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...