May 16, 1996 -
Hi again. A week from now I'll
be in the city of Bordeaux, rehearsing with King Crimson.
Hopefully I'll be able to write weekly - never sure of
logging on in Europe, though.
The Crimson tour will be starting in Bordeaux, at
"Le Krakatoa" - whatever that is - which is why
it's the best spot for us to practice. Word is that we'll
be resurrecting some old classics - possibly
"Schizoid Man" - we've tried rehearsing that
before, but never found it worthy of performance - maybe
this time. I know I've got a lot of practicing to do on
it - the bass part is murder, and I'll be trying to play
it with Funk
Fingers. And then there's "Cage!"
I'm very pleased that the Crimson European tour will
take us to Eastern Europe - I haven't played there much,
and think it's a great opportunity for us. On a couple of
breaks in the tour, I'll be joining Ivano Fossati on his
Italian tour - should keep me very busy! Will be fun,
though, because a couple of the songs we did for his
album are just Stick and voice.
Valet - touring cappucino roadcase - isn't finished
yet - it's going to be a panic getting it done by Friday,
when my equipment ships out. I'll try to grab a photo of
it for the site. Lots to get frantic about here before
hitting the road - trying to get the Funk Fingers sticks
manufactured, with logo, to be more consistant. Also,
we've decided to give them all rubber tips, and I'm
trying to set that up before I leave town - I won't be
here to dip them in the rubberizing chemical I found.
Anyway, the fumes are making me dizzy! Also, I have to
get my powerbook loaded for the road. Last tour it broke,
and left me stranded computer-less for weeks. Unbearable!
I just finished some tracks with Jesse Cook, a
flamenco guitarist from Toronto. I'm working this week in
NYC with Paula Cole on her second album.
Trying to get the NS Upright bass adjusted for the
tour, and my compressors, made locally by RetroSpec,
adjusted. I'll be getting a new Music Man anniversary
bass soon, but it won't QUITE make it here in time to
ship out for the tour.
Bye for now.
May 28, 1996 - Bordeaux, France
Bordeaux. King Crimson's THRaKaTTaK Tour is finally
underway. We arrived last week, and have been rehearsing
at Le Krakatoa - a small theater where our warmup show
will be tonight. Our hotel is fortunately downtown, not
in the outskirts where the theater is, so we've had
access to morning cafe, Herald Trib, photo shops... the
important stuff. Noon to 9pm, though, we've been working
at the theater.
We've added 21st Century Schizoid Man (a very
difficult Crimson piece from the '70's, before most of us
were in the group) to our repertoire - don't know how
it'll work out, but we'll try it tonight. Also
resurrected Waiting Man, and came up with the beginnings
of some new material.
I've seen the upcoming THRaKaTTaK CD, and found it not
only has some of my photos of the burnt
barn, but inside the booklet are the blueprints for
Valet touring coffee station (speaking of which, it
got a bit banged up in shipment here, but Michele, my
bass tech, did the necessary repairs, and it's working
superbly. The band is thrilled with it.)
A difficult part of
new releases is that the band is usually asked to
autograph a few hundred (or more) CD's. In this case,
there is a small poster included in the cd, and the
clutter of signing them in the dressing room was
terrible. We've moved them to long tables in the theater,
but still haven't signed enough - I fear they'll be with
us the whole tour!
I'm adjusting to the different life of being away from
home. More time to write, but difficult connecting to
Internet. (I don't have the phone connectors for each
country.) Trying to spend mornings working on my book.
Brought a sketch pad too. Tomorrow we'll fly to Madrid,
and have our first day off.
Bye for now.
Jun 6, 1996 - Warsaw, Poland
from Warsaw. The tour is going quite well - shows in
France, Spain and Germany were all well received. In Lyon
we stayed in the Cour des Loges, at the center of the old
city - very nice. As usual, we've had some small
disasters within the show, most noteably in Dortmund when
my setlist told me the final encore was "Vrooom
Vrooom" but the rest of the band was playing
"Vrooom" which is quite a different piece, for
which I need a different bass. I stormed in in the wrong
key, then fumbled along before deciding to switch basses
midway through. Hopefully we'll save that tape for a
future "Brown Album" of our worst mistakes.
Last night was a steaming show in a very hot tent in
Berlin. Awoke this morning to find that the maid had
locked me in my room - had to hunt for my key with
reading glasses. At checkout, I told the hotel mgr. I
don't think that's a great policy.
I'm not much into partying on my birthday, but with
todays flight to Poland and then 5 phone interviews in
the hotel room, I must admit this isn't a great way to
celebrate. Arrived at hotel to find the last 5 min. of
Bulls vs. Sonics on tv though. Interesting in German. The
band will take me out to dinner tonight, and hopefully
we'll have some fun.
Interesting card in room reads: "The Hotel is
environmental friendly and is thanking you for your kind
cooperation in saving nature from pollution through
excessive laundry usage." Hmmm.
After dinner update: two of the interviewers never
called. Later, the band had a quiet dinner in the heart
of Warsaw, (good borscht) and went to a jazz club which
was closed. They say it's wild being a rock band on the
road. Not this rock band!
Bye for now.
Jun 19, 1996 - Budapest,
SoakFest in Budapest - just came off stage here in
Budapest, finishing an outdoor show. It rained earlier
this evening, soaking the enthuastic crowd - our opening
act, the California Trio, had to skip their set. The rain
finally stopped, though, and we had a rollicking show to
end the East European part of our tour. Warsaw was nice,
Prague an extraordinarily beautiful city. Chemnitz in
Germany, and Presov in Slovak Rep. were ... well, the
audiences were very enthusiastic - a pleasure to play
We're all excited
about the upcoming week in Italy - I'm hoping I'll have
an easier time getting online. And I'll certainly eat
Back in Hamburg, a lovely birthday bouquet arrived
from P. Gabriel - it was too nice to leave in hotel, so I
took it on the bus. Next day it spilled, permanently
drenching one of the few seats in the bus lounge. For
days whoever sat in that seat was reminded of Peter's
kindness. I next noticed the bouquet in the catering
room, (apparently Tony, our bus driver, had given it to
the cooks) and the cooks were considering how THEY could
transport it. Truly a gift that keeps on giving!
Bye for now
Jun 28, 1996 - As the band
hustles to Brussels
The Italian tour is over now - it rained at every show
(all outdoors) except the last, in Pisa. Really got
soaked at the Lignano show - very windy soundcheck, then
started to rain before show, came down heavier, then on
the last encore, we abbreviated RED by visual cue as all
our guitars got drenched. (Hotel name there was: Hotel
Grief!) Mostly good shows, though - very appreciative
wonderful daughter joined the tour in Milan, and it's
been great seeing the Crimson tour throught the eyes of
an 11 year old.
In Milan, the band hit what must be our all time
favorite restaurant, La Tampa, (now called Tencitt).
Waiter, now 23, remembers our coming in and eating dinner
w. his family when he was 9. (1982)
Saw some unique traffic conditions in Naples (we
counted 49 of 73 cars had dented or missing fenders) and
it was a job getting our band bus out of there and into
the center of Rome.
In Rome, stayed at piazza di spagna, near Caffe Antico
Greco - the oldest cafe in Rome. Played gig at a clay
tennis court - our first, to my memory.
Best show for me
was the town center in Pisa, with wonderful view and
weather. I then left the tour for a day, to join Ivano
Fossati for a special show at Villa Arconatti, in
Bollate, outside Milan.
Back with the guys now to do the last four shows of
the European tour. We're a bit tired from the travel, but
still game for more.
Bye for now.
July 14, 1996 - Tour Break
Last shows of the Crimson Euro tour, in London, were
great. We felt that Shepherd's Bush Empire was a much
better venue for the band than the Albert Hall had been.
Very enthusiastic audience. Calif. Guitar Trio sadly
couldn't make the last gig, and Robert was the opening
act, playing his soundscapes.
the Pembridge, was my daughter's favorite - mainly
because it's inhabited by two cats, Spencer (right) and
Churchill, who think they own the place.
We found an Internet cafe in London, and finally
checked out my page w. Netscape - whew, it's been grim
Flight home a very bad one, circled Newark for hours,
then landed JFK, sat 2 hours, then another hour to fly 30
miles to Newark. Total trip, 12 hours.
