Thursday, January 20, 2011


if you have followed my recent posts
you'll know I have led you to believe
I'm busy recording new material.
I'm sorry but that's not true.
I do have new material ready
and I am eager to record
but I can't do so just yet.


in only 30 days from now I'll be boarding a plane
for amsterdam to begin rehearsing for The Big Event:
the orchestral version of e.

I've known from the start this will be the most
challenging performance of my professional life
and I have been suitably rattled for the last two months.
though I've been practicing daily I still don't feel ready.

a. I don't yet have all my guitar programs written
perfectly and in a sequence which allows me
to move easily from one program to the next.
there are a perplexing amount of moves in e.
the semi-automatic choreography of my footwork
has always been an essential part of my sound.
most guitarists play with their two hands.
I play just as much with my two feet.

b. the guitar playing for the orchestral e
is not the same as for the power trio version of e.
in the power trio version I make 16 different loops
on the fly (so to speak) with my feet, of course.
but early on I realized this would not work
in the context of an orchestra.
to expect the entire orchestra to hear correctly
and follow consistently my 16 loops would be folly.
so I decided on this approach instead:
I will play what would normally be the guitar loop once,
then it will be taken over by the orchestra.
I've designed various ways for this to happen.

for example, in the section called c
after I play the opening 64-note chromatic phrase
which I would normally make into a loop,
I'll stop and let various members of the orchestra
take over the 64 notes from there on.
to make it interesting I have scored it so each
of the 64 notes will be played by a different instrument.
that way the notes will seem to bounce around the stage.
(that should make 'em sweat).

point being I have to re-learn how to play e
in order to know what to play and when NOT to play.

c. I have never been conducted.
I have always taken my cues and tempos from
the drummer or from myself but now I will need
to watch what the conductor does while I'm playing
and learn how to follow his movements.

also there are rules in an orchestra.
if, for example, I want to comment about a certain
part I don't address the player, I address the conductor
and he passes my comments or questions on to the player.
no big deal, just more things to get used to.

d. how does a "rock guitarist" adjust his or her
volume level to balance with the volume level of an orchestra?
in a rock band it's easy: you play as loud as the drummer
plays. no more and no less.
ah, the tyranny of the drummer.

which reminds me of one of my favorite stories
from when I played drums in the Holiday Inn circuit.
we had a complete moron as our booking agent.
I'll call him Ron.
Ron had sent one of his bands to play
in one of the Holiday Inn lounges.
soon he received a call from the manager of the lounge.
he was complaining about the band.

ron: what's wrong with the band?
manager: the drummer is too damn loud!
ron: do you have him miked?
manager: no.
ron: well, mic him and turn him down!

one last concern I have is, head.
the concert in amsterdam is at the Paradiso,
one of the most revered venues in all of europe.
(in his recent autobiography keith richards mentions it
as one of the 3 best venues the stones ever played).
crimson played there in the 80's.

problem is, after they build the stage out far enough
to accommodate a 55-piece orchestra there will be very
little room for people on the main floor.
the Paradiso has two huge balconies which ring the venue.
that is where most of the audience will be seated.
and what will they be looking at?
the top of my balding head!

in the last two weeks I've spent a considerable amount
of effort surfing the hat shops of the internet.
in fact, I've purchased 6 new hats and every one of them
make me look like Ron the moron booking agent.

there are guidelines for wearing a hat on stage.
if it has too large a bill you'll have "coon eyes".
if it's too hot you'll sweat like stevie ray vaughn.
plus the audience has to "accept" you in your hat
or it can become a distraction.

phew...sometimes this rock star thing is for the birds.

regardless I aim to spend the next 30 days heads-down
with one eye on the hat shops of the universe
and one eye on the fretboard of my parker fly.



  1. You worry too much.

  2. Ade, we're watching your hands and feet, not your head! Save the fretting for the Parker. Still think you should go back to your 80's look. I know, I was 30 years younger then too! Wish I could be there to look down at that scene, hope there's a DVD. Best wishes...

  3. It's easy to say you worry too much, but I think anyone would.

    Would you like for me to knit you a toque?

    Worry all you want, but don't worry about us...


  4. e excellent
    it will b
    worry y
    you will c
    it will b
    worry free

  5. I wish I could be there to see your balding head cause I know it's gonna be AWESOME !!!

    Be who you are Adrian, don't worry about getting no stinkin' hat.

  6. agreed, you don't need no stinkin' hat, your'e Adrian-f*cking-Belew for christsakes, NO HAT IS WORTHY! Wish I could be in the audience...!

    Twang bar serf

  7. I am's normal to be a little nervous, but....YOU will be AWESOME...not a doubt about that! So happy for you :)
    I really hope we will get to see/hear it at some point,it sounds so cool !!!
    The hat thing is tricky though,of course you don't need one... but if your mind is made up,it really depends on what you are wearing ... something really sleek and modern to go along with the music. .. nothing too showy..maybe a REALLY nice black beret, for a touch of eurostyle ??? That would look great...Good luck !!!
    Sending lots of love and light Adrian...

  8. Hi , Belew i love you very mach tou play
    than the bests of guitarrists.
    I want to you go to Spain and Portugal
    but i dont go to the 3 concerts (problems work)
    you like Srv??? is my second favourite guitarrist
    (Before You)

  9. Hi Adrian,
    I'm feeling completely unworthy to reply to your post, but I will try none the less.
    a) You will get it all together in time. You have the best hands and feet around.
    b)I'm sure you will work it out! You are a great learner or Zappa, Bowie, Simon, or Fripp wouldn't have invited you to join their clubs.
    c) damnit, you've got a band leader's hat, what more do you need? You rock, let the conductor follow you.
    d) Funny! Reminded me of spinal tap, turn it up to eleven.

    and finally the hat question. You don't need one from my point of view. (ask tony levin what he thinks). Although if you really thought you needed one you might check out those worn by Neil Pert, they are very cool!

    By the way, wasn't your new year's resolution to open your eyes wider and get happy? Man o man are you going to have fun with the orchestra, if you let yourself.

    a loyal fan,

  10. Adrian, I have no doubt you will knock this piece out of the park! You are one of the most prepared musicians I have ever had the honor to watch perform. As for your head, I'm with everyone else: that's the LAST thing on our minds, if it registers at all. Be you, kick ass, and we will cheer accordingly. No worries, mate!

  11. Hello Adrian. I'm sure you don't remember me, but I tired once a few years back to get a big bad cell phone company to use "Big Blue Sun." They passed in favor of something else. And yet six months later, they allowed me to record radio with an old friend of yours, from your Covington days, named Bootsy. He told me to say hi. He hasn't forgotten that time at all. I was lost in a funky reminiscence but I'm guessing you'll know what I mean.

  12. try out a nice yarmulke, a fez or a colorful little islamic skullcap

  13. Believe in you and you will be alright. All those jitters and uncertainties in your head is your body's way of telling you that something amazing is about to go out there and amaze us!

  14. Hey Ade:

    1) Many broken legs and a butterfly free stomach on the big night! No doubt it will be great...

    2)About the balding thing..I am in the same place, and my advice is shave the head...flaunt it! Maybe grow a goatee or beard, too...

    Can;t wait for the recording.



  15. Didn't Frank Zappa conduct you guys? Looks like it on Baby Snakes.

    And I second the Neil Peart caps. PLEASE do a CD/DVD of this endeavor!

  16. Hey there.

    I got my tickets in the pocket. Looking forward to it. Enjoy it, you'll do fine!

  17. Adrian, vos sos argentino?

  18. If they are looking at your head and not your hands they don't know whats going on anyway,if they are at your show it's for your music. Don't sweat the small stuff!

  19. How bout a moisture wicking cycling cap. Perfect for the dutch.

  20. Or even nicer, the Grey Hemp/Organic Cotton model. Eco-friendly and made in the USA.

  21. Put a laurel in your bald and wear a toga. Pero no te pongas un gato en la pelada y vistas con un laurel pues entonces la programación de pedalera será el menor de tus problemas.

  22. Maybe a photoshop contest should be involved. Put a hat on Adrian's Head.

  23. Commandment number 10 says it all. ha ha

    Capt. Beefheart's 10 Commandments for Guitarists

    That’s where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren’t going anywhere.

    Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you’re good, you’ll land a big one.

    Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn’t shake, eat another piece of bread.

    Old delta blues players referred to amplifiers as the “devil box.” And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you’re bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts demons and devils. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

    If your brain is part of the process, you’re missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

    Your instrument has more power than lightning. Just hit a big chord, then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

    You must carry your key and use it when called upon. That’s your part of the bargain. Like One String Sam. He was a Detroit street musician in the fifties who played a homemade instrument. His song “I Need A Hundred Dollars” is warm pie. Another church key holder is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf’s guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty making you want to look up her dress to see how he’s doing it.

    You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

    When you’re not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don’t play your guitar for more than a day, be sure to put a saucer of water in with it.

    Wear a hat when you play and keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house the hot air can’t escape. Even a lima bean has to have a wet paper towel around it to make it grow.

  24. Mr. Belew, yesterday i bought "young lions" in tape and today i'm listening "power trio" and misteriously today i found your blog...omg! I can't believe...i can't say this cause your know but you're an amazing artist. I'm from Perú. Bless U and Thanks a lot for your music. Edu.

  25. Steve Vai might have some pointers for how to work with an orchestra for you.... And DANG! Aren't those Amsterdammers the lucky ones.

  26. personally , i'm not feeling the oblio conundrum . older,previously long haired rockers that adopt hats , well to me seems like side show slight of hand . to me the "brand name" of "adrian belew" represents a lot more than what i may be looking at . kind of exactly the opposite was what turned my ear . none of my business and i cant tell anyone how they should feel or think .
    it just seems that if i found myself challenged at the startin point of achieving a MAJOR life goal , it would only be my nature to create additional challenges to distract myself from the real scary issues. the thing is , you see what you want to see , and you here what you want to hear , ya dig ?

    (he's got a point there)

    prayers for wisdom , strength and grace , pt2 .


    ha , ha haaa !

    pt2 .

  28. What do you get when you have 10 rabbits walking backwards?

    A receding hairline!

    Gung Hay Fat Choy ~~ Year of the Rabbit

    We are our own worst judges! The guys aren't looking at your head, and the ladies might be, but we still love it! No worries, life is short. You will blow their lids!

  29. Wear a skullcap.

    Like Cecil Taylor.

  30. I'm very much looking forward to hearing this. I sure hope this gets videotaped! Don't worry, you'll be great!