Sunday, November 13, 2011

Steven Wilson's Grace for Drowning

Extended Weekend

Since I was already planning on being on the East Coast this past weekend, I decided to extend the trip by one day and catch Steven Wilson's Grace for Drowning tour.

Catching a train from NYC, after spending Friday in Hoboken, I arrived in Philadelphia. I was able to check-in to my hotel, and grab something to eat before heading over to the Liacouras Center, on the campus of Temple University. The actual show was not at the Center proper, but a chapel that had been converted into concert space. It was easy to find the venue, once I noticed the tour bus, with trailer in tow.

There were lots of people wearing Porcupine Tree T-shirts standing in front of the building, so I knew I had the right place. I entered the hall at 8PM and proceeded to the Merch table. I was one of the lucky few that was able to get a shirt. Later, while waiting in line at the concessions, I ran into Julie Slick (not a surprise really) and we talked about camp again.

I spent the 40 minutes or so before the show talking to the other people around me, and listening a to quadrophonic mix, of Bass Communion being played in the hall. It was at this time that I realized that the show would be in surround sound. Nice!

Touring Band Members

Steven led an outstanding 6 piece band, which included the following musicians:

The show was just shy of two hours, and had one encore. The setlist included pieces from both of Steven's solo albums, Grace for Drowning and Insurgentes.

Throughout the show, I was very aware of the sound coming from speakers at the rear of the house. The entire set went by way too fast, and the band was fantastic. I was particularly blown away by Marco. It was a fantastic night of music.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Two of a Perfect Trio at the Belcourt Theater

The Windows Opens

After attending the TOAPP Music Camp, I was a little bummed about the fact that tour wouldn't be coming through Texas. Fortunately, the winds of luck changed, and the opportunity to catch them on the second to the last tour date, presented itself. So, I made my plans for a one day trip to Nashville, TN.

Meet and Greet

The show was at the historic, Belcourt Theater. It's actually a two screen movie theater, with one of the rooms used for music, but typically acoustic acts. King Crimson however, has played there on multiple occasions.

One of the nice benefits of attending the camp was that I was able to attend the Meet and Greet, for any show on the tour, for which I had a ticket. I ate at one of the restaurants down the street and showed up at the theater door, at approximately 5:40PM. I did run into Adrian and Julie out front, and we exchanged hellos, as soon as they recognized me.

I got in promptly at 6PM, just as they were finishing their Sound Check. As it turns out, I was the only camper for this show, although I know from Facebook posts, that fellow campers had been present at many of the shows.

I must say, my life has taken a surreal turn. I was greeted by Pat as he came off of stage, saying with a big smile and handshake, What are you doing here? Glad you could make it! This made my night. Pat also let me in on some Austin dates for certain acts in the near future.

I had to smile to myself, as the other people in VIP were wondering who I was, and why the band and crew seemed to know me, not realizing that I had spent 5 days in Catskills with them all. Needless to say, rather than be an autograph hound, or get myself into pictures with the band, I opted for a picture of two of my new friends:
Tobias and Adrian

After the Meet and Greet, the band left to go eat dinner together, so most of us sat in the theater and picked out our seats in the first 3 rows. I plopped down in one of prime seats, right at the end of the row. The only mistake of the weekend was my forgetting my ear plugs.

Stick Men


Stick Men started the show with their 45 minute set. Markus was the only musician of the 6, not able to make camp, so I really didn't get to hear much of the Stick Men material, during the camp rehearsals. I knew they would be good, but I was blown away by the stoic, but amazing Markus Reuter.

Tony mentioned that both trios had agreed to save the King Crimson material for the Crim-centric set, but they had loophole, so they were going to play Breathless. All I can say is, Wow. Hearing this song from Exposure was a pleasant surprise.

The Stick Men set included:

  • Supercollider
  • Improv
  • Relentless
  • Slow Glide
  • Breathless
  • Firebird Suite

Adrian Belew Power Trio

Julie and Adrian

After a short intermission, Adrian's Trio took the second 45 minutes set. It was equally powerful, and they maintained the full court press. I was further blown away by Tobias Ralph and pleasantly surprised when they played Young Lions, one of my favorites. ABPT also snuck in a KC song, too, Neurotica. They hit that one out of the park.