Did an Uncle Funk gig at home last week, checked out
my new Stingray bass, which is excellent. Then I flew to
Italy (2 hour delay leaving Newark - lightning storm) for
3 shows w. Ivano Fossati. They were great - very
un-Crimson music, very good band. Parma show was in
piazza del duomo in center of beautiful town. Likewise
Ferarra was an outdoor show in town center. After the 3rd
show, in Padova, I got a ride back across N. Italy to
Milan so that I could leave early the next day. Arrived
at hotel at 3 am, to find Michael Stipe, Tom Verlain, and
the musicians from Patti Smith's band outside, looking
for a cafe. They invited me to join, but I passed.
Getting old, I guess - need a couple hours of sleep!
Flight home, amazingly no delay into Newark, though
the hurricane had just arrived. Baggage, however, took 1
hr 15 minutes. I'm beginning to feel like Newark airport
is my home. (I will go back in Sept. for more with Ivano,
Bye for now.
Aug 6, 1996 - Hola from
Good to be back on the road w. Crimson after our
break. We hit Las Vegas for our first show there ever -
Hard Rock Hotel hardly a Crimson kind of place, (casino
in lobby w. rock'n roll theme - slot machines have guitar
necks to pull on) but the show went well. My room had
Woodstock Festival photos on wall. Terrific heat there,
then on to the cool fog of San Francisco. Greek theatres
in Berkeley and L.A. are always fun. Good acoustics and
down to Mexico City a day before the rest of the band to
hang out. Audiences here are very enthusiastic - I knew
from playing here w. Peter Gabriel. This is Crimson's
first trip ever to Mexico, and seemed to be eagerly
awaited. We all visited the street-long row of
merchandise bootleggers outside the theater - some funny
t-shirts printed w. wrong itinerary of the tour
(including Noblesville Indiana and Guadalajara Mexico.) I
got some interesting King Crimson key chains and shot
glasses and a t-shirt that says "THRaKa TaCK".
Adrian lost the sound on half his rig at the first
Mexico City show. Then, in the third show there, he lost
all of it for some time, and was only able to finish with
his midi signals gone. We suspect the cause is voltage
Monterrey was humming w. Dallas vs Kansas City
football game the night we arrived. Football fans in our
hotel partied in the lobby what seemed like all night.
Very hot here today - I'm glad to be playing music, not
Update (August 8th) from Kansas City: We've joined the
HORDE tour now - quite a difference for the band - only
playing an hour set (often just our soundcheck is longer
than that), and we go on at 5 pm. Also, it's for the
festival audience - not just Crimson fans. At today's
show I saw lots of stunned looks on faces that seemed to
have never heard anything like Crimson. Some even seemed
to like it! Backstage, lots of crews setting up - tons of
equipment on double stage but one thing's for sure: we're
the only band with a valet road case for our espresso machine!
Bye for now.
Aug 20, 1996 - More HORDE
The shows are going
well, but our start times have been changed on us quite a
few days. In N.Y, I was called in the morning, told we'd
go on at 5 pm, not 3:30 as had been scheduled. I arrived
(early) at Randall's Island, to find that it was changed
again, and we were going on at 3 pm! Stan, our road mgr,
had been going nuts trying to reach me. Driving to
Saratoga for the 5 pm show, I saw the band bus, pulled
along side it, and Stan shouted that we had been
re-scheduled to 3:50! Wonder where I'll find out the next
time change! Wonder how many people showed up at the
publicized time, to find we were done?
I'm enjoying my brother's site -
reminds me we should resurrect our old band, the Clams.
For those in the Rochester area, I'm told that the seminar
I'll be participating in at the Eastman School in Sept.
is a public event. I'll be giving a very dry speech (!)
on Sept. 27th.
Got so many photos from HORDE, I should start a page
just for them.
Note; Bad hotel comment overheard in Boston: Horrible
Note; Bad weather comment overheard; Hostile Overhead
Rainclouds Dampen Enthusiasm.
Note; some other definitions of HORDE have come in from
readers, and we'll put them up on the H.O.R.D.E.
Bye for now.
Aug 30, 1996 - Woodstock
Finished the '96 Crimson tour - the mood was good as
we did our last few shows. The Merriweather Post show, in
fact, was one of our best. We plan on gathering in small
groups to write, through the Winter - not touring until
at least next Summer.
In driving to the last few weeks of East Coast shows,
I covered 2,329 miles. The car computer tells me I
averaged 50mph overall, so I spent 46 hours driving to
I keep a log in my
computer of data about our Crimson tours - since
re-forming in 1994, we've played 147 shows, for about
228,300 people. We've rehearsed for 57 days, recorded for
25 days, flown at least 34,581 miles (I still need to
update some distances) and driven 9,327 miles.
Here are some events and quotes from that period:
- The girls from the HORDE promotion office, having
enjoyed the espresso from our "Cafe
Crim," gave us a parting gift of a bag of
"Badass Coffee Beans."
- 6/23/96 Diary entry: Naples. Very hectic drive
from airport. Ade's computer fell on my head.
Nuts taxi ride to band dinner, Robt. was not a
happy puppy. After checking twice w. waiters that
his pizza would be without meat, it came with
both ham and sausage. Robt. tossed the ham out
the restaurant window, in a classic example of
- 6/22/96 diary: Lignano Italy. Long drive, bad
hotel, very windy sndchk, rainy show, ending w.
downpour onto stage during Red - which we
shortened as our instruments got drenched.
- 6/19/96 Diary: Bus to Budapest. 4 interviews at
hotel. 5 minutes in room. Bad rainstorm, show
almost cancelled. Had to omit C. Guitar Trio.
Backstage security guard was an old lady,
knitting. I took her photo.
- Prague, 6/17/96 diary entry; " During
"B'boom" some of us leave stage, go to
dressing room for a drink. Tonite, Adrian didn't
appear back onstage for Thrak - said later that
he got in elevator to return to first floor
stage, and someone else got in and pushed fourth
- 6/13/96 Dortmund, Germany - diary: "Venue in
large park, Bill and Ade being driven back to
hotel after sndchk got lost in venue park, stoned
driver had to ask directions 4 times. Took 45
min. for what would be 15 min. walk."
- Diary, 6/4/96, Mannheim: "Sad to leave Lyon.
Cab driver there made some of band listen to old
Crimson album during drive to airpt. Flight to
Frankfurt, 3 hours in airpt. hotel, then an hour
drive to Mannheim. Last encore of the show was
"Vrooom" but I had "Vrooom
Vrooom" on my setlist, which made for quite
- Madrid review: "King Crimson is an
irresistable electric blowtorch..."
- From Daily Yomiuri? review, "A King
Crimson show is a good chance for ... ordinary
fans to say, 'How did they make that
sound?'" "Adrian Belew, the greatest
guitar gypsy of the last 15 years... Fripp is
seated implacably ... looking like an irascible
college professor impatiently awaiting the
perfect soft-boiled egg."
- 4/29 /95 Time Out review of Thrak;
"Starting out with seven minutes of
portentous, turgid instrumental nonsense, 'Thrak'
eventually settles into a spineless blend of
vapid, overproduced, highfalutin' bombast.... all
such hope or promise is quickly subsumed beneath
their suffocatingly dreary miasmic muso
- From the Austin American Statesman Sept
28, 6 "bad" things of the week:
"#4 'The Stick.' This new basslike
instrument looks like something a band in the
Flintstones would play."
- Chicago Sun Times review; "..calling
Levin and Gunn 'bassists' doesn't do justice to
their electric tree stumps and gothic stick
- Buenos Aires Herald review, 10/4/94,
"...He also plays stick, a richly sounding
10-string instrument that looks 'as if a monster
from outer space had put strings over his penis
and tuned it at the utmost possible degree of
erection. Most disgusting.'"
- Montreal show review (in French) "...then he
smiled. Yes, yes, smiled. Fripp never
- R.Fripp, re the piece 'One Time,' "I don't
feel like I've done anything on this, but I like
what I haven't done."
- Adrian, on when to start verse after Robert's
solo, "I look at Robert and when he grimaces
in a certain way... and his hands are at the top
of the neck and there's no place else to
- Bill, at interview in Buenos Aires: "In the
band, Pat and I are driving an arsenal.....
