Legendary progressive rock group Renaissance announced that the band is seeking help in funding the recording of the group’s first studio album in over ten years. The title of the new album is Grandine il Vento.
“We must raise all the monies to pay for the production, promotion and distribution ourselves, since major labels no longer care about the music we make nor most of the music you love,” said Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford.
“We have put together a program on the fundraising website Kickstarter. There you will find a vast array of pledge opportunities with rewards ranging from advance copies of the album to VIP tickets to concerts, original paintings, executive producer credits, home concerts, plus special items from our private memorabilia collections including two historic guitars and the dress Annie wore on BBC’s Top Of The Pops. Every dollar, pound, euro or yen raised will be put to good use.”
Three former members of the legendary Mothers of Invention will be playing a series of selected concerts as The Grandmothers of Invention starting in April 2012. The Grandmothers of Invention recently performed to enthusiastic audiences in Europe and now plan to bring their distinctive blend of musical mayhem to the United States.
The Grandmothers of Invention includes the talents of Mothers of Invention (MOI) / Frank Zappa band members: Napoleon Murphy Brock (MOI member 1974-1984) lead vocals, tenor sax, woodwinds and dancing; special guest Don Preston (MOI member 1966-1974) vocals, keyboards and transformations; Tom Fowler (MOI member 1973-1978) bass and chair dancing; Chris Garcia – drums, percussion, marimba and vocals; Miroslav Tadic – electric guitar (from April 24 thru May 2); Robbie Seahag Mangano – electric guitar (from May 3 thru May 15).
The Grandmothers of Invention promise a night of thorough entertainment, featuring virtuosic playing, bizarre humor and the performance of many Frank Zappa/Mothers beloved compositions; not only re-creating the music as was originally written and produced, but also breathing new life into it as well.
The Grandmothers of Invention will perform such Frank Zappa penned classics as “I Am The Slime”, “Muffin Man”, “Florentine Pogen”, “Andy”, “Trouble Everyday”, “Village Of The Sun” and many more.
“Once again, after all of these years, be able to witness this music performed as it was intended. Total Music Theater,” says Napoleon Murphy Brock
The Grandmothers of Invention tour dates:
Apr-24 – Stubbs – Austin, TX
Apr-26 – Tipitinas @ at French Quarter – New Orleans, LA
Apr-27 – Smith’s – Atlanta, GA
Apr-28 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC
Apr-30 – Ramshead – Annapolis, MD
May-01 – The Hamilton – Washington, DC
May-02 – Infinity Hall – Norfolk, CT
May-03 – Iridium – New York, NY (2 shows)
May-04 – Iridium – New York, NY (2 shows)
May-05 – World Cafe Live – Wilmington, DE
May-06 – Rex Theater – Pittsburgh, PA
May-08 – Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
May-09 – Magic Bag – Detroit, MI
May-10 – Martyrs – Chicago, IL
May-11 – Cedar Cultural Center – Minneapolis, MN
May-12 – Bourbon Theater – Lincoln, NE
May-13 – Denver CO or Boulder CO
May-15 – State Room – Salt Lake City, UT
Farfest is a new progressive rock festival that will focus on 1970s and contemporary 70s-sounding progressive rock bands. The first Farfest will take place at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware on October 4th – 7th, 2012.
The goal of Farfest is to showcase legendary 1970s progressive rock bands that a lot of music fans only dreamed of ever seeing live and bring them all together in one festival. “Since the 70’s era of performing musicians will soon be drawing to a close the time is now for such an event so we offer you this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these classic bands perform,” said Greg Walker, one of the organizers of the festival.
The 7th edition of the Night of the Prog festival is set to take place on July 7th and 8th 2012. The festival includes a mix of progressive rock, AOR and heavy metal bands (prog metal). Night of the Prog is staged at Loreley (Germany), a UNESCO world heritage site, which has one of the most outstanding open air amphitheaters in Europe, high above the river Rhine.
The line-up this year includes Frequency Drift, Enochian Theory, Hasse Fröberg & The Musical Companion, Airbag, Lazuli, Sylvan, Haken, The Flower Kings, Arena, Spock´s Beard, Steve Hackett, Saga and Katatonia. 12 of 13 bands are confirmed.
