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June | 2012 | BellerBlog 2012 June | Just another WordPress weblog

Archive for June, 2012

New BellerBytes: Kira On Tour, Keneally Gig At NEARfest, West LA Music Clinic…And A Big Dethklok/Steve Vai/Aristocrats Update

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Here’s what’s up: I’m playing NEARfest with Mike Keneally this weekend; Kira just left for a 3-week tour with British singer/songwriter Emily Baker; I’m doing my first-ever Los Angeles music store clinic; and I can finally talk a little bit about the second half of the year after September.

I left it all on the field this time. The BellerBytes e-mail I just sent turned into a fairly long blog-type missive. So you have two options:

1) Read it in full, with original formatting and pretty template stuff and whatnot, by clicking here

2) Read it below, sans bolds and italics and all that good stuff (and don’t forget to sign up for BellerBytes so you can get this kind of stuff delivered straight to your e-mail inbox!)

Off to rest my fingers,

BellerBytes: West L.A. Music Clinic, Kira Small/Emily Baker Tour, NEARfest, Dethklok/Vai/Aristocrats Update & More!

Hello my pretties…it’s been over a month since I last wrote. That’s way too long, innit?

We’re going to have to revisit the old Table Of Contents for this one, though I’m still way too lazy to go back to adding anchor links:

1. NEARfest with Mike Keneally This Weekend
2. Kira Small/Emily Baker “Tomayto/Tomah-to” Tour Starts NOW!
3. Beller Bass Clinic At West L.A. Music – Saturday 7/7, 1pm
4. Dethklok, Steve Vai & Aristocrats Updates


1. NEARfest with Mike Keneally This Weekend

Normally I would have leaned a little harder on this one, but since the damned show sold out an hour after tickets went on sale, what’s the point? Hey NEARfest, you’re gonna need a bigger boat. But since this is the last NEARfest ever, and since they’ve kicked so much ass over the years, we’ll cut them a little slack.

Sunday, June 24, 2012
Mike Keneally Band
NEARfest Apocalypse
Zoellner Arts Center
Lehigh University
420 East Packer Avenue
Bethlehem, PA 18015-3006
Phone: 610-758-2787
Set Time: 4:15pm
Mike Keneally Band lineup:
Mike Keneally – lead guitar, lead vocals, keys
Rick Musallam – guitar, backing vocals
Griff Peters – guitar
Bryan Beller – bass
Kris Myers (of Umphrey’s McGee!) – drums, backing vocals

Playing with Kris from Umphrey’s was superfun in rehearsals, and he gets major points for even daring to take on the typically super-challenging Keneally set for the first time at such a big gig. If you were lucky enough to get tickets, see you there!

And don’t forget – Mike Keneally’s new album Wing Beat Fantastic, co-written with XTC’s Andy Partridge, is coming out very, very soon.


2. Kira Small/Emily Baker “Tomayto/Tomah-to” Tour Starts NOW!

If you’ve been on this list for any longer than three days then you know how deeply I dig my wife Kira Small’s original material – and not just because she hired me to play bass for her for the past 3 years, scout’s honor. We’ve had a blast doing house concert tours across America together. But I don’t expect her to sit around and twiddle her thumbs while I go off and play metal and wacky music, so she enlisted the company of a very talented British singer/songwriter namedEmily Baker to join her for a wild three-week jaunt across the States. (Apparently this household is fond of playing with Brits lately.)

I’m quite proud to help promote Kira and Emily as they set off on their grand adventure. They even came up with a cheeky name for the tour:

Kira Small & Emily Baker
“Tomayto/Tomah-to” U.S. Tour

R 6/21 – Charlotte, NC – house concert
F 6/22 – Oak Island, NC – The Grape And Ale
SA 6/23 – Florence, SC – house concert
SU 6/24 – Florence, SC – house concert
R 6/28 – Sulphur, LA – house concert
F 6/29 – Houston, TX – house concert
SA 6/30 – San Marcos, TX – house concert
M 7/2 – Dallas, TX – Opening Bell Coffee
W 7/4 – Lee’s Summit, MO – house concert
F 7/6 – Brown Deer, WI – house concert
SA 7/7 – Chicago, IL – house concert

That is one wild itinerary, eh? For more details on each show, visit Kira’s calendar page.
I know her and Emily would love to see you, and they have many gallons of gas to pay for along their journey, so last-minute attendance decisions are most welcome. Meanwhile, I’ll be feeding Lucian The Cat several times a day, which never gets old for Lucian The Cat.


3. Beller Bass Clinic At West L.A. Music – Saturday 7/7, 1pm

It suddenly dawned on me that, aside from appearances at a couple of schools, I had never done a true open-to-the-public clinic at a retailer in Los Angeles, ever. And since I’ll be in L.A. recording the Dethalbum III (!!!) and rehearsing for the upcoming Dethklok/Lamb Of God tour, and I had a Saturday off, I thought, why not address this egregious omission?

Fortunately, the venerable West L.A. Music and D’Addario Strings are here to save the day:

Saturday, July 7
Beller Bass Clinic
at West L.A. Music
11345 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 477-1945
Free admission!
Start time: 1pm
Sponsored by D’Addario Strings!

