Thursday, December 23, 2010

to those of you

who wished me a "happy birthday"
thank you very much.
and to those of you who didn't mention it...
thanks even more.

happy holidays!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

hey there! remember me?

just back from our Great Bread and Cheese Tour of Europe 2010.
wow! great fun great shows great audiences
great food drinks and conversation and I even lost 7 pounds.
thanks to all of you who came along to witness
the sweat and happiness.

and thanks to our team:
julie, marco, john sinks,
tobias ralph, and our driver/merch man felix brinkschulte
(affectionately known as felix christ
due to his resemblance to a certain Christmas figure)

so many new memories and terrific performances.

also thanks to Thomas Olsson and everyone at IB Expo 2010
for making our last week in sweden and the final show
including Isildurs Bane, Midaircondo, Christian Saggese,
Luca Calabrese, and Michala Ostergaard-Neilsen
such a sensational finale.
all wonderful people and excellent players
combining for a 3.5 hour musical extravaganza that was stunning.
imagine all 12 of us playing e and thela hun ginjeet! yow!

and you should have heard "drive"
played by yours truly and midaircondo.

meanwhile during my six-week absence daniel rowland
worked overtime to rebuild StudioBelew
into a state-of-the-art desktop studio
replete with new computer, software, metric halo, etc.

so what's next?
brand new music to be recorded! what else?
can't wait to throw down all these burning ideas
that have been rolling round my brain since way back
in the "painting with guitar" tour days.
this will be my first chance to realize them.

and of course I will always have my eyes, ears, and fingers
working tirelessly towards the big date: feb. 27th, 2011
the world debut of the orchestral e.

a lot to be thankful for this Christmas.
happy hollandaise everyone!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

planes are HAPPIEST when they're flying!

for many years and many many hours of plane flights
I suffered through the very real malady called "fear of flying".
(as evidenced in such lyrics as "fly" and "I'd rather be right here")
it's a horrific mixture; part claustrophobia, part panic attack,
which is equally as terrifying as it is illogical.

it used to be as the plane would start down the runway
my hands would immediately began dripping sweat.
in a minute they'd be drenched in sweat.
each little movement or sound the plane might make
would provoke an uncontrolable panic.
I had to take a beta blocker medicine called Xanax.
I hated the effect of Xanax.
it would make me so stupid sometimes I forgot my bags.
once I was so zonked out I missed a connecting flight.
this lasted for maybe 15 years.

finally in 2002 krimson did a tour of Europe
during which I was unable to be medicated so
I overcame my fear and stopped the medicine
cold turkey.
I have been mostly fine ever since.

so on a recent flight when I was perusing the in-flight magazine
(called Velocity) I was keenly interested to read an article
concerning "what to do about fear of flying".
turns out the article's best and only piece of advice was
to "breath deeply" and the article even explained in depth
how to breath deeply as though anyone old enough
to read might not know how to breath deeply.

but my favorite tidbit of advice the article gave was this:
"remember, planes are HAPPIEST when they are flying!

that gives me such comfort.


Hanover, Germany happens to be Marco's hometown
so when we played there at the Jazz Club recently
many of Marco's old friends were there.
his parents were there as well.
I have announced drummers all my life.
"Bill Bruford on drums!" "Chris Arduser on drums!"
and so on.
but it was in Hanover of all places my mouth
finally ran ahead of my brain when it came time
to announce .our drummer I blurted out,
"Marco Minnemann on drugs!!!"

stupid tongue.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

lost in translation?

after our show in Den Bosch, Netherlands
(our second show with Marco and it's already cooking, thank you)
two gentlemen approaching me for an autograph began in this way:
"Adrian, you are getting OLD"!!!
"we have seen you so many times now."
they went on to tell me each venue I had played
and with which band, but I had stopped listening at the word "old".

I figure I'm on my second life.
having met literally many thousands of people
while playing concerts around the world in cities multiple times
and having traveled perhaps a million miles doing so
in cars, vans, trains, boats, and planes
I figure I'm already done with my first life and have seen more
than most people ever will in one life,
so now I'm on to my second life.

and yes, it's true in my first life I am probably "old"
and maybe tired and jaded and should have retired long ago.
but in my second life I figure I'm about 23 years old by now,
full of spunk, and raring to go!

the next gentleman who approached me seemed also to be struggling
with the concept of complimenting someone you admire.
I do believe he admired me but he began by saying,
"so, Adrian, you are not the greatest guitarist",
uh huh,
"and you are not the greatest singer",
please, do go on,
"but you have such an ENERGY!"

they ADORE me over here!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

post-it's from abroad

Newcastle, a city I'd never been to turns out to be
some kind of architectural wonder.
a maze of winding streets and alley ways surrounded
by huge old brick industrial behemoth buildings
sandwiched between modern glass structures
and a couple of amazing bridges which
were the first of their kind anywhere in the world.
a surprisingly good city for walking around.

sid smith was at our first- ever UK show in Newcastle.
he interviewed me after the show.
sid's a lovely man and the only fan/friend who will be
able to claim seeing both the first and last shows.
sid's coming to our final show in Sweden.

our first show in London was a smashing success.
a great happy audience in a packed dark rock club
with a power trio absolutely on fire!!!

Tobias played perfectly through his two-show tour.
he is a fabulous drummer and a super-sweet guy.
Julie, John, and I loved working with him.
I highly recommend Tobias for anyone needing
a drummer who can play anything he wants.
thank you so much Tobias.

speaking of a drummer who can play anything he wants:
for our night off in London we had Bill Bruford for dinner.
he was very tasty, as always.
Bill regaled us with his stories, his wit and charm.
his take on the business of making music is as thought-
provoking as ever, and we had loads of laughs.
Bill is on the short list of my all-time favorite friends.

Amsterdam remains my euro-city of choice,
which is where we are at the moment, about 20 minutes
outside Amsterdam on the day of show in nearby

last night I took a bus down to Leidesplein, the exact same
area I spent a week in recently and there I met Tom Trapp
in the exact same Italian restaurant we last ate in (Peppino's)
and we had a fablous meal
and walked over to my favorite hangout Bilblos
and met with our favorite barmaid Celine.
Tom and Celine and me, just like old times. it was great.
then John Sinks and Julie joined us (they had been walking
through other parts of the city) and everything was perfect.

just met up with Marco in the lobby checking in just in time.
in two hours we will be doin our sound check.
with one whole month of shows left
the Adrian Belew Power Trio v.3 is officially back!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

41 days and nights....

here we go again!
all across Europe on the longest tour any of
the power trios have done yet.
having witnessed and participated in the creation
of this tour and knowing the incredible amount
of work it takes to make such a thing happen
I can only say this:
you never know how long it may be before we can do this again.

last week Julie and Tobias arrived for two days
of rehearsal officially crowning the birth of ABPTv.4
Tobias turns out to be a sweet guy and a fabulous drummer
who came well-prepared and enthusiastic.
he will be the perfect addition for our two shows in the U.K.
we even learned another crimson song we've never done:

the tour includes 4 clinics as well
so if you've ever wondered how this wacky stuff happens,
here is your chance to ask and learn.

needless to say we're very excited.
there will be many new places for us to conquer,
many new faces to see, and foods to devour.
here we come!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Dream Come True, part 1

You are cordially invited to attend an evening with
Adrian Belew and the 52-piece Metropole Orchestra
performing the world debut of the orchestral version of


This enchanting event happens on February 27, 2011
at The Paradiso in Amsterdam, Holland and will be
recorded and filmed live for those who cannot attend.

Mr. Belew wishes to express his deepest gratitude
to the VPRO Broadcasting Company, Gert-Jan Blom,
arranger Tom Trapp, conducter Jules Buckley,
and the world renown Metropole Orchestra
for making a life-long dream come true.

