Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On Tour with the Adrian Belew Power Trio - Part IV

Hey, want to see a great drum solo? Check out Eric Slick here!



And that of course was Eric with the Adrian Belew Power Trio performing "Young Lions" in June of 2008.

Ahhh...very enjoyable.

So I never did wrap up my final day on tour with the band but life kind of got in the way and while New York was an unbelievable show, I'm still missing Canada A LOT and it will take much to top the shows there.

Okay, where did I leave you last? Oh, right. So the band played Boston to a small enthusiastic crowd on Thursday night, July 10, and the next morning we had a five hour drive ahead of us to New York for a concert on a boat. Well, five hours if you don't count New York traffic...once again, we were in the car for over seven hours...it actually took us longer to get from one end of New York to another than it did to drive through Connecticut. Ugh...and then we hit rush hour traffic on a Friday night in the summer...we were seriously hyperventilating by the time we got there and just in time for sound check.

You know a post from me would not be complete if I didn't mention food and one of the few things we liked about our hotel in Boston was that it was blocks away from one of the best diners ever called The Breakfast Club. Man, it so totally rocked - an old time chef who made eighty different kinds of eggs before your eyes, deftly cracking them in one hand effortlessly and whipping them into a frenzy with the other. And oh god, the home fries...sigh....well, now you know the real reason why we were late getting into New York.

Look who showed up for said sound check and concert...in case you do not recognize him, that would be Omar Hakim, drummer for David Bowie, Sting...anyway, he was blown away by the trio, as was another attendee visiting from France, Richard Pinhas.

Here's Omar with his significant other whose name I forget (sorry!)hamming it up with Julie and Eric:



Richard Pinhas, whose image I lifted from Google:



Richard, in fact, approached Eric after the show and then met him the following week for lunch in Philadelphia - they are going to do a project together in 2009 so that's way cool, huh.

The boat had room for five hundred people and I swear there were more like one thousand five hundred hot and sweaty humans crammed on board - you couldn't even walk out to the deck it was so jammed but it was amazing! Here's a few photographs courtesy of Gary Slick...he had a camera malfunction thanks to an over-enthusiastic fan grabbing his arm and knocking the settings out of whack, but oh well, you get the idea:











You had to be there - watching the sun go down over the river, hearing that incredible music...wow...what a way to end my leg of the trip, even if it wasn't Canada...sigh...

After the show, the trio headed for their final two performances - Saturday night in Pittsburgh and Sunday night in Kentucky, but I headed home only to return to New York the following evening to do a reading...the one I linked in my post below.

Speaking of links, yesterday I also mentioned my "memoir" up at Smith Magazine...last night I got an email from one of the editors there which really made my evening:

Hey Robin,

Check it out--I enjoyed your submission and featured it on SMITH.
(we're working out some bugs in the feature page, so despite that your story is a recent post, it's on the second page of features, here.

Best,
--
Lisa L. Kirchner
associate editor


Actually, overnight they must have worked out the "bugs" because my story is now on page one and the very first entry of "Features". Yay!

ETA: Wow! Even better - I'm featured on the front page of the magazine itself!

I know I have other stuff to talk about but right now I'm kind of brain dead...it's only 7:00 a.m. here in Philadelphia and it's already like a hundred degrees and incredibly humid and oh joy, today is trash and recycling day so I've been busy carting nasty bags in and out of the house...more information than I am sure you all want or need, so...

Later,
xo

Monday, July 28, 2008

Odds and Sods for Monday, July 28, 2008

So I just became aware of an interesting statistic: As of July, 2008, over thirty-six million women read/write blogs.

Naturally, that made me never want to blog again. I mean, really. If everyone is doing it, then it's no longer cool and therefore so, so not for me.

Ha - I've always been a total non-conformist and some things never change.



Oh well, it is what it is and wtf, if I have something interesting to share, I'll still write about it here in my journal, and I use the word "journal" since I'm no longer even going to use the word blog.

Recently, though, I stumbled on this whole gigantic web of...oh crap...already I have no choice but to use the word after all...bloggers who all know each other and even have huge blogging conventions. And here I was, all safe and sound in my own little cocoon of other writers, musicians, and one slightly deranged family of stalkers (oy vey, don't ask) not knowing this other world existed. Anyway, I found said mega-bloggers via another site I landed on one day...one belonging to LA writer Neil Kramer. He is doing this massive interview experiment on his blog where we all Q&A each other and you know me, I'm a promo whore, and I also like a good challenge...so I signed up and now I'm set to interview a complete stranger who writes over here and har har, I laughed out loud at what she had to say today. I'll be posting the results as soon as we're done but I giggled at her mention of the fan girl stuff since I just wrote the very same sentence two posts below in my journal entry about Tony Levin.

Okay, speaking of writing, a couple of things. Remember a few weeks ago when I did a reading at KGB Bar in New York? You can have a listen to me and all of my fantastic pals right here. And yes, I know. I have a Philadelphia accent just like Rocky. Gah! How many times have I heard that when I travel. Note to self: Do something about it.

(Oh, I'm kidding. What did you think, I'd move to the UK and pull a Madonna?)

By the way, next week I'll be in New York City again, this time for the Backspace Writers Conference, where on Thursday morning, August 7, I'm sitting on a panel called, what else, Edgy Fiction.

Speaking of edgy fiction, I've taken a depressing subject - my writing career - and turned it into a tragicomedy. You can read the results over at Smith Magazine.

Okay, it's not that depressing but I have not had an easy time of it this year, that is for sure. But hey, at least I'm still laughing and that's got to be good for something, eh?

