Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Ludlow Junior High Marching Panthers.

we have established my affection for wacky sounds and experimentation.
just this morning I caught myself mindlessly tapping out sounds
in the steel sink in our kitchen.
but just how far back does this affliction go?

during my junior high school grades 6, 7, and 8 my family lived at 33 Kenner Street in Ludlow, Kentucky. for the second time in our lives we inhabited the second floor of my grandmother's house.

grandma beckett. she was a strong person with a gentle nature. her life revolved around God and our family. she was a sunday school teacher very active in the church we attended and a very pious woman, but she allowed for humor and human fallibility. she loved her kitchen and her flower gardening.
during part of this period of my life my mother was impounded in a tuberculosis sanitarium for two years. my father worked two jobs to offset the costs. it was a dark time in the life of a 12-year old. I was not allowed in the sanitarium and could only shout and wave to my mother in her third floor room when we visited every sunday. grandma beckett took care of me for those two years. alongside my mother and father she was the most important person in my life.
when we first moved there, at age 10, I joined the Ludlow Junior High Marching Band. I played drums. such a great thrill it was to march in parades or to the football games at the stadium. our school colors were red and black. the Ludlow Panthers. it helped fill the hole in my life.

I met my best friend Kenny Nevels on the school lot in the sixth grade during a snowball fight. he is still my best friend. back then we were inseparable: either he was staying at my house or I at his. kenny was also in the school band, playing french horn. the school band was the center of my life. my aspiration was to grow up to be a band director who could teach everyone how to play all the instruments. but meanwhile I was busy practicing my paradiddles and cadences with the ever-present pair of sticks stuck in my back pocket. boy, I was cool.

my bedroom which I shared with my younger brother Tim was right above grandma's beloved kitchen. I had decided I needed a "faux" drum kit to practice on. in the corner beside my bed I wore down three distinct sounding patches in the linoleum. I pretended they were my kit. I practiced myself silly on those patches. what a racket it must have made for my poor grandmother to endure.
but she never said a word.


  1. I hope you're writing these things to put in an autobiography. Reading a book about how the Adrian Belew we know would be an awesome read.

    do I need to write this in english?

    Es maravilloso leer esas anedotas de alguien a quien admiro mucho. Cuando veo a alguien tocar asi la guitarra, divertirse asi en Drums o cantar con esa expresion tan natural, pienso que tu vida siempre fue facil, ahora que leo esta etapa de tu vida veo que eres un mortal humano como yo y como todos los que te admiramos, eso me llena de motivacion ya que algun dia espero lograr tanta naturalidad al hacer arte como tu lo haces.

    Es maravillos que recibas opiniones y comentarios, prometo mejorar mi ingles para escribirte.

    Nuevamente te invito a Guanajuato, Mexico. Es un lugar maravilloso, alguna vez has estado ahi?
    Has oido hablar del Festival Internacional Cervantino (FIC)? es un festival de arte y cultura, hay foros dedicados para musica de vanguardia donde han venido Phillip Glass, Mari Kimura con robots que tocan musica, Stomp, Peter Brook, Peter Greenaway, etc. solo falta King Crimson.
    Ojala puedas planear un viaje a Guanajuato, Mexico y conozcas un poco mas la cultura prehispanica que aun se percibe. en Octubre es el FIC pero siempre hay actividad artistica y manifestaciones culturales. Hay mucha gente que aprecia tu musica, se habla mucho del "Zoologico de Belew" (Elefantes, Gatos, Rinos etc).

    PLEASE!!!!!! VISIT US!!!!!

  3. Hey Ade, check this info about the Festival Cervantino:

  4. No kidding! Do those people love us or what? My "addiction" was tapping out some kind of rythym on the kitchen table with my two fore fingers at every meal. The limit of what a "parent" will endure from their charges is amazing. Did a lot of kids do this?

    Speaking of a mic under a pillow and add some affects, play with drum sticks and record. Cool stuff!

    Great story, Adrian!

  5. Dag, Adrian, this blog format suits you well. This is very nice.

    We have some hand blown wine glasses and many-a-time when I wash them in the sink I get out some chop sticks and make the coolest sounds. The sink can be a nice place if one embraces the duty of washing dishes instead of dreading it.

    Here are some fun loops from a kitchen ...

    beat souffle

    Simple pleasure.

  6. It's nice to know I'm not alone; my sink is a double with a smaller bowel to the left which offers additional tonal colors. Cooking has never been more fun! My first instrument as a child was a set of bongos...played Trumpet in my high school marching it was cold.

  7. Heh, my family was not so understanding of my early drumming, which is probably why I'm a bassist who rarely plugs in to practice.

  8. Mike Wags! Is that you? What's up brother? Your bro & I caught Mr. Belew at B.B.'s over the summer. Great. It looks like he'll be back in October, right Adrian? I hope that you're doing great. Join us this time- Joe C. There's another dude here that goes by Joe C. Not me. Confusing. I hope you are well.

  9. Make that winter. I travel way too much.

  10. Band was central to my life, too. And now I keep my foot to my older son's behind to practice French horn. Last night I dragged out the old clarinets and let the kids try them. What a riot. I hadn't played since age 25, which is distant past, and was astounded at how good I still sounded. I mean, I sound REALLY good. (I am sitting here with my clarinet playing every bloody thing that comes to mind. Muscle memory is an incredible thing.) I impressed the pants off the family. I still got it! So I hope my French horn player will go on to marching band someday, dressed all spiffy like the picture. I hope he is spared the big woolly hats we had to wear, though. They resembled something out of a Flintstones lodge meeting, but without the horns. Drummers WERE cool. I still recall the name one great syncopated cadence called "Luther Jackson." It made us ALL cool.

  11. You look the same still! You must hear that all the time. I do too.

  12. My office staff and I were just talking about marching bands, and I starting searching the web for Ludlow Marching Band info where I found your blog. I was a drummer for six years at Ludlow, and by far it was the best time of my life. I met my wife and my best friend in the band. I am currently playing music in a polka/rock band with some of the former band members from Ludlow. Your blog brought back some good memories of band, and my old neiborhood. I grew up on Euclid Street, just a couple of blocks from Kenner. Thanks for the memories!