Tony Levin's
'Road Diary' Archive


Aug 22, 1998 - Update

Greetings all. Sorry it's been so long without an update. I've been buried in writing - not the music kind of writing, but book writing. The book should be finished and out by December - it's title: "Beyond the Bass Clef - Instruction, Anecdotes and Essays on the Life and Art of Bass Playing." (whew ... maybe I'll shorten that a bit.)

For many years I've kept journals on the road of the sometimes fascinating things that happen to us 20th century vagabonds. There are also essays about different aspects of music and bass playing that I've written, for no particular reason, over the years. And, my cartoon-like drawings also fill many journals. So I've devoted this Summer to collating all of those, and adding more chapters about various aspects of bass playing - studio playing, live playing, practicing .. things like that. Musician Magazine will print an excerpt in their Feb. issue, so that's given me a deadline of December for publication; it'll be out on Papa Bear Records - through the web and phone sales at least, but also in stores if I can find a distributor for it. I'll start putting some excerpts here on the site as soon as I've got it done - probably October.

Much coming up in the Fall: Liquid Tension Experiment will record our second cd in October, hopefully for release soon after and a possible tour in January. For those who haven't read about it before on this page, that group consists of Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci from Dream Theater, Jordan Rudess from Dixie Dregs, and myself.

In late October, King Crimson will throw yet another curve at our followers by hitting the road with ProjeKt Four - Fripp, Gunn, Mastelotto, and Levin. The current tour dates are:
Oct 23, 24: Boulder CO Fox Theatre (some much needed fresh air for us!)
Oct 28: Seattle (ahh... a chance for me to get to Espresso Vivace for perhaps the best cup of espresso to be had anywhere outside Italy.)
Oct 29: Portland (I wonder if Pazzo Restaurant is still open there?)
Oct 31, Nov 1: San Francisco Great American Music Hall. (Perhaps some biking up north with my friends from Salsa Bikes)

If Crimson followers are adjusted to that group, hold onto your hats: on November 1st, there will be a new cd release: "ProjeKt One" Currently being edited from the four nights of improvisation at the Jazz Cafe in London last December, this features Fripp, Gunn, Bruford, Levin. It'll be a single cd package, but also offered to the "Discipline Collectors Club" will be a double cd from the same nights. All these will be found on the DGM web site - link is below.

In early December, there will be an 8 day tour of Bruford Levin Upper Extremities. Probably of mostly the East Coast again - not by our choice, but by constraints of Bill Bruford's touring schedule with his Bruford Earthworks band, which is going to be on the West Coast in mid-December. Seems we're not supposed to go round the same ground in the same season, for some reason. (If I can't avoid it, at least I can be poetic about it.) My apologies to those in other areas who've been asking to have B.L.U.E. come there - believe me, I would if I could. The same applies to the short, 8 day, length of that tour.

In January, it's likely there will be a small tour with Liquid Tension Experiment. It's not booked yet, and too early to know a general territory, but we will try to end up playing at the NAMM show in L.A. at the end of the January. I'll need to be there anyway to speak to retail music outlets about my new book. (It'd be nice for Papa Bear Rec. if the book could actually be found in some music stores.)

Looking ahead to next year, there is still no word from Peter Gabriel about when or whether he'll finish his album and tour. Like everyone else, I'm hopeful. Seal may tour in the Spring, and (didn't I say this LAST Spring?) he might ask me to be part of that tour, which would be great. In the early Summer, if I can assemble the funds, Papa Bear Records will release a double cd of B.L.U.E. Live. I've already got enough tapes of great performances - after this December's tour, there will be even more. Crimson will likely do some touring in September and October (I'm talking about 1999 here, not this year,) finishing with a week-long stand in Chicago. Around September, I'll release another book, already mostly finished, tentatively titled "The Crimson Chronicles: Journals and photos of 18 years on the road with King Crimson" One more book publishing effort; I put out a photo book in the ‘80's titled "Road Photos" which I've been wanting to re-issue for a long time, but have lost prints and negatives from the original. It's been suggested that with high quality scanning it might be possible to make decent copies from the book itself, especially if it is a bit smaller. I'll be looking into that when the dust settles from this Fall's activities.

This morning, when Robert Fripp told me about the upcoming release of the ProjeKct One cd, I asked how he could get these great things out so quickly, when it's taken me some 20 years to finish one book. "The answer is simple," he replied. "Grief and suffering!"

