Big Big Train has recruited Alberto Bravin as lead vocalist following the tragic death of David Longdon in November 2021.
Based in Trieste in Italy, Bravin’s career includes performing around 200 shows with progressive rock legends PFM between 2015 and January 2022, both in Italy and internationally, singing lead and backing vocals and playing keyboards.
Alberto Bravin says: “I am extremely honored to have the opportunity to join Big Big Train. I was already a huge BBT fan and am looking forward to play my part in taking this great band forward while also honoring the memory of David Longdon.”
Big Big Train bassist and founder Gregory Spawton comments: “Before Covid-19 hit, Nick D’Virgilio and I had both seen Alberto perform with PFM. We were very impressed with his abilities as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist and therefore approached him earlier this year.
“We know that David is irreplaceable and we miss him deeply both musically and personally,” Spawton continues. “We were very clear that we didn’t want to bring someone into the band who would seek to mimic David; that just felt fundamentally wrong. Instead, we wanted someone who could do justice with their own musical skills and personality to the songs that David sang for Big Big Train as well as being able to help to drive the band forwards. From his first audition singing some BBT classic songs and subsequently his work on some new material that we’re working on, we’re confident that we’ve found the right person in Alberto.”
“Aside from Alberto’s great voice and all-around musical skills, it was also vital for us to find the right personal fit, particularly after being struck with David’s sudden death,” drummer Nick D’Virgilio comments. “We flew Alberto to London several weeks ago so we could hang together for a few days and the chemistry immediately felt right.”
Alberto was born in Trieste, on Italy’s north-eastern border with Slovenia.
His involvement in music began at the age of three when he started taking piano lessons. Later on, he developed an interest in electronic keyboards and synthesizers and this paved the way for his love of progressive rock music.
At the age of 17, Alberto began studying opera singing at the Trieste Conservatory and after a couple of years, he moved to London where he graduated in modern singing. Alongside his singing and piano playing, Alberto is also a self-taught guitarist, bassist, and drummer.
After his studies in London, Alberto returned to Trieste where he opened his own recording studios (Echoes Recording Studios) and released two albums (Sinestesia and The Day After Flower) with his band Sinestesia (featuring Alberto, Roby De Micheli, Alessandro Sala, and Paolo Marchesich of Rhapsody Of Fire). Both albums were produced by Franz Di Cioccio of Italian progressive rock legends PFM – Premiata Forneria Marconi. Alberto also recorded and mixed Rhapsody Of Fire’s eleventh album, 2016’s Into The Legend.
In 2015 Alberto joined PFM (alongside Marco Sfogli) as a singer and additional guitarist and keyboard player. With PFM he played around 200 shows, both in Italy and worldwide, and released two albums (2017’s Emotional Tattoos and 2021’s I Dreamed Of Electric Sheep). Alberto is a Beatles fanatic and at the same time a progressive rock and metal aficionado.
Big Big Train is pleased to confirm that their two previously announced UK shows in September 2022 will take place. In addition, the band has scheduled six further shows for September in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and France.
Keyboardist/vocalist Carly Bryant is unable to tour with the band in September 2022 for family reasons. “After over two years of being part of Big Big Train and involved in two studio albums, I was extremely keen to go on the road with the band. However a recent change in my family situation means that sadly I cannot be away from home in the autumn,” Bryant explains. “I love being part of BBT and will be on stage with the band at the earliest opportunity when my family commitments permit.”
Alongside Bravin, D’Virgilio, Spawton, and longstanding guitarist Rikard Sjöblom, the Big Big Train line-up for the September 2022 shows will consist of guitarist Dave Foster, violinist/vocalist Clare Lindley, keyboardist Oskar Holldorff and the Big Big Train brass section led by Dave Desmond. Holldorff leads Norwegian band Dim Gray, whose debut album Flown was much acclaimed last year and who are preparing to release their second album later this year.
“Oskar came to our attention from his work with Dim Gray and is another tremendous talent to involve in Big Big Train,” Sjöblom says. “We’re very grateful to him for stepping in while Carly is unavailable. It’s also exciting that Big Big Train is becoming an increasingly international band – in September we will have an American, a Swede, an Italian, and a Norwegian on stage with the Brits.”
During the September tour, Big Big Train will be playing material from various stages of their career and also one new song.
“We were originally scheduled to play live shows in spring 2020 but then Covid-19 derailed our live plans repeatedly and since then we’ve prepared numerous different setlists,” Sjöblom continues. “We’ve released two full albums since we last played live and are spoilt for choice with the setlist for September.”
“In addition to our UK shows, I’m really looking forward to getting back into continental Europe,” D’Virgilio adds. “As well as visiting the prog strongholds of the Boerderij and Z7, we thought it would be cool to play some smaller venues in France and Germany as we re-establish BBT as a live band. We can’t wait to get out and play again and show what this band can do!”
The festival’s motto. And never could it have proved to be more appropriate than now.
When King’s X found themselves forced to cancel, after realizing that even daily physio was not going to suffice to get Ty Tybor’s fret finger back into good enough shape to prepare properly for their performance at this year’s RoSFest, the festival organizers found themselves in a bit of a fix.
But ‘community’ is a keyword for the annual Rites Of Spring Festival, and a group of musicians, captained by Dave Kerzner stepped up to ensure that the weekend’s entertainment would not be marred by a gaping hole in the line-up.
Sunday night’s headliner spot will now feature Dave KerZner and his newly formed All Star Prog Band featuring world-famous session man, Fernando Perdomo (Carmine Appice, Out to Sea, Echo in the Canyon…), Durga McBroom (Pink Floyd, Steve Hackett, Blue Pearl…), Billy Sherwood (Yes, Arc of Life, Circa, Asia…), Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, Spock’s Beard, The Fringe, Genesis…). Dave also promises to surprise the audience with a magnificent set-list and a few surprises and special guests.
Performers & Schedule
Friday, April 15th 08:30 – 10:30 PM – Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew Remain in Light
Saturday, April 16th 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Lobate Scarp 02:00 PM – 03:00 PM – Ten Jinn 05:00 PM – 06:30 PM – Robert Berry’s 3.2 08:30 PM – 10:00 PM – Jon Anderson with The Paul Green Rock Academy
Sunday, April 17th 11: 00 AM –12:00 PM – Head With Wings 02:00 PM – 03:00 PM – The Tea Club 05:00 PM – 06:30 PM – Pattern-Seeking Animals 08:30 PM – 10:00 PM – Dave KerZner All Star Prog Band Thank you for supporting RoSFest.
RoSFest is set to end with a fantastic party atmosphere for musicians, fans, and organizers!
I am back as years before, struggling to know if I missed any albums on this list, and the answer would be a resounding yes. Every year see thousands of releases just in the prog genre alone. It’s virtually impossible to discover and hear every prog release in any given year, so I did my best to showcase the cream of the crop, but then again I must point out these are one man’s points of view and will vary from publication and reviewer abroad. My taste in music is vast so I hope you all feel I have done justice by showcasing these 21 releases. The Un-qualified Critic
1)The Blue Door First full-length release by Candian Progressive jazz folk-rock act, A Gardening Club Project CD & Digital Melodic Revolution Records http://gardeningclubmusicandart.ca
2) The Uncrowned King (Act 1) The third release by US art-rock band, Evership CD & Digital Self-released https://www.evership.com
3) We Are The Truth Sixth studio album by Swedish progressive rock band, Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion CD, LP & Digital Glassville Records https://www.hfmcband.com
4) Imperial Fifth album by progressive metal supergroup, Soen CD, LP & Digital Silver Lining Music https://soenmusic.com
11) The Absolute Universe Forevermore Fifth studio album by multinational progressive rock supergroup, Transatlantic CD, LP & Digital InsideOut (Europe) Metal Blade/Radiant (US) https://www.transatlanticweb.com
13) Presence Of Life Seventh album by Norwegian progressive folk group, Kerrs Pink CD, LP & Digital Self-released https://kerrspink.com
14) Forsaken Innocence Eight studio by UK-based Progressive Rock band, Drifting Sun CD, LP & Digital Self-released https://driftingsun.co.uk
15) Snakes & Angels The second release by US progessive metal artist, GorMusik Melodic Revolution Records CD & Digital https://gormusik.com
18) Playing House 2nd release by progressive art-rock band, Meer Karisma Records CD, LP & Digital http://meerband.com
19) The Forgotten Earth Debut solo release by Scarlet Hollow prog band bassist, Jeffrey Erik Mack Melodic Revolution Records CD & Digital https://www.jeffreyerikmack.com
16) Copeland King Cosmo & Blew, Gizmodrome Live First, live album and second release by progressive rock supergroup Gizmodrome formed in Italy Ear Music CD, LP & Digital https://www.facebook.com/Gizmodrome
17) A View From The Top Of The World Fifteenth studio release by US prog metal pioneers, Dream Theater Inside Out Music CD, LP & Digital https://dreamtheater.net
20) One to Zero Eleventh studio album German progressive rock band, Sylvan Gentle Art Of Music CD, LP & Digital http://www.sylvan.de/home/
21) Aphelion Eighth studio album by Norwegian progressive/avant-garde metal band, Leprous Inside Out Music CD, LP & Digital https://www.leprous.net
Today sees the release of the animated video for PROPER JACK FROSTER, the latest single from BIG BIG TRAIN, taken from the forthcoming WELCOME TO THE PLANET album. Proper Jack Froster is based on a story from Gregory Spawton’s childhood in the Midlands in the UK in the 1970s.
Work on the video by Swedish animator Love Andreas Gson Fagerstedt began before the untimely, tragic passing of Big Big Train’s singer David Longdon on 20th November 2021. David’s partner and the band have decided that the video should still be released to help to promote the forthcoming album to the fullest extent possible.
Watch the video here:
Big Big Train’s March 2022 UK tour will now not take place; ticket holders should contact their point of purchase for information on refunds. Prior to David’s death the band had been on the verge of announcing a North American tour consisting of over 20 shows in May and June 2022. This projected North American tour will also not be taking place.
The band will be making an announcement next year about its future, including regarding the September 2022 shows that are scheduled to take place in the UK. Ticket holders for these September shows are encouraged to retain their tickets for the time being pending that further announcement. No further comment will be made about the band’s future before next year.
As with COMMON GROUND, WELCOME TO THE PLANET sees Big Big Train retain their progressive roots but also take influence from all spheres of music. The four recent singles “Proper Jack Froster’, ‘Made Of Sunshine ‘The Connection Plan’ and ‘Lanterna’ are also included along with keyboard player Carly Bryant’s first Big Big Train writing credit and lead vocal on the captivating title track. The album is completed by the delicate acoustic ‘Capitoline Venus’, the beautiful ‘Oak And Stone’ and a pair of dazzling instrumentals, ‘A Room With No Ceiling’ and ‘Bats In The Belfry’, written by guitarist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom and drummer Nick D’Virgilio respectively.
Six months after the release of the critically acclaimed album ‘COMMON GROUND‘, Big Big Train are pleased to announce a new album ‘WELCOME TO THE PLANET’, due out on January 28th, 2022 on their own label, English Electric Recordings.
The band have recorded a video announcing the new album, which you can watch here:
Big Big Train founder Gregory Spawton explains the short time between albums: “The experience of the pandemic has shown us that we need to make the best use of our time on Earth. With that in mind and with new band members on board giving us a fresh head of steam, we decided on a speedy return to the studio to write and record Welcome To The Planet.”
As with ‘COMMON GROUND’, ‘WELCOME TO THE PLANET’ sees Big Big Train retain their progressive roots but also take influence from all spheres of music. The album’s opener ‘Made From Sunshine’, co-written by guitarist Dave Foster and singer David Longdon, has guitar lines redolent of Johnny Marr and vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Finn Brothers/Crowded House, with violinist Clare Lindley sharing lead vocals with Longdon.
Elsewhere on the album, keyboard player Carly Bryant gets her first Big Big Train writing credit and lead vocal on the captivating title track. The two recent singles ‘The Connection Plan’ and ‘Lanterna’ are included along with a winter themed song ‘Proper Jack Froster’, a bittersweet tale of childhood. The album is completed by the delicate acoustic ‘Capitoline Venus’, the beautiful ‘Oak And Stone’ and a pair of dazzling instrumentals, ‘A Room With No Ceiling’ and ‘Bats In The Belfry’, written by guitarist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom and drummer Nick D’Virgilio respectively.
For their March 2022 UK tour, which will be their most extensive to date and which will culminate with a show at the prestigious London Palladium, David Longdon (lead vocals, flute), Nick D’Virgilio (drums, vocals), Rikard Sjöblom (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Greg Spawton (bass), Carly Bryant (keyboards, guitars, vocals), Dave Foster (guitars) and Clare Lindley (violin, vocals) will be joined by a five piece brass ensemble. In addition to two further UK shows in September, the band expects to announce North American and continental European tour dates shortly.
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