The ABPT set included:

  • Young Lions
  • Beat Box Guitar
  • Neurotica
  • Of Bow And Drum
  • e

Crim-centric Set

Crim Quartet

After a second intermission, the 3 Crimson Alumni were joined by Markus Reuter, who did an incredible job covering Robert Fripp's guitar parts. I also had to laugh at Adrian's intro for Red, when he said:

This next song is the oldest King Crimson song that we will play tonight. It's from before any of us were in the band. In fact, it was written before I was born.

The quartet played 3 songs

  • Three of a Perfect Pair
  • Elephant Talk
  • Red

Double Trio

Double Trio

The night ended in full Double Trio mode, and was thundering. This was as close that you could get to King Crimson, without Robert Fripp. I must also add, that it was nice to see the rehearsals and then a show at the end of the tour. It was interesting to see how much tighter they had gotten with a month of road practice.

They played the following songs, to finish the night:

  • B'Boom
  • Dinosaur
  • One Time
  • Frame by Frame
  • Indiscipline

  • Encore: Thela Hun Ginjeet
Packing up - On to Moogfest

Post Show

The show ended shortly after Midnight, and the other theater had a special Halloween showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I spent a little time afterwards, talking to John Sinks, Markus and Pat as they were packing up afterwards. I then went out to the lobby and looked at the merch table, and to say goodbye to Ade and Julie who were signing CDs and merch.

There was a woman at the merch table, with two young daughters. I quickly realized that it was Ade's wife, Martha, and two of his 3 daughters. I told Martha I would buy something, if I didn't already have all of the CDs on the table. She promptly produced a copy of the Acoustic CD, which I had to buy.

While waiting, I had to laugh though realizing that Ade's daughters (and in fact, anyone under the age of 30) has no idea what the Rocky Horror is. So, imagine the looks on their faces as a young waifish guy, in black fishnets, and a corset, walked through lobby.

Of course, when they realized I was a camper, his daughters started peppering me with questions about the Full Moon. Understanding why Adrian did not bring them along, and that they apparently had wanted to go, I made sure not to sell it too much. I did however, tell them that they had one of the Coolest Dads on the planet.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones at the Paramount

I have seen Bela Fleck perform 4 times in the past 3 years, both with and without the Flecktones. This time around, I noticed that he was touring with the original Flecktones lineup, which means that he had Howard Levy playing with him for the first time in almost 20 years.

The show lasted well over two hours, with an intermission at about the 75 minute mark. My friend Dan, and I had great seats 9 rows back from the stage on the floor.

I was unable to find a set list, and will readily admit that although I am a big fan, I find it difficult to remember the song titles. I managed to grab some shots of the band after the encore, but lost them during the upgrade to iOS 5 the next day. (Doh!).

The original Flecktones lineup is:

During the show, the band was joined by fiddler, Casey Christopher Driessen, whom I recognized from the Sparrow Quartet. The icing on the cake however, was Bela bringing out his wife, Abigail Washburn, to sing during the encore. Surprisingly, Abigail didn't pick up a banjo herself.

It was a great night of music, and I was totally blown away by Howard Levy's piano playing. Of course, the Wooten brothers kept everything in high gear for this show.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

ACL Festival 2011 - Day 3 Punt

Punting after the watching the game

I started out Sunday by heading down to the Tavern to watch the game. Unfortunately, my Ravens laid an egg this week. A huge let down, after last week's drubbing of the Steelers.

I had planned on arriving to ACL late in the afternoon, and had only really wanted to see Fleet Foxes, and Randy Newman. However, I was not in the best of moods after the game. I had also woken up the past two mornings and was extremely congested, after inhaling a huge amount of ragweed pollen during the previous two days, at Zilker.

So, I decided to head home, missing the opportunity to sweat, worsen my blisters, pay exorbitant amounts for parking, food, and drinks, and infect my sinuses. I can watch Fleet Foxes on the webcast, and won't get to see Randy Newman, but it doesn't seem like much of a loss.