The highlights of the past 6 years have been the appearances of Eloy, Fish, Asia, Jethro Tull, Roger Hodgson, Steve Hackett, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Marillion.
“The tradition to supply a stage for young and emergent bands is one of our major tasks,” says Winfried Völklein of WiV Entertainment GmbH. “To give them the chance to play in front of thousands of people will definitely help to create a career.”
Keyboardist and composer Lisa LaRue is one of the great revelations in recent months in the progressive rock arena. Her new album Fast And Blue reveals one of the rising talents in the symphonic progressive rock category.
Fast And Blue is primarily instrumental and Lisa LaRue has assembled an impressive cast of musicians. Her band comprises herself on keyboards, Steve Adams of the prog duo ARZ on guitars and bass, and Merrill Hale, the other component of ARZ, on drums. Guests include Don Schiff on NS stick, John Payne (Asia) on vocals, cellist Mike Alvarez, guitarist Mitch Perry (Edgar Winter Group, MSG, Cher and more), vocalist Michael Sadler (Saga), keyboardist Ryo Okumoto (Spock’s Beard and GPS) and backing vocalist Maxi Nil (Visions of Atlantis).
The epic ‘Prometheus’ (track 2) is one of the highlights, a 17:58 mini-symphony that weaves virtuoso keyboard work by LaRue, outstanding guitar creation and a potent rhythm section with orchestral percussion.
The epic is followed by another gem, a delightful neoclassical acoustic piece titled ‘Tryptych’ which is based on the sound of superb acoustic guitars, masterful cello and dreamy reverberating piano.
Track 4, ‘Jam Jehan Nima’ is the second longest piece. It begins with soaring electric guitars, rich symphonic keyboard harmonies and captivating synth solos that lead into an exploratory section and mesmerizing Benedictine chant. However, close to the end of the composition, the music enters hard rock territory. I don’t think hard rock or heavy metal belongs in progressive rock and LaRue could have gone in a more interesting direction.
Things get back to solid progressive rock on ‘Lament of the Cherokee/Ruins of Home.’ The piece has two parts. The first section is a spoken word tribute to the Cherokee tribe. Lisa LaRue has Cherokee heritage and is an enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, which are descendants of the North Carolina natives that were sent to Oklahoma. The second part of the composition is purely instrumental with state of the art prog rock featuring outstanding intertwining guitar work.
‘Fast and Blue’ (track 6) features vocals by John Payne. They are good rock vocals, but better suited for hard rock or AOR. It’s probably the most radio friendly song and therefore, the least interesting.
The album concludes with ‘Recurring Dream’. The song begins with a great keyboard introduction, although brief, that leads into another unimpressive vocal piece.
Keyboardist and composer Lisa LaRue has recorded an impressive album, rich in detail. She shows tremendous potential in the progressive rock genre and I look forward to hearing more of her work.
South African drummer Cedric Sharpley died from a heart attack on March 13th, 2012. Cedric Sharpley was the drummer for Druid, a 1970s progressive rock band from the UK that was influenced by Yes. He later joined Tubeway Army, the group led by electropop pioneer Gary Numan.
Cedric Sharpley was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1952. He moved to the UK and settled in Hertfordshire during the 1960s. He formed progressive rock band Druid with bassist Neil Brewer, singer and guitarist Dane Stevens, and keyboardist Andrew McCrorie Shand. Druid released two albums on EMI: Toward The Sun (1975) and Fluid Druid (1976).
Druid disbanded in the mid-1970s. Cedric Sharpley joined Tubeway Army and played drums on Gary Numan’s “Cars.” He performed with Numan from 1979 to 1992. After Tubeway Army disbanded, Sharpley, synthesist Chris Payne, guitarist Russell Bell and keyboard-player Denis Haines, formed synthpop band Dramatis.
Madrid-based symphonic progressive rock band Kotebel has released a new album titled Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble. Kotebel’s current line-up includes Carlos Franco Vivas on drums and percussion; César Garcia Forero on guitars; Jaime Pascual Summers on bass; Adriana Nathalie Plaza Engelke on keyboards; and Carlos Guillermo Plaza Vegas on keyboards.
