Friday, March 28, 2008

The Adrian Belew Power Trio - Another Side Four Live Review

Music Street Journal has an amazing review of Side Four Live today, plus interviews of the trio. Oh, heart be still! While the review is posted for free, to obtain access to the interviews and lots of other cool stuff, please consider subscribing to Music Street Journal right here. You won't be sorry, and you'll not only be supporting writers you'll be supporting great music as well.

"Adrian Belew

Side Four

Review by Sonya Kukcinovich and Grant Hill

Side Four is the Adrian Belew Power Trio live follow up to his already well received Sides One, Two and Three. With everything from the cover art work to the unique song titles being steeped in the Belew tradition of coming at you from left field, his musical approach actually makes total sense, with a unique respect for harmony, melody, sound, texture, color, and feel. Our first impression was that we were totally blown away with the fresh, unique sound of this amazing power trio. With the young virtuoso siblings, Julie slick on Bass and Eric Slick on drums, the trio delivers an amazing tour de force well worth a serious listen. Frankly, we haven't given this CD much rest over the past month. The writing is incredibly compelling, extremely well balanced and diversified, and chock full of both Belew's unique and interesting approach to the guitar, plus a cadre of interesting musical effects that layer depth, complexity, and insight into a very unique composer/performer. If you haven't heard this CD, please go ahead and buy it! Progressive rock fans shouldn't be caught unaware of the importance of this fine music, especially in a time where great music can be difficult to find consistently. Get your copy today, and please visit Adrian Belew at

Track by Track Review
Writing On The Wall

This piece immediately grabs one's attention with its forceful intensity. Eric Slick's driving percussion is underscored by Julie Slick's aggressive playing and Adrian Belew's heavy, distortion oriented treatment of both harmonic and melodic guitar elements. "I see the writing on the wall!" croons the legend, and even if he didn't you would believe he did! What an amazing piece to open a live album, a song that makes one want to rock with the force and intensity of the composition itself.

We absolutely love this song. The tongue in cheek double entendre is well felt, musically speaking. "I am a dinosaur. Somebody's diggin' my bones!," sings Belew. One can't help but smile at Belew's poetic insight to lyric writing. This is a rhythmically interesting piece full of unique chordal treatments throughout. Plus it's just a really cool song! We think you'll love it!

Leave it to Adrian Belew to come up with a song title based on a punctuation abbreviation! But etymology seems to be an interest of Belew's, and he's just as creative with his treatment of words as he is in his musical offerings. This is another powerful song, with strong emotive images that develop as a result of both the lyrical lines and the unique harmonic/melodic combination. We really dug it during the live show, and it continues to grow on us - kudos!

Young Lions
The percussive opening almost has a 42nd Street feel to it with Eric Slick's heavy tom playing, but we quickly recognized that these were rock elements at play, not swing. The sound is booming and strong, and, of course, the melody line works its way into an incredible Belew solo. We really enjoyed the repetitive rhythmic section, mostly because it is performed with perfect execution and not a hint of anything overplaying the length of the pulsating rhythm. This one could easily be the album favorite of many, however we reserved that honor for the song which followed.

Beat Box Guitar
"Beat Box Guitar" is an amazing song, and Grant constantly plays this one at least twice when he drives with it in the car. Many kudos here, well evidenced by the 2006 Grammy nomination for best rock instrumental. Not only is the guitar work superlative, the free section has all three members of the trio existing in their own worlds, but the resolution entrance is so perfect that it fits like a glove. The solo sections are simply amazing, and all three players drive aggressively through the number. Julie uses the entire instrument here, so incredibly deftly that one gets drawn into the intuitive intensity the three members of the trio exhibit with such skill and ease. This is a five star song, for sure!

Matchless Man
Soulfully, Belew sings, "Here I am, a matchless man, trying to set your world on fire!" How cool is that? Or should we say hot? In any event, this slow, almost bluesy arrangement evokes many feelings and emotions. Musically, it's rather funky and R&B oriented in a certain sense, yet it retains those same amazing proggy characteristics that define Belew's musical status. It's another excellent number for you all to enjoy!

A Little Madness
One might actually feel a little crazy after listening to the harmonic dissonance over the top of this number. This is truly a performance art piece. I'm not sure I would enjoy performing it myself, but one gets the feeling that if the song reflected the state of someone's mind, you can actually feel the confusion or pain of emotional dissonance. Psychological insights aside, this piece sounds almost experimental, but it adds a unique compositional style that exists nowhere else on the album. Belew deserves high praise for daring to include such a unique song on this CD.

"Drive" is the kind of song where Belew takes a little solo break and allows the Slicks to rest. The song opens with a sample of a car starting, then fading as it drives into the distance. Belew layers in a repetitive eighth note pattern that evokes feelings of driving through the countryside and looking out the window at the scenery along the way. It is a thought provoking and almost internalized kind of song. What kinds of images do you see and feel when you listen to it?

Of Bow And Drum
This is one of the more musically complex songs on the CD. It is a bit pop-like in a certain respect, because it certainly is catchy. But like everything Adrtian Belew does, the song seems simpler than it is. There is a rich depth and breadth to this song, and it just feels really good and positive. This is a great song to groove to!

Big Electric Cat
Have you ever felt like a big electric cat? Yes, it's another winner and one of the best songs on the CD. This one is rhythmically powerful while allowing the listener to groove into a compelling melody line and with plenty of room to solo and be creative by the trio members. We love this song because there seems to be lots of things going on, but Belew especially requests of his musicians that they do not overplay. Here is a song where the three find a perfect balance.

Three Of A Perfect Pair
While we haven't had the opportunity yet to dig more deeply into the lyrical content, it's clear that Belew is up to his semantics again with this King Crimson cover! But isn't that a sign of a good songwriter, when the lyrics themselves just grab your interest? And isn't it even better when the title makes you want to hear the entire song? Well, in fact this song is better than than the cool title. This is another upbeat, powerful and enjoyable number. As we compare the current trio version to the original King Crimson one, the most striking difference is how Belew compensated for performing as a trio versus a quartet. The original version is a bit slower, tempo-wise, and opens a little more space for Robert Fripp's playing. It's also more tightly structured, which underscores the free-jazz comparison for the current power trio. It seems that the Slicks add an extra level of aggressiveness while the original sits there in the pocket and grooves.

Thela Hun Ginjeet
Like the prior track, we were delighted to compare the current version to the King Crimson original. As much as we love vintage King Crimson, the lower octave vocal doubling by Tony Levin in the original makes that version feel slower, although the trio version does seem a bit more uptempo, generally. Bruford's playing is somewhat more articulated and theory driven compared to Eric Slick, who just powers through improvisationally, again making the newer version more aggressive. Julie, too, takes creative liberties here without overplaying, adding some bass harmonic depth that we hadn't heard before. We think you'll love the new version! We're not certain at all what the title means, but we do know that this song is an excellent encore as well as closer for the album. The syncopated opening melody line has just enough edge to really make the listener feel like grooving on this one. The entire album is a musical experience that we feel will one day be viewed as a vintage classic. This great song closes a great CD, and has made us serious fans of The Adrian Belew Power Trio. If you haven't yet availed yourself of this fine music, go out and buy this CD!"


Again, I cannot post the actual interviews here as it would not be fair to the magazine - like I said, I just subscribed and paid a small amount for access, but it is well worth it.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Odds and Sods for Thursday, March 27, 2008

So there is nothing better than bringing me out of an Adrian Belew Power Trio post-tour depression than an email from the Belews with a whole new fresh and tasty list of upcoming shows in May, June and July! Yeah! I cannot officially announce them yet, but I understand two are already up on Pollstar and others are already posted on the venue pages themselves. If you do go to Pollstar, just a heads up that the Milford Music Festival date listed for June 7 is no longer accurate as the fest itself has been canceled this year.

And it appears that there is a return to one venue with a legendary Trio of Terror tale behind it. I think it's a pretty safe bet Julie will be recreating certain events...

Speaking of Julie, Gary took this photo on Sunday - she needed a pic for Bass Player Magazine -- but they ended up using another so since I love it and didn't want it to go to waste...

Ugly, isn't she? Yeah, so all is great in her life - an interview in the June issue (I think) of Bass Player Magazine, touring most of the summer and beyond with INSANE countries being mentioned, and finally, her college degree. I am not sure of her exact final grade point average but she either graduated magna cum laude or summa cum laude - it's that close and that good.

In Eric Slick world, he's got a ton of gigs coming up with Delicious and a few with Crescent fact, on what appears to be Eric Slick drumming marathon nights, Crescent Moon will be opening a few of the Delicious shows.

But tomorrow evening, Crescent Moon will open for Queen Diamond at the Black Lodge:

Should be an awesome night. Queen Diamond is made up of some of the finest women musicians, both past and present Rock School All-Stars.

