Progtoberfest IV Is Coming!

Reggie’s Rock Club and Music Joint has officially announced the line-up for Progtoberfest IV.  Sponsored by InsideOut Music, the festival will be held on the south side of Chicago Friday through Sunday, October 19-21.  Tickets go on sale Friday, June 1 Tuesday, June 5 at 12 noon CST at Ticketfly.  Here’s the line-up, with event and band links included wherever possible:

Friday, October 19 – Reggie’s Rock Club:

 

Friday, October 19 — Reggie’s Music Joint:

  • The Nick D’Virgilio Project (Fort Wayne, IN — jazz-rock fusion with colleagues from Sweetwater Studios)
  • Tempano (Venezuela)
  • Inner Ear Brigade (San Francisco, CA)
  • No More Pain (Old Bridge, NJ)

 

Saturday, October 20 — Reggie’s Rock Club:

 

Saturday. October 20 — Reggie’s Music Joint:

 

Sunday, October 21 — Reggie’s Rock Club:

 

Sunday, October 21 — Reggie’s Music Joint:

 

Ticket prices are as follows:

  • Single day general admission (standing room in Rock Club):$75
  • Single day general admission VIP (including poster, BBQ buffet and meet & greets): $100
  • Three day general admission: $175
  • Three day general admission VIP: $240
  • Three day Above Stage VIP: $275 (general admission seating in Rock Club balcony; my choice for Progtoberfest III)
  • Three day Seated VIP: $325 (reserved seats up front on Rock Club main floor)
  • Three day Red Chair VIP: $400 (reserved seats up front in Rock Club balcony)
  • There are additional Ticketfly service fees, but they’re reasonable.

I had a great time at Progtoberfest III last year, and I hope to make it to at least one day of this year’s festival.  This time around, I’m especially impressed by the variety of genres represented (including a generous amount of jazz-rock fusion) and the healthy mix of national/international big names (getting Soft Machine is a genuine coup), local favorites and hungry young artists.  See you there?

 

NAO4 Teaser Trailer

NAO
Our last glimpse of real beauty–NAO’s compilation album.

Sam Healy–while complying with Big Euro Brother laws, regulations, and microintrusions–offered a wonderful teaser/trailer for the forthcoming North Atlantic Oscillation album, coming sometime this year.

Granted, it’s only a full-eighteen seconds worth, but it’s eighteen more seconds then we had before. . .

Looking East: Gazpacho’s Soviet Saga

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Gazpacho’s 10th Album, SOYUZ.

Gazpacho, SOYUZ (Kscope 2018).  Tracks: Soyuz One; Hypomania; Exit Suite; Emperor Bespoke; Sky Burial; Fleeting Things; Soyuz Out; and Rappaccini.

To be sure, every release from the Norwegian art rockers extraordinaire, Gazpacho, is not just another moment in a progger’s life, but an actual event—filled with meaning and significance, marked by the awareness and heighten-ness of all five senses.

For those of us in the United States, we wait that extra week for the package from Burning Shed to arrive. Then, we carefully remove the rectangular sticker from Kscope (this one, Kscope607) and, then, the cellophane.  I have the strange habit of collecting every one of these cellophane stickers, placing each within the front or back cover of whatever book I’m reading at the time.  Today, when the mail came, I was re-reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales, Part I.  Hence, the Kscope607 sticker sits nicely behind the front cover.

Opening the booklet releases a smell every bit as satisfying as that of a brand new car.  It’s a bit sweet and a bit pulpy.  And, then, we dive into the pictures and, most importantly, the lyrics.

The only disappointing thing about a Gazpacho release is knowing that the next one is most likely at least two years out. Real art takes time, especially in the northern parts of the world.  I’ve now gone through this ritual exactly 13 times (counting studio, live, and re-releases) since I first purchased NIGHT in 2007.  It’s always healthy, and it’s always inspiring. As much a release as it is an inspiration.

Continue reading “Looking East: Gazpacho’s Soviet Saga”

soundstreamsunday #96: “Huey Newton” by St. Vincent

stvincent1It’s no real surprise that “Huey Newton” is not about Huey Newton but rather the rabbit holes of internet searches and the semi-free association that can result.  St. Vincent’s self-titled fourth album (2014) is full of these tricky ‘scapes, it’s second single, “Digital Witness,” a frugging Beefheartian horn romp through the minefield of social media and probably the catchiest song you’ll ever hear about our accursed blessings.  Annie Clark’s musical and lyrical smarts match the task of knotty commentary, so even as she obliquely declaims she does so riding a wicked beat, multiplexing fluid melodies with giant, nasty riffs shooting distorto-style from her guitar in subtle nods to Hendrix, Fripp/Belew, and other noise monsters of yore.  She is a musical polymath, a pop loving prog rocker with, importantly, a penchant for the editorial process, and as such working with hitmaker Jack Antonoff on her latest record, Masseduction (2017), is a supreme act of sincere irony.  It is a gauntlet waiting to be picked up by the Taylor Swifts of this world, for certainly St. Vincent has no need for the pop audience but, eventually, many of today’s iHeart radio stars may yearn for the legacy Annie Clark has already built.

HueyNewtonLyrics

“Huey Newton” is part cool-down dance nugget and part ZZ Top riff rocker, a product of an Ambien fever dream, where synthesizers are really guitars and basses are really synthesizers.  It all comes off sounding as if it and the entirety of the album was the most exciting of adventures to undertake, a feeling reinforced by a 2014 interview Clark did with Marc Maron, where she acknowledges her guitar skills but seems grateful that she’s “not so masterful that the magic is gone.”  Imagine, that there should be magic and not just mastery, allowing in the dark wilds….  In producer and fellow Texan John Congleton, who also produced Strange Mercy (2011), St. Vincent has an able partner (the ZZ Top reference is for real — Congleton’s a big Top fan).

