Saturday, March 31, 2007

What Do You Know (complete version)

what do you know (complete version)
volume 1 number 10*
one can easily see how much I learned from my mentors the beatles as illustrated by this abbey road wannabe. the lush harmonies, the interplay of lennon to mccartney vocals, the vox guitar sound, the ringo tom fills, and sustained bass notes: it's all there and I make no excuse for it. I only wish I had thought of it first. it may be that's why I took such great pains to tear this and other songs into little pieces to sprinkle surprisingly throughout op zop too wah instead of letting them stand alone as this does here for the first time ever.
used to be artists made records specifically to be an experience. the idea being you could sit in a comfy chair with a pair of headphones on listening from beginning to end and feel as though you'd been transported somewhere. like going to see a movie. bands like pink floyd for example made a living out of so-called concept albums that are so out of favor these days. I wanted to make one of those.
my concept centered around the use of snippets of songs put together with found sounds in quick ways to surprise the listener in one long musical sentence.
what do you know
was one piece I willingly sacrificed by cutting it into chunks, having one section appear here, another section 10 minutes later when you'd forgotten about it. the ending appears after the record is over (yet one more surprise) and the chorus never makes it to the record at all. I tried surgery like that with a few different songs and the end result remains one of my personal favorites.
op zop too wah ended up being a pretty good rollercoaster ride. but it's also nice to hear this song in its complete form.

*the dust icon will be changing from week to week for a while as I have found some more representations. the one above is a 3-d rendering of a type of pollen.

instruments and vocals: adrian
engineer: noah evens
recorded at studiobelew in mt. juliet, tennessee on august 15, 1995
length: 3:30

another computer painting...

Friday, March 30, 2007

Anecdote # 707

A Bus Tale.
on tour with david in 1990, a stadium full of wild people
would be screaming their eyeballs out (not a pretty image, is it?)
at the end of our encores,
not knowing we were already leaving the building in our comfy bus.

the tour bus becomes the social apex of everyone's life.
a place where you get to know one another in cheerful conversations.
first everyone on the bus would choose his or her delight;
perhaps a fresh yogurt, or a slice of cake, maybe a bourbon and coke
with a microwaved popcorn.
and the fun would begin.

all bus environments are unique to its inhabitants*.
for a while on the bowie bus,
some of us made a habit of settling in at nights in the front lounge
to watch episodes of twin peaks the current tv series rage.
david was friends with david lynch and so had copies of the shows.

the day rides on the bus were equally entertaining.
david was a sparkling conversationalist who loved current affairs.
often he would know the person in the gossip column
"elton was recently photographed buying garter belts in..."
and I liked hearing the tales (and telling a few)
almost as much as our bus driver

hoot had driven for willie, waylon, and all the boys.
he wore a cowboy hat with curly white/gray locks down to his shoulders.
if you sat at the front he would tell you bus tales while he drove.
like the time he handcuffed a guy to the bus grill
so he could go get the police to arrest him.
or the time he let the air out of the tires
so they could barely make it beneath an underpass.

I witnessed my favorite of his bus tales.
we had just driven into chicago in thick mid-day traffic.
a nice sunny day.
we were staying at the Ambassador West Hotel,
site of an infamous movie scene between Cary Grant
and Eve Saint Marie in Hitchcock's north by northwest.
( a few years later they once gave me and martha
the Frank Sinatra Suite, a incredible penthouse on the top floor)
but anyway, we were all huddled at the front of the bus
waiting to disembark for the hotel and our day off.
the bus was slowly crossing the intersection
between ambassador east and ambassador west
at about 12 miles per hour.
hoot turned to us, his audience, and said,
"welp, congratulate me now, ya'll,
I've just become a member of the million mile club. million miles without.."

he was about to say 'without an accident'
but he had just rear-ended a parked car in front of the valet stand!
it was the only time I saw him speechless.

*more on this later.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Anecdote # 606

