, even better than my late Jewish mother and grandmother. Every Jew who has ever tasted it says the same thing: "Gary, Gary, how do you get those matzoh balls so light as a feather? Oy, they are so delicious I could plotz! Where did a goy learn to cook like that?" Heh. He's Jewish by insertion, I guess. (Sorry, sorry, I can just see my kids shudder as they read that because after all, they were both products of the immaculate conception). (And P.S., I just inadvertently learned his light as a feather matzoh ball secret this morning when he let it slip. After all these years, I know the truth. All I can say is: No wonder they are so fucking good. And still Kosher yet!)

So back to a couple more Zoetrope related things: My pal Myfanwy Collins, mentioned here in a prior post for her brilliant writing, has a brings tears to the eyes and made my whole body shiver essay published at one of the most top tier literary magazines around, Agni, and if you want to read something that will blow you away, just follow this link.

Another Zoe friend, Jordan Rosenfeld, has a radio show called Word by Word where she interviews writers...oh my god, she interviewed TC Boyle last night...and you can listen on line as well as order up archives of past shows with amazing authors such as Aimee Bender. She now has a Word by Word blog devoted to this and other projects, and the link is right here.

And Theresa Boyar, who is one of the most interesting and lyrical writers ever (plus, she loves Frank Zappa!), has a fantastic piece, Sea Girl, at Avatar Review. Okay, I'm not certain if it's in this issue or will be in a future issue because at the moment, their site is down. But keep checking. I read Sea Girl and it was fucking awesome!

Sadly, I have no new music news -- well, I do, but both Julie and Eric have very cool stuff coming up later in the month so no sense posting it yet. Oh wait...I know what! For those of you who get the Guitar Center catalogue in the mail, the October issue has a story about the winner of 2005 Guitarmageddon in LA and a photograph of Julie, Eric, and Teddi Tarnoff performing there this past summer. Unfortunately, the Guitar Center catalogue is the size of a very slim paperback, so the pic of the kids is the size of a postage stamp. But, it says in the catalogue "reprinted from November issue, Guitar World Magazine". So I just sent Eric to Borders with money and told him to pick up a bunch of copies if the photo is even a little larger. Okay, I told him to pick them up anyway, as long as there's a photo. The one of Teddi is gorgeous; there's a nice profile shot of Julie and a cute one of Eric.

Finally, for all of those of you sending me emails and calling me on the phone regarding my health, please just read the blog for updates. Yeah I feel crappy; my stitches hurt and I'm scared. But if there is one thing I despise, it's people who talk about their health, and I refuse to be one of them. I don't want to talk about myself and I for sure don't want to talk about your (I'm willing to bet it's unrelated) medical history, either, even though I'm sure you mean well. I'm always the lucky gal who goes out to dinner and the minute I begin to attack my salmon the people at the table next to me will say something like "Oh, poor Stanley. It spread to his lungs; it's probably in his brain. His only symptom was heartburn...the doctor said it was just acid reflux and he gave him Nexium and told him not to worry...oy, I went to visit him in the hospital...he must weigh 90 pounds..."

Yep, I sit next to that table every time. I alternate between wanting to attack them with my cutlery and worrying about the fact that I always have heartburn, too.

If I'm lucky enough to escape that crew, then I get the woman who feels the need to douse herself in perfume before going out to eat. Yeah. Actually, she's usually on my other side. My salmon begins to taste of fucking lilacs while I'm getting the tumor talk from the other table. That shit should be banned, except for the bedroom, and even there, ask most men what they prefer on their tongues and they are gonna say woman, not Chanel No. 5.

Okay, now I'm ranting. Sorry. I'm through. I think I'll go have a bowl of chicken soup now and celebrate something. Like Delay being indicted. Yeah!!!