A Dream Come True, part 2

ever since the ripe-old age of 10,
at which point I began pestering my parents
to allow me to join the junior high school band,
somewhere in the murky back corridors of my mind
was the dream that someday I might be part of an orchestra.

several years before The Beatles and the so-called
British Invasion completely altered the course of my life
my hero figure was the band director of the
The Ludlow Junior High School Band in Ludlow, Kentucky.
my intent was to grow up to be him, the band director,
someone who understood each instrument, could teach others
how to play the myriad of instruments in an orchestra
and how to read the vast rich heritage of written music
left to all of us by the great and small composers of history.
someone who could lead the entire band in concert.
that was my vague thought of what manhood might bring.

all of that changed when two things happened:
1) my parents moved to a different town where I was no longer
able to hang out with the intimately bonded bandmates I loved,
in particular my best friend and french horn player Kenny Nevels,
and no longer to have that camaraderie as my essential self-image
and 2) The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show, an event which
seems to have ruined, er, changed the lives of many musical youth.
I joined my first teen band The Denems which became the new
focus of my world and off we went "plummeting to stardom".

still, the orchestral dream never really went away.

many years later I was still eking out a living in the Holiday Inn
circuit where my nights were spent drumming in the lounge
entertaining the business travelers, and my days were
spent honing my songwriting skills, seeing movies,
reading books, and listening to records.

a day I remember well was the day I took a ride
alone in my van through a lovely wooded park.
the park was the Johnny Appleseed National Park
in Leominster, Massachusetts.
we were playing at the Leominster Holiday Inn
five hours a night, six days a week, for one entire month.
I often took long rides in the daytime; Leominster is a beautiful area
and has many parks and forests.

so, I was riding along admiring the scenery when I began
to daydream a piece of music being played by an orchestra.
the daydream lasted for several engrossing minutes.
I could clearly hear the piece of music as though it were a
recording, the orchestra sounded fierce and dynamic.
the strange thing was I pictured myself at the front
of the orchestra playing electric guitar!

an orchestra with an electric guitarist as guest is perhaps
commonplace these days with Metallica, Jeff Beck, et al
but at that time it was unheard of, at least to my knowledge.
it made my daydream was so powerful I've never forgotten
the affect it had on me, more than 30 years later.
(I only wish I could remember the piece of music).

fast forward to now and you can imagine my surprise
and excitement when out of the blue one day I received a call
from a dutch man named Gert-Jan Blom (pronounced
something like Kurt Yawn) who said he was in charge of
the programs presented each year by a European orchestra.
he went on to say he had read a sentence in one of my
interviews in which I said my latest record e
was written with an orchestra in mind and that his orchestra,
the Metropole Orchestra in Amsterdam Holland would
actually like to do the piece as part of their 2011 season!
Gert-Jan said in Holland this type of event is often
paid for partly by the dutch government and partly
by an interested broadcasting company.

you could have knocked me over with a bulldozer.

A Dream Come True, part 3

and so it was after months of continued phone calls
and a rash of e-mails and arrangements being made
that I found myself on a flight to Amsterdam where
I would spend a week finalizing details for the upcoming
debut, meeting with key people involved, seeing the incredible
rehearsal space and recording studio the orchestra utilizes
and the venue where the concert will be held,
and most importantly working on the arranging
and writing of the all-important score.

the first person to greet me was Gert-Jan.
over the week I spent a lot of time talking with Gert-Jan
and learned he is himself a bassist and record producer,
has a huge understanding of various music forms, and
is a krimson enthusiast who reads mine and robert's blogs.
in fact, he seemed to know everything about my career.

after landing at 8:30 in the morning, jet-lagged and all,
I was excited to get to work with the next person I met:
the man who would orchestrate the parts for every player
in the orchestra and who would write a proper score.

Tom Trapp, a young transplanted new yorker has lived
and worked in Amsterdam now for four years.
he and I spent the most time together.
Tom is a quiet, even-natured guy. talented. hard-working.
I liked him immediately and we became fast friends.
Tom's knowledge of each instrument and what they
can sound like together is exactly what I had dreamed
of knowing when I was a kid in the school band.
many orchestral instruments have a slew of ways
they can be played and different sounds they make accordingly.
Tom taught me many things as the week passed.
we worked 6, 7 hours a day at Tom's apartment studio,
only taking a break from the work on saturday.

after a full days work on monday and tuesday we had
found our method of working together and had the score
written for all 3 sections of a, the first movement of the piece.
Tom writes out everything in pencil very exactingly,
sharpening his pencil about every 45 seconds, and takes
many notes, but the actual physical writing occurs after I'm gone.
it will take Tom weeks to complete the score which also
has to be put into a computer software program
which spits out perfect copies for the each player.

on wednesday morning bright and early Gert-Jan, Tom,
and I drove 45 minutes outside the city to the nerve center
of Holland's broadcasting world, a place called Hilversum.
called "media city", Hilversum houses all the radio
and television broadcasting reaching 17 million dutch people.
it's a gorgeous area surrounded by meadows, lakes, forestry,
a large bird sanctuary, and some of the most beautiful homes
and gardens in all of the Netherlands.

our first stop was VPRO Broadcasting, the company who is
sponsoring the concert and as we'll see, much more.
the VPRO building itself is an architectural marvel,
people come from all over the world to study it.
amazingly it is one large space, a fact that's difficult
to imagine once you're inside.

our morning was spent with the VPRO team responsible
for our event: Gerard Walhof, Pieter van Hoogdalem,
and Aad van Nieuwkerk.
immediately they surprised me with an ambitious proposal.
more than just the world debut concert, their agenda includes
a month-long series of 2-hour radio programs, supported by some
tv and print media, a separate one-man Painting With Guitar
concert to be performed a week after the debut, and a making-of
behind the scenes video of the rehearsals, recording, etc.

the result they want to achieve is to make the month
of March Adrian Belew Month! a career retrospective!
of course this blew my mind, I've never had this sort
concerted attention paid to my music.
we even came up with a catch phrase to call the series:
Painting Holland Belew.

there are many details to work out but Gert-Jan, Tom,
and I left the meeting elated.

A Dream Come True, part 4

our next stop was the giant facility which houses Amsterdam's
four orchestras including various large spaces for rehearsing
and a very nice state of the art recording studio.
we stayed long enough to hear the symphonic orchestra
rehearsing an operatic piece and snap some pictures of me
in the hall the Metropole Orchestra uses, a place I will be
very familiar with by the end of next February.

a nice lunch and back to Tom's studio to continue scoring.

it is mentally exhausting work to think about every note,
every passage of a 43-minute piece of music, deciding
who plays what and then writing it into score form.
I don't know how Tom does it but I found it fascinating.
at the end of most days, a short break back at the hotel was
usually followed by dinner with Tom.
lots of conversation, stories, laughs, maybe a walk
around the canals lined with houses and cafes,
and certainly a stop for a well-earned beer or three.

the first night we found a cozy little bar with cool music
and two delightful bartenders, Celine and Paul
who spoke perfect english (most dutch people do)
and indulged my stories about my "musical odyssey".
the bar is called Biblos; I highly recommend it.
Biblos became our nightly hang.

on wednesday Aad from VPRO came to Tom's studio
to film us working together as part of the "making-of video".
Aad seemed pleased with the results. he was very upbeat.
in fact, everyone I met in Amsterdam was friendly and nice.

by day 4 we were in full gear, turning out a movement a day.
I was happy with the work, pleased with my surroundings,
the weather was beautiful as I trounced all over the place,
and I looked forward to our talkative evenings.
but we only had 3 days left.

friday: work work work, and the question became whether or not
we'd actually finish in time or have to somehow complete
the remaining parts via transatlantic phone lines. yikes!
Gert-Jan took Tom and me to a delicious Indonesian dinner.
Tom and I attended a friend's bachelor party held at a Karaoke bar.
no naked women, just some very frightening Karaoke.
then off to another pleasant evening at Biblos.

saturday was my day to play tourist.
Tom had other things he needed to attend to
and Gert-Jan graciously agreed to be my tour guide.
one of my best memories of the week was an hour-long
ride around the canals in one of the tour boats.
Amsterdam is beautiful at this time of the year.
we spent the afternoon sitting at outdoor cafes chatting about
all things musical, with Gert-Jan asking a thousand and one
questions about particular moments of my musical life.
I really enjoyed it and we got to be good friends.