Here's a review which popped up regarding the Adrian Belew Power Trio performance in Harrisburg:

"...Years ago, a friend and I were discussing the concept of Power Trios. At the time, Rush was the only band which we felt embodied this concept. This was long before I listened to Primus or any other trios that I would consider in this light. Friday night, the wife and I went to see the Adrian Belew Power Trio. Let me tell you, the name fits! Even though I have listened to Side Four many times over (mine's autographed :P ) and heard a couple of bootlegs of last year's tour, hearing it all again live with almost the exact same set-list (the only change being the addition of a new song: "E") was a joy to behold. I highly recommend one pick up the CD at Adrian's website. For that matter, you should pick up all the Sides: Side One, Side Two, Side Three, and Side Four. One and Three feature Les Claypool on bass and Danny Carey on drums, Two is all Belew (and my favorite of the Sides), and Four is a Live show with the Power Trio. You can't go wrong with any of them.

On to the show! As I said, my wife went with me. This was more from guilt than anything else, I think, as she said she felt bad for not joining me for RF and the LOCG. I had no problem with that as I knew that music wasn't her cup of tea and while hoping she would enjoy the ABPT show, I was still a bit weary that she might not. My fears were unfounded and she had a great time. So much so, that she asked when they would be returning to our area while on the way home. Yay! Score one for Ade and the Slick kids.

We were third row center for this awesome event. Notice in this first pic (sorry for the crappy cell phone pic) that there are only 2 heads between me and the stage. My ass didn't like it (we were in temporary chairs as opposed to the cushy theater seats) and it let me know, but the rest of me was very happy with our location.

The show opened with the California Guitar Trio. I was excited to hear them and didn't even know they were going to be there until the day before the show. They were awesome and their cover of Echoes by Pink Floyd was spot on. As soon as I heard the first "ping" I thought "Are they going to play Echoes?" Seconds later I knew for sure and enjoyed every second of it for PF was my first love in music. While not 22 minutes long like the original, they still nailed the seagulls in the middle and just sounded awesome. They also did a nice cover of Tubular Bells and towards the end of the song, their soundman jumped onstage to accompany on a melodica. Very cool. The wife wasn't as impressed with these guys as she was with ADPT, but as I said, that's not really her cup of tea.

Soon after the CGT left the stage, the ABPT came on. No introduction, no pomp and circumstance, just the three of them walking on with Adrian bouncing into his "guitar center" taking a quick bow and then jumping right into "Writing on the Wall." This was followed by "Dinosaur" which had a wee comedic moment during the dinosaur sounds: Adrian looks over at Eric (Slick on drums) and says "a baby dinosaur" and then proceeds to make a wee dinosaur sound. They laughed, we laughed, and then they were back in the groove. At one point during the show, I looked over at my wife and said "She's phenomenal!" in reference to Julie (Slick on bass). My wife agreed whole-heartedly. This made me feel good as it was then that I knew she really was enjoying herself and could appreciate the level of musicianship that was involved here.

The other thing I'd like to point out was the level of happiness on stage. It was so refreshing to see a band on stage having the time of their lives doing what they loved to do. All three smiled at one time or another, Adrian being guilty of this on multiple accounts. At one point during a few of his jams, he would be sitting on his stool doing incredible things on his Parker Fly, and he would suddenly look up at the audience and smile a smile that would belie the fact that he was "at work." Simple grins that said "I'm having a blast doing this, I hope you are, too, and by the way, listen to these funny sounds." It was almost a 4 piece when you consider how much a role Humor played. I can't wait to see them again and hope I'm able to.

My only complaint: the ass who sat in the row behind us and was constantly yelling "Woooo" at full volume. During Beat Box Guitar, he must of yelled at least 15 times. It got annoying very fast and at one point it looked as though Adrian was getting tired of it. About halfway through the show I looked over at the ass and he was telling his friend something to the effect of "I don't care if people don't like it, I'm having fun so fuck 'em." One other offense: speaking loudly during the CGT set. Obviously not one who was familiar with the KC style of listening. When you're at a show where everyone is acting like that, I can understand people doing it. However, at this event, everyone stayed in their seats and gave their full attention to the people on stage. Except for this guy. The only sour note on an otherwise wonderful night.

Well played, Ade, et al."

Yeah, I'll say.

Here's some more shots Gary took at the final show in Vienna:

And here's some backstage shots taken by Ms. Julie Slick - there's the tour's opener, Saul Zonana, also pictured above, with Gary and Andre Cholmondeley and another photo of Eric who, what else, either practices or listens to music before the shows:

Anyway, I guess that's a wrap for now - I have writing news - I'm doing a reading in New York City on April 14 with a group of freaking literati royalty and I'm scared to death but what's new about that -- I am still deciding what to read, i.e., two new short stories, a non-fiction essay I'm currently working on, or a chapter from one of my books; an interview I did on a radio show will be broadcast April 22...all kinds of stuff, really, but I'll discuss it all later in a future, separate post.

Right now I need to finish final edits on 39 and Still Holding Him or my publisher will have my head!


Friday, March 21, 2008

The Adrian Belew Power Trio - Wrap Up

What a week. I do in fact have Adrian's devil bug -- I think I have set the world's record for being flu ridden/head cold stricken in the past six months after boasting to Gary "See? Since I stopped working nine to five do you notice I'm never sick anymore? Remember how I used to get at least four head colds a year? I cannot even remember the last time I sneezed!"

Yeah. Right. Next time remind me to keep my big mouth shut. When I'm not coughing, I'm blowing my nose; I can't taste anything (a true tragedy) and my eyes feel like they are bleeding. All I can say is: How the hell did Adrian get on stage every night with this and put on the performance he did? I haven't even been able to properly walk the dog all week. Sheesh.

Anyway, because I feel crappy and not particularly witty, this is a good opportunity to merely post some photos and some links/reviews coming out of the tour which I have been gathering like a good little publicist.

I left you last in New York and did not get a chance to mention the Harrisburg show. Alas I was not at the final show in Vienna, but Gary took amazing photos so they will be included in my next post where hopefully I will be back to my normal (as if) self.

Have I mentioned how much I love the California Guitar Trio? They were the band's opener in Harrisburg as I previously mentioned, and I immediately bought their new CD after the show (okay, I didn't buy it - they insisted we take it as a gift and I cannot thank the band enough -- I've been listening to it non-stop) as well as a recording of the show we saw...the CGT records all of their shows and then offers them for sale right after. This was especially great since Julie and Eric played with them so now I have it on CD for posterity.

Here's a couple shots of the band members taken by Gary Slick Friday night -- and Gary took all of the photographs in this post...I told you he mastered the new camera!

Paul Richards:

Bert Lam:

Hideyo Moriya

Oh wow - I just saw's on the CGT website, from Hideyo's road cam. It is a must click! If I had the energy, I'd copy the entire page here but I think it's easier for you to go to the site yourselves and while you are there, do yourself a favor and pick up a CD or seven.

I should have figured this out, but I did not know they met as original students of Robert Fripp (the year Eric was born!) in 1987.

"Paul Richards of Salt Lake City, Utah, Bert Lams of Brussels, Belgium, and Hideyo Moriya of Tokyo first met in England at one of Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft Courses in 1987. After completing several of these intensive courses, the three toured worldwide with Fripp's League of Crafty Guitarists. Wanting to continue working together after the League had run its course, Bert, Paul and Hideyo convened in Los Angeles and founded The California Guitar Trio in 1991, honing their intricate original compositions, surf covers, and classical re-workings."

From Paul Richards' Diary...and I must admit this totally cracked me up because trust me, I pictured the whole scenario though J&E tell me they saw them coming and "staged it" for their pleasure:

"On Friday night, we got to do a double bill concert with the Adrian Belew Power Trio at the Sunoco Theater in Harrisburg. CGT played a one-hour show, and the audience was really into it, with lots of bursts of applause during our set. We had a long drive from Charleston that day and were feeling a little tired, and I think Bert was a little nervous because Harrisburg is his hometown. Thanks to the audience for making this a great show. We invited Eric and Julie Slick to play with us at the end of our set. They are so much fun! And we enjoyed hanging out with them after the concert too. I don't know remember when I laughed so hard watching them jump on their beds and pillow fight as we approached their hotel room."

Ha! I guess that's their version of doing a Keith Moon. (Thank God)

And now for some assorted, glowing blurbs I've been collecting from all over the universe since the tour began last month:

From the Projekction Forum Board:

"Oh man what a show (sold out). The Trio was a awesome well oiled machine for the last gig of the tour. I knew what to expect seeing them last year, but I was even more impressed this night. Everyone was firing on all cylinders. A flawless show music and tech wise. John did a great job on the mix. It sounded much better then the show last year.

I brought my dad along and he was very impressed, and it was cool introducing him to Ade after the show. As we were leaving Ade said, "Bye Dad." Now my pops knows why I gush over how talented Adrian and the trio are. Chatted with Martha briefly pre-show. Saul's set was nice.

