Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy New Decade!!!

"if my thoughts and dreams could be seen
they'd probably put my head in a guillotine."
bob dylan

thanks bob.
I have many thoughts and dreams for the next decade.
I'm hoping you'll come along for the journey.

having met so many people, having done so many things,
having traveled so far and wide and for so long,
I've often said I feel like I've already crammed
several lifetimes into just this one.
so it should come as no surprise that I genuinely
feel like I'm 30 at age 60.
I'm on my second life!

my father, who died at age 45, was a strong responsible
man who seems so much more adult than I will ever be.
I can't think of myself as much more than a big kid.

I certainly am a late bloomer.
by the time I was "discovered" and precariously
thrust into the world of music I was 27 years old
and worried I might have missed my chance.
by the time I made my first solo record
robert fripp had been making records for 13 years.
king crimson had already made 7 albums worth of music.
frank zappa had been making records
and touring the globe for 17 years!

when I had just begun.

the point is this: I still have plenty of fuel in my tank.
physically and creatively.
I look forward to at least another decade
of performing and producing my art.

a quick self-assessment coming into the new year:
I am likely the most fortunate person I know.
I have a beautiful wife, home, and family.
good friends. a legacy.
I am in good health and I earn a respectable living.
in truth I already have everything I've ever wanted.

all that's needed now is to continue forward.

"a man is about as happy as he makes his mind up to be."
abraham lincoln

Friday, December 25, 2009

To The People Of Perm

today is my birthday, usually a day for joy.
but this morning I woke up with a tragedy on my mind.
from November 5 through November 9 of this year
I was in a city I had never heard of: Perm, Russia.

it's not often a genuine American rock band comes
to the Urals, but thanks to the Perm Region's
Ministry of Culture and Philharmony and the vision
of my promoter Alexander (Sasha) Cheparukhin,
a gracious man who has dedicated himself to bringing
world culture to his beloved Russia,
the Adrian Belew Power Trio were invited to Perm
to perform a concert with Eddie Jobson and his band U-Z
celebrating the progressive music of King Crimson.

for five days in anticipation of our November 9th concert
we were ensconced in the stately Ural Hotel in Perm.
it was snowing most of the time and the atmosphere
was beautiful. I could tell how proud the inhabitants
were of their city.

we were treated like friends by everyone we met.
one evening we were guests at a beautiful
concert of the excellent Opus Posth string ensemble
led by Tatiana Grindenko in The Perm Organ Recital Hall.
another night we dined in a very comfortable
nightclub with curious young Russians
toasting vodka in our honor.
they were wonderful people
who truly love art and music.

we spent most our time in Perm rehearsing
the power trio and Eddie Jobson's U-Z band.
Perm Philharmony gave us a unique opportunity
to create a new 7-piece lineup with Eddie
and the other great musicians of U-Z:
Greg Howe on guitar, Ric Fierabracci on bass,
and the eight-armed Marco Minnemann on drums.

on the last day of our stay there was a press
conference and then quickly we were on stage.
we were not sure what to expect, but to our
amazement the concert hall was filled,
mostly with young people, who gave us
a very enthusiastic welcome.
the power trio and Eddie Jobson's U-Z
played a full set each, and the culmination of the
whole event was our joint line-up performing
King Crimson classics at the end.
the event was a rare musical experience,
one I hope inspired the musicians
and music lovers of Perm.

after the show we had a lovely dinner
with Sasha and one of Russia's biggest
stars, the enigmatic singer Zemfira.
Zemfira is to Russia what Michael Jackson
is to the rest of the world.
we first met Zemfira in august 2008 when we
participated in the giant Creation of Peace Festival
in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, Russia.
we played for 150,000 fans, most of whom were
there to see Zemfira.
Sasha was an artistic director of the festival.
he introduced us to Zemfira.

Zemfira flew to Perm especially to see our show
and to meet us again. an honor indeed.

I left Russia feeling like a king and wanting
to return as often as possible.

then weeks later came the monstrous news
of a horrific fire in a Perm nightclub.
suddenly everyone in the world knew
of this place called Perm and grieved with them.

and so this morning I woke up
thinking about the young people killed in that fire.
I wondered how many of them may have
been in attendance at my concert.
maybe I shook their hands or signed
an autograph for one of them.
they were all so happy to be at the show.

I want to say thanks to the people of Perm
for their generosity and give my profound
condolences to the families of the deceased
and to the people still suffering.

I would love to come to play for you again.
I wish you love and happiness in 2010.

p.s: To Certain Misguided Journalists In Perm

there was only one thing which tarnished my
visit. in light of the tragedy it seems trivial,
even ridiculous, and I would not even dignify
this issue with a reply except that it has hurt
my good friend and supporter Sasha.

during the press conference Sasha mentioned
I had written the songs, melodies, and words
for the last 28 years (from 1981 to now) on all
King Crimson records.

this is absolutely true, as most of the world knows.
those of you who attacked Sasha insisting
Robert wrote everything and saying Sasha should
be ashamed for insulting Robert's name:
you are dead wrong!

of course Robert has been the guiding force
and creator of most of the Crimson legacy,
and as such he deserves a great measure of credit
for his brilliant musical ideas (which I love)
but as Robert himself would gladly tell you:
he did not do it alone nor did he
write everything himself.

you, The Misguided should apologize to Sasha.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

happy birthday, frankie!

the ghosts of Christmas past.

when I think of Christmas so many memories come to mind.
baby jesus in a manger, christmas lights on trees, snow balls,
hot chocolate with whipped cream, a fireplace, and of course:

as far back as I can recall, toys were always what it's about.

only my family members know this, but I have collected
many things from Christmas's past, or more correctly
things from Christmas have often been the starting point
for collections of things I still cherish.