Sept 17, 1998 - Woodstock.

Again I haven't been updating the diary much because I'm not on the road(!) just at home finishing the writing of "Beyond the Bass Clef," my upcoming book. For the release date of the book, I'm still hoping for November 1st. I must admit, though, that I (the writer) have already missed the deadline of Sept. 15 for finished manuscript. However, I (the publisher) am not surprised at this, since I know how writers are with deadlines! I have allowed for some leeway in the printing process for a late writer. Sadly, I lost the connection with a distributor (Hal Leonard Books) which was going to get the book into stores - we'll procede anyway with the smaller sales direct from Papa Bear Records, over the web and phone. Excerpts coming to the site in a week or two.

Oct 2, 1998 - New York.

On the eve of leaving for Nashville to rehearse King Crimson’s “Project Four” I’ve just, finally, put the finishing touches on my upcoming book. I hope to have it printed and ready by early November. The title is “Beyond the Bass Clef. The Life and Art of Bass Playing” We’ve put an excerpt from it up on the site, click here to take a look. In writing the book, I needed to update and improve my discography. Though the web one is unchanged, we’ll update that in the next week or so. No news about the Project Four music, but will have some word, and a few dig. photos, by next week. The tour dates, for late October, are below. Crimson plans are, as usual, in flux, with no definite word on touring or recording with the ‘full monty’ as it were.

I’ll return from Nashville to record the next Liquid Tension Experiment release. Should be interesting—at least this time, I’ll be more prepared to try to play as fast as humanly possible!

Oct, 1998 - somewhere in Tennessee(!)

Since I came down here on the weekend to rehearse with King Crimson, it's been the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The "Good:" It's great to be with the guys again - though Projekt Four doesn't include Bill Bruford or Adrian Belew, we are rehearsing at Adrian's house, so I've seen him as well as Robert, Trey and Pat. Of course, I'll see Bill in December. It had been two years since I'd seen Pat Mastelotto! Large amount of time for guys who are in a band together! We've discussed some band plans, though touring with the 'full monte' of all six Crims, is still a year away. Very interesting will be a DVD of Crimson, set to come out in November or December. It will include tons of things, music, film (including my home videos and super 8 movies of the band on the road -- can you imagine King Crimson in a Japanese game arcade, all playing a car racing game.) Also in the DVD will be an interactive setup whereby the user can assemble members from different eras of the band, and have them play "21st Century Schiziod Man" together. Yes, really! I'll notify when it's coming out, and where to get it. Of course, you'll need a DVD player, and I can't help with that!

The "Bad" is that we're staying in Opryland. Not in Nashville, not a town of it's own, it's a sort of theme park / hotel complex, teeming with busloads of MidWestern tourists here to see country music stars and buy cowboy boots and Western shirts. So, in the morning rush at the hotel desk, mid the busloads of arriving guests trying to check in, is King Crimson, trying to get our faxes! And that's not easy - this hotel was not designed for business, and I'm still trying to get the priority package that was supposed to arrive here on Sunday (I suspect that it has indeed arrived, but I'll never see it!) The package is the printout of my book - to be proofread quickly and sent to the printers - finally yesterday I arranged for it to be sent again, this time to Adrian's house so I can get the work done. And, call us fussy, but the food available in this area is really bad. First night, wandering down the highway, all I could find was a convenience store, and the Fried Pork Skin for sale there put me off so much, I settled for bottled water.

And the "Ugly:" I flew in on Saturday for these rehearsals, which only last through Thursday. My trunks of equipment, however, weren't here, and kept not arriving. Our increasingly hostile calls to "Speed of Sound" delivery (you can imagine that there have been some jokes here about that name) finally located the gear, on Monday, in Georgia! Anyway, after I had borrowed Trey's Warr guitar to play at rehearsal, my gear finally did arrive that night, giving us three days of real rehearsal instead of five.

Back to the "good" things: this week, my upcoming book, in it's last stages before printing, is looking really good. (I'm not biased, am I?) I can see how I improved as a writer as it went on. Though I think I mentioned it above on this page, we put an excerpt, titled "In the Beginning" on it's own page for interested readers. I think musicians, especially, will enjoy it. I've been taking some digital photos of the "Projekt Four" band, but as usual my antique powerbook isn't up to sending them - I'll have some up here by weekend.

Oct. 11, 1998 - Milbrook NY., Out of the frying pan...