Wall opened in all it's fury. What I would give to see Les Claypool's reaction on how bad ass Julie is on bass, especially on this tune. Great opener.

Dinosaur was perfect. The Trio adds so much to KC songs, they sound more like a 5 piece band. Nice crowd response.

Ampersand had a awesome drawn out jam.

Ade asked how many of us were in the crowd since he couldn't see the crowd with the stage lights. Someone yelled out there are 10,000 of us, and Ade joked thru out the show about playing to such a large crowd.

Young Lions opened with a killer drum intro from Eric, I told him after the show he is a beast. I would hate to be his kit w/ all the beating it gets. I am still slackjawed how great of a drummer he is and what he gets out of it being a small kit. Lions was awesome, prolly the best version I've heard, its a top 5 Ade song for me, so always a thrill hearing it.

Beatbox was amazing. Again Eric had me amazed, as well as Ade and Julie. Ade's solo's last night were just on, incredible.

Madness was next, as I said in previous reviews, I love this tune live compared with the studio version. Pretty long jams during this one.

Drive w/in w/out you followed. Got a nice response from the all ages crowd.

E followed and it was seamless (no false starts or boo boo's) Very interesting tune. I would love to hear it again to give more thought to it. Great "new" tune.

Of Bow and Drum was excellent. Such a great song, I am happy it's in the rotation.

BEC had me bopping around. Eric was really driving this. Great soloing by Ade.

TOAPP was a great ender, again, it was flawless and had the crowd singing along.

They encored with thumping versions of Neurotica and Thela.

Just an incredible show, I am still in awe.

Chatted with Gary for a bit and joked I should get autograph from him for having the offspring he and Robin have. And asked him how his stay was at the Bates Motel. Talked with Eric and Julie for a moment. Said hi the Ade and gave him my Sharpie for his just ran out with a long line of well wishers and autograph seekers.

I picked up Side Four and got it signed.

Headed back to our friend Karl's house and sipped on awesome tequila my dad brought back from a recent trip to Mexico and puffed well into the night. Capped the night watching a Paul Simon dvd.

I had such a wonderful evening, I can't wait to see the Trio again.

And to our friends overseas, you may have some surprises soon."

Here's some more Gary Slick photo from Harrisburg...see that "pole" behind Julie? That's the revolutionary sound system I was talking about from Bose. If you click on that link, you can read all about it.

From the Zappa forum board:

"I caught the Adrian Belew Power Trio the other night and was riveted throughout. Eric Slick has noticeably 'improved,' or should I say refined his style, as he already was great, and now he is off the chart. Whereas he previously had a loosey goosey Robert Wyatt style non-attack, he now seems to have tightened up a bit channeling hard bop jazz/avant-garde punctuation/teenage rock/and a little Drumbo & Robert Williams on the side. Not to diminish the contributions of his sis, Julie. I'm still processing that. She was a joy to behold. And Adrian? One of the best, period. I can't stomach guitar wankery and fusion, and thankfully Adrian rises above it all. The man's got soul.

Very well attended show, too. Big mix of folks. Lots of musician hipsters checking out the master, a ton of Crimson geeks, Zappa fans. And the simply curious. High ratio of women, too, which is always good to see.

I see over at that he has added a couple of shows for June. If they play NY again, I will be there."

(Click on the link for some other fun photos and comments)

From, of all things, the Cincy Camping forum board:

"Ade kicked ass and his backup (the Slick kids: brother Eric Slick on drums and sister Julie Slick on bass) were absolutely phenomenal. Julie was covering KC bass lines like she wrote them herself. The wife has been converted and was also impressed. So much so, that on the way home she asked when they were coming again.

Looks might we might be seeing them again in June, Friday after Cincy. Maybe.

And it's so refreshing to see a band where everyone has a sense of humor and a smile."

This one killed me because of the serendipity factor. It's from novelist Alis Hawkins' blog -- a comment made by writer David Isaak and no, I do not know either person but too cool about the writer coincidence...which got even weirder when I went to David's blog and see that he is a team blogger with someone I do know from Zoetrope Studios, Roger Morris, who lives in the UK. It's just so freaking weird how we are all connected in this universe...

"Last night we saw the Adrian Belew Power Trio--which featured an astonishing young bass player named Julie Slick (as well as her brother Eric Slick on drums).

It turns out their mother Robin Slick is a novelist, too. Odd."

From the YES google group:

"WOW! Adrian Belew's experimental, young, talented, tight-knit group has to be one of the ten best touring acts today. Have you seen these guys? Excuse me not when I say guys as I mean no difference to the once curtsied Julie Slick of original Paul Green Allstars fame. You can see her on the documentary DVD "Rock School" touring with Project/Object in Germany in Summer 2003. She is relentless, spontaneous, casual and cool and grounded. ....and her younger brother? I kid you not when I saw the influences of Stuart Copeland and the myriad other drummers that Eric Slick has played with come alive tonight in their own home town of Philadelphia, PA tonight. I remember recording an Adrian Belew guitar workshop once held in the *then* first branch of the Paul Green School of Rock Music school. I have a bit of audio of when Eric recognized me as the guy who helped set up a Yes field trip of sorts back stage at The Spectrum. If he only knew that in two years time he would have traveled the world with one of the most sought after musicians of this or any millenium. He seems to have grown in his prowess and power since his teen years. Touring with the best could only season you as these players and yet when I say grounded I mean humble as well. Just really nice folks and a hell of a show. What more can you want? Maybe some sleep."

Oh man, I loved that post! I guess I must know the person since they are from Philly...if whoever wrote that blurb reads this, give me a shout out in the comments section. I bet Eric will know who it is...

Speaking of Yes, they also have very nice things to say on two of their forum boards...the first of which is All Good People, which I just realized I did link before, however, click on the link because there have been additional comments; the second is from their other forum, Yes Fans. I know I've posted a link to them previously as well, but here's a brand new review of the Philly show:

"The evening started with me picking up my wife, Debbie, at Liberty 1 downtown Philly at 5:10 PM.

At 5:20 PM we’re at the World Café early and get a table to have a few adult beverages before the show.

….and as we’re being seated I notice at the table next to us is Adrian Belew and friends. (Note from our author: The "friends" were Gary and me. Ha!)

We make eye contact and because of that I say “Hey Adrian, I’m really looking forward to tonight’s show” and he replies “Me tooooooo”.

I do have some manners so I walked by and that was that.

I was sitting so close I can tell ya he had the Vegetarian Chili.. (Note from our author: Yes, that is true. And Adrian also became a huge miso soup/sushi lover on this tour as well...I am guessing that is the Julie/Eric effect)

…after a while Adrian stood up and put his jacket on, so I figured it was a good time to say something.

I said Yo Adrian (I am from Philly after all) King Crimson announced the tour today and we (Philly) are getting two shows at the Keswick.

Adrian replies jokingly “Ah, they’re just trying to steal our thunder”

I am not the guy to give you a set list but I know what I like and this show was PHUCKING awesome.

I never seen the Belew Trio before and to say I was impressed is an extreme understatement.

To start the show the three of them came running out on the stage.

…and then Adrian says “One thing I ask is no “Yo Adrian’s” (Philly, it’s a Rocky thing..ha ha)

The enthusiasm and energy to the max!!!

It was the best show I’ve seen in a long time.

Adrian Belew is a guitar god, at one time he was on his knees playing the guitar and the effects pedals with his hands.

He had this big Cheshire cat smile on his face the whole night, it looked and felt like he was having the time of his life.

One of the highlights for me came from Eric Slick. It was at the end of a song I know Ampersand. Let me tell you he was hitting the drums so freaking hard (he was putting his whole body into it), like a sledge hammer I don’t know how he didn’t put a hole in the drum.

It was soooooooooo cool!

I gotta admit, I don’t know any female bass players, but, let me tell you Julie Slick was amazing.

She is quick as shyte and she is also one of those musicians who play live on stage in bare feet (someone want to explain why) like Steve Wilson for one.

…at one point she was jamming and leaning almost up against her amp with one of the best bass player scowls on her face I’ve ever seen.

I refuse to mention that she is also young and beautiful, it’s all about the music.

Yeah I refuse to mention that.

This show was Hot!!! Whenever they play Philly I’ll be there.

Well, that’s my best shot at a review.

If you have the chance, GO SEE THIS SHOW!

You will have a wonderful time!"

Hahahaha - I think your shot at a review was wonderful, kind stranger. See you at the Crimson show this summer!

And here's a review on the same forum board about the Chicago show:

"We had a fantastic time last week at the Chicago show. What a fantastic trio! Adrian was having a great time as was the audience. I love how he watches for the crowd reaction after a great guitar riff. He grins as if to say, "How did ya like THAT!"

My only complaint was that the stage was ringed by 6 foot plus took 1/2 the show before I could wiggle into a spot that I could actually see Eric. No problem hearing him tho!"

Anyway, again, it's worth clicking on the link to the above post to see photos, You Tubes, and other cool comments.

