So, who am I?
I am someone "who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read," if you asked Frank Zappa.
But that's cheeky and not true. Not entirely true at least.
I'm a long time music fan who fell in love with progressive music from a very early age. The first 'prog' record I ever heard was Frank Zappa’s Freak Out! From 1966, and it hugely changed the way I looked at music. Like so many people, I got into a bunch of the big six bands (Yes, ELP, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd) before discovering there was a whole huge world of bands many people had never heard of. For all I knew, living out in the middle of nowhere for the longest time, progressive music ended in the 1970's...that’s what everything I’d read (admittedly very little) told me, so it had to be true.
Discovering Progression magazine on a fluke opened my eyes to this amazingly huge world of other bands that continued on from those salad days of progressive and art rock…as well as other bands, lesser known, that existed along side those big stadium acts. It gave me an opportunity to discover this sub-genre called neo-progressive, this other one called rock in opposition, and another one besides called Zeuhl, which seemed to make no sense and that I’d probably never like. After all, singing in a made up language? What's the deal with that? Wacky French band...there’s no way I'll ever be into them.
I eventually wrote for Progression for a good length of time. I discovered a lot of cool music...and a lot of dross. It was really my first exposure to Sturgeon's Second Law…90 per cent of everything is crap. And so it was with music. A number of things conspired to cause me to stop writing for Progression for a while, and when I finally got back to it, found so much had changed with how the writing was being done that I no longer had the interest in doing it (please note that this is not an indictment of the magazine, just that the constraints of trying to fit so many reviews in an issue was a limiting factor in what anyone could say, and I had more to say than I could fit into a review).
By this time I'd discovered (also through Progression, I am pretty certain) the world of prog festivals. While I never got a chance to see any of the Progscape festivals in Baltimore, and there was no way I could afford to go to any of the Progfests in California, I finally found time and money to hit my first festival in 2002...the first NEARfest held in Trenton NJ, with Nektar and Steve Hackett headlining. NEARfest 2002 did a few things for me:
1) It really opened my eyes to just how much progressive music was out there.
2) It showed me how vital, but on a limited degree, the genre was from a fan base perspective.
3) It put me in touch with a load of people.
NEARfest 2002 was the start of my run of NF attendances…I haven't missed one since, even if a few of them seemed touch and go in the weeks before the festival. I've worked behind the merch tables as well as been a bog standard attendee. I've met hundreds of musicians, several of whom I feel I could say are friends now. I've bought an awful lot of CDs...mostly good! Over the years since, I've written for two other websites, reviewed hundreds of CDs, discovered a bunch of bands that have gone on to be firm favourites, and heard more different music than a lot of people do in a lifetime. And it really shows no signs of changing.
I started this blog/site/thing back in 2008, and while there have been some pretty significant layoffs and down times in that stretch of years, it is also something that I'm pretty proud of. This newest revision of Bill's Prog Blog is, I think, the culmination of all the things I've done in the past. It's evolved, it's changed...it's progressed, if I'm allowed to say that without eliciting too many groans from those of you out there in Constant Reader land.
Thanks for hanging around! I hope you've enjoyed...and continue to enjoy...this as much as I have and do!