- Robert, to reporter at
same interview; "You asked two questions.
The answer to the second is no."
- Bill to Pat, on boarding bus for 8 hour trip,
"O.K. Pat, we're ready for our calisthenic
workout. I've had a breakthrough on the
- Robert, asked by two fans
if they could take a photo, "Yes, as long as
I'm not in it."
- Argentina restaraunt menu: "Little legs in
vinaigrette sauce .... smashed potatoes."
- From Japanese cafe menu: "Captino - Italian
coffee well harmonizing a fragrance of cinamon
and coffee. Y6,000. Vienna Coffee - could enjoy
three tastes in the stops and called gloriously
and loved by everyone all over the world. Y8,000
- From Hotel Cobra, Kosice, Slovensko brochure:
"Even the most pretentious customer will be
satisfied with the summer-terrace ... Kosice is
also known for the metallurgical Industry. The
VSZ joint-stock company (East Slovak Iron Works)
is the largest Slovak enterprise."
- From magazine at Grand Hotel Parkers, Naples,
quotes on cooking pasta: "Always use
spaghetti of medium thickness in preference to
those double-bass strings which are fine for the
stomachs of woodcutters."
- From Mexico City Crowne Plaza Hotel room svc.
menu: "Vegetarian sandwitch-avocado, alfalfa
germs, smoked chicken, boiled egg ...."
- Buenos Aires - man from poster company, asked us,
while hanging band poster, "Which one is
Oct 1, 1996 - Woodstock
Well, Crimson's done touring for quite a while - maybe
some Euro dates next Summer, but we'll pretty much devote
the time until then to writing. I'll join Trey Gunn soon
to try to come up w. some duo stuff to inspire the band.
We'll all probably have different variations of
get-togethers and see what we can come up with.
Last week I gave my speech at the Eastman School in
Rochester - the symposium involved future music school
curriculum - rather dry for those not involved, (I'm not
even sure how to spell it,) but I've put the 15 page talk on a page here in case
anyone's interested in reading it. I found the public
speaking to be quite a challenge, and it was very
interesting being back at my alma mater. Another alumnus
speaking there, Bob Ludwig, is perhaps the foremost
record mastering engineer in the world. I mentioned to
him that I'd love for him to do my upcoming cave
recording when it's mixed. Surprisingly, he's already
done some music from caves. And he loves our engineer,
Tchad Blake, and his binaural recording technique.
Earlier, when I practiced the speech, I had found that
my mild TMJ (a common jaw problem) made an hour of
speaking almost impossible. My dentist, Buzzy, cured it,
though, with acupuncture and little magnets I was to wear
on my hands. Yes, little magnets. On my hands! Seemed
silly, but no clicking jaw. Made a believer of me.
In a few weeks I'll begin recording with Peter Gabriel
- of course I'm excited about that, but must admit I
haven't spoken with him lately and don't have any idea
what the music will be like, or how much there is. Should
be lots of fun.
Oct 23, 1996
RealWorld Studios. We're in the second week here
recording Peter Gabriel's new album. Most of the
excitement hasn't been about the tracks, which are very good,
or about the espresso, which is also very good (because I
brought my own machine - I've been trying to get
RealWorld to get a good one for years, instead of their
piddly Krupps. This time I thought bringing my own Saeco
might embarrass them into action. Probably the ploy will
work, since most of our session is gathered around it
hourly, and folks from the other studios are starting to
visit it too.)
Where was I? Oh yes, most of the excitement has
revolved around our ping pong games! Peter and guitarist
David Rhodes had been playing each other a lot while they
recorded the demos, and they're both in very good form.
So, when they challenged me and Manu Katche (our drummer)
to a sort of permanent tournament of doubles, at first
they were annihilating us. But we've slowly crept up to
about their level - now, with the competition even, we're
often compelled to take breaks from recording for a quick
best-of-five series of games. Most interesting are after
dinner, when both teams have tried to ply the other with
that extra glass of wine to slow them down. Today a
milestone: I snuck into Bath this morning and got a new
paddle! Our team (the rhythm section) won tonight's
games, and now I suspect it won't be long until their
team (the mid-range section) despairs of playing with the
old worn out paddles and runs into town for new ones.
(Update: Generally, Manu and I have been winning the
after dinner game, but Peter and David wipe us out in the
later night one. Difficult to choose a champion team,
especially for one as biased as me. Woody Harrelson was
visiting for a few days, and among his other talents is a
terrific return of serve.)
On the coffee front, we've been spoiled: Michele, my
wonderful tech, brought three different espresso blends
from Palermo, where he lives. (I love their brand name:
Tonaca di Monaco, which refers to the color of the beans;
Monk's Tunic.) I had brought a few pounds of my favorite
local Woodstock organic beans, and D. Rhodes has his
favorite blend from here in Bath. It's great having the
variety, though I've got to admit, Michele's Sicilian
"Aromatica" blend is clearly the best.
As always at RealWorld, there is an interesting blend
of musician around, and they share a common dining room
(and ping pong room.) One day, at lunch, Soriba Bouate
serenaded us all on the Cora; his Senegalese harp-like
instrument. I didn't ask what he was doing here - but he
can sure play! I ventured over to the RealWorld
multi-media building - a very impressive operation. Their
web site has very good stuff (I'll put a link to it
below) and they have two fascinating cd-roms in the works
as well as a new P.Gabriel one coming out soon.
Tried to meet up with the U.K. Crimsons, but Robert's
off to Argentina, and I'll hook up with Bill Bruford next
Update Nov. 4th: It's been going very well here
- we must have done at least 20 songs! (although it's
going to take a lot of sorting to arrange the good
takes.) Only disaster was our running out of the good
coffee beans! We then turned to the best blend we could
find in Bath, but the shop soon ran out of it, and we've
been ... subsisting ... on quite inferior beans! In last
night's 'trophy' ping pong match, Manu and I won the
grand prize: a giant 400 gram Cadbury's chocolate bar.
(Though neither of us eat the stuff.)
Here in the virtual world, we've about got the sound
playback working for the PapaBear page, and will soon
have samples of some of the songs from World Diary, and a
Funk Fingers sample for the F.F. page. Coming soon, a
separate page for all the coffee stuff that's been piling
Nov 25, 1996 - Woodstock
Whew, back home again - P. Gabriel's music was very
exciting, and lots of it! But now I'm focusing on my
other projects and hoping he continues at the blistering
pace we recorded the rhythm tracks at! (minus breaks for
ping pong, of course) (and lunch and dinner breaks.)
(and, of course, coffee breaks.) I'll try to keep tabs on
the progress and post info about it.
I'm suffering ping pong withdrawal after leaving
RealWorld - although when I dropped by a local company
here for some mike cables (Markertek, of Saugerties NY) I
found that they're ALL expert players there, and spend
lunch breaks and after work competing. I was offered a
match but wisely declined.
Engineer/producer Tchad Blake is here, and we're
editing and compiling the tapes from my Cave project -
it's sounding great, and very unusual. I think we'll
finish this week, then it's up to me to kick PapaBear
Records into action and get the cd out! I'll have the
artwork done soon, since I'm doing my hand coloring of
the photos as we listen down to the mixes -that way,
hopefully, the music influences the art. I'm hoping for
late Spring release. (my track record on releasing things
on time isn't too good, though!) The group that recorded
this project, Jerry Marotta, Steve Gorn and I, will play
a concert or two at the NAMM show in Anaheim in January.
(not in a cave, though.)
Also in January, it's likely I'll record with Andy
Summers, in preparation for a tour this Summer as a trio
with drummer Stuart Copeland. Interestingly, though I
don't really play jazz, the current plan is to do Euro
jazz festivals. Crimson will be writing together in May,
and perhaps some live playing in October/Nov, so the
Summer/Summers tour would fit in well for me. (As always
with these plans, one is never too sure of a tour or
album until it's being done, so I mention these 'plans'
We've added a Coffee Corner
page for some of the espresso/related things that have
been popping up a lot on this page. It's also got a
RealAudio sample of one of the tracks from World Diary:
"Espresso & the Bed of Nails" (naturally.)