Here's another link containing lots of great photos - musician Tim Reynolds' message board:

"#1 -- I saw the great Adrian Belew (of King Crimson) last week. He was touring as a Power Trio with a 22 year old drummer, and the drummer's 20 year old sister on bass. The brother and sister rhythm section were phenomenal. The show was at my favorite venue. What more could you ask for? The setlist even included a few King Crimson tunes."

"#2 -- Two things:

1. Belew's a badass.
2. Hottest bassist ever."

#3"Agreed. I mean, barefoot, are you kidding me?

I think I forgot to mention that at the show I picked up SIDE 4 which is the latest in Belew's line of releases, and it was actually a live set of the Power Trio Playing. The cd is absolutely amazing, and by far the best new music I've picked up in a while. I highly recommend it, and I think it is only available at shows, or on his website."

From the Shank Hall forum as concerns the trio's show in Wisconsin:

"The Adrian Belew Show was great!!

Eric and Julie Slick were awesome. We already know Adrian is a good musician. Julie is a monster on Bass and Eric has some really unique beats. They both look like they were having fun. Sorry if I didn’t write enough about Ade. I always enjoy when the underdogs kick it up.

I am not going to go into major detail. If you like Adrian Belew, you know where I am coming from."

From the Fender Telecaster forum board with the title "3 Piece Bands that Sounded Huge Live":

"The Adrian Belew Power Trio:
Adrian Belew (guitar and the usual truckload of gear)
Eric Slick (drums)
Julie Slick (bass)"

And other people came in and agreed. Erm, if you look at the other company they are in on that board, it's pretty damn impressive. (Rush, Cream, Hendrix, etc.)

Okay, that's a wrap for today. I am exhausted and need to curl up in the fetal position and pray that this stupid cold goes away. I leave you with another Gary Slick photo of the trio signing their tour posters following the Harrisburg concert.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Adrian Belew Power Trio Tour - Recap One

Well, life back in Philadelphia is back to normal, kind of...the month long, cross-country Adrian Belew Power Trio tour ended Saturday night in Vienna, Virginia and my family came home yesterday. While I am thrilled to see them, there's a small part of me that's depressed. The music fan/proud mother in me wanted this tour to go on forever -- to come downstairs every morning for the past four weeks to glowing reviews and great You Tubes of the trio in performance is pretty much as good as it gets. Wait. Let me amend that. Seeing them three nights in a row in Philadelphia, New York City, and Harrisburg...well, there's nothing quite like that in the world.

So I last left you with my impressions of the Philly show. Let's play catch up. I have a feeling this may be a two or three part post but we'll see. Not only am I mildly depressed, I think I'm getting Adrian's flu...yep...the last week of the tour he was really really sick - so was John Sinks, engineer...but these guys are such amazing professionals you would never know it. Fans in New York, however, knew something was up...but more on that in a minute.

Speaking of New York, here's a couple photos of the trio shot by proud dad Gary Slick. The following evening in Harrisburg, I don't know how it happened, but Gary figured out the perfect setting for his new camera in low light and I can't wait to post those and the ones from Virginia because they are beyond spectacular but because I am apparently very OCD, I must do things in order so here's some really neat ones from B.B. Kings Thursday night.

So Thursday morning in Philadelphia Gary and I had breakfast with the band at the University City Marathon Grill...and as I had already known from the night before, Adrian was fighting a flu bug that was turning into something respiratory or bronchial. He is so amazing - it was obvious he wasn't feeling well but he kept smiling and discussing future plans and concepts he has for the trio and we just kind of sat there with our mouths hanging open...the usual. The man is so brilliant...he's the musical version of a mad scientist.

One of the really cool perks of the tour was that the trio got to visit several factories along the way - Julie, who as you know is endorsed by Lakland Bass, toured their facility and I have to tell you, it was the unanimous consensus that getting that Bob Glaub signature bass right at the start of the tour (do you know they had it waiting for her at her hotel in Seattle on the very first night?!) totally changed her performance. She went from incredible to other worldly. Everyone noticed it - it's like she picked up that bass and magic happened. She lost the "John Entwistle" stance (not that there's anything wrong with that!) and rocked out all over the stage. Pull up any You Tube from this tour and have a look/listen to say,"A Little Madness" and you'll see what I mean.

Let me just take the opportunity to thank Lakland for endorsing Julie and for coming to the show. Did you guys have a good time?

In Massachusetts the day before they played in Philadelphia, the Adrian Belew Power Trio visited the Bose Factory and they left there completely ecstatic. Bose has a brand new, revolutionary sound system which they allowed the trio to try out for the remainder of the tour. To say it is incredible is putting it mildly. At every single venue, all of the techies rushed the stage, wanting to know what it was. The sound was the best it's ever been. Again, a huge thank you to the wonderful folks at Bose...I know owning one of your systems is high on Adrian's wish list...maybe even coming in at number one. It's all we talked about for the rest of the tour.

Which is why I knew it wasn't a sound problem when Adrian suddenly left the stage after five songs at B.B. Kings on Thursday night, saying "The band is going to take a break. We'll be back shortly." Eric jumped up from the drums, Julie and Ade quickly put down their instruments, and fled the stage.

So yeah, I knew it wasn't a sound board problem; I didn't see Andre or John on stage so I knew it couldn't be equipment related (and the instruments were left on stands on the stage) so I looked over at Gary in alarm, only Gary wasn't there. He was sitting at a table closer to the stage so he could take photos; I sat in a booth behind him with my pal Kim Wetherell, who cracked me up post concert because as a special favor to me, since I missed the premier in NYC due to Eric's appendectomy in December, uploaded Why We Wax, the short documentary in which I have a (hilarious) role, to her iPod so I got to watch it while the band broke down their equipment for the night. It's entered in several film festivals and I'm laughing because watch, I'm going to end up being in competition with myself for my other short film entered in festivals - the one based on Daddy Left Me Alone with God. How did I end up connected with two movies? Life is so very, very strange but I'm loving it. And where is my photo, Ant Neate? (as I previously blogged, he's the actor in film and he is HOT)

(Just kidding...having some fun with Gary)

And I've completely gone off track, haven't I.

Back to New York and B.B. Kings. So I look over at Gary's table, and he's not there, which meant he knew something bad had happened. Don't ask me how I knew that, I just did, but I mean, it was pretty obvious. In the two years since I've known him, Adrian has never left the stage - he never even divided his show into two sets unless it's something like the Tokyo gig last summer where the band played two full shows per night. (How did they ever pull that off? So much energy goes into just one god...Ade is superman with the mind and body of a twenty year old).

I'm digressing again. Sorry. It's been a long while since I did an actual diary style post here - I've basically been cutting and pasting reviews and trust me, I have a ton of those, too which I haven't put up here yet. Anyway, I was completely freaked by the empty stage and Gary's empty table. I debated what to do. B.B. King's was really crowded and there are a million waiters milling about with trays of food and drinks so my getting backstage would have been difficult. I figured if God forbid anything was really wrong, Gary would come get me. I just could not imagine what happened - could it be Julie? Eric? Was Ade sicker than he let on? You wouldn't have known it by the first four songs. But I did notice he kept wiping his forehead with a towel. It was incredibly hot in the club, I was melting myself, but I just chalked it up to a senior moment, i.e., a dreaded hot flash. But apparently everyone in the place was burning up (do they turn up the heat so you order more drinks?) and that, combined with Adrian's fever (yep, he had one), almost made him delirious on stage. Gary said he noticed it during "A Little Madness"...he said Ade looked over at Julie and he just didn't seem "right".

Anyway, backstage Ade got cold compresses, ice, a lot of love, and ten minutes later the trio was back on stage, putting on a mind-blowing show.

Oh, while we were backstage before the concert, two things happened that were way cool. First, the manger walked in with a business card and asked for Eric Slick.

"This gentleman is here to see you," he said to Eric, handing him the card.

Here, it was Tim from Paiste Cymbals, who of course endorse Eric and Eric had called Tim with an emergency -- he cracked a cymbal at the show in Philly. Tim already had plans to attend the New York show so he got there early and brought Eric a brand new cymbal. How is that for service? Eric is going to kill me for saying this but I have to and maybe a few of you will get to read it before he asks me to delete it (because he's humble but maybe I can talk him into letting me keep this in here because he knows everyone is aware of my over-exuberance when it comes to these things)..but anyway, Tim told Eric he loved the show so much that if he didn't have to deliver cymbals to the drummer for Iron Maiden the next day in New Jersey, he would have driven 100 miles to the Harrisburg show that night.

Then the manager at B.B.'s showed up again with another business card, this time for Adrian. It was from Steve Olsen, the owner of the West Bank Cafe on 42nd Street in New York. He is a HUGE Adrian Belew fan and asked that the trio and guests come to his restaurant after the show where his chef would prepare a very special meal.

