Simon Godfrey's Letter From America

Spring is finally starting to show some signs of getting of its arse in gear here in Philly…

About time too as there’s only so many clotted cream and Guinness sandwiches one can consume as winter comfort food.

The progressive music scene is also shaking itself out of its winter torpor, a clear sign of which are some the UK artists visiting Philly and beyond in the coming months. In April I’m planning to witness Hogarth, Rothery, Trewavas, Kelly & Mosley strut their tres chic stuff in Montreal at the 2015 Marillion weekend. Back in Philly Public Service Broadcasting will be making their first trip to US soil, performing at what I believe to be one of the coolest venues in Center City, The World Café Live. Finally, that Steven Wilson gent is playing at the Keswick Theater in May on the Hand.Cannot.Erase Tour.

Smiles all round (except for my laptop’s grammar checker for the SW album title).

This time of year also signals the start of the festival season and the Rites Of Spring Festival (RoSFest), the biggest regular progressive festival in the world since NEARFest closed its doors, is coming May. Sadly I never got to enjoy the singular experience that was NEARFest as I was not living Stateside at the time but I have attended many RoSFest shows, both as a musician and as a regular punter.

Like NEARFest, RoSFest has been held together over the years by a tight knit team of enthusiastic and capable individuals, who spend the winter months feverishly working away, booking bands, hiring venues and equipment, organizing visas and generally doing all the hideously complicated grunt work that no sane person would ever wish to encounter.

The Festival is headed up by the inimitable George Roldan; a gent for which no obstacle is too awkward to navigate around in order to get worthwhile music in front of discerning fans. Along with Krista Phillips and Donna O’Donnell acting as organizational super-heroes, they make sure that people from all over the world (and the over-inflated egos of us musicians) are kept happy and content for three prog packed days and nights.

RoSFest began life at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania in 2004 and remained there until 2007 when the organization moved its headquarters to the Majestic Theater in the historical civil war town of Gettysburg where it remains to this day.

Over the years, the festival has played host to some of the most influential names on the progressive scene with acts like Caravan, Pain Of Salvation, Pallas, The Flower Kings, Riverside and Sound Of Contact to name but a few, all strutting their stuff. This year sees Spock’s Beard, Haken, Glass Hammer, Enchant, Able Ganz, Heliopolis and many other brilliant outfits strut their progressive stuff.

I have also played this festival as the lead singer of Tinyfish and if I concentrate very hard, I can still recall the screams. Ah, good times.

What impresses me most about RoSFest is precisely the same element which gets my blood joyfully pumping when I attend Summers End or Celeb8 in the UK and that is the people it attracts. Be you on the stage, behind the scenes or in the audience, you are always going to bump into someone worth knowing. It is a truly international event with both bands and fans travelling to attend it from all over the world and almost everybody there is ready to smile, shake your hand and invite your into their world.

I would love to do the same but as my world consists largely of wet suits, false moustaches and glove puppets, it’s not a lifestyle that promotes making new friends easily.

So as the days get longer and the gig schedules roll in, I can throw my chair blanket aside, stand up from my wicker bath chair and once again stride confidently back out into the sun and meet my fellow human beings. With a smile on my face and a moustache glued to my nether regions. I hope to see you out there soon.

By the way, I lied about the glove puppets. No-one is that interesting.