Some Observations about the ACL Festival after 5 years

  • Zilker Park is too small for the Festival in my opinion. During the past two years, C3 has upped the number of tickets they sell. It was impossible to maneuver around or through the Stevie Wonder crowd last night. There are other bottle necks, that make it difficult to move around between the AMD and Honda stages. (This is a real bummer).

    I can only hope that they consider changing the location in the future. Perhaps out to the Formula 1 track.

  • I really detest the Cattle Chutes that they set up to funnel the foot traffic to and from the shuttles. At times, it seems like some sort of weird Pavlovian experiment, where they're trying to see what we'll put up with.

  • A small number of the food vendors are down right criminal in their pricing. There was one stand in particular, where as I was waiting in line, everyone returning from the counter was audibly complaining (rightfully so), because of the amount of food.

    Well, I left the line when I saw what they were talking about.

  • The Porta-Potty situation is disgusting. I count my blessings that I'm a guy.

  • The trains! We wasted a shit-load of tax money on these things, why the hell are they not running during ACL and SxSW?

ACL Festival 2011 - Day 2

Sleeping In

I don't remember ever having a hard time sleeping after a day of ACL. Knowing that feeling of exhaustion after 5 straight years, it leads me to wonder, Who the hell goes to the After-parties?

So, I got late Saturday morning, not leaving home until 1PM, and finally arriving on the ACL grounds around 2:20PM or so.

City and Colour

Having seen Dallas Green at St. David's during SxSW, I was anxious to see him again. City and Colour didn't disappoint, delivering a great performance to an attentive crowd.

City and Colour

City and Colour

Abigail Washburn

I then headed over to the Vista Equity Pavilion to catch Abigain Washburn. Mrs. Fleck, the reigning Queen of the Banjo, delivered an outstanding set of music. While she played, a gentle rain was falling outside of the pavilion.

Abigail Washburn

Gillian Welch

I stayed put at the pavilion, in order to catch Gillian Welch. Since I only have one degree of separation with her, through Pat Pattison, it seemed like it was time to see her play.

Gillian Welch

Gillian Welch

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

After catching a bite to eat, I hung out for some more Cajun cooking. The Preservation Hall Jazz band delivered a raucous set of New Orleans' music.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

TV on the Radio

Leaving the Preservation Hall band a little early, I worked my way over to the Google+. Although not being familiar with TV on the Radio, I was pretty quickly drawn in. This is a band I will have to check out more from, and I will be looking for them to be on tour.

TV on the Radio

Stevie Wonder

I almost feel like this is false advertising. I didn't actually see Stevie Wonder perform, it was more like I happened to be on the grounds, while he was on stage.

Stevie Wonder

Leaving the TV on the Radio set a little early, I attempted to slide up front, attacking from the Porta-Potties on the right side, like I did last year with Ron and Alissa for the Eagles. It seemed that everyone else was on to that trick, and even getting there early, did not help.

In fact, this show was most crowded I have ever seen this stage during an ACL. Realizing that my first plan would not pay dividends, I started working my way back out, with the intention of cutting out 3/4ths of the way through Stevie's set, so I wouldn't have to wait too long for the shuttles.

Even this did not work as planned. I ended up much further from stage than anticipated. Fairly far from the stage at this point, the crowd was still thick, and it was difficult enough just to see the large video screens on either side of the stage. When Stevie finally did come out, for some reason they had the PA very low, and it was almost impossible to hear. I'm scratching my head on this one, because it was capable of delivering more volume.

I attempted to listen to the first three songs, which were actually difficult to hear or discern, until i had had enough. I left early, got right on the shuttle, and drove home.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

ACL Festival 2011 - Day 1

Taking the Shuttle to Zilker

As I have for the previous five years, I parked in my usual spot and took the shuttles over to Zilker Park. Prior to leaving home, I had actually packed some rain gear, because it was very overcast. Usually unwelcome during ACL, rain would be a great relief from the drought we are experiencing.