Crimson rehearsals in Nashville were interesting - but as often happens, after much making of music, we're not quite sure what we'll be playing on tour later this month. Hopefully a tape of what was played will be sent to each of us to be studied.

But now I'm at a studio nestled in a remote corner of New York State - the autumn leaves are bright gold here, and when it's not raining, the air is wonderfully fresh. But that's for the horses to enjoy, cause we (Liquid Tension Experiment) are again locked in a studio without windows, writing and recording round the clock. Ten days to write and record an album - why do we do this to ourselves?? I'm again impressed by how many notes per second the other guys can play! (Jordan Rudess, Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci.) And, as in the last recording, I'm the one struggling to play these blazing parts, and grateful that the others are patient with me. I did, since I knew this was coming, practice my speed Stick playing a bit, so am not hopelessly left behind this time. It's pretty cozy here - four guys, three bedrooms - no wonder we'd just as soon rehearse till after midnight! Quite a change from the Crimson rehearsals, which ususally break by 6pm for dinner and time alone to do the many things which Crims do! I DO have my faithful Saeco Profi machine set up here, so coffee breaks are as they should be; with good fresh espresso.

My book went off to the printer's yesterday -- it's going to be a crunch getting it printed and shipped to Woodstock in time for first orders - perhaps unwisely I took an ad for it in Bass Player Magazine which hits the subscribers at end of October. Seemed, at the time, that I'd have it done by mid October. I'll put another excerpt up here soon.

Oct. 13,1998 - Millbrook NY, LIQUID TENSION BREAKS WATER...

A surprising change of schedule: John Petrucci's wife went into labor today(!) so after getting the phone call, he went home to Long Island, leaving us at a loss how to procede with our 10 days for recording the quartet. After congratulating him and seeing him off, we spent the night jamming with just the three remaining, and will make decisions tomorrow. A little awkward for me, since I'm off to tour with P4 next week. We'll see. One thing for sure, the one composition that we were just finishing will be called "When the Water Breaks."

Update: Oct. 14 - Milbrook NY - Kiara

John's baby girl was born this morning - her name is Kiara and she is doing fine. But the band, trying to continue recording without our guitarist, is running a bit short of ideas! It's a bit like recording Music Minus One. Hopefully he'll make it back to the studio next week. Late last night we found ourselves discussing what we each like best about this studio (this is our second album here) and found that the private favorite thing of each of us was the same: the toilet paper! It's really soft!! The owner, Paul, won't tell us the brand, so I guess we'll keep coming back here to do our albums in.... comfort.

Update Oct 16 - Millbrook, NY - Taking a break.

We decided last night to take a break from recording the Liquid Tension cd until John can make it back. It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride without guitar here, but we have managed to get a lot of good material done, both before he left and after. We’ll re-convene in November and should easily finish the project in a few days. Mid our packing up, Paul Orofino, the studio owner, had a computer delivered: his first ever. I watched him sign up (on AOL) as I left - I would have liked to see his reaction to getting on the web and discovering that this site mentions his studio... and that it notes that our favorite equipment there is the toilet paper!

The proof copy of "Beyond the Bass Clef" arrived from the printer today - after the graphic designer, the editor and I had all had a go at it, there were about 35 corrections to send back! I still hope to have the book printed by end of the month -- it'll be quite an accomplishment by the printers if they can make the deadline. I've heard that copies of the opening chapter, "In the Beginning", have been circulating among musicians on the web - visitors who haven't checked it out may want to take a peek.


Update Nov. 6 / Woodstock

Hooray, the books have arrived. They came out gorgeous - my compliments to the printers - and it's a real thrill for me to finally see the book in print. Lots of years writing stories on the road, and lots of work getting it done and ready to publish. (Now, I can finally get away with mis-spelling some wurds!) The excerpt we've put up ("In the Beginning") has been pretty popular in floating around the web - I'll get another chapter up on the site within a day or two.

P4 tour was a success in that we've got some new Crim-worthy material, and we're feeling like doing more playing with that lineup. Will there be a release of the live tapes? I don't know, but historically, it's a pretty good bet that there will.

Shooting a video in L.A. for John Lennon's newly released "I'm Losing You" was pretty wild. Some photos of Bun E. Carlos and Rick Nielsen are on the P4 Tour Diary page (and one is below.) We're also adding a link, below, to the
Cheap Trick

Liquid Tension group will be going back into the studio in a few weeks to complete the album we started last month.

