NEARfest '99

Bookmarks: e-Prog members' comments

From: Ghost <>
The inaugural North East Art Rock Festival (or NEARfest) is scheduled to take place during the weekend of June 26 and 27, 1999 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The two-day event is a celebration of the resurgence of progressive and eclectic music in the United States and around the world. NEARfest '99 is being championed by Robert LaDuca and Chad Hutchinson.
Here is the list of bands performing at NEARfest '99:
   Day One:  Alaska, The Hand Farm, Larry Fast of Synergy, Mastermind, IQ
   Day Two:  Nathan Mahl, Ice Age, Crucible, Solaris, Spock's Beard
This will be an indoor event utilizing the beautiful Foy Concert Hall at Moravian College in historic downtown Bethlehem. The hall is a modern, acoustically designed venue capable of seating 428 people. The location is ideal due to its relative proximity to many major east coast cities. For instance Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore are all well within a three hour drive. The City of Bethlehem is also noted for its hosting of two very popular annual music festivals, MusikFest (early August) and the Celtic Classic (late September).
For more information, please contact the NEARfest organizers:
   Robert LaDuca, (570) 696-9974
   Chad Hutchinson, (610) 797-8010
   (Please call before 11:00 pm EST. Thank you!)
or visit the NEARfest website at
The North East Art Rock Festival is a not-for-profit event.

From: Ghost <>
We are very happy to announce that NEARfest will be broadcast across the Internet! Studio M from Wilmington, Delaware will be recording the show solely for the purposes of this exciting online event. We are glad to be able to team up with Studio M to bring NEARfest '99 to all of the fans of progressive rock around the world that are not able to attend this year. Studio M is an online concert broadcast series produced by Mobius New Media, a website development and multimedia company, and Magpage. Studio M is a project that provides bands playing in the DelMarVa area a new, worldwide venue to promote their music: the Internet. Each netcast in this series will provide a live streaming audio feed to the Internet and is coupled with digital photos. Recently, Studio M was in Philadelphia to record and subsequently broadcast Spock's Beard's show at Upstairs at Nick's. In the last two weeks, over 70,000 people have checked into Studio M. Make sure YOU click over to get a taste of Spock's Beard live! Studio M has also broadcast shows by Grey Eyed Glances, Peter Himmelman, The Church, Love Seed Mama Jump, Huffamoose and others. NEARfest '99 will be broadcast in streaming RealAudio sometime in mid-July. Stay tuned to the NEARfest website for the latest information.

e-Prog members' comments who attended:
From: Peter Abusamra <>
I just wanted to thank Rob&Chad for putting a great festival and making our first progday such a hit. Mary Ann and I enjoyed meeting so many nice people. I really would've liked to have been a fly on the wall to hear what Solaris' flautist said to Rob!  p.s. Solaris and Nathan Mahl were my biggest surprises. I wish the boys from Canada much success!

From: "Robertson, Scott" <>
I agree with Peter...many thanks to Rob (a self-proclaimed Prog-tologist) and Chad for dreaming up and flawlessly executing NEARfest. I have already put in my time off for next years event.

From: "Mark Fonda" <>
Just a short note about NEARfest. I just arrived in California for the rest of my vacation. My ears are still ringing from being only five rows back from the speakers for Mastermind (need to bring earplugs next time). Many, many thanks to Rob and Chad for a fantastic inaugural festival!!! It was good to meet fellow e-Proggers Dirk, Roy, Pete, Britt, Lee and Adam... I also enjoyed meeting Greg Walker, Mark Cella, John Collinge, Captain MDA (believe it or not!!) and others. I got plenty of pictures and I will post them when I get them back. I'll write more later, but my ranking of the groups from the weekend were: Solaris, Spock's Beard, IQ, Nathan Mahl, Alaska, Crucible, Mastermind, Scott McGill's Hand Farm, Ice Age.  I also enjoyed the Larry Fast presentation and I introduced myself to him afterwards and thanked him for reissuing all his remastered Synergy works which are treasured items in my CD collection. I only wish everyone had name tags because I would have been able to meet so many more familiar names that were there.

From: "Britton Brewer"<>
Kudos to Rob and Chad (and their supporting cast) for pulling off NEARFest in high style! There were many outstanding performances (I was particularly taken with IQ and Solaris) and the atmosphere was most conducive to an event of this sort (stronger air conditioning wouldn't have hurt in the concert hall, though :). I had a great time meeting and chatting with fellow e-prog2gers (e.g., Pete Absumara, Lee Fisher, David Kuznick) throughout the weekend. Our fearless leader, Mark Fonda, was a gracious "host" for the duration of festival for wayward e-prog2gers and their friends/families. Based on my experience, I would not hesitate to return for next year's NEARFest, which will be held at a larger venue on the campus of Lehigh University. I hope others in attendance had as much fun as I did.

From: Peter Abusamra <>
I believe I have to agree with Mark's listing order-mine seem to follow suit. What I really love is to hear each band on separate nights-with air conditioning!

From: Roy DeRousse <>
It was great meeting you too, Mark. I wish I had met more people from this list. We really needed nametags or something like that. I pretty much agree with your ranking, although I would flip Spock's Beard and IQ. They were pretty close, though!