Come visit it if you've got any interest in the bean (or,
if you need help designing a travelling espresso
Quicker than ever, the holiday season seems to be upon
us, and I'd like to wish a happy and healthy season to
Dan - my page designer, to Laurie - the one, invaluable
employee of PapaBear Records, to Junichi and Keiko - who
do our mirror site in Japan, and to you the readers of
this page. It has been, and will continue to be a
pleasure and honor for me to have you visit my site. Bye
Jan 7, 1997 - Woodstock
Greetings, and Happy New Year. I'm late updating my
letter - been busy writing at home, and grabbed a short
vacation. Off to L.A. this week for Andy Summers album,
Terry Bozio album, and the dreaded NAMM show!
For those who don't know of it, NAMM is a very big
music trade show, w. exhibits of all instrument and amp
makers - mostly for retail store buyers, but lots of
musicians come too. For those who can browse, it's neat,
though exhausting - but some musicians, like me, will be
stationed at booths (Trace Elliot, in my case) sort of
greeting people, and ... just being there. A little like
the monkey in a zoo! By the weekend, the whole place is
like a zoo - too crowded to move! Between hanging out at
Trace, and visiting my friends at Music Man and the Stick
booth, I won't get to see much else. Anyway, I'll play
some shows there with Jerry Marotta and flutist Steve
Gorn, for our friends at Taos Drums. I'm looking forward
to those shows, and very much to the albums in L.A. which
could come out great.
I've accessed the page stats of this site, and see
that some of the ...subtle links we've put to my odd
pages, haven't been seen at all. Perhaps I've been being
too subtle - anyway, anyone with some time might want to
click on some of the underlined punctuation in a few
spots on this page and the funk finger page. (An
interesting example is in the "Equipment"
section below, clicking the period after 'Trace Elliot
Amps', will give you the blueprint of an amp I designed
and submitted to them some time ago. It won't be hard to
see why they've been reluctant to put it into their line,
but I'm still hoping they'll eventually relent!) I'll try
to grab some photos at NAMM and put them up here.
Feb 3, 1997 -
Been doing some really good music lately. Played on
Andy Summers' jazz album a few weeks ago - it seemed like
it came out quite well - they're mixing it now. Then I
moved to another L.A. studio to record with Terry Bozzio
and Steve Stevens - definitely not jazz. I tried my db
meter on Steve's amp... it was off the meter! Did some
exciting music there - including surprisingly some
acoustic stuff. Hopefully it'll be out by Spring.
My tentative Summer tour w. Andy Summers and Stuart
Copeland has been cancelled. (That's rock 'n roll!)
Crimson will be writing in April/ May, but not touring
until possibly Oct / Nov, and likely a minimal tour then.
Hey, maybe I'll finally get some time in my garden.
I've been very pleased to see more bass players trying
the Funk Fingers - can't wait to hear them on some
albums. I visited Guitar Center in L.A. - considering
selling them there, but I do kind of like keeping things
small, and direct between me and those who get the funk
fingers - so it's likely it'll remain mail order only.
Back home I'm trying to catch up with things (an old
story) and put together the package for the
"Cave" album. Bill Bruford's in town, recording
with Ralph Towner - when he finishes we'll start on a
project I've wanted to do with him for ages.
Blake, our engineer for the Cave album, now has his
own site, devoted to binaural recording. Check it out.
I hear Paula Cole's album more and more on the radio.
Nice to see someone so good getting popular!
Feb 12, 1997 - Woodstock - Update
Have a new addition to my family: Sherlock, a lively,
lovable Westie puppy. Monday I played on a track for
Peter Mulvey in a studio down in Hackensack - had to
bring Sherlock with me, and fortunately Peter and his
band didn't mind. (see photo!) Also fortunately, Sherlock
kept his bladder more in control than he does at home.
Could be he's born to be a studio dog!
Mar 31, 1997 - Woodstock
I just spent a week in Boston, recording with Catie
Curtis, a Boston based folk singer. The producer, Roy
Bitten, had played piano briefly with Peter Gabriel, back
in the '80's, and we hadn't worked together since then.
We did basic tracks with just me and Catie playing. They
went very well, and I think they'll have the cd out by
I spent the first few mornings combing Newbury St. for
a good cafe (there are many, including FOUR Starbucks!)
and finally settled into one called Caffe Royale, which
had good espresso, and was quiet enough to read and write
The studio, Sound Techniques, has a few rooms, and
mid-week I heard something familiar coming from studio B,
the next room. It was a vocal group mixing their version
of Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer, a cappella, with only
voices simulating the drums and my old bass line. I took
the liberty of dropping in and visiting them. They're a
vocal group from Tufts College, called the Tufts
Beelzebubs ("The Bubs")
and, not surprisingly, they have a web site! They tell me
that they will sell their cd independently, and hope to
have it finished quite soon.
I had considered taking Sherlock,
the puppy, to Boston for the week - I think he's up to
spending that much time in the studio, but I was
concerned about the hotel room - he's not very good at
waiting to get outdoors! So Andi, my girlfriend, took
Sherlock with her to New York for a merry week. I think
it's time Sherlock had his own page, if only to free this
page up from his photos!
I'm looking forward to getting together with Crimson
later this month, to write. We'll discuss our plans for
the rest of the year then, and hopefully advance on the
material for our next album.
May 2, 1997 - Nashville
King Crimson's back together here, writing
some new material for upcoming albums. It's going well so
far - always interesting , but sometimes stressful when
we get together - trying to find new directions isn't
always a relaxing agenda.
Robert (Fripp) has some material written, and he and
Adrian (Belew) and Trey (Gunn) have worked out some new
methods of musically interreacting. We tape everything,
and sometimes combine the drummers' experiments with
cross rhythms with the 'front three' of Robt, Ade, and
Trey dividing up linear ideas. Me, I'm free to make
whatever low end noise I like!
We're working in a large rehearsal facility, and when
I wander the halls there's country music coming from all
the other rooms. I wonder what they think when they hear
our attempts at polyrhythmic deconstruction! Well,
they're nice enough to keep it to themselves!
I've rented a bicycle and, when the bad weather blows
over, I'll be doing some riding in the mornings. Also,
when not rehearsing, I've located a good coffee place ( the Owl's Nest)
and a great bookstore (Elder's Book Shop). For years I've
been keeping a computer log of Crimson tours and
recordings, entering miles travelled, quotes of the day,
hotel info -- got so into it last year that I added a
fields for whether the hotel had a phone I could plug the
computer into, and for how far to find good espresso.
Perhaps one day I'll put up a list of "Crimson
Cafe's" around the world. Anyway, I'm glad there's
decent espresso because I didn't bring the "Cafe
Crim" travelling machine.
Current plans are now for us to write and record next
Fall, no touring until the following Spring. We'll see
how long those plans last!
May 5, 1997 - Nashville -
The rehearsals are going o.k. Sunday, band
took the morning off, went to yard sale at Al Kooper's
house - bought some mixers, but no guitars. Then we
visited Adrian's home and studio - heard some of his
upcoming cd and saw the beautiful baby. Capped the day
off at "Loco Lupe's" where Robert had the
biggest margarita I've ever seen. Won't know how useful
the new material is until we've listened to the tapes
some, but it seems to have been a productive week here.
All in all, though, I'd rather be touring.
May 15, 1997- Boston -
I went to Boston
earlier this week to oversee the making of the cd package
for the upcoming "Caves of the Iron Mountain."
Amazing seeing the huge machines used in a big printing
job - I was taking photos like a tourist! The cover came
out very well, but there are still other parts that need
to be printed for the entire package. Funny that the
music on the cd is the easiest part.
June 8, 1997 -
. I haven't updated the letter lately because I'm
still buried in getting the Cave cd (and video) out,
which is, let's face it, getting to be a BORING subject!
(The inside booklets came out the wrong color - my fault,
and not far from the right color, but wrong - so they're
in my garage, and new ones are being done - pantone 167,
not 72. Anybody want to see what 10,000 copies of a
booklet in the wrong color looks like? Any suggestions on
what I can do with them? Too much coating to burn. Too
rough for toilet paper.)
I caught Paula Cole's NY show last week, which was great.