How Not To Join A Famous Band.
in 1980 I received a call asking me to come to new york city to rehearse for four days in order to learn the Talking Heads record remain in light. only months before I had recorded the record all in one day with the heads and brian eno. talking heads had the idea to expand their normal quartet to a thumping funky 10-piece band with two bass players, two keyboard players, two guitar players, two female back-up singers, one drummer and one percussionist. and we were going to learn the very layered studio monster remain in light in four days and then play two shows! somehow we did it, we learned the record and several songs from other records. but just barely. and just in time to board a plane for our first show in toronto. only then did we see the whole enchilada. our first show was a festival of 70,000 people! they flew us to the vast backstage area in helicopters. looking down at the sea of tiny flesh baffles, I was nervous enough to jump out in mid-air. it seemed like all the hip bands of the moment were present. the B-52's, the pretenders, elvis costello, the clash. it was called the heatwave festival, billed as the first "new wave" festival, and was actually in a place called mosport park.
dave edmunds and nick lowe played. the pretenders played. the B 52's played. minutes before we were set to play I opened the door to our backstage trailer to discover most of the band snorting lines of coke from the backs of guitars. they quickly shooed me away, knowing I didn't partake.
the timing of our performance was fortuitous; just as the sun was setting. I joined the original four heads to play psycho killer, then the full band was brought onstage. we launched right into the new material. no one in the audience even knew the remain in light record as yet but it didn't matter. the band was smoking! halfway through our set we played a song from fear of music called I zimbra. on the recorded version robert had played a fast running guitar line. as soon as we started that song I could tell the coke had kicked in. we played it twice as fast as it was on the record! my fingers had a hard time keeping up and I was worried our 45-minute set might be over in 20. but it all worked out. the band was an instant success.
for our second show we played in central park but only 125,000 people showed up! at the time you couldn't go into a bookstore, bar, record shop, or restaurant without hearing talking heads music in the background. (kind of like rascal flatts in mt. juliet nowadays.) it was an exciting time to be in the band. david, chris, tina, and jerry decided to keep the 10-piece funk machine rolling for a whole world tour including japan and europe. it was a wacky cast of characters to live with and we had loads of fun.
we flew to london to begin the european leg of the tour. the night we arrived after an exhausting transatlantic flight, the whole bunch of us went to a fancy russian restaurant. we were a large party of course and they kept us happily waiting in the upstairs lounge by bringing around trays of flaming shots of flavored vodkas. the waiting area was rather crowded with us and other patrons all standing tightly together. another tray of flaming vodkas swept past and I noticed the lady standing beside me began to smoke. her hair had caught on fire! I tried to put her out without being offensive to a complete stranger but it wasn't easy. that was just the beginning of the madness. a lot of trays were emptied before we were ever seated. I was not used to drinking hard and hot liquor. I do recall a food fight broke out with perogies and caviar flying everywhere. but I can't say what the food tasted like. I can't remember.
the next morning my hotel room phone rang an unfamiliar shrill. it was 9 in the morning. robert fripp (who I barely knew) was calling, "hello adrian, I know you're not one to go raving so I figured it was safe to call you early. did I wake you up?" "no no, that's okay, I had to get up to answer the phone anyway", I muttered. my head felt like it was peeling apart like scalded wallpaper. "well look, bill bruford and I want to start a band with you." wow! two of my all-time favorite legendary players wanted to start a band with me. now my head was throbbing in the stratosphere. too much information.
"okay.."I said feebly.
"but could me back in a..few...hours?"

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Eureka! We have it!

StoreBelew is releasing the new Bears record Eureka!
the cd is available NOW!
or you can purchase one of only 300 signed cd's
which will be made available from Monday April 2 on.
be sure to check out for lyrics, stories, and tour dates.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

One Time (demo)

one time (demo) volume 4 number 13
sometime in 1992 a rich chicagoan bought the crooked cottage I was renting, tore it it down and built a swanky home. I moved to the next city over, a town called williams bay. population: 2,000. I rented a very nice place on lake geneva and asked my girlfriend martha to set up house with me. not long afterwards we enlisted the help of a brilliant young intern noah evans, whom we eventually hired, and went about setting up a real studio of my own in the bottom floor of the house (just like now.)
one day robert flew in from england to visit and talk about the idea of there being a new king crimson. it was the first we'd seen of each other in a long while apart from my visit to him the summer of '91. for two days we sorted through robert's outlines for pieces we might play beginning with something called vrooom. robert left me a DAT tape of some of the ideas he thought I might work with.
one in particular caught my ear. it was only 39 seconds long, a piece robert thought would be
thrown away. sounded like an intro of 4 chords followed by what could be a verse. immediately a melody came to my mind.
I wrote a passage of chords and melody which could be added as the chorus. I was inspired enough that I don't remember slaving over the lyrics like I usually do, already having decided to be ambiguous and universal in my approach to words. after a few days work and refinement I felt confident enough to make a demo playing string bass, drums, guitar, and singing one vocal. so noah recorded the first thing I'd written for krimson in 10 years.
in april of '94 the new king crimson (now a 'double trio') convened in woodstock, new york. this is the demo I played for them. everyone liked it so we learned it. I was especially happy that tony liked my descending bass line in the chorus enough to keep it that way. we decided to add a middle instrumental passage which the band improvised on the spot. we had a new ballad and were off and running.

instruments and vocal:adrian
engineer:noah evans
recorded at home in Williams Bay, Wisconsin
on february 24, 1993


yesterday was a good day.
Saul Zonana* and his wife Nicole are visiting.
he and I spent 5 hours digging through the hard drive containing the power trio performances earmarked to be side 4.
by five o'clock we were listening to
rough mixes of dayton and newport.
the rough mixes were unadorned,
raw as sushi,
but they sounded powerful,
charged with energy.

Wow! eric and julie are just awesome!
finally I can hear them without being preoccupied dancing on a pedalboard while singing in one time signature and playing in another. we have a beautiful trio portrait done by mark colman and I've begun designing the artwork, so now I can rest assured we have a live side 4 on the burner.