B.L.U.E. tour is being booked for early December. My apologies to those who were offered tickets in cities we’re not going to. The lineup is, as in the last tour and on the cd: Bill Bruford on drums, David Torn - guitar, Chris Botti - trumpet. Current bookings:

Dec. 2 - Philadelphia, PA - T.L.A.
Dec. 3,4 - New York (Bottom Line, 2 shows each night)
Dec. 5,6 - Boston, MA (venue TBA)
Dec. 8 - Pontiac, MI - Seventh House
Dec. 9 - Chicago, IL - Park West
I’ll fill in the other details as they’re confirmed.

I’m going to curl up with my own book now, and if I find any misspellings, I’ll tear my hair out. (Wait a minute, I don’t have any hair...)

Nov 15, 1998 - Woodstock

I don't get to parties often, but this week was a special one - a birthday party for Warren Bernhardt, great pianist, Woodstock neighbor, and once a bandmate of mine in two bands; White Elephant and in L'Image. It was to join the band L'Image that I moved, long ago, to Woodstock. Like many musicians before me, I liked it here, and stayed. It was one of those very good bands that rehearsed and played a lot, but never got to make a record, so sadly there's no way to hear the music we made. Present at the party were many musicians, including the whole lineup of L'Image: Warren, Mike Mainieri, Steve Gadd and myself. No, we didn't jam!

Having my books here en masse is a treat. (my pal Ed and I unloaded 4,000 lb. of them into my barn last week - I hadn't realized how heavy my writing was!) When working on a project like that, you end up telling people it's coming, and then it's almost ready... seemingly endlessly. It's quite a different thing actually having it in hand, and very satisfying. (For example, at the party, I gave a book to Steve Gadd, hoping he'd enjoy the chapter that's about him! ) Warren's recorded a wonderful trio of cds and is putting them out himself (much like me with Papabear records, but I think he's newer at it.)He has a web site on the way, for now just phone orders: 888 679-1178.

Another pal of mine, Robbie Dupree, has just finished up the live cd he recorded in Woodstock a few months ago (I came by the Bearsville concert and sat in on one song) and his cd is available from his site: Robbie.

The B.L.U.E. tour is coming together - Boston shows on December 5 and 6 are now at the Cambridge House of Blues (where we played last time we toured. Intimate!) And we’ve added a Woodstock show, on December 1st at the Joyous Lake. (Ironically, the site of the first L'Image gig, way back in the '70s!)

We've put up another story from the book for those who'd like to check it out. This is one of the many that involve the Peter Gabriel band (where more... unusual things happen than on most tours) It's called "The Alternative Travel Agent."

Nov. 22, 1998 - Millbrook NY. - Liquid Tension repairs its leak.

We're back in the studio, finishing the album we started last month. JohnPetrucci's baby is doing fine, and the hiatus the baby urged on this project seems to have been worthwhile - my fingers are certainly nimbler now, after some Crimson touring. As I write this, at midnight, the other guys are still in the studio - having taken barely a break all day from writing and learning the newest LTE epic. Their endurance amazes me. Sometime this week I've got to get some practice time in for the upcoming BLUE tour - those pieces are different than these, but still demanding for the Stick player!

There's a new feature here at Millbrook Sound; Paul, the owner, has assembled many of his vintage guitar amp tops in the control room, so guitar players can audition each of them while overdubbing to a track. Very neat... might even replace the toilet paper here as the best feature of the studio! oh oh ... got to get back in there.


Nov 27, 1998 - Millbrook, NY

Back in Millbrook Sound with Liquid Tension, having broken for a day to eat (burp) with our families. Album is finally getting finished up - one track to go, and we'll be ready to do fixes and overdubs. Considering some January live dates, for sure one at the NAMM show in L.A.

Kudos to the site mgr, Dan, who somehow managed to get my new photos up on the page, even while away on holiday vacation. I get the feeling that "vacations" of web site managers are different than those the rest of us take! So how do I thank him? I send more photos!

Bill Bruford arrives from London this weekend, to rehearse Monday, then start our tour on Tuesday - it'll be good to re-unite that segment of King Crimson, and to see David Torn and Chris Botti again. We had taken the music to some good places last tour, and hope to continue the adventure! Of course, there'll be a daily diary of the tour right here.


Dec. 20, 1998 - Woodstock NY

Home from touring for the holidays is a great thing. The BLUE tour was fun, and quite successful. We recorded all the shows, and have lots of good material for a future live cd. The next challenge for us will be finding a time we can re-assemble for more touring. That depends on lots of schedules, and isn't likely to happen for some time. We've archived the road letters from that tour.