Despite not feeling well, how could Ade pass up an offer like that? Besides, there's nothing like an exquisite gourmet experience to make a person feel better, you know? And Ade got to knock back his favorite, lemon drop martinis, so we were in pretty good spirits the minute we sat down. Actually, we were in great spirits because throughout the meal, the owner played nothing but Adrian music. It was as it should be! What a pleasure to see the joy on Adrian's face and Steve's (the owner's) face as he sat with us and talked to Ade and the band. And then Steve's chef, who also attended the show, brought out plate after plate of the most amazing food ever.

Oh, a funny side note: When we first walked into the restaurant and were seated, Eric leaned over and whispered "Ha - guess who we are sitting next to? Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers." Martha (Ade's wife) dared Eric to go over and introduce himself because what a freaking coincidence, a couple of weeks ago Gibby was a School of Rock guest professor -- which of course is how Ade met Julie and Eric two years ago. So Eric and Gibby talked a bit and naturally what was Gibby's first question: "What kind of rig does Adrian use?"

So that was really cool but enough of the small talk -- let me tell you what you really want to know -- how was the food at West Bank Cafe? Oh. My. God. We had three vegetarians at the table, so they made some subtle adjustments in their menu, like, they brought out skillets (some of the meals are served sizzling in miniature, so cool) of ricotta cheese gnocchi with wild mushrooms, basil broth & scorched fontina cheese...normally this dish also comes with shredded duck...oh God...I'm swooning just remembering how unbelievably good it was. Oh, wait, first they came out with several plates of grilled peppered shrimp with Florida grapefruit, avocado and fennel salad. That was followed by, for the meat eaters, Beef short ribs and chips with caramelized onion, manchego cheese and blue corn tortilla chips. Think that's it? Guess again. Plates just kept appearing...each one better than the next. Pan Seared Sea Scallops with celery root, leeks, potatoes, wild mushrooms and truffle vinaigrette. Pan Seared Bronzino with eggplant purée, orange peel, fennel, spinach and citrus sauce. Winter Vegetable Plates with winter spiced butternut squash, Chinese forbidden black rice, currants, swiss chard and walnut-sage pesto. Truffled Mac-n-Cheese (yeah, you've never had mac and cheese like this before...oh my God...the truffles...and it also had mascarpone cheese in it). A steak sandwich which was really filet migñon on a toasted brioche with french fries and sauce béarnaise. The alcohol kept flowing, and then they brought out clean plates and silverware and we're like, oh no, please tell me they are not bringing any more food...

Wrong. Out came plate after plate of the best desserts I've ever had anywhere. Peanut butter mouse. A flourless chocolate tart with fresh whipped cream. Berries. Rice pudding that had to be made with heavy cream...I've never tasted anything like it in my life. I know there was more, but by then I was so full even though it was killing me, I could not eat another bite.

So the bottom line here is, next time I am in New York, I will be back at the West Bank Cafe and here's my official endorsement for any of you in the's now in my top five restaurants and I've eaten all over the world. I'm sure by now you've all clicked on the link but just to make it easy, they serve lunch and dinner and are located at 407 West 42nd Street.

Oh, and as I said, the whole time we're having this religious food experience, we're listening to songs like Three of a Perfect Pair.

It was heaven.

We rolled out of the restaurant at 2:00 a.m. and did not get home until 4:00 a.m. We knew we had to be up early the next day for the Harrisburg show but we did manage to sleep in a bit and then Gary had to run up to his mom's house and drop some things off so we ended up getting to the Whitaker Center Friday night about an hour before show time, just in time to grab a quick bite.

Okay, obviously my Harrisburg post is going to have to be a separate one. This post is a mini-series, eh?

But here's a quick tease for my next post - Friday night I met the California Guitar Trio, who opened for the trio that evening, and asked that Julie and Eric sit in on a song. Eric knew it, Julie had to learn it, so while Gary and I were having dinner...

From Bert Lam's diary:
"Friday eve, jamming backstage with Eric and Julie Slick of the Adrian Belew Power Trio. They played Pipeline with us at the end of our set: fun!" (photo by Kurt Berthelmehs)

Okay, and on that note, I leave with you with a very mellow and beautiful version of Matchless Man from the Harrisburg show...where by now, Adrian has a full blown case of the flu and is still insisting he's fine. What a pro. What a guy. What a band.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Adrian Belew Power Trio - tonight in Harrisburg, PA

Listen, I have the world's most incredible story about last night's show in New York, and the absolute amazing time we had after the concert, but I'm thinking I'm going to save it for Monday. We didn't get in until 4:00 a.m. and barely awake, we're leaving for Harrisburg now.

But two things - thank you to all of you sending me photos - I will give you linked and/or personal shout outs in future posts but today, I just have to put up this crazy one Gary took of Eric last night which totally blows me away and also, I really want to post this review that appeared in the Daily New Hampshire Gazette following the trio's show this week at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA - I can't link it because it's a subscription only newspaper but if you do not want to settle for my cut and paste here, you can google it, be as crazy as I am, and pay for it yourself.

Guitar magic with a smile

"If you've ever been a nerd for progressive rock, at some point you've bumped into Adrian Belew. Whether you're a King Crimson nut, Zappa freak, Talking Heads follower or Bowie aficionado, there's no mistaking the guitarist's electronically processed elephantine roar and chaotic playfulness. And he's always smiling! Is there a happier music-maker? And one that can get an entire audience singing call-and-response in 7/4 time?

Belew played the Iron Horse this past Tuesday with his Power Trio, which stars Philadelphia-based wunderkind siblings Julie and Eric Slick, aged 22 and 20, on bass and drums. They're astounding. Maybe that's one reason Belew is currently beaming - he couldn't ask for more exciting and energetic bandmates.

The trio basically played the entirety of its new album, "Side Four Live," a captured-in-concert collection of songs from Belew's career, including old solo material like "Big Electric Cat" and tunes from his time with King Crimson.

Belew stood center stage with four amps aimed up at him, two on either side, and audience members stood up and bowed grandly to him with "we're not worthy" gestures, but Belew doesn't act like any kind of guitar god. What he does with a guitar is insanely original - thanks to his banks of effects and unique string-bending technique he can make it sound like a flock of wild geese, or an angry meltdown of violins - but his manner is more that of a quirky uncle. He'll be soloing angularly over two looped tracks of other guitar spazziness, and in the middle of it, look out at the crowd with an affable, big-eyed grin.

The Slicks easily kept up with Belew's fiery "twang bar" flailing. Eric's specialty was playing fluid rhythms with shocking skill. During his song-opening drum solo on "Young Lions," I had to crane my neck to check what my ear was hearing - surely there were more drums up there I couldn't see, or the drummer had secret appendages on his body somewhere. He tumbled the sticks across the tom-toms like he had four precise and well-trained arms.

Bassist Julie was a monster on her instrument, with an awesome gritty tone and more chops than my tired mind could comprehend, but again, though her hands and fingers moved expertly and maniacally around the strings, she played with focus and poise - and in bare feet.

Many of the show's 14 songs morphed into very heady jams, and the highlight of the night's instrumental fireworks was "A Little Madness," which started with Belew looping multiple tracks of his own wailing guitar. It sounded like a fleet of ambulances careening down the street. Julie started up a dangerous bass line, the aural equivalent of a tough armed thug determinedly heading somewhere. Her instrument's sound had some blown-speaker bite to it, and eventually the tune's improvisational section got wilder and she and Belew were throttling their instruments on the highest frets they could reach. Eric turned up the bash factor on his drums and the three of them built up a very furious tension; when they released it by switching back to that main riff, the audience whooped in excitement.

The trio unveiled a brand-new song, "E," which built from a spindly scale-like melody played and then looped by Belew. Later in the tune Julie took over the quick finger-twisting melody, and when the song was over, appreciative fans yelled out, "Bass player, we love you!"

Belew gave the people what they wanted at the show's end, finishing the main set with one of King Crimson's most popular (and poppy) songs, "Three of a Perfect Pair," and coming back for an encore of two more Crimson classics, "Neurotica" and "Thela Hun Ginjeet." As Eric pummeled a primal rhythm, Belew twisted skronky distortion and vertiginous harmonics out of his heavily processed guitar and Julie popped and dug into her strings, they looked like one little happy brain-frying family."

See you tonight at the Whitaker Center for the Performing Arts - the show starts at 7:30 p.m.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Adrian Belew Power Trio - Tonight in NYC!

I have one thing to say about last night's Adrian Belew Power Trio Show in Philadelphia. It was an interesting coincidence that the King Crimson tour dates for this summer were announced yesterday, because the general consensus in the audience was: Robert Fripp, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, and Gavin Harrison? You guys better start "practising"...this band is at the top of their game in an almost inhuman way. Ha ha - just kidding, but seriously, the sold-out crowd was dumbfounded - once they picked their jaws up from the floor. What was so totally cool was the fact that there was a huge mix of fans - from teenagers to those *cough* my age...and there wasn't anyone standing still. Even those with reserved tables were dancing in their seats.