*some of you may remember saul zonana as our opening act or you might just have his record I was part of 42 days (a good idea). saul has been listening since the inception of the mike and mike trio and throughout the growth of this awesome trio with eric and julie. I can't think of a better person to partner with for the mixing of this, my first live solo record.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

a Minor Groove Binder

the internet certainly is fascinating. (maybe not as much as the inner nut, that guy who's running loose in my head.) I went to my google page and let my hands fall freely on the keyboard without looking. this what I got: ] I googled it. sure enough it turns out to be something:

A method for detecting a target sequence in a polynucleotide,wherein the polynucleotide is present in a mixture comprising a plurality of polynucleotides that do not contain the target sequence, and wherein the target sequence differs by only a single nucleotide from one or more sequences in thenon-target polynucleotides, the method comprising:(a) providing a Minor Groove Binder (MGB)-oligonucleotide conjugate, wherein the sequence of the oligonucleotide is perfectly complementary to the target sequence;(b) incubating the MGB-oligonucleotide conjugate and the mixture under hybridization conditions; and(c) detecting polynucleotides which preferentially hybridize to the MGB-oligonucleotide conjugate, whereby a polynucleotide which preferentially hybridizes to the MGB-oligonucleotide conjugate contains the target sequence.

a minor groove about that,
you learn something new every day.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


martha is the busiest of all of us. she is truly the most remarthable person I know. she runs our business (entailing constant piles of paperwork to sort through, e-mails, phone calls galore, packages to send, tax forms to file, plane flights to book, car and truck rentals, maintaining the e-store... the list goes on and on.) it would be enough to topple donald trump, but that's only a small part of her daily routine. she also homeschools ava and leah!

homeschooling is not what I imagined. there is no lack of social network and the kids are not home all day. it involves endless shuttling to lessons, gymnastic meets, dance recitals, and something called the co-op which is the closet thing to a real school room. (martha teaches 5th grade history at the co-op.) the girls take piano, dance, and gymnastics at various places around town, as well as acting classes at the John Roberts Powers school in downtown Nashville. there is a full load of paperwork/bookwork for them to complete at home just as if they had homework. all of this falls to martha to do while I hammer out a career of recording, writing, traveling, performing. I get the easy jobs.

the public school system of our great nation is not the best thing for all children. truly gifted kids like ava and leah are just considered weird and cannot be allowed the time or attention they deserve. classes are too large, money too little. a sad commentary that the #1 nation in the world has as its main commerce #1 oil and #2 weaponry leaving our children's educational system ranked #14 among world powers.

so martha felt she had to craft our own curriculum for our kids and see to the daily execution of their education. costly, time-consuming, and never-ending but what else is there to do if you believe your children deserve more?

martha is the kind of person who gets in life's face and meets it head on.
a hard worker who relishes knowledge and achievement,
has lofty standards, and is relentless in pursuing them.
she is the most misunderstood person I know.
because she's so good at business and handling money well
she's often seen as some kind of hard-ass
behind the nice guy puppy adrian.
(she completely re-vamped our business 10 years ago
prophetically seeing the future of the music business
as one of do-it-yourself artist-driven independence.)

only to her private friends and family does she show the real martha:
sensuous, funny, fair-minded, dependable, resourceful.
a lioness, a loving mother, and a beautiful sexy wife
who just happens to be very smart at many things.

what a lucky boy am I...

if you came down the cul de sac leading to our house
you'd see a sloping driveway lined with blossoming bradford
pear trees and the front of our brick house,
but you'd only be seeing the top floor of the house
until you drove around back where you would see a second floor,
the downstairs, which is fully devoted to StudioBelew.
that's why we bought this house.
upstairs a home. downstairs a business.

the downstairs studio has a connected living space
(we call it the fripp suite since robert is there so often)
with a full bath, half kitchen, office space, private entrance.
the studio itself is one recording room, and one control room.
both have been extensively altered for correct acoustics.
outside behind the house are beautiful flower gardens,
a 25-foot pond with a waterfall and connected deck,
a walking path, a fountain, and a firepit.
all surrounded by woods and a small stream.

underneath the trees there's a little stream,
and that's where I go to dream*.

so no matter what madness occurs upstairs
(kids bounding, phones blinging, tv's blaring)
the downstairs studio remains my clean safe haven.
and my backyard, a little slice of paradise.

last night sitting out on the warm deck
I looked up at the stars and saw the big and little dippers.
a fine breeze stirred through the woods
and in the distance a train wailed my favorite sound.
and I thought, "what a lucky boy am I".