then it was time to visit the venue where the concert
will be held, a very famous venue called The Paradiso.
it's actually an old church converted to a performance hall.
the acoustics are great. there are two balconies.
krimson played The Paradiso in the 80's.

after a nice Indian dinner we called it an early evening.
back at the hotel I suddenly realized how very tired I was.

sunday was another strong work day.
Gert-Jan stopped in to say goodbye
then suddenly it dawned on us: we had finished e,
we were done!
I had a 5:30 a.m. leave time to catch my flight home
but Tom and I still managed a fine Italian meal
and one final visit to Biblos. goodbye Celine and Paul!
I was sad to leave, but happy to be going home.
all in all it had been a perfect week.

and finally...

two historic things, 1) I've now written the world's longest blog
about a single subject and 2) I may be completing one
of my last 3 dreams I have yet to achieve.
(I'm not telling what the other two are, afraid of jinxing them).
having had such a long and fortunate career, filled with memories,
I have often said it feels like I've lived two lives in just this one.

it may be that I'm making way too much of this
and the event will come and go without much notice.
or it may be the beginning of a whole new chapter.
my worst fear is that I'll screw up my own concert debut!
it IS very scary for a self-taught musician to mingle
with well trained orchestral players and to be conducted,
not knowing how to decipher little dots on paper,
but as someone said, I DID write the damn thing!
whatever happens, it is something I will never forget.

last night I ate in a chinese restaurant
and was mildly amused to read my fortune:

"a great honor will be bestowed upon you with the coming year".

it already has.

the pictures to prove it...

the top photo: hard at work with Tom in his studio.

second from top: the artful lobby of the marvelous
VPRO broadcasting facility.

third from the top: the handsome VPRO team.
left to right: Gerard Walhof, Gert-Jan Blom, AB, Tom Trapp,
Pieter van Hoogdalem, and Aad van Nieuwkerk.
not sure about the guy in the photo on the wall.

fourth from the top: the rehearsal facility for
the 52 members of the Metropole Orchestra.

bottom photo: an afternoon boating on the canal.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

postcard from holland...

Hello from Amsterdam!
one my very favorite cities in the world.

the beautiful canals, the flurry of boats,
and sea-bird sounds of a major port,
the ancient tree-lined cobblestone streets
stacked with gorgeous old houses and shops,
while on every corner another outdoor cafe
is filled with people in coffee-flavored conversations.
the parks, the trams, street musicians, artists,
the vibrant bright colored nightlife and the ever-flowing
schools of young people riding ecological bikes
(sheesh, this sounds like a bad travelogue)
but all of this combines to give this place
a constant halo of youth and excitement.
I adore Amsterdam!

I've been here for a whole week working everyday
on a project so special for me it can only be described as

A Dream Come True.

I fly home early tomorrow morning.
as soon as I return I'll tell you all about it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

another Parker Adrian Belew Signature Model in the works!

the Adrian Belew Dragonfly*.

for those of you who don't know much about Parker guitars
the Dragonfly is an updated model of the Parker Fly
which features a slightly more conventional body shape,
larger headstock, and different neck shape.

the new AB Dragonfly will be in a more affordable
price range for those of you who can't own
the Ferrari of electric guitars, the AB Parker Fly.
the Dragonfly has all the same features except the Line-6 Variax.
this means you still have a midi-capable guitar which uses
the standard 13-pin connector along with a Sustaniac pickup
in the neck position, a DeMarzio in the bridge position,
and a Piezo pickup for acoustic guitar sounds.

one big difference in the design: it will allow you
to play the guitar through the 1/4 inch plug output
(standard on every electric guitar)
and still have the Sustaniac and magnetic pickups,
therefore bypassing the guitar's midi capabilities.
great for when you just want to jam somewhere.

it's a gorgeous instrument weighing only 5 pounds.
as with the AB Fly I'll be choosing super quality high gloss
custom car finishes to make the Dragonfly dazzle on stage.

we have just begun the process of designing
and manufacturing the guitars so I'll let you know
a target availability date and other details
including the price as soon as I know.

of course I'm extremely excited to attach my name again
to what is certain to be a superb Parker electric guitar which
plays like butter, sounds fabulous, and stays perfectly in tune.
the Mercedes of electric guitars? maybe so.

*pictured above is a standard Parker Dragonfly.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

the perfect italian...

it's 8:05 Sunday morning, August 21, 2010.
having coffee at the dining room table leading onto the deck
only 5 feet away a carolina wren is singing loudly to attract
it's mate to the food I've scattered across the deck
(a daily ritual)
while 4 hummingbirds chase each other around
the ever-present feeder I have filled with nectar.
it's a scene played out through the open back door
where the freshly-painted-pale-yellow deck contrasts
beautifully against the background of lush green forestry.
it's idyllic and I'm made aware yet again how very very
fortunate I am and how far I've come from the days
of my youth eating White Castle fare with my mom and dad.

we were a fairly poor family but I was too dumb to notice.
my parents' idea of "dinner out" was a cheap burger joint.
we rarely ate out and in fact I never tasted a steak until
sometime in my early twenties when I lived on my own.
but there was a small local restaurant in Covington,
Kentucky where we occasionally dined; a place I will never forget.
it was called the Anchor Grill.

for me, an impressionable kid, the Anchor Grill was
an enchanted magical hideaway full of imagined exotic intrigue.
the red walls were covered in some sort of velour fabric
with several large sport fish hung on the walls:
a sail fin, a tuna, covered in netting in dynamic poses
while an early version of a disco ball made little round
wavy circles of light dance around the walls as if by magic.
in the small dark room there were comfy 4-person vinyl booths
each one with it's own 50's-style portable jukebox.
the little jukebox with the rounded glass front and rows
of letters and numbers was itself a thing of beauty.
I loved leafing through the selections, popping in my
mother's quarters, and playing the hits of the day.
when the 45 rpm record slowly extended out on metal arm
which then flipped it on it's side and then on to the turntable,
something magical DID happen.

in the corner of the room hung a glass enclosure about as big
as a large computer monitor but in a box shaped like a tiny stage.
a curtain opened up to reveal a bandstand with perhaps 12 little
figures, each with an instrument and positioned as if in a Big Band.
as the sound of "Beyond The Sea" would pour from the booth's
speakers the figures would sway back and forth like a living orchestra.
the effect was stunning to me and I never tired of it.
as I said, for me the Anchor Grill was an enchanted wonderland.
but in reality it was pretty much just a greasy spoon diner.

it's still there today.
I visited the Anchor Grill a few years back.
it's much the same as it was with obvious wear and tear.
I would have given a golden Parker Fly Signature Model
to haven taken that little bandstand home with me.
it's filled with dreamy pleasant memories.

anyone who knows me well knows my obsession with dining.
food is my favorite dish, or as I once said back in the days
of the Bears' constant touring: food is the best thing you can
have on the road that isn't illegal or immoral.

there was a family story that went like this:
evidently my mother breast fed me for two weeks
after I was born before the doctor realized
her breast milk was not nourishing me.
he said I was literally starving to death!
perhaps that explains my feeding obsession.
I'm sure of one thing: if I don't get a decent meal at least
once a day I become a real cranky monster.

and so it is my favorite thing while touring
(other than playing the show)
is to seek out a fine dining experience.
I like all types of food but I'm not an adventurous eater.
I tend to stay with things I know I like, but gradually over
so many meals in so many restaurants around the world
out of necessity I've developed a more varied palette.

the safest choice for me is probably Italian food,
where I can always find something to love if it's good.
apart from a very few great authentic Italian restaurants
established and run by real Italian families here in the U.S.
I think most Americans have no idea what real Italian tastes like.
I've always believed you had to eat in Italy to experience
the real flavor and passion of Italian food.
so much of it seems to be about the freshness of the ingredients,
perhaps even something to do with Mediterranean sun and soil,
and the manner and the setting in which the food is served.

so I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself alone
on a sunday afternoon before our second show in Buenos Aires
in what I considered the perfect Italian restaurant
eating the perfect Italian meal.

a large open room is filled with tables with white table clothes
sitting in skewered positions from being quickly shuffled around,
each armed with the prerequisite tall wine glasses, vinegar and
olive oil, silverware, pepper mills, and soon enough, fresh bread
while waiters in white shirts and black vests scurry everywhere
shouting things and balancing silver trays of deliciousness.
as as bonus attraction there are large-pane windows overlooking
the nearby river and the room is full of warm sunlight,
over-powering smells, and patrons in their best sunday clothes:
families with children and grandparents, couples with furs and suits,
older men nursing espresso and cigars, and: me.
for some reason I don't really mind eating alone in a nice restaurant,
I've gotten used to it after all these years.

