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November | 2015 | BellerBlog 2015 November | Just another WordPress weblog

Archive for November, 2015

2015 Holiday Recommendations

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Hello everyone and Happy December! You should know by now that my typical e-mail updates will basically say “I’m On Tour FOREVER!” and then have a bunch of dates. And it’s true here as well. Now that the Joe Satriani Europe tour is done, the Aristocrats Europe tour is about to begin, and those dates will be listed later on in this e-mail.

But instead of shouting about all that yet again, I thought I’d share four things that, in my view, would make great super-early holiday gifts. It’s never too soon, right? And honestly, by the time the holidays roll around I’m probably not going to have enough energy to write out another one of these. So you’ll get it now and like it. ;-)

Here they are, the Four Things I Recommend For Super-Early Holiday Gifts (to yourself, if you like)…

1) Underneath Everything, a young adult fiction novel by Marcy Beller Paul, a.k.a. my younger sister.

I’m beyond proud to tell everyone I know that my sister’s debut young adult fiction novel was just released last month. Underneath Everything is a deliciously deceptive and engrossing story about an obsessive and toxic friendship between two teen girls. Marcy’s amazing not just because she got her first manuscript published, but also because she did it while raising two kids under the age of 5! That’s some Superwoman shit right there.

Here’s a pile of links to learn more (and hopefully order) from various places.

At Amazon:
Signed copies: Books of Wonder:
For local independent orders: IndieBound:
Marcy’s own website:

I realize that the Bryan Beller/Frank Zappa/Steve Vai/Joe Satriani/Mike Keneally/Aristocrats universe might not completely cross over with the Young Adult Fiction universe, but I’m hoping that some folks following me out there will check it out regardless. Because: Awesome sister. And great book, which I read and loved! Bonus points and insider enjoyment will go to anyone from Westfield, NJ, where we grew up and where the novel is set.

2) T H I S C L O S E, the new album by guitarist/composer Janet Feder

I’ve mentioned Janet before in this newsletter, and with good reason: She’s currently one of my favorite artists. She also just released my favorite new album of this year, T H I S C L O S E, on SA (super-audio) CD, 180-gram vinyl, and hi-res digital, all through Bandcamp. I can’t remember the last time I was moved so deeply by a musical work – maybe a Pink Floyd or Nine Inch Nails album? – and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Imagine an artist who digested the entire classic, folk and progressive rock oeuvre, picked up the guitar and studied classical for years, and then went hard the other way into prepared baritone guitar and the avant-garde world…and came out the other side combining it all with simple melody, an occasional intimate vocal, and otherworldly sonic high fidelity (recorded in DSD on Gus Skinas’ Sonoma System). That’s what Janet Feder does. Not easy to describe, but truly incredible to listen to.

It’s my long-held thought that people who dig the whole instrumental progressive/muzo universe (everything from John Scofield to Bill Frisell to Steve Vai to Frank Zappa and lots in between, including the aforementioned Floyd and NIN) will find something to like in Janet’s music. In other words, it’s worth the click.

3) Emergence, the new album by UK progressive band Godsticks.

Godsticks is that rare band – a modern progressive band that’s truly modern. So much of what’s called “prog” nowadays is either actually full-on metal, or total throwback ’70s-era worship. Godsticks is neither, and somehow occupy a space between straight rock, muzo, and prog. Their newest album leans harder towards the heavier side of things, which was a deliberate choice, and totally works. It sounds like a ton of bricks and the riffs and tunes are tight as nails.

Some of you may remember that Godsticks opened for The Aristocrats on previous tours of the UK (and will do an “encore” opening slot at our show in Bristol on December 17). Bandleader Darran Charles has done Herculean things to help us out there, and not just us; he’s a big supporter of touring bands in our genre whenever they come through. Not to be outdone, his wife Rhiannon runs RJPR, which does publicity for The Aristocrats and several other acts, and kicks ass in general. I guess what I’m saying is this: The music *and* the people involved are both worth your support.

Check out Godsticks here:

4) The Way Home and A Crack Where The Light Gets In, the latest albums by bassist/composer Steve Lawson.