I was reminded of this over the weekend when my girls
begged me to show their friends my toy soldier collection.
I let them set the soldiers up (all 440 of them)
in mock battle positions for the "good war":
the kind where no one gets hurt and no shots are fired.

I began accumulating these toy soldiers from age 10,
but continued to find rare matching packages of exactly
this type at ma and pa stores around the country
well into my twenties.

I keep them in a wooden box my grandmother gave me.
I know it's silly but somehow I treasure these tiny guys
with their little jeeps and tanks, cannons and trucks,
all standing firmly in their fixed positions.
soldiers with rifles, captains with pistols drawn,
truck driving soldiers, marching soldiers, bazooka guys,
hand grenade throwers, kneeling sharpshooters,
lying down sharpshooters, officers with binoculars,
and soldiers standing guard.

they are a window into a simpler time.
Christmas as a kid.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

two new...

CDs I can't wait to have in hand:
the greg hampton CD and
the newest raphael haroche CD.
I contributed major guitar work to both of these.

greg hampton is an L.A. guitarist/writer/singer
who recently produced the latest alice cooper CD.
I love greg's ability to pen a heavy guitar lick
and then to adorn it with NIN-like madness.
greg came to StudioBelew where we added even
more crazedness to his ultra-groovy tracks.
later, he added vocals and is now in the final mix stage.

raphael haroche is the young artist
I went to paris to work with last month.
I loved his songs and his sweet voice to match.
he had an ace studio band as well and we
all worked together to make something unique:
a great pop record.
I still have raphael's songs floating around in my head.
even in a veil of misty rain paris never loses its charms.

my guitar work on both these records ran the gamut
and I was very pleased with the results.
I'll let you know more as I know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Masters of Rock Guitar

back in february I was asked to write the preface
for a book called Masters of Rock Guitar,
published by the italian company WhiteStar.
I was already familiar with their work due to a
couple of superb books they have on vintage cars.
"masters" includes a foreword by joe satriani,
an excellent text by ernesto assante, and piles of cool
pictures of 66 guitarists, including yours truly.

the guitarists featured range from people
I actually know (robert fripp, jeff beck, ry cooder)
to guitarists I once knew (frank zappa, les paul)
to guitarists I would love to have known
(george harrison, jimi hendrix,).

I have a hard time imagining a fairly stupid kid
from northern kentucky with no musical training
from a lower class working family who had no
connection whatsoever to the world of music and art
ending up in such illustrious company.
me and eric clapton in the same line up? wow.

my body is covered with marks
from pinching myself all the time.

I just received my copy which I'm very pleased with.
Masters of Rock Guitar is an excellent book albeit
one that may be difficult to find. I know I had a hard
time navigating the italian website: whitestar.it
so I figure most of you will have to read my preface here:

what is it about the electric guitar that so fascinates?

what began as a plank of wood on someone's workbench
has transformed into the icon of rock music and the most
popular instrument on the planet.
the electric guitar has many features to recommend.

portability hard to imagine lugging a baby grand back
to your hotel room each night but you can carry
the guitar in a back pack.

simplicity your basic electric guitar has perhaps two
knobs and one hole to plug into; pretty straightforward.
it's fairly easy to learn. but hard to master.

versatility a player can do just about anything with
the electric guitar these days. when I began playing if
you had a fender amp and a fuzztone you were hot!
today I can play my guitar through my laptop.
there is a billion $$ industry of after market
accouterments. everything from amplifiers
and synthesizers to picks and string winders.

longevity when les or chuck or scotty first appeared
who knew it would go this far? but a funny thing
happened: rock music never went away!

sound it can range from raucous to sweetness.
it can squeal or cry.

volume no question about it, the rock guitar is not shy.
as a communication device it's hard to ignore.
it can blow a horn section right off the stage.

beauty the sensual form of the guitar's body has long
been noted. it's sexy. in the hands of a premier luthier
the wood becomes a modern sculpture. as seductive
as a sports car at a fraction of the price.

it's fashionable true, it can make you a rebel or a
preacher, but I believe the fashionable bit soon wears
off. there has to be something more.

personality? now we're getting closer.
players and manufacturers have done just about
everything to personalize the electric guitar.
we've added strings, pulled out frets, sawed off the
headstock, and cut the body into a myriad of shapes,
sizes, and colors.
there was one guy who even burned his on stage!
anything to express your inner self. and that's it!
the one thing that sets the electric guitar apart
is it's capacity for self-expression.

there is simply nothing like feeling your fingers
bending a note and hearing the guitar sing.
through self-expression comes passion.
through passion comes perseverance.
through perseverance you get to be one
of the players on these pages.

so let's celebrate the electric guitar
ands the players who have made it unique.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Happy 25 Years

for some reason I woke up this morning musing over
the music from desire caught by the tail.

my third solo record.
the first record on which I played all the instruments.
my first all instrumental record.
the record which cost me my record deal,
the record label (island) hated it so much.
and so the record was unceremoniously dumped.
many fans didn't even know about it.

