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Adrian Belew

You may know him from King Crimson. Or you may have stumbled upon him while he was wailing away with the Talking Heads during the Remain In Light sessions and tour. Or maybe you tripped over one of his many solo records like Lone Rhino or Mr. Music Head or the underrated Op Zop Too Wah from 1996. Wherever you found him, once you have heard him, you know the distinct sound of one Adrian Belew.

Adrian Belew was once a struggling guitarist in Nashville, Tennessee, until a bit of luck found him. Luck in the form of the genius-composer, Frank Zappa. Let Adrian tell the tale in his words.
“It seemed like out of the blue when I was at my lowest point and was thinking that maybe I won’t have a place in the music business. I really was a starving artist, as they call them. Frank called me and asked me if I could audition. He had heard me play in a little night club and then months went by and he never called, so I figured it was just a fluke. Then one day, he suddenly called again,” recalled Adrian.

“It changed my life on a dime. It put me into hyper-professional mode, where I suddenly had to play catch-up. I had to be in a touring band, playing Frank Zappa’s music, going around the world. Can you imagine that? From being in a band where you are playing to 15 bikers swilling beer in Nashville to being onstage with a hugely complex operation called Frank Zappa,” laughed Adrian.

Not that Adrian has any regrets about the way this changed his plan on becoming a professional musician, it was just not the way he envisioned it. But is there really a blueprint?

Adrian continues, “And it seemed from that point on that all the dots fell into place. Brian Eno heard me and he called *David Bowi*e and he asked me to play with him and the Talking Heads hear me with Bowie and they ask me to play with them and then Robert Fripp hears me along the way and he asks me to form the new King Crimson with him. It was just head spinning for me. I had no idea what to do. I was there hanging on tight.”

“It was certainly not the plan that I had. I had thought that eventually I would get recognized by a record label for the songs that I was writing and maybe get a record deal. It never happened that way for me. I came in through the backdoor. But very happily for me, cause as you say, when I look back on it, it is almost a story you would not even write it sounds too fantastic,” recalls Adrian.

Today at the age of 59, Adrian Belew is still creating and will be bringing his latest musical project to Australia for the Adelaide International Guitar Festival which runs from November 29th until the 7th of December. He is very excited about the Adrian Belew Power Trio and if he had been in the room with me and not on the phone, I think he would have been jumping up and down on the couch.
Adrian said, “I am having such a great time with them and they are fresh breath of air for me as. They are young and they are inspired and their energy level is off the charts and they happen to be able to play the music very well. In many ways it has rejuvenated my whole catalogue and what I am doing now. I have begun writing new music for this trio and we have had a lot of experiences in two years. We have been around the world.”

And the next part of the world for them to visit is Australia. The Power Trio is Adrian Belew on guitar and 2 former students of The School Of Rock in Philadelphia. The rest of the trio is Julie Slick on bass and Earl Slick on drums. Earl is no relation to the other Earl Slick who I think took Belew’s place in Bowie’s band if my memory is working.
So what can we expect from the Power Trio in Adelaide and their other shows in Australia?

“Well we play different things from some of my various solo records. We play six pieces from King Crimson and I might even throw in a Bears (another of Adrian’s bands) song. We also play some new pieces I have written for the band specifically. They are quite energetic and nice and long pieces with improvising sections built into the middle of them. I think the nice thing about the band is their energy and their power. The name Power Trio really does suit us and it is one of those trios that nightly sounds different. We don’t sound the same ever. It has been one great wonderful ride so far. Eric and Julie never cease to amaze me and audiences have been very impressed,” gushed Adrian.

The pedigree of Adrian Belew and his amazing ride through the music industry seems to have been given a jolt of adrenalin with the addition of these two young players. Adrian has spent quite a bit of time making records and he loves that process and the creativity, but it appears that the bug of playing live is what drives him today.

“You know I feel like the thing that is more important then ever right now is live music and that just suits me fine. Live music is the one thing that they can’t download, they can’t burn and they can’t get it for free and can’t steal it from you. If you want to see Adrian Belew’s Power Trio you come to see us play. My strong point right now is playing live with this band. Of course I can make records all day long and I love that creative process, but right now it is an age where people want to come out and actually hear people who can actually play again. That is a real turn of events. It seemed to me that there was a real glut of bands that really weren’t very good for so many years, but they were very popular. But now we may be getting back to a time where you can be popular and be GOOD ”, said Adrian.

So it will be well worth your while to see Adrian and his Power Trio when they play at the Adelaide International Guitar Festival in a fairly intimate environment. This is someone who has been fortunate enough to tour with Zappa, Bowie, The Talking Heads and King Crimson and you will be lucky enough to experience his playing in the lovely and intimate environs of this fantastic festival.

The Adelaide International Guitar Festival runs from November 29 until December 7.

For the full program check out the AIGF WEBSITE

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