It's weird: in some ways I was the least excited about the lineup beforehand, yet the most satisfied afterward! In some ways, I could say it WAS the 'best CalProg ever!'
However high or low my expectations were, each band surpassed them.
I was looking forward most to seeing District 97, and then they were even way better than I thought. Seeing a cute, young female who can really sing belting out "Back in NYC"...well...what can I say?! Looks they'll be at
ROSfest, too, so see 'em!
I didn't know anything about miRthkon, and they were a blast (kinda reminded me of something Estradasphere show). Quirky mix of jazz, classical, metal, etc. with some funny video projections (my favorite being "Dude, You Totally Blew My Mind!"
Before this show, I thought RPWL was a Pink Floyd soundalike, but then seeing them live totally turned me around - really great songs, and very impressive medley that was full of prog social commentary & poked fun at the whole 'what is prog?' thing and music criticism, etc. They were great!
I've never heard the old Ambrosia stuff, except for the little preview sample medley on the CalProg site, and it didn't exactly reach out and grab me. But when they played...Damn, they sounded great. The drummer kicked ass, bass player was ripping, the harmonies were awesome....I was very impressed. Definitely not limping through like some of the old farts I've seen play live lately!
All in all, everyone made it worth it.
I may post some District 97 videos soon on YouTube, when I get around to going through them. (My vid's are usually visually unimpressive, but the sound comes out pretty decent)
BEST CALPROG EVER!!!
Absolutley kickass festival this year. Every band delivered the goods big time- I especially enjoyed the reacton of those that weren't familiar with the first two Ambrosia
abums. Lots of converts after last night. Thanks to all who come every year and make CalProg such a great time for all of us.
I know I say it every year, but it's true! This was the best one ever. PapaJ and co. just keep topping themselves. Every band brought their own brand of brilliance to the stage. MirthKon's quirky humor really added something extra special to their challenging but infectious music. District 97 followed up nicely with a very polished and energetic performance. RPWL was unexpectedly lighthearted while they served up a variety of moods and atmospheres. And Ambrosia...what can I say? I only knew of their radio hits so their jaw-dropping set was a hugely pleasant surprise!
So I'll say it again: Best. CalProg. Ever...(until next year!)
What an amazing show Ambrosia laid out to us last night! After seeing RPWL, the band that I was most excited to see and really one of my favorite bands, I was a bit leery of Ambrosia being able to come through and play a set that would keep my interest at such a high level. I am very familiar with early Ambrosia and I've seen the band back 15 years ago several times. What they did last night was way beyond what I had expected. Not only did they keep the pace of the show going strong, they played their early music with unbelievable talent, energy and inspiration!! I went away on such a high note, I have truly another level of appreciation for what those guys did. I would gladly see that show again, no question. And what a way to end the night.... Magical Mystery Tour!! It was so apropos of the day. It was a mystery tour that took us to many different places. Thanks Jim for putting together such a strong lineup.
And what humor those guys from Germany have!!! This is not a prog song?????? That was really one of my highlights from the day. Its great to see a band like that that can take a look at Prog and not be so consumed with their attitudes towards the music. They have a great sense of not being soooo serious about it. RPWL's set was everything I would have hoped for, except not playing a Pink Floyd cover song :) I was hoping to hear Cymbaline or their version of Welcome to the Machine.
Another highlight??? Time waits for no one.. Ambrosia blew me away!!!
No wonder I didnt sleep until after 3am.
Mirthkon's never waning, high intensity set would have disappointed the ballad seekers out there. But not being one, I loved their music which combined intense, intelligence, wackiness (silly props, articles of clothing that disappear and goofy graphics) and didn't exclude all of the usual prog subjects like bananas, bumblebees, maggots and swarms of ants. MC Roland (Quib) tells me that one of the guitarists (the one sitting in a chair - Rob Pumpelly I think) utilized a theremin. I missed it at the time but enjoyed his atmospheric contributions anyway. I have never heard woodwind musicians play so many 1/16th notes in one setting. And I didn't recognize the song they said was a cover (obviously other people in the audience did) - anyone figure it out? I got a kick out of the graphic showing the cover of a Bible with pages turned to reveal that "God" is the owner of the book - HA!