I order a coke with lots of ice (what else) and a glass of the house
white wine, always as delicious as any choice I'd make on my own,
in this case a perfectly light pinot grigio-tasting white.
my first waiter speaks no english so getting him to understand
"butter" goes so so but he brings over a chubby friendly waiter
who does speak english and seems happy to see me.
after some chit chat about the menu he warns me not
to order too much because the portions are family style (large)
so I settle on (what else) a great-sounding pasta.

a few minutes pass as I enjoy one of my favorite things:
italian bread with butter and a glass of white wine.
I could gladly make it my entire meal but soon enough
my entree arrives with a slight fanfare, served from a platter
table side, looking gorgeous and it is delicious!
though I can't stop myself from gorging on the pasta,
it is so amazingly flavorful,
after digesting for a few more enjoyable minutes I do
something rare for me: I decide to order desert:
vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and a cappuccino.

the ice cream arrives looking like two chocolate turtles in love
because each scoop has been covered in a shell-like glaze
of bittersweet chocolate. mmmm.
and the cappuccino is frothy and excellent.

so now I'm thoroughly satisfied and beaming with joy
as I ask for my check and my friendly waiter scurries off.
the true proof of a great Italian restaurant comes next
when unexpectedly he returns with a vase-like vial
of lemoncello and pours me a shot into a frosted shot glass.
to quote the old man on Pawn Stars: that's class.

it's a million miles traveled since the Anchor Grill.


if my life was a newspaper, that would be the headline.
I am elated to say we sold out all 4 shows
in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay,
something the trio now refers to as "the perfect tour".

and boy am I surprised!
after all the work, the planning, the booking of flights
and hotels, the renting of gear, and the flood of emails,
in the end you never really know what to expect.
it could easily be a bust and you could come home flat.
I had no idea we would be met with so much passion!
I'm not so much "bragging" as I am relieved to know
my small "organization" (in this case martha, me,
julie, marco, john sinks, and two promoters*)
can produce such results and to know there is such
an audience for what is admittedly strange music.

the audiences were ecstatic, well-informed, and loud!!
in Santiago they began pounding the floor and cheering
madly before we ever stepped on stage and they never stopped.
I've rarely experienced such an outpouring of energy.
like some giant tsunami wave of love rolling over you.
one thousand people inside, another three hundred
outside who couldn't get tickets.
(don't worry, we'll be back!)

in Beunos Aires we played a beautiful new club Samsung Studio
with one of the best sounding stages we've ever had,
(no wonder ABPTv.3 just gets better and better with each show;
it's scary I tell you)
two nights in a row with rapt crowds, the perfect italian meal,
and a successful guitar clinic sandwiched in between.

in Montevideo Uruguay, a country I've never played before
the fans seemed to know every song in yet another
fabulous rock club sold out, 600 strong.

in fact, everywhere we went people treated us royally.
touring can be many things: arduous even dreadful,
but at best it can be something inexplicable, transcending.
in this case there are too many highlights to recount.

some personal moments I'll not forget:
meeting the very young fans who waited outside each night
(a surprising sign of hope for the future)
the reviews of the show which included this gem:
"adrian's guitar sounded at times like kittens
being tortured by pigs who had a bad childhood"
(I'll take that as a compliment)
leaving the beautiful hotel suites given to each of us
overlooking the Uruguay beachfront to take
a lovely 3-hour ferry ride from Uruguay back to Argentina
which included a much-needed puppy-like nap in the sun,
and the 3 a.m. late night hang-outs with the promoters
and friends in hip hideaway clubs where we toasted
and claimed this to be " the perfect end to the perfect tour".

it really doesn't get any better.

* a special thanks to Guillermo Italiano and Santiago Mocorrea.

Friday, July 30, 2010

it's a dangerous place...

when marco minnemann boarded his united airlines
flight from tokyo back home to san diego I'm sure he thought
it would be another routine boring 12-plus-hours spent
shifting uncomfortably back and forth in his seat.
or maybe he wondered if he'd be sitting next to some
beautiful babe or a BO smelly rabi (as I once was).
marco is a savvy world traveler used to such things.

I bet he never imagined what would really happen:
that 10 minutes after take-off out over the pacific ocean
the pilot would suddenly announce that one of the plane's
engines was on fire!! and that the flight was now officially in
emergency landing mode; but that is what happened.
fortunately they made it back and landed safely.

which brings home a very serious thought I often have:
our job as international performers is a dangerous one.

good to have you back on earth, marco.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

my favorite band in the world...

The Parrots!
every time I go to Tokyo I look forward to my favorite evening out:
a night with The Parrots at the Abbey Road club in Roppongi.
it always proves to be the most fun ever.

the Parrots transport me back in time to the simpler fun-filled days
of my youth when The Beatles music filled my every waking moment
and the world itself seem to be on some kind of magical mystery trip.

I doubt the mighty Beatles could sound as good as the Parrots
who easily capture the spirit of the times, the joy of the music
and put a mile-wide smile across my face while I gleefully
sing along with every word, every harmony, play along with
the ringo fills, the fab guitar licks, and masterful orchestrations.
you can't imagine the joy it brings me.

I visited with the Parrots in their cramped backstage area
and as usual they asked me to join the band onstage.
they showed me their set list of 200 beatle songs!
(all of which they play to perfection)
and we picked out two songs for me to sing:
one from paul: all my lovin'
and one from john: nowhere man.

it was a indeed a splendid time for all!
thank you Parrots.
you're my favorite band in the world.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

hello tokyo!

today I am packing, tomorrow I am flying to japan.
this will be my 15th visit to japan. I love it there.
I'm bringing a power trio which is, well, very powerful!
I'm so excited about this version and can't wait
to hear the evolution of this line-up over 4 shows
4 nights in a row at the same venue.
last time we thoroughly enjoyed the Blue Note.
what a fabulous place to play.
I'm hoping all the fans show up for this one.
these shows should not be missed.

today I have also done a half dozen interviews for
the upcoming shows in argentina, chile, and uraguay.
it's not often I can play in south america,
a rare opportunity for us and the audience
and I can feel the excitement building.
I think we'll be on fire by then!

Friday, July 16, 2010

this lets me off the hook!

that was robert's joking reply to this posting
from bill on the bruford website:

"on the re-union thing, and asking would I do an 80’s KC?
Not if I can help it!
It’s precisely because I loved the 80s band so much
that I would be highly unlikely to try to recreate
the same thing, a mission I fear destined to failure.
My experience of reunions, has, on the whole, been underwhelming."

I certainly cannot disagree with bill's reasoning..

robert went on to say in this morning's email
he has so much important stuff to do right now that
"rather than saying no, I can't say yes".
on a positive note he indicated he would rather spend his energies
toward new krimson music, although not in the near future.

so there we have it.
there will be no 80's krimson.
but there may be new krimson someday.
I can live with that.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Even the acronym sounds rhythmical.
The third version of the power trio began with a huge bang
Saturday on the main stage of the Vancouver Island Musicfest
When our set caused a sensation that was by all accounts
The talk of the entire festival.
Fittingly the set ended when we blew out the power!

Marco Minnemann is a phenomenal drummer.
I cannot imagine doing what he can do with four limbs.
When he takes a drum solo Julie and I can hardly
Stop laughing at how ridiculous it is!
Marco could easily be in Krimson,
Which is my highest drummer compliment.

