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Musings and Meanderings

Saturday, June 24, 2006

NEARfest Saturday.

Started with oversleeping as the Hatfield show had gone way late. It was overcast in the morning and ended up being a very pleasant rainy weekend. This kept the temperatures down, but only seemed to POUR during the dinner break on Sunday, so most of us stayed dry.

After a pleasant morning and jawing over breakfast Mark and I hauled butt back to Bethlehem only to be confronted on 3rd or 4th ave with the Motorcade for the Puerto Rico Pride day. I did a little U turn and trail blazed a different route to Zoellner.

It did get us in a tad late, but just barely. We missed the first few stanza's of KBB's opening song. Totally different people sitting next to me Saturday from the Legends Showcase, which would turn to be a problem later in the day...


I am a huge Jean Luc Ponty fan. Have been since 77 or so, his music sings to my soul. So I am always looking for something similar, even though that is a pipe dream considering how unique his talent is. KBB comes close, with a strong whiff of Mahavishnu Orchestra thrown in. Their set was just smoking good, and again the looming hand of Jazz settled over Zoellner as the band played. I have one of their albums Four Corner Sky on my iPod so I did recognize a couple of pieces. I'm a big fan of Jazz so this worked for me.

The lead in the band was also the spokesperson and he had a type written sheet of what he was to say at the breaks, as he didn't feel comfortable enough to ad lib in Engrish. I thought he did much better than the spokespeople for some of the other Japanese bands in previous years. The drummer was wearing a Japanese Boy Scout Uniform during the set, but had taken it off for the signings. Overall this band got a 5/5 from me for the killer electric guitar and tight fusion. I got their Live album (and the bonus outake disc) in line to get my signatures.


I had no idea what to expect with Riverside. What I found was extremely excellent heavy prog bordering on metal. I have since listened to the CD twice now and feel their CD is much softer than the performance we got. This was refreshingly heavy that was not in a RIO or Zuel subgenre, something we have not really had at Nearfest that much.

I was reminded very much of Tool for some reason, not that they imitated them in any way, but some of the vocals and musical back beats were a bit similar. Having never heard them I have no idea what they played of course. I gave this band a 4/5, nothing wrong with a solid B. The band was very pleasant at the signing and as I said I picked up their CD to have it signed.

Between Riverside and FM we took a picture of all the internet friends who I meet every year.

Back Row: Eric and his wife, Mark C (my host), Steve I (Long Island), Jim (Ohio), Hannah (15) and her dad Kevin (NJ), and Robert from Quebec
Middle Row: Donna K (NJ), Mark G (Ohio), Adam P (NYC),and Me
Front row kneeling: Bill K (NJ) and Andre (NYC)


Praise be to Rob for being a FM fan, or I would never have seen this band at Nearfest. Maybe never, for as they supposedly opened for the Rush Moving Pictures Tour, I frankly don't remember seeing them. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, I just do not remember them opening. Maybe I got to the concert late. ANYWAY seeing FM was a great highlight for me. I don't usually comment on other reviews, but I have read some pretty lukewarm responses to this band. I would like to offer the opinion from the Fan perspective.

Cam and Marty were really very ON for this performance. They had taken the time to go back and review the studio and outtakes from the acetates and tapes for their albums and wanted to bring the original music back to life without the drift that happens to any band's music over time. This effort really showed in the performance. Their take on Sci Fi rock/prog is very unique, and uniquely Canadian. Prog with a pop tinge. Their newest member, who to me looked like the actor Deep Roy (the oompa loompa in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) was probably the best person I have heard in that band position. Anyway for me FM is a very personal thing, being a avid sci fi head since Elementary School, not only do I know and love their music, but the lyrics speak to me as well. 6/5 for Nostalgia alone.

I missed the signing for FM because I was told they were having dinner first, and Bill K has filled you in on the fiasco at Brew Works. So I won't hammer it except to say that thanks to Kevin's daughter Hannah, as well as a couple of guys I had not met before I was able to track down Marty before the Emerson show and get him to sign my rare "Direct to Disc" aka Head Room Vinyl cover.

I did get to speak to Marty, tell him how much his music had touched me over the years, and to learn that he still had ALL the acetates for Direct to Disc and they WERE setting up to release this on a CD in the near future, with possible outtakes that he had kept as well. Direct to disc is a live studio album where the band did two suites, Border Crossing and Head Room, recorded directly to Acetate with no remixes and then published on Disc Washer records in a limited quantity.

Ozric Tentacles

When I got to my seat late, there was an enormous person sitting where a petite woman or no one at all had been sitting earlier in the fest. This crushed me between to "big guys". Bit of a "personal space" contest during the show which Mark will confirm had me pretty ornery by the end. Really most uncomfortable, but in the end the gentleman and I became "friends" on Sunday and chatted quite a bit.

For a headlining act, I don't have that much to say really. A few thoughts. 1) I should have seen them a long time ago. 2) The Ed Wynne show was MUCH BETTER at Nearfest than the show I saw at Revolution Hall in Troy the Saturday night before. 3) Brandi needs to stop giggling on stage, it just strikes me as very unprofessional. 4) I loved the back graphics movies that were made by the dread locked blond guy that kept making monkey noises and cartwheels during the signing. 5) They did play somewhat of a best of set so I enjoyed what was played. Sorry I don't do setlists. Finally - Ed needs to put his ego back in his pocket and get some musicians that will talk to him musically on stage instead of just back him up. Tons of Blanga tonight, very little inspiration. 3/5 for being too focused on one player.

However OT did get done at a reasonable hour so even with the signing everyone got out of Zoellner well before Midnight.

Many more pics at Mike Montfort Nearfest Gallery
posted by Mike 11:59 PM


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The musings and meanderings of an overworked and underemployed mind