But I did make some great friends when I recently visited Canada, and lucky me, one is a fantastic photographer and a fellow liberal named Hugues Bergevin. He turned me on to this really interesting pro-Constitution site (remember when we actually had a Constitution? Sob...) called Fire Dog Lake and I strongly suggest you check it out -- it's highly addictive as there are many prolific political writers with new essays/updates throughout the day.

Here's just a sample of some awesome shots Hugues took during the Friends of Crimson King rehearsal in Quebec City...these photographs of course feature Pat Mastelotto and Eric Slick on double drums; Tony Levin and Julie Slick on bass; Adrian Belew on lead guitar, and the fabulous California Guitar Trio...and I know I've said this before but I love the interaction between Pat and Eric and as far as Julie, she always looks like she's telling Tony what to do...which would not surprise me at all as she is Adrian's "director" for sure. In fact - one more funny story from Boston. After we had dinner and wine, the waitress brought us over a computerized contraption with our check.

"Are you familiar with our Pay Your Own Bill system?" she asked.

We looked at her drunkenly blankly.

She then proceeded to spew out a whole series of instructions, smiled, and walked away.

Adrian merely pushed the machine over to Julie and looked at me with a "you don't mind, do you?" expression.

Ha ha...as if.

I didn't understand one word of anything our waitress said let alone figure out how to work my own credit card machine.

Julie, of course, absorbed everything, paid the bill, figured out the tip, and with an authoritative stroke of her pen, took care of business.

And oh God, I just remembered I never finished wrapping up the tour and I still need to talk about New York and post some photos from the boat but I guess that will give me something to write about tomorrow or the next day.

But for now, let's go back to Hugues and his great shots of Friends of Crimson King:














Aren't they awesome? Yeah!

I've also been very remiss in reporting about Eric's recent gigs with Chris Harford. They've been playing some way interesting shows on this mini-tour, and the final performance of the run will be this Saturday night at John and Peters in New Hope, Pennsylvania with guess who, Mickey from Ween on guitar so I may just have to go to this one...sleep be damned. In case you've never been to a Chris Harford show, he usually goes beyond the 2:00 a.m. curfew and then by the time Eric breaks down his drums and everyone stops schmoozing, I usually roll into the house at 4-5:00 a.m. Aren't I too old for this now?

God no.

Later,
xo

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen: Tony Levin, Les Claypool, and Julie Slick.

...trading licks with Adrian Belew, Pat Mastelotto, and Eric Slick!

Quebec City, July 8, 2008 - Quebec City Summer Music Festival, in front of 60,000 people, I give you...and the quality at the beginning is a bit shaky but hang in there, it gets way better...Friends of Crimson King...Thela Hun Ginjeet!



Friends of Crimson King - Thela Hun Ginjeet.wmv

Now you know why I was quaking standing at the side of that stage last Tuesday night. I still get the chills remembering...

I'm hoping, since this is the same site that put up Elephant Talk this week, that they'll post Frame by Frame next. Pat and Eric on double drums, Tony on bass, Adrian the otherworldly genius guitarist with his haunting vocals...well, it was more than a little astounding.

But Thela...man...this so, so rocks.

ETA: Hang on...I just found it...here's Frame by Frame!

My favorite part - Pat and Eric shooting each other looks and smiles throughout.



Friends of Crimson King - Frame by frame

Later,
xo

On Tour with the Adrian Belew Power Trio - Part III

Actually, I'm pressed for time this morning so I'm not sure this post will cover my remaining three days on the tour or not but we'll see. In the meantime, have I mentioned how much I love the internet?



Ha ha - I did not know the above photo existed until I went Google snooping last night. I think it was taken around three years ago, before Julie and Eric were in the Adrian Belew Power Trio, when they got all costumed up to do a gig with Sweatheart - another band Julie also produces/records.

By the way, if you click on the link to Adrian's website and then click on "Belew sightings", you'll see a familiar face.

There was an awesome review of the trio in the Ottawa Express:

"The Adrian Belew Power Trio
River Stage
Saturday July 5, 7:15 p.m.

Perhaps former King Crimson member Adrian Belew found the Golden Fleece and wove a guitar from it, or maybe his golden axe was simply made from killer bee ass. When the Adrian Belew Power Trio, landed their spaceship at Bluesfest on Saturday evening there were no shortage of followers. Along with Julie Slick (the sexiest person ever to touch a bass) and Eric Slick (prodigy boy) who form his rhythm section, or should I say rhythm suction (as in my brain out of my ears), they bequeathed escalades of beauteous vibration unto the masses gathered around the River Stage, as the sun set on rippling waters. With so many large progressions and falls and rolling guitar licks, it was as if they were climbing a mountain one chord at a time taking the listener from point A to point B. Passing through various ages of musical expression - from the tribal gallop on up to the intellectual metallic, also touching rock'n'roll, and even a song which sounded almost folk-heavy - they proceeded to conquer those without hope. I was told that the Adrian Belew Power Trio was experimental music, but I seem to have missed the hypothesis: this is exactly what music should be."


Love the last line: "This is exactly what music should be."

Yep, they got that right.

Here's another You Tube from that night - a stellar performance of "Dinosaur":



I also received several emails about the recent shows (and oh God, I apologize to everyone who has emailed me recently -- when I came back from the tour, between my AOL, G-mail, and Yahoo accounts, I had over 1,000 pieces of mail and there's just no way I can respond to all of them, but I thank you for your kind words and maybe at some point I will get a chance to weed through everything and write back)...but here are a few excerpts:

"I have just read your trip to Quebec City on your blog. I have seen both performance from the trio in Quebec and fell in love with Eric and Julie. I still think about it and watch videos from Youtube. I just want to wish you all the best and please have Julie and Eric come back to Quebec soon!"