Loading up at Republic Square

The Front Gate

Asleep at the Wheel

As always, there's only one way to start the ACL Festival, and this is with Austin's favorite adopted band, Asleep at the Wheel. Some would argue that one of the most influential events in Austin music history, was the Wheel's move to Austin from Oakland, in 1974, at Willie Nelson's urging.

All I know is that there is nothing like starting the morning with some Texas Swing, and covers of Bob Wills songs.

Asleep at the Wheel

Ray Benson, Jaason Roberts, and Elizabeth McQueen

Wild Beasts while it was actually raining

At the end of the Wheel's set, I walked down the hill to the Honda stage, where Wild Beasts was playing. As I walked, it actually started raining. It was short lived, but forecasts call for more rain this weekend. It is still badly needed.

I don't have much to say about Wild Beasts. They were a British Pop act that I did not find too compelling.

It's actually raining

Wild Beasts on the Honda Stage

Disciples of Christ

Heading over to the Pavillion formerly known as the WAMU (now Vista Equity), I caught a set by a kick-ass, gospel group, Disciples of Christ. Four very impressive female singers powered this music into the stratosphere. Impressive singing talent was on display, for those fortunate few at this sparsely attended set.

Disciples of Christ

The Secret Sisters

Continuing my orbit around the grounds, I was treated to the sound of two more female voices, singing in excellent harmony. A pair of sisters from the legendary locale of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, were seducing the crowd with their siren song.

Their music seemed to be the perfect complement to a hot, lazy late summer afternoon. My biggest regret was not catching their entire set.

The Secret Sisters on the Google+ Stage

Brandi Carlile

Hearing this band from afar, I immediately headed back to the AMD stage. As I got closer, I realized that this would be a real treat. One set was enough to make me a fan of Seatlle based, performer, Brandi Carlile.

She plays a rousing mix of Rockabilly, and Country influenced music, and played an impressed cover of Johnny Cash's, Fulsom Prison Blues. Not only is she a great front person, but her band was fantastic too.

Brandi Carlile

Meanwhile, over at the BMI Stage

Finally making it over to the BMI Stage, even though it's right near the Front Gate, I saw this interesting setup. A rotating wheel of glass, with alternating wedges being silvered, was mounted in this device. People would line on both sides, as it spun, and watch the really cool effect created.

Unfortunately, the video doesn't do it justice, since you get a strobe effect from the digital camera.

Bobby Long

I had seen this British Singer/Songwriter earlier in the year, at SxSW. He delivered a very engaging performance. It is unfortunate that he couldn't command a larger stage, to be perfectly honest.

Bobby Long

Francicsa Vanezuela

Francicsa was a very attractive Chilean singer-songwriter. She plays piano and sings, with music that is targeted towards an alternative, Latin Pop market. The band and the sound were good, and she herself is an excellent player.

Francicsa Valenzuela

Electric Touch

After getting some food, I checked out a British-American band, Electric Touch. They had a good sound, and presentation, but I didn't find the music very interesting.

Electric Touch

Kurt Vile and the Violators

Like the previous, and the next acts I'm writing about, I didn't find this group very interesting.

Cold War Kids

I found this band to be similar to the previous. Good sound, pop sounding songs, but not very engaging or interesting.

Cold War Kids

The Austin Skyline

I attempted to catch a few shots of the Austin Skyline from Zilker. The night time shots rarely come out well, so here's two from the daylight hours.

Austin Skyline

Bud Light and Skyline

Bright Eyes

These guys apparently have a big following. They were fairly derivative, reminding me of some 80's MTV pop band.
It was listenable, but not interesting, either.

Bright Eyes

Gary Clark Jr.

Even though Gary is from Austin, I had never heard him play. He's pretty damn good. It is not often that a Blues player can hold an audience of anyone other than Blues fans. Gary has no problems doing this.

Made a mental note to catch him in town, soon.

Gray Clark Jr.

Sara Bareilles

As I was eating dinner, I could hear this Grammy nominated singer-songwriter on the Austin Ventures stage. She is fantastic, and will return on a bigger stage in the future. In addition to be an exceptional vocalist, she is also a very good piano player.