one fan (sic) hated it enough to break the vinyl
record into pieces and send it back to me!

but frank zappa after hearing desire was quoted
as saying "adrian has re-invented the electric guitar".
thanks frankie.

so I went to the kitchen computer and played the first
piece, the seven and a half-minute tango zebra.
it brought back a flash of memories of fiddling with
the earliest guitar synthesizer, of playing the steel-
bodied dobro with the daddad open tuning,
of playing on the back of the dobro
with rubber mallets to create drum sounds.
of riding my bike to the closet-size studio each day,
thinking of myself as some kind of "artiste".

and as I reeled from the sensory overload I realized:

this is desire caught by the tail's 25th birthday!

to this day it remains undiscovered by many people
who like my music and that's a shame.
the japanese re-issue CD we sell at the online store
is so perfectly re-mastered that the quality sounds
as fresh as though it were made yesterday.

...25 years ago...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

mind meld

"spock! are you out of your vulcan mind!?"

so much has happened in the last 6 months
I wish I could do a mind meld with all of you.
too much to say and no way to convey it all.

first, since it is thanksgiving
let me say Happy Thanksgiving!
(unless you're a turkey, then it's not so happy)

2009 has been another great year.
after three years in the making we released e,
and the trio traversed a million miles to play
hot shows to eager-eared audiences worldwide
who rewarded us, not so much with mucho dinaros
but with praise and appreciation.

thanks to all of you.
it does not go without notice how fortunate I am,
an off the wall artist who still has a thriving career
in the brutal machinations of the music business.

I have high hopes for the new year.
see you there!

Friday, October 30, 2009


now I know where it is.
heaven's in emeryville, california.
1200 park avenue to be exact.
you can't miss it; there's a big sign out front.
it says P I X A R.

once you get through the gates of heaven
you enter an indescribable universe.
it's where I want to live forever.

my personal version of heaven goes like this:
I live in a home depot shed in the animators section.
my formal title is: Pixar Good Will Ambassador.
my job is to greet the creative geniuses each morning
with hot cups of java and donuts and crisp conversation.
my day is spent spreading joy to the Pixar workforce,
drinking free cokes with lots of ice,
and giving outsiders the same special guest tour
I was given by andrew stanton and pete docter.

in my spare time (this is the heaven part)
I sit in the steven jobs-inspired in-house theatre
endlessly watching Pixar films and
reciting each line of dialogue perfectly.
yes, it's the theatre with the ceiling
covered in lights to match the constellations.
(exactly as the stars would be were there no roof)
look! there goes another shooting star!

Pixar is a visual feast filled with storyboards
and concept drawings and like a little boy
in a toy story shop I study every frame.

occasionally I slip into the voice-over studio
to perform a scratch voice-over
for an upcoming wonder at the same mic
used by the likes of billy crystal, john goodman,
holly hunter, tom hanks, tim allen, christopher
plummer, don rickles, kevin spacey, samuel jackson,
the ever-present john ratzenberger and so many others.
hey, you never know when a scratch vocal
just might be the perfect character voice.

in the evenings I take up residency in the secret
Lucky 7 lounge where I practice bartending
for the tired geniuses and technicians.

and lastly, as the workforce leaves
filled with happiness and go juice
I perform an improvised concert
in the vast Pixar lobby to send them home
inspired and ready to return.

that's my version of heaven.

ps: thanks andrew and pete for the best
tour diversion I've ever had.

psst: I didn't mention martha or my kids,
the power trio, or all my best friends
because to be in heaven you have to be


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Anecdote # 47

A Visit With The Wizard.

last night as I sat in the cool grass clacking two coconut
shells together while some of the elder tribesmen danced
slowly around the bonfire I gazed up at the stars and
couldn’t help but wonder: is it possible there could be
another world not unlike ours, a world where people
like us might stick something into a hole in the wall
and cause little glowing lights to blink on and off like
fireflies, a place where someone could turn a knob on
a box of some sort and fill the air with great marvelous
clouds of sound, sounds unlike anything the human ear
had ever heard before, the sound of a giant metallic insect
grinding through the sky, the sound of an angel singing
underwater, the beautiful smoky wail of an overblown
speaker, and just as I was wondering what a speaker
might be...I woke up.

in my earliest memory of electric guitar I am 6 years old.
taking in the intense kaleidoscope of Christmas shopping
with my parents at the Newport Kentucky Shopping Mall.
the mall itself was more like a small strip mall than today’s
sprawling giants but still a fresh excitement in the mid- 1950’s.
it was snowing. little speakers in the parking lot were
repeatedly playing this jingle:

when the values go up, up, up, and the prices go down, down, down, Robert Hall this season will show you the reason, low overhead, low overhead

a snappy lyric no doubt, but it was the sound of the guitar
accompaniment that excited me. a rich creamy electric guitar
sound. turns out it was Les Paul along with Mary Ford
singing the virtues of Robert Hall clothing .

if we fast-forward a couple of decades I find myself talking
with Les in his living room in front of the same exact
Frankenstein-like laboratory of early recording gear
with which Les created his legendary sound: multi-tracking;
a technology that changed record-making forever.*

the story begins in 1983 in new york city.
I had a full day's schedule of interviews and photo shoots
ending with an interview with Guitar World magazine.
a friend of mine, bob davis worked for Guitar World.
bob invited me and my manager stan hertzman to dinner.
bob was friends with les paul, said he knew him well.
he began telling some of his favorite les paul tales
and suddenly said, "hey, why don't we drive out to les's house?"