Kotebel has released 5 albums since 2000, including the much-admired ‘Omphalos.’ The main body of Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble is formed by the four movements that comprise the ‘Concerto for Piano. There are four additional pieces on the album that are based on conceptual elements.
Kotebel’s music is an approachable amalgam of avant-garde symphonic rock influenced by classical music, jazz and world music.
Composer and keyboardist Carlos Plaza reveals details about Kotebel and its new album Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble in this interview with Progressive Rock Central.
Tell us a little about the origin of Kotebel?
Kotebel was born at the end of the nineties. Originally it was meant to be a studio project, and the aim was to enrich my language as a composer with resources from rock, jazz, etc. During most of the nineties I wrote chamber music, with a language heavily based in an impressionist language, also influenced by 20th century composers like Ginastera, Stravinsky or Rachmaninov.
After releasing “Fragments of Light” in 2003, I was invited to participate in BajaProg 2004. I assembled some musicians that participated in previous albums and newcomers like Jaime Pascual with the idea to do a unique set of concerts, ending with the one in BajaProg. The experience led to the concept of Kotebel as a band, and it has evolved until its current configuration as an instrumental quintet. So you can divide Kotebel in two distinct phases: the first three albums as a personal studio project, and the last three as a band.
“Omphalos” was the only album with the configuration that we presented in BajaProg (7 members – including flute and voice) and the last two: “Ouroboros” and “Concerto”, as the stable configuration that we have enjoyed since the end of 2007.
What is the meaning of the band’s name, Kotebel?
Kotebel is a word made up by my daughter Adriana when she was about 3 years old. She used that word to refer to any language other than Spanish. Back then I had some British colleagues and when she heard us speaking in English, she would say that we were speaking in “Kotebel”. When I had the idea to create the project, this word came instantly to my mind and I never hesitated. Later, I realized it was a great idea to use a new word because it is very easy to find references in the Internet. Except for minor references to a region in Ukraine (Koktebel), all search engines point to us.
Some have described Kotebel as Venezuelan-Spanish. What is the Venezuelan connection?
I was born in Venezuela and moved to Spain 22 years ago. In fact, I come from a family with a long musical tradition in Venezuela. My father was also a composer and dedicated a fair part of his life teaching several generations of musicians. Carlos Franco is also Venezuelan and my daughter, despite the fact that she was born in Madrid, has close ties to Venezuela since most of our family is still there. From a musical point of view, there are many references to Venezuelan folklore; in some cases very explicit (the piece ‘Joropo’ in “Omphalos” is based on a Venezuelan rhythm in 3/8) and in others (many) is hidden in our music. For example, Carlos Franco, who is a percussionist expert in Venezuelan music, incorporates many references to local rhythmic patterns.
This thing about Kotebel being Venezuelan or Spanish (or both) has been raised in other occasions and has created some controversy. I think Kotebel’s language is rather universal because my musical language is heavily based in universal classical composers, or the classic 70’s prog bands; many of them from the UK, but others from Italy or the US. So it doesn’t make too much sense to argue where Kotebel is from. It is nothing more than occidental contemporary Art-Music.
What kind of musical training do the band members have?
Carlos Franco is a classically trained percussionist who started working in classical orchestras and worked his way into jazz, world music and later into rock (basically my fault I guess…). Adriana has been studying music since she was three; in fact, she learned to distinguish notes in a score before learning how to read. She completed her intermediate classical studies in piano (10 years) at the age of 17 and is now studying contemporary music and jazz in Madrid.
Both César and Jaime have gone through formal studies to some extent, but they are in essence self-taught musicians. In my case, I started learning music very young and was fortunate to have a great teacher at home. I continued my musical studies (piano, theory, harmony, etc.) until I graduated from college at the age of 23. When I moved to Spain I had the privilege of studying composition with Román Alis, an excellent Spanish classical composer who died a few years ago.
Tell us a little about the members of the band.
Carlos Franco is an accomplished percussionist who also plays the drums. That explains his fresh approach to drumming; sometimes he sounds as a jazz drummer, sometimes as an African or rather Afro-Venezuelan percussionist. His playing style reminds me a lot of [Bill] Bruford.
