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Greg Walker is a well-known name in the international community of progressive rock fans as the man behind Syn-Phonic, one of the biggest online purveyors of CDs and other musical goodies – possibly the one offering the widest range of material, and definitely one of the most knowledgeable (and friendly) people in the business. US-based fans will also remember him as the organizer of ProgFest, a successful run of festivals that took place between 1993 and 200o in the Los Angeles area.

After retiring from the festival business, and spending  the next decade concentrating on the promotion of progressive rock through his extensive catalogue (including regular appearances at the major prog festivals such as NEARfest and RoSfest), in 2011 Walker decided to throw his hat into the arena once again. A self-professed fan of European prog, with a particularly soft spot for the Italian scene of the Seventies, Walker planned a pull-out-all-the-stops extravaganza that would offer to the US prog audience  the unique opportunity of seeing a number of cult Seventies bands together on the same stage.

Though his original plans of holding the event in 2011 as a replacement of sorts for NEARfest 2011 (hence the punning name of Farfest), even if somewhat later during the year, were foiled by the impossibility of  finding a suitable venue at a rather short notice, Walker took advantage of the extra time allowance to assemble a line-up that sounds like a dream come true for fans of the European scene of the golden age of prog. The event,  spread over 4 days, and scheduled to take place at the impressive Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware (pictured above) – a very convenient location, situated halfway between Washington DC and New York City, and close to major airports such as Baltimore and Philadelphia – will host a whopping 13 bands, some of them still active, others reformed just for the occasion.

True to his passion for Italian prog, Walker has given pride of place to Italian bands, with the recently reunited Latte E MieleLocanda Delle Fate, Alphataurus and Maxophone. Three French bands of the Seventies – Atoll, Pulsar and Shylock – will also appear, as well as Poland’s SBB  and “Prog Andaluz” standard-bearers Mezquita. The only two bands from English-speaking countries will be legendary US outfit Cathedral (who will perform their famed 1978 album Stained Glass Stories in its entirety) and London-based  band Cressida, one of the protagonists of the early English scene. The lineup will be completed by two highly-rated bands from more recent years, Anekdoten from Sweden and Wobbler from Norway.

As the above paragraphs make it abundantly clear, Farfest 2012’s main target are not fans of progressive rock in its more contemporary incarnations. The event is geared towards the “nostalgia crowd” – those people who think the Seventies will never be equalled in terms of musical output, and who have a personal “bucket list” of bands to see before they throw in the towel for good. Even if one might disagree with this direction, there is no denying that event will be remembered for a long time, and may well provide a much-needed shot in the arm for the ailing US festival scene. It  remains to be seen if a successful response in terms of audience will convince Walker to repeat the event (originally planned as a one-off) in the future.

Patron tickets – which, at $ 350 are rather expensive, though they give access to the best seats, as well as providing financial support to the event, increasing the chance of its survival – have been put on sale in mid-April. General ticket sales will open on May 21 at 10 a.m.. The Grand Opera House has 1,200 seats, so there should be enough room for everyone interested in attending. Farfest 2012 has its own website featuring very thorough information on the event, as well as pages on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, which can be accessed from the main site.

Links:
http://www.farfest.com


http://synphonic.8m.com/index.htm

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My regular readers may have noticed my frequent references to the lively progressive rock scene in the northwestern Italian region of Liguria, particularly as regards the great seaport of Genoa – supported by the activity of well-known independent labels based in the area (such as Mellow Records and Black Widow) in promoting a genre that has put firm and enduring roots in the Italian music scene since the early Seventies. Sadly, as some of my readers may know, at the end of October the whole region was affected by major flooding, which caused very serious damage and loss of life, especially in the beautiful area known as the Cinque Terre.

As a number of circumstances (such as the Japan earthquake) have proved, prog artists – in spite of the airy-fairy stereotype perpetuated by the media – do have a keen social conscience. In order to raise funds to help the local population to cope with the aftermath of the floods, a one-day festival called ProG Liguria will be hosted by the port city of La Spezia, the administrative centre of the area affected by the natural disaster, on January 21, 2012. The event, organized by Genoa-based architect and longtime prog fan Angelo De Negri and independent labels Black Widow, Ma.Ra.Cash and Distilleria Music Factory, will also involve the collaboration of the thriving, internationally renowned tourist and food industry of the La Spezia province.