it's about an hour drive to Mahwah, New Jersey.
we arrived at les's 27-room mansion at 8:00 at night.
surprisingly, les answered the door.
bob said, "hey les, mind if we come in for a minute?"
"aw jeez, I don't know, bob, I'm kinda busy," les said,
but he quickly added, "what the hell, come on in".
(six hours later at two in the morning we were begging
him to let us go back to the city. I had another long
day of interviews and meetings ahead of me.)

les ushered us into his large open living room.
he was alone in the house, like an absentminded wizard.
he said he was searching through old tapes of his
television show The Les Paul and Mary Ford Show.
airing in 1953, it was one of the pioneer tv shows.
in fact, les said back then they hadn't even arrived
at an agreed upon format for television.
his show was 5 minutes long!

a typical show went like this:
music theme plays (which concluded with a blazing
guitar run from the master, the only part I remember)
announcer says: "it's the les paul and mary ford show!"
mary walks out from the kitchen into the living room
wearing a fashionable 1950's outfit.

les: "whatcha doin' mary?"
mary: "I'm fixing a cake, les. I just put it in the oven."
les: "well then, why don'tcha come over here and do
a song with me while it's baking?"

they launch into one of their two minute pop hits
which somehow leads into a spot about their sponsor
Listerine and how nice it is to have fresh breath
which somehow leads into mary showing les
the magically finished cake which somehow reminds
les of another tune they should sing, which they do.
end of show.

les said they filmed the show right where we were sitting!
the large open living room decorated in 50's-style
bric-a-brac was connected to mary's kitchen
separated only by a counter top.
they filmed five shows a day for five days and
that was enough for a whole season.
the show was on every day during the week.

before the Beatles, even before Elvis,
les and mary had 11 top ten hit songs and 36 gold records.
they had a radio show as well and constantly toured
the country in les's cadillac.

les started right in to one of his fabulous stories:
"the show was broadcast live right here.
we had a film crew in here all day and we cut up
and cussed like sailor's. for our very first show
we had an MC introduce us, a nervous little fellow.
the lights went on, cameras started rollin'
he stepped up to the mic and said:
'hello fucks!'
poor guy."

when les laughed hard enough his voice went silent
and was replaced by a kind of wheez.
we had a beer and les walked us through his house.
he showed us the cadillac flywheel he used to invent
a mastering lathe. showed us the very first electric
guitar he made. he called it "the log". it looked like one.
scattered through the house were guitar cases,
many of which had never even been opened.
les said he had probably 300 guitars laying around.
according to les he made a deal with Gibson when
they released the Les Paul that they would send him
one guitar every month for him to "inspect".

eventually we were back in the living room.
at the far end of the room there were eight recording
machines stacked one on top of another.
it was the original multi-track studio
les had created to make his records.

"pick one out," he said pointing to the guitar cases
laying everywhere. I opened a case. it had a blue
Les Paul still in its wrapper. never touched.
les motioned me over and it dawned on me:
he was asking me to play with him!

we both plugged into his console, les with one of
his "recording les paul" models and me with a
beast that was unaccustomed to ever being tuned.
eventually I played something that caught his ear
and he asked me how I did it.
bob davis spoke up, "adrian makes his guitar sound
like animals. that's what he's known for."
I saw the gleam in les's eyes as he quickly moved
back to the area where the tv tapes were.

"I gotcha now," he said and he began fumbling through
the tapes. "here it is," he said, "you know 'jingle bells'
don'tcha? everybody knows jingle bells. well, I did a
version of it we called 'jungle bells!' "
sure enough there was les playing on his tv show,
scratching the strings of his guitar to make it sound
like a monkey!!
and I thought I had invented that!
what a night it was.

the next time I saw les he was playing at the infamous
Fat Tuesdays, one of his monday night shows he did
weekly for many years despite being in his eighties.
martha and I sat right smack in front of him
up against the postage stamp-size stage,
across from us at the same table sat an elderly
couple who looked very sweet together.

les played great and cracked jokes the whole time.
suddenly he looked down at the couple next to us
and said, "I want to dedicate this to my old friend Harold,
he's sitting right down here in the front and Harold is the
fella who wrote this song back in 1925."
then he played "Somewhere Over The Rainbow."

over the years I saw les from time to time and he
was always the same: laughing and friendly.
I doubt he ever heard me play or knew anything
about my work but it didn't matter. I loved him.
in 2005 (I think) I was asked by Guitar Player
magazine to participate in an event in new york city.
it was a celebration of les paul's 90th birthday.

backstage les was sitting in the hallway chatting
with everybody. he saw me with my Parker Fly
and insisted he sign the back of it.
he wrote "Keep Rockin'. Les Paul" in silver marker.
being an idiot who is not used to having someone
autograph my guitar I didn't think to protect it
from wearing off, which it did over the next tour.
after he signed it, Lisa Loeb came by to say hello.
he grabbed her breast! laughing like a little kid.

what more can you say about the affable genius?
he was the father of electric guitar.

*this is part of the foreword I wrote for the book
"Analog Man's Guide To Vintage Effects" by Tom Hughes.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

the bandmaster hat...

