Once In A Belew Moon
(photo of Les Claypool and Ric Hickey, backstage at Bonnaroo 2006, courtesy of Ric Hickey)
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you read CityBeat‘s music section (and you’re the type of person who pays attention to bylines), you may recognize Ric Hickey, who contributes to our record review section. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know Ric from his fantastic dispatches from festivals like Bonnaroo and Tall Stacks. If you’re a local music fan, then you likely know Ric as an incredible guitarist/singer/songwriter.
Ric got a last-minute call to open for Adrian Belew when the guitar hero and Northern Kentucky native played the Southgate House last Saturday. Ric is a HUGE Belew fan, and the MySpace blog he wrote about the experience of playing the show gives some insight into what it’s like to be a musician opening for one of your heroes. Ric graciously agreed to let us reprint it here. But be sure to go to his MySpace page and check out his tunes (I’m really digging “TWIDDITT” — King Crimson fans take note). He’s playing a free show this Friday in the Southgate House lounge with Belew pal/bandmate (and local Pop/Rock hero) Chris Arduser. Ric’s story starts below:
Well, the Adrian Belew show was in-credible, as I fully expected. First and foremost I want to extend a mountainous dollop of gratitude to John Madden of Magus Productions and Chris Shadler at The Southgate House for inviting me to open the show.
The ballroom filled up almost immediately when the doors opened at 7 p.m. By the time I went on at 8 the place was packed. (These people all paid $30 apiece for their tickets; you don’t have stragglers wandering in at 10:45 when they’ve plunked down that kinda jack for the tickets.) My set was warmly received by a huge crowd of largely unfamiliar faces. Though I was happy to see some old friends there too.
The quick and dirty down-low on my set-list: I opened with three instrumentals, then moved right into what you might call my singer/songwriter-type stuff. All of it seemed to go over pretty good. I couldn’t resist playing at least one Willie Nelson song. I wasn’t planning on playing “Fly Me To The Moon” (indeed, I haven’t played it out in a while), but it went over pretty well at a friend’s birthday soiree Friday night so I figured “what the hell” and ended my set with that.
Adrian’s set was SMOKIN’. I STRONGLY urge you to check out his Web site for more details on what he’s been up to lately and his plans for 2007. I will confess: initially I was dubious about his (new) very young rhythm section. BUT THEY ABSOLUTELY BLEW ME AWAY. 19-year-old Eric Slick on drums was so unbelievably good that I planted myself up on the balcony for the bird’s-eye view from which I could watch him give the drums a good thrashing. Eric’s 22-year-old sister Julie tore UP the bass, even on some really heavy, complicated Tony Levin basslines on King Crimson tunes like “Elephant Talk,” “Three Of A Perfect Pair” and — my favorite, the show closer — “Thela Hun Ginjeet”!!!
Eric flailed wildly away a la Terry Bozzio, and sister Julie — with a giant mop of long brown hair, (looking) super laidback casual in long sundress and bare feet — made some really complex bass parts look EASY. Couple buddies of mine, roughly the same age as me, said “This makes me feel old.” I said, “Fuck that, are you kidding? This makes me feel YOUNG!”
An unexpected highlight of the evening: meeting Eric and Julie’s dad, Greg. Proud papa, smiling ear to ear, snapping pictures throughout the show and introducing himself, shaking hands all around the club.
More highlights? You got it:
1. Getting my picture taken with Adrian after the show. I don’t think he saw/heard my set, and I was a little too geeked/drunk to even attempt to introduce myself as someone he should know. Asked for a picture. Said “Cheese” and “Thanks.” Skulked away, embarrassed! (Pic appearing on MySpace soon!)
2. Reunited with my old buddy Mark Wilkerson who drove up from Louisville to see the show. A dear old friend who I hadn’t seen for maybe 10 or 15 YEARS, Mark is the author of the recently published — and really fucking GREAT — Pete Townshend biography, Amazing Journey: The Life Of Pete Townshend. Much of it is available for reading online here — go check it out RIGHT NOW! It’s awesome!
3. Performing in front of long-time heroes Bob Nyswonger and Rob Fetters in the audience. Rob, in particular, is one of my all-time favorite guitarists, a HUGE influence on me. Running into these guys in a bar, for me, is like stumbling upon Jimi Hendrix or Charles Mingus just walking down the street. I stand in awe of them. Super-humble the both of them, I am proud to call them my friends. The Kings.
4. Countless people approached me after my set with nice things to say and I feel like I made a lotta new friends that night. Ran into quite a few people, in fact, that I hadn’t seen for a while and that also was extremely gratifying. Example: an acquaintance from way back, Jeremy, who I only run into like every few YEARS. Turns out he’s a videographer working for Adrian on this tour and (he) was kind enough to film my performance for me. UnbeLEEvable kindness such as this was extended to me time and time again Saturday night. Made me feel blessed. I am.
5. Adrian singing “Young Lions”! Totally unexpected, hadn’t heard this song in a long-ass time. They nailed it — no, set it ON FIRE — and it seemed particularly appropriate, perhaps even a direct reference to young Eric and Julie.
Thanks to everybody who came to the show, and also to those of you who could not afford the ticket or otherwise had plans but went out of your way to congratulate me on the sweet gig. Indeed. One of the sweetest ever.
— Ric Hickey