*****
"I was a fortunate attendant at the show Sunday night.

First off, the Slick kids were (as always) freakin' AMAZING!! Julie had the pounding Fender bass (note from our author: It's a Lakland, not a Fender) front-and-center, except the very beginning of the show. Apparently, after the first tune, she was aware of the fact that she was missing a component "stomp-box" gizmo that (as described by Adrian) is the difference between an instrument" speaking" and an instrument "SINGING!!!"

To the rescue: Andre Chomonoly (I hope I've spelled that correctly; Andre is a VERY proficient guitarist in the Zappa tribute band Project/Object)(Note from our author: It's "Cholmondeley") . He had Julie hooked up and ready to crush in no time. Once that problem was resolved, it was smooth sailing for the best part of the show.

A couple of new tunes were performed, including a very Crimson-esque tune called "E". Julie stretched her bass muscles and Eric was stellar. One song featured Eric's intro on drums that turned into one of the strongest drum solos I've ever seen in my lifetime of shows. That kid is a joy to watch.

As described by Adrian in previous posts, there are NO discernable distractions with this sister/brother package. They come out, they play, they level the landscape with their talent, they FORCE you to watch them without being grandiose in their delivery, and finally, they bring you to the realization that Stevie Belew from Covington KY has been blessed with the discovery of two of the finest new musicians on the planet.

...I got to see a great performance by the Slicks and Adrian, and it doesn't get much better than that. Tonight was their last show in America on this tour. They go abroad later in the year...I imagined myself having the opportunity to ask either Eric or Julie what they wanted to do when "they grow up". I imagined the answer to be "what I'm doing right now". Unfortunately, I didn't hang at SGH long enough to ask that question, but I feel pretty certain in my assumption of an answer.

...If you're lucky enough to see them live, just watch Julie and Eric as they watch each other and queue each other. It really is refreshing! Adrian is one lucky mofo!"


********

So that's very cool and I thank those fans very much for writing.

Okay, maybe I do have time to talk about more of the tour. So on Wednesday morning, July 9, we regrettably had to say goodbye to Quebec City because it was a seven hour drive to Boston, where the trio would be performing the following evening. I was almost in tears because the rest of the entourage (Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, and the California Guitar Trio) were staying until Sunday because they had another performance at the festival on Saturday night. I was so jealous! But I'd never been to Boston before and was really looking forward to that, although not the long car ride, which was made way worse by a monsoon which followed us from Quebec all the way to Boston. I'm not kidding; I've never seen rain like that in my life and there were many cars pulled over on the side of the highway, waiting it out, but Adrian is a trooper and he kept on going. I tried not to hyperventilate in the back seat and didn't say a word but I was scared witless. I reminded myself that I do not even have a driver's license nor do I know how to drive and that Ade is a pro and that I need to stop being such a wus...and it worked, because we made it to Boston fine, though more like in nine hours than seven but that was also because it is very easy to get lost in Boston and we had to drop Matt off at the train. He had to leave the tour early for work the next day, poor baby, so by the time we reached our hotel it was 7:00 p.m. and we were famished. Usually Julie has time to scope out a city prior to arrival and pick out the best restaurants but between being exhausted and our new knowledge that Boston was not only confusing, parking was pretty much impossible, we opted for a seafood restaurant we knew Adrian loved and which was fairly close to our hotel.

Ade has good taste - the place rocked! I had almond crusted salmon served over mushroom ravioli; Julie had halibut with white beans in a citrus sauce; Ade had fried fish with mashed potatoes and onion strings (mmmm...onion strings), and Eric had a really sick vegetarian stir-fry. We split a bottle of wine and then, after learning the restaurant did not have Limoncello, decided to weave across the courtyard to an Italian restaurant we noticed...and sure enough they had it there and what a gorgeous place - part of the St. Charles Hotel, I think, the bar had a granite top and custom lighting and modern glass vases filled with lemons and oranges...really, really nice. So we were feeling no pain, and then, sitting next to me, a rabid fan recognized Ade and proceeded to talk about his entire career. It was way cool.

Then it got really funny. Ade parked in an indoor parking lot and couldn't remember where he parked. We walked around in a stupor but luckily he kept aiming his key at various cars and finally we heard a faint beeping in the distance...hooray! But when he reached for "Genie", his GPS system, which would safely lead us back to the hotel, he gasped "Eww! What's all over my hand!"

Erm...both his hand and Genie were covered in sticky brown stuff that looked like...you can imagine. But he quickly realized it was chocolate - Eric had left a candy bar in "Genie's house", a/k/a the glove compartment, and it melted. We collapsed into hysterics...I guess you had to be there, but it was really, really funny. We were so overtired and giddy...so naturally we did the only thing you can do in these circumstances...we stopped and bought more alcohol to have back in our hotel room. I should also add that after being in a five star hotel in Quebec City, it was a bit of a come down to see our accommodations in Boston...well, we were actually a bit outside of Boston in the middle of nowhere...so alcohol was a bit of a necessity.

I was already too wiped out, though, so in typical wus style, went to bed but the others partied merrily on.