I love the YouTube videos so many of you have posted.
my friend dave lefkowitz (former manager of primus)
referred to the power trio videos as
a YouTube phenomenon
because of the abundance of postings.

there are two problems for me personally:
(1.) most YouTubes cannot replicate the sound or power
of the bass and (2.) I hate the way I look.

the problem is my hair or lack thereof.
I'm not really as vain as that sounds, but let's face it:
BALD is beautiful (witness sir levin)
BALD-ing is pathetic. (witness sir belew)

I suppose I could continue to be good natured
about it and simply wear one of those
"solar panel for a love-machine" t-shirts
or continue to make my joke that I'm wearing
a balding wig underneath which I have a full head of hair.
or simply surrender to the implications of aging
(i.e. death) and endure looking horrid on
the world-frickin-wide web!

but I've decided instead to try wearing a hat onstage.
not just any hat, but a hat that has meaning for me.
here's the story: from 6th grade through 8th grade
I was in the Ludlow Jr. High Marching Band.
(ludlow is a rivertown at the top of kentucky).
I loved donning my band uniform
(except for the white spats) and parading about.

my aim in life at age 12 was to be the "band director".
as such I would teach the students all the different
instruments, chose pieces of music to play,
choreograph the halftime show pieces and most
importantly, I would wear the bandmaster hat.

here's the rub:
I purchased the hat pictured above. I love it,
but it won't arrive for another 10 weeks!
if any of you know of a hat of this type
(classic cadet style, size small, new or used)
which can be purchased now
please let management know asap.

I'm desperate to be beautiful.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Alert The Media!

I'm now an official "celebrity twitter". so far I've mostly
tweeted over the delicious meals julie slick (our house
guest for the week) has been making, but follow me
and I promise to reveal all.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

e's here!!

I'm so pleased. thanks again to everyone involved.

exquisitely engineered electric eclectic energetic esthetic excellence!

I hope everyone hears this one.

Friday, July 10, 2009

spot the nerd.

I never expected in my whole life
to be holding two hummingbirds
in the palm of my hand but
wednesday around 4:30 that's
exactly what happened.

I had just finished recording
for the day. casey wood, my engineer
was backing up the files to a hard
drive as I waited by a studio window
watching two hummingbirds chasing
one another in the trees. it's not
unusual to see hummingbirds here,
I have feeders in the front and back of my house. we get a large variety of birds feeding all the time. sometimes the deck looks more like an airport landing strip.
all of a sudden the two hummingbirds flew straight into the window! bam bam!
as I rushed outside I was horrified to think I would probably find them dead, their necks broken. I picked up the first one.
it was such a beautiful tiny creature.
and it was alive.

sometimes birds fly into a window and stun themselves. if you pick
them up and gently bring them out of their shock eventually they
fly away. this has happened many times to me.
the second hummingbird lay face down in the grass. I knew it
must be dead. but when I picked it up I was amazed to find
it was alive too. now I had two hummingbirds in the palm of my hand!

for a good 10 minutes or more they both sat in my open hand,
blinking and looking around while I stroked their gorgeous
golden feathers, telling them everything would be alright.
eventually the smaller of the two woke out of his daze and
realizing, "yikes! I'm on the hand of a human!"
it buzzed off, landing nearby on the deck where it sat for a few
more minutes. finally number two did the same.

it was such a magical experience for me.

hummingbirds are very special not just because they're so tiny
or because they can flap their wings 1,000 times per minute.
most people know they are also the only birds who can hover
like a helicopter and the only birds who can fly backwards!
but did you know they are the only birds who cannot walk?!
(apart from boneless chickens, of course)

it was a gift to hold them.

once a fidget always a fidget...

four days of sun worship is my limit.
not one to sit idle for very long,
immediately after our florida getaway
I began a brand new secret project.
I've been recording it for 2 weeks
and now have 5 songs in the can.
I'll tell you more about this in a couple
of weeks, but for the moment I'll say this:
the secret project could very well become
brand new record #3 for 2009.

speaking of new records, I'm glad to see
some of you are finally taking the jump
and purchasing the new michael clay disc
a cup of coffee and a slice of time.
for those of you still sitting on the fence
I received this review from yogini67
which echoes my feelings about coffee

"Received the 'Coffee' cd yesterday, and I have to say
I was not prepared for how beautiful it is!
It was surprisingly emotional for me to hear your music
played this way. I can only imagine how it is for you!
The sad/sweet cello is perfect in ' The Lone Rhino '
it literally brought tears to my eyes. ' Union Terminal '
is brilliant. I love it all.
Michael Clay is wonderful,
no matter how many hands he has.
Everyone should have a copy of this,
thanks again for always surprising me."

if I were a shoe salesman (which I'm not)
I would say, "buy one now. what've you got to lose?
if you really don't like it, it'll make a swell christmas
gift for your distant cousin."

if you still prefer to play it safe, we will be playing
coffee as the play-off music after each of our upcoming shows.
give a listen. you might be surprised.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

wow! pete docter called...

the director of Pixar's latest marvel UP.
we reminded each other of an early encounter
backstage at a krimson concert in the 80's.
pete said he was with andrew stanton,
another of the creative main springs of Pixar.
turns out they are both fans of my work.
I couldn't begin to stress what a fan I am of theirs!

most people know I'm more child than adult.
I still have my fascination firmly intact.
but did you know this: all my life
animation has been one of my biggest fascinations.

it started with saturday morning showings of looney tunes.
my dad would often go to a place next to our junior high
school called the purple patch, our local donut shop.
he would bring home donuts and we'd watch bugs bunny,
foghorn leghorn, sylvester, and the gang all morning.

