Saturday, March 5, 2011

Curved Air To Play NEARFest 2011

From the NEARFest Staff:

NEARfest is honored to present the iconic British band, Curved Air to the Zoellner stage. The band's history dates to back to early 1968, when drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa and bassist friend Rob Martin were introduced to guitarist and keyboard virtuoso Francis Monkman. The trio jammed together and played cover tunes at local parties when Francis met Darryl Way. Darryl introduced Francis to a pianist friend named Nick Simon, and along with Florian and Rob, the band Sisyphus was formed. Shortly thereafter Simon left, and Francis began doubling on keyboards and guitar and the group decided a new name was in order and Francis suggested using a shortened version of Terry Riley's composition "A Rainbow in Curved Air." That same year, folk singer Sonja Kristina was performing in the London production of "Hair." The producer, Galt McDermott, had a second play, "Who the Murderer Was," running concurrently in Notting Hill Gate. The pit band for "Murderer..." was Curved Air. It was suggested that Sonja audition as the new singer for the band. The sound came together quickly, and the new group soon became the first British band signed by Warner Brothers.

Their inaugural album, "Air Conditioning," was the first rock picture disc, and included the single "It Happened Today," and the live favorite "Vivaldi." An intriguing blend of electronics, progressive rock, acoustic folk, classical flourishes, and a bit of jazz fusion, the album reached number 8 in the British charts. Curved Air were a truly unique band which synthesized an eclectic blend of musical styles into an instantly identifiable sound. With a storied history and a plethora of esteemed alumni (Eddie Jobson and Stewart Copeland for starters), the band have put their own unique stamp on the progressive world. Curved Air founding members Sonja Kristina and drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa reformed Curved Air in 2008/09 and have toured internationally, revitalizing the Curved Air legacy with ace guitarist Kit Morgan and bassist Chris Harris, Paul Sax on electric violin and Robert Norton on keyboards. Robert Norton is an exceptional keyboard player, drawing on the original sonic spectrum associated with Curved Air. Paul Sax, master violinist, is a passionate and brave performer very well qualified to step into Darryl's light. He has performed with many bands and is a long-term member of the highly successful alternative street band, The Huckleberries. Guitarist Kit Morgan is a mesmeric and fiery player and bassist Chris Harris is solid with Florian's intricate drums driving the band. Both Paul and Robert toured extensively with Sonja in the '90s with her solo projects Acid Folk and Cloud Ten. The band's hits "Backstreet Luv" and "It Happened Today" are still radio favorites as the band tours around the world, performing their unique style of music to enthusiastic audiences.

When the disappointing news arrived from the Supersister camp, we saw a short list from which to work, Curved Air being at the top of that list. Sonja and the rest of the band were thrilled to be given the opportunity and after a slew of emails and phone calls, the band are keen to perform. NEARfest is grateful and genuinely stirred to present British legends Curved Air, to our Sunday night lineup.

Friday, March 4, 2011

MIKE PORTNOY To Tour U.S. With Original Members Of NEAL MORSE's 'Testimony' Band

Multi-instrumentalist Neal Morse (TRANSATLANTIC, SPOCK'S BEARD) will perform a number of special concerts in May with members of the original "Testimony" band featuring Mike Portnoy (DREAM THEATER, AVENGED SEVENFOLD, TRANSATLANTIC).

The dates are as follows:

May 19 - Nashville, TN - (venue to be announced)
May 21 - Mexico City, MEX - (venue to be announced)
May 23 - New York, NY - The Blender Theater at Gramercy
May 24 - Springfield, VA - Jaxx
May 26 - San Francisco, CA - The Avalon in Santa Clara
May 27 - Seattle, WA - Experience Music Project Theater
May 28 - Whittier, CA - Whittier Theater

"Testimony" is a progressive rock concept album by Neal Morse. Released in 2003, this double-album is in five sections detailing the composer's life and conversion to Christianity. It features performances from Portnoy and Kerry Livgren of KANSAS, although the majority of instruments are played by Morse himself.

Footage from the writing and recording sessions for this album was released in September 2007 as a two-hour-long DVD titled "Making Of Testimony: Rough Edit".

Thursday, March 3, 2011

EVERGREY To Perform Entire 'In Search Of Truth' Album At PROGPOWER USA XII Festival

Swedish progressive metallers EVERGREY have confirmed a world-exclusive performance of their 2001 epic concept album, "In Search Of Truth", in its entirety at the ProgPower USA XII kick-off show on September 15 at the annual progressive and power metal festival held in Atlanta, Georgia.

Commented EVERGREY frontman Tom Englund: "Glenn (Harveston, ProgPower USA festival promoter) asked me for a special show,….what else is new as he always does… hrmpff. So to pay tribute to one of our most loved albums, we decided to celebrate the tenth anniversary of 'In Search Of Truth' by playing the whole damned thing. This will be an exclusive for Atlanta and the ProgPower USA show alone.

"One thing I do need to mention is that the backing tracks for the songs are long gone, BUT we will try to do it justice as well as we can.

"Don't miss this shit as it will be an EPIC milestone....or failure!

"This is Tom signing out from the rehearsing room, trying to learn the damn string-skipping part of 'The Encounter'."

EVERGREY will also perform a U.S. exclusive acoustic show at the Mid-Week Mayhem on September 14 to start the week's festivities.

Bands confirmed for the festival:


** U.S. exclusive

Ticket and show information can be found at the ProgPower USA web site.

Prog Legends Nektar's Classic Second Album 'A Tab In The Ocean' Gets Re-Released With Bonus Disc

Philadelphia, PA - Considered one of the top progressive rock bands of all times, UK music legends Nektar are re-releasing their classic second album from 1972 'A Tab In The Ocean - Deluxe Edition' (2 CD Set), along with the the ultra rare first recordings of the band from Boston 1970 titled the 'In The Beginning (The Boston Tapes)' on Philadelphia's, much to the excitement of fans of the band and the music press alike. One of the first 'prog' concept albums, Nektar's 'A Tab In The Ocean' is an innovative piece of music that helped propel the group to international stardom.

The time that the band lived in Germany, before their departure to live in the USA, was spent in the cellar of the house they rented in the little town of Seeheim that eventually became their rehearsal room. It is in this cellar that the idea for a follow-up album to 'Journey To The Centre Of The Eye' was to be conceived. As founding band member Roye Albrighton recalls, “The only piece of furniture we had in the house was a fish tank, and one day we were all sitting watching it when someone said 'I wonder what would happen if a giant tab of acid was dropped into the sea?' We had found our title and concept for the new album.” The album is still considered one of the bands finest efforts.

'The Boston Tapes' have been a much sought after collectors item for many years as it is the first studio recordings of Nektar. “In the early months of 1970 Nektar was seen performing in Hamburg by an American producer named Charlie Dreyer, who owned a recording studio in Boston,” says Roye. “Charlie invited the band over, which at first we thought was a joke, but as it turned out, he was dead serious. We found ourselves on the next flight to Boston and started recording in his 8-track studdio.” The tapes reveal the genesis of one of the great prog bands to emerge in the 1970s.

The Nektar story is a remarkable one. A British rock band that found stardom and major success in Germany and the USA, yet failed to make the significant breakthrough in their own country. With three gold albums under their belt ('Remember The Future', 'Down To Earth' and 'Recycled'), Nektar produced some of the most original work of the seventies and eighties. In virtuoso guitarist Roye Albrighton Nektar had a charismatic front man who had shared a stage with Jimi Hendrix, in Allan "Taff" Freeman a unique keyboard player, in Derek "Mo" Moore a bass playing powerhouse and in Ron Howden a fluidity rarely found in a drummer. Fifth member Mick Brockett was not a musician, but was responsible for one of the most stunning light and visual shows ever to grace the rock stage. Nektar's history appeared to have been written when they finally split in the eighties. Despite attempts to re-kindle the flame, the Nektar light, it seemed was out...until that is, the year 2000. The new millenium saw the long awaited reunion tour of the classic line-up, to rave reviews and fantastic receptions. The light we thought was out, had in fact been kept aglow - by loyal fans across the globe! "It's pretty timeless music," says Roye Albrighton, "and what I'm hearing from most of the new, younger fans that are now coming to our shows, is that it's like going back in time. They are starting to really discover music again, which, of course, is a great relief to us and some of the older bands from our time."

An American tour in September 2004 saw Taff Freeman depart the band for personal reasons and his successor, Hammond virtuoso Tom Hughes, instantly earning a place in the hearts of the Nektar faithful. In 2007 Nektar truly took over their own management, procured their official website as their own, entirely under their control and went on a 22-date tour of Germany. Joining Roye and Ron was Peter Pichl on 5-string bass and Klaus Henatsch on keyboards, these two new members from the rock 'n roll city of Hanover, Germany, seemed to gel from the outset and along with the release of the critically acclaimed CD 'Book of Days' in 2008 and the live DBL CD 'Fortyfied', Nektar has set its mark once again. With continued concert dates, along with the remastering of the remainder of the Nektar back catalogue on CD by (all as double discs with bonus material), this legendary band has become once more a proud force to be reckoned with in the world of progressive music. Now fans of the band can enjoy their timeless classic 'A Tab In The Ocean - Deluxe Edition' (2 CD Set) with pristine sound, and for the first time hear the band in their formative stages on 'In The Beginning ( The Boston Tapes)'.

Nektar – 'A Tab In The Ocean - Deluxe Edition' (2 CD Set) will be re-released on February 22, 2011 - and the downloads will become available then as well

For song samples: recent releases from Dino Valenti's 'Get Together', Mark Clarke 'Moving To The Moon', Natural Gas 'Natural Gas', Michael Stanley 'Shadowland', Fran King 'My Sweet Elixir', Healing Sixes 'Blue Jay', Space Opera 'Safe At Home'
For more information visit

Phil Collins Calls Time On Music Career

By Murray Wardrop Of The Telegraph

Phil Collins has indicated that he intends to end his rock career after learning that health problems will prevent him playing the drums again.

The 60-year-old star says he feels it is "a good time to stop" making music, adding: "I don't think anyone's going to miss me."

He has hearing problems, a dislocated vertebra and nerve damage in his hands, all brought on by a lifetime spent hunched behind a drum kit.

The songwriter also claims that listeners have grown "sick" of him and that there is no longer a place for him in the current music scene.

"I look at the MTV Music Awards and I think: 'I can't be in the same business as this'," Collins says in an interview with FHM magazine.

"I don't really belong to that world and I don't think anyone's going to miss me. I'm much happier just to write myself out of the script entirely.

"I'll go on a mysterious biking holiday and never return. That would be a great way to end the story, wouldn't it?" Collins, who lives alone in Switzerland after divorcing his third wife in 2007, has enjoyed huge popularity over 40 years as both a drummer and singer with the rock band Genesis and then as one of the biggest-earning solo artists of all time.

He claims that it was this success and the overplaying of his music which made people "want to strangle" him. "It's hardly surprising that people grew to hate me. I'm sorry that it was all so successful. I honestly didn't mean it to happen like that," he says.

The star, who has sold more than 150 million records, says his main focus now is his two sons, Nicholas and Matthew, by his third wife Orianne Cevey. "I'm not worried about not being able to play the drums again, I'm more worried about being able to cut a loaf of bread safely or building things for my kids," he says.

"My doctors tell me it's a work in progress, that it will take about a year for me to recover."

He said he has been told his hands are not strong enough to play the drums. "I don't think I'll ever be able to do that again," he said.

Collins once disclosed that the only way he could play was by taping his drumsticks to his hands.

The star, who has two children by previous marriages, joined Genesis in 1970 as drummer and later replaced Peter Gabriel as lead singer. In the 1980s he had hits such as In The Air Tonight, Against All Odds and Two Hearts, while continuing with Genesis.

He won an Oscar for his song You'll Be in My Heart from the 1999 Disney animated film Tarzan, and seven Grammy Awards. His last album, Going Back, released last year, was a collection of Motown and soul classics and topped the British charts in September

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Norwegian progressive metallers SPIRAL ARCHITECT are preparing to resume work on the material for the long-awaited follow-up to the band's 1999 debut CD, "A Sceptic's Universe". Drummer SPIRAL ARCHITECT writes on the band's official forum, "We've been working on the next album — obviously more off than on — since 1999 (?) and have maybe an hour's worth of music (bits and pieces). The good news is that it looks like there will be continuous work on this album from March this year. Time will tell…"

In a January 2007 online posting, Mickelson stated about SPIRAL ARCHITECT, "A lot of people are annoyed about the fact that we're doing 'everything' else than what we 'should' do — which is making another SPIRAL ARCHITECT album. But the fact is that we've always thought that we will make one when it feels right. Nothing has really ever gotten in the way."

SPIRAL ARCHITECT was founded in 1993 in Oslo, Norway, when lead guitarist Steinar Gundersen (ex-KING'S QUEST) joined the remains of ANESTHESIA consisting of Kaj Gornitzka (guitar), Lars K. Norberg (bass) and Asgeir Mickelson (drums). From the onset, the band set out to branch off from the music of contemporary innovative metal bands like WATCHTOWER, FATES WARNING and PSYCHOTIC WALTZ. The overall idea was to once and for all integrate jazz-fusion elements with uncompromising metal.

"A Sceptic's Universe" was recorded in June 1998 at Village Productions in Texas with producer Neil Kernon (QUEENSRĊ¸CHE, NEVERMORE, DEICIDE, NILE) and was released in Japan on December 16, 1999 (with the FATES WARNING cover "Prelude to Ruin", originally recorded for the FW tribute "Through Different Eyes", as a bonus track) and the rest of the world on January 18, 2000.

DEEP PURPLE Bassist To Release New Solo Album In June

DEEP PURPLE bassist Roger Glover's new solo album. "If Life Was Easy", is scheduled for release in June. The follow-up to 2002's "Snapshot" was reportedly recorded in 2007 but is only now surfacing. It features Roger's daughter Gillian Glover, with lead vocals by Ronnie Bramblett.

DEEP PURPLE's 18th studio album, "Rapture of the Deep", was released in November 2005. It is the fourth studio CD from DEEP PURPLE since guitarist Steve Morse joined the band in 1994. It was also the second album to feature veteran keyboardist Don Airey.