I apologize to my readers for having neglected my blog once again, but my ‘official’ reviewing job has kept me very busy, and then there have been some distractions – such as the wonderful event mentioned in the title of this post.
Last year (my first year in the USA) we had toyed with the idea of heading down to North Carolina for ProgDay, since one of our favourite new bands – New Jersey’s 3rd Degree – were on the bill, and the whole of the lineup was very interesting to say the least. On the other hand, the heat and humidity often prevalent in the area at this time of year discouraged us. Neither of us is a hot weather person, and my husband (who used to live in that part of the country) had to cut short his participation to ProgDay 2006 because of heat exhaustion. However, this year our concerns proved to be unfounded, as the weather this past Labour Day weekend was nothing short of perfect – cool in the morning and evening, pleasantly breezy, and not at all humid – perfect for spending two days in a beautiful outdoor space ringed by lush woods, with grass as soft as a carpet.
I will present my impressions of the event in a more professional manner in the review I am writing for the ProgressoR website. This is just a taster for all of you who were there, and for those who are curious about the longest-running progressive rock festival in the world, but have never had the pleasure of attending it. Suffice it to say that we had a thoroughly wonderful time, feeling part of a small but stalwart community of people for whom music is much more than something to be consumed quickly like a Big Mac, or just left to run in the background when doing something else.
Besides the great music (this year’s lineup was way better than those offered by both the ‘big’ North-Eastern prog festivals), the highlight of the event was meeting so many great people, some of whom had been our ‘virtual’ friends for many months. On Saturday we spent a fantastic evening in the company of the Mars Hollow guys, who on the following day proceeded to rock the ‘house’ down with their perfectly honed blend of classic prog, catchy hooks and vocal harmonies to die for. Then, on Sunday morning we finally got to meet the Shadow Circus guys, who also put on one hell of a show. We had been regularly in touch with John and David for a long time, and being finally able to talk to them in person felt wonderful, but it was also great to meet the band’s newer members, Felipe, Gino and Andy – all of them very nice guys, and excellent musicians. Their symphonic-meets-vintage hard rock take on prog is exhilarating and highly dramatic, and I cannot wait to see them in full stage regalia when they play on our home turf (The Orion, Baltimore) on October 28th.
I was also looking forward to seeing Half Past Four in action – since I was one of the first people to be aware of them when they released their brilliant debut album, Rabbit in the Vestibule. They did not disappoint one bit, and even exceeded expectations. Kyree is an astonishing frontwoman with a commanding, versatile voice, and drummer Ann Brody flies the flag for female musicians who rely on their chops rather than on their looks (though both her and Kyree are very attractive women).
Though the rest of the lineup was of equally high quality, I will save any further details for my ‘real’ review (which should be published before the end of September – watch this space and my Facebook page). This post is mainly intended as a more personal, less polished account of a really intense weekend – one of those experiences to remember for a lifetime.