I loved imitating the voices (and I still try)
which is why I've listed mel blanc as my favorite
vocalist of all time. mel breathed life into more
than a thousand characters in his lifetime. incredible.

for many years of my adult life with some exceptions
there was a lull in the world of animation.
I had to get by watching re-runs of the frog singing
"hello my baby, hello my honey,
hello my rag
time gaaal"..

then came Pixar.
I saw the very first Pixar short film at a short
animation film festival and life was forever changed.
I've seen everything they've made since
many times over.
needless to say they make my favorite films.
their animation is truly amazing. great stories,
memorable characters, perfect music, etc.

so imagine what an honor it is for me to hear
pete docter and andrew stanton are fans.
they are two of the top creators at Pixar!
(look them up on wikipedia. you won't believe
all the stuff they've done)

when pete called I wasn't feeling well.
the next day I went to see UP (in 3-D)
and I felt like a kid again.
all I needed was donut from the patch.

Monday, June 15, 2009

a cup of coffee and a slice of time

Rejoice! One of Two New Records is NOW AVAILABLE!!!
Michael Clay the man with four hands Plays the Music
of Adrian Belew and King Crimson!

truly when I hear michael clay play some of his rolling arpeggios
I think "he must have four hands" but I have met the elusive
concert pianist and if he does have four he hides them well.

michael's touch on the piano keys is as should be expected
from an artist who routinely tackles the demanding works
of the great master composers in concerts across the world.
he is at times delicate, at times bombastic, but always
surprising in his harmonic choices and cataclysmic
performances. this is a man who must practice hours
on end each day to keep his abilities fine tuned.
and it shows.

so why is a virtuoso concert pianist playing songs of mine?

search me. michael clay has seen every incarnation
of king crimson ever to tour the U.S. from 1970 onward.
so we know he is a glutton for punishment.
for the true story of the genesis of this record
see the blog called "Michael Clay Plays The Music
Of Adrian Belew And King Crimson
" from 11/07.

michael has discovered through his improvisations of
these songs a way to somehow affect the heart
and the head simultaneously. no easy feat.

for the most part coffee is solo piano performances.
it will not rid you of any junk in your trunk.
nor will your booty shiver and jiggle helplessly.
it will not implore you through poetic device to
surrender yourself to the lust of another.
there are no words. no singing. no bouncy backbeat.
no repetitive chorus to stick on the walls of your mind.
no loud raucous jangly guitars. no thumping bass riffs.

just the pleasure of hearing a man seemingly
four hands expertly performing decent pieces
of songwriting from yours truly and in two cases
from the 1980's line up of king crimson i.e.
robert fripp, tony levin, bill bruford and me.

for me personally it is an honor to have michael
chose to render my work in such a way.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, but I want
to be clear in warning you of its content.
it is mostly solo piano improvisations.

michael and I chose these songs:

the lone rhinoceros (with cello accompaniment)
bad days
the man in the moon
time waits

frame by frame
intermission (guitar only*)
she is not dead


union terminal
(guitar and piano improv duet**)

* intermission is a new musique concrete piece
created by me on solo midi-guitar for the purpose of
clearing the air in the midst of such keyboard frenzy.

** union terminal is an improvisation by michael
and me (electric guitar and piano only) with an aural
backdrop of the sounds you might hear in a grand old
train terminal such as the one in cincinnati, ohio
which is in fact called union terminal.

the title a cup of coffee and a slice of time
you may recognize as a line from the song 1967.
an artist named rob sinkus sent me the gift
of the above photo he made in 1992 titled after the lyric.
I liked it so much it has always hung in the kitchen
of StudioBelew where it remains today.

oh, and it case you are wondering, yes, it is
the music you heard playing in the background
after our concerts.

a cup of coffee and a slice of time
is NOW AVAILABLE for pre-ordering at StoreBelew.
we expect to have copies in our hands in 2 weeks
and to be ready to send them to you immediately.

if it sounds like your cup of tea, er, coffee
order your copy now.

Friday, May 15, 2009

poem to eric on his birthday

happy birthday eric slick
we like the way you use your stick(s)
you are not too bad on the eyes if you're a chick
and you're funny too
so we like you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

and there we were!

to all of you who showed up for our quick midwest jaunt: thank you so much for your inspiration and enthusiasm. we, the trio, were thrilled with your response, especially to so much new music you've never heard. amazingly, 4 out of 5 were sold out! not an easy task in this economy. I'm not sure what caused the low turnout in my hometown Cincinnati (maybe they are tired of me) but the fans who made it out were fabulous. it was nice to see rob bear and bob bear and so many other dear friends I rarely get to see. kenny and christy nevels, stan hertzman, john reynolds, laura nyswonger, cassandra stepp, joe madrigal (the original guitarist for sweetheart) jeff crow, phil bates (who made a lovely woodcut of each us) and terry williams, one of the first drummers I learned from. my only regret was the low turnout. on the other hand, in st. louis our sold-out crowd was one of the loudest audiences ever! on a thursday night! peter jest, our long-time shank hall promoter was very pleased with the milwaukee audience*. I could tell because he was telling drummer jokes after the show. both chicago shows were knock-outs and proved to me the importance of playing to seated audiences. some people prefer it to club settings. in chicago we were able to meet with some of our staunchest supporters from the manufacturing sector. interestingly our main endorsements are all in chicago: parker guitars for me, lakland basses for julie, and ludwig drums for eric. we couldn't be happier with the instruments they produce and the treatment afforded us.

this year has started off slowly compared to last year's windfall of shows across 3 continents in 18 countries, but there are reasons (apart from the economy). first, we needed time to complete e, a very important step toward the future and second, we needed to change booking agencies; something which always requires time and effort. the good news is more dates across the USA are on their way! and maybe something in the fall for europe as well.

also on the way are two new records for your listening pleasure.