*"in my backyard" from
op zop too wah

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A House As Quiet As A Mouse

ever wonder what it would be like to be a fly on the wall of the belew household?
well, first of all, you would have six legs with big spikes sticking out all over
and instead of one living room couch you'd see a thousand living room couches.

normally this is a scene of barely controlled chaos. the upstairs living area has 6 tv's (all on different channels), 4 telephones (ringing or occupied), and 3 computers gurgling. stevie is on the phone bursting out his loud thespian laughter so often I'm considering having an earpiece grafted to the side of his head. both ava and leah are gymnasts and rarely do they enter a room without some sort of backflip flourish. plus, they've taken to riding their Razor scooters through the house at death defying speeds. plus, they both take piano lessons which means Howard, our living room piano is frequently pluked. there is always someone working here on something (today it's the cable company re-connecting our cable for the 9th time. do these people live here?) two days a week, lisa comes by to clean the house. as she leaves through the front door the kids come in through the back trailing behind them a gaggle of more stuff to clean up. the doorbell rings, another package from UPS. martha's mother and father arrive with a bucket of Whitt's barbeque (that'll look nice on the carpet) as the garage calls to say I can pick up my car now. phew...

normally that would be a snapshot of a day in our lives.
but I've just arrived back from the maelstrom of touring with
12 men in a bus to find:
my wife martha and 9 year-old daughter ava are in L.A. this week.
ava has a small part in a made-for-Sci-Fi-tv-channel movie called
children of the grave.
my 16 year-old son (from my previous marriage) stevie is in
washington, DC touring the smithsonian with his school choir.
and our 7 year-old leah is at her grandparents farm
fishing perch out of their pond.

I'm alone
in a house as quiet as a mouse...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Umphrey's McGee

what to say about my week-long adventure with um...
it was like walking into a party where you are the
guest of honor
but no one informed you...
all the nicest people are there,
(about two thousand of them each night)
and they have this incredible band playing
which can only be described as
an ADD Jam Band on steroids,
(strange powerful of-the-moment improvisations
quickly intercut with odd time signature outbursts
hard on the heels of a perfectly executed classic beatle song!
followed by an irish jig?)
and then you realize you're on stage with them!
and the energy of two thousand 20-year-old kids
(the equivalent of 8,000 five-year-olds)
screaming at you!

most of the kids had at best a vague idea or none
as to who the strange older guy with the glowing tangerine
guitar was and fewer still had any idea of his history (yawn...)
but nonetheless I played for them and they screamed back
an explosion of appreciative frenzy.

next thing I knew I was on a tour bus full of the same people
drinking joking smoking eating playing loud music
through a volcano of some sort.
and this movable feast lasted into the night until the next city.
12 men in a bus.

the um production team (kevin, adam, bob, robbie, don, vince)
made the perfect compliment to the band.
as though they all went to school at notre dame or something.
hey wait...they did!
that would explain the biggest of the four nights:
Saint Paddy's Day in South Bend, Indiana.
home of the Fighting Irish!

by that point I felt like an old comfortable shoe
with jake, joel, kris, andy, brendan, and ryan:
such cool people, like a coca cola with lots of ice.
and terrific players.

then an aftershow bash just in time to meet
their fathers mothers grandparents uncles girlfriends college buddies,
and two old carpet salesmen who just happened to wander in.

what a beautiful thing it was!
let's do it some more.


birds volume 4 number 1
the year 1990 shook my life upside down
like a snow globe.
rehearsals for the David Bowie Sound &
Vision World Tour began in new york city
that january. the tour poured across
the world for the rest of the year.
the tour had been hilarious fun.
we played in 27 countries.
108 shows in screaming stadiums.
it was a first class private jet ride with
Capt. David Bowie at the helm.
I hung out with Jeff Beck.
had tea with Paul and Linda.
divorced Margaret Flowers.
fell in love with Martha Webb.
made loads of money, paid off my financiers
(with commissions and taxes, of course)
and still had a little money left with which to start over.

by the new year of 1991 the tour was history.
I was alone and it was the first time I had been on my own
in life for more than 14 years.
my girlfriend Martha was in graduate school in florida.

I bought a little white Honda CRXsi (I still have it) and rented a crooked little cottage right on Lake Delavan in Wisconsin. the walls on the outside were cockeyed but I loved it there tucked away in the woods beside a lake. the cottage had one big open room on the downstairs level that morphed into a living room with connected kitchen with a countertop/bar affair to eat on. there was nothing much in the rooms. a sectional couch. a baby grand piano named Howard (I still have him too.) a set of Ayotte drums (still have 'em), a couple of guitars, a tray of candles, and a lot of plants. very nice large plants.
gee, I wish I still had those plants.

the living room/kitchen had wall-size windows gazing out at the lake which ran past my backyard. across the lake you could see more bungalows. the most vivid plethora of birds hung out on the deck. big red woodpeckers and nuthatches. songbirds. must have been the trays of seeds and fruit I left out daily.

upstairs were two tiny bedrooms and a bathroom with a shower. at night in bed with the window open I could hear trains wailing in the distance. probably my favorite sound in the whole world.

I never felt more like an artist in my life. alone and inspired.
in the daytime I sat around practicing and writing.
went to bed early. woke up with the birds.
I wrote songs on the piano. they poured out like wine.
I wrote the inner revolution album.
songs about solitude. I walk alone.
songs about happy love. big blue sun.
and while I was at it, a song about birds.

gradually my sidekick engineer rich denhart brought over enough gear to record demos of what I was writing. the first third of this track is my original piano and vocal demo. next comes the original backing track demo recorded while looking out at the lake. the last third was done in a real studio Royal Recorders in nearby Lake Geneva, but this particular arrangement which relied more on guitars was discarded for the piano-heavy version on inner revolution.

in two days spring is official
and there are birds everywhere I see.

instruments and vocals: adrian
engineer: rich denhart
assistant engineer: dan harjung
demo recorded at home on march 24, 1991
backing track recorded at Royal Recorders, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
on august 8, 1991

Sunday, March 18, 2007


please excuse the pause in my blogness.
just back from an amazing week with 12 Men In A Bus!
which I'm excited to tell you about.
but first I need to compose this week's download blog
in time for tomorrow morning's release.