ProG Liguria will last from noon to midnight, and feature a number of high-profile Italian prog bands and artists, many of whom have been featured on this blog: legendary Seventies acts such as Osanna (with special guest Gianni Leone), Delirium (with special guests Sophya Baccini and Franco Taulino), Arti e Mestieri (with special guest Gigi Venegoni), Nuova Idea (with special guests Joe Vescovi, Giorgio Piazza and Marco Zoccheddu), Locanda delle Fate and Maxophone; rising stars such as Il Tempio delle Clessidre (with special guest Max Manfredi), The Watch, La Maschera di Cera, La Torre dell’Alchimista, Moongarden and Altare Thotemico; Claudio Simonetti’s project Daemonia (familiar to those who attended ROSfest 2011); supergroup CCLR (Cavalli Cocchi, Lanzetti, Roversi, with special guest Aldo Tagliapietra), and New Trolls offshoot UT – Uno Tempore (featuring drummer Gianni Belleno).

Anyone who is planning to be in Italy in the month of January should not miss this once-in-a-lifetime event. Hopefully more details (such as ticket prices) will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

Where: Spezia Expo ‘ – Via del Canaletto, La Spezia (Italy)
When: Saturday, January 2, 2012 – from noon to midnight
Information: (+39) 346 619 1593/ 010 246 1708

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Progressive metal may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is definitely a phenomenon that is here to stay, and that has also brought a much-need input of new ideas to the often stale prog scene. As a result, an increasing number of events specifically dedicated to this subgenre are cropping up both in Europe and America. Europe, however, seems to have the edge in this respect, also helped by the fact that it is relatively easy for festival organizers to get public funding, and therefore avoid imposing steep ticket prices on would-be attendees.

The latest addition to the roster of progressive metal festivals, Generation Prog 2011 is an ‘inside job’, so to speak, being the brainchild of Relocator bassist Michael Schetter (formerly Pruchnicki). The event, scheduled to take place on September 23 and 24 in the historic  German city of Nuremberg , will see the participation of 8 European bands, including local acts Effloresce, Ocean Spout and Theory of Elements, as well as Relocator (whose live keyboardist, Sergej Schamber, is also a member of  Ocean Spout).  The line-up will be completed by two British bands, To-Mera and Haken, ground-breaking Dutch ‘jazz-metal’ combo Exivious, and Swedish outfit Andromeda as Saturday night headliner.

As the schedule is not yet 100%  final, I would recommend that anyone interested in attending check both the event’s website (which is in German, with a shorter English section) and its Facebook page for the latest updates.

By way of a conclusion, I would like to praise Michael Schetter and his collaborators for taking the plunge, and investing so much time (and possibly money) into the organization of an event that will serve as a showcase for up-and-coming bands, as well as more established ones. In my view, this is the way to go, if we really want the progressive rock scene to survive and prosper for a long time.

Links:
http://www.generation-prog.com/?page_id=41

https://www.facebook.com/GenerationProg

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In spite of the difficult economic times, and also of the prevailing “the grass is greener” attitude, in 2011 Europe is all set to offer an almost unprecedented range of progressive rock (and related) festivals – in sharp contrast with the (hopefully temporary) demise of both NEARfest and CalProg in the North American continent. In the past few weeks I have come across no less than four announcements of respectably-sized events taking place in various part of the boot-shaped peninsula.

The first edition of the Civitella Progressive Rock Festival will be held at the sports centre of the town of Civitella Paganico, in the Tuscan province of Grosseto, starting on July 16 with guitarist Alex Carpani and Pink Floyd tribute band Time Machine, and then continuing on the weekend of July 22/23  with Classic ELP Tribute, local band Gran Turismo Veloce and legends Le Orme (July 22), and The Watch opening for Fish (July 23).

