Andy Tillison on PROG AWARDS

The "red-headed" one.  Stolen from Tillison's FB page.  Without permission but not with malice.
The “red-headed” one. Stolen from Tillison’s FB page. Without permission but not with malice.

Andy posted this at his personal facebook page.  Very well worth reading and yet another reminder as to why Andy is a sheer modern (well, maybe post-modern) genius.

Some thoughts on the Prog Awards that took place in KEW, London last week. First of all, I had a great time and as I have already shown off on another thread, I got to share a table with three quarters of Transatlantic, Arjen Lucassen and the people from Insideout music who’d invited me. This in itself was a bit of a “wow” thing.

Looking around at the famous faces was worrying. I kind of realised that some hanger-on-to-1979-NME “everything must die so that punk may live” journalist could probably have wiped the genre from the face of the earth with a dodgy batch of Salmon Mousse. Rick Wakeman was right behind me, Ian Anderson, Dave Brock, Steve Hillage, Steve Hackett, Robert John Godfrey – Jeez!!! – if anyone had told me when I was at school that I’d be at this thing I’d have not believed them.

Most of my friends know that this kind of shindig is not really my scene. I felt a bit awkward in all posh clothes, a bit nervous to be with all the great and good – and this is not something that applies just to awards ceremonies, it goes back as far as “terror of the sixth form disco” and those student parties where you really DID find me, always in the kitchen. I’m just a bit nervous of formal events. Can’t be myself and that’s as simple as I can put it.

The formalities of the awards kicked off after a meal. Some of you know that my personal relationship with the organisation (PROG magazine) did not start quite as well as it might. My relationship with the editor and big chief there, Jerry Ewing, was worse than frosty for more than a year. Actually my fault when all is said and done – I really think most of it was to do with a bit of Northern Cantankerousness mixed with sense of humour failure and a little bit too much pride. And the fact that the mag had said that The Tangent looked like a bunch of Sheep Farmers and Accountants. I SHOULD have had a right old laugh about that. Because at the time, my partner Sally was working in accounts and we DID live in the middle of a sheep farm. Maybe it was just too close to the bone.

Ewing kicked off the proceedings with what, to my surprise and delight, was the most motivational speech of the night. It focussed heavily on the new bands both “real new” and “established new” and far from being corporate gesturing which is so often evident at this type of event, I got a real feeling that he MEANT it all, and that he didn’t actually see the third and fourth waves of Prog as some kind of pro-active fan club of the first and second. That was more than refreshing. And to watch the Von Hertzen Brothers claim their award, Big Big Train and Steven Wilson etc was great, knowing that there is, was and will be a lot of life in the genre AFTER 1977.

I’m always gonna be happier in jeans and a t-shirt, wrestling with a monitor mix at The Peel, The CRS, Summer’s End or Celebr8 than at a posh three course meal. And of course I did note that there were more people at the awards than are at most of the gigs. If all the musicians were to support each other at each others events we could significantly audience sizes – (but NOT ask to be on the guest list!!). But what’s really really great about these awards is that we’re all HERE, the old heroes and legends, the guys who want to follow them and the people who want to make it happen. I’ve always felt as a Prog musician to be “part of something” – of course I have.. but where so many negative correspondents have portrayed Prog as a safe, middle class and system supporting genre, I have always seen it as sticking up two fingers to the classical music establishment and saying “we can do that too” After all the shit, lies, misrepresentations and misunderstandings we’re ALL STILL HERE. Bring on the Salmon Mousse!!! We’ll survive that too!–Andy Tillison, Facebook, September 8, 2013


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