Young bands like District 97 are refreshing. This group of 20-somethings, some without facial hair (and I am not talking about singer, Leslie Hunt), presented their mostly original music with great energy. I particularly enjoyed the skills of Patrick Mulcahy on bass, Sam Krahn on guitar and the former finalist of American Idol, Ms. Hunt. Their performance of Back in NYC was spine-tingling. I look forward to their future work.
German neo-proggers RPWL are not my cup-of-tea, but they produced a smooth set that included their big songs. Yogi Lang prefers his songs to lean toward social commentary - including class struggle and victims of war. He nicely introduced each song and what he was thinking when he wrote them. Notable to realize that he essentially apologized for Germany's past aggressions and got a rise out of the audience when suggesting that our soldiers should come home. "This is Not a Prog Song" was noteworthy for the many prog song references the band managed to slip in.
No doubt, Ambrosia was the highlight of the day as their musicianship and material gave proof to the notion that experience trumps all. These veterans covered many of their early classics, including tasteful tunes that didn't make it to an album. Joe Puerta's voice is just as clear as the day I bought my first Ambrosia album. And there couldn't have been a better replacement for Pack than Shem. These guys have not lost their chops as every member showed their virtuosity. A pinnacle moment came during Doug Jackson's acoustic guitar solo - a super creative Texan at the peak of his skills (I hope Jim includes that one on the CP10 cd). These guys wrote some of my favorite songs of the mid-70's - and their vocal harmonies rank right up there with the Beach Boys. I wished I could have had one more conversation with Joe Puerta during the autograph session. I would have told him that I should have brought along my afro pick for an autograph for I tried to emulate Joe with my own "fro" in 1976 (photos of that will not be made available). And the crowning moment, of course, was Jim performing in spoken word. Nicely done.
I just wanted to shoot you a note to thank you for another great Calprog. I have to admittedly tell you that when the line-up was announced, I was really only excited for the most part about RPWL, but I was VERY wrong. It was a full day of extremely entertaining performances. First of all, I should say that I have seen RPWL a few times before and they have always put on a good show. Nothing compared to their performance at Calprog though. It was absolutely fantastic. I though Chris Postl was an essential part of the band, but it appears that his recent departure has energized them. I wish Chris all the best, but I am very excited to see where the band goes from here. To me, RPWL were the highlight of the festival, but in truth, it is hard to choose.
As I mentioned to you yesterday, I had a feeling that District 97 would be a good live band and they definitely didn't disappoint. They were great and it is so reassuring to see such a young group of musicians writing and performing music that is so strong and adventurous. They were fantastic and Leslie Hunt is an amazing breath of fresh air to the progressive scene. I fully expect District 97 to become one of the big names in the progressive rock scene and it is
fitting that their prog festival debut was at Calprog. MiRthkon were amazing musicians and though their style was a little too on the experimental side for me, it was hard to not be impressed by the amount of effort that they put into their set. As for Ambrosia, I was familiar with their first few albums and though I enjoy them, I have to say that their performance still took me by surprise. I honestly didn't expect their set to be so powerful and it definitely ended the festival on a true high note. By the way, awesome job on 'Mama Frog'.
Ambrosia- Wow what can I say about these guys. A misunderstood band and I wish everyone of you who reads this could have been there last night to bask in the glory of the music that was and how powerful it is. Playing a majority of the set music from the first three Ambrosia albums and I am telling you these belong right up there to America's best prog music, this set smoked!
I know Ambrosia is really known as a pop band but everything I saw last night reminded me to my first time seeing them in 1975 how great musicians these guys were and how powerful their music was. While David Pack is not with them anymore his soul still lives in the songs and the replacement musicians are not just adequate they are spectacular in the delivery of the music. Along with founders Joe Puerta, Burleigh Drummand and Christopher North the stage was also graced with Shem Von Shroeck who sang beautifully and played acoustic guitar and bass, Doug Jackson guitars, backing vocals and more amazing was David Lewis who was recovering from a stroke he suffered just a couple of weeks ago to play some fiery synth solos and strings!