Sunday was spent playing two more shows jamming with
Various great players from different styles and backgrounds.
The result was fabulous, at one point reminding me of
the Talking Heads extended band, only with 12 musicians
Jamming on Thela Hun Ginjeet. Wow!

The trio was so excited we even jammed late night with a
Great local band in a nearby pub.
We played Writing On The Wall, Three Of A Perfect Pair,
and Purple Haze.

Next stop: Planet Japan.

Ps: I want to thank Doug Cox and his crew for making our stay
A marvelous one. Vancouver Island is gorgeous, the weather was
Perfect, and everyone treated us like royalty.
We hope to be back next year.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

a crimson exclamation point

to all of you who posted your thoughts about my hope
that the 80's crim might chose to play together again
I would like to say thanks, yes, even to the person
who called me an asshole!* everybody has one and I'll
admit I can act like one now and then.

my thought was a simple one: I felt and still feel
a nostalgic longing to make that music again
the same way it was made to begin with,
i.e. with the same people who created it.

yes, of course I knew it was very likely NOT to happen.
and since robert has not yet called I feel pretty
certain it's not on his agenda. I respect robert's
thought and wishes. some people have intimated robert
might prefer to start a new krimson without me. to be
candid, that would hurt, but he has the right to do so.
I support robert in whatever he needs.

yes, bill has retired from public performances.
I understand his motives more than most people
ever will. there are many times, usually brought on
by the actions of others, when I could easily see
myself doing the same thing.
I suppose it was presumptuous of me to think he
might change his mind, but I know in bill's heart
he has to be proud of his work in krimson.
I figured maybe if robert, tony, and I agreed to
do it again, he might have a change of heart.
and finally, words like heart and love are what
prompted my desire in the first place.
not money as some have suggested.

I am a very busy and gratified man.
I am not desperate to work with anyone,
nor do I need money enough to ever compromise myself.
as I've said before, money has little power over me.

so...will the mighty crim rise again?
likely not any time soon, and probably never
in the 1981 guise. I accept that as fact.
so please allow me to gracefully back away from my
comments and allow robert (and bill and tony) their
rights as well. I am an artist and as such I have
moments of fantasy and sometimes I dream.
I meant no harm.
thanks again for all your comments.

back to life: today I have a very involved set of
plane frights to vancouver island, including an
overnight layover from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. in the
vancouver airport before making two more short
flights to the island itself!
then I rehearse with a new version of the power trio.
wish us luck.

*my desire to play with robert, bill, and tony
is not an exclusion of pat, trey, and gavin.
I loved working with all of the crimettes
and have a healthy respect for each of them.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"I'm a travelin' man...

made a lot of stops, all over the world..."

when as a kid I watched Ricky Nelson sings those words
on the Ozzie and Harriet Show I never imagined one day
I'd be receiving my fourth US passport, the previous three
being so stuffed as to require extra added pages.

and Martha has just informed me I'll be racking up more
frequent flier miles than expected between now and the end
of august since we've just added power trio shows
in Japan, Chile, Argentina, and Uraguay
to the festival in Vancouver island
and my planned visit to Amsterdam in late august
(more on this in an upcoming announcement).

all of which is exciting news and demonstrates how
in the small corner of the music business I occupy some things
can be planned far in advance, but many cannot.
a good example is the new dates just added in Japan.
we've been working on having the trio return to Japan
for more than a year and a half and just now
with only 5 weeks notice we've been booked there.
still, it's all good, and the future continues to shine on.

meanwhile I'm busy loading up my iPad with eBooks
for the long journeys ahead.

just when I thought I knew everything...

about the beatles, a new book of revelations comes along
which renders the fab four mythical creatures into all-too
human beings rife with foibles, faults, and pettiness just like
the rest of us and rips back the curtain of fabulous fame
to reveal the sad truth as Allen Ginsberg once said it to be,
"fame is a curse with no redeeming features".
after all, there could be no worse denouement of fame
than the horrible death of john lennon, killed by a fan.

the book, which I've just finished reading, is called
you never give your money
written by Peter Doggett.
it centers on the dissolution of the beatles, the reasons
for their eventual demise, what happened after their breakup,
and the toll it took on their personal lives.
throughout my teens and into my twenties I dreamed
of how great it would be to be a beatle,
but the "dream" for the four lads themselves
was more like a nightmare.

which only serves to strengthen the feelings I've had for many years now:
I may not be a "household word" but I'm as famous as I ever want to be.

it's a fabulous read. I recommend it to all beatle buffs.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

look out east coast, here I come!

preparing for the two-day drive to the east coast to begin
the second leg of my painting with guitar one-man shows.
I have a few new wrinkles to add to the show this time round
and a brand new silver "production model" signature fly!
it's my first "production model", it's perfectly awesome,
and the best guitar I have ever owned.
my fingers happily fly up and down the neck of this beauty.

daniel will be onboard for a second time and I'm looking
forward to having julie open the last two shows.
with a new power trio live DVD to sign after the shows
and a special pair of silver shoes made by my daughter audie
the only thing left to decide is: conductor's hat or shiny pate?

one thing I enjoy in the show which seems inappropriate
for the rock concerts with the power trio or king crimson
is the question and answer interplay with the audiences.

the question which is most often posed is:
what is happening with king crimson?
so I'll attempt here to answer that question.

a few weeks back I wrote an email to my pal robert
asking him to call me to talk about something of
"heartfelt importance".
he called and we began a conversation about the miserable
plight of the working musician who often is not paid for his
or her contributions to the world of music.
robert said he now spends most of his professional life
chasing down money owed to him or king crimson.
for example, neither robert nor I have been paid
one single penny for our work on the construkction of light,
made how many years ago??
not a single penny.

imagine in your job if this were the case.

then we got on to the "heartfelt importance" part.
I reminded robert that next year 2011 would mark the 30-year
anniversary of what was once called
"the best live band in the world",
the 1981 krimson quartet with robert, bill, tony, and myself.
I said I'd like us to put that band back on the road next year.
I said it would be a shame for the young people who missed it
never to have that experience, especially considering the mostly
lame-ass crap that has passed for "great music" in their lives.
I said I would do everything in my power to make the touring
as pleasant as possible and believe we could hand-pick
what we were willing to do, i.e. how many dates, where, etc.
I offered my home and studio for as much rehearsal as needed.

I said "don't say no yet, think about it, then call back and say no".

there are serious issues of course, such as bill's recent
retirement from live music, but I feel a "heartfelt" urge
to let the world see and hear that band one more time.
robert is considering the matter now which is where we left it
and I hope this entry does not put extra pressure on him.
he has every right to decline, as do bill and tony.
I'm just hoping it might happen.

king crimson has always been one pillar of my career,
the other pillar being whatever solo efforts I can make.
for the last 4 years I've poured my heart and soul
into the power trio with eric and julie slick.
with an incredible amount of work put forth
by a small group of people, mostly my wife martha
we have managed to play around the world
and been successful beyond what I imagined would happen.

but the sad fact is I cannot keep the power trio working
year round so eric has found work in another band
which is keeping him so busy he is not available
for the rest of this year and who knows when next year.
(all the more reason to buy our new DVD:
a crass commercial plug, I realize).

to be honest the loss of eric and possible end of the slick trio
has truly sickened me and caused a paralysing deep funk
over the last few months which I have struggled to overcome.
my salvation has been the music I continue to make.

but I'm truly excited about my future hopes for the one-man shows,
anxious to experience a different power trio with the eight-armed
wonder drummer marco minnemann and julie and myself,
hopeful of an amazing reunion with my pals robert, bill, and tony,
and hoping maybe the slick power trio can reappear
next year if eric's schedule ever takes a breath.

isn't life exciting?
see you at the shows!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

this afternoon I'm flying to salt lake city...

early tomorrow morning I'm doing a seminar
for the sales people at Musician's Friend,
the largest catalog music company in the U.S.
(owned by Guitar Center) in the hopes
of getting them all fired up about selling
what I consider to be the finest guitar in the world:
the Adrian Belew Signature Model Parker Fly.
on tuesday I'll be doing a similar thing in denver.

on another note:
happy birthday to two of the world's finest musicians,
and two of my favorite people on any planet:
robert fripp (may 16) and bill bruford (my 17).
cheers, boys!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

just to be clear...

my previous post thanking daniel rowland
was not meant as a means for dissing anyone else,
but as a sincere thanks for daniel's help.