I'll tackle the Surprising Umphrey's McGee Adventure soon thereafter.
I made a lot of new friends (and new fans, I hope) and what a blast it was!
the Umph's are a great band and cool people surround them.

meanwhile, if YOU happen to be one of the newly interested
fans from the Umphrey's ranks I encourage you to join us.
poke around, read the old blogs, check out the discography,
by all means see "life in a nutshell".
you might find you already own a record I'm part of.
or your older brother does.
one thing is for certain:
you'll find my fans are the nicest people anywhere
and just like you, they love music with a twist.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Postcard From Holland (demo)

postcard from holland (demo)
volume 4 number 8
this painting was my tenth.
done on august 11, 2002.
rarely do I try to make my paintings actually look like something.
but in this case you should be able to make out the crumbling cookie, the cafe' au lait, the postcard of a Van Gogh, and a stubby pencil.
the ingredients mentioned in the following lyric:

in holland there is a table
in front of me
with cafe' au lait
and some kind of cookie.
outside the window
there's a wide and gentle canal.
two swans swim in it,
in their mirror images,
they must be in love.
the handsome holland people ride ecological bikes.
or sometimes their dogs might take them along for a hike.
I stood by the tall ships
and stepped in some old dutch dog shit.
it began to rain a strange enchanted mist.
and I love the cookies here, I could live forever here with you.

those are the words I wrote on a postcard to my girlfriend martha in 1990
while on the david bowie sound and vision tour.
I was in the habit of writing long letters on a typewriter I lugged around
but at the time I was sitting with a pencil at a table near a harbor.

some time later while riding in the bowie tour bus
safely tucked into my comfy bunk
I began to imagine the music and melody for the song,
just as I had done with lone rhino.
as the bus rolled across the euro countryside
I laid there memorizing it as though it was a record playing over and over.

it wasn't until august 10, 1992 that noah* and I recorded
a vocal demo of the ideas for the cello and french horn parts
I had heard in my head on that bus ride.
why a vocal demo?
it's quicker than working out cello parts
only to realize they're not what you want.
the vocal demo makes up the first half of this download.
the "bah bah bah" bits were meant to be cellos.

back in the dreadful seventies when I had no work
except to play drums in a Holiday Inn band I had
purchased my first decidedly cheap-o-cello.
cello ranks high on my list of favorite things.
the first ELO records had a guy named Roy Wood
who played most of the instruments including cello
and I figured with enough practice I could hack away
at a cello about as well as he had.

those were the real hard times for me.
when "The Sound Assembly" didn't work
I literally alone lived in my van.
shaving in the mornings at rest areas and state parks.
I remember practicing cello on a bench in Devou Park
not far from where I grew up in northern kentucky.
I had worked out the lines from Eleanor Rigby.

by the second half of our download,
recorded on march 27, 1993,
I must have realized the key (A furnished flat) was yucky
and so changed it to the key of F.
the cello parts I ended up playing were different
(good thing I did that vocal demo).
and french horns? they're a cinch to imitate with a guitar synth.
the second half is the backing track for the complete version
found on my little beatle record here.

*points of interest: if you look on the fold out inside the here record you can see noah going into the kitchen area. (and it was a photo he took!) gary platt and ken latchney mastered here at Full Sail, which was the first time I ever worked with ken.

instruments and vocals: adrian
recorded at home in Williams Bay, Wisconsin
engineer: Noah Evens
length: 2:55

what's rong...

so, I'm gone for the week on a tour bus with people I don't know
to play music I don't know
in front of people
who don't know me.
what's wrong with that?

life is improvised.

stay tuned

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Anecdote # 505.2

A Second Helping Of Fab.
it was way back in 1978 that I met my first Beatle
but he was eating dinner
so I didn't want to interrupt his...
I know I shouldn't,
it would be rude to....
but it really was Ringo Starr and...
I couldn't help my young self.
I went over to his table, introduced myself
as someone playing a show tomorrow night with frank zappa
and would he like to come as my guest?
"oh, no thanks mate, I'm strictly 4/4".

Anecdote # 505

More Meetings With Remarkable Men.
there is a time in your life when you are most susceptible to influence.
for me it was age 14 when the path of my life was altered forever
in part by the person I was about to meet.

the david bowie sound and vision tour of 1990
was first class all the way;
only the finest hotels,
a comfortable tour bus stuffed with goodies,
a crew of people attending your every need,
and Lee Iacocca's private gulfstream jet.
everyone should be blessed with that experience once in life.

we were in one of my favorite U.S. cities Philadelphia
for a five-day stay at the plush Four Seasons hotel,
playing four shows at the Spectrum Arena.
the lobby featured a large open bar area with big soft sofas.
everywhere there were discreet fans trying to be invisible.