Folks in Los Angeles have probably seen me play more than residents of any other city, so I will do my best to make this one different than my usual program, or at least keep it interesting. Bring those questions that you can never ask me after a Baked Potato gig because I’m too busy drinking or talking to friends or what have you. And get some free D’Addario SWAG in the process.


4. Dethklok, Steve Vai & Aristocrats Updates

So now is the time when I finally write about that weird, mysterious stressy thing I alluded to in a few social media posts a couple of months back.

I am a very, very fortunate person to be as busy as I am, and to have played with who I’ve played with. It’s all the more remarkable because, just a few years ago (7 to be exact), I still had a full-time day gig and wasn’t a true freelance musician. After I took the plunge and quit my job, I was hustling and barely making ends meet in Nashville throughout 2006 and 2007, and then I landed the Steve Vai and Dethklok touring gigs back to back. 2007 was a big Vai touring year, and 2008 and 2009 were big Dethklok touring years. Life was pretty damned good.

I’ve spent the better part of the last three years working on the assumption that, at some point, either Dethklok or Steve Vai would gear up again for a tour. There were a lot of false starts and things that almost happened but didn’t. In the meantime, I was touring with Kira a lot, and then this thing called The Aristocrats happened out of the blue. Again, no complaints there. All great stuff, just different. And scheduling, with a few exceptions, always seemed to work out somehow.

Then along came 2012, and I guess years of lucky schedule karma caught up with me all at once. To make a long story very short, I was faced with a four-month period in which Steve Vai, Dethklok and The Aristocrats were all planning tours. There was no clear path forward and everything was on top of everything else in various states of direct conflict and semi-confirmation. When the dust settled, I was unable to give Steve Vai the commitment he needed when he needed it, so he’s gone in a different direction and I won’t be touring America with him this year.

Like I said, I am a very fortunate person, and if this isn’t a first world problem, then I don’t know what is. All that said: This breaks my fucking heart, and I’m quite bummed that it didn’t go down another way after all this time.

I’m mentioning this now because Steve just announced his new touring band lineup on his website, and I didn’t want to get in front of him on this. He’ll have Philip Bynoe on bass, an amazing player and great guy. Philip also has the distinct honor of having bested me in a one-on-one audition (it was literally just the two of us in Steve Vai’s Audition Thunderdome; two bassists enter, one bassist leaves) for Steve back in 1996, for the first G3 tour with Satch, Vai and Eric Johnson. We tease each other about it now, all in good fun. But if you look back, Steve’s last five major touring bassists have been: Scott Thunes, Philip Bynoe, Billy Sheehan, me, and now Philip again. That’s pretty good company, and I’m proud to be a part of Vai’s bassist lineage.

(Note: I actually wrote about that audition back in the Paleoithic Era of my website – we called it a “web journal” back then, sonny, now get off my lawn – but I’m way too embarrassed to link to it now, so you’ll have to dig it out yourself if you want to read about it. A hint as to its location is contained in a previous link in this missive.)

Hopefully Steve and I will get to do some more work together someday. I owe him a debt of gratitude for taking me on the road in 2007 and for having me on his last live DVD Where The Wild Things Are, which has now been shown on Palladia about a million times, apparently. I’m really looking forward to hearing his new album as well.

That leaves Dethklok and The Aristocrats. As I mentioned above, I’ll be tracking the new Dethalbum with Brendon in early July. Then it’s tour rehearsal time. The Dethklok/Lamb Of God tour dates are on my website calendar page. To say I’m excited would be an understatement.

And I can now announce that The Aristocrats will be touring Europe from October 9 through November 10! We’ll be hitting Sweden, Italy, Germany, Holland, France, Greece, Croatia, The Canary Islands (!), and other places in Europe. We’re working on firming up the details and we’ll have them for you soon. In the meantime, I’m happy to say that the live-DVD-taping shows we did at Alva’s Showroom in early June were a rousing success, and we got some killer performances on “tape” to sort through and polish up for eventual release. So that’s exciting.


That was unusually long, I know. But I will not apologize. I will just stop typing.

As you were,

P.S. If you have the chance to see Roger Waters’ “The Wall Live” concert, just buy the tickets and go. Trust me on this. :-)

June: Rest & Recovery

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

When May started I was still on the road with Kira in the midwest. Then in mid-May I was on tour with The Aristocrats in the midwest and midsouth. By the end of the month I was in L.A. for The Aristocrats live DVD taping shows, which went extremely well.

Now I’m on a plane heading home and, with the exception of a one-off gig with Mike Keneally at the much ballyhoooed NEARFest Apocalypse, I’ll be laying somewhat lower for the next month. I’d better rest, because starting in July, I’m pretty much going to be on the road for the rest of the year, first with Dethklok, and then with The Aristocrats again, and then…well, I’ll have some more news soon about what comes next. It’ll land on the Calendar page when it gets real.

And while I’m in teasing mode, something incredible is happening for me which I’ll be able to talk about publicly in around 60 days. It’s something I really never imagined would happen for me. But it has. Or, better put, it will soon.

For now, here’s a big hearty THANK YOU to everyone I saw on the road either with Kira or The Aristocrats in the midwest, and everyone who came out to the Aristocrats DVD taping shows in San Pedro. You make it possible for us to do what we do and I try never to forget that, no matter what.


P.S. If you want to catch Kira on the road this coming month, you can! She’ll be touring America with British singer/songwriter Emily Baker.

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