I would not want anyone to infer from my comment
about unnecessary drama that the comment reflects on
the man daniel is temporarily replacing my dear friend
and long time supporter andre cholmondeley.
in fact it was andre's sharp idea to do a one-man show
and it was even his title I am using (painting with guitar).
andre knows more about my history and my music than
just about anyone I know and has always been there
for me, but right now he has good work which is more
steady and long-term than I can offer. it's totally honorable
that he should chose that work over what I have to offer
and I believe we'll work together again in the near future.

the term unnecessary drama refers to a lot of things
and a lot of people you encounter in my business.
on a day to day basis you occasionally meet with bad attitudes,
ugly comments, misunderstandings, and even immaturity.
as a professional musician for gulp, dare I say it,
45 years! it does get a little tiring to deal with,
and sometimes it de-rails my creativity for days on end,
but my comment was a general not specific one.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

a star is born!

saving the best for last
I want to send a huge thanks to daniel rowland
who not only assisted me throughout the tour
and made certain all the new hi-tech toys behaved
but was a pleasure to be around, an unflappable character
who never once chose unnecessary drama.
I do not appreciate unnecessary drama.

as mentioned daniel is an audio professor at MTSU
and at the Nashville Art Institute. he also teaches online.
for anyone wanting the kind of expert tutoring about
all things new in the world of audio, computer tech,
guitar, midi, etc. such as I've been receiving I recommend daniel's online school
where he teaches students from all over the world.

thanks daniel.


to all of you who were able to attend the recent
painting with guitar one-man shows.
I had a blast and the response was wonderful.
it's a very personalized type performance
and I'm getting evermore excited about how
to expand the idea into a true multi-media show.
I feel like I've just scratched the surface!

on another front, the power trio dates across europe
for october/november are coming together very well.
more excitement to savor.
I can't wait for the mighty trio to power up.

lastly, the biggest flood in 100 years just tore up
many parts of nashville including some of my favorite haunts.
just so you know, we're fine and nearly back to normal.
a large uprooted tree now sprawls across our garden
but the elevated topography of mount juliet saved us.
our heartfelt sympathies go out to others far less fortunate
who lost everything: homes, cars, businesses and even their lives.
as with any disaster it's hard to comprehend.

Monday, May 3, 2010

it was twenty years ago today...

actually it was 20 years ago the day before yesterday,
on may first nineteen-ninety,
a day that began the best years of my life.
as in the song may 1, 1990 my life was changed forever
by meeting one martha webb at the peabody hotel
in orlando, florida following our david bowie concert.

when I look back at our past 20 years
I"m utterly amazed at the journey we've made.
nearly everything turned out fine.

thanks to all of you who have been along for any part
of the ride and I hope you'll be along for the next 20 as well.
great things are going to happen.

Monday, April 12, 2010

about "painting with guitar"

sorry I have been a little blog lax of late.
it's because as the first date draws near,
I'm getting sooo excited about playing the one man show
painting with guitar
that I've been working day and night designing new sounds,
learning material, practicing, and writing new pieces.

the state-of-the-art downsized super rig is slowly, byte by byte
becoming a reality and I dare say my guitar has never
sounded so good, positively rife with new sonic wrinkles.

apart from several sections from e and the customary
version of drive I won't be playing much of anything
you've heard me do before with the trio or krimson.
I've chosen mostly songs from op zop too wah, a couple
of bears songs (one I've never played live), a few things
from side 1, and mixed them with brand new pieces,
places for some (hopefully) blazing guitar improvs
and a chance to field questions from the audience.
in place of the explosive energy of a rock concert I hope
to offer the quieter refinements of beautiful songs,
improvisation, conversation, a surprise or two, and
of course a rare chance to see a few of my paintings close up.

I've just learned the Fairfield, Ohio show is now sold out!
my advice: don't miss this one.

ps: the above photo is of the latest painting finished
just a few weeks back. in an effort to create more dimension
I bolted two canvases together with parts of the second
canvas showing through a large hole in the first one.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

the night before the day I joined king crimson...

here's a postcard from nikitas, a russian restaurant in london.
I was standing in the upstairs bar of nakitas in london
waiting along with the very large party of talking heads
and crew to be seated downstairs in the dining room
for a dinner party celebrating the beginning of our
european tour of 1980.

we had just arrived in london (my second time there), were a bit
jet-lagged, hungry, and very animated about our upcoming tour.
talking heads was a 10-piece band at that point and with crew,
management, hangers-on, etc. it was indeed a large party waiting
to be seated at a long banquet table. we mingled with other
customers in a sort of holding pin area so crowded we were
literally elbow to elbow.

russian waiters dangerously waded through the crowd passing out
free shots of flavored vodkas. dangerous because they were lit on fire!
(the shots, not the waiters) I remember smelling something odd.
I turned around to see the back of a woman I didn't know
whose hair had caught on fire from the flaming vodkas
and I remember hitting her hair to try and put her out!

finally by the time we were ushered into the banquet room
we were all so pathetically drunk a food fight broke out!
the last thing I remember is dodging caviar snowballs!

the next morning at 9:00 robert fripp (who I barely knew) called.
he began by saying he knew I was not one for "raving" and so
felt safe in calling so early. he was wrong. I had a blistering hangover.
mortified I had already let down one of my heroes I sheepishly
asked if he could call back later.

when he did, it was to ask me to join what would become
king crimson.

to read a more complete version of this tale, refer to the 3/28/07
blog titled anecdote #606.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

big ears a big success

back from the big ears festival.
first, thanks to ashley capps
and todd steed for having me there
and making me feel at home,
and thanks to daniel rowland
for making everything work smoothly.

I was so surprised by the reaction
from my audience.
most of the events seemed rather low-keyed
as one might expect from an arts event.
not mine.
my audience were loud and proud,
just the way I wanted them to be.
a fabulous turnout.

the new piece variations of wave pressure
lasted more than 10 minutes and seemed perfectly suited
to the spirit of the event. and I wore the band master hat!
sunday I improvised with like-minded loopers
at the ampient cafe which was lots of casual fun.
the Axe FX gurgled and droned appropriately.

all in all, a big success. I enjoyed big ears
and would be delighted to join in again next year.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

big I d-ears...

today I'm driving to knoxville to join in the Big Ears Festival.
on saturday I'll play my first one man show in what- six years?
I only perform at Big Ears for half an hour, so what to do?

for this show I will mostly improvise with loops over
some of the new musical ideas I've recently developed.
I have one 10 minute-plus new piece to play,
the one called variations of wave pressure.

but I have big I d-ears for future one man shows.
billed as painting with guitar the future shows will feature
a half-dozen or more of my paintings on display at each show.
I'll play songs connected to some of the paintings,
make loops to improvise over, take questions
from the audience and talk about...whatever.
I hope to include visual projections and have many
thoughts on what those visuals might be, but that's
an undertaking I've yet to take on. I'll need help
from some brilliant young computer dupe...I mean, genius.

so, the foreseeable two-prong future is a balance between
painting with guitar and power trio shows
(unless, of course robert makes the call for more mighty krim).
right now I'm still concentrating on downsizing my live gear
as well as the entire StudioBelew control room set up into
a state-of-the-art system to work with for years to come,
and writing/recording the next round of new material.

the adrian belew power trio will be back in action
all across europe this fall including dates in the U.K.!

meanwhile, see you at Big Ears on saturday.
I'll be easy to recognize, I'll be the man wearing a hat.
KONKED my head again for the second time in 3 years,
this time not on a dayton, ohio monitor cabinet
but on my vintage 1959 Ford Thunderbird. ouch!
I have a sizable KONK gash in a highly visible position
on my vast forehead, so it's time to don the bandmaster hat!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

happy birthday baby!