Crimson is still planning on rehearsal/writing period in
October. Bozzio Stevens Levin trio is considering a small
tour of Japan in September. (the cd, Black Light
Syndrome, is out now - see below.) Peter Gabriel is still
finishing up his new tracks. I had planned to do some
promo playing for the Cave cd this Summer, but Jerry
(Marotta) is out all Summer with the Indigo Girls. And
here I am, surrounded by wrong color/ insert books,
trying to make sure everything in the cd package gets
done right before it can come out. Once again, I'm
learning that being a bass player is much more fun than
being a record company!
My friends at Taos Drums made me a custom drum with their
bear painting on it, but altered to look like Papa Bear.
It's very cool.
July 1, 1997 - Woodstock
Yay! The "Cave" CD and video
are finally ready. The booklets are the right color, the
package is printed correctly and folded well, the artwork
on the CD has been silk-screened correctly, the video
package is the correct colors and the faceplate on the
video finally got printed and put on, the posters have
been printed -- the whole lot has been shipped here (with
some assistance from my friends at Markertek, who's
loading bay I borrowed,) and my assistant Laurie is ready
to mail out orders. WHEW, that took a while!
It now looks like the Bozzio / Stevens / Levin trio
will tour in Japan in September. There's been some
confusion about the tour, and some U.S. dates had been
added after that, but are now on hold. I don't think that
CD, Black Light Syndrome, is in stores yet - there's a
link below to the record company, who probably know, but
I'll put an update here when it's out for sure.
Crimson is still scheduled for late Fall
writing/rehearsing. There's to be a public event in
London by DGM Records (Sept. 13) which will feature all
of the Fall releases on that label - I'll be there
because the "Caves" CD will be coming out on
DGM for Europe in September. I know that Bill Bruford
will be there doing press for his upcoming CD with Ralph
Towner and Eddie Gomez. I'm not sure what the other
releases will be. I'll notify.
Update - July 10
I spent a few days in NY with Eddie
Jobson working on the upcoming U.K. project. (As before,
John Wetton is singing in the band, and playing some
bass, but they had me play some Stick and upright.) The
material is a while from being finished, but sounds very
good. Never played with a Bulgarian choir before!
Interesting was that the studio, Back Pocket Studio in
the W. 20's, has the best espresso machine I've ever seen
in a studio, a Rancillio restaurant type. Over the two
long days, I made countless coffees for myself and
Tristan, the French asst. engineer who, being from Paris,
appreciated a great espresso!
Update - July 21
I've been in Seattle, recording with
pianist David Lanz. Studio is very unusual - built into
the rock in a suburban neighborhood, it looks like a
garage from the outside, but is voluminous inside. It's
named after the owner, Bob Lang Studios. Being Seattle,
there is, of course, coffee nearby (closest was in the
local post office) and good. But a very special event for
me was David taking me to the "Espresso Vivace"
- surely the most serious espresso making place I've ever
heard of. I met the owner, David Schomer, and purchased
his book and videos on professional espresso making. Can't
wait to get home and try some of the techniques I'm
reading about - should be perfected by the next Crimson
tour, and the guys will benefit from it all.
Aug 13, 1997
Sorry I haven't written an update in a
while - I've been camping. (Did you know you can have
pizza delivered to your campsite nowadays!) Now I'm
gearing up for a Japan tour with Bozzio/Stevens/Levin.
We'll play Blue Note clubs in Osaka and Fukuoka, and a
Bottom Line club in Nagoya. Hopefully I can get online
from Japan, and I'll bring the digital camera along to
update the page. The "Caves" cd will be coming
out in Japan in September, so I imagine I'll be doing
some press over there. After Japan, I will go to London
for a promotional event DGM (Discipline Global Mobile
record co.) is putting on for their Fall releases (again,
the "Caves" cd) - it's some kind of play-and-do
interviews event on Sept. 13th, and rather than assemble
a group, I want to try playing solo - probably the
electric upright. It'll be the first time I've ever done
that - should be a nice challenge! When I know who else
is playing there, and whether it's public, I'll notify
Update - Aug 20
Yike, the Japanese tour is off. Many
apologies to any readers who already had tickets to the
shows there - I'm hoping that B.L.S. will tour later this
year, possibly in the States, but I'm afraid that the
short tour that was to start next week won't happen!
Sept. 13, 1997
I'm writing from an Internet cafe here
in London, having just finished a DGM records playback
event at the Intercontinental Hotel. It was quite a
success I think. The event really began for me before I
left NY, when I was told that my cd release (From the
Caves of the Iron Mountain) was ready, but the covers
hadn't been printed in time, so -- could I remove my cd's
from a few hundred, and bring the covers! This I did, and
when I got here to London, the cd's from here were put in
them. The good news, great news really, was that they
were able to put the video of the making of the cd (sold
separately here as "Tales from the Widow Jane
Mine") onto the cd, so it's now an "enhanced
cd" which in most computers will play about 20
minutes of the video of the Cave project. All the
European cd's will have this feature. The BAD news was
that somehow the insert booklets got printed THE SAME
WRONG COLOR AS THE US ONES DID! if only they had asked
me, I could have given them my 10,000 copies - or better
yet, got it redone the right color.
Anyway, on to the event: While the
musicians did some early interviews, the public was
admitted to the Grand Ballroom at the Intercontinental
Hotel at about noon - shown through a room with coffee
and cookies, with lots of new DGM merchandise available,
as well as the new releases. And a couple of computers
set up with views of the brand new Discipline
web site, and my enhanced cd
going. Tony Geballe played solo guitar in the main room
people came in there.
When all were seated (I guess about 600
people) a couple of tracks were played from Tony's new
cd. Then, without introduction, I came to the stage,
played about 10 minutes of unaccompanied bass, (what did
I play? I made it up at the time.) and spoke a bit about
the "Caves" cd, from which a couple of tracks
were then played. (the London Bass Centre kindly located
an NS Electric Upright for me - in Prague! Which they got
into England in time to have it at this event.) Next came
Bill Bruford, who gave a witty talk about many things,
including his new release. (I'm sorry I don't have the
titles of all these cds - they can be found, I'm sure, on
the DGM site.) After Bill, John Wetton sang solo, a track
from a new cd. then Robert Fripp spoke about the release
of a live performance from the early lineup of king
crimson. He also gave the listeners some hints of
upcoming plans for Crimson, including some touring in
smaller combinations of Crimson members, the first being
titled Projekt One, planning a four night stand in a
London club in early December (that will be Robert, Trey,
Bill and myself.) with others to come.
Tracks having been played from the live
recording mentioned before, the guests exited to a track
from the current Crimson's last rehearsal period in
Nashville - a rehearsal track, that is. They went back
into the first room, where all musicians were lined up at
tables to autograph whatever was presented. This activity
lasted for hours, and it's my hope that everyone left
feeling satisfied with the event.
In a few weeks I'll be going into the
studio with two players from the group "Dream
Theater," Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci. We'll be
joined by an excellent keyboard player, Jordan Rudes -
and I'm hoping the result will be something worthwhile.
Other plans for the Fall include a bass clinic in NYC in
November, (these things are not my cup of tea, but this
one sounded interesting) and a show at the Montreal Drum
Fest on November 8th, with the "Caves" lineup
of Jerry Marotta, Steve Gorn and me.
Update - Sept. 16
I did a live radio interview today at
our local NPR station: WAMC in Albany. I got to speak
about the "Caves" cd, and play some tracks from
it. Had some nice call-ins too, many from bass players.
Most notable quote was the interviewer inadvertantly
describing the project as "music from an abandoned
mind somewhere in the Catskill Mountains." That's
Update - September 29
finished the rhythm tracks of the project currently
titled "Millenium Project" - Mike Portnoy and
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, Jordan Rudes of Dixie
Dregs -- and me, trying to keep up! (Boy, these guys play
FAST! ) Hopefully that cd will be ready for release by
the end of the year (it'll be on Magna Carta Records, and
I'll put up a note and link when it's ready.) We had some
amusing moments, some of the riffs being so fast I must
admit I had to punch in my bass parts bar by bar. (no
technically, but just as enjoyable, were some tracks I
played on Jonell Mosser's upcoming cd, with John Hall
producing. She's a great singer out of Nashville - again
I don't know when that will be release date, but will
I got some nice feedback from the hour interview I did on
our local NPR station, WAMC. Especially the interviewer
calling the cave project, "music from an abandoned
Oct 12, 1997 - Greetings from Vancouver
Here doing a wonderful album with
Seal. The other muso's are Vinnie Calliuta on drums, Heitor Pereira and
Michael Landau on guitars, David Sancious on kbds - no wonder it's so much
fun. Seal's writing and guitar playing is super. (And, it doesn't hurt that
the studio has a great Simonelli espresso machine, PLUS the asst. engineer,
Paul, is an ex-Starbucks cappuccino slinger - so I'm picking up pointers.)