ETA: Some amazing You Tubes from last night.

Oh, heart be still - the world's greatest band introduction:

A Little Madness (holy crap, watch Julie Slick)

E (a work in progress)

Yeah, last night was freaking amazing. I am so stoked for New York tonight!

All photos courtesy of Gary Slick

From the Planet Crimson Forum Board:

"Big gushing reviews may be getting a tad repetitive at this point, so a few observations on the Philly show instead.

-Apparently Adrian was feeling slightly sick tonight, but had I not been told, there's no possible way I would have known. His voice sounded just great and the blast of energy from the stage was still enough to rattle the chimneys for blocks around.

-Julie used to have a kind of John Entwistle stage presence before; I never knew whether it was shyness or an oh-so-cool laid-back stage persona or both. But she surprised us by being just as animated as the other two, and it's remarkable how warm & engaging the trio comes across as a whole. When they ran into some technical snafus early on (expertly covered by a killer Eric solo to lead into "Young Lions"), I never got a sense that they had to recover any kind of lost momentum. The audience was right there with them through any rough spots.

-Not only is the trio better & tighter than they were last year, they're also looser. The set was largely the same as Side Four, but the difference in how it's all played is astounding. For maybe half of tonight's show, they seemed like practically a jam band. Albeit a jam band that could still get a whole floor of people (some of them quite inebriated) bouncing in 7/8.

-J&E have an amazing telepathy. One of the joys of watching the band is not only how they all interact, but how the two of them like to crank out tricky fills in unison.

-The new tune "E" sounds killer. First it's disturbing pseudo-surf music, then a wonky space-jazz groove. Then the space-jazz lounge has a cameo by a hyper pianist, doing his impression of Keith Tippett doing his impression of a drunken cat walking over the keys. It's really much better than that sounds.

-"Beat Box Guitar" was practically an out-of-body experience. They take it out of its structure, then they take it further than you'd ever expect, then they shoot straight for some unimaginable dimension of hyperspace. Rare to see any group of humans reach this level of improv all together.

Overall: one wild ride, my favorite ABPT show so far, and let's hope this group lasts as long as it can."

Anyway, there are only three days left on this tour, and tonight's show in New York City at BB King's is a must see. I'll be there and hope to see many of you!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Adrian Belew Power Trio: Tonight in Philadelphia!

Wow. The Adrian Belew Power Trio is in the home stretch of their month long tour and FINALLY landing in Philadelphia tonight at World Cafe Live (doors at 6:00 p.m.; show starts at 7:30 p.m.) where I FINALLY get to see them live though living vicariously through You Tubes, like the one of "Young Lions" just posted of the trio performing Young Lions in Natick, MA on Sunday below has not been too terrible. Nope. Not too terrible at all.

ETA: Oh my god - I found a new search site which nope, I'm not sharing, but look what it just turned up re the Belew Trio at the Iron Horse last night:

"We had a great time last night. Besides the musical highlights, a comical moment occurred when Eric asked for (pardon me if I get this wrong, I'm not a musician) "more wedge in (his) lodge." AB countered that he'd not had any wedge in his lodge for some time as he's on tour; the crowd erupted into a chant of "Spitzer." You can't write this stuff, folks! BTW, looked to be a capacity crowd. Met Adrian after the show, got stuff signed. Was delighted to see Andre of Project/Object doing his "day job" of teching for the band, I had forgotten Eric played w/ P/O."

Ha! Let's sell Philadelphia out tonight, shall we? Though from what I've heard, the trio has been packing the venues all across the country throughout this tour so it should not be too much of a stretch.

I'm pretty excited about the show tonight but since he gave me permission to do so, I really want to talk about Gary's weekend in Cleveland, too. So let me put this post up for now, have some coffee, and I will come back in an edit this in an hour or two and tell you the whole sad story...which isn't sad at was scary...very the time but now we are kind of laughing about it and it's a hell of a memory for our mental scrapbook though lucky Gary, once I tell the tale and post the accompanying photographs, he's going to have an actual physical record of the event for posterity.

Okay. Must. Get. Coffee.
And now the moment you have all been waiting for. Gary's road trip to Ohio.

The plan was, Gary, who could not wait until the trio played Philly the following week, decided to blow off work this past Friday and drive to Cleveland, catch their show at the Beachland Ballroom that evening, spend the night hanging with the band afterwards, and then drive back home to Philadelphia early Saturday morning while the others traveled to Buffalo for their concert there that evening.

"Hey, Gar?" I said, looking up from the computer screen as he was getting ready to leave early Friday.


"I think you may be driving into a blizzard. The headline on Yahoo news says "Major snow storm unfolding, heading towards Ohio."



"I'll be gone by then. I'm leaving early. What's the forecast for today?"

"Well, it's forty degrees, but they are saying two to four inches tonight..."

"That's nothing. And weather travels west to east (do you believe I did not know that?) so when the real storm hits on Saturday afternoon, I'll already be back in Philadelphia."

"Okay..." I am still feeling a bit anxious about this and click on which pretty much says what Yahoo said except that they had big red letters which flashed "ALERT ALERT ALERT".

I looked over at Gary, who, as usual and though he does own them, was not wearing a winter coat, gloves or boots, but was dressed in his usual daily outfit of jeans, t-shirt, and Chuck Taylors...for outerwear he throws on a zip up Beatle sweatshirt.

But he'll be in the car, right? And we have a jeep. Four wheel drive. Okay. Deep breath. No worries. He'll be fine. As usual, I am hyperventilating over nothing.

So Gary leaves and I'm like, woo hoo, I can spend the next three days on a writing marathon.

But nervous norvous that I am, I kept checking That red "ALERT" thing had me really edgy.

Gary checked in with me on his cell phone from time to time.

"Hi! Just passed Harrisburg...on the turnpike to Ohio now..."

"How's the weather?"

"Fine. Why?"

"Nothing. You know me. Worrying needlessly is what I do best."

So I go back to writing and bury myself in my work. The hours pass without my even noticing and then my cell phone rings again.

"Hi..." Gary does not sound nearly as cheerful or excited as his last phone call.

"What's wrong???"

"Well, I'm in Ohio..."


"It's snowing alright."

"How bad?"


"Oh my God. Where are you in Ohio?"

"About twenty minutes from Cleveland. But I'm in the traffic jam from hell. I'm moving an inch at a time. But I just wanted to check in and let you know I'm okay."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah. I can't exactly drive over five miles an hour and neither can anyone else so there's nothing to worry about."



"Okay. Don't drive and talk on the cell at the same time. I'm nuts enough over this as it is. Call me when you get to the venue."

"Alright. But really, Rob, don't get upset. I've been in worse weather than this. It'll be fine."

Well, you know me, I hang up the phone and this time I do not go to, I turn on the actual weather channel.

"A storm of historic proportions is obliterating Cleveland..."

My eyes bulge out of my head as I watch the reporter on the t.v. screen. He's blowing out of camera range - the winds are so intense he can't stay upright. Then they show the very highway Gary is on. A massive pile-up has occurred - a bunch of tractor trailers lost control and hit each other, blocking all but one lane of traffic. As I'm watching this, a small car spins out and is broadsided by another truck.

"Uh oh, I guess whoever driving that car must have felt that hit," the reporter says.

Um, you think? I hope whoever driving that car is still alive!

I sit down on the sofa too afraid to move.

An hour later, my cell rings. It's Gary.

"Hi! I made it! I'm at the venue now, waiting for the kids. Think they'll be surprised?"

"Yeah," I manage to say. I hope you "hid" our jeep with the big bright Frank Zappa bumper sticker so the surprise isn't ruined but I didn't say it. Besides, where do you hide a jeep in a storm in a city you don't even live in? It's probably covered with snow anyway.

I should have said something because minutes later, Julie and Eric burst into the Beachland Ballroom shouting "Dad!" because yeah, yeah, they saw his car.

Here's a photo Gary took of Julie during sound check:

Anyway, he told me not to worry about the weather; he was going to watch the band rehearse; then they were all going to have dinner together...and he just sounded so happy and excited that I didn't dare tell him what I was watching on the weather channel...that at least fifteen more inches of snow were expected to fall overnight.

Gary has taught me to live in the moment one day at a time so that is what I decided to do.

So while I sat at home working on edits to my new novel, Gary saw the show of a lifetime and here are some photos he took of Julie, Ade, and Eric on stage:

I went to bed around 10:00 p.m. on Friday and woke up at dawn on Saturday. I just had this queasy, uneasy feeling but I didn't want to call Gary and make things worse...because naturally my first act of the day was to turn on the weather channel and when I saw what was going on in Cleveland I almost had a stroke.

"Level 3 Emergency...level 2 emergency..."

I don't know which one is worse, I just know that it went from bad to terrible to horrifying in the ten minutes I watched.