* to the two people who hated the show at shank hall: I am sorry. you can't please everyone, but I like to try. I hope you two will still give e a chance. new music often takes more than one listen to appreciate.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

here we come!

be sure to make it out to one of these 5 shows, please,
and bring everyone you know.
brains will break and smiles will ache.
we'll be playing some brand new music from e
as well as some past favorites you haven't heard in a while.
and boy are we psyched!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

e news flash!!!

the power trio tore through all 5 sections of e
in world-record time: six days to track bass and drums.
that's what I call slick.
(sorry, I couldn't stop my fingers)

julie fueled us with delicious lunches
as well as two evening meals to die for.
(one of which I voted best meal of 2008/09)

eric received the awesome news he is now
an official endorser of ludwig drums.
I am so very happy for him.
a) eric deserves it a thousand times over
b) he will be a terrific ambassador for ludwig and
c) I love ludwig drums!

since my junior high school marching band days
I have always loved ludwig drums.
I remember hours spent drooling over
ludwig drum catalogs; one of my favorite fantasies.
ringo's black oyster pearl kit. my dream.

saul z. is playing shows on the east coast.
upon his return next week, he and I will
continue the process by adding guitar orchestration.
I'll keep you posted.


last tuesday's visit to sweetwater sound was amazing,
the presentation of the signature parker a big success,
and the evening's concert a knockout.

alongside john vitale and bill rowe from parker
eric, julie and I had a marvelous time.
a fun day we will always remember.
we learned things and made new friends.

to say sweetwater sound is incredible
would be a gross understatement.
you have to see it to believe it.
the facility is the perfect working environment
created in the greenest ways possible,
spiffy clean and world class in every regard
and staffed by smart friendly people
who are experts at what they do.

truly a model of what a modern business should be.
our sincere thanks to everyone involved.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

if we were brits...

this is what eric and I might look like.
raaather booor-ish.
(no hate mail, please, we love all things british)
(except maybe sheppard's pie)

meanwhile, the recording of e is doing bloody well indeed
and julie's lunches are simply smashing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the beautiful people...

over the weekend I wrote the foreword to a new book
called rock guitar to be published by the italian
publisher white star. they make high-quality large
format coffee table-type books. I have one of their
car books simply called american cars.
rock guitar promises to be a very nice book with a
variety of guitarists including your faithful author.

meanwhile studiobelew was undergoing a major
facelift at the hands of saul zonana and a cadre
of audio students in anticipation of the recording of

last night the power duo of eric and julie arrived
just in time for a delicious mexican meal.
then we celebrated the joy of starting our first
new record together with a crazed impromptu
photo session. (see above photo by eric)

this morning and every morning for the next
six days we'll be hard at work in the studio.
next monday we'll fly to ft. wayne for the parker
presentation on tuesday.

then saul and I will proceed to polish e
to a fine and delicate luster.

wish us luck!

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's here!

the adrian belew signature edition parker fly is at last a reality!
parker is producing them as we speak (except we're not really speaking)
now anyone who wants to take out a second mortgage
can play the same exact guitar I play. it's such a beauty!
the ferrari of electric guitars!
the ad pictured above is from the new 2009 parker catalog.

to officially celebrate the release we are having a presentation
at sweetwater sound in ft. wayne, indiana on february the 17th.
sweetwater sound is no doubt the largest purveyor of
high-end gear of all types. perfect for the parker.
in the morning there is a 7:30 presentation and concert
for sweetwater's staff of 140 sales people.
in the afternoon I'll be hanging around the store making
myself available for chit chat with the public.
then in the evening I will play a FREE concert for anyone who
shows up at the sweetwater store.
and I'm bringing special guests to excite the ears.
for more information please call (206) 432-8176
see you there!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

How I nearly joined The Beatles.

last week at the NAMM convention in anaheim
I was having dinner with john vitale (from parker guitars)
and saul zonana (soon to be the engineer for e).

saul began telling us about a new project he was involved in.
the back story is this:
probably the most famous Beatle tribute band in the states
would be the Fab Faux from new york city
featuring will lee, the bassist from the letterman show
and jimmy vivino, the guitarist from the conan o'brien show.
I've yet to hear them but I'm told they're fantastic.

recently their former keyboard player rob arthur
moved here to nashville and began the idea of starting
another Beatle band to service the needs of the south.
saul auditioned for the new Beatle band and won a seat.
saul is now the paul of the band.

saul mentioned they were still looking for the john.
(I told him it was just around the corner to the left).

to me The Beatles represent pure joy
and anything to do with their music excites me.
so, without much thought I immediately
campaigned for the role of john.
I figured I know the material and I can do
a honorable imitation of john's voice,
why not? it would be such fun!

a few days later after arriving home
saul e-mailed me to ask when
I would be available for the first rehearsal.

that's when reality slapped me in the face:
of course it would be fun
but it would also require my focus and attention
and much time and effort to do the job justice.
I simply don't have that luxury right now.
what with little things like touring the world
with the world's best power trio,
writing and producing records,
filling the pages of this blog,
spending time with my family, blah blah blah.

so I had to write saul that I would
withdraw my name from the hat. I wrote:

"hey paul,
I never thought I'd hear myself say this but:
I don't think I can join The Beatles".

as my buddy robert likes to say:
you don't get much closer than that!

