The Prog Report: USA

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One of the biggest events to occur earlier this year was the Progressive Nation at Sea Cruise back in February.

Of all the great performances on the ship, few were as memorable as the Spock’s Beard reunion with Neal Morse. While Neal has briefly performed with the band before since leaving the group, here the band did full versions of Spock’s Beard classics June and The Light with Neal on lead vocals. For those on hand, it truly was one of the highlights of the cruise. There was a lot of great music and surprise performances which have yet to be documented with a DVD…until now. The Spock’s Beard concert on the last night of the cruise is being released through a Kickstarter campaign, which ends on June 27th. The release date is expected to be this August and is available as a DVD video or as an audio-only download. The liner notes to be included on the DVD contain this description: “The Progressive Nation at Sea cruise, upon the beautiful Norwegian Pearl, was an event that will be considered by many of the musicians and fans in attendance as one of their top lifetime live musical experiences. This video is Spock’s Beard’s second and final show of the cruise, where they were joined on stage for the final two epic songs by founding member Neal Morse.” As somebody who was there, I can say it will be great to have a piece of this “history in the making” performance.

A band that was a surprise hit on the same cruise was New Jersey’s 7-piece unit, Thank You Scientist. This band, which includes a violinist and horn section along guitar, bass and drums, brings together a frantic, progressive style mixed with jazz, funk, fusion and metal. At times there are so many things going on, one can marvel at how they manage to seamlessly blend all the instruments together, while still writing memorable hooks and melodies. The band are currently working on the follow up to 2012’s incredible Maps Of Non-Existent Places and are getting ready for a US fall tour supporting Coheed & Cambria. Tom Monda, the band’s lead guitarist and one to follow in the near future, told us the story of how the tour came to be. “_We played a show on April Fool’s Day at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn and someone called the girl who booked the show and said, “I was wondering if I could get on the guest list to see Thank You Scientist, my name is Claudio Sanchez.” She called us and asked, “Do you guys know anyone from Coheed & Cambria, because Claudio Sanchez asked to be on your guest list.” We were like, “Sure, it’s April Fool’s, it’s probably one of our friends.” So we get to the gig and sure enough, he’s there at the gig. He dug the show and everything blossomed from there. He heard about us form one of his friends and started checking it out and was digging it. _“ Tour dates can be found on both bands’ websites. /o:p

Drawing from progressive rock, fusion and jazz, with alien sounds soaked in Indian and Middle Eastern styles, New York City trio, Consider The Source, blend these various styles with lightning speed creativity into a sound they call “Sci-Fi Middle Eastern Fusion.” This instrumental trio has already toured throughout America, Middle East and Europe since forming in 2004. The band is currently working on a new EP titled, World War Trio: Part 1. The album will be a one song, 25-minute EP, which will include a DVD of studio footage and bonus features. It is the most intricately composed piece the group has written to date and includes a section written by Jan Zerfield of Panzerballet (Germany). The EP release is part 1 of a 3 part series to be completed with a double album release in February 2015 (the DVD will also include a preview of the double album). While the EP focuses on the compositional aspect, the upcoming double album will feature their Eastern and improvisational sides. Gabriel Marin, lead guitarist who plays a fretless double-neck guitar, says this about the new material: “We are excited to release this EP before the double album to bring some attention to our compositional side. We are known for our high energy improvising and eastern tinged sound, so releasing a fully composed prog rock piece is a different step for us. And then the double album will have all our sides represented./o:p

Roie Avin is the Editor of The Prog Report website.