Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Adrian Belew Fitness Camp

if you are ever fortunate enough to be part of a "big" tour,
say, the david bowie sound and vision tour
which traveled first class around the world for nearly a year,
you would have loads of time for shopping in rome,
or visiting the louvre in paris or the prado museum in spain,
or you might take in a movie, have a delicious meal,
nap, read a good book, or send home some corny postcards.

but on the kind of touring we can do you barely have time
to make it from one city to the next in time to set up gear,
change guitar strings, do a quick soundcheck, maybe eat,
maybe shower, play the show, sign autographs for a while,
have a drink, go to bed, get up early, and do it all over again.

many of our show days included an 8-hour drive
which requires a 7:oo wake up (do the math)
before even arriving at the next city,
then doing the soundcheck, etc.
which meant there was pretty much no time for anything.
so what do you do trapped in a stretch van all day?

used to be I would read a lot and I still do
but sometimes that can make you carsick.

in our van, "the fun van", tobias and I share the driving duty
while julie's responsibilities run the gamut
from assistant navigator to our GPS (whom we call "genie")
to soft drink refresher, review reader,
and breakfast finder.

on this tour we mostly tried to amuse ourselves
and each other and did so very well indeed.
lots of talking. lots of laughs.
it seemed the longer we drove the more ridiculous we became.

at the beginning of the tour so many fans commented
on how buff I was and how much weight I had lost that
I began to wonder aloud, "just how bad did I look last tour?"
why was everyone saying how trim I am?
the funny thing is I had done nothing whatsoever
to lose weight or become buff.

so I began joking about having my own fitness camp
revealing the "secrets of my success".

one day tobias was driving, I was in the seat behind him,
and julie was riding shotgun and fiddling with her new iphone
when she caught me in one of my ridiculous modes and filmed it.
next day I tried to top myself with another ridiculous episode.
and then for about a week it became a daily event.
sometime shortly after breakfast each morning
julie would film another fitness camp episode for our amusement.
at some point we decided to put them on youtube. (oops, big mistake?)
we ended up doing six episodes, a couple of minutes long each.
I never rehearsed them; each one is improvised.
now I can add "sit-down comedy" to my resume'.

I realize how silly I am in these but please remember
the circumstances described above and the numbing
effect of riding across texas in a van.

here are the adrian belew fitness camp episodes 1 thru 6:

I'm going to leave this stuff on youtube only a short while longer.
then my self-respect will no doubt get the better of me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

the final rhino

in case you haven't heard by now
the black rhino is officially declared extinct.

keep your lone rhino album covers
as a lasting image of a magnificent creature.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

a powerful barrage

so much to say about the 2 of a perfect trio tour
where do I begin?

the look on my face in the above photo says it all:

probably best to let you, the audience, tell your thoughts
and I encourage you to do so here,
but from a very personal vantage point within the tour
here are my honest impressions:

musically and practically speaking it was close to crimson,
but it was not crimson nor was it treated as such.

the crimson experience obviously has a heavier
yet more ethereal vibe because of robert's rigor,
whereas within the 2OAPT tour I tried my best to lighten up
the atmosphere with joking off the cuff commentary
while maintaining the integrity of the music.
still the shows were very intense,
especially in they way built to the inevitable climax.
that speaks volumes about the material itself.

while all 3 trios and the 6-piece band were certainly on fire
it was you, the audience who inspired me the most.
it was amazing to see the sizable turnouts include so many
young, therefore new fans, many of the female gender,
and to feel your enthusiasm for something
you may thought you'd never experience,
or for the longtime fans
something you thought you'd never experience again.

it's as close as we can offer and no one seemed cheated,
(though I missed my ol' partner robert).
I was amazed at the nostalgia in evidence.

crimson is indeed treated differently:
bigger venues, more money, more prestige,
free pretzels,
but those of us within the tour were very
happy with what we had to be happy with.
I think all of us would like to go at it again.

ironically, I prefer smaller clubs for their capacity
to truly reach people through the performance,
even though the money has a lower ceiling
and therefore dictates what is possible (or not).
the tour was probably too long but no matter.
my red shoes held up remarkably well as did my voice.
it was also one of the most copecetic tours
I've ever been a part of.
no bullshit. no drama.
just the joy of making music.
seeing tony levin setting up his own gear also speaks volumes.

day to day there were so many hilarious moments
mixed within the insanelylong drives and harried soundchecks.
highlights include patricia fripp reading a message from robert,
playing with danny carey again and meeting his girlfriend ryan
and her sister sarah (delightful people) then riding in danny's orange
lamborghini (yikes, 100 mph in less than 4 seconds!)
and living to see so many old friends
(including rob and bob bear)
danny zelisko's ever-popular bud abbott impresssion,
and in the "fun" van making the ridiculous
adrian belew fitness camp videos with
julie filming on her new iPhone while tobias drove faithfully on
after conducting the ongoing search for the perfect breakfast spot,
then meeting so many of our 2OFPP campers again,
and finally playing for my girls, ava and leah.

now the girls know I'm not just a guy
who hangs around the house looking lost.

in the van after breakfast julie often read us
the glowing reviews. great reviews. every one.
everybody loved it!
but one small snaggle I did notice:
some reviewers left me out!
please don't leave me out. it's disrespectful.
"the friendly frontman may easily be taken for granted"
that was my most recent fortune cookie.

one last thought:
it is incredible to be in the middle of such a powerful barrage.
thanks so much to all involved; hope we do it again.

also of note:
my last appearance of the year comes this sunday, nov. 13
at the chicago humanities festival. at 5:00.
I'll be giving a one-hour q&a/demonstration of guitar effects,
technology, and the future of ...who knows.
then it's back to making more music in studiobelew.

photo: ava belew