martha and I have two beautiful vibrant young girls.
I mentioned here some of the traits of our youngest leah.
today is the 13th birthday of our oldest daughter ava.

many of our friends remark how similar leah is to me,
kinda quirky, humorous, and naturally musical,
and how similar ava is to martha: very smart, gifted,
ambitious, and seriously beautiful. ava has already
appeared in a couple of independent films as an actress
and has been awarded so many trophies, ribbons,
and certificates for her accomplishments
as dancer and gymnast to need a bigger room.
she has been taking piano lessons for 7 years.
I love hearing her play. she gets better and better.
in fact, it amazes me all the things she does so well.

to me ava is the most impressive young person I know.

the postcard pictured here is from pisa, italy, of course.
when king crimson played a show here on june 26, 1996
martha had just come that day to join me on tour for a week.
we hadn't seen each other for a couple of weeks at that time
so it's no wonder martha is nearly completely certain
that it was on this date and at this place ava was conceived.

ava has given us so much joy and happiness.
no doubt, my best planned accident.

planned accidents

here are two postcards from around the same period.
the top postcard shows the recording studio in lake geneva,
switzerland where david bowie made the record lodger,
the first studio record I was ever a part of.
the note on the back of the first postcard reads:

"in this conglomerate are 3 nightclubs, a casino, two
restaurants, the mountain recording studio, and the 800-
seat hall in which the montreux jazz festival is held.
this is where we recorded planned accidents. sept. 1978"

the second postcard shows the hotel we stayed in.
hotel excelsior. the back of the card reads:

"this was the hotel in switzerland where I stayed
during the recording of planned accidents. sept. 1978"

there's an interesting story behind the making of the record
which in september 1978 was intended to be called
planned accidents but was eventually named lodger.
if you'd like to read the whole tale please refer to the blog
of 7/31/07 called anecdote #28.

a brief version is this: the control room of the studio
was on the first floor, while the actual recording room
was above it on the second floor.
there was a camera in the recording room which allowed
the producers (david, eno, and tony visconti) to see the players.
they could see me, but I couldn't see them.

the idea, in keeping with the theme "planned accidents",
was to capture my accidental responses to the backing tracks
they had already recorded. so they insisted I never hear the
tracks beforehand, nor was I allowed to know the key of the songs.
I simply heard a count-off and was instructed to play something
along with the tracks as best I could .
after no more than 3 tries, we would move on to the next song.
(just about the time I knew when to expect the chorus.)
later, david, eno, and tony chose their favorite bits from
what I had played and made them into a single composite
guitar part. a guitar part I never actually could or would have played.

and that was my first studio record.

collection #2: postcards

another thing I have collected throughout my professional life:
postcards. I have hundreds of them. postcards from all the places
I've been around the world, postcards I thought were odd
or funny, and even collections of types of postcards I fancied.
for example, in france I found the gaudiest run of "recipe cards"
with pictures of god-awful looking food on the front
and strange corresponding recipes on the back.
each time I went to france I searched for and bought
every one I could find. no telling how many I have now.

on some of the postcards I wrote notes to myself.
the two cards pictured here have personal historic interest.
the first card is from cologne, germany in 1978,
my first visit there while on tour with frank.
the second picture shows the note on the back which reads:

"unbeknowst (sic) to me, brian eno was in the audience
here. which led to him calling bowie specifically to come
here (sic) my guitar work. what a compliment."

the second postcard is from berlin, germany the very next night.
the bottom picture shows what is written on the back:

"february 15, 1978
tonight I met david bowie and iggy pop. they were off-stage
at our show. david asked me to join his band afterwards
at dinner. (actually he hinted at it during the show."
(on the right half of the card is a note about the history
of the area and the picture itself, something I often include.)

little did I know how much the events mentioned here
would change my life forever.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

a private seminar

monday tuesday wednesday:

tom king and matt picone
are no doubt the two foremost experts in the workings
of the Axe-FX Ultra (along with its' inventor cliff chase)
and for 3 days I had tom and matt staying in the fripp suite
and giving me and daniel rowland private lessons
on every aspect of the ultra-beast. wow!

one of the perks of being one of the world's guitarists,
to have the attention of the manufacturers of such a
marvelous device. the ultra has not only completely replaced
my beloved johnson 150 millenium amp, but has jettisoned
me into the future of a fresh new round of music
and made international touring even more feasible.

tom heads Fractal Audio the company responsible
for the Axe-FX Ultra and the Atomic Reactor FR
"the world’s first and only tube-powered full-range
guitar amp and personal monitor."
tom brought a pair of FR's for me to try
and of course they were perfectly matched to the Ultra.

matt is a brilliant sound designer and a real smartie.
watching him navigate so expertly through the hundreds
of possibilities the Ultra offers was truly inspiring
and very helpful for professor daniel as well.

imagine 4 nerds, each with his own laptop,
hovering over a guitar box for hours on end
giggling like japanese schoolgirls
and you were pretty much there.

Friday, February 26, 2010


my mt. juliet groove has been immeasurably enhanced
by the addition of a new local indian restaurant
called Shagor, only five minutes from StudioBelew.
this is big stuff for mt. juliet and fortunately the food
is delicious, the prices are affordable, and the vibe is cool.

Shagor, has been open two weeks
and I've already eaten there six times.
I am a pretty decent cook of simplistic meals,
(well, I'm decent perhaps, but not pretty)
and since I really enjoy cooking, as often as possible
I try to cook dinner at home for the four of us
but most evenings martha and the girls are busy
with various homeschooling endeavors
(dance classes are from 4:30 to 8:00 3 nights a week)
leaving me on my lonesome for dinner.
so I like to drive one of my precious vintage cars, park it
in a spot within my loving gaze (yes, I know it's ridiculous)
open my iPhone to an interesting app (say, the latest
tenori-on-like app called Soundgrid) and enjoy a great meal.

while I'm not an adventurous eater I love all kinds
of food especially italian, seafood, mexican, middle-
eastern, chinese, sushi, american, french, etc.
and while I wouldn't want to go without places
like J. Alexander's, Bricktop's, Capital Grill, or delights
such as chocolate Haagen-Dazs, or Skyline chili
(which, by the way, reminds me of indian curry)
I absolutely adore indian food and could probably live on it.

all good indian restaurants must play indian music
but Shagor takes the concept a step further by showing
highly amusing Bollywood clips (indian girl meets indian
boy on a mountaintop where they sing and dance
at each other) on a small screen in the corner of the room.

I especially love indian pop music. the female voice,
which always sounds like the exact same singer,
reminds me of diana ross on helium and the backing tracks
are wonderfully multi-cultural at times including such
seemingly disparate choices as banjo with sitar or chinese
flute with an english harmonium. and of course
the drumming is nearly as delicious as the food.

ah, favorite dish.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

variations of wave pressure.

when albert einstein was asked if science
could someday explain everything his reply was,
"it's possible, but why would you want such a thing?
it would be like describing a beethoven symphony as
variations of wave pressure."

hence the title of the newest composition
I've been working on for the last several weeks.
variations of wave pressure will be performed live
for the first time ever at the Big Ears Festival
in knoxville on saturday march 27 at 1:00.

I am hard at work fitting the various sections
I have written thus far into one coherent piece
and practicing the very delicate performance necessary.
it involves playing two guitar parts and a bass part
simultaneously, something which might not
even be possible except for the mighty Axe-FX Ultra.
I've taught it to be three musicians
(the title of one of my favorite picasso paintings)

as often happens for me a new technology (the axe-fx)
creates the need for a different technique
which then forms the basis for a new avenue of music.
as well as writing this one-man composition
I'm hoping this will produce a vocal song or two.