It being Christmas season, I've put a different excerpt from the "Beyond" book on the site. It's titled "Bloody Christmas" and is a short account of a show where Peter Gabriel inadvertently slammed me on the head with a mike stand!

For me, the coming month isn't settled yet. (Hey, I'm a musician!) Liquid Tension might tour a bit or a lot, and will appear for sure at the NAMM show in L.A. at the end of the month. King Crimson has a release event in L.A. on Jan 27th, for the new Crimson DVD. I'll be at NAMM, probably at Trace Elliot's booth, attempting to convince music retail stores that they aught to carry my book(!) (That's usually a good opportunity to upload photos of what's happening at the trade show - expect daily updates.)

There's also a possiblity that I'll be rehearsing with Seal for an upcoming tour. This situation is typical for musicians at all levels of success; you might have a ton of work, some dates conflicting with others, or on the other hand, you might have no work at all! And often you don't know for sure until you're on the plane with your gigbag overhead. (No, sometimes you even get there and "plans have been changed.") I guess people who like security and order in their lives don't usually become freelance musicians.

Happy holidays to all.

Dec 31, 1998 - Woodstock, NY

Christmas was, as usual, a fun event in this small town. Most of the inhabitants gather at the village green on Christmas eve to see Santa's surprise method of appearing each year. His sailing in suspended from multicolored balloons (and the aid of a crane) was spectacular.

In a related holiday tradition, I brought along a flask of "Wurgengel," a very strong peppery drink I procured years ago - perfect for taking the chill away. It's no longer made, and I've been nursing this last bottle to last me as many Christmases as possible. There's an interesting story behind the drink, and since it's in the "Beyond" book, I've put that excerpt on its own page. The title is the translation of Wurgengel: "Strangling Angel."

In musical news, over the holidays I did some recording with Vonda Shepherd. Very good songs, and a fun re-union for me with Mitchel Froom - the producer with whom I've done some of my favorite 'unknown' albums: Tim Finn, and Richard Thompson.

Jan 13, 1999 - New York City

Happy New Year to all. I've been quiet on the road diary, not being sure what’s coming (hey, that's the rock biz!) but I've got some interesting developments.

First, regarding the Liquid Tension Group, (Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess, and me) has finally booked our "January Tour" -- it’s only a handful of shows. Full details below, but the first is next week in NYC - the Bowery Ballroom, on Thurs, Jan. 21st. Then on the 22nd, back to Philly, the T.L.A. (where both the Bruford Levin group, and Dream Theater have already played in the last months.) We will play at the L.A. NAMM show, but it's an 'industry' concert, only for people with NAMM passes (that'd be about 1/3 of the planet earth) Anyway, that's called "Drums along the Biltmore" at that hotel, on Jan. 30th, and we'll be the last of many drum/oriented acts on the bill. I've heard we'll go on stage at 1am. On Feb. 1st we'll play a normal gig in L.A, at the Roxy. The new album is just being mixed, and I guess we'll play some material from that as well as the first. (I've got a lot of practicing to do. More notes on each one of those tracks than on a whole Peter Gabriel album!)

Lots more going on for me in L.A. this month. On the 27th, will be the official release (with press conference and gathering of Collectors Club members) of the new King Crimson DVD, titled "Deja VROOOM." I'm told it encompasses some wonderful things - the original filming from a Crimson live tape from Japan 1985 has been enhanced, and made interactive. Robert (Fripp) has written a 117 page biography of King Crimson. There is audio of Schizoid Man live, which somehow enables the DVD user to mix different combinations of musicians from all of Crimson's history, and have them play the piece together! (This I've got to see to believe!) The release event is at the Bonaventure Hotel, evening of the 27th.

That same day, at noon, I'm being ... I don't know the expression... my hand prints will be put in cement(!) at the "Rock Walk" sidewalk of the Hollywood Guitar Center. Frankly I was reluctant when they asked me, but being told that Billy Sheehan would also a hand printee, I figured at least the company would be good. I"m hoping they"ll let me wear the Funk Fingers.