Two performances of the song here: from the album and from an appearance on Letterman in the wake of the record’s release.  Both are devastating in their way, and recall for me, more than anything, early Roxy Music, with its skewering adoration of pop, the best kind of love letter to the muse.

soundstreamsunday presents one song or live set by an artist each week, and in theory wants to be an infinite linear mix tape where the songs relate and progress as a whole. For the complete playlist, go here: soundstreamsunday archive and playlist, or check related articles by clicking on”soundstreamsunday” in the tags section.

Time Has Shown The Wiser: Fairport Convention at Fifty

It came about this way: I received a 180-gram reissue of Genesis’ Trespass for Christmas. In a documentary on the making of the album Tony Banks said the band’s first truly progressive work had been inspired by listening to groups like The Nice, Family, and Fairport Convention.

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Fairport Convention? I think I once saw a passing reference to “progressive folk” applied to their work, and was familiar with their definitive album, Liege & Leaf — a statement on their growing affinity with the English folk tradition. While Trespass has some folk-inspired moments it’s anachronistic to say Liege influenced Genesis’ 12-string arrangements and composite chords. I went back to Fairport’s debut, Fairport Convention, recorded in November 1967 (man, something about British bands and fall recording sessions) and released in the spring of ’68.

Oh my.

Continue reading “Time Has Shown The Wiser: Fairport Convention at Fifty”

soundstreamsunday: “Closure” by Opeth

Opeth2Turns out the best Swedish death metal band of the 90s and early oughts was listening to those Bert Jansch and Popol Vuh records all along.  And such grooves are not as unrelated to Opeth’s charge as first glance might suggest.  Having spent the better part of a decade determinedly NOT (no, never) dancing around the DADGAD maypole in the relatively quiet interludes of scorching song suites lasting upwards of 20 minutes, Opeth bookended their 2002 LP Deliverance with 2003’s Damnation, and the acoustic drone floodgates opened.  Prog polymath Steven Wilson, who’d helmed the band’s production since 2001’s Blackwater Park, found in Opeth’s singer/guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt a like-minded soul who, after a blistering half-dozen LPs replete with growls, blast beats, and super doom — though never rote, and always smart — needed some wind in the sails.  Unplug, let the mikes breathe a bit, leave the distortion pedals at home, I can imagine part of the conversation going, and so it sounds anyway on the recorded evidence.  Damnation is a masterpiece, a quiet, spacious death metal record, a grim yet lithe prog album, and with that said and with that description, no, it sounds nothing like the Cure, but it may appeal if Disintegration is your cup of tea.  It’s Wilson’s and Akerfeldt’s best and most dramatically pioneering record (although Opeth’s Wilson-less Ghost Reveries, from 2005, is maybe most representative of their work until the band’s real act two began with 2008’s Watershed).

Soon after Damnation‘s release the band took their show to Shepherd’s Bush in London, and there recorded 2004’s live Lamentations DVD, long since a YouTube staple.  Just as “Closure” anchors Damnation, its live cousin fills the same role on Lamentations.  The show is worthwhile to watch in its entirety, as Opeth takes some giant steps, with jazz-touched atmospherics and restrained but potent jams.  The band acknowledges its debts while shrugging off the diehard metal kids who came out for blood (they’d be given their due anyhow in the harder part of the show, and even in the Damnation section it ain’t exactly MTV unplugged).  If there’s a point where Akerfeldt became who he is, it’s on full display here, an artist who, as he appeals to his audience, is confident in his direction.  Just glorious.

soundstreamsunday presents one song or live set by an artist each week, and in theory wants to be an infinite linear mix tape where the songs relate and progress as a whole. For the complete playlist, go here: soundstreamsunday archive and playlist, or check related articles by clicking on”soundstreamsunday” in the tags section.

soundstreamsunday: “Wave” by Beck

BeckWhen Beck walked a talking blues over a sample of Johnny Jenkins’s cover of Dr. John’s “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” for “Loser,” his giant 1994 hit, there was an aesthetic purpose lurking underneath its vibe of off-the-cuff spontaneity that, 25 years later, continues to infuse his work with vitality.  While “Loser” itself is marked by the wild west feel of early 90s indie rock, with all its many faces, Beck’s subsequent work shapes that freedom into something beyond any particular rock and roll era — his catalog reflects possible trajectories across time rather than a simple series of destinations.

Morning Phase, released in 2014, is Beck’s ninth, an “acoustic” record that ran away with a clutch of awards and praise from critics.  All deserved.  He makes a pallet on the floor in support of his considerable vocal power and melodic finesse (things he’s not always interested in showing off), rich strings and rolling rhythms stacked beneath a lyrical prowess speaking of a talent well-nurtured:  if he’s not always successful in his endeavors, Beck is an active creator not inclined to coast.

BeckWaveLyrics

In its length, in its lyrics, “Wave” appears a slight, slip of a thing.  But in its undertow it is a song of deep release, a beautiful orchestration of removal, isolation, perspective; and so reminds me of King Crimson’s Starless and John Wetton’s treating the lyric as if he’s singing an emotionally interior “Jerusalem” — the land falls away, and you are at sea.

soundstreamsunday presents one song or live set by an artist each week, and in theory wants to be an infinite linear mix tape where the songs relate and progress as a whole. For the complete playlist, go here: soundstreamsunday archive and playlist, or check related articles by clicking on”soundstreamsunday” in the tags section.