Rummaging in the attic recently i stumbled upon some old boxes that brought back many memories and emotions. Amongst the trinkets were some old concert programs, badges and ticket stubs from some of the most memorable gigs i attended over the years. It reaffirmed to me just how music chronicles your life and just how important it is. The discovery of some of my forgotten treasures encouraged me to do two things, search for the rest of them and more importantly sit and reflect. The event became reminiscent of a scene from Christmas vacation where Chevy Chase gets locked in his attic whilst hiding gifts. I lost all sense of time and temperature. I decided to descend to the bedroom with my haul and admire them in the warmth and light.
As i gazed at some of my find i was hit by so many emotions, some sad but mostly joyful. It also made me realise just how important Prog has been to me throughout the years. I was reminded of the evening i lied to my parents telling them i was staying at a friends house and travelling to Newcastle in 1973 to watch Pink Floyd perform the nowlegendary Dark Side Of The Moon shows. I was only fourteen. The year after i traveled to the City Hall to watch Genesis perform The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway with the now officially voted rock god Peter Gabriel singing and playing flute. Only eighteen months or so later i was to see camel on the same stage for the very first time. This was to be a Prog romance that has stayed with me from that cold evening until this very day.
My Progalogue is extensive as i would guess are many other Prog fans and remain wildly disappointed by the events that eluded me as i was fulfilled by the ones that didn’t. It was many years after these magical and memorable gigs that i got to meet some of my heroes which goes against the adage that you shouldn’t because you may be disappointed. I have been very lucky because i have met a lot of my heroes from that era and there was only a few of them didn’t meet up to my expectations. Of those heady times i would site Steve Hackett as being one of the nicest guys i met and perhaps the most genuine. Though the person whom i was most thrilled to meet was without doubt Andy Latimer who recently received a life time achievement award at the Prog awards, a decision i couldn’t endorse enough.
Alas there are those that i will never get to meet, The late Richard Wright and Peter Bardens are two that spring to mind. However, Prog became to me what a powerful motorbike or sports car becomes to many middle aged men, more affordable and more accessible. I am very fortunate to be in contact with some of the icons of yesteryear and some who remain to this day my heroes. However, it was only as i started to write this Progblog and of some of the many historical anecdotes i could quote that it dawned on me what the real highlights have been. As i put my memories back in their box i recalled instead my sports car years and started to reflect on them too.
Bands like IQ whom i have grown to love over the years have got me through some of the most difficult times of my life and i have a great affection for them and they represent a new wave of Prog artists who along with a few others keep an essence of what has gone before alive. After i started Progmeister some years ago i had already been listening to many of the new order of Prog bands for many years and i developed more than a healthy respect for them. So much so with my new understanding of things and frustration with the label Prog bands were being given i decided to organise a live event. Nne of the artists i had been listening to was Nick Magnus whom i regard as a genius.
I never thought for one minute that i could persuade Combination Head to play but they did. Paul Birchall remains to this day one of my keyboard heroes who in the absence of giants prove that the newer kids on the block are by far sharper and more able to impress. I would like to think that Paul thinks of me as his friend in the North and simply can’t wait or the forthcoming Heads album. I had the same epiphany when i organised Progmeister 2. I wanted The Tangent to play so i plucked up the courage to contact Andy Tillison and ran a few things by him. Imagine my surprise when he said to me “why not come over to mt house for tea and we will talk about it”?
That evening with Andy and his lovely partner/manager Sally still sits in my mind as one of the most special of occasions. Andy and sally cooked myself and Mrs Meister a fabulous tea and a couple of month later The Tangent headlined Progmeister 2 and made me proud. These are very special people who i would like to think of as friends and not just icons of modern Prog.
Strange as it may seem the person who introduced me to so many bands and not least the music of Tony Patterson is my good friend Brendan Eyre. Brendan and i became friends long before i even thought of Progmeister. We traveled to gigs together and exchanged CD’s etc not least his own (check out Ghost Ships) if you can find a copy. After a gig on Teesside by SoGabriel a Peter Gabriel tribute band in which Tony Patterson was the singer Brendan and i approached Tony and persuaded him to grant me an interview.
Tony also played Progmeister 2 with his own band which included IQ’s Tim Esau. Yet another special occasion. Brendan and Tony have just completed work on a project together and been signed to Esoteric Records. Northlands will be available in November and well worth the wait.
It took a trip to my attic to realise that music does chronicle your life. Listening to Nude by Camel reminds me fondly of my late father Bill who died just before it’s release, Katy Lied by Steely Dan reminds me of the very nervous time i spent sitting exams at college during my Engineering apprenticeship, Airport by The Motors reminds me of my dreadful attempts at the simple piano solo in the middle which i played differently every night i performed it. These then are The Progmeister’s Prog chronicles. They go back aways and their implications run deep. The next generation of Progmeister already bare the marque of the Snow goose, my youngest boy having it tattooed on his arm after his experience of seeing Camel in Harrogate. What next eh? You tell me.