Best quote of this week is the producer, Stu Levine, referring to the bass
part, asking me to "keep it downstairs" - (as if I didn't play low anyway,)
now I refer to him as K.I.D. Levine.
I've had powerbook problems (as usual,) and spend my mornings trying to get
the modem port working so I can get online - obviously I've been successful,
at least for the present, and sent this update - but I'm afraid my modem and
powerbook are on their last legs. (Aren't we all!)
Oct 17, 1997 - Vancouver
The Seal album I'm working on continues to be a joy, with
excellent musicians making excellent music. Today, on a rare day off, I've
been wandering around the city. Had already located an Internet cafe, health
food, and some decent espresso near the hotel (not as urgent as usual, since
we've got great coffee maker at the studio.)
I'm working a bit on organizing
my upcoming bass clinic in NY - I usually avoid these things because to do a
good job you need to pass on the relevent things about your playing that the
other players want to know - and I never think about those things. So, trying
to analyze my own playing so that I can talk about it isn't the thing I'd
most like to be doing today -- maybe I'll break for some football games.
New on the page is a link to my old pal, drummer, Steve Gadd's
site. Also links to a new site from Taos Drums, and to my brother's page
about The Clams: a goofy band we had ages ago, which, coincidentally,
included Steve Gadd. For those who haven't noticed it, I have a page of
unused band names from years of musicians' discussions (link below) -- it's
funny how you can never find the right name for a band when you need it.
I don't love those counters that tell a page visitor how many have come
before him - but I do find fascinating the far flung places from which people
take a peek at my page. Here's a list of some of the hits and locales from
the last 30 days. (and a special welcome to those of you from these places.)
277 Croatia, 152 Estonia, 95 S. Korea, 70 Turkey, 49 Slovak Republic, 52
Macedonia, 19 Slovenia, 17 Quatar, 15 Boznia-Herzegovina, 14 Ukraine, 12
Nov 24, 1997 - Woodstock
Full of hot-turkey, I head for London tomw. to do what will
certainly be an interesting week - members of King Crimson live in a small
venue, playing only totally improvised music. We'll be at the Jazz Cafe in
London, Dec. 1 thru 4 - though we'll be "rehearsing" this Sunday, I'm told
that we won't even play together, just make sure all equipment is working -
to ensure that we'll be in total improvise mode. I'm looking forward to the
surprises! (Lineup will be Fripp, Bruford, Gunn, Levin)
The last two weeks I've been working at painting the cover for Papa Bear
Records' upcoming "Bruford Levin Upper Extremities" release. I'd say the
results so far have been ... mixed. I did have some luck, though, painting my
I'll do my best to put up some photos from the London gigs - however I've
just found that my old powerbook has surprised me yet again, and won't read
the disks from my new dig. camera - hopefully I'll find an internet cafe with
a computer that can.
Dec. 1, 1997 - London
Our "rehearsal" went well - of course, we weren't
playing with each other, just setting up, so it couldn't have been too tough.
The rehearsal studio, "the Premesis" was a nice, funky setup, with a smoky
cafe attached. I got a classic photo of the four of us over coffee. And
tonight, the first gig. A lot of fun for me, not knowing where things would
go. Biggest surprises: Robert playing a frettless bass (sound) solo on his
midi guitar, Bill brought a xylophone and took us into parade land with that.
Big challenge for the audience - a whole night all improvised - they seemed
to like it, at least nobody called out requests. More details tomw.
Update Dec. 4th: London - after midnight.
The four shows are finished now -
they went very well. I especially liked the last set, and thought we caught
some good energy. An interesting event occurred at the start of the first set
tonight, when Robert Fripp strode onto the stage, and went to the mike - a
very unusual occurance. (darn, it was the one set I didn't have my camera
onstage.) I'm paraphrasing from memory, but he said something like this: "It
has been thirteen and a half years since I've spoken to the audience in a
King Crimson context. But tonight my legs have carried me across the stage
like whipcords, and I have something to say to you. You are listening to
ProjeKct One of King Crimson, and there has already been a ProjeKct Two..."
(at this point, a camera flash went off from the audience, and Robert
stopped mid sentence. He thought a second, frowned, and strode back across
the stage to his seat - we then began the music. Will it be another thirteen
and a half years till he finishes that sentence? I don't know.
Jan 10, 1998 - Woodstock
Unusual for me, I haven't been doing much playing lately, but
am busy making some equipment changes, doing some preliminary Crimson
writing with Pat Mastelotto, and keeping me the busiest is overseeing the
printing of the upcoming "B.L.U.E." cd package.
It's amazing how much attention these things need in order to come out right.
I have much more respect for art departments of record companies since I
started doing it all myself. For my Papa Bear Records packages, the cd, the
package, and the booklet are all manufactured by different companies
(assembled at the end, up in Maine, where the cd's are printed.) After I send
disks of the finished artwork, each company has to send me a 'match print' to
make sure theyíve got it all right. (almost never is it right the first time)
Then, after that's gone back and forth and been okayed, the printouts are
scheduled, and I need to go to the various printing plants (Boston area) to
ensure that THOSE printouts aren't somehow different than the match print.
(Then, the printing process for the art on the cd itself is a different
process, silk screening, so it's impossible to get it to match exactly!) It's
no wonder that the musician's idea for cover art usually comes out very
different by the end - even with me having done the art myself, and breathing
down the neck of each printer at each phase of the project, it can STILL get
messed up if I blink.
On a different subject, an exhibition of my photographs will run in
Switzerland, from Jan. 30th to March 1st. The place is called "Maison de
Courten" in SIERRE, Switzerland. (For anyone who's interested, Sierre is 110
kilometers east of Lausanne, 180 km from Geneva and about 250 km south of
Zurich. The local phone numbers are (0)27 456.26.88 or (0)27 452.02.31, and
Iím told that the local food specialties are "raclette" and "fondue" but that
the local pizzeria, CAPRI, is the best in Switzerland.)
Iíll be skipping the L.A. NAMM show this year (whew) both as a favor to
myself, and to be on the case for this artwork printing. Weíre going to tour
in April with the release of the ďBruford Levin Upper ExtremitiesĒ cd, but,
beyond Japan, Iím not sure yet where the tour will go. More info when it comes
Feb 14, 1998 - Woodstock
After quite a while of working on it, my friends at Music Man basses have
repaired a custom bass of mine that somewhat survived a barn fire a few years
ago. The white finish has turned to amber, and part of the body is charcoal -
really a beautiful look! I'm torn between naming it "ToastBass" or "CharBass."
Anyway I'm thrilled to have it back, and very grateful to MusicMan. Hope
bassists don't start requesting this new color from them!
On a different subject, an exhibition of my photographs will run in
Switzerland, from Jan. 30th to March 1st. The place is called "Maison de
Courten" in SIERRE, Switzerland. (For anyone who's interested, Sierre is 110
kilometers east of Lausanne, 180 km from Geneva and about 250 km south of
Zurich. The local phone numbers are (0)27 456.26.88 or (0)27 452.02.31, and
I'm told that the local food specialties are "raclette" and "fondue" but that
the local pizzeria, CAPRI, is the best in Switzerland.)
Came across this old photo of me at an English rock festival, just before a
show w. P. Gabriel - seems I had come across a face painter who couldn't
resist a challenge!
On the coffee front, Iíve made a great discovery. For some time my favorite
beans for brewing at home (and on the road in the Crimson Espresso Valet) are
a strong organic espresso blend I buy in a Woodstock market. I was very
surprised to find recently, that itís actually roasted locally - no wonder it
tastes fresh. I visited the source, of course, and found that Emma at Catskill
Mtn Coffee has many blends - two espresso blends - (I prefer the one called
simply "Peruvian",) only buys organic beans, roasts frequently in small
batches, and sells by mail order - quite reasonably! ($7.50 per lb, or
"Wholesale Club" rate of $5.80 per lb. for 5 lbs or more.) They (Catskill Mtn
Coffee) can be reached at [email protected] or call 888 SAY-JAVA. (I hate those
letter-numbers, donít you! Itís 888 729-5282).
