Beside Myself With Excitement about 3 Rivers Prog Rock Fest


I know that there are those of you who wonder about my quirky musical taste. I love the genre call "progressive rock." It's an underground genre, but those of us who love it are very loyal.

And we have our festivals. Most feature "Yes-wannabes" and "Almost-Floyds." But the one coming up at Pittsburgh's Pepsi Roadhouse in August is going to be one for the ages. It's called the 3 Rivers Progressive Rock Festival (3RP). Four (count 'em - 4!!) of my favorite prog rock artists will be there, along with six other bands that sound pretty good.

I've seen The Flower Kings before - Roine' Stolt and company are an amazingly talented band in the vein of Peter Gabriel, old-time Genesis, and Yes. Stolt's songs are symphonic rock with jazz fusion and just enough rhythm and blues plus folk thrown in for good measure.

California Guitar Trio are virtuosos with a sense of humor. As their name implies, they play three guitars, doing instrumental music fusing classical, rock, blues, jazz, world music, progressive, and surf music into an amazingly entertaining show. They do their own songs as well as covers of classic rock songs (Bohemian Rhapsody, Echoes, Tubular Bells) and classical pieces (Beethoven's Fifth).

But the highlight of the show, and what all modern prog rock fans are soooo excited about is that both Spock's Beard and Neal Morse will play on the same night!

Neal Morse was the leader of Spock's Beard through six albums, writing the majority of the music and acting as the frontman as the lead singer while contributing with keyboards and guitar. The great heyday of Spock's Beard was the late 90s and early 2000s, when the band was critically reviewed as the best of the best in Prog Rock. Neal Morse was known as the creative genius of the band. Spock's Beard's music was in the vein of Genesis, Gentle Giant, Yes, and other symphonic bands. The lyrics were very spiritual. But in 2002, Morse announced that after a Christian conversion a few of years earlier, he felt it was time to go solo and attempt to create progressive rock music that would be distinctly Christian in its message.

Spock's Beard announced it would go on without Neal. Nick D'Virgilio stepped out from behind the drumkit and took over lead vocals. Everybody was comparing this to when Peter Gabriel left Genesis and Phil Collins had done the same.

Neal Morse and Spock's Beard have each produced albums since (Neal 4, SB 3). And both have proved that they can create excellence on their own. But, in my opinion, Neal is still one of those unique talents that comes along once in a very great while. He rarely tours now, and when he does he usually does one-man shows. I have been hoping to see him with his full band, playing all my favorite epic masterpieces that he's done over the years.

Spock's Beard were first announced to be at 3RP, along with the other acts. The website said that another act or two would be added in the future. Then the announcement came a couple days ago - Neal Morse will be headlining Saturday night, with Spock's Beard playing right before him!

MAN! Am I excited about this. Perhaps (oh please, oh please!) Spock's Beard will unite with Neal for a set of their classic songs.

Here's the performing acts:
Saturday, Aug. 23rd 2008
The Mandrake Project
Spock's Beard
Neal Morse

Sunday, Aug. 24th 2008
Rocket Scientists
California Guitar Trio
The Flower Kings

Want to listen? Check out my "muxtape" of my "favs from 3RP"


Dan Turis said...

You had me at Prog...
Well I am interested. It is good to Know that you have heard these Bands.
I still have to talk to the Lady Friend.

preacherman said...

It sounds like a great time.
I wish I could be there.
I love the bands.
Very cool.

Paul - SteelerDirtFreak said...

Man I wish I could be there, especially as close to Mercer as this event is.

But the $$$ say no way, plus I'm scheduled to be in VA right before that.

Make sure you let us know how it is.

Bob Robinson said...

I forgot that you were a prog rock fan, especially Neal Morse.
How I wish you'd be able to go!