Monday, January 5, 2009

baby's got...

new stage shoes!
(now I'm really getting ahead of myself).

these are exactly the same as the stage shoes
I've worn at every show for the last two years.
I bought them in melbourne, australia
at the same small shop on akland street
in st. kilda where I bought the first pair.
amazingly, it was the only pair they had
and they were in my size.
(european size 41)

so...what is "e" ?

of course it's rather senseless to talk
about music you have yet to hear,
but senseless is my middle name, so here goes.

e is a thematic piece of music in five sections.
it is based on a 16-note chromatic figure
which can be played up and down the neck,
both forwards and backwards and in various keys.
it could be seen as five pieces of music,
since each section can stand alone
but I prefer it as one long piece.
how long? 40 to 50 minutes.

the chromatic e figure is used in compelling ways
both against itself and with itself
to create complex rhythms and harmonies.
each of the five pieces of music flow through
a wide variety of secondary themes and melodies
some of which reappear, but they all are based upon
and eventually come back to
the e figure.

in some areas the timbre of the piece
is much like something King Crimson might do,
but I've used Gershwin, and Stravinsky
for my guidance and inspiration as well.
I have been writing e for more than two years!
it's very difficult (at least for me) to play.
along the way I make 16 different loops.
in order to add parts and solos over top of the loops
each loop has to be perfect, of course.

e has been written and arranged
specifically for the mighty power trio.
but it may also be worthy of classical orchestration.
I could hear a rock trio treatment
and a classical treatment (with horns, strings, etc.)
and even a combination of the two.
but I'm getting way ahead of myself.
classical treatments don't fall off trees.

as diligent and single-minded as eric and julie
and I have been in our approach to learning e,
we have yet to actually record a single note.
this being eric and julie's first "new" record
I'm hoping to make something grand
for them to be proud of.

then we'll have to play it live.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

thank you Penston...

for pointing out how silly I am.
really folks, this is nothing more than a tiny misunderstanding
between life-long friends. it happens to everyone.

last night, without saying anything to me,
my wise wife martha left a book in my reading place.
she knew I would wake up before everyone
and likely I would read for a while.
the book she left was
"Don't Sweat The Small Stuff...
and it's all small stuff" by Richard Carlson.

the title says it all.

I give the blogger the benefit of a doubt.
he shouldn't have used the term "unethical"
but was by his own admission "in despair".
I'm sorry for my overreaction to his overreaction.
by the way, there is nothing in the world
wrong between me and robert.
never was.

but thanks to all of you who expressed your support.
it is uplifting to know so many people care.
now...back to life.

Friday, January 2, 2009

the three truths

before diving into the future
I'm been forced to confront the past.
I feel as though a knife is stuck in my back
and I have to remove it.

a blogger has accused me of being "unethical".
some people are trying to paint me
for the "break up" of King Crimson.
in either case, nothing could be farther from the truth.

in the first place:
I am honorable and ethical.
anyone who has ever worked with me knows that.
what happened concerning a few dates krimson
were supposed to play on the west coast in May
was nothing more or less than a small misunderstanding.

concerning our schedule for 2009,
I remember robert saying he would call in a month or two.
I don't remember anyone saying
"don't book anything in May".
I did not know we were supposed to hold May open.
in fact, our schedule in May was open and it still is open.

secondly, who says king crimson is over?
I believe krimson lives on whether we play
5 more shows on the west coast
or 155 more shows around the world
or we never play again.

I will not allow anyone to shit on
27 years of creative effort and difficult labor
by trying to be divisive at this late date.
I'm proud of our collaborative work
and you cannot take that from me.

and finally:
it is not true, it is not fair, and it will not stand.

only robert fripp can "break up" king crimson
and if he chooses to do so, that's his business.

the internet reminds me of venice, italy.
something new at every turn.
full of surprising twists.
informative, thought-provoking.
and mostly a lot of fun.

but it also has an insidious side.
a realm of half-truths, innuendo, and dark thoughts.
where inaccuracy and passive aggressiveness hold court.
where faceless people can make up anything they want
and there is little their victims can do about it.

even if you jump into this ugly stew and try to fight back,
somehow the whole truth still never quite emerges.
I think it's because of the limited scope of a blog.
to paint a real picture, to tell a complete, vivid,
and true story still may rely on the depth of a book.

it has been said there are three truths:
there is your truth,
there is my truth,
and then there is the truth.

rather than address fabrications,
and mindless partiality on my blog,
I have decided at last to write a book:
My Memoirs of King Crimson (so far)

I'm excited about expressing my truth.
and I have a lot to say.

Happy New Year Everyone!

the audacity of hope is in the air.
2008 was a great year for us,
hopefully 2009 will be as well.
I'm excited about new music to be made.
more travels, more fabulous performances.
I'm happier than ever
and I want to thank all of you
for being a part of our lives.