2023 finds me reflecting more and more on the positive things that happened in the past to stave off the dark forebodings incurred by the current state of the world. After well over forty years as a health professional and well over fifty odd years of being a music fanatic I find myself in the enviable position of becoming comfortable in my own skin. As a partner, dad and granddad I am the guy who those closest to me know as Steve Petch or simply Petch. However, it is my alter-ego as The Progmeister that I gain immense satisfaction. I came up with the idea in 2010 whist at a dinner party in Cheadle Hulme greater Manchester. I was chatting to someone about a documentary I’d seen on TV and how much it frustrated me that one of the musicians included in the program, himself a huge figure in the world of Prog rock insinuated that Prog had become a dirty word. I immediately set about putting together a website to write about the matter and review new music in the genre and facilitate a platform for my new persona “The Progmeister”. As I write I am fourteen years on and without any regrets.
My journey as with so many fans of Prog has taken me to different shores not least to the states back in 2003 with my old pal Alan Peterson when we attended Nearfest there. We chatted with so many people like Roine Stolt of the Flower Kings, the guys from Glasshammer, Roger Dean and many more. It is only recently that I got to thinking about the people I listened to on albums and went to see perform had become friends and acquaintances. It started to dawn on me how privileged in both camps of my life I am, having a lovely lady in my life, being a dad to three great kids and a grandad to three beautiful grand kids in one and having some amazing friends in the other camp as The Progmeister. Sadly, there have been casualties in my journey this far with some people falling along the way in both camps. That happens in life, though I am pleased that so many stayed with me for the long haul. So many of the things I have experienced as The Progmeister makes me smile when I think back about them. Things like arranging to meet someone in New York for an interview at his studio when he was playing a gig less than 40 miles from my home at the time. Some of the incidents back stage at both of the Progmeister festivals I organised make me openly chuckle when I think of them. Interviewing one of my favourite Neo-Prog bands IQ beneath the stage they were to play on in baking hot Tammy Wynette’s caravan.
Don’t get me wrong, I have my demons as so many people do and there are some things in life I struggle with a lot. It is easy to slip so far into the darkness that it becomes longer and longer to return to the light. I have written about the importance of music previously and though it is an element of our lives that we take for granted. In the big picture of things music chronicles your life and new music the oxygen of looking forwards. It can make you feel important when there are times when you don’t feel wanted, it can make you think, laugh, cry and excite. I love the two camps I live in and I love the people who have decided to know me in each of them. So with all the ill of the world happening outside our windows take solace in what you have and who you love and respect. Many things in life can be taken away from you in an instant but your dreams and memories are yours and held captive within your mind to cherish and reflect upon.
To add to the positives in my life I am also a DJ at Progzilla radio and have been for over five years now. This has not only had a positive effect on the way I can channel new music to those who want to hear it and to share fabulous music which doesn’t get the time of day of day on FM radio or other media. It also allows me to connect with people without having to become involved too often with large groups of people, something I find myself struggling with as I have gotten a little older. Perhaps my greatest therapy! A shame really as the Prog community are a fantastic body of people to be around. I am certainly going to make more of an effort to shake myself out of it though as paranoia is a bizarre state of mind. My memories are precious and despite all the doom and gloom at the moment make me smile. Especially when it comes to the amazing people I have met whilst being the Progmeister. Happy days.