From Nice Nice, to Somewhere I've Never Traveled to Mamma Frog to Life beyond LA to finally a supercharged version of Holding on the Yesterday and the classic of Magical Mystery Tour Ambrosia showed why they should be mentioned in the same breath as any of the prog bands from that period. Simply breathtaking. Super nice guys who hung out and signed everything put in front of them, smiled and chatted with us all. I also found out an answer to my question I have had for years they did play on the first Alan Parsons Project Tales of Mysteries and Imagination but the song I thought they did was wrong. They play The Raven not Dr. Tar and Professor Feather.
Papa Jim and Staff thank you one again for a brilliant show. I hope and dream for Calprog 2011. People who didn't come missed out on maybe on the most diverse and well played sets of prog in the history of the fests here.
District 97 was fantastic, after listening to the CD for the first time on the drive home, if the cello player was able to be there they would have blown the friggin roof off the building!
Very unusual to see the drummer as the sole writer and lyricist. ( Except one song I think Lesile wrote the lyrics
CalProg 2010 was simply
fantastic, from start to finish.
miRthkon did an absolutely
awesome show - these guys are unbelievably good live. Hard to imagine
how many hours of practice they had to invest to be able to play
their complex and quirky music live the way they did. The background
video was very clever and funny complementing nicely their performance. Very
District 97 is a band with
the great potential, and I'm already looking forward to their next
album. Really loved the voice and the stage presence of Leslie Hunt. It
was very unfortunate Katinka, their cello player, could not make it to
CalProg - her sound adds a very interesting touch to the overall
feel on their debut album, and I'm sure she would add a lot to
their stage performance, but to their credit, the band did a great job
covering for her.
medley was really cool - I tried to count how many different tunes they
managed to pack into it but lost track. Overall great sound, nice song
selection and a great show.
Ambrosia... What a great
surprise! Their performance was incredibly powerful and tight,
and all the songs sounded so fresh as if they were written
yesterday. The band played with so much energy. Special
thanks to the band for the Magical Mystery Tour cover - it was
a great ending for their amazing show. Nice, nice, very
Thanks again, Jim, to you
and the whole CalProg staff.
review from the guy sitting in M101:
I missed D97's set all together, as I had business to attend to, thus not
much I can say about them.
I'm not a big RPWL fan, but for some reason I had some expectations going
in that they would be good. And I have to say I was blown away by RPWL. A
band that hadn't really impressed me up to this point, (I even had seen a
DVD of them live), but maybe it was one of those "you have to see
them live situations". Took a while to warm up to them, but Yogi was
a great front man and I thought they really did a great show on Saturday.
"Not a Prog Song", or whatever it was called, was a very funny
take on prog in general. Especially amusing as I happened to wear an Asia
Omega shirt to that set (one of the many bands they took a poke at during
that song). And I cried like a baby during "Hole in the Sky".
Don't know why, it just touched me.
I would say that was the performance of the night BUT.......
...then Ambrosia came on and completely blew me away. Mama Frog being the
highlight of their set with just some incredible jamming on that song. An
outstanding performance and I think they pulled out all the stops with
this show. A band like Ambrosia could have just phoned it in, but they
didn't. Energetic, entusisatic, and just as excited as the fans.
I missed D97's set all together, but have to say I was blown away by RPWL. A band that hadn't really impressed me up to this point (I even had seen a DVD of them live). But I thought they really did a great show on Saturday and please, please I hope you have a recorded copy of "Not a Prog Song" or whatever it was called. That had me cracking up. God I hope you have it on "tape". And I cried like a baby on "Hole in the Sky". Don't know why, it just touched me.
I would say that was the performance of the night but then Ambrosia came on and completely blew me away. Mama Frog being the highlight and just some incredible jamming on that song.
Again, an incredible performance and I think they pulled out all the stops with their CalProg performance (thanks for the narration by the way, you looked pretty tired,