CalProg Update
April 12, 2011

This press release is for those interested in the CalProg organization and more specifically the status of “The Festival”. What follows is an admittedly verbose statement on the state of our organization and a fair amount of speculation on the state of the prog music scene in general. If you are not interested in all that I suggest you skip down to the last section labeled “The Bottom Line” for your convenience.

I have been receiving a lot of emails inquiring about the status of our annual event the CalProg Festival. This past weekend there was a meeting of the executive staff and it was decided that it would be a good idea to issue a statement to let our faithful fans know what’s going on as well as to dispel any rumors and speculation that is floating about with regards to our future plans.

The CalProg Organization
CalProg was founded in 2004. We have a simple and very specific mission: To seek out the best progressive rock acts available and present them in an intimate family friendly theater concert setting. While many people think of us only as “The Festival”, we have in fact since the very beginning, been quite diversified in our productions. While we do consider the festival to be our flagship offering, since our inception we have put on 18 shows, only 7 of which have been “The Festival”. Our business model has been successful because of this diversity. In fact, we have watched the festival attendance steadily decline since our only sell out in 2005 while the attendance of our one-off’s has been consistently strong. I’m happy to report that financially we are quite healthy!

Long before the announcement of the cancellation of NearFest 2011 we had been considering taking a year off from the festival circuit. There is no shortage of speculation about why festival attendance has dropped off in recent years, but in comparing notes with the other festival organizers, and seeing a good number of them come and go in the past 5 years I know that we are not the only ones seeing this decline. I’m sure there are multiple contributing factors, and I’m not convinced that any single one of them is solely to blame. But regardless of the “why”, the fact is that prog festival attendance in general is on the decline. Possible factors being bantered about are: the economy, a glut of festivals, a lull in the fervor of new and returning prog fans, limited number of “top shelf prog acts", etc. Believe me, I have spent countless hours reading prog boards, publications and comparing notes with everyone who has an opinion on the subject and all I know for sure is that no one really knows why.

I speak for the entire CalProg staff when I say that while the Festival is by far the most challenging to execute from a perspective of planning, logistics, and production, it is also the most rewarding thing we do artistically. There is an undeniable magic that we experience each year as a room full of avid music fans discover new (and sometimes old) bands together that outside of the festival environment might have never been on a stage in our city. We spend countless hours pouring over acts each year trying to select a diverse yet compelling combination for this purpose. And we have made some wonderful discoveries together. Who can forget the off-beat charm of Bubblemath, the polished jazzy prog of Helmet of Gnats, the youthful charisma of Spiraling and District 97, the warmth and class of our dear friends IZZ, the powerhouse of Swedish prog Karmakanic and Agents of Mercy, the brilliant multi-media spectacle of miRthkon and the mind-blowing performance of last year’s headliners Ambrosia who befuddled even the most ardent naysayers? The list goes on and on, and without the festival I don’t think most of us would have ever seen these bands. The thing that is saddest to me personally about not doing the festival is that we cannot provide a big stage for so many young bands that deserve this exposure. But we think it’s better to provide SOME prog than none, so keeping CalProg alive as an organization takes precedence over our personal wants and desires.

The Bottom Line
CalProg the Festival is going on hiatus until we feel that the climate is right to do it again. But we will turn our focus to bringing you more “one-off” shows as they become available. In addition to the one-offs, we have revived a series of shows called "CalProg Nights" at Steamers Jazz Club & Cafe in Fullerton. This gives us the opportunity to showcase new prog acts on the rise in a relaxed and intimate club setting and a very affordable price. 

We’d like to thank you all for your continued support over these past 8 years. It is because of you that we exist, and we will continue to do our best to keep bringing top shelf prog music to southern California.


Jim “PapaJ” Harrel @ CalProg