"All secondary roads are under two foot drifts; the snow plows have not been able to get through, it is expected to snow throughout the day...motorists are urged to stay off the highways..."

I gulped. Okay. Gary will stay put in Cleveland. It's not a big deal. He'll just remain in the hotel an extra night and hopefully by Sunday the salt trucks will have done their job and that's all there is to it.

Erm, no.

Gary, who did not have the benefit of the weather channel, and who has driven our jeep through all kinds of monsoons and blizzards, decided to drive home.

I got the distress call an hour or two later.

"Rob...I got big problems..."

"What do you mean?"

"I've never seen snow like this in my life. I couldn't see. I was afraid I'd be killed so I tried to exit the turnpike - the minute I did, I could not see a thing other than I could have vaulted airborne down an I turned the wheel, missed the guard rail by inches, and now I'm stuck in like six feet of snow."

"You're stuck? Oh. My. God. Where are you?"

"I have no idea. I'm in the middle of nowhere."

So you have to picture this. He's stuck in a snow drift in a deserted city wearing sneakers and a sweatshirt -- no boots, no gloves -- with nothing in our car like salt or a shovel or a blanket...or any food. And with half a tank of gas.

It gets even better.

"I only have one bar left on my cell phone."

"Gary! What are we going to do?"

"I don't know. I am going to try and flag someone down...I saw a salt truck and a snow plow pass by...I just have to pray I find a good Samaritan."

"Okay. Let me try and help you from here. Do you have any idea at all where you are so I can call the State Police?"

"No. And I really have to hang up. My cell is going to lose power any minute."

"Oh god. Okay. Please, please, please do not try anything stupid. Just stay in the car and try and keep warm and hopefully someone will come by...don't worry about the damn car...leave soon as you can tell me where it is, I will find a towing service in Cleveland..."

"Alright. Bye."

And then he hangs up.

So you do not want to know all of the images running through my head but you can imagine. I was a complete basket case.

I get the brilliant idea to call Andre, the trio's tour manager, praying that since he's been a touring musician the past twenty years and knows this country inside out, maybe he's still nearby or at least can point me in the direction of someone who can help.

Well, he tried, but the weather was just so bad and without me being able to tell him exactly where Gary was...

Anyway, finally, an hour or so later Gary calls. After trying four different times to flag down passing plow operators, one guy stopped his truck and told Gary to get in. Gary had no idea where he was even going.

Gary begged him to try and push his jeep out with the plow but the guy wouldn't do it - he knew he'd damage our car and there was no convincing him that WE DID NOT CARE.

So Gary abandoned the car and was driven here:

Erm...he had to walk through two feet of snow just to get to the front door of this, um, mom and pop establishment...and for $40.00 a night, the room was his. Here. Let me take you on a guided tour.

Here is the heater in the room - do you believe this? Gary removed his soaking wet socks and sneakers and tried to dry them off without setting the room on fire.

Gary tried to pass the time by watching television, but as you can see, it's even got a dial...and there were only two working channels.

Here's where he had to allegedly sleep while wondering how the hell he was ever going to get safely back to Philadelphia:

There are even more photos - the bathroom is not to be believed -- and even worse, there were no phones in the room so I still had no way of staying in constant touch with Gary. But the good news was, the two women who owned the hotel knocked on his door and took pity on him - they brought him a McDonald's burger and a Coke and I had the number to their front desk so at least, assuming I could find a tow truck driver, I could get word to Gary.

And Gary also found out from the man who took him to the hotel where his car was abandoned. So now at least I had something to work with.

I started with the Ohio State Police. After being left on hold for a half hour (don't forget, it was a Saturday, it was a blizzard, etc. etc.), getting disconnected twice, and almost having a coronary, they finally got on the line...only to tell me it wasn't their jurisdiction and I had to call the local police for that area.

"Well, what would that be?" I asked.

"We don't know," said the clerk, hanging up.

So I start comparing Cleveland to Philadelphia. We have like 100 precincts here for every section of the city. If someone was stranded in Center City, I'd call the 6th precinct, not the 35th, who would handle it if we were twenty miles in another direction.

I had no fucking idea who to call.

So I tried calling the hotel's front desk, figuring they'd know, but that must have been when they went out to get Gary his burger because I got an answering machine.

All I could think was, if this were Philadelphia, our car would be towed if abandoned in a storm, and we would not be able to get it until business hours on Monday.

This could not happen. And unlike Philadelphia, I had absolutely no idea where they'd tow it.

I pulled up Cleveland Police on Google and started dialing different precincts like a madwoman. FINALLY I got the Richfield Police, who were in fact the right parties, and who laughed when I told them our predicament.

"Oh yeah, we know where he is stuck. Black Jeep Liberty, right? Yeah, he's there with a red Mazda, a green Subaru..." said the female officer.

What the fuck do I care? Just tell me how to get our car...

"Well, you'd better get your car," she tells me.

"That's why I'm calling! How do I get it?"

"You just can't leave it on the ramp. The roads are closed."

"I know that! What do I do?"

"I don't know what to tell you but you cannot leave it on the ramp. When it gets dark, someone is going to hit your car."

"I thought the roads were closed! Who is going to hit it?" Oh yeah, the salt trucks.

The officer laughs again. Yeah, yeah, this is really funny. Fucking hilarious.

Okay, deep breaths. At least Gary is warm and safe in his hotel.

But there's a big part of me that is worried he's going to get so frustrated he's going to leave the hotel on foot and try to dig out the car. Because I know Gary. What I did not know was that Gary's car really was stuck in the middle of nowhere; the hotel he was in was more like five miles away, and he could not even get out the front door of his room.

"Can you at least give me the name and telephone number of a tow truck company?"

Oh. I forgot to include another lovely part of this story. First, I started calling towing companies. I went from A to L...which meant I called about 200 companies. Every single one of them told me where our car was is "not their area" or "we are backed up for seven/eight hours...we'll never get to you today..."

That's why I started calling the police. Because I was calling tow truck drivers in Ohio and I didn't even know what "township" in Ohio our car was in.

Anyway, after spending the entire morning and afternoon on the phone hyperventilating, the police officer gave me the name and phone number of someone who "might" be able to tow our car.

I call them. They laughed, too. Yeah, this is really a fucking riot. But, success! They told me they could tow the car -- we had a jeep - that meant they needed a flatbed truck to do it -- and also needed our car to be in "neutral" or all four tires would go flat. Hopefully Gary left the keys in the car?

What, are you out of your mind? Why would Gary leave his keys in the car?

But oh fuck, now what?

I had to sweet talk the tow truck driver into swinging by the hotel and picking Gary up with the keys.

At this point I'm thinking we're several hundred dollars in the hole...maybe even a thousand.

He tells me it'll be like eight or nine that evening. Okay, fine.

Except Gary has his cell phone off to conserve power and no one is picking up the hotel phone.

I fucking freaked out for six hours. Pacing back and forth, worrying that Gary tried to get the car himself, worried that the tow truck driver would go to the hotel and then not be able to find Gary because guess what, I forgot to ask him what his room number was.

Then I watched the weather channel a little more.

"All roads closed. The plows will not even be out any more tonight until the snow stops."

Well, that ended that. Gary was stuck there; our car was stuck god knows where, and I may as well go to bed.

But something told me not to. And despite drinking half a bottle of brandy to calm down, I was stone cold sober and wide awake.

And sure enough, right around midnight, my phone rang. It was the tow truck driver.

"Hey! I'm outside the hotel but I can't get in -- too much snow. Tell your husband to get out here!"

FUCK! I tried calling Gary; his cell was off; he was probably sound asleep. I called the hotel...YAY...they were not only there, they were wide awake and saw the truck's flashing lights.

"Oh yeah, that's Elmo! We know him. We'll go get your husband now."

I had visions of Gary sound asleep and them having to break into his room...arghh....

And that was the last I heard until...

Two hours later, around 1:30-2:00 a.m., my phone rings. It was the tow truck driver.

"Well, we got your husband out finally. Don't know if he made it back to the hotel, though. It's really rough out here."

And then he hung up on me.

So now I don't know if Gary is stuck again, back at the hotel, or what. A part of me dared to hope he was on his way home, but then I remembered the roads were closed. I didn't want to risk calling him on his cell, knowing how little power he had left.

I didn't sleep at all. I couldn't.

Now there's a whole story connected to the tow truck driver but I will have to go into that another time and I really do not know if it will translate well here...Gary does an imitation that is killer and I should really save the rest of the story for him to tell in person. But um...let's just say he was a bit of a character and leave it at that.

Finally, Sunday morning the phone rings.

"Hi! I'm on my way home!"

"What?" Yeah, that's all I could manage.

"Rob, I have such a story for you...but anyway, I made it back to the hotel; caught a few hours sleep - our car is fine and right outside - I should be home for dinner. Okay, let me hang up before the phone dies and I'll see you soon. Love you!"