The following day Julie and I explored Boston and walked from our hotel to Harvard's campus...very pretty, but we didn't find any cool shops, just the usual chains. I mean, seriously. How many Staples and Dunkin' Donuts does this world need? We did visit the Harvard Bookstore and I was thrilled to see books written by many of my friends displayed prominently...wish I'd had my camera with me. I bought a book by my latest discovery, Jane Smiley. I'm really late to the party on this one - Jane has won a Pulitzer Prize, a PEN Award...she rocked my world. I cannot recommend her 2007 book "Ten Days in the Hills" enough...it's got everything you could possibly want...anti-Bush, sex, dialogue so intelligent I just kept re-reading passages...just fantastic stuff. I found a book she'd written in 1984 called "Duplicate Keys" in the used section and bought that, too and read it in one day...I could not put it down.

We also strolled around the Charles River...very beautiful...but the sun was hot and Julie had a show that night and needed to get some rest before soundcheck so we headed back to our hotel. I called my friend, brilliant writer Jessica Keener, a Boston resident I was dying to hook up with and arranged for Jess and her husband to come to the show that night. We met for dinner beforehand at this incredible Italian restaurant - I think it's called "Carlos", where I had a roasted eggplant casserole with fresh tomato sauce and ricotta cheese...it was to die for. Jess and I walked around the area a bit toward her house and it was really beautiful...made me wish I'd taken her up on her offer to crash at her place as opposed to our hotel but oh well, there's always next time!

We had a blast a the show that night - Harpers Ferry is a sweet venue though I have to admit, after playing in front of 60,000 people Tuesday night, it was another come down to play in front of a crowd of 100 but yes, it's summer, it's a college town, and between that, vacations, and the economy, it was still a nice sized audience and the trio put on another great performance.

I think that covers it for now...I need to devote another post to New York and I've got places to go, people to see today, so...

Later,

xo

Monday, July 14, 2008

On Tour with The Adrian Belew Power Trio - Part II

So as I started to say in Part I, nothing prepared me for the beauty that is Quebec City. I wanted to weep when I got there, though that could also possibly be from the fact that we arrived absolutely starving mid-afternoon, a mere two hours before soundcheck and four hours before the show at 7:30 p.m...and the fact that the entire city is made up of straight up and down hills which I swear are really mountains. More on that in a minute. First, once again we were put up in a five star hotel, and this time for three days as the trio was performing both on July 6 on their own and on July 8 on the main stage with Friends of Crimson King, opening for Primus. When I opened the door to my room, I gasped at how wonderful it was, but I almost had a seizure when I saw the view from my window:



Is that incredible or what? You should have seen it at night, all lit up. I tried to take a photo but it came out kind of blurry. Oh well. You'll just have to trust me...it was about as good as it gets.

Anyway, as I said, we were starving and had a small window of opportunity in which to eat. Since Julie, Eric, and Adrian played this very same festival last year, all I've been hearing for the past twelve months is how much they love this little bistro they discovered there called the Victor Cafe...and Julie, knowing my weakness for hand cut french fries with curry dipping sauce on the side, had teased me mercilessly that they were the best she'd ever had and couldn't wait for me to try them. So she "allowed" me to indulge without giving me the usual "Mom please eat healthy" speech beforehand.

Here's a few photos from our lunch, with Matt sipping a most pleasant beer he'd never had before and me closing my eyes in ecstasy when I tasted my first french fry. For the record, Julie had a salad (sigh...) and vegetarian burger made of brazil nuts and spinach (to die for, actually), Matt had a burger, and I had a fresh salmon filet sandwich on a home made brioche. I could seriously eat at that cafe every day for the rest of my life:






By the way, notice what I am wearing? That's a custom designed t-shirt by one of Ade's most rabid fans and someone who has become a good friend - Rena Faye, a/k/a Tickledrop - her blog is a link on the right hand side here:



So the only problem with lunch was that to get there, we literally walked down a hill that was so steep I was out of breath at the bottom...and that fact...coupled with the ninety degree heat, made me totally paranoid that I'd never be able to climb up the damn thing on the way home. I'm not kidding, I've never seen hills like that in my life...what the hell do they do in the winter there when it snows? And as we sat at the cafe, we all remarked how young and absolutely gorgeous everyone in Quebec City is. Our table was a people watching delight. Oh sure, I thought, no wonder everyone here looks that way. No one over forty is still alive after years of those climbs...either that or they flee to flatter ground. I literally worried half way through lunch that I'd never make it back until I noticed that there was actually a fire rescue station directly across the street, a fact which I made Julie take notice of in case I passed out on the way home.

I would later climb up and down that hill over a dozen times over the next three days, dub it the "Hill of Death"...and then find out on our very last evening there at 3:00 a.m. that I could have taken the elevator in the parking garage at the foot of said hill which went directly to our hotel lobby. Oh well. By the end of the three days, I was in much better shape, I could ace the hill without feeling like I was going into cardiac arrest, I had new muscles in my calves or is that calfs, and when I got back to Philadelphia was actually stunned to weigh myself and see I'd lost three pounds! So let me get this straight. I can live in Quebec, eat french fries and buttery pastries and crepes every day and still rapidly lose weight? Oh oh oh...I am soooo there.

The streets were loaded with unique shops, bakeries, galleries...I'm almost in tears writing this because I want to go back like...tomorrow...but can't. I returned to my hotel and collapsed in my king sized bed complete with piles of golden silk pillows and took deep cleansing breaths while Julie, Eric, and Ade headed to sound check. I had my own personal driver to take me to the festival when it was time. Yes, I shouted to myself "Thank God Thank God Thank God I do not have to walk up any more hills to get there" but like I said, by day three I was in much better shape.

Anyway, the driver took me right to the backstage area, where there were trailers stocked with alcohol, soda, cold water, and all kinds of cool snacks as per each individual band's riders. We were right next to Zappa Plays Zappa who were going on directly after us, and here's a photo of their brilliant drummer, Joe Travers, hamming it up with the equally brilliant Eric Slick. Thanks, Joe, for graciously posing for groupie Mom:



Zappa Plays Zappa invited Ade to do a cameo during their set - he recreated his Bob Dylan role during the song "Flakes", even wearing the original hat he wore in "Baby Snakes", and I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. I took this photo of Ade in our trailer prior to his performance...wish I had been closer to the stage to take a pic while he was performing but we had an awesome spot in the VIP area...great for listening but hell if you don't have a zoom lens.



But I digress. It was time for the trio to take the stage first and they fucking killed it. Here's a few shots of the show, but again, I was not standing in a great spot for photography and could hardly get Eric at all but hey hey hey, take a look at the size of this crowd. And if you think that looks like a lot of people, wait until I post a pic of the audience two nights later when the trio and Friends of Crimson King opened for Primus on the main stage:







The show was a triumph and as I've already written, we stayed around afterwards so that Ade could perform Flakes with Zappa Plays Zappa. We grooved to the music some more and then, exhausted but exhilarated, headed back to our hotel where in the lobby we bumped into the band members the trio would be playing with on Tuesday - the legendary Tony Levin and the California Guitar Trio.

I'd already met Paul, Bert, and Hideyo when the trio played with them in March but it was the first time I'd ever met Tony. I tried so hard not to be a fan girl but it was damn near impossible and then we started talking about the upcoming tour in Russia (where this same group of people will also be performing August 30 with Keith Emerson and Patti Smith and Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn and Eddie Jobson...oh god...I can't take it; I want to stow away in their suitcases)...anyway, it turns out that Tony and I share similar Russian ancestry and next thing I know he's telling me about a book he read on the subject...he said "Write down your address, I'll mail it to you" and the whole time my heart is fucking beating in my ears...but not once did I fall to my knees and gasp "You know, you were one of the first concerts Julie and Eric saw when they were six and seven - we took them to see you and Peter Gabriel in 1993 at the old Philadelphia Spectrum and even at that age, they were mesmerized and you are one of Julie's heroes and one of mine in a big way..." Nope, I didn't say it, I just smiled serenely and acted like I have conversations with someone of his stature every day...sort of what I do with Adrian even though it's two years already that my kids have played in his band...I still wake up every morning pinching myself saying "Can this really be true or is it the world's best dream?"

It should be noted that Tony says in his own blog that he arrived in Canada two days early just so he could check out the Adrian Belew Power Trio's Sunday concert. Did he like them? Ha ha - I think so!

So we're hanging out in the lobby for quite a while - it was around midnight I guess; next thing I know Tony is gone but Tyler, sound man extraordinare for the California Guitar Trio, says "Party's in Tony's room!" and everyone headed there but I felt funny hanging out with all that testosterone as the apparent only female in the group because in the meantime, the guys from Zappa Plays Zappa came in and invited Julie and Eric out for drinks and it would have been weird if I'd tagged along with them, too, so I ended up dejectedly going to bed, fantasizing about all the fun I was missing.

Truth to tell, I was exhausted anyway, and I think I pretty much fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Plus, I had already been up and down those damn hills a couple of more times.

The next day was our day off and I had a date with Eric to meet that morning for pastries at this incredible bakery the trio had discovered last year as well...I was sure after partying into the wee hours with the ZPZ guys Eric would cancel on me but he's a real trooper and at 11:00 a.m. promptly he called my room and arranged to meet me in the lobby. Back down the Hill of Death we went, but alas the bakery was closed! Or so we thought - as Julie would later tell us when we bumped into her and Matt, there were two bakeries and the one we wanted was in fact already filling the street with aromas of wonder and delight - but Eric and I, deciding to make lemonade out of lemons, headed straight back to the Victor Cafe for more french fries with curry sauce. Yay! So by the time we found Julie and Matt and learned the bakery was open, we were already full.

We wandered up and down (and I do mean that literally) the cobblestone streets, in and out of shops, having the best time ever. Adrian is friendly with The Ventures, who invited us to stand on the stage when they performed at the festival that night. We also learned that The Wailers, who were the original back-up band for Bob Marley, would be on stage immediately following them so Oh My God, I got to stand stageside for both bands. It was fucking surreal.

Here are a couple shots of The Ventures and their set list...again, I apologize for the poor quality but I think I was shaking from head to toe from their absolutely stellar performance:






This photo was taken of the crowds on the street watching The Wailers. I wish I had a better camera for this - you had to see it to believe it. Concert goers were given badges with tiny red blinking lights as their "tickets" and they were all standing atop this castle, watching the show from above...all you could see were those flickering, twinkling scarlet stars...it was insanely beautiful:



And in the background, The Wailers were performing I Shot the Sheriff, Jammin', No Woman No Cry...holy crap, I'm still shaking from the experience.

Oh, I forgot something. The "place to be" during the festival was a fabulous restaurant located right in the heart of things called Le Capitole. At Tony Levin's advice, we had dinner there (artichoke fritters, scallops, steak for Ade and Matt...and yep, Limoncello!) and it would be where we'd end up hanging out for drinks every night as well. Gorgeous building, great food...sob...I want to be there right now in the worst way...

But the night was not over yet and we decided to hit the hotel bar and see if anything was happening since all of the over two hundred bands booked for the festival were staying there and we were bound to bump into someone.

No sooner did we walk in and order drinks when we recognized Tim Alexander, drummer for Primus, having a solitary drink of wine. Naturally, we invited him to join us and this time, Eric had to refrain from being the fan boy...when he was fourteen years old his world revolved around that band...but you know, the only dork in the crowd was me and out of respect to Eric, I bit my tongue and just listened. And then, in walked Les Claypool, bassist for Primus and the man whose parts Julie had to learn when she joined the Adrian Belew Power Trio as he appeared on Ade's solo CDs.

This is where it gets funny. So here I am, sitting at a table with all of these rock and roll legends - Tim has a bandanna tied around his head, Les has jet black Prince Valiant hair and a goatee and was wearing a leather cap and a big silver cross around his neck...total rock stars...and Ade and these guys start discussing their wives and kids.

"Oh, my wife couldn't make it because our kids our in dance camp," says Ade. "They are so funny - my girls never just enter a room - they are also gymnasts so every time I look up they come somersaulting/cartwheeling in, one after the other...this weekend they had a recital..."

"My wife and kids are here," said Les. "But I know what you mean about the camp thing. My kids go to circus camp. My wife didn't warn me in advance and I go to the recital and there's my young daughter, way up in the air, swinging from a trapeze. I went white...but hey, she did great...I just nearly had a heart attack, that's all."

I was so fucking fascinated...here's this uber rock star, scary looking, talking about his daughter and camp and being frightened at the thought of her on a trapeze. Again, totally freaking surreal.

We sat for quite a while sipping our drinks until the bartender politely told us last call...I guess it was 1:00 or 2:00 a.m....and the best was yet to come, for the next evening would be the night we'd all been waiting for...Adrian, Julie and Eric performing with Friends of the Crimson King. But there was more. They invited Les Claypool to join Tony Levin and Julie Slick on bass during "thela hun ginjeet".

So. Are you following this? I was going to watch my son do double drums with Pat Mastelotto and my daughter trade off bass solos with Les and Tony.

I could not believe it. I still don't believe it, even though I watched it with my own eyes.

Anyway, we stumbled up to bed, determined to get a good night's sleep but Eric, the world's biggest sweetheart, said to me "Hey, Mom, want to meet for those pastries tomorrow morning?"

So we did. We got up early and had fresh, hot out of the oven obscenely oozing with butter croissants overflowing with chocolate and almonds. But hey, we walked back up the Hill of Death afterwards so no damage done (in case my doctor -- a very nice man who treats me for high blood pressure and cholesterol -- is reading this).

Adrian, Eric and Julie headed for what would be their only rehearsal for the show...meaning, they had to get on stage with Tony and Pat and Les and the California Guitar Trio for the very first time in front of a crowd estimated at 60,000 people. Paul, the brilliant guitarist from the California Guitar Trio who brainstormed the whole Friends of Crimson King event had the entire set worked out...Tony and Pat would join the CG Trio for their set; Ade would come out during their last song and solo; then Julie and Eric would take the stage and do a half hour set; then Tony and Pat would join them for Elephant Talk (Julie left the stage for that but Eric and Pat did double drums and the California Guitar Trio joined in as well), then Julie came back on to end the show with Les and Tony for "Thela".

Here is a wonderful video of the aforesaid Elephant Talk. I know I am prejudiced, but Eric is fucking phenomenal in this clip.

Friends of Crimson King:




I'm going to post some amazing photos of the show next, but a couple of things first. When Les Claypool took the stage, he was dressed as Elvis, wig and all. Eric almost lost it, laughing. Right after the show, Tony smiled from ear to ear and said "Great job, Julie"...I know, because I was standing on the side of the stage (crying, of course) and everyone hugged and grinned and were basically thrilled with the performance, practically saying in unison "Same set next month in Russia?" Russia, where they will play in front of 100,000 people. I know I've already talked about that in a prior post, but I will have much more on that and some other cool touring scheduled for the rest of 2008 which is totally blowing me away. I also wanted to mention that Tony and the California Guitar Trio all did fantastic write-ups on the event on their respective websites. To see what Tony had to say, go here. He's got a great photo of Les as Elvis on his blog and bleh, also one of me which has me determined never to eat another french fry again. (Not) And yeah, you can tell by the photos of the crowd, they drove 60,000 people into ecstasy. To get the California Guitar Trio's take on the experience, you can read Paul Richard's diary here (scroll down to July 8 but it's pretty interesting reading his entry of July 14, too) and Bert Lam's diary here (again, scroll if you want but he's got cool stuff posted after the fact as well).

Okay, then, here are some of my photos. I especially love the one of Tony smiling at Julie...have I mentioned my fan girl crush on him? Ha ha - oh, I'm kidding, but he is absolutely one of the coolest people I've ever met, other than Adrian of course.

First up, a shot of our trailer:




Tony, watching the trio intently from the side of the stage and then taking their photograph:



Tony, Les, and Julie trading bass licks on Thela:










In the pic below, you'll see Pat Mastelotto who regrettably I could not photograph that well from my vantage point on the stage but man, Pat and Eric are a combo to be reckoned with...everyone agreed that their playing style was the perfect compliment to one another and Pat had some incredibly nice things to say about my son though I did not get to talk to him that much and again, look at Tony's face while he talks to Julie after that triumphant performance of Thela...it was magic:



I did not get good photos of the California Guitar Trio nor any good shots of Eric and Pat double drumming as I was too busy watching and listening and again, was not in the best spot for taking pics but both Tony and the CGT have most excellent photos on their site as do various fans who posted on Flickr, just click on that link and type in the names of the various band members and you'll find a wealth of great stuff.

Think that was it for the night? Think again. After the most amazing concert of my life, we all headed back to Le Capitole, this time being joined by Canadian legend Kevin Parent and his girlfriend Zoe (who pretty much only spoke French but Julie, who is wonder woman and also speaks French fluently, managed to converse with her throughout the evening)...Kevin in fact performed with Tony, Pat, and the CGT on Saturday night. The restaurant pushed four or five tables together. To my left was Tony Levin and to his left was Kevin Parent...directly opposite from us sat Zoe, Julie, Matt and Adrian, then to my right was the entire California Guitar Trio and their entourage including wives, soundmen, etc., Pat Mastelotto and his wife, Eric, a bunch of people I did not know who were part of said entourage...anyway, we talked and talked about everything from gourmet cooking to exotic places we'd been to music (of course) while Eric held court at the other end of the table, cracking everyone up, and it was almost 3:00 a.m. by the time we um, loped out of there. She's going to kill me for telling you this but it was pretty funny...at the end of the evening Julie accidentally spilled her glass of Cabernet Sauvignon all over poor Tony Levin but he was not only gracious, when she practically rushed out of the restaurant dying of embarrassment -- Matt and Ade had already called it a night and returned to the hotel an hour before -- he accompanied her home up the Hill of Death while I, along with the others, entered the just discovered way too late elevator...I seriously do not think I would have made it up the hill in my current condition so thank God I found it existed, even if said discovery was three days too late)...the whole time saying to myself Do I believe this? Do I believe this whole fucking experience? Am I the luckiest person in the universe or what?

No, actually, Julie and Eric Slick are the two luckiest people in the universe - they get to do this all over again next month in Russia and again with Adrian in Europe in October and November and well, I'll be sitting right here, blogging about it from afar.

Oh..one final thing. The Friends of Crimson King got an awesome review in the French Canadian newspaper, Le Soleil. I translated it to the best of my ability (which isn't much) so here it is...maybe Julie, when she gets home, or one of my readers from France can do a better job:

"FRIENDS OF KING CRIMSON

Far from being the only trio in the limelight yesterday, Primus was preceded on stage of the Friends of King Crimson, a supergroup consisting of the California Guitar Trio, refreshing Adrian Belew Power Trio and a rhythm section the groove deemed implacable trained Tony Levin (bass) and no less respected Pat Mastelotto (drums).

After a rather cautious start, which saw the CG3 +2 open walking with his guitar playing very placed, influenced by Robert Fripp (King Crimson), then the feverish Adrian Belew Power Trio take over the provision has concluded Elephant Talk about an inspiration, courtesy of drummers Mastelotto and Erick Slick, bassist Tony Levin and the stick guitarist Adrian Belew. As if this were not enough, all this beautiful world was then joined by bass Les Claypool (Primus) and Julie Slick to create a genuine festival rhythmic! Astounding!"


Okay, this is now the world's longest blogpost. Luckily, the next day, Wednesday, was another day off, but we had a seven hour drive to Boston facing us for the trio's show at Harper's Ferry on Thursday night. I think I'd better make that Part III.

Later,
xo

On Tour with the Adrian Belew Power Trio - Part I

So I'm back home after ten days of probably the best time I've ever had in my entire life...and it even culminated in an absolutely fantastic surprise - I got to read a story for a future NPR Radio broadcast at the KGB Bar in New York City on Saturday, July 12, 2008 and I just received an email that the movie based on my short story Daddy Left Me Alone with God has been accepted for its 5th film festival - and this time in the United States! The film has been screened so far at festivals in the UK and South Africa and now you can catch it at the Indie Fest USA in Anaheim, California. Here's the schedule...it looks like "my movie" will be shown on Wednesday, August 13 at 5:00 p.m. in Theater 12. Yay!

But enough about me. It's time for the moment you've all been waiting for...my week on tour with the Adrian Belew Power Trio. First stop: July 4, 2008 in Ottawa, Ontario and how wonderfully weird to be in another country during Independence Day but things being what they are in the U.S. right now...*snort*...what independence, eh?...though I admit I did miss the fireworks and Gary and his traditional 4th of July barbecue.

I fell instantly in love with Canada. I'm serious. I would move there tomorrow if I could. The people are so warm and friendly and liberal; the architecture magnificent, and oh boy do they hate President Bush...even though it's Canada, there were Elect Obama posters everywhere. We arrived a day early so we could take in the sights, and here's what we stumbled upon a mere couple of blocks from our hotel:



Naturally this beautiful backdrop called for some family photographs...luckily everyone indulged me.

Here's the group shot...okay, maybe if you look at his face, Eric wasn't so happy playing the role of tourist but he's a good guy and did it anyway:



The lovely Julie and handsome significant other, Matt, who accompanied us the first six days of the tour:



If the rest of the group had to suffer, then so did I...God, I am really the most unphotogenic person in the universe but oh who cares...have a look at that fantastic building in the background instead:



We wandered around with Adrian later, looking for a good place to eat. Trouble was, we found way too many restaurants...each with a better menu than the next but with the festival in town, many had hour long waits and we were starving! Luckily, we found an awesome Italian restaurant (naturally I can't remember the name) with exposed brick walls and brick oven pizza and fresh fish and pasta dishes. The wine flowed; Julie had an insane artichoke salad, Adrian had fish with a side of white asparagus; I started off with mussels soaked in Grappa and then ended up splitting a pizza with Eric...unbelievable. And then when we finished our meal, Adrian introduced us to our first taste of Limoncello. We ordered a round and it kind of became the after dinner drink of the tour...we were so mellow when we left that restaurant and so happy...as Ade has said repeatedly and it never tires me to hear it over and over again...his favorite part of touring other than the music is his band and his/their families enjoying a meal together.