My thanks for the suggestions sent of good cafes in NYC - Iím happily checking
them all out!
Iíve been working in Woodstock on Ellis Paulís next cd,
also some ongoing projects with local singer Bar Scott, and guitarist Matt
Travelling to Japan soon, to promote upcoming release there of Bruford Levin
Upper Extremities. Iíve lined up the busy David Torn, Chris Botti, and Bill
Bruford - and weíll tour Japan in April, and then squeeze in as many club
dates in the U.S. as we can (before Bill Brufordís due back in Europe.)
Currently looks like Washington, Philly, NYC, and Boston will be likely
targets. Of course, Iíll list the dates here when theyíre booked.
Mar 3, 1998 - Los Angeles
I've stopped in the West Coast on the way back from
Japan, to do some record sessions. Hoped to carve out some time to visit my
friend Kai and see the newest graphics software, as well as hearing David
Torn play in Santa Monica, but alas, work hasn't left the time for any
visits. Weather here is sure great though - what's all this we keep hearing
Some small changes have just been made in the upcoming Bruford Levin Upper
Extremities tour. New (and, I hope, final) itinerary is:
April 13th New Haven - Toad's Place (yay, one of my favorite clubs)
April 14th Philly - T.L.A.
April 15th Washington - Birchmere
April 17th Baltimore - Orion (2)
April 18th NY City - Knitting Factory (2)
April 19th Boston (Cambridge) House of Blues
(* Looks like there will be a live internet broadcast of the final show at
House of Blues.)
Also a possible AOL live chat for me sometime before the U.S. tour starts.
(I'd better speed up my typing!)
The band lineup will be the same as the upcoming cd; David Torn - guitar,
Chris Botti - trumpet, and of course Bruford and me on drums & bass.
There will be a hummer of a double bill in the Japan part of our tour: we're
to share the show with Projekct Two: a Crimson offshoot consisting of Adrian
Belew, Robert Fripp, Trey Gunn. No, there won't be an all Crim jam at the end
of those shows, (anyway, Pat Mastelotto would be missing) but they should be
a trip for Japanese Crimson fans, who will see lots of Crimson members, but
hear no Crimson music!!
Back home at Papa Bear Records, we're getting very close to having the new
cd's ready to ship - I can't wait to see if the world enjoys listening to the
B.L.U.E. cd as much as I enjoyed making it.
Mar 27, 1998 - New York
Iíve been working my tail off, booking the upcoming U.S.
tour of Bruford Levin Upper Extremities. You know, through all these years of
playing gigs and tours, Iíve NEVER booked even one show on my own before -
always just showed up after someone else did the paperwork. Itís TOUGH! I
canít wait to pick up the bass again and PLAY! (gotta admit, I have been
practicing though - some of this material isnít easy.)
As I said last week, Iím thrilled with the sound and look of the new cd - and
weíve added an online order form here on the website. Like the earlier releases of my little record company, itís not
distributed to stores, only sold online, and by phone and mail. However, Iíve
arranged to have it in some stores near the venues of the tour - and Bill
Bruford and I will be doing some instores there. Details below.
A note to those who would like to order the cd now, weíre thrilled to have
some pre-release orders from the U.S. and Canada, but itís coming out in
Europe in June, so we cannot take orders from there for now - anyway, youíll
have it in local stores (we hope) in Europe this Summer. Likewise for Japan,
itís in stores there, licensed by Pony Canyon Records.
Iíve been doing some interviews about the music, and was surprised to see a
spot on MTV News about both the cd and the tour. Trouble is, it focused on one
of our tracks, Cracking the Midnight Glass, sounding a lot like a Led Zeppelin
song! Itís true, the bass riff (on upright, with bow) is like Kashmir, but Iím
surprised anyone cares! I know Led Zeppelin doesnít. Anyway, since they
mentioned all the tour dates on MTV, Iíve certainly got no complaints.
We rehearse next week, then off to Japan for a large press conference, and 4
shows. Then back here for the U.S. dates, starting on April 13th, in New
Haven. Weíve put up a page of the tour schedule, to save room here. It now
includes good coffee places near the venues - my thanks to those of you who
helped with recommendations.
I think Iíll take the ďToast BassĒ on the tour (photo on right) - hope it
holds up to the nightly funk fingers without falling apart - it is partly
charcoal inside since it got burnt.
Not long now, till this is back to really being a ROAD letter, with photos to
Apr 5, 1998 - Tokyo
Arrived two days ago with Bill Bruford for our Japanese tour. David Torn and
Chris Botti are arriving today, then after travelling tomorrow, we'll play our
first show Tuesday in Nagoya. Very much looking forward to it. Rehearsals in
New York were fun - our live versions of the music from the "B.L.U.E." cd
will bear some resemblance to it, but they're going to be more stretched out.
We'll also do a composition from David Torn's "Cloud About Mercury" cd. And
improvise, of course.
Yesterday there was a press conference - Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew and Trey
Gunn are also here, to promote their new "Projeckt Two" release. (on DGM
Records) They and the Bruford Levin Upper Extremities group will be playing
as a double bill here in Japan (only.) Should be very interesting. The "press
conference" was also open to the public, (I thought I saw a PapaBear t-shirt
out there, and even some funk fingers being waved. Maybe it was my
imagination!) and was well attended. Each of us spoke about our respective cd
releases, and tracks were played from them. Since the four members of the
'80's King Crimson were all there, we also spoke to the press about the coming
release of "Absent Lovers" which is a live recording from 1984 of the last
show we did before the band broke up (for 10 years, that is - perhaps 'took a
long break' is a better phrase.) (That cd release is coming this Summer, I
believe, from DGM Records.)
As usual in Japan, I'm only sleeping a few hours a night for these first days.
Spend much of the night trying to get my modem to work (perfect activity for
the middle of the night!) It's having a bad hair day now, so I've logged onto
Trey Gunn's account and computer to send this update to the page.) Today we'll
do a couple of 'instores," which consist of the musicians being parked at a
table in a record shop, and autographing their respective cd's for the public.
It's a bit strange, but helpful to sales - I would like it more if there were
time to talk to the people, but here in Tokyo it'll be too big a crowd.
On the U.S. tour, Bill Bruford and I will do a few instores shortly before
our soundchecks - the locations are below. Other than those, Papa Bear
Records is just selling the B.L.U.E. cd over the web, and by 800 number. (and
at the gigs, of course.)
There seem to be Starbucks in various parts of Tokyo, so decent espresso
isn't far away anymore here. We've hit Japan at their lowest exchange rate in
years - remarkably a cup of coffee costs about what it does in the U.S. A few
years ago, it was up to $10 a cup here.
Blue Tour Diary
May 11,1998 - NYC
Just back from a trip around Europe, doing interviews to promote the June
release of BLUE there. Itís to be released by DGM from England, and there are
various distributors in different countries, who had set up press for me.
With all the travel, I filled many pages in my personal journal. Here are some
Monday, May 4: Munich.
This is truly a road week. Starting yesterday, flew Delta from New York to
Milan w. frequent flyer miles. Was able to switch cattle car seat to an exit
row (they always hold the exit row seats till about an hour before flight
time) so the trip wasn't too uncomfortable. Left 6:15 pm, arrived Milan
Malpensa 8am. Took bus to Stazione Centrale, then immediately caught another
bus out to Linate airport - the one that services the interEurope flights.
Killed a few hours till my 1:15 flight to Munich. Arrived at 2:30, was met at
the airport by Bernie Jugel, DGM's representative here in Germany - took a
train ride into the city, during which Bernie interviewed me on a tape deck he was carrying. ... whew!
Between interviews, we visited a potential site for exhibition for my photos:
named Virus - der Laden (very bad name if it were a computer store) - it's a
combination deli and art gallery. Name means, "Virus - the shop" and somehow
it serves food, but not being licensed as a restaurant it can't have tables and chairs, but there are "art works" that closely resemble chairs, and one big one, which laid on it side, curiously functions very well as a table!
