Meet the men on a mission to raise Chicago’s progressive music profile

Progtoberfest’s co-founder and Reggie’s Talent Buyer, Kevin Pollack
Progtoberfest\u2019s co-founder and Reggie\u2019s Talent Buyer, Kevin Pollack

For the last 10 years, Reggies has played a key role in Chicago’s live music scene. Once the site of a car bumper repair shop, it now not only houses a music venue, rooftop bar, recording space and record store, but for the last few years it’s also been home to one of the Windy City’s most important prog events: Progtoberfest.

“I approached [Reggies’ owner] Robby Glick in 2014 with the idea, having promoted ProgNight [in 2012, in St Charles, Illinois],” explains Reggies’ Talent Buyer, Kevin Pollack, who has also booked acts for Cruise To The Edge. “I told him that there wasn’t enough prog in Chicago. We both thought, since Chicago is a staple city for people and bands, that we should start our own prog festival.”

Pollack and Glick ran the first Progtoberfest across two days in 2014 with Spock’s Beard and Bigelf among the acts performing. With North America’s other major prog happenings, RosFest and Prog Power, held more than 600 miles away, Progtoberfest has become an important event on the calendar. Despite taking a year out in 2015, the pair’s drive remains the same.

“We, the fans, need to keep prog alive,” says Pollack. “Progtoberfest is also a fest for the little guys. We love introducing new bands to the prog community each year to get them great exposure, as well as bringing in legends to headline.”

Yes fan Robby Glick chips in, “Watching the likes of Carl Palmer, Stick Men and Brand X up close has definitely been a dream come true.”

This year’s Progtoberfest will run from October 20-22 and is the biggest yet. Nearly 40 bands are set to perform across two stages over the weekend, and headliners include Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre, The Tangent and Karmakanic. Yet despite the event growing in size, Pollack says Reggies will remain its home.

“Reggies has such a unique atmosphere for a music festival,” he explains. “When you go to prog or music festivals, it’s [often] just one stage, [but] at Progtoberfest, there are two rooms of music so if you don’t like one band, you can go see another one.”

He adds, “We want to keep this an annual event and we hope that the fans want to keep coming back every year!”

Buy tickets for Progtoberfest from

Natasha Scharf
Deputy Editor, Prog

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.