I was having the time of my life because my girlfriend martha
had flown in from florida to visit for a few days.
martha and I left the lobby bar and stepped into the quiet elevator.
on Floor 3 the door opened and in walked Angie Dickinson
looking every bit the true movie star.
elegantly sexy and ageless.
I thought of her with John Wayne in Rio Bravo.
('hey sheriff, you forgot your pants').

martha broke the silence, "you're so beautiful!".
angie replied, "well, thank you. so are you".

on july 11 david's tour manager confirmed the rumor
Paul McCartney was staying on the top floor of the hotel
in the Presidential Suite and he told me the room number.
I called. Paul answered the phone,
"hello is Paul there?"
"this is Paul."
"is Paul there?"
"this IS Paul".
gulp. "I'm david bowie's guitarist and I was..."
"well, david's here right now, why don't you come up for tea?".

when the elevator door opened on the top floor
there stood a man in a suit and headset, looking very FBI-like.
at the end of the long hallway stood his twin brother agent
in front of a grand looking doorway with the words
"Presidential Suite" etched over top.
walking down the long hall I heard them whisper in their headsets,
"guitar player. bowie."

I knocked on the door. Paul answered it.
"what's that you've got behind your back, luv?
david said he'd be mad at you if you didn't bring your new CD".
from inside the room I heard laughing.
it's true I had brought the meager offering of my newest CD
young lions which I sheepishly handed over.

the room was indeed presidential, fit for rock royalty.
two large couches formed an upside down backwards L shape
which opened out into a large kitchen area.
big vases of flowers and fruit.
on the couch in front of an expansive window
sat david and his ever-present assistant Coco Schwab.

most of the time david is such a gifted conversationalist
but in the presence of a Beatle he was strangely quiet.
I felt as though the conversation was between me and Paul
who stood near the window the whole time,
laughing and telling stories.
I have studied, read, collected, heard, and absorbed
so much Beatle mythology I felt as if I had lived his life.
he would start a story and I would finish it.
Paul would say,
"in 1960 we were in hamburg and george got himself
thrown out of the country," and I would say,
"for being seventeen with no work permit."

both david and I suffered from fear of flying
(I've since overcome my fear).
we wondered had Paul had such an experience.
"in the early days when the Beatles toured so much, yes,
but I'd cure it with a couple of martinis."

as with all artists Paul was most animated
about what he was doing next,
his orchestral piece Liverpool Oratorio.
my shining moment came when he mentioned he was
working with new york arranger/composer Carl Davis.
immediately I sang a few bars of Carl Davis music
..da da dada...da which shocked Paul.
he couldn't believe anyone knew Carl Davis's music
much less was able to sing it*.

at one point Linda came in with a tray and asked,
"who would like some tea?".
Linda McCartney serving me tea.

more stories, more laughter.
I thought, "lord, take me now. it can't get any better."
it was all over in forty-five minutes.
looking at the back cover of young lions Paul asked if heartbeat
was the same "heartbeat" by Buddy Holly (a song he no doubt owns).
"no, it's just a little thing I wrote."
I fumbled to say something meaningful
as we moved toward the door,
but what do you say to someone who seriously
changed the course of your life

only later that evening having dinner with martha
did I finally get twitchy about meeting Paul McCartney
whose music within and without the Beatles
has been that important to me and most everyone I know.

* I knew how to sing the orchestral theme from a TV series Carl Davis wrote the music for. there were 39 episodes of World At War and being a world war II buff I faithfully watched them all many times. the series was narrated by sir laurence olivier.

and the winner is...

8:30 saturday morning breakfast, march 10.
martha: "how old is this bread?"
adrian: "old enough to know butter".

and so another day begins.
we work on saturdays.
our first order of business:
judge the entries for the dust artwork contest.
then to pass "the envelope please"
to Planet Crimson,
and blog about it.

the field was quickly narrowed to the seven best entries out of 76.
the criteria was the same as for any packaging i.e.
creative eye-catching product association relevant to a particular concept.

in the case of our winner it is eye-catching in a creative manner
there's a mystique as to how the rhino got there,
and just where is there?, and why is it there?.
product association? well, people do associate me with a rhinoceros
not sure I like the sound of that.
and the relevant concept dust is also well covered
looks dusty enough to me.

so I am happy to announce Scott Abernethy
of Ijamsville, Maryland as the winner with entry # 57.
scott describes himself as:
"husband, father of three, professional computer nerd
amateur musician and photographer (with a heavy emphasis on amateur)".
he also happens to be webmaster for Planet Crimson.
NO, it was NOT rigged
(but if that money order doesn't arrive soon, scott...)

I would like to thank each one of you who took the time
and spent the thought and creativity needed to enter.
sorry there can only be one winner but if you're like me
the creative process itself makes it worthwhile anyway.
so don't be mad at me if you didn't win.

congratulations scott.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

hey, SchMARTIES* don't forget to enter artwork for the dust artwork contest
over at Planet Crimson. there are some good ones so far, but you still have two
days left to enter and WIN! an autographed picture of Moses.

