Fusion Guitar Maestro Allan Holdsworth To Begin European Tour in May 2012

Allan Holdsworth Band
Renowned British guitarist Allan Holdsworth will be touring Europe in may 2012. The legendary fusion musician will be performing at festivals in Norway, top venues in Berlin, Hamburg, Milano, Zurich, and France. The Allan Holdsworth Band will feature drummer Virgil Donati and bassist Jimmy Haslip.

The support act for the tour will be solo acoustic instrumental fingerstyle guitarist eff Aug who just completed a 9-country tour in 24 hours.

Tour dates

04.05.2012 DE-Berlin, Quasimodo*

05.05.2012 DE-Halle, Objekt5*

06.05.2012 DE-Hamburg, Fabrik*

07.05.2012 DE-Hannover, Jazz Club

10.05.2012 NO-Trondheim, Jazzfest

12.05.2012 NO-Stavanger, MaiJazz*

15.05.2012 DE-Kassel, Schlachthof*

16.05.2012 NL-Amstelveen, P60*

17.05.2012 DE-Leverkusen, Scala*

18.05.2012 NL-Tilburg, Paradox*

19.05.2012 FR-Paris, Sunset – Sunside* (8pm & 10pm)

20.05.2012 FR-Paris, Sunset – Sunside* (7pm & 9pm)

21.05.2012 DE-Karlsruhe, Tollhaus*

22.05.2012 CH-Basel, Grand Casino*

23.05.2012 IT-Milan, Accademia del Suono (Virgil Donati Masterclass)

23.05.2012 IT-Milan, Salumeria della Musica*

24.05.2012 CH-Lugano, Sala Metrò (Virgil Donati Masterclass)

25.05.2012 CH-Zürich, Moods*

26.05.2012 DE-Aschaffenburg, Colo-saal*

*Support: Jeff Aug

Progressive Rock Bands Beardfish and The Tea Club to Perform in Boston

The Tea Club
New England Art (Progressive) Rock Society (NewEARS) announced that progressive rock bands Beardfish (Sweden) and The Tea Club (United States of America) will be performing at The Magic Room in Brighton (Boston) on May 17th.

The Tea Club is based in New Jersey. The band includes Patrick McGowan, Dan McGowan, Becky Osenenko, Charles Batdorf, and Joe Rizzolo. They perform epic pieces, inspired by the early progressive rock classics of the 1970s. The Tea Club also incorporates elements of post-rock, alternative rock, and space rock. The group has released two albums General Winter’s Secret Museum (2008) and Rabbit (2010). Their third album is scheduled to be released in the Summer of 2012.

Beardfish is a Swedish progressive rock group founded in 2001 by vocalist Rikard Sjoblom and guitarist David Zacrisson. Drummer Magnus Ostgren and bass player Robert Hansen soon followed making up their current lineup. Beardfish’s sound is reminiscent of the great progressive rock bands from the past, with visible nods to Frank Zappa and Gentle Giant. Beardfish produced two independently released albums then were signed by Inside Out Music, where they released Sleeping in Traffic Pts 1 and 2, followed by Destined Solitude and their most current release, Mammoth. They are currently in the studio working on a new album to be released in 2012.

Beardfish is scheduled to perform at Terra Incognita festival in Canada on the weekend of May 19th/20th, 2012. They will also perform in Baltimore at Orion Studios and in New Jersey as part the NJ Proghouse progressive music series.

Tickets for the Boston Show www.newears.org

The Magic Room
155 North Beacon Street
Brighton Massachusetts
limited seating

The Legendary Van Der Graaf Generator to Perform in Boston in June 2012

Van Der Graaf Generator
New England Art (Progressive) Rock Society (NewEARS) announced that influential British progressive rock group Van Der Graaf Generator will be playing at Regent Theatre in Arlington (Boston) on June 28th 2012.

Van Der Graaf Generator was one of the most important exponents of British progressive rock in the early 1970s. Essential albums include H to He, Who Am the Only One, Pawn Hearts, Godbluff, Still Life and World Record.

The current Van Der Graaf Generator line-up includes three members of the band’s classic line-up Peter Hammill on guitar, keyboards and vocals, Hugh Banton on organ, bass pedals and bass guitar; and Guy Evans on drums.

The first recording by the Van Der Graaf Generator trio was Trisector, which came out in 2008. A Grounding in Numbers was released in 2011.

Van Der Graaf Generator
Regent Theatre
7 Medford St
Arlington, Boston MA 02474
Tel: 781-646-4849
Web: www.regenttheatre.com

My River Flows

IZZ - My River Flows

My River Flows (Doone Records, 2005)

IZZ’s fourth album, My River Flows, shows a mature, skilled and cohesive band. The album begins with ‘My River Flows’ a hard rocking pieces that is probably the least interesting. Paul Bremner, who is an excellent guitarist, needlessly saturates the piece with hard rock riffs.

After hearing another hard rock intro, I was afraid that ‘Late Night Salvation’ was going to go in the same direction as ‘My River Flows.’ Thankfully, ‘Late Night Salvation’ is an excellent piece with a truly spectacular long electric guitar solo by Paul Bremner, an equally excellent drum performance by Greg DiMiceli and a masterful closing synthesizer solo by Tom Galgano.

As in previous albums, IZZ incorporates ear catching pop hooks. This is the case of ‘Rose Colored Lenses’ which begins in very pop mode and ends with another of those fabulous, but too short synth solos by Tom Galgano.

‘Deception’ features a synthesizer melody that would make Kit Watkins proud. And for the first time in the album, Laura Meade’s outstanding vocals get to have a leading role. In the finest symphonic rock tradition, ‘Deception’ ends with a mellotron and guitar grand finale.

In addition to the progressive rock masters, The Beatles is one of the main inspirations of the band. The first part of ‘Crossfire’ could be best described as Beatles with mellotron and Chris Squire-style bass. The lengthy piece later morphs into Yes-influenced sounds.

The Beatles’ aura refuses to go and continues in ‘Anything I Can Dream.’ The song is followed by an acoustic guitar-fueled lullaby titled ‘Abby’s Song.’

The core of the album is the final track, ‘Deafening Silence,’ a 21-minute masterpiece. This well-conceived composition contains the various elements that make progressive rock great: a mesmerizing introduction, captivating instrumental passages and arrangements, dreamy and intense moments, outstanding vocal work, and a climactic conclusion.

The line-up on My River Flows includes Tom Galgano on keyboards, lead vocals; John Galgano on bass, guitar, keyboards, lead and backing vocals; Paul Bremner on lead guitar; Brian Coralian on electronic and acoustic drums and percussion, programming; Greg DiMiceli on acoustic drums and percussion; Anmarie Byrnes on vocals; and Laura Meade on vocals.

Overall, My River Flows is an impressive recording by IZZ, one of the finest progressive rock acts in the United States. IZZ features skilled instrumentalists and three of the best vocalists in the current progressive rock genre.

Italian Band Accordo Dei Contrari Added to ProgDay 2012 Program

Accordo Dei Contrari
ProgDay announced that Italian progressive rock band Accordo Dei Contrari will be performing at the 2012 edition. This will be first performance by Accordo Dei Contrari in the United States.

Formed in 2001, Accordo Dei Contrari set out to create original instrumental music with influences ranging from fusion and symphonic progressive rock to jazz and 20th century classical music. After much work, they released “Kinesis” in 2007. “Kublai” followed in 2011.

Accordo Dei Contrari will join American avant-garde band Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic at ProgDay 2012. This year marks the 18th edition of the longest running progressive rock festival in the world. ProgDay 2012 will take place on Saturday, September 1st, and Sunday, September 2nd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, near Durham and Raleigh.

For more information go to www.progday.net.

Focus Begins Low Countries Tour

Back from its successful South American tour, legendary progressive rock band Focus has announced its spring 2012 Dutch and Belgian tour.

The current Focus line-up includes founder Thijs van Leer on keyboards, flute and vocals and Pierre van der Linden on drums together with new members Menno Gootjes on guitar and Bobby Jacobs on bass.

Focus has a new DVD titled “More or Less…” Also available on DVD: ‘Live Beyond Reality,’ a live show including ‘Beyond Reality’ album in its entirety.

The group’s latest recording is Focus 9 / New Skin.

Tour dates

April 07
Bosuil NL

April 11
Spirit of 66 BE

April 15
Gigant NL

April 20
Podium de Kelder NL

April 21
De Roma BE

April 22
Perron 55 NL

May 05
Bevrijdingsfestival NL

King Crimson to Release Two Boxed Set Bundle for Record Store Day

early King Crimson
Legendary progressive rock band King Crimson is set to release a special bundle for Record Store Day, the special event that celebrates the distinctive culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the United States and hundreds of comparable stores internationally. Record Store Day is scheduled for April 21st, 2012.

The King Crimson 21st Century Bundle features two King Crimson box sets, with a total of 100 tracks recorded live and in studio, covering 1969-2003. The exclusive package includes a Record Store Day t-shirt. Each box includes 4 CDs, with a total of 8 CDs for a great price.

Buy the special bundle:

Four on the Floor

Secret Saucer - Four on the Floor
Secret Saucer

Four on the Floor (Secret Saucer SFS004, 2011)

For its most recent album, space rock band Secret Saucer decided to make more cohesive pieces. Their outstanding blend of synths and guitar is still there, but the compositions are a little shorter and the band throws in a few surprises and interesting twists.

After a very brief introduction, the album opens with ‘Time Spent Out Of Mind,’ a fast paced guitar-led piece with a drum beat that borders on rockabilly. I envision this track used in a Robert Rodriguez film.

The rhythm slows down considerably in ‘Lunar Pull’, a trance-like mesmerizing song with robotized vocals and superb solo synthesizer and guitar interplay.

On ‘Daedal’ the band goes into jam rock fashion, incorporating Middle Eastern influenced guitars dueling with the synthesizers.

Next comes a delicate song with regular vocals, a rarity in Secret Saucer, which is known for its instrumental pieces. ‘Awaken’ features a mix of acoustic guitars and delightful synthesizers.

As the title indicates, ‘The Dark Rift’ has a darker ambiance, with dense atmospheres inspired by early Tangerine Dream.

‘Celestial Spigot’ could be best described as space rock meets Canterbury. Guest saxophonist Greg Klucher jams with the band, adding a tasty jazz element that brings the overall sound close to the great Canterbury-style progressive rock.

The dreamlike ‘Four On The Floor’ features wailing guitars and intricate mellotron and synths. The keyboard work at times is reminiscent of the great French space rock band Pulsar.

‘Aegean Bridge’ has more of a rock feel, blending guitar riffs with synth solos and bubbly sounds.

The short piece ‘Notch’ takes the band into deep space territory, with drones and atmospheres. It’s an appropriate prequel to the last cut on the album, Secret Saucer’s rendition of the early Pink Floyd classic ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets.’ It’s a fine tribute to the late Richard Wright, Pink Floyd’s keyboard player.

The line-up on this album includes Ted Boburka on drums and synthesizers; Steve Hayes on synthesizers; Dave Hess on synthesizers and glissando guitar; Billy Spear on bass; Dan Schnell on guitar and synthesizers; Greg Kozlowski on guitar, synthesizers. They are joined by special guests Nick Riff on guitar and Greg Klucher on saxophone.

Four on the Floor is another winner by Secret Saucer, one of the finest purveyors of progressive space rock in the current musical scene.

Beyond the Shrouded Horizon

Steve Hackett - Beyond the Shrouded Horizon
Steve Hackett

Beyond the Shrouded Horizon (Inside Out Music, 2011)

Of all the former Genesis musicians, guitarist Steve Hackett is the one that has foremost kept the progressive rock torch alive. Throughout his solo career, Hackett has explored various musical genres, including progressive rock, classical, blues-rock, pop and folk. Beyond the Shrouded Horizon brings together all of these genres influences, although the pop influences are thankfully minimal.

Steve Hackett is one of the finest guitarists in the progressive rock arena. As such, Beyond the Shrouded Horizon treats the listener to an excellent collection of solos and beautiful melodies performed on a variety of electric and acoustic guitars, using different techniques, such as his magnificent slide guitar style.

The album opens with a couple of rockers with heavy drums. Thankfully it’s not heavy metal. On ‘Loch Lomond’ Hackett easily moves between rock and Scottish folk music, from electric to acoustic guitars. ‘The Phoenix Flown’ is an electric guitar instrumental, where Hackett shows at times that he can shred as well as any of today’s top electric guitar players.

On track 3, ‘Wanderlust,’ Hackets performs one of his short but exquisite acoustic pieces. It segues into ‘Til’ These Eyes’ a song featuring acoustic guitars and delicate symphonic arrangements.

‘Prairie Angel’ begins as an anthemic instrumental (bass) with electric guitar that begins in progressive rock style and soon morphs into a heavy blues-rock piece.

Next comes ‘A Place Called Freedom’, where Hackett incorporates his beautiful Genesis-era acoustic guitar arpeggios, fabulous electric guitar solos and symphonic arrangements.

‘Between the Sunset and the Coconut Palms’ has a nostalgic feel. It is followed by ‘Waking to Life,’ a pop piece with some world music elements.

‘Two Faces of Cairo’ is one of the best cuts on the album. It’s a captivating and energetic progressive rock piece with superb Arabic inspired electric guitar.

Next comes a ballad titled ‘Looking for Fantasy.’ It’s followed by another signature acoustic guitar gem titled ‘Summer’s Breath.’

Blues-rock returns with the rocker ‘Catwalk.’ The album ends with the longest piece on the album, titled ‘Turn This Island Earth.’ One would think that this is the usual epic many progressive rock artists feature in their albums. However, it’s a collage of various styles and not a grand finale. The suite has variety of moods that includes ominous symphonic parts, pop sections, and hard rockin’ guitar.

Beyond the Shrouded Horizon is a cinematic collection of new pieces, spanning various genres, by one of the UK’s finest rock guitarists, who showcases his talent and skill as a versatile guitarist.

Video of the Week: If by Happy The Man’s Stanley Whitaker and Six Elements

Six Elements
This week’s video is a progressive rock version of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If “. This is one of the leading tracks of the concept album Primary Elements by the symphonic rock band Six Elements. If features vocals by Stanley Whitaker (Happy The Man, Oblivion Sun).

“If our bodies are what we eat, then our hearts and souls are what we watch, listen to, and read,” says Six Elements’ composer, lyricist and keyboardist Misha Shengaout.

Six Elements is an Atlanta-based progressive rock band. It was founded in 2007 by keyboardist Michael (Misha) Shengaout, whose vision was to craft conceptual music combining profound, inspiring lyrics (like Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If”) with arrangements in the tradition of Russian Romantic composers. Misha spent the following two years composing material for Six Elements’ first album.

Misha met guitarist Jeff McGahren in 2009. They hit it off, co-wrote two songs for the album, and spent the next year developing arrangements for their first album. In mid-2010, bassist Dave DeMarco (Crack The Sky, Oblivion Sun) and drummer Marc Norgaard signed on for the recording sessions. It was Dave who introduced Misha to vocalist Stanley Whitaker (Happy the Man, Oblivion Sun), ultimately completing the three-member band.

Misha describes its sound as heavily influenced by the Peter Gabriel era of Genesis: “Their music helped shape our vocals and some of our guitar. You’ll also hear the influence of Pink Floyd in some of our guitar solos. The clarinet and flute in the music might remind you of Russian Romantic composers (think Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky).”

Shengaout adds: “Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” has inspired millions of hearts and souls (including mine), capturing the ideal of human character in just 32 short lines. Our ideals make us who we are, which is why this poem should be shouted from every rooftop, and absorbed by our senses in every possible way.“

    IF you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;

    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
    If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

    If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;

    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;

    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    ‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
    if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;

    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond