View Full Version : Jim's unofficial NEARfest first day update

06-24-2001, 12:06 AM
Great first day of music here at NEARfest! Opening act, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, were great. Unique instrumentation - 2 keyboardists, one primarily piano, the other synths and electronic percussion; a guitarist, and woodwind/percussionist. Very complex music, the band used sheet music for most of their pieces. Nice guys too.

Next was Under The Sun - my least favorite of the day because of their "heaviness", but tight, strong vocals, and quite good. White Willow was my pleasant surprise of the day - we're planning on hunting down some CDs tomorrow for the station. Deus ex Machina rocked! Great stuff, and a fabulous vocalist. I actually liked the instrumental passages best, as the compositions seemed more coherent and interesting when the singer sat out - but this is just personal preference and not a knock on the singer - very talented and dynamic. Last band was Porcupine Tree. Look for Davin's comments on these guys. I will say they had some killer riffs, particularly on guitar and sometimes bass; great songwriting, and good stage presence; but Davin likes them more than me so he can do them more justice.

All the bands and vendors, and Roger Dean, are very accessible. Make sure to bug Davin for that great photo of Roger!

Looking forward to tomorrow - especially Djam Karet for me - talked with them today (also nice guys), and really looking forward to their show.

More tomorrow (also ask Davin about "Captain Prog"...

06-26-2001, 11:42 AM
As good as day 1 was, in my opinion day 2 blew it away! Opening act was Underground Railroad - a great new band, with Genesis influences (not quite as good, but does that mean they're not really good?) My least favorite act of the day, and I REALLY liked them. Look for their debut album on the station soon. Second act was Djam Karet - they ROCKED!! Djim's favorite band of the festival. I picked up three more CDs of their's - (listening to "Burning The Hard City" as I type) - look for that, "Suspension And Displacement" and "Still No Commercial Potential" (great album name, hah?) on the station soon. They were touring with a new bass player, but it did not show - if they get better with more time together, I can't wait until the next time I see them. I'll probably write a little dissertation on them as a separate thread in the next day or so - but take my word for it - request "The Sky Opens Twice", "Topanga Safari", "Run Cerberus Run", or anything from DK soon. Third band - California Guitar Trio with Tony Levin. Wow! I saw CGT warm up for King Crimson in San Diego a few years ago, and they were even better this time. Tony really added a nice element to them (as you might imagine), and their compositions, and particularly their song selection was excellent. In addition to their originals, there were covers of Heart Of The Sunrise, Bohemian Rhapsody, Ode To Joy (from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony), and a couple of KC songs. Picture Heart Of The Sunrise done as an instrumental, with the audience singing "sharp.....distance.....etc" as accompaniment - (and we were pretty good (myself excluded)). After Crying was the fourth act - I wish I'd learned how to say wow in Hungarian - picture an excellent band with drums, bass, guitar, keys, and vocals. Now add a second keyboardist. Oh yeah, the first keyboardist also plays trumpet (simultaneously at times, trumpet in left hand whilst playing keys with right); the bass player also plays cello; the guitarist also plays keys; and the sound guy plays the flute. Now picture them all as virtuosos, and you have After Crying. Super talented. Final act was Banco - incredible! I still have a soft spot in my heart for PFM, but those are the only two bands that even have a claim to the best Italian Prog band. Banco was definitely on for NEARfest - Francesco's vocals were incredibly passionate; Vittorio compares with Emerson on the keys; and Allesandro on woodwinds is a phenomenon. Add in two excellent guitarists and a great bassist, and you have a fitting end to an awesome festival.

The other point I'll reiterate is how accessible all of the artists were - today, for example, I chatted with Djam Karet, Tony Levin said hi to me, and I was able to give thanks to California Guitar Trio at one table, and Birdsongs of the Mesozoic and Roger Dean at the next. And this was in a five minute period. Davin and Karen were more diligent than me, and I think they have autographs from 8 out of 10 bands - and AM's verdict is that they're all really nice people.

Hope to see many of you at NEARfest 2002, and let us know if you heard about us for the first time at NEARfest.

06-27-2001, 02:34 PM
Okay! I'm finally back from the Philly area, in Pittsburgh at a computer! This is a mini-update, with more coming on the site soon. A lot happened!

First of all, I'm glad to hear the station is still running!

I won't be back at AM Central until July 6, but here's my impressions of last weekend

First off, it was an incredible experience. To meet a lot of fantastic people, including Jim!

In case everyone didn't know, we ran a full-page ad in the NEARFest program. I was glad to field several compliments on the ad, which featured a digital painting by my friend and coworker Sheldon Turner (who I hope to ask to do more art for the station). I'll post it to the station when I get a chance. I hope this will get the word out about the station. Many people who I got into a conversation with said that they've tuned into the station, and knew who I or Jim was! Great to hear.

My impressions of the bands generally follow Jim's, with a few exceptions. Yes, I'm a P-Tree fan. And they absolutley rocked the house. While I didn't care all too much for Under the Sun, I found myself with the same feeling as Djam Karet. Djam felt like a lot of jamming over really simple riffs. They were great, and if they were playing in a bar down the street, I'd be the first in line to see them, but compared to all the other really uttlerly fantastic musical efforts there, they didn't strike me as outstanding.

The last part of the festival was magical for me. After Crying put on a performance which I'm sure made their CDs fly off the vendor table shelves. I think halfway though the set, through Cello solos, and dueling keyboardists at one keyboard, I though to myself that at this moment, they might be the greatest progressive rock band in the world right now.

And then Banco went on stage. While AC's music cried out with passion, Banco's exuded many lifetimes worth of anguish, hope and drive. My wife, who had no heard Banco until that moment, spent much of the set with her mouth wide open. They were simply incredible.

More to come later...

06-27-2001, 03:39 PM
DOH - I was going to upload pictures today, but I brought the wrong cable for my digital camera to my sister's house. DOH!

Captain Prog - what can you say, he was the leader of us all. I'm sure that many people at NEARFest knows his name, but I was never formally introduced. So, Captain Prog it is.

That Roger Photo... it was an accident, I swear! You'll understand when you see it...