Jaime Pascual is a precision engine; he works in other projects much denser and harsher than Kotebel. Jaime is very talented and creative; his ideas always come to enrich my initial arrangements (well, this can be said for all Kotebel members).
César is an amazing guitar player, and very versatile. I was impressed to see how he was able to stand up to the challenge of combining electric, acoustic and Spanish guitar in the Piano Concerto. He is also a very talented composer and has contributed many fine songs in several Kotebel albums.
Adriana joined Kotebel when she was 16 and, already then, she had achieved a level as a performer that I would never reach. I wrote the Piano Concerto, but would not be able to play it like she does. She feels at ease in front of a stage piano or a synthesizer and her ability to engage tightly, even in very complex passages, is simply amazing. She belongs to that privileged group of musicians that make you think that what they are playing is easy because it looks and sounds effortless. And… sharing the stage with my daughter is an indescribable feeling.
How did Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble come about?
From the very beginning when I created Kotebel, I had the clear objective of merging my experience as a classical and rock musician. I felt that there was still a lot to be done in terms of combining elements of both, so that the end result was more than the mere sum of its parts. The Pentacle Suite, Ouroboros (Theme and Variations) and many other pieces are rock animals with a “classical” or “academic” soul if I can put it that way. You can take most songs and see that the way themes and motifs are presented and developed, is very classical. Also, many resources used in classical composition like anticipation, reduction, augmentations, mirroring, etc., are used.
There is no difference in my approach to writing a piece for Kotebel or a classical piece for a chamber configuration. So the “Concerto” is a natural consequence of many years’ effort. I think that the Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble is the piece where I have been able to take that integration to its highest level. I had been entertaining the idea of writing a Piano Concerto for several years, but it wasn’t until after releasing “Ouroboros” that I felt properly equipped for this task. It is the most demanding piece I have ever written.
I want to take this opportunity to clarify something that has been pointed out by some reviewers and musicians that have already given me some feedback on the album. Some feel that the album should have ended on the 4th movement because the rest of the pieces in the album are entirely another “breed”. Well, I was happy to hear that because it was exactly my intention. I wanted the rest of the album to act as a counterbalance to the more “academic” or “dense” ideas presented in the Concerto. In addition, I wanted to write some songs under a “less is more” approach; in other words, see how far could I go keeping things as simple as possible. In that respect, I think The Flight of The Hippogriff part II stands out. Also, it is not an accident that there is no acoustic piano in the rest of the pieces (except the Bonus track). So, if you feel like listening to a more “rockish” and “direct” Kotebel, you can start listening to the album from track 5 onwards. It’s like two albums in one.
Who can you cite as Kotebel’s main musical influences?
That’s a difficult question because the sources are diverse. From my perspective, you have to combine classical composers like Ravel or Ginastera or Messiaen, with rock composers ranging from [Keith] Emerson and [Tony] Banks to Daniel Denis (Univers Zero). Carlos Franco incorporates jazz, Venezuelan folkloric music. Adriana is a lot into film music and jazz. Jaime and Cesar are both living music encyclopedias. When they start talking about musicians and bands, I cannot recognize more than half of the names…. What I can say is that all of us know and appreciate progressive rock very well.
How does the composition process work?
All of Kotebel compositions have been written by César or by me. The process is similar: we write the music using a sequencer as the main tool and we create a MIDI template. We distribute the parts to each musician so they can become acquainted with the piece and the proposed arrangement. When we get together, we have already studied our parts and are ready to suggest changes or directly start assembling the piece. In my case, I usually accept what they suggest because they are extremely talented musicians. In short, César or I write the music, and the arrangements are more of a collective effort. What we have never done (definitely due to my academic background and also lack of time) is to write together based on fragments or ideas from different band members.
Where does Kotebel get inspiration from?
You can see from the themes in the different albums, that my inspiration sources are very diverse; however, there is one that stands out: poems written by Nathalye, my wife. They have been a constant source of inspiration, even before Kotebel. I have many songs for voice and piano and even instrumental music, based on her poems. She is responsible for the lyrics in “Fragments of Light” and “Omphalos”. In some cases, they were pre-existing poems; in other cases, she wrote the poem with a specific song in mind.
