Monday, August 29, 2011

bulletin: you missed it!

if you weren't one of the 75 very happy campers
tony, pat, and I entertained over the last week
I have to say you truly missed something special.
we had a ball!

highlights (for me) included the 75-strong camp jam
(conducted by tony and resulting in monumental moments)
which we filmed and recorded as gifts for each camper
(downloaded onto a USB stick with our cartoon faces),
having 30 or more guitarists divided into two sections,
one group playing my part in frame by frame
and the other group playing robert's part,
having a special viewing of the new e for orchestra DVD,
(which garnered a standing ovation from everyone),
some fabulous storytelling and big laughs,
and the final night's first-ever performance
by the pat, tony, and adrian trio
and 5 of the double trio (sorry, no markus yet)
blazing through a best-of set of krimson hits.
(if I may abuse the word "hits").

full moon resort is in a gorgeous mountain setting,
the staff are super nice people, everything very smooth,
(special thanks to amy and jesse for keeping
my jar of coke, coca-cola of course, filled with ice)
the food was much better than I expected
(I had planned on losing a pound or two, but...)
delicious in fact, the accommodations were,
well... very accommodating,
the bar, the nightly jam and campfire...
the entire experience was simply fabulous.
so much so that we have announced
we are doing it again next year
august 13 through 17.

there was only one thing which didn't surprise me:
the cool people who attended.
they proved once again I have the best fans anywhere.
to our happy campers I would like to say thanks again
and I hope each of you will sign in and take the time
to post a brief re-telling in your own words
of our encounter right here on my blog.

there were many manufacturer's who gifted things
for our campers to use and even things to take away.
we gave away a beautiful Parker Dragonfly guitar,
a bunch of Whirlwind gear, D'Addario strings,
Vic Firth sticks, 3 Ampeg bass amps, two guitar amps,
and 9 custom-made Hammerax cymbals given to us
by their not-so-evil-genius inventor John Stoddard.
we were loaned so many things including 50!
G-Dec amps from Fender and 3 drum kits from DW.
my friend David Koltai demonstrated a plethora
of his Pigtronix pedals, very entertaining,
and John Collinge gave a class on having
a career in today's music strange business
everyone took home t-shirts, a copy of tony's
book The Crimson Chronicle, strings, a copy of e,
drumsticks (once again featuring our cartoon faces),
Whirlwind cables, stickers, catalogs and pictures.

I want to thank tony and pat for being such great partners,
Amy Carpenter and Danny Heaps for making all of this happen,
our crew, John Sinks, Adrian Bienviedes, and Robert Frazza,
our resident crazed cartoonist Denis Rodier,
and the wonderful staff at full moon resort.

ps: if you missed it, it is never too early to sign up
and plan for next year's happenings at:

Monday, August 15, 2011

e for orchestra! it's here!!

like an 8-year-old kid running to the Christmas tree
on the BIG morning to find the gift he's longed for
I answered the door to greet Dan, our UPS man
and to help him unload boxes of joy.

we now have a limited run of CD's and DVD's of

e for orchestra
the metropole orkest with adrian belew
conducted by jules buckley

the CD's are from the two-day studio recording session we did.
you hear every little detail in tom trapp's fabulous score.

the DVD's are of the amazing one-time-only performance
at the Paradiso in Amsterdam on February 27, 2011
which was filmed beautifully in HD with a 5-camera shoot.

both are wrapped in a striking black artwork
designed by our own mark colman.

I would characterize the differences in the two this way:
the studio version: pristine and powerful,
the live DVD version: raw and exciting.
if I were me I would want both.

my apologies for the extended time taken to produce
these beauties but as with most special things
it is worth the wait.
so please join in our celebration of this very happy occasion.

"I've never heard the Metropole sound like this!"
gert-jan blom, director of the metropole orkest.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

a songwriting goldmine

despite a workload that could choke a horse,
I'm still working as often as I can in the studio with daniel.
I stumbled on to a songwriter's goldmine recently
and songs have been pouring out like free beer.

for the last 6 years I gave up songwriting altogether,
so it came as a surprise to find those gears turning again.
I gave up songwriting because it seemed pointless.
that's how I felt for the last 6 years.
a sad weary mixture of "it's all been said and done
before", and "maybe I'm getting too old for this"
inflamed by the bitter knowledge my songs have
mostly been "orphans on the streets of radioland"
as I once put it.

but in the back of my mind during the first 3
of those years while I was composing e
(which I consider a "composition" not a "song")
I had thought I probably would return to songwriting
again specifically for the power trio, that was step 2
in my plan, after showing the world what the trio
could do musically with e.
but once eric absconded, I truly lost all interest.

what with the internet, free downloading, free burning
of CDs, and the bleak landscape of modern radio
which demands pop songs be mindless dance beat
fodder for young kids who need to procreate
or wallpaper for those who don't want to think,
perhaps you can empathize how defeated I might feel.

but following the BIG EVENT orchestral production of e
and my subsequent return to earth I suddenly knew
that songwriting is such an important aspect of my art.
it's the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place.
doesn't matter how many people hear my songs
or whose top 100 list they are never on,
my songs are integral to my creativity
and no, I'm not too old, and I do have new things to say.

I've often wondered what might have been different
had frank zappa never discovered me and my answer
has always been the same:
apart from remaining poor (as I was)
and having no one know my name,
nothing would be different.
I believe I would have continued to make music
for a very few people and write songs no one ever heard
because that is who I am.

my re-entry back into the world of songwriting
was brought on by two things I've always relied on.
1) when you're stale, switch tunings.
I made up a new tuning as I often have in the past.
from low to high it's spelled D A D E B E.
the low E tuned down to a D, the G down to an E.
suddenly it was like starting all over again.
my habitual chord shapes no longer mattered.
I found myself discovering new things every time
I picked up my acoustic guitar.
it was (and still is) exciting.

2) switch instruments.
I switched to piano, an instrument I don't play enough.
my piano chops are non-existent so any time
I write on piano I have no idea what I'm doing
which forces me to follow the melody in my head
and focus on the logic of the accompanying chord changes.
for me that's ideal.
I thrive on discovery.

the end result of all of this?
I'm currently writing and recording a new batch
of solo songs that I'm enjoying immensely.
hopefully by next spring you'll be enjoying it too.