I believe I’ve also mentioned Steve in these pages (pages?) before, but he too is worth a revisit. He’s still churning out unique albums at a frightening pace – I think he’s completed over 30 releases now? – but each one has its own distinct flavor while still retaining Steve Lawson’s “One Note”. That note is his compositional sound, a mostly soothing trance/ambient groove, slightly bass-focused (but not wankishly so in the least), and just a bit distressed, more than enough to keep you from becoming too complacent as a listener.

I’m listing both of these albums because he recently gave them to me. I find them to be better listens all the way through rather than just by “highlighted track selection”, but for the purposes of this format, I really like the slightly broken groove in “Theoria (triptych 1)”, and the long soundscape wave goodbye of A Crack Where The Light Gets In’s closing track “This is My Truth…Tell Me Yours”. But you could pick any Steve Lawson album and “get” what’s essentially cool about him, which is plenty.

Steve’s world at Bandcamp:

* * * * * * * *

So, there’s some cool stuff for you to check out. Oh, you’re still reading for the remaining Aristocrats’ European tour dates? Here they are, then, mostly complete except for a few Italian dates:

WINTER 2015/2016
For complete info/ticket links, click here.

November 30th: Berlin (Germany) – Kesselhaus
December 1st: Osnabruck (Germany) – Gaste Garage
December 2nd: Hamburg (Germany) – Fabrik
December 4th: Larvik (Norway) – Bolgen
December 6th: Istanbul (Turkey) – Garajistanbul
December 7th: Bucharest (Romania) – Silver Church
December 9th: Zoetermeer (Netherlands) – De Boerderij
December 10th: Verviers (Belgium) – Spirit of 66
December 12th: Dublin (Ireland) – The Grand Social
December 13th: Edinburgh (Scotland) – Liquid Room
December 15th: Manchester (England) – Club Academy
December 16th: Birmingham (England) – O2 Institute 3
December 17th: Bristol (England) – Bierkeller
December 18th: London (England) – Heaven
December 19th: Brighton (England) – The Haunt
December 20th: Paris (France) – La Maroquinerie

January 13th 2016: Espoo (Finland) – Sellosali (2nd show added!)
January 15th 2016: Äänekoski (Finland) – Painotalo (band clinic + concert)
January 16th 2016: Espoo (Finland) – Sellosali
January 18th 2016: Lisbon (Portugal) – RCA Club
January 20th 2016: Sevilla (Spain) – Custom
January 21st 2016: Murcia (Spain) – Garaje
January 22nd 2016: Madrid (Spain) – Caracol
January 23rd 2016: Valencia (Spain) – Rockcity
January 24th 2016: Barecelona (Spain) – Razzmatazz 2
January 26th 2016: Nice (France) – Forum Nice Nord
January 27th 2016: Genova (Italy) – La Claque
January 29th 2016: Athens (Greece) – Athina Live
January 30th 2016: Athens (Greece) – Athina Live
February 2nd 2016: Milan (Italy) – Blue Note
February 3rd 2016: Zurich (Switzerland) – Moods
February 4th 2016: Rubigen (Switzerland) – Muhle Hunziken
February 6th 2016: Verona (Italy) – Officina degli Angeli
February 7th 2016: Bologna (Italy) – Zona Roveri
February 8th 2016: Pordenone (Italy) – Il Deposito
February 10th 2016: Florence (Italy) – Teatro Puccini
February 11th 2016: Terni (Italy) – Auditorium Gazzoli
February 12th 2016: Malta (Malta) – Ir-Razzett l’Ahmar
February 14th 2016: Palermo (Italy) – Zsa Zsa
February 16th 2016: Roccaforzata (TA) (Italy) – Saloon Public House
February 18th 2016: Rome (Italy) – Planet Live Club
February 20th 2016: Tel Aviv (Israel) – Reading 3


That’s all I got for 2015. Happy merry everything to everyone and anyone celebrating anything, or not, or just hanging out. How’s that for all-inclusive?

Best wishes to all,

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