On the same weekend (July 22-24), the festival We Love Vintage will be held at the sports centre Due Madonne in Bologna, with an impressive lineup featuring well-known names of the classic prog era such as the new supergroup CCLR (with Bernardo Lanzetti, and Aldo Tagliapietra as a special guest) and Arti e Mestieri with Mel Collins and David Cross, as well as up-and-coming acts such as Paolo Schianchi, Alex Carpani, Ego, Altare Thotemico, Stereokimono, Mappe Nootiche, Astralia, and Bologna’s own Accordo dei Contrari (with legendary ‘voice of Canterbury’ Richard Sinclair as a special guest).

In the same week, on July 21, the Austin-based duo WD-41 (recently interviewed here) at the Portello River Festival in Padova, an event that is sure to appeal to those with a keen interest in experimental and world music.

While the month of August in Italy is traditionally dedicated to vacation, progressive rock will make a comeback in September with another two extremely intriguing events. The 2 Days Prog Veruno will take place at the Piazzetta della Musica in the town of Veruno, in the Piedmontese province of Novara. This year the festival, in spite of its name, will last 3 days instead of two (September 2-4), and its exciting lineup will feature Italian acts such as Alex Carpani Band, Methodica, Il Tempio delle Clessidre, Arti e Mestieri (again with Mel Collins and David Cross) and Goblin, alongside celebrated international acts such as RPWL, Anathema, Riverside and Agents of Mercy.

This staggeringly rich season of music will be wrapped up by the Progressivamente Festival held at the Casa del Jazz in Rome on the following week (September 6-11). The event, dedicated to the memory of Italian musician and Chapman stick virtuoso Virginia Splendore (who tragically passed away at the end of May 2011), will offer a veritable ‘who is who’ of classic and modern Italian prog, with bands such as Il Tempio delle Clessidre, Locanda delle Fate, Murple, Fonderia, Metamorfosi, Le Orme and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, as well as Gentle Giant offshoot Three Friends and tribute acts Us and Them, Goblin…Rebirth and Progtop. An additional feature of the event will be listening ‘seminars’ for audiophiles comparing analog and digital recordings of the great prog albums of the Seventies.

As unbelievable as it may sound to my American readers, some of these events will be free of charge, or have a very accessible price (no higher than 20 euros).  Whoever is planning a trip to Italy in the summer months may be interested in planning things so as to be able to attend at least one of those concerts, which will offer the added bonus of great surroundings and excellent food and drink.

Links:
Civitella Progressive Rock Festival: http://www.synpress44.com/01Comunicati.asp?id=1113

We Love Vintage: http://www.welovevintage.it/

Portello River Festival: http://www.riverfilmfestival.org/PRF7.pdf

2 Days Prog Veruno: http://www.lastfm.it/festival/1936079+2+Days+Prog+Veruno

Progressivamente Festival: http://www.progressivamente.com/


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I recently received this press release from Black Widow Records –  the Genoa-based label whose roster includes a number of historic Italian progressive rock acts, as well as many newer ones – which I am glad to share with my readers, especially the many fans of Italian prog.

On Friday, April 8, 2011, Delirium,  one of the seminal bands of the original Rock Progressivo Italiano movement, will be performing at Genova’s Teatro Govi.  The concert will be opened by gifted Neapolitan singer Sophya Baccini (whose excellent solo debut, Aradia, was released in 2009), with legendary Osanna vocalist Lino Vairetti as a special guest.

In the course of the evening, Delirium will present their new DVD, Il Viaggio Continua: La Storia 1970-2010 (recently released by Black Widow), which features original live footage from the Seventies, plus a recording of the band’s concert at the Teatro Politeama (also in Genoa) in 2008. Their setlist will include material from both  their ’70s albums and their critically acclaimed 2009 CD Il Nome del Vento – as well as semi-acoustic arrangements of some of their best-known songs.

Though I am aware that for most of my readers it will not be possible to attend this event, if any of you happen to be in the area, this is definitely an opportunity not to be missed. In the next couple of weeks Genoa will host a number of  events that will further strengthen its status as a hotbed for great progressive rock.

The concert will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are € 15.

Teatro Govi – Via P. Pastorino 23-25 R – Genoa, Italy.

Links:
http://www.blackwidow.it

http://www.sophyabaccini.com

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