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Prog Happenings: August 24th, 2010

Prog Happenings will be a semi-regular (don’t look at the date of the last one of these that I did) summary of the various events that have punctuated the prog landscape recently, as well as some of my thoughts on each. Basically they’re the events that don’t justify an entire post, but are still worth talking about. So without further stalling or laziness:

Wilson/Akerfeldt project in the works:

I did not have to make this image. Prog fans have been designing album covers for this project for awhile now...

For about 8 billion months (that’s only 666666666 and 2/3 years), rumors have been popping up about a Steve Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth) and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) project. These rumor have been fueled almost entirely by fans coming to a consensus on their dream ‘what if’ scenario, instead of any actual facts or statements by the musicians involved. In fact all three have said at one point or another that the project would be fun, but that there has never really been any plan to make it happen outside of casual banter.

Well this past week Porcupine Tree’s official twitter feed finally broke the ice, kind of sort of maybe. A new Wilson and Akerfeldt project was announced, and fans are already drowning in their own tears of joy. The album will be called ‘Storm Corrosion,’ which provides very few clues as to what the product will sound like. The tweet specifically tells fans ‘not to expect any metal,’ but considering both musician’s vast spectrum of material, disclaimers like this only eliminate 1 option out of 1000.

Mike Portnoy has not been officially linked to the project so far, which in my opinion is fine. Expectations for this kind of record are high enough without his participation, and if he did hop on board I feel as if the prog universe would come to a halt until the album’s release. Speaking of Portnoy…

Avenged Sevenfold’s new album debuts at #1:

How do we know this is a more casual gig? He only brought his 2-bass drum acrylic kit instead of the 3-bass drum acrylic kit

This is only prog-by-association, but it’s still cool. A bit of back story first. Avenged Sevenfold lost their drummer to a drug overdose (there’s still a little bit of controversy about this, but I figured any true rock star would want to die of a drug overdose and not for something as pansy as ‘natural causes’), but they still had an album they wanted to finish recording and then tour with. The band asked Mike Portnoy to step behind the kit for them, which he was humbled and very honored to do. A few months later the album lands on shelves, and to everyone’s surprise it hits #1, knocking Eminem’s overrated album off its perch.

This is basically the most commercial success any progressive rock artist has seen in decades, even if he’s working for another band. Portnoy also didn’t write the parts he’s playing, but at least he’s playing a kit of his own design (i.e. f’ing huge), so there at least a slim chance that A7X’s success will create new Dream Theater and prog fans. Regardless, it’s a fun moment for the prog community and both A7X and Portnoy deserve credit for their achievements.

Robert Fripp, Motivational Speaker:

The court of the Crimson King produces the best results with as little upper management oversight as possible.

Fripp has always been an eccentric character, so there’s not a lot of activities that he could take part in that would shock his fans. He’s also loquacious in his own quirky way, at least when he chooses to be (I’ve always thought he would make great Cheshire Cat in an all-prog Alice in Wonderland. Also, Tony Levin as the walrus). Well apparently his sister feels that the oddly conversational, oddly professorial tone that he takes in every interview I’ve ever seen was worth tapping into.

According to http://robertfrippspeaks.com/ you can now book the Fripp siblings at your next event, and if you’re lucky they may even talk about something having to do with your organization! Seriously, Patricia Fripp has been a motivational speaker for a long time, and I guess she eventually realized, or Robert eventually agreed, that it would be fun and/or profitable for the two of them to team up. I don’t know how much value my organization might get out of having Robert speak at our next gathering, but I do know that I’d enjoy the hell out of it. How many CEOs are King Crimson fans remains to be seen. If the IT guys were in charge though he’d be booked to the point where we’d never get another King Crimson album again.

Rush Parties Like It’s 5770:

I'm blatantly stealing this photoshop job from audioperv.com. I will repent on Rush Kippur.

I know my generation gets a facebook-wide hard-on once a year when Discovery Channel’s shark week comes around, even though 90% of us didn’t give two shits about going to the aquarium when our schools dragged us there as children (and we apparently have 0 memory as well, since there’s barely any new programming each time around). I can accept this though, because prog fans have their own marathon to look forward to every year (ok, so it hasn’t happened every year, shut up).

On September 8th, starting at sundown (ha!), VH1 Classic will be doing their quasi-yearly ‘Rush Hashanah’ marathon. This year’s programming includes the rock doc Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (which I reviewed previously), the record-breaking concert Rush in Rio, the premiere of Classic Albums: Moving Pictures and Classic Albums: 2112 , and an all-rush themed That Metal Show featuring Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. Neil Peart will be performing a 8 minute shofar solo that will be played in lieu of commercials. I’m also sure the following clip will be played 500 times, and I’ll enjoy it every time:

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