I spent the rest of the day pacing and going nuts, but luckily he had enough power in his phone to call me from Harrisburg, two hours away, to tell me he was doing great, he got through it, and there was luckily no more bad weather anywhere.

Trust me, that was the abridged version of our weekend. You'll just have to imagine the rest or catch up with Gary and/or me in the real world.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Adrian Belew Power Trio - from my mail bag and more

ETA: Hahahahahaha - This is for you, Julie.

ETA 2: And here's an awesome review I just found of the show in Natick, MA courtesy of Mike O'Risal.

So for those of you who do not already know, to say this was an, um, interesting weekend is putting it mildly.

Gary decided to drive to Cleveland -- which normally is about a seven hour drive from Philadelphia -- for one night only, to surprise the trio and catch their show at the Beachland Ballroom. His plan was to go home early Saturday morning.

But before I launch into this long, insane tale, I wanted to post some stuff from my own personal mail bag, some cool blurbs I've found on forum boards across the universe, and also, give a huge shout out to the Adrian Belew Power Trio - this morning they are not only written up in the New Yorker but Ade gets a mention in the New York Times (!) as concerns his work on the new Nine Inch Nails release.

From the New Yorker:


237 W. 42nd St. (212-997-4144)—March 13: Adrian Belew has played with everyone from the Talking Heads and David Bowie to Frank Zappa and William Shatner, but the maverick guitarist is best known as the front man of the prog-rock institution King Crimson. He’s currently touring under the rubric of the Adrian Belew Power Trio, in which he’s joined by a pair of young siblings, Eric and Julie Slick, on drums and bass, respectively."

Here's an email I received from Frank Vigil following his attendance at the Sante Fe show:

"Well, I went to the show in Santa Fe (I live in Albuquerque, south of SFE) and I was totally impressed! Surreal is indeed an excellent word to describe them.

I have to say, Adrian was awesome - as always - Julie was great (my wife says that she plays lead guitar on her bass all night!) - and Eric - Oh, my God - has he ever improved in the last year and a few months since I last saw them! I mean, he was really good to begin with - but, now - he is nothing short of fantastic. And, I can say this with some authority, because I'm a drummer, too. He is amazingly fast and has nailed down an unusual playing style! Believe me, he was "on" that night! And, what really gets me is that he does it with such a small set. I hope some company is giving him/buying his cymbals, because he uses several very thin cymbals, and he beats the hell out of them! I'm sure he cracks them every now and then..."

Frank then went on to tell me that his son took amazing photos at the show and that he is snail mailing me a disc with all of them so you know I will post them as soon as they arrive.

There have been special "guests" at all the shows throughout this tour, but musician Jeff Elbel (standing on the right) was kind enough to forward me this photo of Gary Green (d'oh, standing on the left)...and in case you are not a musicologist, Gary was the brilliant guitarist for Gentle Giant and he is a huge fan of the Adrian Belew Power Trio and came to the show in Chicago. How cool is that!

Jeff also furnished me with the above photo of the trio.

I could not help but notice that Jeff Jankowski was kind enough to leave a comment on my blog which others picked up for their blogs and Jeff ended up posting on his own as well but it's so good it bears repeating here:

"Wow! That's all I can say about the show in Buffalo last night. I knew it would be good but I didn't expect the direction of some of the instrumentals. To say the band went "out there" would be an understatement. They were WAY out at times and my friends and I were blown away.

Some thoughts - Belew's playing and his guitar sound are better than ever. How does Eric get such a big sound from such a small kit? We guessed talent and practice but he shared a secret of "trail mix" with me in a brief conversation as he was tearing down so I'll have to remember that! He played the evening like a cross between Steve Smith and Keith Moon! Julie was fan-tas-tic. Hands down one of the best bass players I've ever seen. Even our waitress admitted she "tore it up".

Also, Eric did a great job on an impromptu solo when a fuse blew early in the show. Belew said that was one of the benefits of having a great drummer - for moments like these.

The band looked and sounded like they were having a blast the whole night. What a great show, and I'm glad I took the white-knuckle ride downtown to see them.

Only downside is they sold out of "Side 4" early on so we were sharing Belew's website with other disappointed fans. Everyone wants the CD with "that lineup"! Great job everyone! Can't wait for a studio release. If the new number "E" is any indication it's going to be a must-buy."


Additionally, Jim Keyerleber commented on my blog, too:

"The Cleveland Show was awesome. I knew it was going to be good based on Side 4 but Wow. These are not young musicians. Great communication when things go off tangent.
Awesome. Great. Can not wait to see again anywhere."


I love this one from writer Ric Marion, after just seeing the trio in Michigan and it's pretty amusing though I have to tell you, things are changing in a big way for the trio in terms of their audience...word is definitely getting out and their fans now span all generations.

"Note: This is not a review so much as observations.

My youngest son, Patrick, is a drummer and music enthusiast (mostly screaming bands I have never heard of). Through Robin Slick, I saw that her two children were doing a cross country tour with Adrian Belew, I thought, "Gee, if they come anywhere near here, it would be cool to go and Patrick can see a really good drummer - not too much older than he is."

Last night, we drove 57 miles to Ferndale, Michigan, to see the Adrian Belew Power Trio at the Magic Bag. While hunting for a parking spot, we drove down the alley behind the venue, which gave me a chance to roll down the window and say, "Hi, Eric." Julie was outside with him so we introduced ourselves. Pretty cool. Parking a couple blocks away, (There is plenty of free parking. - Okay, but Ferndale got 6 inches of snow a couple days ago) Whatever. Patrick and I walked around to the front of the theatre and then down the long line to take our place.

"What did you notice about the people standing in line?"

"They're all old."

"What else?"

"They all look like burnouts."

"How many women did you see?"

"Two. Out of maybe a hundred people."

Two guys in line behind us. "Don't know who the band is - something about them being young kids."

"It's a brother sister team and Adrian discovered them at the School of Rock - they're really good, according to their mother."

"So, how long have you been following Adrian Belew?"

"Never heard of him before this."

Patrick says, "I think I'm the youngest person here."

"That's all right, You're going to get a musical education tonight." This from the guy who has all the King Crimson recordings ever made.

Finally inside, Patrick with two large black x's on his hands (only eighteen), box office closed up tight - concert SOLD OUT

We find a spot to sit on a bench along a side wall and watch this crowd of 40 year old men milling about with beers.

Patrick is still not sure - about the music, about a girl bass player, about the drummer - "My drum set is bigger than that."

Then the band comes on stage. The front is rushed by 6 foot tall overweight men with adoration in their eyes. We stand on the bench we were sitting on - ah, perfect view. Neither Patrick or I recognized any of the songs, but, damn, can these guys play.

Drum solo. "Wow, Dad, he is really good!"

"I've never seen a bass player do that before - she is really something."

"He can really play that guitar."

But the great thing about the three on stage were the smiles - Eric and Julie have the greatest smiles and you could tell they were having a great time - Adrian smiled a lot, too. The enthusiasm was in their faces and translated into the music as well. And the crowd loved it.

We knew when a King Crimson song was being played as the audience would start pumping their fists in the air -and their faces went odd like they were anticipating the rapture.

My ears started to go about half an hour in. It was really loud.

The guys from outside came by to say, "Those kids are awesome."

We hung around, trying to get a picture for Robin, but they shoved everyone out the door, immediately after the encore. Since it was a school night, we didn't try the back door.

All in all, a great night. Patrick got a new appreciation of different rock styles, was highly impressed by Eric and Julie Slick, and got to spend some quality time with Dad."


Actually, I just remembered I have an appointment at 11:00 a.m. and need to get ready so the Cleveland blizzard story is going to have to be a separate post later today or tomorrow.

But for now, I leave you with a lot of fun links to forums.

Well, first of all, I'm sure you've all seen this, and it's a link to an article I posted anyway, but I was really excited to see that Saturday's headline on DGM Live was:

"Man, this is definitely the best band I've ever had, in my solo career
Posted by Sid Smith on Sat., Mar 8, 2008

Who can Adrian Belew possibly be talking about

From the Harmony Central forum board:

"I believe he is touring with a young brother (drums) and sister (bass) rhythm section. I saw them last time they toured and they absolutely blew me away! You are in for quite a treat..."

"Adrian Belew is incredible.

Ditto for Eric Slick on drums. That kid is insane."


From Talk Bass:

Favorite Female Bass Players

"Julie Slick, saw her with the Adrian Belew Power Trio last night"

From the Tool Forum Board:

"Check out a drummer by the name of Eric Slick, he replaced Danny for Adrian Belew's one project when Danny went back on tour and also plays with a band caled Project Object who are the number one Zappa tribute band in the world. he had such a tiny set yet was pulling off shit just like terry bozzio on his diety of a drum set..."

From the My Space forum board on>100 All Time Best Bass Players:

"tony levin
julie slick
phil lesh
bootsy and the other funkadelic bassists
kenny gradney
pino palladino"

Yikes! Just realized the time. Gotta fly - will be back with more links and news...