I'd love to explain how the variations technique works
but I'm meeting with my tutor daniel in just a few minutes
so I'll leave it for a future post.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

the poor man's tenori

you may remember my raving about a new musical device
I tried at this year's NAMM show called tenori-on.
for those of you who have an iPhone there is now a new
app called tone pad pro which is a very simplified
version of the tenori-on and which I highly recommend.

guaranteed to be one of the most entertaining $.99
you've ever spent, the tone pad pro can easily be played
by anyone, musician or not, and of course if you make up
something you like you can save it to hear again.

there are $698 worth of differences between the tone pad
and an actual tenori-on, little things like 256 sounds
to chose from and to alter any way you please (tone pad
has 1 sound, but a lovely sound it is) and the ability to
create 16 different layers of loops. but the idea is the same:
you touch the dots on the screen and a loop is created
instantly. to undo a dot you simply touch it again.

trust me, you need to try this. it will keep you occupied
for hours on end and beats the heck out of reality TV*.

*well, except for maybe pawn stars.

Monday, February 15, 2010

nerd alert!

warning: the following material may cause
drowsiness and a foreboding sense of ennui.
do not read while operating heavy machinery.
suitable only for gearheads, or bonafide nut cases.

as promised here comes the update on my attempts
to downsize my huge guitar gear arsenal while moving
forward into the 21st century. thanks to daniel rowland
and the good graces of a few very smart manufacturers
I'm blazing ahead, more confident than ever, writing new
material, and creating some smokin' new sounds!

a quick summation at this junction has my rig as follows:
1 apple macbook running apple main stage II,
and soon to be running all my necessary synth programs,
as well as looping, piano and orchestral samples, etc.
1 fractal audio axe-fx ultra providing the bulk
of my guitar sounds and the impetus for so much more;
1 roland vg-99 the virtual guitar system which allows
for essentially a second guitarist with different tunings.

thus far all of this can be amplified any number of ways
for international shows where amps are supplied,
but sound amazing through the 2 bose L1 towers I use,
which will be my amplification performing stateside.

still to be added: a small midi-pedalboard to operate
all the program changes needed and 4 expression pedals.
I'm intending to use the new pedalboard from fractal
which is made for the axe-fx and is called the mfc-101,
but is not yet ready for production.

all of this should fit elegantly into two luggage-size cases
as compared with my current rig which fills half a cargo van.

I'm also trying a myriad of new pedals which may be added
to the "effects loop" section of the axe-fx. ones I love most
so far are soundblox pro classic distortion (which is
midi) , gig-fx pro chopper (also midi), and digitech
harmony man
. I'm waiting to try the eventide pitch
. I prefer the small light roland ev-5
as my expression pedals. likely I'll need 4: one for master
guitar volume, one for master vg-99 volume, one for master
laptop volume, and one for any and all expression effects.

next topic: StudioBelew's new tabletop recording studio.

Monday, February 1, 2010

february already?!

wowee, we must be having fun.
in fact, a very unusual situation has presented itself:
nashville has snow! if you're a fan from say, sweden,
try not to laugh but nashville has about 8 inches!
in the 15 years I've lived here we've had real snow

so on friday night around 9:30 the family unit
joined pretty much the entire neighborhood
in a sledding extravaganza. now, that was fun!
good thing many of our neighbors had sleds to share,
they don't even sell sleds in nashville.

even though my house is surrounded on the sides
and in the back with 5 acres of woods and a stream,
I live in an actual subdivision called "Briarwood".
the subdivision contains perhaps 30 homes all
seated around a large circular drive.
I never realized how perfect the undulating hills
of Hidden Ridge Circle would be for sledding.
our house is on a cul de sac and even it has a
treacherous slope, treacherous at 20 mph on a sled.
under a full moon-lit sky we had a ball until midnight
when the spell of being 10 years old again finally
wore off and we turned into frozen pumpkins.

my days are spent gleefully exploring new sonic
possibilities spurred on by the recent NAMM show
and a serious desire to downsize my guitar rig.
I'm still working on laptop guitar
but I've added a new wrinkle which I believe to be
the answer to most of my needs: Axe-FX Ultra.
this two-space rack unit will supplant everything
I do with my Johnson amps and then some.
I'm discovering things I've never heard before!
also, many manufacturers are sending out
new things for me to try, making this a very fertile
period not just for musical discoveries but
for new song fodder as well. wish me luck.

I'll keep you gearheads posted on my progress.

Friday, January 22, 2010

back from NAMM...

where I saw a host of new colors for my palette
and ran into many old friends I hadn't seen in a while
including stu hamm, the drummer for wings denny seiwell,
terry bozzio, bootsy collins, vernon reid, saul zonana,
david torn, and herbie hancock whom I haven't seen since
the 80's when I played on his record magic windows.)

NAMM is one big party. I hung out with the usual suspects:
johnny vitale and the gang from parker, tony and pat, seymour
duncan, tim godwin from line-6, bob borbonus from taylor,
madman zachary vex, bassist bryan beller, and julie.
(eric was home rehearsing with his new band dr. dog.)

of course the reason to be there is to see all
the new gear and there was plenty of that.
the list of manufacturers I met with is astounding:
parker, roland, korg, line-6, yamaha, eventide, tech 21,
taylor guitars, digitech, fender, apogee, preSonus,
ultimate support, t.c. electronics and t.c. helicon,
pigtronix, james trussart guitars, hofner guitars,
eastwood guitars, gig-fx, lakland basses, fritz brothers
guitars, dave smith instruments, gretsch guitars,
d'addario, soundblox, paiste cymbals, and my old
buddies lane ostrow at g&l, peter janus at radial,
and paul reed smith.
even more astounding is that I use products
from almost all of these companies.

NAMM sounds like a busy saturday at guitar center x 50.
it would be difficult to discern from the NAMM show
that there is an economic downturn, there are so many
things to buy and so many interested buyers.

my favorite new item I tried is called tenori-on.
it's a brand new instrument in fact; a hand-held
sequencer/looper invented by media artist
toshio iwai and made by yamaha. very exciting.
it's an excellent time to be a modern musician.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


and then there was the time when she was five
I found her in the kitchen eating a bowl of popcorn
with a spoon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

the cotton taco.

my 10 year old daughter leah has a unique sense of...
well, everything.
everything from fashion statements (see above picture)
to her naturally quirky sense of humor:
leah comes into the room pretending to be a dog.
I say, “I’m thirsty, I’m going to get some water.”
she says, “fix me a bowl of it too.”

but the thing I marvel most at is her concept of food.
she always sits in the kitchen in front of the smallest
TV in our house watching cartoons while dining.
once I found her there eating her idea of breakfast:
left-over turkey breast with cracker jacks and gatorade.
a favorite lunch is those little chocolate pretzels
dipped in ranch dressing or blueberry yogurt.

so it came as no surprise to find her latest concoction
which she calls "the cotton taco".

it's a taco shell filled with cotton candy.

time to play ketchup..

before heading out the door to the NAMM convention.

I have spent my holidays with my tutor daniel rowland
who is helping me achieve one of my main goals for 2010:
to convert my massive guitar rig into something very
portable and easy to travel with: a laptop.
daniel is dragging me kicking and screaming into the future.
I do not have a natural aptitude for computers.
my 12-year old does better than I, but I am determined to learn.

touring internationally has taught me valuable lessons.

a. I need certain gear to play my music properly. you might
even say my music is born through technology and without
my sounds I may be an average guitarist.

b. every time I put my gear in the hands of the employees
of various airlines I am relying on the baggage industry
to insure I'm able to put on the best concert I can.

c. that is a lousy idea.

plus it's expensive and tiresome dragging stuff through
airports and security checks only to be overcharged
for the privilege of having it not show up.

phew... long story short: I'm dedicated to performing
with little more than a laptop and pedalboard
and this is taking up most of my time.
one benefit of working with new technology:
songs and bits of musical ideas begin to formulate
which gives me a sense of new music on the back
boiler of my brain and I'm hoping will result in new songs.

at the same time I'm researching new ways
to conduct my business affairs and I'm very excited
about certain looming possibilities.
moron this later.

so things are moving forward like molasses
for the moment but I do see the light.
it's going to be a marvelous year.