From The Nearfest Staff This Week
In 1999, the North East Art Rock Festival was started as an effort to return progressive rock music to the area where it thrived back in its heyday. In the 1970s, the Philadelphia area was a well-known hotbed of fandom for the brand of rock music featuring exemplary virtuosity. With the re-emergence of progressive music worldwide in the early '90s, festivals became a novel way to feature both new bands and re-invigorate some from the past. A few festivals had come before, namely ProgFest (CA), the ever-present ProgDay (NC), BajaProg (Mexico), and the short-lived ProgScape (MD), plus several after, but none have taken on the notoriety NEARfest had achieved. In just a few short years, NEARfest became the "most prestigious progressive rock festival in the world" and has remained so for over 12 years.
From its inception, NEARfest has strived to merge extraordinary bands from the global Prog Rock underground and the devoted community of eclectic music fans on this side of the pond. It was felt that otherwise, never would the two meet, especially en masse. This emotional combination of musical dedication has produced many a weekend of musical bliss. Ask any former attendee of the festival and you will get a different list of highlights from years past, which is validation in itself of NEARfest's dedication to a diverse lineup of Prog Rock subgenres. Favorites will range from Camel and Keith Emerson to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Miriodor; from Steve Hackett and Banco to Echolyn and Hidria Spacefolk; from Magma and Univers Zero to Kenso and Kraan; from Eddie Jobson and Three Friends to Cabezas de Cera and Beardfish; from Porcupine Tree and PFM to Anekdoten and Änglagård. And that's only a fraction of the over 120 bands that have performed at NEARfest to date.
And now, the time has come to complete the cycle.
2012 will mark the final edition of the North East Art Rock Festival. NEARfest has always employed a model, for right or wrong, where lineups were typically anchored by legends of the greater genre and featured a plethora of world-class bands spanning the broad range of subgenres. Part of the success of NEARfest and its rapid sellouts was its ability to attract legendary progressive bands that had played only infrequently, if ever, on the East Coast of the United States. As time has marched inexorably, it started to become clear that this headliner-centric model would not be sustainable indefinitely. Too much of a change in the model and those dedicated to attending and supporting the festival may feel that it is no longer in the spirit of NEARfest itself. Therefore, we have decided to retain the marriage of our successful model to our NEARfest brand name.
After the unfortunate events leading to the cancellation of NEARfest 2011, we could not allow the legacy of NEARfest to end with a dark and empty stage. The festival has meant too much to too many, including us, to just disappear without at least making an attempt at a joyous swan song. Therefore, since the spring of 2011, the three of us have been conspiring to put together a final NEARfest, one true to its roots and special to its faithful. We are happy to say that this will indeed happen.
NEARfest Apocalypse will be held over the weekend of June 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, 2012 at its rightful home, the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in beautiful Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This will be a true celebration of progressive rock music as well as a "raising of the glass" to everyone who has made NEARfest so special to so many of us over the last 13 years, including our outstanding crew and production team, the wonderful staff at Zoellner, and everyone who has ever bought a ticket to NEARfest. There are plans for activities beyond the norm for the weekend, which will be detailed as the festival draws closer. For now though, we can tell you that both Roger Dean and Mark Wilkinson will be involved in the artwork for this final special event. We will also do our best to make sure that both of these fine gentlemen are in attendance.
In the coming weeks, we will announce the entire NEARfest Apocalypse lineup live on the air on the Gagliarchives radio program. The exact air date will be determined shortly and announced online NEARfest.com, our Yahoo mailing list, Facebook, Twitter, and Progressive Ears. Stay tuned!
We sincerely hope that you will join us for the final chapter of NEARfest. After all, the world ends in December 2012 anyway, right?
NEARfest Website, http://www.nearfest.com
Yahoo Mailing List, http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/NEARfestNews/
Gagliarchives Radio, http://www.gagliarchives.com
Progressive Ears, http://www.progressiveears.com