Tuesday, May 5: Madrid.
Did more interviews today in Munich, then caught 5:30pm train back to the
airport, flew Lufthansa to Madrid, arriving 10:30 pm. Met Bill Bruford at the
airport, Bill having flown in from London to join me for interviews in Spain
and France. Our contact, Fernando, from Sonifolk Spain, met us and, having had
a "hotel crisis" and changed our hotel, got us rooms near the main Plaza de
España. Around midnite, after having some drinks and discussing our schedule, I went out to find a bite to eat. Seems that Spain only eats pork late at night - the only spots open were named "Museum of Pork" and "Pork World" and other similar names. They featured both ham sandwiches and whole hams to go.
Hardly the spot for a veggie! I passed on eating and called it a day.
Wednesday, May 6, Madrid.
Nine interviews today, most at the hotel. Fernando took us out for lunch to a
nice place (which had food other than ham) - I had Gallician Hake! Some quotes
from the menu there: in seafood, "Goose Barnacles" and, in the meat section:
These dual interviews are more fun for me than solo ones - I get to listen to
Bill's answers - and sometimes write them down myself. Some examples:
"Making an album nowadays consists of this: fifteen months of phone calls,
five days of recording, fifteen more months to get it released. (Then you wait
another year to get paid.)"
When asked what it's like playing drums in King Crimson, Bill made the analogy
to lying on a bed of nails. Laughingly urged interviewer to look at the scars
on his back.
"I've spent a lot of time in the digital world and I prefer the analog world.
It has to do with the work 'authorship.' I like to hear precisely when and how
the player strikes the note on his instrument."
We drove out to Radio Nacional, where we were detained by the guards, exactly like the last time years ago, when we were here with Crimson. The radio show, "Discopolis" is a big supporter of World Music, both in Spain and in some
South American countries.
Thursday May 7: Paris
Writing in my journal at a cafe on Blvd de Bonne Nouvelle. Now, THIS is the
way to hang out in Europe. Flew to France this morning, and with only 4 or 5
interviews at the hotel here, there's time for a nice Parisian espresso (the
only place I've found outside of Italy that usually gets it right,) and some
relaxation in the evening. Sadly my pal Manu Katche isn't in town now. After
the interviews, Bill flew home to England, and I'm free for dinner and a
movie. Some of the interviews were very intelligent - I disovered from Herve
Picard of "Best Magazine" that the word "Cerulean" (from the track off of
BLUE, "Cerulean Sea") derives from the 'Caerula Sea' between Italy and Greece.
(Herve used to teach Latin!) And that Sea, it turns out, was named after ...
here he wrote some indistinguishable symbols... meaning the unique blue shade
of 'the eye of Athena.' I begged him to write it in letters I could read, and
he responded with "Glaucopis." Herve had assumed that I painted the cover of
the cd and titled the track after the real "Sea." I sadly informed him of my
total ignorance of it all - I just like the shade of blue named "Cerulean".
Also did photos here in France for Bass Magazine and Guitar & Bass Magazine -
Iíve met the interviewers many times before, so it's kind of like old friends
getting together again. I was disappointed to find that the publications (and
the DGM distributor here) had never heard about my release last year, "From
the Caves." I'll have to check on whether it ever got there. Alas, the record
Friday, May 8: plane to Milan.
A theme this week has been how much time I've spent at airports. Monday
morning, having arrived at Milan's Malpensa airport at 8am, and my flight
leaving at 1:30 pm from Linate, I had 3 1/2 hours hang-time in Linate. Leaving
Munich on Tuesday was more normal, but still the train was very efficient and
got me there in time for an 1 1/2 hour wait. In Madrid, Bill and I checked out
very early from the hotel, fearing rush hour traffic to the airport. Evidently
in Spain people don't go to work at 7am though, so the drive took far less
than the predicted hour, and we were there by 7:15 for another 3 hour wait.
Same thing in Paris - traffic can be terrible, but it turned out to be a
holiday, and my cab arrived at the hotel early, so 3 more hours at an airport. Total so far, almost 11 hours hanging around in airports.
Sunday May 10, Rimini
Interviews went very well in Milan - again quite intelligent reviewers made it a good mind-expanding day for me. Then Saturday I took the Intercity train to Rimini to visit a music trade show (the Italian equivalent of NAMM) where my friends from Trace Elliot (amps) and Aramini (the Italian distributor of
Trace) had invited me to come by, sign an autograph or two, and join them for
dinner. Very hot here, and I wasn't dressed for what could have been a nice
morning on the beach! Anyway, heading back to Milan again by train, slightly
pooped from this week's running around.
Sunday evening, Milan.
Sitting at a cafe near the Duomo and the covered Arcade
- it's a bit sad how jammed this area has become with sidewalk vendors and
noisy shops - especially the beautiful arcade, where the usual cafes seem to
have become bars or gelaterias, and at the center cross of the arcade,
MacDonalds dominates, now with a 'media store' next door, with its inevitable
disco blasting out from the door. Anyway, the Duomo area is still one of my
favorite places to be in the world. I've found a quite place nearby, and am
working on an essay about the nature of musicians as interviewees. Perhaps
I'll include it in that bass method I've been working on for eons, but never
seem to finish!
June 16, 1998 - NYC.
Whew, itís been a while since I updated the road diary -
explanation is simple; at the end of May I got married! Then, after a small
ceremony in Woodstock, my lovely bride, Andi and I went to Italy for a few
weeks of travelling, eating, photos, journal writing, and lots of great
espresso! Travelling without working is a new concept for me - I must say itís
got its merits! I avoided doing any work in Italy, of course, but couldnít
help hearing the new Vasco Rossi cd everywhere - itís one I played on a few
months ago, titled ďCanzoni per meĒ and seems to be the number one record in
Italy. The single, ďIo no...Ē has a Stick bass part - I had to laugh, as we
drove through the beautiful Tuscany countryside, at hearing it on the radio -
possibly the first Stick part Iíd played on a number one record.
Iím just back, and without much news about music or tours right now. There
will be some King Crimson instore cd signings for the upcoming ďAbsent LoversĒ
release - that cd isnít new material, itís from the live tapes of the last
shows from the 1980ís lineup of Crimson, just before we ďbroke upĒ (i.e.
suspended band activities until we ďre-formedĒ the band in the mid Ď90ís.) I
havenít heard those tapes but Iím told that theyíre very good (by Bill
Bruford, who did a lot of the mixing) - anyway, the instores will be in Boston
Tower Records on June 27, Montreal on July 11, and possibly Quebec City on
July 10. Weather permitting, I might Harley up to the Montreal one. The dates
revolve around the ďProjeckt TwoĒ tour, so Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew will
already be in these towns - Iím not sure whether Bill Bruford will be coming
in for them to round out the quartet.
With nothing new to give graphics of, hereís a photo of the Ď80ís lineup of
King Crimson. Itís from the exhibition of my photos thats in Danbury CT now,
and itís from backstage in NYC in 1983.
June 27, 1998 - Boston
Instore at Boston's Tower records went fine. Present
were Robt. Fripp, Adrian Belew, and Trey Gunn, who are all touring with
Project Two, and me. Bill Bruford couldn't make it from England, though the
instore was mainly for the new Absent Lovers cd, which he's on and Trey isn't.
Some typical Crimson confusion there! It's very good to see the other Crim's,
though it's an odd experience that the three of them are touring together, and
I'm just visiting for the day. We discussed future Crimson plans a bit, and
... they're so confusing I'm not sure I've got them straight - but I do know
that there will be more Crimson material from the past being released, and no
new "Major Crimson Release" coming this year, sadly.
It was fun greeting some folks who obviously keep up with this page - a few
asked if I had rode the Harley down to Boston (hadn't!) I'm still hoping for
good weather in July and I'll ride up to the one in Montreal.
Another odd angle of this experience, in autographing a number of copies of
the new cd, I was seeing it for the first time. When I had a few seconds, I'd
open up the booklet before signing, and take a peek at the artwork, some of
which was my photos of the band from the '80's. Of course, when it was done,
there were no free copies of the cd to be had from the record store, so I went
back on my way, still without a copy of the cd! (yes, I could have BOUGHT
DIARY ARCHIVE CONTINUED .......
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