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.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

looking ahead...

to the rest of this year it's difficult to know what may happen.
I don't even have a calendar yet to pencil things into,
but I have the sense we may journey into new territory.

one of my main concerns will be to have the trio
performing again throughout these great united states of ours.
not really new territory I know, but we'll make it seem new.
and perhaps to revisit some of our international favorites.

a new solo record, now that I have a studio again,
that is a must and it definitely will include new territory.

performing by myself with an internationally famous orchestra,
now that is certainly new and truly one of the biggest
undertakings of my long and storied career.
but of course that will be finished (sadly) by march.
which leaves a lot of year to fill.

there are several very new ideas being discussed
and I hope soon to announce at least one of them.
or they may crash and burn in flames
like so many good ideas.

either way I feel empowered by possibilites...

new StudioBelew up and running!

yesterday daniel and I inaugurated the new improved
state-of-the-art StudioBelew when I added guitars
to a track by the atlanta-based band Sun Domingo.

it was a really cool song, I enjoyed meeting and
working with the band, and the session went perfectly.
can't wait to hear the complete record.

so we're back in the business of making records!

Monday, January 3, 2011

to open my eyes ever wider

so I might see life differently.

that's my new year's resolution.

when I was 27 years old frank zappa
once scolded me for being "too happy-go-lucky".
my aim is to get back to that status.

time to get happy.

Happy New Year!!!