Sara Bareilles


I knew that I wasn't a Kayne fan, so I headed over towards the AMD stage to watch Coldplay. Well, I can cross them off of my list. I guess I'm not much of a Coldplay fan, either.


Exhausted, tired, and having sore feet, I headed out about three quarters of the way through Coldplay's set, and got on the shuttle. I really need to pace myself, and probably won't get back until around 2PM on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Return to Forever IV at the Moody


I bought the tickets to this show with the same crew that I attended the RTF Returns show with in 2008. This was the first of three, RTF reunion lineups, that have toured since then:

  1. Chick Corea, Stanley Clark, Lenny White, Al DiMeola
  2. Chick Corea, Stanley Clark, Lenny White, Bill Connors
  3. Corea, Clark, & White

Unfortunately, the latter two tours did not come to Texas, but I have seen Chick perform twice since then, once with the Five Peace Band, and playing solo piano. I really enjoy Chick's playing, so I was very anxious to see this show.

We convened at Franks, before walking down to the Moody Theater for the show.

Zappa Plays Zappa

The opener was Zappa Plays Zappa. The lineup was very similar to the show I saw at Stubbs, two years ago, with the obvious addition of a new keyboard player.

The current lineup includes:

  • Dweezil Zappa - Guitar
  • Scheila Gonzalez - Saxophone, Flute, Keyboards & Vocals
  • Pete Griffin - Bass
  • Billy Hulting - Marimba, Mallets & Percussion
  • Jamie Kime - Guitar
  • Ben Thomas - Vocals & Trumpet
  • Joe Travers - Drums & Vocals
  • Chris Norton - Keyboards & Vocals
Zappa Plays Zappa

Set List

The set was similar to the Stubb's show two years ago. As usual, Dweezil had two special guests, with Chick Corea joining the band for one song, and then Eric Johnson, coming out later. I may have missed a song or two, but the set list was basically, as follows:

  • Don't you ever wash that thing?
  • Pajama people
  • Fifty fifty
  • Big swifty
  • King Kong - with Chick Corea
  • Don't you eat that yellow snow
  • Saint Alphonzo's Pancake Breakfast
  • Willie the Pimp - with Eric Johnson

Everything ZPZ played was well executed. I liked the new keyboard player, and even enjoyed the vocalist's singing more this time around. When Chick sat in with the band, the soloing was amazing, and he spent considerable time trading 8's with Dweezil. Even Eric Johnson was prepared, and his appearance with ZPZ was much better than what he delivered at Stubbs.

Return to Forever IV

The lineup for RTF IV is new, with two new players who have never played with the band before. In addition to the core lineup of Corea, Clarke, and White, RTF IV also includes:

  • Frank Gambale (of Elektric Band fame) - guitars
  • Jean Luc Ponty - violin (need I say more?)

Set List

The Set List was a mix of classic RTF songs, along with an individual songs written by JLP, and Stanley Clarke. There's not much to say other than this was a fantastic show.

I will say that JLP to the mix was akin to RTF a la mode. The apple pie was already really good, the ice cream pushed it over the top!

  • Medieval Overture
  • Senor Mouse
  • Sorceress / Shadow of Lo
  • Renaissance
  • After the Cosmic Rain
  • Romantic Warrior


  • Spain
  • School Days

All in all, it was a stupendous night of prog and fusion goodness.

ACL Badge Pickup

It's that time of the year again. Since I was already downtown, I swung on by Zilker and picked up my wristband. Of course, this was the earliest that I've ever done this. The Zilker gate wasn't even fully up, yet.

ACL Wristband Pickup

Sunday, September 11, 2011

NFL 2011 Week 1 - Ravens vs Steelers

Nest 512 was in full roost at the Tavern, and is almost 60 strong, now. What better way to start off the season, than against our hated division rivals, the Steelers? Everyone, both pundit and fan alike, was expecting a close game.

Imagine our surprise then, when the Ravens delivered a 35 - 7 knockout punch.
Things went so well for the Ravens, that I have not heard a single peep out of my normal Steeler antagonists, here in Austin.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Three of a Perfect Pair (TOAPP) Camp

When I first saw the announcement of a 5 day camp in the Catskills, with 3 members of King Crimson, last winter, I made a very quick decision to attend. I sent in my deposit, sometime in April.

