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.