*I like to pronounce it like Billy Crystal would in the movie "Princess Bride".

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

tiger balm.

haaauww. I pulled something in my right shoulder-to-neck region yesterday.
now I'm wearing a thermal heat patch and a glob of tiger balm.
and my right arm, she'sa not so good.

so I thought it might be better to have you SMARTIES write the blog.
let's take a poll!
(or a slav or perhaps a "czech, please")

let's take a poll.
the subject matter could be next week's download.
you would like the next download to be from what period?
and please say why.
if you don't care for that question,
what do you think of my new renaissance cap pictured above?
it has pearls and feathers.
I might wear it
at one of next week's umphrey's mcgee shows.

something to do.
I can't wait to read your replies.
back to the balm.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


dust volume 2 number 5
january 1983 the industrious quartet of
fripp, levin, bruford, and belew is holed up
in the backroom of C.V Lloyde's Music Store
in Champaign Urbana, Illinois,
now a makeshift rehearsal space.
a thick mesh of cables snake across the floor,
out into the back alley and into
the Full Sail Mobile Recording Truck.

it's another wistful midwestern winter day
and the mighty Krim is slaving over new material
for our third record, (which turns out to be our last).
robert and I have spent many quiet hotel moments
in the hope of composing a follow up to our first ballad
matte kudasai

on this afternoon bill politely keeps time
while tony plays a swelling bass line counterpart
to the whistling melody I play on the GR-300 guitar synthesizer.
the center of the song is robert's shimmering chorused guitar
which so closely resembles the style and flavor of matte.

I had no vocal yet, no words yet, so I didn't sing.
but the mood fit the sad chill in the air.

what words might have appeared on my notepad?
what surprised looks might have shone on their faces
when I finally began to sing something
it wasn't meant to be.
before I could write a finish, we were off and running on one last tour.

I have often wondered what might have been had that particular band
found a way to continue forward under robert's supervision.
probably be doing a lucrative reunion at Bonaroo right now. ha!

note: you SMARTIES out there: this could be a good candidate for a re-write.
ignore the whistling guitar synthesizer. imagine a new melody instead.

also note:
this is truly a rare offering from my archives,
one of only two or three unreleased bits I have from King Crimson.
as a rule the golden eggs laid in those years
are now carefully
mother-hened by the folks at DGM.

robert fripp: guitar
tony levin: bass
bill bruford: drums
adrian: guitar synthesizer
recorded at C.V Lloyde's with the Full Sail Mobile Truck
engineer: gary platt

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Odyssey (part 2)

ken parker and I had a fine conversation. I told him how much I loved the parker fly. how much I adored the way it played. I asked about the possibilty of customizing a parker to my needs. ken graciously put me in touch with Will resulting in my first phone conversation with Axel Ruddich. what ken parker is to guitars, axel is to wires. an electronics genius, axel had already begun modifying parkers for customers who wanted midi capability. he had his own company outside san francisco called AR Design.

no sooner than axel and I had begun serious discussions about the perfect parker for me, I learned the company was being sold. ken parker was tired of running a business. I didn't blame him, he is after all an inventor. naturally he wanted to cash out and get back to his real love: inventing. parker guitars were sold to washburn guitars. they moved to chicago. a fresh dialogue with new people ensued. happily I found out they were fans and in fact they wanted to produce my baby as a signature model! during all my years of playing stratocasters I had hoped fender would make an adrian signature model but they didn't. now my dream was coming true. (I still love you, fender)

I gained a great new friend in John Vitale who became the artist rep and champion of my signature model. and the odyssey began. axel was fanatically detailed in his approach. along the way we decided to add in a new wrinkle: my guitar would have the Sustainiac, yes, and necessary midi pick-up, yes, but also would include the electronics for the Line 6 Variax.

the Line 6 Variax is a remarkable new technology which gives the guitarist a wealth of sounds unlike ever before by faithfully reproducing the sound of 25 different instruments. Les Pauls, Strats, Telecasters, Rickenbacker 12-strings, Martin acoustics, Gretsch, Dobro, a plethora of Gibsons, you name it, the variax even includes a Coral sitar and a Gibson banjo! all of which sound and react like the real thing. (software, phew! I'm in the wrong business.) if you had a semi-truck and an unlimited budget you could carry around all the expensive vintage instruments I now have access to with one knob on my parker fly. and yet axel's design would have fewer knobs (only 3!) than a regular parker fly. an incredible feat of engineering which took two years, a hundred e-mails, and endless phone conversations and alterations.

nothing was changed about the actual parker fly which was already revolutionary and perfect.
but the added electronics take the guitar far into the future of guitar technology.

two Christmases ago, axel had a fender bender. no one seemed hurt. no broken bones. just a slight accident. but in the weeks to come axel began to black out. the accident had in fact caused some strange neural damage. over time he was unable to work more than a few hours a day. eventually he could no longer drive a car. his work days got shorter. couldn't use power tools for fear of blacking out. it was taking longer and longer for my dream to appear. axel fabricated several keys parts of his design. he hand-made them.

january of 2006 was supposed to be our first face to face meeting. me, john, and axel were going to meet at the NAMM convention for parker's unveiling of the new guitar. axel had made 3 prototypes that were nearly complete. working at the parker factory outside chicago I had chosen 3 colors. the paints were custom car colors, 12-stage paint jobs that looked like you could bite into them.

but axel could not come to the NAMM show. he was not well enough yet. I was able to take home 2 of the prototypes so axel and I could fine-tune them over the phone.