Then, there's the NAMM show - four days of cacophony, all instrument, effect, and amp makers together in a huge convention center, demonstrating their new gear, with myriads of musicians trying it all out, playing as many notes as possible! O.k, I'm being cranky - really it's kinda fun, and I'll take dig. photos daily for the page so you can all see what it's like. (But the SOUND cannot be described!) I will be at the Trace Elliot booth, pretty much hanging out (certainly not demonstrating amps) and greeting people. It's the only way I've found to thank the company for supplying me with their amps. This year their 'booth' will be part of Gibson's display, so probably I'll get to look at a lot of Epiphone basses too. (I really like the '60s ones, tremendous bottom end.)

Can't end a road diary with a better phrase than that one. For any whose New Years resoloution involved losing weight, I hope they don’t also have a tremendous bottom end!

Jan 16, 1999

About the King Crimson DVD, “Deja VROOOM" I’ve been kindly corrected and updated by a reader. (Don’t know how I forgot about my home movies of the band being part of the DVD! Here is the correct scoop, via a letter to me. (And thanks Steve):

The deja VROOOM concert features the "double trio" lineup, and appears to be 1995 or later, not 1985. One distinct feature of the disc is its sound. Multi-channel Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks are included, and it is *not* your traditional stereo mix. It is very well done, with instrument placements all around the room. (Both DD and DTS are six-channel sound formats, with five full-range channels and one dedicated subwoofer track. This disc rocks!)

Several songs feature "multi-angles" where one can use the remote control to see video shot from two or more different stage perspectives. One song, now called VROOOM VROOOM, features a separate video angle for every band member, *and* an audio mix specific to the angle. So, when viewing your angle, we hear your instrument on the front center channel.

The disc features several of your home movies of the band shot on Super 8. The "21st Century Schizoid Band" segment lets the DVD user navigate a menu to select the rhythm section, vocalist, and instrumentalist from either 1969, 1971, 1974, or 1996. Then a "composite version" of the song will play, accompanied by still photographs. It appears to me that the twelve separate versions are ready-mixed, and all that the DVD user is doing is selecting which of the twelve mixes to hear. It is quite innovative.

Jan 21, 1999 - NYC.
Start of the Liquid Tension tour - Next week’s events in L.A: King Crimson DVD release, Hollywood RockWalk event, Stick night, and the NAMM show.

Tonight, at the Bowery Ballroom, was the first (ever) concert of Liquid Tension Experiment. We (Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess) had only two days to rehearse, and the music is very complex, so mistakes were expected (at least from me!) Nevertheless, it was a fine show - my first exposure to the enthusiastic Dream Theater audience, who helped me and the band make it though a night of many many notes. Aside from learning the previous album, we decided to do some material from the new, yet to be released one. Tomorrow (Friday the 22nd,) we'll be playing at the T.L.A. in Philly - I hope that will be as successful as the first.

Next week in Los Angeles, I have two 'events' on Wed. the 27th. First, at noon, on the sidewalk in front of the Hollywood Guitar Center, I'll be putting my hand prints (along with some other bassists) in their "Rock Walk" I'm hoping they’ll let me wear funk fingers for the thing - it'll certainly give my prints a unique look.

That night is a press party, with invitations to "Collectors Club" members, for "Deja Vrooom," the new Crimson DVD. The new release has, among other things, a long biography of the band, written by Robert Fripp. It has many of my home movies of the band on the road. And concert footage, which I'm told can be viewed from different angles. Also there is a version of "21st Century Schiziod Man" which enables the viewer to mix up different incartations of the band and have them play together. Since I don't have a DVD player myself, I'm looking forward to the event, which will be my only chance to see these things.

I’ll update this page with photos from all these.

On Thursday, the 28th, there is a "Stick Night" at a club near L.A, with many Stick players on the bill. Though I'm not playing at it, I'll try to attend. It's at a club called La Ve Lee in Studio City.

The NAMM show is a music retail biz show, with many musicians and equipment manufacturers enclosed in a large building for four days! I'll be at the Trace Elliot booth (which this year is in the Gibson display) greeting people, and somewhat trying to place my new book with some music stores. Liquid Tension will be playing a concert for Sabian Drums, on Saturday the 30th. Still in L.A, another public show of Liquid Tension will be at the Roxy, on Feb. 1st. We're trying to tape it for a possible live cd, since it's unlikely there will be more shows of this group.

More shots and updates tomorrow after the Philly gig.