From: "Robertson, Scott" <>
I wish I had the time to make it over to the Hotel Bethlehem to meet the other e-prog2gers at the 'fest, but unfortunately, I spent too much of my time (and money!) visiting all of the CD vendors that were set up. As for the show, I would have to list my preferences as follows: IQ, Solaris, Crucible, Spock's Beard, Larry Fast's Prog 101*, Nathan Mahl, Alaska, Mastermind, Ice Age, Scott McGill's Hand Farm. *Larry Fast's segment was pretty interesting. I just wish he had played a little! One of my favorites moments was the preview of the rough mix for the new Iluvatar CD. These guys are definitely one of my favorites. I did get a chance to talk with John Jowitt of IQ. I asked him what Subterranea is about (I figured he would get this question all the time, but he said it was the first he was asked). He said it is based on the story of Kaspar Hauser from the early 1800's in Germany. If you are interested, you can check out the following Web sites:

From: "Fisher, Lee" <>
As said, NEARFest was just incredible and it was cool to meet some e-prog2gers although I wished a few more could have made it to our meetings... Next time we'll have to have more organized meetings and t-shirts or something... I drove up from Philly, so I was 'commuting' to the show. The first band was Alaska, which had a good sound for two guys although it would've been nice to hear more of the singers voice in the mix. Especially when he came out from behind the drums and just sang he sounded really great. Scott McGill's Hand Farm was next. McGill is a killer guitar player, but many people said his style is largely a Holdsworth rip-off, which is tough to argue with. The set also seemed to get repetitive after a bit, he needs to have a little more variety and more of his own style. Then we had Larry Fast come out with his multimedia presentation of his view of the history of electronic music. I had read on his web site that he was doing this so may not have been as disappointed as some that he didn't play, although he kept a mini-moog tantalizingly by his side, yet refused to touch it. I found the presentation good and very informative. If you enjoyed it you may want to check out Tony Levin's Beyond the Bass Clef book where there are several anecdotes regarding the PG band and Larry fast and lots of other good stuff as well. Then we had a break and I got to meet some e-prog2 people and got a sneak preview of the e-prog2 disk which sounds really great! We rushed back for Mastermind, only to discover that there would be a bit of a delay. After a long wait, but not as long as the wait Sunday was to be, we finally got in. It was at this point there were some issues with the seating policy. Seats had been sold general admission, but after the first set, Chad said that people should try to keep the same seats for the whole weekend. Of course only a few people were actually there at the time, so when people came in the evening, some were upset to find that 'their seats' had been taken and others were upset to get kicked out of general admission seats. So guys next year just sell reserved seats! Anyway, Mastermind played a great, pretty varied and INTENSE set. I had never seen them and it really blew me away... Of course I immediately rushed out and bought the CD after the show, but their new stuff they played seems like it may be even better. Then we went back in for IQ. IQ gave a great and pretty long set. At first I was thinking "Peter Nicholls is a total freak". He didn't smile once until like right near the end. They played amazingly well, but again we could have used a better mix in the vocals. I had only heard Subterranea, but I really love that album, so the songs from that were really great. The old stuff was great as well. I wish they had played at least one new song... Anyhow, now I'll have to buy all the albums... It took me many listens to get past his voice on sub, but now I really love it and think it works very well as a unified piece of work. Not sure how that other story fits in though... Sunday was also great, we drove back up after getting in at 1:30am the night before and got there at like 10:30am... Rather than heading right in to catch Nathan Mahl, we (my brother and I) strolled by the vendor area and were immediately assaulted by the Hungarian manager for Solaris. He decided to give us a 'crash course' in Hungarian Prog and we listened to a bunch of great stuff. I ended up getting Martian Chronicles (had gotten Nostradamus the day before) and East, while my brother got Rumblin' Orchestra, the Solaris guy Istvan's solo album and went back later for After Crying. It was all incredible stuff. We went in for the Mahl set and it was pretty impressive. We missed Ice Age, but saw Crucible and they were also enjoyable, although I was having trouble staying awake at that point. During the Mahl set I kept thinking that I would've enjoyed it more in the afternoon... Then we had dinner and after a lot of delays, I think we finally got in to see Solaris around 8pm... Solaris was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Killer flute, some 'lead' bass playing and great keyboards, were just amazing. What's the deal with the two bass players? One played in the beginning and end and the other played during the whole middle part. The first one seemed a bit better although both were incredible. After some ado, Solaris finished their set and we had to clear out so Beard could set up. I didn't think anything could follow Solaris, but Beard pulled it off amazingly well. Before the show, my brother was wondering if the guys were 'animated' and would make for good photo ops. Well they certainly were... jumping all over the place, going into the audience. Totally amazing showmen and musicians. They played a ton of stuff until the singer had totally blown his voice. They came out for an encore with him on drums and the drummer singing...hehe. It was a fantastic show... I guess my order would be: Solaris, Spock's Beard, Mastermind, IQ, Nathan Mahl, Alaska, Crucible, Scott McGill's Hand Farm, Ice Age. Sorry for the length, just trying to pack in a lot of info...

From: Dirk Evans <>
Here are my NearFest pictures: I did not take any pictures of the bands because 2 friends were working hard to take professional pictures of the shows. Some people you will see: Mark Fonda, Alan Mallery, me, Peter Renfro, Roy DeRousse, and many others...

From: Gamantyo Hendrantoro <>
Ok, here we go again. To save your time finding the right links:
Nathan Mahl
Spock's Beard
(Ice Age .ra link has been disabled on the band's request, if I'm not mistaken)
Replace "28" in the above with "56" for the higher rate. The setlists for all bands are here:
Many thanks to NEARFest'99 management and studio M. Great work, guys!