Let me tell you, having a meal with Adrian is one of the best experiences of my life, too. He is so full of interesting stories...I mean, the man has a thirty year career and you'll be sitting there chewing on a piece of bread when he'll come out with an amazing story about traveling with David Bowie or King Crimson or Frank Zappa...just mind boggling stuff. That man needs to write a book some day, that is for sure. My jaw just kind of drops half the time when he speaks...oh how I adore him.

The next morning, July 5, 2008, was festival day, but sound check wasn't until an hour or two before the show at 7:00 p.m. so we had all day to explore. Actually, now that I think about it, those pics I posted above were taken then...but I wanted to show you Ottawa before I launched into my spiel and I have a ton of photos of the show itself to put up next. Anyway, we wandered back into town in search of a good place to have lunch and landed in a little cafe which served a lot of vegetarian items and homemade quiche and salads and had the display case of pastry to die for -- Julie said no, don't do it, Mom, eat healthy -- so I did but all bets were off when we got to Quebec City...more on that later.

After we ate we walked by stands which were equivalent to a huge outdoor farmers' market in the U.S. but also includes handmade crafts, soaps, candles, leather goods...arghh...I could have spent thousands of dollars in that spot alone. Julie sulked at all the incredible and unusual fresh produce...I have a feeling once she is rich and even more famous she's going to insist on staying in private villas with full gourmet kitchens when she travels because she was really chomping at the bit to buy stuff and cook for us. She groaned every time we passed boxes overflowing with ruby red fresh raspberries and blackberries and perfect organic baby carrots...so did I, imagining the meal she would have prepared if she were able.

We calmed her down and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the festival. While I'm on the subject of food, these festivals have catering tents for the stars and really go out of their way for vegetarians. There were chick pea casseroles, spinach with cheese, fresh fruit, quinoa with steamed veggies...just awesome stuff.

And now for the music. The trio ruled. Right before they went on stage, a fan who wasn't familiar with them, standing behind me and um, a little inebriated after being at the festival and drinking in the hot sun all day, asked me "Why do they call it a Power Trio?"

"You'll see," I replied.

He fell back down on his blanket. I was standing in front of him.

"Am I blocking your view?" I asked. "Not that it matters...trust me...you'll be standing up the minute they play their first note and you won't sit down again."

"I doubt that," he slurred.

I rolled my eyes, knowingly, and didn't say another word.

The trio took the stage...and it was a fairly large stage, so how I managed to get them all in this photo, I have no idea. Luckily there was also a large movie screen to the left so everyone got to see:







You know the fan I spoke to - the one who asked why was it called a Power Trio? The entire concert, yep, he was on his feet screaming and he kept grabbing my arm shouting "I understand! I understand! They are fucking amazing! Long live the Power Trio!"

It was hilarious but um, I did warn him in advance.

There were thousands and thousands of people in the audience and the festival was actually down by the river so the trio played during one of the most magnificent sunsets ever:



The customary final bow:



Fans screamed and cheered after the trio left the stage...I promised them that the band would return and sign autographs in around fifteen minutes and I guess everyone believed me because they stayed while I chatted them up and took their photos...and when Ade, Julie and Eric came out of their trailer armed with Sharpies the crowd roared appreciatively:



I'm trying to figure out how I am in this photo but I have a vague memory of switching cameras with a fan...by that point I had a glass of wine or seven but yeah, there I am, taking a pic of the band signing:





They might not have had a limo, but here's how the band was transported to an official autograph tent across the field...Matt and I were so jealous there was no room for us...neither of us had any idea we apparently had a life long dream to be driven in a golf cart (ha) but hey, at least it was another cool photo op:



So how was the music itself? It was so damn awe-inspiring...one of the top ten shows ever...and if you don't believe me, you can listen to the entire concert right here! (Click on "Audio" and scroll down to where it says "Adrian Belew - Performance, Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest, 2008" and then click on "listen"). Look, I would not steer you wrong here. You really need to listen to this show...it's over an hour long, recorded live and raw, and it will give you the chills. If anyone has any difficulty accessing it, email me and I'll give you more detailed instructions but if you merely click on "listen" and have iTunes or Windows Media, etc. you'll be fine.

Also, here is a terrific You Tube of the trio performing Ampersand that night:



Okay, knowing blogger the way I do, I've probably exceeded the maximum photo thing so I should probably make Quebec a separate post due to all the cool photos and film I have from those shows...anyway, let me wrap this up by saying at the end of the evening, we found ourselves back at the hotel bar (The Marriott - these festivals do not skimp on quality for their performers, that is for sure), which, oddly enough, was mobbed with little kids at midnight eating pizza -- we would later learn they were a champion lacrosse team or something but it was still weird to be sitting in a bar with youngsters and I cannot say I enjoyed that experience...we were hoping to end the evening with another round of Limoncellos but alas the bar didn't have much in the way of cocktails...Ade and I took a walk on the wild side and ordered something called a caramel apple martini which we promptly sent back after one nauseating sip after we made simultaneous "Eww" faces and acknowledged that when in Rome do as the Romans so we broke down and had a beer which neither of us exactly love that late at night but it was better than nothing. After just a few sips we headed ecstatic and exhausted to our respective rooms...the drive from Ottawa to Quebec City the next day would be around five hours and there was no day off in between so maybe in retrospect it was a good thing the bar was not exactly a comfort zone...anyway, nothing would prepare me for the magnificence which awaited us...stay tuned for Part II...Quebec City...quite possibly the best three days of my life.

Later,
xo