This trip was also a present to myself, leading up to my 50th birthday, and it also afforded me the chance to return to the Mid Hudson Valley (a place where I lived for the first part of my adult life), for the first time in over 16 years.

As I'm typing this now, I am sitting in my living room, a week later, digesting the experience, and the subsequent drama with Hurricane Irene. I must say, that the most striking thing about TOAPP camp, is the fact that it went by so quickly. I believe that if you informally polled the other attendees, they would all be in agreement with me.

I am sure that the band and their techs were totally exhausted. Unfortunately for them, they will have very little downtime before they commence a US tour, on September 19th.

Day 1 - Monday 8/22/2011

I started the morning by driving over to Alto Music in Middletown, NY, in order to rent a Kurzweil PC2. This was to insure that I would have an axe to play. In hindsight, this was unnecessary, as they had several keyboards at the camp, already.

I headed north out of Middletown, right after lunch, and drove directly to the Full Moon Resort, in Big Indian, NY. The last 15 miles of the trip were through some narrow roads through the wooded Catskills, coinciding with a complete loss of cell phone service. It's probably good that there was no cell service at the Full Moon, but it certainly was inconvenient.

The Front Lobby

After getting my lodge keys, and unloading my luggage, I proceeded to the Barn, where we were all greeted by Tony Levin and Adrian Belew. Pat was already inside, and all three conducted a one hour session, where they talked about the schedule and logistics for the camp. One of the suggestions forwarded by Tony was that we take the opportunity to network, since bands like the California Guitar Trio were formed under similar circumstances.

My Lodge at the Full Moon Resort

Camp Welcome

We then all proceeded to the Front Lawn for a Welcome Social/Happy Hour with an Open Bar, which was followed by Dinner. I must say that all of catered meals at the Camp were excellent. Every fellow camper that I spoke to, had a similar assessment of the food.

The night concluded with a welcome concert by Ade, Tony and Pat. Afterwards, three buildings were available for people that wanted to jam. Two of which were reserved for acoustic only, with the last, the Performance Space, available for Electric Instruments. The Perf Space also had a Cash Bar, and a Campfire outside. Thus started the first of four straight late nights, with matching hangovers the next morning.

Tony Levin

The highlight of the day for me was hanging out around the campfire with some campers and Adrian Belew, and hearing about his two auditions with Frank Zappa, and his musical career, which included working with David Bowie, Brian Eno, and the Talking Heads, in addition to King Crimson.

I was also happy that Pat recognized me from Austin, and really made me feel welcome, when he saw me at dinner. Surprisingly, out of 75 campers, 5 of us were from Austin.

Day 2

I had no trouble getting up at 7AM. The temperature was brisk, and the weather beautiful, as you can see in this picture. I made my way over to the lodge for the Wi-Fi and some Coffee. A full breakfast was served every morning at 8AM, and really hit the spot.
I wish I had been staying in this cabin

The first part of the day was individual sessions. They were appropriately staggered, so that it was possible to attend all three.

Adrian - Songwriting and Adventures

Adrian spent quite a bit of time with two different one hour sessions, discussing songwriting, his effects and playing style. I was interesting to hear about how someone who doesn't read music was able to hold down gigs with Frank Zappa, and then Robert Fripp.

Adrian talked at length about how Fripp had taught him the Discipline material, and postulated that he was actually the first Guitar Craft student.
Ade's Adventures
Ade's Adventures

He also introduced us to John Sinks, his long time tech, who is also a Crafty, and lived with Robert Fripp for some time. I must say, both Ade and John were some of the nicest, down to earth people, I have ever met.
John Sinks

Pat - Electronic Drumming

After the Adrian's first session, Pat conducted a seminar on his Electronic Drums setup, and the tools he used, particularly Ableton. Pat's Tech for the camp, Adrian, is also an Austinite. You can see the two of them in this picture.

Tony - Bass and Chapman Stick

Before he started his session, I was able to spend some quality time with Tony, as he showed us how to operate his Espresso machine.
Tony makes Espresso

Tony first talked about his background and musical education, and how he came to be a professional rock musician. He also discussed his playing philosophy and style, and spent a lot of time talking about his equipment.

The second half of his session, was devoted to Chapman stick. There were at least 8 or 9 touch guitar players in camp, with most playing Stick, along with one Warr guitarist, and one touch guitarist with a custom made instrument.

A highlight for me was that Stick Enterprises had sent two 12-string, and one 10-string Sticks to the Camp, for the attendees to try. Two very experienced players in camp, Matt Tate, and Jim Meyer, very graciously spent some time afterwards with all of the Newbies like me, who wanted to give a Chapman Stick, a test drive. I took full advantage of this, and have the seed of an idea in the back of my mind to perhaps buy a Stick, one day.

Here's a shot of Matt, showing us how:
Matt Tate

Group Jam

The highlight of the day however, was the Group Jam. All 75 campers, along with Adrian and Pat, convened in the Barn. Tony Levin was the conductor and stood in the middle of us with a black felt pen, and a notepad. He conducted the group, and wrote instructions to guide the group.

It was a huge helping of cacophonous fun. I had jokingly told a couple of people that if it was recorded, that we could release the record under the title, The Worst of Glenn Branca. (Little did I know about a surprise, later in the week).

The first surreal moment of the camp occurred for me during the Jam. I sat down at a piano, and looked to my left to see Adrian Belew, right next to me. I would have never dreamed that I would have been in this situation, in a million years.
Winding up the Group Jam

E for Orchestra

After the Group Jam, a number of us stayed in the barn for movie night with Adrian. He screened his recently released DVD, E for Orchestra. It is fantastic, I've already ordered my copy.

The day ended with more late night jamming in the Performance Space, and hanging around the Campfire.
Jamming in the Performance Space

Day 3

Adrian and Pat start teaching

The morning started once again, with me waking up before the Alarm Clock. Adrian continued his session from the previous day. Pat also talked about how he and Bill Bruford arranged the double drumming for the 90's lineup.

The stories about working with Bill were fascinating. Bill had apparently said there were 5 levels of double drummer playing. He called the simplest, level 1, the Allman Brothers Band, where all the drum parts are just doubled, and you get the inevitable flam effects. They of course, were going for Level 5, and Pat said he thinks they achieved it. Pat continued and discussed how he was taking on Bill's role with Tobias Ralph, the current drummer in Adrian Belew's Power Trio.

Pat also talked a bit about Polyrhythms, and had the campers perform various clapping exercises, including learning parts of Thrak, with is signature 5 against 7.

Trio Rehearses 80's lineup material

Adrian, Tony, and Pat's held their first full rehearsal as a Trio, performing Crimson material. Before each song, Adrian and Tony talked at length at what they played originally, and how they would be rearranging the parts, for one guitarist, instead of two. In most of these cases, Tony was picking up the slack on Stick.
Rehearsing Red

More surreal moments occurred. Like, hanging out on the front porch with Tony and 2 other campers, and just chatting before lunch. Hanging on the Front Porch

5 Piece Rehearsal

Although the Two of a Perfect Trio tour will have 6 musicians, Marcus Reuter the third member of Stickmen, was still in Austria, and was unable to make camp. The members of Adrian's Power Trio, Julie Slick and Tobias Ralph, did make it, and arrived in the afternoon. So, we had a double trio minus one.

The rehearsals became more complex, and all 5 were playing material from the 90's lineup of King Crimson, the double trio. Julie Slick - 5 piece rehearsal Tobias Ralph of the Power Trio

Day 4


For the morning session, Adrian taught campers how to play the parts from Frame by Frame, and Discipline. This was very interesting.

This was followed by another 5 piece rehearsal, which sounded drastically more polished than the previous day. The pressure was on these guys preparing for the show at the Bearsville Theater, that night. It was particularly amazing to hear how quickly Pat and Tobias tightened up their double drumming, in just 24 hours.

For the rest of the afternoon, the band and techs were very busy loading up gear to head over to Woodstock.

Bearsville Theater

At 5PM, the entire camp loaded up in two school buses, and took the half hour drive over to the Bearsville Theater, in Woodstock. This was the first time I had been back to Woodstock, in 16 years. The time passed quickly, as many of the campers were doing the Thrak clapping exercises from Pat's sessions.

I thought I had previously seen shows at the Bearsville, but had mistaken it for the Woodstock Town Hall. No matter, this was also an excellent venue, with great acoustics.
The Bearsville Theater

Dinner at the Bearsville

After arriving and having drinks, dinner was catered at the club. A really nice touch, the bar and club were separated by walls with large panes of glass. So, we could easily see and hear, the setup and soundcheck going on in the other room, as we ate and drank.

The best part of the libations was the fact that the bar had a Milk Stout on tap. Mmmmm. Dinner at Bearsville Theater


After eating, the campers basically had free rein of the club, during the sound check.
Sound Check


After another hour, they started letting the rest of the people in. I ran into an old friend and Bass player, Mike Ralf, who I hadn't seen in at least 20 years. We both recognized and remembered each other, but couldn't remember the specifics under which we had met. I think he auditioned for Tom Limbaugh's band.

The opening act was Joey Eppard, lead singer of the band, 3 (and brother of one of the founders of Coheed and Cambria). I had seen him open several times for Porcupine Tree in Boulder and Houston (where I spoke to him after that show). For this show, he was performing solo.

After reintroducing myself to Joe, we had a nice conversation. He is an amazing acoustic guitar player and singer, with a heavy Flamenco influence. Unlike the Del Castillo brothers ( from a Flamenco influenced act here in Austin), Joey plays steel string acoustic, rather than nylon.

The main act, my 5 new friends, started at around 10PM. They did 3 phases of the show, the Trio (Ade, Tony, Pat), Stickmen (minus Marcus), and then the Double Trio (minus Marcus). Here was their setlist:

  • Pat, Tony and Adrian
    • Three of a Perfect Pair
    • Elephant Talk
    • Sleepless
    • Red
  • Stickmen
    • Slow Glide
  • Adrian Solo
    • Something from E (I think?)
  • Two of Perfect Trio minus 1
    • B'Boom and Thrak
    • Dinosaur
    • One Time
    • Frame by Frame
    • Encore: Thela Hun Ginjeet

During the show, it seemed like a switch had been thrown. Everything was better and tighter than any of the rehearsals we had attended. It was interesting to see a group of professionals turn it on like this, at just the right moment. Their show went by too quickly. Taking a bow

Late on the Porch with Ade

After the show, we road back on the bus, and a group of us were anxious to hit the Performance Space, which was unfortunately closed. So we convened out on the front porch. We were eating Doritos, and drinking Vodka.

Pat, Tony, and Adrian arrived in a car, and hung out for a while. Adrian had his usual happy demeanor, and joined us on the porch. Pat and Tony mentioned they were leaving after about 30 minutes, to go to their cabin. Adrian turned his head and said "ok".

Those two left, without Adrian noticing, with his asking whether they had gone without him, some time later. As we said yes, he just shrugged his shoulders and continued talking with us. The whole group hung out at least another hour and half, finally hitting the hay at 3AM. What an incredible punctuation to our last night there.

Day 5

The camp wrapped up at 11AM. There were no sessions in the morning, we all ate breakfast and hung out. Right before everyone left, we all posed for a group photo.
Main Lodge TOAPP_Group_Shot

Fun with Irene Afterwards

My original plan was to stay two extra days in the MHV, so that I could catch John Esposito's (my former piano teacher) gig. Hurricane Irene unfortunately intervened and the gig was cancelled.

Then, through a comedy of errors, that seemed like they were out of the movie, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, I did not return to Austin, until Tuesday afternoon. Two days later than planned.

Despite that, I would not have traded this experience for anything in the world, and I'm seriously considering returning next year. I already have one friend who is interested in going.

Other Blogs

You may be interested in reading Adrian's and Tony's blog entires about the camp, as well.


I'm finding other camper's blogs, now. Will link to them, as I find them.