Jan 26, 1999 - Los Angeles (Actually 2AM so it's the 27th)


DAY 1 of my week here. Got a call, just two days ago, to play on a record with Steven Seagal. (Yes, the actor.) Since I only had tonight free here, 5pm found me at the studio setting up. Turns out he's quite a good guitarist, and a very nice guy. He'll be singing on the record, but I didn't get to hear any vocals. Excellent rhythm section too, including Jim Keltner on drums and Mike Landau on guitar. Played a song co-written by Leon Russell. Too bad for me that I won't be able to be on much of the album. (The session was also filmed.)

In the next studio, producer Rupert Hine was mixing an album -- we'd worked together on Stevie Nicks' album, and a group I was once in, called "Spin 1ne 2wo".

COMING TOMORROW: Hollywood RockWalk inducts some bass players. I don't know what doing the hand prints will be like, but it should be a thrill to meet with the other guys involved: Bootsie Collins, Leland Sklar, Billie Sheehan --- there'll be a lot of talent, and a lot of HAIR there! Then, tomw. night, the Crimson DVD release.

LATER THIS WEEK: NAMM show, Stick Night, more NAMM, Liquid Tension Sabian Drums concert, still more NAMM, Liquid Tension at the Roxy. We've relegated the previous photos of the Liquid Tension tour to their own page of thumbnails. Did you know that clicking on thumbnail photos makes them large? Of course you did. So did I (after Dan told me this week; I’ve been squinting at them for a year!)

Jan 27, 1999 - Los Angeles - 2AM

DAY2 of this crazy week was... well you decide. Arrived at Hollywood Guitar Center with my friend Mark who had come in from Detroit (and kindly took photos all day) in time to meet the other bass players to be inducted into the "Hollywood's Rock walk" -- and what a group it was: Tim Bogert, Stanley Clark, Bootsy Collins, Larry Graham, Billy Sheehan, and Leland Sklar. We all had such a good time being together, nobody cared about the objective: each putting our hand prints into a prepared concrete mix to be added to the sidewalk outside. Many photos were taken, many hands were muddied, much fun was had by all. Posthumous awards were given to Jamie Jamerson and Jaco Pastorius, and accepted by their family members.

I hadn't realized I would be required to give a speech to the audience assembled outside. After a few of the other bassists had been introduced and spoken, my turn came. Here is what I said: "It is problematic, in the context of a selected rock and roll elitism, to respond appropriately to the non-musical, functionary roll which seems to be expected in the event of a manual pavement monument. Nevertheless, an optimistic view of the situation provides a platform for a somewhat less problematic appoach to the necessity applied here..." That's not really what I said. What I really said was something like this: "Thank you. I’m honored to be in the company of these great bass players."

After some lunch and a short drive to the hotel (short L.A. drive is 1/2 hour) it was off to downtown L.A. (1 hour in traffic) to the King Crimson DVD launch event. I was late, and couldn’t find the band for our 6pm dinner at the hotel of the event. Finally, after wandering around the cavernous lobby looking for the restaurant, I was told there is one up on the top floor. An elevator whisked me up at a fantastic speed, and as I looked down into the lobby, I saw the band, all sitting eating in a lobby eatery, and all looking up at my fast disappearing elevator, and waving to me. I stood at the glass wall of the elevator, forlornly waving back. By the time I returned from the stratosphere, they were done eating. The event was a marvelous setup, with desserts and coffee for all the press and "collectors club" members who attended. Photos were taken of the band (we hadn’t all been together for years.) I was totally warmed up for photos, having watched a great pro, Bootsy Collins, do it all afternoon. Then, with the press, we viewed the DVD on a large screen, with six speakers in the room. I didn"t see it all, but the concert footage had the best sound for the modern ('90s) Crimson that I've ever heard. With the six channel sound separating all the instruments (and changing the mix as the user changes the camera angle, to feature the player shown!) the listener could actually (finally) hear which drummer was playing what, and could tell the guitar parts apart. Another surprising effect was that the mistakes made were much clearer also -- especially, as Robert (Fripp) pointed out to the press, the mistakes made by the bassist! (That's o.k, I didn't tell Robert, but back in the afternoon at Rock Walk, when they introduced me, the announcer said that "during Levin's touring with Peter Gabriel he caught the attention of King Crimson leader Tony Fripp")

Somewhere in about the middle of the day I completely lost my voice, from flying, talking, talking more.. etc. so the NAMM show (which consists entirely of saying hi and talking to hundreds of people each day,) should be quite a challenge tomorrow. Maybe I'll make up some signs... "Can't talk, but, Hi. No, I don't know when Gabriel's going to tour.”