Hearing OK after seeing Def Leppard and Poison?
I SAID, “HEARING OK?” OK, good — here comes some more major guitar noise, and I mean that in a good way.
The late, great Frank Zappa discovered Adrian Belew “making good Stratocaster noises,” as Zappa put it, in an Ohio bar. Soon, Belew was making those noises with Zappa, Talking Heads, David Bowie (playing Saratoga Performing Arts Center with both of the latter), King Crimson, Nine Inch Nails, the Bears and more.
Belew became a recurring player with King Crimson, whose lineup changes have been as complex as its music. (King Crimson may also be the most remarkably enduring one-hit wonder in music history: For all their impressive achievements, arguably nothing they’ve recorded has matched the sheer magnificence of “21st Century Schizoid Man,” lead track of their 1968 debut album “In the Court of the Crimson King,” but I digress.)
One of our greatest guitarists, Belew co-stars in The Crimson ProjeKCT tonight at the Bearsville Theater (291 Tinker St., Woodstock).
This complicated King Crimson-related revue features bassist Tony Levin, drummer Pat Mastelloto, guitarist Markus Reuter, bassist Julie Slick and drummer Tobias Ralph. If that sounds like enough players for two bands, that’s about what happens. They’ll start with a full set of King Crimson songs (Belew, Levin and Mastelloto have all played with King Crimson), then a set by the Stick Men (a Chapman Stick ensemble led by Levin), a set by the Adrian Belew Power Trio, then a free-for-all.
Sounds gloriously messy, with unprecedented value in notes per dollar. Doors open at 7 p.m. for this 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $30. Phone 845-679-4406 or visit www.bearsvilletheater.com.
On Friday, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood takes over the cozy, wood-lined venue.
After shelving the Black Crowes — probably not forever, but who knows? — Robinson assembled this crew “to make music that blossoms . . . to make music that sounds cosmic” but that also echoes his inspiration in the 1950s.
The guitar noise in the Brotherhood comes from Neal Casal, last seen here with Ryan Adams & the Cardinals in September 2008 at The Egg. Casal is an in-demand session player (credits include Willie Nelson and Tift Merritt) and an acclaimed and prolific solo artist with nearly a dozen albums under his own name — really good ones, too.
After the Cardinals played The Egg, Casal sent me his “Roots and Wings” album and it’s remained a favorite ever since, a country-rock collection of roots-music smarts, unforced charm, and quietly brilliant playing. Listening to his own songs, it’s clear where the Jerry Garcia sound came from in the Cardinals’ mix, and how much Casal loves the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers. (Casal is also an accomplished photographer with many album credits.)
Chris Robinson sings and plays guitar in the Brotherhood, with Casal, keyboardist (and fellow Black Crowes member) Adam MacDougal, bassist Mark Dutton and drummer George Sluppick. They’ve toured nearly nonstop since forming last year, pausing only long enough to record two albums: “The Magic Door” hits next month. Black Crowes fans have complained that Robinson doesn’t play Black Crowes songs on tour, but this one promises fresh tunes from the unreleased new album.
Show time for the Chris Robinson Brotherhood is 9 p.m. on Friday. This show is sold out.
BUILT TO ROCK
Closer to home, Built to Spill plays the Upstate Concert Hall (1208 Route 146, Clifton Park, formerly Northern Lights) next Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Built to Spill is to Idaho about what the Flaming Lips are to Oklahoma: an exceptionally good band from a most unlikely place; so it’s no surprise that those two bands toured together in 2009. On its previous tour in 2009, Built to Spill played all of its then-new album “Perfect from Now On,” so we might expect them to play all of “There Is No Enemy” this time. Or not: Built to Spill leader, main writer and guitarist Doug Martsch formed the band a decade ago intending to shake things up a lot, by changing members with every album, for example. He did this for a time, and later re-recorded seven Built to Spill songs as synthesizer and guitar duets. However, Built to Spill has jelled into a stable lineup of Martsch, guitarists Jim Roth and Brett Netson, drummer Scott Plouf and bassist Brett Nelson.
The result is a sumptuous guitar-bristling straight rock sound; muscular melodies powering lyrics whose straightforward punch hits first when you hear how the syllables ride the riffs, then the sentiment and sense emerge like overtones. On their “Live” album, they cover Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer,” and if they don’t sound like Crazy Horse, then I’m one.
Helvetia and Revolt Revolt open for Built to Spill on Wednesday. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $16 in advance, $18 on Wednesday. Phone 371-0012 or visit www.upstateconcerthall.com.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at email@example.com.