Some pieces are based in Western philosophical / spiritual works like “Mysticae Visiones”, others from Eastern sources (e.g. “Dance of Shiva”). Some are derived from Magic and Alchemy like the “Pentacle Suite”, or other sources like Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings which is the source of all creatures represented in the album “Ouroboros” or the “Flight of the Hippogriff”. Of course, there are also pieces of “pure” music, with no extra-musical relationship. The best example is the Piano Concerto.
Tell us about your first recordings.
From “Structures” until “Fragments of Light”, Kotebel was still a personal project. In these albums I played the drums and bass in addition to the keyboards and had different musicians invited as guests. They were recorded in my project studio, with very limited resources; however, if you look at them from the right perspective, they had to be exactly as they turned out to be in order to follow the path that led to the second phase of Kotebel as a band. I wish I had Carlos Franco and Jaime Pascual back then, and in fact I have the project of releasing a revised version of “Mysticae Visiones”.
How’s the progressive rock scene in Madrid and Spain in general?
Art-Music in general suffers in Spain from lack of support from the media and the public sector. I know this is the case everywhere, but in Spain the situation is particularly acute. It is not easy to find alternative proposals; consumption of commercial music is massive… This scenario of course is not adequate for the proliferation of progressive rock. However, there are excellent bands trying to make their way and we try to help each other out.
Nathalye and I organized 2 very successful editions of Madrid Art Music Festival in 2008 and 2009, with bands like After Crying, Trettioariga Kriget and renowned musicians like Jerry Marotta, who played with the Argentinean stick player Guillermo Cides. We also had the pleasure of presenting the Spanish band Galadriel, who had not played live for quite some years. We plan to continue organizing the festival, but we are waiting for the economic conditions to improve.
Are you full time musicians?
As most progressive rock bands, we do not make a living out of our activity in Art-Music. Carlos and Adriana are music teachers but this is only a part-time activity.
The positive side of this situation is that we do not have to compromise our music due to economic concerns. We do the type of music that we want to do, play where we like and go at the pace we feel comfortable. Even though the live aspect is important and we enjoy it very much, to me the essential aspect of what we do is what we leave behind in terms of recorded material.
If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with whom would that be?
I hope we can continue to work with bands similar to the ones with whom we have worked in the past and have become dear friends. Among others; After Crying, Koenjihyakkei and other Japanese bands (KBB, Baraka, Interpose+), the French band Yang (ex-Shylock, ex-Philarmonie) and fabulous Spanish bands like Senogul or October Equus. I’m in talks with several British, Italian and Belgian bands in order to do some collaboration, but this is in a very early stage so I cannot disclose names yet.
Do you have any plan to take Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble on the road?
We have confirmed concerts in Madrid (June 30th and July 12th), Austria (August 8th) and two additional concerts in Madrid in September and October. Depending on current conversations, we might add additional concerts in other Spanish cities, and the UK before the end of the year. The best way to stay updated on our live calendar and other relevant Kotebel news, is to join our Fans List at kotebel.com
Are you working on other projects?
We are still not working in new material for a next album. Our next important project is a 2-hour concert that we will do in Madrid at the end of October, with the intention of releasing our first live DVD. The concert will include a full rendition of the Piano Concerto, as well as material from our previous albums. Also, as I mentioned earlier, I want to work on a revised version of “Mysticae Visiones”. The idea is to re-record drums and basses but I want to preserve all the other original tracks. I also plan to recover some of the songs in the first few albums, and record them live with new arrangements. So we plan to still keep quite busy….
Esoteric Antenna confirmed the release of the eagerly anticipated album by Squackett, the cooperative project between two well-known Progressive Rock musicians, Yes bassist Chris Squire and former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. The album is scheduled for release on May 28th, 2012
The two British musicians got together when Chris Squire was recording a solo album and needed some guitar sections. Chris Squire was put in touch with Steve Hackett and during these sessions the project for Squackett was born.
“Squackett” developed throughout four years. “It was very much about a bunch of pals swapping notes and anecdotes,” says Hackett “I would say if people are looking for uncountable time signatures, in the main that’s not what this album holds. I think the songs are more simple and direct.”
