Time Horizon Interview with Leading Man Ralph Otteson

Time Horizon’s leading man Ralph Otteson opens up during a recent interview about the birth of a band, Pandoras Box, the upcoming 3rd album, and everything in-between.

PoP: 
Hello, Ralph thank you for doing this interview with us.

Ralph: 
Absolutely! I am so glad to talk to you Thank you!

PoP: 
You’re the founding member of Time Horizon a California-based Christian, Progressive Crossover AOR band How long have you been a professional musician, and what professional training have you had if any? 

Ralph: 
Well, first I wouldn’t consider myself “pro” because I support my family by working a day job in the high tech industry, but as far as my involvement with music, I would say I have a lot of years working part-time and I have been able to do a lot with limited time. I hope to do more than I have in the past.

PoP: 
What is your role in Time Horizon and what instruments do you play?

Ralph: 
I am the keyboardist and principal writer. I also sing background vocals. I think I am the driving force behind the band because I take on most of the responsibilities, so in a sense, I am the leader.

PoP: 
Tell us about the birth of Time Horizon, how did that come about, and what does this band mean to you? 

Ralph: 
Time Horizon started because I had recorded an album with a band I was playing with. we wrote original music. The band was called Iron Clay Poets. We disbanded before finishing the album, but I wanted to finish it. The problem was I had recorded on ADAT digital tape system and could only do 16 tracks at a time for mixdown. I had about 30 tracks of music, so our then drummer knew another drummer that was also an engineer and had a computer system that I could mix it down with. That drummer ended up being the drummer for Time Horizon. He dug the music and after the mix, he wanted to jam on some of the songs….well, we ended up writing the first album.

PoP: 
What was the defining moment in your life that sparked the eternal flames to become a musician, and was it a particular band or individual? 

Ralph: 
Well, my family are all musicians, we had an upright piano that I would mess around with it but never had any lessons. In 1977 I saw ELP – the Works Tour. The year before a friend played their record and I loved the sound of the synth. When I saw Keith do his thing, I said that’s what I want to do! mind you, I had not yet started playing. I took lessons in my Senior year and sold my car to by a Fender Rhodes piano so I could play in a band. I learned covers but found writing songs was what I enjoyed most.

PoP: 
Your first release was released through your label Angelic Noise Records, what was the publics’ perception of the debut Living Water?

Ralph: 
It was well-received. I started my label because there were a few labels interested in wanting to sign us, but things kind of went weird so I decided to form my label.

PoP: 
Was Living Water a charity album?

Ralph: 
I recorded the album with some friends,  Bruce was the drummer and we recorded it at his studio. We had all but one song mixed and for several reasons, it sat for a year. it looked like the same thing was happening again with this band. Like before, I took it soon myself to finish it. I had gone to a Christian Men’s conference and saw an organization called Living Water International (LWI). I had lost my job and was feeling worried about how I was going to get by. I sold stock I had from my previous employer funded the album with the intent to give 100% of the sale from physical CDs to LWI to help people in the world that do not have even the most basic need….water. What do I have to complain about? So in a sense yes it was a charity album. I have not financially benefited from it. I considered it a MinistryThe album sales were okay and we were able to help a village in Ghana, Africa install a well, so I would call that a success.

PoP: 
Tell us about the concept/meaning behind the name of Living Water?

Ralph:
Well, the meaning of Living Water is what Jesus is to Christians. He said he can give living water that in us is welling into eternal life. So, along with the purpose behind the album project, it made sense to name the album that. 

PoP: 
What was the most defining moment of Living Water?  

Ralph:
I think after we wrote the song Life Fantastic. The bass player at the time was Steve Gorley, an amazing musician that studied jazz and I wrote the riff that he just latched onto and would complement the line with some nice runs on the bass which I doubled on the synth. Bruce came up with a great melody and killer drums. after mixing that I sent it off to Randy George as he was putting together a compilation CD for Cprog or Christian Prog Rock. we released it as a single for the CPR3 album. That was great because we made friends which I still hold dear today. If you get a chance to hear it, it’s fantastic! Unitopia, Ted Leonard, and Phil Keaggy are just a few of the artists on that CD.

PoP: 
Your sophomore album Transitions was released four years later in 2015, how was this different than your debut?  

Ralph:
That album was called Transitions because it’s just that. Steve Gorley the original bassist traveled back to Cambodia to continue his humanitarian work there. He could have stayed here and rocked out with us, but he had a deeper calling and love for the oppressed and poor. He helped the street kids there, preventing child slave labor and trafficking. I found a replacement in Allen White who I played in a band within the ‘80s early ’90s. He fit right in. The original guitar player left and we got help in that area with Dave Miller. Bruce got about 1/2 way through and had to leave for personal reasons…Now I was down a drummer and a singer, so I recruited help from friends David Walliman,  Lang Bliss, and a singer from the band Allen and I played with Rich Reif. I had Billy Sherwood mixing and helping me on post-production. So it is the transition to what Time Horizon is now. That album has a lot of great tunes on it. slightly different, but still maintaining a signature sound.

PoP: 
You formed a partnership with Melodic Revolution Records for the second release, how did that come about and why was it so important for the follow up of Living Water?

Ralph:
I wrote a majority of the album, did the leg work in getting it finished, but realized I need help with promotion. I knew Nick Katona and noticed that he did a lot of albums for great causes. I felt we would work well together as I think we share that desire to help bless others through music in a real tangible way. I am a principal writer for the band, a dad and husband, I appreciate MRR and everything they do to help promote. I am not good at that, it’s difficult for me.

PoP: 
What influences your songwriting lyrically and musically? 

Ralph:
Great question. I have always loved prog music. Odd time Signatures, blending genres, and of course melody. The first bands for me were in the ‘70s really. ELP was what got me into prog, followed by Yes, then Genesis. I also loved rock like Toto, Queen, Boston, and the like. The ’80s brought me Saga which is a huge influence. Lyrically, I think Saga’s style but the Beatles and Rush. I know that’s all over the place, but my faith is something that is from my inner core, so it is expressed in lyrics. Sometimes more overtly, sometimes more subtle.

PoP:  
You brought in some big guns for the production portion of the album, I am speaking of Billy Sherwood (Yes, Circa, World Trade) and Major Appelbaum (Nektar, Angra, Lana Lane) how did that come about and why was this essential to this releases?

Ralph:
Yeah, with Transitions album I wanted to raise the bar. I had contacted Billy Sherwood as I know he has worked with other bands. I sent him a demo of the song “Prisoner” which was a song written when I was on a band 180 with Allen W. Billy liked the tune and so I started a correspondence with him. because he worked with Tony Kaye in Circa, I asked if he could get Tony to play on it. You have no idea how cool it was for me to hear a Hammond organ from him. I had the Yes album on my turntable for weeks. I still can’t believe he is on Transitions. a huge thrill for me. Billy also played as we decided to do a cover of a World Trade song ” The Moment is Here” We changed some of the lyrics to fit our Christian world view and he was Ok with it. He also plays the lead guitar on the track so another cool thing.

Billy Sherwood

PoP:  
Billy Sherwood also guested on the album along with David Wallimann, Lang Bliss, Tony Kaye, and Jake Livgren. What was it like to work with these musicians?

Ralph: 
David Walliman is fantastic to work with, he would pump out these amazing guitar tracks in really fast. I used him first for the song Prisoner but found I kept turning to him for the next tune. It was hard not to. He does quality stuff in record time! Lang and I go back a long time. I knew him in the 80s. We had mutual musician friends and hung out jamming at times. He moved to Nashville and got on with a Christian record label there. He is quite the pro. He toured with Michael W. Smith who is a well-known gospel artist. He met his wife Renee who was a backup singer for Amy Grant. Together they write and produce talent. They released some songs that made the Billboard Top 10 last year. I finally met Tonybackstage after a Yes concert. He was super nice and remembered the song which I was glad! I got Jake to sing the last song after Rich was no longer available. It was on the suggestion of the artist Ken Westphal who did our album artwork. I originally was talking to John Elefante and asked him, but he declined, so Ken mentioned Jake while he sang in Proto-KawJake was great, I paid for a studio session in Topeka, Kansas and Jake said he would play on the album, his uncle Kerry Livgren (Proto-Kaw, Kansas) gave him the thumbs up so that’s good.

PoP: 
From what we understand the long-awaited 3rd album is 99% complete, why has it taken so long to do another album?

Ralph: 
Oh, man. We’ll all I can say is first….it’s worth the wait. When Bruce joined back with the band to tour the 2nd album, I said we need a frontman/vocalist. We spent time looking for and auditioning a singer. We were also down a guitar player/utility guy. It took a long time to find people that are up to playing this style of music. If they are good enough, it usually means they are not available. We got a call from a Sacramento-based singer David Mau who heard about us and thought he would be a great fit. He works with Brad Gillis from Night Ranger and Ozzy. He also worked with Derek Sherinian and loves prog! We started rehearsing and did a few shows, but again, had someone leave because of work. back to Square one. It is difficult to find people that want to do original music because there is not much money in it. It seems musicians have to play in Tribute bands to survive, which is kind of sad. All that said, we got some material from our new singer David Mau, once we got into writing mode, we just kept going. we did a lot of music and half of the next album is already done, so the fourth one should not be so long a wait. Could have done a double album, but…

PoP:  
What’s the album called and why?

Ralph: 
The new album is still having names considered. We just started the process of getting the artwork started so that might have an impact on the final name. We first thought about a song title, but then the concept of the album something in “3” for the third album. Time Horizon  “cubed” maybe…I think it will be a surprise.

PoP: 
Do you have the same line-up as Transitions?

Ralph: 
The same lineup for the most part. Bruce G.  on drums Bruce sings lead on one song, but Dave is the main guy for that role now. Myself on keys and vocals, Allen White on Bass again, Dave Miller on acoustic and rhythm electric. We had David Walliman do lead but guitar for a song, but that song is one we have decided to release on the next album. Both Bruce and Dave Mau had worked with a guitarist from Sacramento, Michael GregoryBruce played with him in the ’80s and Dave most recently.  Michael G. was a sought after session musician in Nashville and was approached by Neal Morse to play with him. He was in the middle of finishing a degree so couldn’t do it, but that shows what his abilities are. The tracks by him have been Stellar! Overall this is the best line up to date. I am really excited about it.

PoP:  
Is it true that Michael Sadler of Saga is doing vocals on a track on this album, what song and how did that come about? 

Ralph: 
Yes, it is! I am super stoked to be able to say that! I have been a long time Saga fan! I met Michael once at Calprog in LA a few years ago. We sat down at lunch break and I was thrilled to talk with him. Later, he and I had a Skype meeting after the release of Transitions. I asked him then if he would be interested in guesting on our next release. He asked me to send him something and if he feels he can do it justice he would. It took me a long time after that writing quite a few songs before I felt I had one that he would fit right in. I intentionally tried to make it Saga-ish sound. He loved it and with his vocals, It sounds like something He would do, so I think mission accomplished!

PoP: 
Do you have any other special guests appearing on this release, can you give us a hint?

Ralph: 
The only other special guest is Michael Manring who plays fretless bass on a song in tribute to our first bassist Steve who recently passed We went to see Michael in concert as he was a favorite of Steve’s. It was the last time I saw my friend who helped start Time Horizon so …It seemed fitting and Michael was happy too. I love it as it is a very emotional piece for me. It still is hard for me not to tear up listening.

PoP: 
How many tracks on the new album? Can you give us a song by song breakdown?

Ralph: 
Yes, we have seven completed songs, still working on song order, they are in no particular order.

Living for a Better daySaga like approach with a rock edge.
The Great Divide …..a hard-driving rock tune with prog influence. 
Digital Us…..kind of Rush meets Pink Floyd maybe?
Steve”s song “It’s not goodbye”….instrumental with a new-age feel.
Razors Edge…..this is to me Spocks Beard meets Mike & the Mechanics.
I Hear, I see…….kind of more Toto like, this would be the more Top 40 hit.
Time to Wonder…..a ballad that has a Phil Collins approach. really beautiful tune.

PoP: 
Who is the production team for the 3rd record?

Ralph: 
We are going to do as much as we can to self-produce. We self-produced the first one, and we have even more experience between myself, Bruce, and David Mau to do this, but I think when you self-produce, it generally takes longer.

PoP: 
Ken Westphal, who created the band-logo and the artwork for the first two albums has retired since Transitions, who will step up to the plate to continue making album art for great Time Horizon?

Ralph:
We have contacted Ed Unitsky and are in the process of starting the artwork. I think he is one of the go-to artists in the Prog community. He does really good work.

PoP: 
We hear this album will be released in many formats including vinyl, can you tell us what prompted you to press wax on this one?

Ralph: 
2 reasons. FirstVinyl is cool, I miss it! It has a vibe, and it’s becoming more popular as a medium to listen to again. We will still have CDs as well. Second, I like the shorter length. Back in the day, bands were releasing albums on a more regular basis partly because instead of having a 74-minute album every few years 45 min is a great length. I mentioned the fourth release is in the wings and about half-finished already.

PoP: 
Do you collect vinyl yourself?

Ralph: 
I have my collection from years ago still. I have a lot of original LPs. I think the millennials are discovering how great the music was years ago because of the rise in vinyl popularity again….which is very cool. I do have my wish list of albums.

PoP: 
Name 10 albums that should be part of any serious record collection?

Ralph: 
Wow, that’s a great question! Let me think hmm…I think a mix of styles and genres is important. I have Classical, Jazz, Rock some R&B and some newer Country. Works I have from, Chic Corea to The Fixx. Gino Vanelli to Jean Michel Jare, but here is a list of favorites 

1) The Yes Album…Yes
2) And then there were Three…Genesis
3) Works…ELP
4) Abbey Road…Beatles
5) Toto… .the first one
6) World’s Apart…Saga
7) V ….Spock’s Beard
8) The Vigil …Kemper Krabb (worship)
9) More Power to Ya…Petra 
10) Boston……the first one

…can I add the next Time Horizon to the list Ha, ha!

PoP: 
Describe what success means to you, as a person, not a musician?

Ralph: 
Success to me is loving what you do, knowing you are valued and matter in God’s eyes, knowing how to Love God in all things, and knowing how to love others. It’s not found in money or recognition. Maybe that sounds sappy to some, but I think it is true.

PoP: 
2020 devastated the global community in many ways, how has 2020 affected you personally and the band?

Ralph: 
Thankfully I can design circuit boards for income, I can do that remotely, so that helps. The other guys are retired or work at home as well. Bruce is an automotive mechanic so he can bring in non-music related income. Sometimes it helps to have additional skills.

PoP: 
What were your plans for 2020 before the pandemic hit and do you plan to resume these plans at some point?

Ralph: 
We had started recording before the pandemic. There had also been family emergencies that band members became unavailable for some time, so they slowed things as well. We are also trying to find a booking agent, but again it is Tribute and Top 40 bands they want. Hopefully, we can find help in that area once this pandemic subsides.

PoP: 
Have you ever considered releasing a solo album?

Ralph: 
Yes, actually. I have a lot of musical ideas that I want to develop. they are just phrases and pieces, but that is how all the material I have contributed starts out as. the songs take on their own life and write themselves. I would love to work with other musicians and put together something very proggy. I tend to be the more Prog head in the band. I would also like to do a worship album.

PoP:
What makes a song stand the test of time such as The Beatles’ Let It Be?

Ralph: 
Funny you mention the Beatles. That was one of my album choices. The Beatles are timeless I think because the songs have melodies that you can remember. They are creative and appear simple, but when you analyze what the cord structure is doing, it’s genius.

PoP:
Do you see value in streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube for example?  

Ralph:
Hmmm, To me, it is bittersweet. What a nice convenience it is. The problem is how it is hurting the artist financially. The royalties paid are very, very small. I mean, you have to have 100’s of thousands and maybe millions of streams per song to see actual viable income from that. The music industry has changed. I am thankful that I have sources of income to provide for my family, on the other hand, Time Horizon is on those platforms and I hope people use that as well as physical merchandise. That is still how artists keep going. Everyone said…well you just have to play concerts and sell out venues…. .um hmmm… ok, now what?

PoP:
What’s been the most memorable time in your music career thus far?

Ralph: 
The very first time I heard a song I recorded playing on the radio in my car. Back in the ’80s, I was in a band with Allen and we were featured on local F M radio shows and College radio as well. I was driving in my car and listening to the local station when I heard a song I was on….big big smile! I think the second was being able to work with musicians that I looked up to Billy and Michael Sadler and Michael Manring come to mind.

PoP: 
Let’s say I asked you to describe your musical style as if you were a painter. How would you describe your music pallet using vivid colors?

Ralph: 
I think I paint with blended colors like watercolors can bleed from blue to green to yellow. You can see those colors, but the color between them is really interesting. The music I do is different from song to song, but still maintaining a recognizable sound.

PoP:
If you could put one thing back into Pandoras Box what would it be?

Ralph: 
Nothing. I think we have to work with what we are given. I think it’s all about what we do with it.

PoP: 
If you could perform anywhere in the world, where would it be and who would be your warm-up act, or co-headliner? 

Ralph: 
I would love to tour Europe. It is where most of our album sales are, so maybe would have more people interested in seeing us play. I think we would be a good warm-up band for Neal Morse band, but he plays three-hour shows, so that isn’t gonna happen. Bands like Life Signs from England has a similar sound also Mystery from Canada. I think if we have enough material to do a 2-hour set so, a co-headliner would also be possible.

How has the music landscape changed since you have become a professional musician? 

Ralph: 
I started writing songs as I learned how to play my instrument. I was in the studio at 19 and playing clubs circuit by 21. It was a vibrant time. Original bands were found everywhere. The radio would play local bands. Now every radio station is owned by a handful of companies. the club scene is a small remnant. People were not afraid to pay to go check out bands. Usually, you heard of the headliner but often I liked the opener or support band more.

PoP: 
Did MTV or the internet kill the radio star?

Ralph:
Yes and No. Yes, it killed the radio for the most part, but the internet opened great opportunities to find new music. I still find new music from artists I never heard of. Time Horizon has fans in Europe, Asia, and South America. That is still mind-boggling to me. They would not have me without it.

PoP: 
People often say that music is dead because no good music is still being produced, is that true?

Ralph: 
Music is not dead, the bands are there, but they are crippled in some areas. I think modern pop music is cookie cutter. There are just a few songwriters providing for the stars to perform. That’s why the songs all sound alike. If you turn on the radio, you will find Country, R&B / Rap, and Gospel. The only rock is classic rock. When was the last rock song you heard on FM? I hear new rock and prog on the internet all the time.

PoP:
What is the best advice you’ve been given professionally? 

Ralph: 
As far as music composition, What you don’t play is just as or more important than what notes you choose to play. For bands, tour, tour, and tour some more. I am still trying to get the second advice into motion.

PoP: 
What advice would you give to the next generation of future musicians? 

Ralph: 
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Don’t be afraid to be different. Learn from older music and listen to all genres. There are things to learn from every style And whatever music you do, do it with conviction. Be honest with it.

PoP:
Where can people get information about the band and purchase Time Horizon’s music? 

Ralph:
Well, Time Horizon Website, and a Facebook page that gets updated more than the website ( Not as much as it should) but it is probably the best way to follow current news. The Angelic Noise record label was the band’s store, it has closed for now so our Bandcamp Store, and Melodic Revolution Records. You can find us at all the other Outlets like iTunes, Tidal, Spotify, YouTube, and the like. I think there will be another store set up from the band website in the near future.

PoP:
Have you ever thought about being something other than a musician? 

Ralph: 
Originally I thought I would be an illustrator, I studied for a couple of years in college but realized if I want to be a good illustrator, I would need to lay down the music. I couldn’t do it, so I played down my brushes, got a job to buy keyboards, and start a great original band. I did not regret that decision and still feel the same today.

PoP: 
Do you have a mailing list where fans and voyeurs of information can sign up too? 

Ralph: 
I had a mailing list with angelicnoise.com, but that website is debunked at the moment. I am okay for people to reach out to me personally. I will be looking over the mailing list I have to let those that have ordered past albums can get involved with this new project. Give a like to the Time Horizon fan page and follow us there and at MRR.

PoP:  

In closing I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us, do you have anything that you would like people to know that we did not talk about? 

Ralph: 

Well, yeah I just want people to know that I appreciate the support we have received and, I am doing my best to fulfill the expectations of an artist. I hope that I can do more and more. I hope you see improvement as I am always striving to be better at this. I do fall short in the promotion area, I have never been one to point attention to myself, which when you are a music artist you have to do. I feel uncomfortable saying….hey look at me!.. But, please hang in there as I will be trying to update more and all I have to say is I am excited as to what Time Horizon is doing.

PoP:  
Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview.

Ralph: 
It was truly my pleasure and I enjoyed answering these questions, which I might add were brilliant! You are for sure gifted in this area.

Time Horizon Band
Ralph Otteson: Keyboards, background vocals
Bruce Gaetke: Drums, lead and background vocals
Allen White: Electric and acoustic bass
David Miller: Electric and acoustic guitars
David Mau: Lead Vocals and support keys

Contributing musician Michael Gregory: Lead electric guitar 

Time Horizon Online
Website: http://www.timehorizonmusic.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TimeHorizon/
MRR Profile: https://mrrmusic.com/project/time-horizon/

Time Horizon Bandcamp Store
https://timehorizon.bandcamp.com


Featured Video “Storm Surge” by Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius” including special performances by Michael Sadler (SAGA) and All-star Cast

“Storm Surge” is about the anxiety we all feel in these uncertain times. With the global pandemic, the fight against racism and the continuing struggle for social justice, climate change, political upheaval, economic turmoil, and a future of uncertainty, there is a storm that’s raging inside of us right now.

….”as stated by Joe Deninzon” 
A little over a year ago, my son Max was playing a short piano piece by 19th-century composer Friedrich Burgmüller, called “The Storm.” The piece was stuck in my head because I would hear him practicing it every day. I started to imagine it as a rock power ballad and began to sketch out a slowed-down version with the basic chord changes and structure.

I was imagining a cello replacing the ostinato part played by the left hand on the piano, so I asked my friend Ruti Celli, who I met on Cruise to the Edge last year when we played with Dave Kerzner and In Continuum, to contribute her beautiful part.

Our drummer, Jason Gianni, had a sketch he never finished that he thought would be a perfect fit in the middle of the song. I layered a huge string orchestra on top of that section and recruited the great guitarist/producer Fernando Perdomo to lay down a soaring guitar solo.

Next, I was hearing a flute during the breakdown section that followed. We have never had a flute, or any woodwinds for that matter, on one of our recordings! I asked the genius multi-instrumentalist Rachel Flowers to play the flute and lay down a piano track for the song. Rachel has been blind since age 3 and plays piano, flute, bass, guitar, drums, stick, sings, and records and mixes her own albums! I’ve met and worked with a lot of gifted people in my career, but don’t think I have ever met a person with this level of talent! Check out the documentary about her, Hearing is Believing, on Amazon Prime.

Finally, I’ve been into the idea of using outside singers in Stratospheerius. Up until his time, I have always been the lead vocalist. The new album we are slowly putting together will feature many special guests. We’ve been longtime fans of the 80’s Canadian band SAGA best known for hits like “Wind Him Up” and “On The Loose.” When we played at the ProgStock Festival afterparty back in 2018Saga’s lead singer Michael Sadlercaught our set after his performance at the festival, and was raving about the band! We were incredibly humbled to receive such words of encouragement from such an iconic artist.

We felt Michael’s voice would be perfect for this song! He ended up contributing a jaw-dropping vocal performance, enhancing the melody, and adding Queenesque harmonies. As a side note, he and his wife Gwen turned out to be some of the nicest and most gracious people I have ever worked with.

Stratospheerius is:
Joe Deninzon – lead vocals/electric violin
Jason Gianni- drums
Michelangelo Quirinale – guitar
Paul Ranieri – bass

Special Performances on Storm Surge Video and Single
Michael Sadler – Vocals
Rachel Flowers – Keys and Flute 
Yulia Ziskel – Violin 
RutiCelli – Cello
Fernando Perdomo – Guitar

Tracked by Rave Tesar (Renaissance)
Mixed and mastered by Rich Mouser (Spocks Beard, Dream Theater)

Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius Online
Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | Patreon | Spotify | Twitter 

Melodic Revolution Records Online:
Website Facebook | Spotify | Twitter | YouTube

Michael Sadler (SAGA) and All-star Cast Joins Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius on “Storm Surge”

Melodic Revolution Records Is thrilled to announce the brand-new Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius official music video “Storm Surge” featuring the vocal talents of Michael Sadler (SAGA) along with performances by Fernando Perdomo (Solo, Dave Kerzner), Ruti Celli (Take 3), Yulia Ziskel (New York Philharmonic Orchestra), last but not least… multi-award-winning Rachel Flowers.

The video will premiere Friday, October 2nd, 2020 on YouTube  the video will also be debut on Vimeo and will be a featured video on Power of ProgThe Single will be exclusively available Friday, October 2nd, 2020 on Bandcamp and on Patreon only, following the worldwide digital distribution on October 23rd, 2020

….”as stated by Joe Deninzon” 
A little over a year ago, my son Max was playing a short piano piece by 19th-century composer Friedrich Burgmüller, called “The Storm.” The piece was stuck in my head because I would hear him practicing it every day. I started to imagine it as a rock power ballad and began to sketch out a slowed-down version with the basic chord changes and structure.

I was imagining a cello replacing the ostinato part played by the left hand on the piano, so I asked my friend Ruti Celli, who I met on Cruise to the Edge last year when we played with Dave Kerzner and In Continuum, to contribute her beautiful part.

Our drummer, Jason Gianni, had a sketch he never finished that he thought would be a perfect fit in the middle of the song. I layered a huge string orchestra on top of that section and recruited the great guitarist/producer Fernando Perdomo to lay down a soaring guitar solo.

Next, I was hearing a flute during the breakdown section that followed. We have never had a flute, or any woodwinds for that matter, on one of our recordings! I asked the genius multi-instrumentalist Rachel Flowers to play the flute and lay down a piano track for the song. Rachel has been blind since age 3 and plays piano, flute, bass, guitar, drums, stick, sings, and records and mixes her own albums! I’ve met and worked with a lot of gifted people in my career, but don’t think I have ever met a person with this level of talent! Check out the documentary about her, Hearing is Believing, on Amazon Prime.

Finally, I’ve been into the idea of using outside singers in Stratospheerius. Up until his time, I have always been the lead vocalist. The new album we are slowly putting together will feature many special guests. We’ve been longtime fans of the 80’s Canadian band SAGA best known for hits like “Wind Him Up” and “On The Loose.” When we played at the ProgStock Festival afterparty back in 2018Saga’s lead singer Michael Sadlercaught our set after his performance at the festival, and was raving about the band! We were incredibly humbled to receive such words of encouragement from such an iconic artist.

We felt Michael’s voice would be perfect for this song! He ended up contributing a jaw-dropping vocal performance, enhancing the melody, and adding Queenesque harmonies. As a side note, he and his wife Gwen turned out to be some of the nicest and most gracious people I have ever worked with.

“Storm Surge” is about the anxiety we all feel in these uncertain times. With the global pandemic, the fight against racism and the continuing struggle for social justice, climate change, political upheaval, economic turmoil, and a future of uncertainty, there is a storm that’s raging inside of us right now.

Stratospheerius is:
Joe Deninzon – lead vocals/electric violin
Jason Gianni- drums
Michelangelo Quirinale – guitar
Paul Ranieri – bass

Special Performances on Storm Surge Video and Single
Michael Sadler – Vocals
Rachel Flowers – Keys and Flute 
Yulia Ziskel – Violin
RutiCelli – Cello
Fernando Perdomo – Guitar

Tracked by Rave Tesar (Renaissance)
Mixed and mastered by Rich Mouser (Spocks Beard, Dream Theater)

Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius Online
Website | Facebook | Bandcamp | Patreon | Spotify | Twitter 

Melodic Revolution Records Online:
Website Facebook | Spotify | Twitter | YouTube

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Continues to Strike a Chord with the Music Industry

Recap of March 22nd, 2020 Article Coronavirus (Covid-19) Strikes a Chord with Musicians (Part 1)
We are living in unprecedented times and crossing over uncharted waters, it’s a new world; one we may have to get accustomed to for the foreseeable future.

(Covid-19) is attacking the social and economic fabric globally and does not discriminate against race, creed, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or anything else for that matter. It has ravaged and even closed down most trades and no industry has been spared, from restaurants to schools, airlines, supply chains, and the entertainment industry.

Read the full story here

According to Worldometer as of today June 8th, 2020
215 Countries and Territories around the world have reported a total of over eleven million (11,425,240) people confirmed Infected, 534,491 Deaths with 6,473,428 that have recovered.

According to the World Health Organization
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus. The disease causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. You can protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and avoiding close contact (1 meter or 3 feet) with people who are unwell.

Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.

The Coronavirus epidemic has devastated almost every industry in the world, and one of the hardest hit is the entertainment industry including performers, producers, stagehands promoters, musicians and the list goes on, some of these people do not have a second job, they rely solely on recording, tours, music and merch sales to pay the bills.

Millions of people in the entertainment industry have/had multiple jobs just to make a living. A number of these folks got hit with job displacement twice as hard since many worked in the food industry for the flexible hours. Just trying to make ends meet. As we all know most restaurants have closed, reopened, and have closed their doors again with the 2nd wave, a small percentage remain open with a skeleton crew offering curbside service or delivery service.

It is bad enough so many need more than one job to live. For musicians, it is almost a guarantee that a second job will be needed outside of music to sustain a living. Due to layoffs and closers of businesses these musicians are dealing with the same issues as the few full-time musicians, loss of most if not all income. Most musicians lack one of the most basic and fundamental needs: insurance! Many musicians have turned to online gigs and teaching to make a few dollars. Here’s what a few industry professionals and a few more musicians have to say in part two of our interview Coronavirus (COVID-19) Continues to Strike a Chord.

Rick Herbert ( Ace High Printing, Musician ) USA

Interview conducted July 2020

Q) Hello Rick, how are you doing?
A) Hey Nick! Hanging in there, these last few months have been a wild ride.

Q) You own and operate Ace High Printing one of the best Florida based printing companies, how long has the company been around, and what kind of printing do you specialize in?
A) Yeah man, I’ve been printing a long time for a lot of incredible people. I first opened the doors to Ace High in July of 2004, so this marks our 16th year in business. We specialize in Wide Format Printing (Vinyl Stickers, Banners, Amp Scrims, Custom Kick Drum Covers, Signs, Vehicle Wraps, and Buttons), Digital Printing (Business Cards, Flyers, Brochures, Posters, Artist Prints) and Screen Printing (T-Shirts and Apparel).

Q) Has your company always focused on the entertainment industry
A) From day one, Ace High has always been a part of the music industry. As a matter of fact, I only started this company because I couldn’t find a good local merch company for the band I was in at the time. I had been working at a local sign shop and started making my own merch. I decided if I was having such a hard time finding a reliable company, other musicians and artists must be as well. That’s when Ace High was born. Over the last 16 years, we’ve worked with tons of venues, bands just getting their start, huge musicians/labels, and everything in between. We’ve sponsored showcases and events, and we’ve even shipped merch to over 20 different countries.

Q) What are some of the most popular products that you make for the musicians and the industry?
A) It’s a total toss-up between Stickers and the Custom Kick Drum Covers for sure. Everyone loves stickers – and are full color, glossy and weatherproof, but I’d have to say we have almost as many kick cover orders coming in these days.

Q) Over the years you have also offered services for commercial business, how is that different if at all to the products that you manufacture for the entertainment industry?
A) The commercial side isn’t much different. I’ve found that just like musicians, businesses also need stickers, labels, banners, things like that. The biggest difference would be the Signage and Vehicle Wraps. We do a ton of sign work for local and sometimes not so local companies for their storefronts. We’ve been known to wrap all kinds of vehicles as well. One of my favorite “corporate” projects was for the MLB Network. Anytime you catch a baseball game on TV and see the huge MLB Network logos on the walls in the outfield, you’re looking at something we printed. They contracted us to do all the MLB Logos years ago, it was a blast.

Q) How has the COVID-19 Epidemic affected your business?
A) COVID-19 has been a real pain in the ass. haha, I think everyone is feeling that these days. Luckily, print shops were deemed “essential” and I was allowed to keep the doors open through all of this, but getting material in has been tough – a lot of the manufacturing plants had to close. Shipping times have slowed a bit as well – just because the carriers are taking more care with sanitizing. I’ve taken a pretty big hit business-wise for sure… Without the musicians able to work and venues unable to open, no one is really buying merch at the moment, which is completely understandable.

Q) The COVID-19 Epidemics seems to have been very tough on everyone including the music industry, what type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you?
A) It has been tough – we ended up switching gears a bit in the business plan. We’ve been working with a lot more restaurants and things like that. You know, they all need those “We’re Open for Takeout” banners, they need stickers/labels for the to-go containers, all the businesses needed the “Wear a Mask” signs… so we’ve been printing a lot that type of stuff. We’ve also just been giving out all kinds of discounts and package deals to anyone that needs them. Times are tough for everyone, and I’m just here to help as much as possible.

Q) You, yourself are a musician has this epidemic given you a moment of pause and encouraged you to write and record some new music?
A) Actually yeah. I hate to say that I’ve had a little extra time on my hands, but it’s true. And since the whole social distancing and closing of bars/venues, I’ve been able to spend a little more time just sitting down playing and writing. That’s been an upside to this whole situation – I feel like I’m finally laying down those songs I’ve had in my head for so long.

Q) How has this affected you on a personal level?
A) Personally, it hasn’t been bad at all. Over the last few years, as the business has grown, I’ve pretty much been working non-stop. Haven’t had a ton of time to go out, play shows, or do much of anything. And since I was fortunate enough to be able to remain open through this, I’ve just kept on working like usual. If anything it’s given me a chance to use my companies abilities to help people in a rough time – that really makes me feel good.

Q) Do you see us getting back to normal anytime soon?
A) I think the bigger question is, what is “normal” going to look like when this is all over? I’m not sure if we’ll ever get back to exactly the way things were, and that might be ok. But I have a feeling all this will settle down a bit in the next few months. Or directly after the election. But that’s for a whole different discussion about conspiracy theories. haha.

Q) What can people do to help support local businesses like yours?
A) Honestly, right now keeping money local is key. I’d say try to shop as locally as possible instead of heading to the big box/chain stores. There are going to be a number of businesses that don’t make it through this, and that really sucks. The more you can utilize the services you have in your own city, the better chance we all have of making it.

Q) Please give us a WORD that you rely on and gives you hope?
A) Perseverance. I think we all personally, and as a country, have always done a decent job of adapting and overcoming trying times. This is just one more fight, one more hurdle, one more historical obstacle that we WILL get through and persevere.

Ace High Printing Online
Website: https://acehighprint.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AceHighPrinting
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/acehighprinting/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/acehighprinting

Ace Acker ( SST Studios, Producer, Musician ) USA

Interview conducted July 2020

Q: Hello, Ace how are you doing?
A: Feeling grateful and blessed, Nick, but a bit confused, too.  

You work for a company called SST Studios and Rentals. Can you tell us how long you have been with SST and what do you do?
A: SST is a music industry complex in Weehawken, NJ, right across the river from Midtown Manhattan. We are one of the leading backline companies in the U.S. and our rehearsal soundstage is one the best in the city. We also have a state-of-the-art 48-channel recording studio with a rare analog Focusrite console.

The owner, John Hanti, grew up near my hometown, Warren, Ohio. We played in different teen bands in the 60s on the same circuit. He tells me we once met at a teen club when we shared the bill, but I don’t remember it. I had been out of the business for 26 years when he heard some of my new songs on a Yahoo discussion group. He looked me up and called me on August 30, 2007 to offer me a long-term production/writing development deal. I took the deal.

In late September 2012, Hanti was critically injured in an auto accident. A month later, Superstorm Sandy destroyed the studio, along with the successful production company we had built together. I lost everything I owned to that storm. We both endured five challenging years of recovery, but recover we did. By March this year, SST had become the hottest studio and rehearsal spot in the New York area 

I had worked in advertising as a creative director during those long years away from the music business, so I am today SST’s Marketing Director. 

How long has the company been around and what’s special about it?
A: Hanti founded SST (which stands for “studios, systems, and transport”) in 1982 in response to the Second British Invasion. He had established a formidable reputation in Manhattan and built a substantial inventory of stage gear and vans. British bands like the Smiths, Police, and Motorhead needed both to tour the States, and Hanti provided them. That’s how it started.

Q: Who are some of SST clients?
A: Beyonce’ and Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, J-Lo, Bruno Mars, Camila Cabelo, Blue Oyster Cult, and the Rolling Stones to name just a few. For Backline, our clients include LiveNation and iHeart. Multiple Grammy winner, H.E.R., was in the studio in March when we were forced to shut down. 

Q: What are some of the services that you offer to your clients?
A: The backline is our bread and butter, but the artists come for our soundstage and our studio, IIWII Recording. We also have a storage building where many stars store their own gear when they are not on the road and the adjoining Willow Building houses project studios for several top Hip Hop artists and producers.

How has the COVID-19 Epidemic affected SST?
A: Drastically. Our entire business is based on tour support services. There are no tours right now and there will be no tours at all in 2020. Hanti had the foresight to have a Cyclorama constructed on one wall of the soundstage, so we were able to open again in mid-June for music video shoots and live-streaming, in-studio concerts. We are re-purposing the studio now as a live streaming/video concert venue.

Q: The COVID-19 Epidemics seems to have been very tough on everyone including the music industry, what type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you? 
A: The biggest challenge for John Hanti has been to keep his people employed. We’re down to three right now. If another shutdown doesn’t stop our progress, I believe we can attract enough in-house business to bring everyone back on board and survive 2020. That is a big IF, though, the way things are going.

Q: You, yourself are a musician has this epidemic given you a moment of pause and encouraged you to write and record some new music
A: This is why I feel so blessed and grateful. The shutdown forced Hanti to lay everybody off for a while. Thankfully, In January, a recording artist named John Blangero, aka, Sun King Rising, with whom I had become friends, asked me to produce his album for PeacockSunrise Records. He had the budget to do it right and the project has sustained me. Now that the album is in the can (that’s an old school term if you don’t know), I have been additionally blessed to work on the cover design and promotion. Also, Hanti and I had been writing a book together about the business. The album project has injected new energy into my spirit and renewed momentum to finish the book proposal and shop for an agent.

Q: How has this affected you on a personal level? 
A: I think I am a bit shell-shocked, as most of us are. I have chosen to focus on the positives and ignore the negatives, only because I was already in such a good space when this came down. Had I not had the album and the continuing faith of both John Blangero and John Hanti, I may not have felt quite so optimistic. Looking to the future…well…I am hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

Q: Do you see us getting back to normal anytime soon?
A: Our industry? No, I do not. I’m afraid we won’t be back to anything close to normal until next summer.

Q: What can people do to help support local businesses like SST?
A: SST doesn’t do business with the public, so that is not really an appliable question. As an artist myself, though, I can only hope that fans will channel their dollars from the concerts they would have spent them on to supporting artists like Sun King Rising, who are still making records. The stars will survive this crisis. The independent bands and performers for whom live music and indie records are a livelihood may not…not without fan support.

Q: Please give us a WORD that you rely on and gives you hope?
A: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “Jeremiah 29:11 ‘Nuff said,

Ace Acker and SST Online
Website: www.sstrentals.com
Website: www.ackercreative.com
Website: https://www.sstrentals.com/modernbackline

Tom Palmieri ( ProgStock/Music Promoter ) USA

Interview conducted June 2020 

Q: Hello Tom, how are you doing?
A: Thanks for asking…it’s certainly a question we are all asking our friends and loved ones much more often these days. I’m doing well, all things considered, and I hope you and everyone reading this are also doing well!

Q: You are the founder and music director of ProgStock Music Festival one of the best new music festivals on the east coast of the US, When and where did you launch the first one?
A: I’m deeply grateful for that very favorable description…I hope we can continue to live up to it! We launched ProgStock in October 2017 at the beautiful and historic Union County Performing Arts Center’s Mainstage Theater in the very arts-friendly city of Rahway, New Jersey. As you know, we are an annual volunteer-run event whose mission is to shine light on one of the most exciting and creative genres of rock music, Progressive Rock. To date, we’ve produced three editions of ProgStock, in October of 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Ann Rinaldi ProgStock ACR Management

Q: How has the COVID-19 Epidemic affected ProgStock and other live performances around the world?
A: That’s a really tough question to ponder, emotionally…because the impact has been nothing short of devastating. Live music performances heavily depend upon the “in-person experience” for both musicians and fans, and the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made that nearly impossible for the time being. Performances of all kinds have understandably been indefinitely postponed or canceled, for everyone’s safety.

Q: This has been very tough on everyone including the music industry, what type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you?
A: So many challenges…it’s hard to describe all of them. The main one is that we are “frozen” and unable to predict when conditions will allow for a safe and secure environment to have a festival or any kind of live performance. The musicians and others involved with musical performance production have seen their entire lives ripped apart by this pandemic…the damage is deep and pervasive. In spite of all this upheaval, we at ProgStock, along with many others in the music industry, are doing our part to support musicians and fans by organizing live performances over streaming services. As we learn more about what can be done safely (especially for the musicians involved), we will try our best to help keep Progressive Rock alive during this incredibly difficult time. Stay tuned as we will be announcing some exciting things very soon!

Q: How has this affected you on a personal level?
A: Frankly, I’m depressed…but I remain hopeful. I also know that I have been very fortunate, in many ways, and that many others have been overwhelmed by the pandemic and its effects on themselves, their loved ones, and society in general. There have been some hardships for me, and some friends and family members have run into health problems, sure. But, putting that aside, I’ve come to realize how important it is to remember that we are a society, a collection of people who all want to experience our lives as safely, securely, and happily as we can. And that means giving a bit more consideration to others when making my own choices…within reason, of course, but always with good and proper intentions, and without judging others for having real concerns about their own safety and security. If that leads to minor inconveniences for me at times, so be it. I’d certainly want the same in return if I needed it!

Q: Do you see us getting back to normal anytime soon?
A: Not soon enough, certainly. Living with this pandemic has been hard for everyone, and nearly impossible for many. Everyone has had to “hit pause” on their lives, and for some folks, that’s been catastrophic. Returning to “normal” might not be possible at all, because we’ll need to adjust what we think “normal” is. However, I am hopeful that we will be able to return to a more “familiar” way of life sometime within the next 9-12 months. At first, we’ll need some medical breakthroughs to give us the edge we need to stay ahead of the virus (both it’s spread and its disease process). Then it will require some very necessary “healing time” so that our psyches can recover from the damage they’ve taken…as we’ve experienced (to varying degrees) after previous tragedies that we’ve endured. Getting back to enjoying a musical event with friends old and new, feeling that incredible exhilaration and excitement without fear…we will absolutely achieve that again, I have no doubt. Eventually.

Q: Please give us a word that you rely on and gives you hope.
A: Science. Plain, and simple. We are an extraordinarily intelligent species, and I’m convinced that we will innovate our way out of this worldwide crisis and be better prepared for future situations like this.

Q: What can people do to help support music festivals for future events?
A: Here are my “top 5” things that people can do to support music festivals in the future: 1) embrace their efforts to present streaming options when you cannot attend in-person, and buy their tickets and merchandise as soon as you can when they are made available; 2) donate your time and effort in order to help them cut costs if you are willing and able to do so; 3) spread the word about them to other potential fans to help increase their audiences; 4) if you are fortunate enough to be able, please consider making financial donations to the ones that need them; and 5) try to keep the safety, security, and dignity of your fellow festival attendees in mind by treating everyone kindly, respectfully, and tolerantly. Above all else, please try to be as patient as you can with musicians, event organizers, and fellow fans as all of us try to navigate the new “landscape” of the music industry…because there’s never been a better reason to remember that we are all in this together!

ProgStock Online
Website: https://www.progstock.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProgStock/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ProgStock
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/progstock/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/ProgStockFestival

Chris Topham ( Plane Groovy Records ) United Kingdom

Q: Hello Chris, how are you doing?
Very well thanks; we live fairly remotely so no huge change here apart from not seeing our pals.

Q: How long have you been in the music business?
A: Since November 2011

Q: What exactly do you do?
A: I run Plane Groovy Records, a vinyl-only record label.

Q: Who are some of your clients?
A: Mainly current Prog bands such as Big Big Train, I am the Manic Whale, Unitopia, A Formal Horse, Thieves’ Kitchen, This Winter Machine, Peter Jones, Francis Dunnery, and many more.

Q: How has the Coronavirus affected you and your artists?
A: The artists have been hugely hampered by the lockdown; no touring, no rehearsals, and in many cases no day job to fall back on either because of furlough.

Q: This has been very tough on everyone including the music industry, what are you doing to overcome these challenging times?
A: I’m just drifting on through, to be honest; we’re still putting albums out.

Q: What type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you?
A: One thing which we’ve put on hold is the Plane Groovy Investors project, which among other benefits offers colored vinyl versions of some releases to those who have signed up. I thought it unfair to put any kind of pressure onto our Investors, not wanting them to feel that they had to put money into this when times could be quite tough. We’ll be restarting that again very soon though, with an album from Comedy of Errors, “Disobey”.

Q: How has this affected you on a personal level?
Honestly, it hasn’t been too bad – apart from not seeing my Mum and my son as much as I’d like to.

Q: Do you see us getting back to normal anytime soon?
A: Normal? No. Workable yes, but I think life is going to be very strange for a good while yet.

Please give us a word that you rely on and gives you hope?
Positivity.

Website: http://www.planegroovy.com/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Plane-Groovy-317446981663663
Twitter: https://twitter.com/planegroovy

Anne Leighton ( Leighton Media * Music Services * Motivation ) USA

Q: Hello Anne, how long have you been in the music business?
A: Around 40-45 years.

Q: What exactly do you do?
A: I write and do music services. My core work is publicity, social media, organization, management, project development, goal setting, copywriting, rapping, songwriting, poetry. I am available to tutor English (writing), Civics, and History on Skype. I’m, also, a crackerjack proofreader and editor.

Q: Who are some of your clients?
A: Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius, Phoebe Legere, Sharon Katz & the Peace Train, John Hall & Jonell Mosser, Ian Anderson, Leslie Mandoki, Katy Moffatt, the Yardbirds, and me.

Q: How has the Coronavirus affected you and your artists?
A: Most of what I do is tour press, and nobody is touring. We all need to reinvent how we earn money, plus keep working on our art, and love the people and animals we live with. We’re doing more Internet work together with people, and seeing what else businesses need when it comes to music services.

Q: This has been very tough on everyone including the music industry, what are you doing to overcome these challenging times?
A: 1) I’m paying attention to what is included in the reopening phases for the next few years. It’s important to analyze that progress to see if the loosening of restrictions is healthy. That is important so I know who to reach out to for work for my artists and me!

2) Pitching my artists, and their songs for music services, concerts, workshops in non-music venues. I have rich connections in North America, South Africa, and the UK that are responsible and available for work. They also have great songs. Also, looking for funding for songs on relevant topics.

3) Accepting the fact that we might not have big live concerts for a few years, so I’m letting the world know I’m available to publicize empowerment people, social media influences, as well as releases of music in prog rock, Americana, jazz, folk, singer-songwriter, classic rock, diehard musician, blues, fusion, jam bands.

4) I’m giving myself a schedule where I have to be ready by 11 am, and in bed by 2:30 AM. Sleep is essential. I take naps. Writing my gratitude’s, creating peace. Speaking up to people that could learn to be less disrespectful. Learning more diplomacy! Meditation a few times a day, exercising, eating healthy, making phone calls, going out to the park, wearing protective gear—you know the mask and the gloves!

Q: What type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you?
The worst is finding out friends died. Three of them were magical spirits that understood me and vice versa. All were in the music world.

I miss hanging out with people and physical touch. In the past, I hugged people every day!

Finances are the least of my concerns because all of us are capable of living on less money than we do. Budgeting through rough times is something every college kid learns. I did it once, I can do it again.

Q: We are seeing a second wave of people getting ill and dying, do you think it’s because we reopened too soon or that there are a fraction of people that don’t care or may even believe COVID-19 is not real?
A: Combination. I think some people either have no concept of self-discipline or just don’t want to live.

Q: How has this affected you on a personal level? 
A: I’m working on my serenity. Loving myself, and focusing on my writing aspirations. I’m writing a spoken word album about evolving through rough times. Looking for funding for the project and aiming to produce a rap song this summer. Then another song in the fall. If I get more funding, I’ll produce the whole thing by the end of the year. I’d love to place two-column ideas in paying outlets—one on bullying, and the other would be poetry and prose of some of the more obscure classic rock and contemporary acts that have that sound.

Q: Do you see us getting back to normal anytime soon?
A: New normal. You’re normal.

Q: Please give us a word that you rely on and gives you hope
A: The word? I’m gonna give you a phrase: Honor yourself with kindness.

Anne Leighton Online
Website: http://anneleighton.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeightonMediaMusicServicesMotivation
Twitter: https://twitter.com/leightonmedia

Aaron English ( Solo Artist ) USA

Interview conducted April 6th, 2020

Q: Hello Aaron, how are you adapting to the Covid-19 Pandemic?
A: I arrived in Europe to play a two-month solo tour on the same day that the U.S. government restricted flights & entry from Europe & asked Americans to come home. I hung around there for two weeks, hoping that I might still end up playing some of my gigs once the virus situation cleared. In the meantime, as I waited, I started playing online live-streaming gigs. Eventually the timelines for life to “return to normal” kept being extended. So I headed back to the States, lest I be locked out indefinitely.

Q: What type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you?
A: It was a forced opportunity to re-assess my career, start playing online gigs and look for new chances to get the music heard – and to make money with the music. That’s scary, and in “normal” circumstances, we tend to avoid scary. The silver lining here is that I had to take a fresh look at my music career, see what was and wasn’t working, and make educated guesses on what would work in a post-COVID-19 world.

Q: Are you working on a new release?
A: I am! I’m working on a long-distance collaborative song with artist friends in three other countries, all recording separately in our various quarantine situations.>Are you planning on performing via a live streaming platform?I started playing 3x a week live stream concerts as soon as my European tour gigs were put on hold. That will continue indefinitely – I’m guessing I’ll have to suspend them once my touring resumes. Touring’s too much work to be doing much else.

Q: Are you offering your fans any incentives to help support your music?
A: I’ve had a Patreon account for five years now, the incentives are in there: I release exclusive songs & remixes, I write custom songs for people, etc. It’s so much more helpful to have support via a patronage model than it is to get a one-time tip in the PayPal “hat” during a live-streaming gig. In the patronage model, it’s ongoing: a commitment to supporting your songs for the long-haul.

Q: How has this affected you on a personal level?
A: The uncertainty has created a slow creeping anxiety for me I suspect that most everyone on the planet is feeling that right now. I’ve been combating the anxiety with exercise, meditation, yoga, tai chi.

Q: Will you continue creating and performing now and after the dust settles?
A: I will! What will that look like? Well, what will the world look like? Nobody knows. But I’m a musician, that’s what I do all day, that’s where I receive my income. So I’ll adjust accordingly to whatever new reality we are handed…or that we create!

Aaron English Online
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aaronenglishmusic
Bandcamp: https://aaronenglish.bandcamp.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/aaronenglish/
YouTube www.youtube.com/channel/UCzcnkd7QazQerLgZX47JMuw

Michael Sadler ( SAGA ) CANADA

Interview conducted March 21st 2020

Q: How are you adapting to the Covid-19 Pandemic?
A: Actually in my/our family’s case, because of our son’s health issues, there isn’t much of a change in terms of our daily attention to hygiene. The only thing that’s perhaps different is the fact that we have ramped up our attention to detail in light of the current situation.

Q: What type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you?
A: As I mentioned, there really are no new challenges per se. But it has given me the opportunity to focus on time with the family, which comes at a premium when you’re “work” keeps you away from home for long periods of time.

Q: Are you working on a new release? Personally?
A: All the time. But yes, there is a new release from the band being worked on as we speak.

Q: Are you planning on performing via a live streaming platform?
A: I’m considering putting a little something together with Seren, but I’ll make sure I give everyone a fair warning.

Q: Are you offering your fans any incentives to help support your music?
A: I don’t think we, as artists, need any more support that we’re already getting. Plus, the idea that we’re being hit harder at a time like this isn’t necessarily true, especially recording artists who have the luxury of receiving compensation in the form of residuals and royalties. As big or small as some of those payments may be, it’s 100% more than a large portion of the workforce is getting.

Q: How has this affected you on a personal level?
A: I find that the present situation merely serves to underline my concern for humanity. It’s times like these that always tend to bring out the best as well as, unfortunately, the worst in people. But ultimately I have faith that we will collectively do the right thing.

Q: Will you continue creating and performing now and after the dust settles?
A: Dust or no dust, I personally will never stop creating and performing. Besides, there’s a wealth of content out there right now for someone like myself who draws on human behavior as a source of inspiration.

Michael Sadler Online
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MSADLERMEDIA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Michael_Sadler

Tori Sparks ( Solo Artist ) SPAIN

Photo by Begonya Pe

Interview conducted March 22nd, 2020

Q:: Hello Tori how are you adapting to the Covid-19 Pandemic? 
A: Here in Barcelona, we’ve been under quarantine for a bit over a week already. It’s been pretty non-stop, canceling, and reorganizing literally everything. I got back from several shows in Madrid just before we all were placed on lockdown, so I had time to go to the store and prepare. Since then, I’ve been working from home — which isn’t unusual, I always do — but the kind of work is different. Instead of booking live concerts, the focus has been on other ways of reaching our community of fans. On a personal level, I’ve also been checking in with friends and family a lot, I want to make sure everyone is ok mentally as well as physically, as this is a scary time for everyone. The virus is bad enough, but the chaos that’s been a  result of the general panic seems like it will have heavy economic repercussions, especially for people who freelance or who own small businesses.

Q: Are you planning on performing via a live streaming platform? 
A: I’ve done two concerts from my balcony here in Barcelona, to try to uplift my neighbors. Last weekend was impromptu and very last minute, as it was the day after the quarantine was announced and we’d had a show canceled for that very night. I just plugged in my amp and mic and started playing, and people starting poking their heads out of their windows and applauding. Both times the reaction was really heartwarming, it was so beautiful to see people out on their balconies or in their windows or on their rooftops, enjoying life for a moment in the midst of all this madness. The original idea was just to give something back to my community, so I honestly didn’t think of doing a live stream. But thanks to my mom’s suggestion I decided to also stream the performance on Instagram and Facebook, which turned out to be a great thing, as people all over the world tuned in and I think the gesture made people happy. So I’ll keep playing every Saturday until the quarantine is lifted. It’s important that people have a little hope in times of darkness, and music brings a community together in a way that is special.

Q: What type of challenges or opportunities has this presented to you? 
A: There are a number of challenges, of course. I make my living playing shows, so with 99% of all concerts canceled through June — possibly beyond — I am extremely concerned in terms of my financial future. I’ve had concerts canceled in multiple countries, and two major projects put on hold. This doesn’t just affect me, there’s my band, my sound tech, my publicist — none of these people will be working during this time, and I care about all of them personally, not just professionally. Most of them have little kids and they don’t know how they’ll pay their bills. However, there’s nothing I or anyone can do except to keep moving forward day by day, and hope that things will get better and that our community will continue to support music and culture as much as they can. There are also opportunities, in that the balcony concert I mentioned has received a lot of unexpected attention in the national press here in Spain as well as online, and it’s connected me to many new people. 

I am the secretary of the Musicians Union of Catalunya (Sindicat de Musics Activists de Catalunya), we working to raise awareness of how this situation is affecting working artists via social media campaigns and by proposing meetings with government officials as well as other unions (our sister union in Madrid and the soundtechs union, for example). One huge problem facing musicians where I live is that there are a number of politically influential organizations, associations, and unions that have a vertical structure, not a horizontal one. What that means is that the persons or entities responsible for hiring and firing employees and/or freelance workers are a part of the same union or organization that is meant to defend everyone’s interest. (It’s like being in a workers’ union with your boss — there’s no way to defend your interests.) So our union runs into conflicts with groups like this all the time, which claim to represent the “music industry.” This is not the same thing as representing musicians’ professional interests. Musicians are already in a bad spot in Spain because of of spotty enforcement of labor laws, blatantly illegal and abusive contracts, pay-to-play situations, problems being paid performance royalties…. the list goes on and on. The current situation has made it much worse,

Q: Are you working on a new release? 
A: We released our last album not quite a year ago, the double live album Wait No More, so we’re still in the promotion phase for that record. But I’m always working on ideas in my head for the future, I have scraps of new songs here and there that will definitely turn into something!

Q: Are you offering your fans any incentives to help support your music? 
A: Speaking of new albums, I’m putting together a compilation album called Amor en Tiempos de Cuarentena (Love in a Time of Quarantine), featuring various artists from my community that has been affected by the pandemic. The album will be paid for by crowdfunding and will support not only me but also 9 other artists. The crowdfunding link will go live this coming week. I hope that my audience and theirs will respond, and we will all get through this together. The streaming concerts are given as a gift to our communities, but we also have to remember that artists make their living from their music. I’m trying to remind people of this in a positive, proactive way, so they’ll be excited to support the music they love — hence the compilation album. I am also encouraging my people to buy albums in general (mine, sure, but if not mine, someone’s  — specifically independent artists) instead of just listening to Spotify. We really need the support of our communities now more than ever. I believe that my fans will be there, during and after this crazy time. 

And if you missed the final #BalconyConcert, a playlist of videos from all 9 concerts — all 10, if you count the bonus second set from the final show this past weekend — are on YouTube, with more videos to come. Huge thanks to Las Telenotícias de TV3, Radio4, El Periódico, Radio Primavera Sound, El Punt Avui, ScannerFm, Ruta66, Radio Gràcia, Rock On Magazine, and the other members of the press as well as friends and fans who all helped to spread the word about both the compilation album and the balcony concerts.

The balcony concerts may have ended when the quarantine was lifted, but that doesn’t mean the concerts are over! On Saturday, May 30th Tori will present a very special online concert the trio, accompanied by El Rubio on guitar and Javi García on cajón. More information is here.

Q: How has this affected you on a personal level? 
A: My work and my personal life are pretty much intertwined, as it is for many musicians out there I’m sure. It’s a stressful moment. But one positive thing that always comes out of a crisis is that we end up appreciating the people who love even more, and discovering that yes, we can face down a situation like this one and carry on. I feel both of those things, in spite of the challenges in my day to day and my concerns about the future.

Q: Will you continue creating and performing now and after the dust settles? 
A: During and after the storm — of course! If musicians didn’t make music just because they weren’t making any money I think new music would have stopped happening long ago, working in this industry has always been a tough gig. The only issue is that I’m actually so busy with canceling, rescheduling, the compilation disc, and so on, that I’ve been working more this past week than I have since the album release — I haven’t had time to stop and write a song yet! But as they’ve just extended the quarantine here for 15 more days, I have a feeling I’ll find the time. I hope so. At the end of the day, all this — the production of the albums, the promotion, the social media, the interviews — all started because I used to feel happiest sitting at home and writing songs in my bedroom. It’s important not to forget why I (or anyone) got into this crazy biz in the first place. 

Since this interview was conducted in March Tori has finished “Love in a Time of Quarantine” On 21 May 2020.
A: The crowdfunding campaign for Love in a Time of Quarantine has ended at 146% of its initial goal. Thank you from the bottom of our quarantined hearts to everyone who supported the project. This album will not be available in stores, or online. It won’t be available on Spotify, YouTube, or other streaming platforms. Its truly limited edition. The digital download version was sent out last night, and the physical albums will be shipped by the end of the month. The show must go on — and with your help, it did! Click here to learn more about the compilation album and check out the incredible artists who are a part of it.

Tori Spark Online
Website: www.torisparks.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/torisparksmusic
Instagram: www.instagram.com/torisparksmusic/
Twitter https://twitter.com/torisparks784294

This Pandemic is far from over, the numbers of cases keep rising. The only thing for certain is that we need to continue to be vigilant, wear a mask in public, stay out of cramped spaces with lots of people, and bad ventaliation, don’t gather in large groups. These are the things we know that we can do, what we don’t know is how long this will last and when and if there will be a vaccine or a cure.

On a final note, please support your musicians by purchasing music directly or Bandcamp if possible and please support your community by shopping local.

Stay safe, stay strong.

ProgStock Festival Single Day Passes Now Available Plus Event Schedule News

Tuesday, July 2, 2019 @ 12:00pm (noon) US Eastern time

Due to popular demand single-day passes will be available two full months earlier than planned!

Starting Tuesday, July 2, 2019, you will be able to purchase a ProgStock 2019 Regular 3-Day Pass at the ProgStock Box Office by selecting any available seat within the areas set-aside for three-day pass holders. This three-day pass to the festival also provides you with these additional perks:

  • Access to all artist meet-and-greet sessions on each day
  • Access to all late-night events on each day (as capacity allows)

The price of a ProgStock 2019 Regular 3-Day Pass is $195 USD. These passes will only be available at this special low price until Tuesday, September 10, 2019.

Also starting Tuesday, July 2, 2019, you will be able to purchase a ProgStock 2019 Single-Day Pass for any day of the festival at the ProgStock Box Office by selecting any available seat within the areas set-aside for single-day pass holders. This single-day pass to the festival provides you with access to the artist meet-and-greet sessions on that day only, and access to the late-night events that occur after the mainstage performances on that day only (with priority given to three-day pass-holders when capacity is limited).

The prices of ProgStock 2019 Single-Day Passes are as follows: $75 USD for Friday, $105 USD for Saturday, and $115 USD for Sunday.

Pricing for Single-Day Passes:
Friday: $75 USD
Saturday: $105 USD
Sunday: $115 USD

Click Here to Visit the ProgStock Box Office

ProgStock 5-Year Patron Passes are still available! You can purchase a 5-Year Patron Pass (or convert any 3-day pass to 5-Year Patron) by contacting us here.

Now for the moment many of you have been waiting for…
Here is the daily schedule for ProgStock 2019!

Friday, October 11th 2019
3.2 featuring Robert Berry
Salem Hill
Phideaux
Special set by Rachel Flowers and Chris Clark of Brand X
Late-night: Progressive Coffeehouse at The Waiting Room Restaurant featuring Melanie Mau and Martin Schnella

Saturday, October 12th, 2019
Brand X
IO Earth
Discipline
Rocket Scientists
Jane Getter Premonition
Special set by Rachel Flowers and Robert Berry
Late-night: Randy McStine and Last Call Live on the Mainstage at UCPAC

Sunday, October 13th, 2019
SAGA
Nektar
Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius
The Cyberiam
Special set by Rachel Flowers and Michael Sadler of SAGA
Late-Night: Kinetic Element at The Waiting Room Restaurant

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