I took one guitar to Joe Glazer. joe is considered one of the very best guitar technicians in the whole country. when he opened the back of the guitar his jaw dropped open as well.
"how did he get all that stuff in there? that's brilliant!", said joe.

we were getting very close now to having the guitar ready for production when john called.
the unthinkable had happened.
axel had committed suicide.

I have the 2 prototypes. that's what I play when you see me in concert.
the third parker prototype is in chicago where parker guitars are trying to reverse engineer axel's miracle working. remember, axel hand-made some of the parts.

and that's where the odyssey stands as of today march 1, 2007.
soon I hope to see the first production model Adrian Belew Signature Parker Fly.
I hope you can see it too. I only wish axel could.
in my humble opinion it is "The World's Best Guitar".

The Odyssey (part 1)

no one can claim to be "The World's Best Guitarist" that's strictly a matter of taste. which is why I refer to myself as "one of the world's guitarists".
but I do claim to play "The World's Best Guitar".

Adolf Rickenbacker made something like an electric guitar as far back as 1931. it was called "the frying pan" since that's what it pretty much looked like. but it was Leo Fender in 1950 who began producing his legendary guitars (the first one was called "the broadcaster") that would set the world on fire for electric guitars. so much so that 2 years later Gibson finally took the advice and design of a young whiz kid and put out their own electric "Gibson Les Paul". you could make a strong case that between these two designs, Fender and Les Paul, all guitars since have been sired. for nearly fifty years they reigned supreme, forever emulated but never truly improved upon. until Ken Parker.

if you go to and read through the section called "fly evolution" you'll better understand my bold claim but let me give you the short of it. ken parker spent 20+ years designing the most radical ergonomic masterpiece sculpted to a lean 4 pounds of beautiful wood and created to resonate perfectly. (the way to tell the virtues of an eletric guitar is to play it unplugged to see how well it sustains). my favorite part, the neck, is so smoothly comfortable it makes me play better and faster! it would be impossible to have such a thin neck were it not for ken's revolutionary idea of coating the back of the guitar in a thin carbon and glass space-age composite. thin as in the coating of an m&m. when baked into the wood the carbon composite gives the wood a tinsel strength 10,000 times stronger. you can stand on the neck (not mine! stand on your own) but even better you can depend on it having no funny notes or dead spots whatsoever. meaning perfect intonation. ken was also the first to use steel frets (duh) which never need replacing.

I take it you've seen me play and you know the abuse my guitars must endure through my reckless tremelo abandon. recently following a show in long beach,
Rusty Anderson (guitarist for Paul McCartney) came backstage.
"how did you do that!?" he asked.
"through all of that smashing about you never once tuned the guitar", he said.

the tremelo is for me the most important add-on a guitar can have. it allows expression. but for years players dreaded touching the twang bar for fear of tuning problems. the parker fly tremelo can be set for total freedom up and down. it has a beautiful spring to it but in fact it has no springs at all. another revolutionary design. when paired with Bob Sperzel's brillant locking tuning keys (standard on parkers) you have the well-tempered guitar rusty admired.

the neck plays like butter, the tremelo is simply amazing, the body weighs a third of most guitars, it stays perfectly in tune within 5 minutes of re-stringing it, okay, but what about the sound? wow! I'm glad I asked. most parkers come standard not only with gorgeous sounding magnetic pickups to die for but also a bridge piezo pickup which can be mixed together or played alone for acoustic guitar sounds. the sustain and juicyness of the sound is remarkable and can only be explained as "alive". but even that wasn't enough for yours truly.

it was 11 years ago on one of my trips to tokyo I heard a knock on my hotel room door. I opened it to find 3 young diminutive japanese men. "WE ARE KORG", they said. I figured I was about to be abducted into outer space! the nice young men had actually come to give me a new korg pedal to try out while I was visiting japan. and with it they gave me a new red parker fly. well, I liked the pedal just fine (9 different distortions in one box), but I loved the parker fly.

for the next 8 years I played the parker on and off when at home in the studio. I have a nice collection of guitars by different manufacturers, some of them I treasure dearly. but nothing played like that red parker fly. trouble was, I had painted myself in a corner with my dependance on bells and whistles like the Sustainiac, a pickup invented by Alan Hoover which gives you constant sustain when desired, or the Roland GK2 pickup which opens the universe of midi (guitar synthesizers, keyboards, etc.), or the Kahler tremelo. my onstage guitars were always customized with all of the above. I could not imagine playing without those as part of my arsenal, so much of my material relied on it. but I knew the parker actually made me play better.

so one day I finally called ken parker.