“It has a flavor to it that is reminiscent of a few things from different artists,” says Squire. “There is some clever prog rock stuff in there, some jazzy bits but there are parts that have vocal harmonies like Crosby, Stills and Nash.”
Chris Squire has appeared on every Yes album and is widely respected bass player. Now an established solo artist, Steve Hackett first came to fame as the guitarist with Genesis. He was in Genesis during its progressive rock stage, from 1970 to 1977 and played on six studio albums and three live albums before leaving to concentrate on his solo career.
The album will be released in Standard CD – EANTCD 1002, Limited and Numbered Vinyl Edition – EANTLP 1002, Limited Edition 2 Disc Deluxe Edition (with hardback cover & 5.1 surround bonus disc) – EANTCD 2002.
On April 21st the band will release a limited edition 7″ vinyl single to tie in with International Record Store Day. The single will be “Sea of Smiles” (single edit) b/w “Perfect Love Song” and Cat number is EANTS 1001.
Ian Anderson, known throughout the world as the flute and voice behind the legendary folk-rooted progressive rock band Jethro Tull, will perform at the Durham Performing Arts Center, DPAC, North Carolina, on September 29, 2012.
In April, Anderson will release Thick as a Brick 2, a newly-recorded sequel to Jethro Tull’s seminal 1972 album Thick as a Brick, followed by a solo tour that will feature him performing both the original album and its new sequel back-to-back live in their entirety.
Jethro Tull’s progressive rock era peaked with 1972’s Thick As A Brick, a 45-minute continuous piece of music charting the difficulties of a child growing up and confronting a frightening and unfair world. The album was a worldwide success, including a Number 1 spot on the Billboard chart.
Forty years later, Ian’s new sequel has very deliberately echoed the feel of the 1972 album by using many of the same instruments, including a lot of acoustic guitar and Hammond organ, and to a large extent recording the continuous 53-minute piece of music with the band all playing live together. In Ian’s words: “The theme of this anniversary ‘part two’ album is to examine the possible different paths that the precocious young schoolboy, Gerald Bostock, might have taken later in life.”
Tickets are available at:
Online at DPACnc.com
DPAC Ticket Center: 919.680.2787, 123 Vivian Street, Durham, NC
Ticketmaster.com / Ticketmaster Charge by phone at 800.745.3000
Ticketmaster outlets including Crabtree Valley Mall
“Dawn of the Dead” is the title of an In-depth documentary about the legendary psychedelic band The Grateful Dead. In the mid-1960s a new type on contemporary rock music emerged out of San Francisco (California). Known as ‘psychedelia’, it was pioneered by a close-knit community of local bands who merged traditional American forms such as folk, country, blues and rock & roll with new sounds often developed under the influence of psychedelic drugs. Bound up with the social and cultural changes for which San Francisco was also the focal point, it was a combination that made for a radical re-imaging of youth culture.
Dawn of the Dead follows the movements, events and sounds of those heady days, and traces the story of the definitive band of the psychedelic age, The Grateful Dead. Giving time too for the involvement of San Francisco’s other lead players such as Big Brother & The Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, The Charlatans and Quicksilver Messenger Service, the program explores what it was that, for a while, turned San Francisco into a 1960s Shangri-La.
The film includes brand new interviews with Grateful Dread manager Rock Scully; the Dead’s experimental professor, Tom ‘T.C.’ Constanten; Big Brother’s Peter Albin; Mike Willlhelm from The Charlatans; publicist and official Dead biographer, Dennis McNally; Counter-Culture and Dead author and journalist (and host of ‘The Grateful Dead Hour’), David Gans; Merry Prankster and best friend of the late Ken Kesey, Ken Babbs, plus comment, criticism and review from Rolling Stone’s Anthony De Curtis, Village Voice’s Robert Christgau and Mojo’s Ritchie Unterberger.
Also including the rarest archive in existence, live and studio footage of Grateful Dead and the other San Francisco bands, vintage interviews, location shoots, news reports plus the music that soundtracked the entire movement, which all together make for the most detailed overview yet of the social upheaval on America’s West Coast which ultimately changed the world forever.
Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond