The Music Of JC Harris

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet

JCHRants

Wanted To Form: Progressive Rock Band

In my last rant pondering what is ‘prog’? I talked about Charles Snyder’s three defining characteristics of progressive rock. I ponder this today because of my recent involvement in on-line adverts.

As I’ve blogged (man do I hate that expression. I think it’s no accident that it sounds like a synonym for vomitus.) Where was I. Oh yeah, as I’ve recently written here, I’m trying to rebuild the band locally. So, in addition to talking to old mates and people clued in, I’ve also put out ‘cattle call’ ads in all the local papers and CraigsList to try and get some action. Who knows? I’ve had one or two decent blind dates. Ya never know.

So far? These ads have yielded bupkus in terms of finding the guitarist, keyboardist and drummist necessary to re-take the champeenship, but I’ve definitely gotten responses.

Hi,

I’m interested in forming a group to perform my work. I’m looking for guitar, keys and drums to supplement my voice and bass.

What I do is often described as in the vein of old-school progressive rock. What it -sounds- like is sometimes compared with artists like XTC, Peter Gabriel, old school Genesis, Talking Heads, ELP, King Crimson, Transatlantic and Steely Dan. You can check it out here here.

The immediate goal is to gig regularly doing my music and a few covers.

So just to be clear: when I say ‘prog’ I’m -not- talking ‘Tool’ or other primarily metal-based bands.
So: if you play guitar, keyboards or drums at the requisite level, are willing to devote prep time to complex music, have all the stuff necessary to do something like this right (transportation, proper gear, stage/recording experience), are very creative and are interested in doing something really special? Please contact me to discuss. If possible, send links, files, etc. of your work.

After we talk… and it feels like there’s a good match… I will ask you to prepare a few songs from one of the free downloads so we can have something to rehearse.

Thanks for reading this and if this kind of project is something you -need- to do, then I hope to meet with you soon.

Two things have stood out in the twenty or so responses I’ve gotten from people who actually sound like they may play the guitar and know who Jon Anderson is.

1. They have some goofy hope that I will enable them to be in a real band to play their favourite tunes. Sort of like a ‘Guitar Hero For Adults.’ The first thing they want to know is when we can get together to play ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part VI)’. The second thing they want to know is how I’m able to book gigs like that. The answer to both questions is tricky because I have to let ’em down easy but without sounding like a jerk. The first question is answered simply: my advert clearly states that it’s my thang. We ain’t doin’ Floyd or Boston (Boston?) or whatever. (How outrageous and pretentious of me! To think that I can do this stuff and expect to get paid!) Well that’s actually related to the second question as well. The answer to which is also an easy one: I can’t. Because nobody can make a living covering that stuff. It’s gone. Finito. Bu-bye. Even the Indians don’t want it at the casinos! 😀

2. The other thing I ponder is what they consider to be ‘prog’. I am just amazed that Floyd—and yes Boston are mentioned as progressive rock. None of my friends ever thought so back in the day. Frankly? I think a lot of oldsters lump that stuff in mainly because it’s much easier to play than say, something by Keith Emerson. But of course, it ain’t. And it ain’t not just because the guys weren’t really all that great players (face it, David Gilmour is about as much a ‘virtuoso’ on the guitar as John Lee Hooker. Both sound great but serious players? Not even.)

No, the more serious issue I have with calling anything with a mellotron ‘progressive’ is that it fails Snyder’s ‘virtuosic writing’ test. Nothing that Floyd (I’m done talking about Boston) wrote was much more musically complicated than a 12 bar blues. Billy Joel writes far more complex stuff. So does Stevie Wonder. And Ben Folds. (Notice how piano players tend to know more chords?) At the end of the day, Floyd was more in league with The Who in my book than anything like Yes or ELP or Genesis.

Roger Waters, like Pete Townsend, wrote something like Broadway shows. Tommy and The Wall are cut from much the same cloth. And a fine piece of fabric it is (though I treasure my copy of Tommy and don’t even own a copy of The Wall anymore.) The stories are quite sophisticated, I’ll grant you (though again, Townsend is really much more the sophisticate.) But the musical structures ain’t much more than lots of very catchy tunes strung together. Like a Broadway show before Oklahoma turned Broadway into Music Drama. But I digress…

I started thinking on all this because many people wrote that they didn’t think what I do really is ‘prog’. I hate labels (though I’m using ’em right and left here of course.) But I’m thinking about this because it colours my writing process. So I’ll take this up next time with the fantastic post ‘Man, you ain’t prog! Boston? Now that was prog!

So there.

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