The Prog Report: USA

Labor Day weekend in the US is often a time to celebrate with friends and family and vacation to a beach, but for a select group of prog fans, it will be time spent with Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy and the Neal Morse Band in Nashville, Tennessee for Morsefest 2015

Following the success of the first Morsefest weekend last year, Neal and the crew are doing it again this Sept 4-6th.

The full Neal Morse Band with Mike Portnoy, Eric Gillette, Bill Hubauer and Randy George will be there performing the ? album and Sola Scriptura in their entirety. There will be a lot of activities throughout the weekend as well. “We’re gonna be playing different games with the fans. Of course we are doing different albums, so the instrumentation will be different. We are going to have a choir this time. We will be doing Sola Scriptura with choir. We are trying to raise the bar. “ VIP fans will be treated to meet and greets before the shows and Inner Circle Fan Club members will get additional private acoustic shows as well.

As far as the challenge of playing such long pieces, Neal says it all about how you approach it. “They are all challenging in their own ways. I wouldn’t say one is more difficult than the other, it’s more about getting it all in your hands, and in your mouth, and in your heart.”

There is also a lot of preparation for the instrumentation of the horn section and background singers, which Neal says surprised him. “I didn’t mean to spend much time. It just kind of got away from me. The first time, the horn players and the signers said ‘We love it. We’re into it. If you want to give us more stuff, there is a lot more we could do.’ So with that in mind, I gave the horn players and the singers a lot more stuff. There’ll be horn parts and background vocal parts that weren’t on the original records. That took me about 2 weeks. “

Fans can also pick up the new Blu-Ray/DVD Package of the first Morsefest, which commemorates that weekend with both concerts of the Testimony album and One, along with loads of behind the scenes footage. “This is the closest thing you can get without being there. The concert footage is really special. It’s the Testimony album plus encores from Testimony 2 and other things, some songs from Spock’s Beard, a little bit of Transatlantic in there, we did Stranger In Your Soul and also at the Inner Circle concert we did We All Need Some Light. And then the next night is the entire One album, which has never been performed live ever with the extra tracks that I had written for it that where left off the album proper and put on the bonus disc. So it’s more like how I originally wrote. Also, there’s an encore with my brother Alan on The Light. Al flew out and was a special guest. It’s a really special performance of The Light and then Stranger In You Soul for an encore of that night.

“It was amazing for me and all of us. You get to do these albums and do them up right. There’s something different about it, doing it close to your home, where you can get a lot of people to help and volunteer. I couldn’t afford to take 25 people on tour. But I can do it at home mainly because people are so kind and volunteer their time. “

Tickets to Morsefest 2015 and the Morsefest 2014 Live Set set can be purchased at

Roie Avin is the Editor of The Prog Report website.