Tag Archives: Rock

Rock Band Maragold Talks New Self-Titled CD With Live From Music City

Maragold

Maragold

 

Rock band Maragold chats with Live From Music City about their new CD “Maragold”  to be release on April 23rd, songwriting and the music business!

Listen to the interview here! 

Bio

MARAGOLD…a band that started as an idea and grew into a long awaited reality.

Renowned guitarist Greg Howe, widely known for his rock / fusion instrumental recordings, had been considering doing an album featuring vocal-driven songs for quite a while. Long time friend, bassist Kevin Vecchione, had played on Greg’s “Five” album, as well as having toured with Greg previously.Through the years, over the course of their enduring friendship, Greg and Kevin had been discussing and mulling over the idea of being in a band together… They finally decided to stop talking and start acting, and the seeds of the band “Maragold” were sown. Drummer Gianluca Palmieri, who had also toured with Greg, and played on his recent album “Sound Proof”, was recruited to complete their dynamic rhythm section.

All they needed was “the voice”…

Originally, the band started working with a male singer, but due to other musical endeavors, he was unable to continue with the project. In the meantime, Kevin had discovered an amazing vocal talent while performing in the Tri-State area club circuit, and suggested the female singer as a replacement. Greg was initially hesitant, as the songs they had lined up were centered around a male vocalist.

However…

Kevin had Greg listen to some demos he had done with the new singer, Meghan Krauss. Greg enthusiastically agreed that she had “the voice”, but Meghan’s presence, personality, image, and especially her ability to inject herself into a song, truly made her the “total package” that they wanted in a vocalist. Meghan agreed to take on the duties as lead singer; Greg and Kevin immediately went to work writing songs befitting her vocal style.

The results are the ten amazing songs on the debut self-titled album, “MARAGOLD”. Combining exemplary musicianship and powerhouse vocals with provocative songwriting, the album represents a daring new direction for Greg Howe, which is sure to be an exciting experience for his fans, old and new.

You can find out more about Maragold here:

http://www.maragoldband.com/band.html

http://www.facebook.com/maragoldband

http://www.twitter.com/maragoldband

http://www.youtube.com/maragoldband

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Maragold on Live From Music City May 9th!

Maragold

Rock band Maragold will be on Live From Music City Tuesday May 9th!

Bio

MARAGOLD…a band that started as an idea and grew into a long awaited reality.

Renowned guitarist Greg Howe, widely known for his rock / fusion instrumental recordings, had been considering doing an album featuring vocal-driven songs for quite a while. Long time friend, bassist Kevin Vecchione, had played on Greg’s “Five” album, as well as having toured with Greg previously.Through the years, over the course of their enduring friendship, Greg and Kevin had been discussing and mulling over the idea of being in a band together… They finally decided to stop talking and start acting, and the seeds of the band “Maragold” were sown. Drummer Gianluca Palmieri, who had also toured with Greg, and played on his recent album “Sound Proof”, was recruited to complete their dynamic rhythm section.

All they needed was “the voice”…

Originally, the band started working with a male singer, but due to other musical endeavors, he was unable to continue with the project. In the meantime, Kevin had discovered an amazing vocal talent while performing in the Tri-State area club circuit, and suggested the female singer as a replacement. Greg was initially hesitant, as the songs they had lined up were centered around a male vocalist.

However…

Kevin had Greg listen to some demos he had done with the new singer, Meghan Krauss. Greg enthusiastically agreed that she had “the voice”, but Meghan’s presence, personality, image, and especially her ability to inject herself into a song, truly made her the “total package” that they wanted in a vocalist. Meghan agreed to take on the duties as lead singer; Greg and Kevin immediately went to work writing songs befitting her vocal style.

The results are the ten amazing songs on the debut self-titled album, “MARAGOLD”. Combining exemplary musicianship and powerhouse vocals with provocative songwriting, the album represents a daring new direction for Greg Howe, which is sure to be an exciting experience for his fans, old and new.

You can find out more about Maragold here:

http://www.maragoldband.com/band.html

http://www.facebook.com/maragoldband

http://www.twitter.com/maragoldband

http://www.youtube.com/maragoldband


Blues Great Chris Duarte on Live From Music City!

ChrisDuarte

Blues Great and underground guitar legend Chris Duarte will be on Live From Music City on May 19th with a live interview, 3 song full band performance and a meet and greet to start 6:30pm.

Date: May 19th, 8:00pm Meet & Greet

Location: Bitchstraps Studio, 172 2nd Ave. S., 3rd Floor, Nashville, TN 37201

For more information please contact Live From Music City through this site.

 

BIO

An artist’s lifetime is sometimes dictated by the heights they reach, the reaction they register or the body of work compiled during their working years. Chris Duarte is certainly making a case for his body of work he’s producing, this being number eleven of releases, but is he achieving the right reaction for his efforts? With the release of Chris Duarte’s latest opus, ‘My Soul Alone’, Chris Duarte is still reaching for new ground while also throwing out some of his best blues work to date. The maturity in the phrasing and melodic statements are a far cry from the early raw days of his first few releases. This could only be achieved through relentless roadwork that allows Chris to ply his trade and to work and rework melodic ideas. “I can practice all day in my basement but it’s a totally different ballgame when I get on stage. More of a physical dynamic is the currency I trade in when I’m playing live.” Even though Chris is in the studio, I can hear him getting more physical while there.

The album starts off with a swinging type of blues with a vocal more akin to 40’s big band style. The rough and course voice is still there rather than a crooner’s touch but he’s swinging the lines. The guitar solos are full bodied with just a touch of frenetic moments that Chris is known for. ‘Show Me That You Want It’ sets a good tone for the opening salvo.

Next up is another example of Chris taking clues from his early years growing up and mixing it with these pseudo county leanings on the guitar. ‘Yes It’s You’ is a nod towards the Beatles and other ‘Pop’ efforts Chris has been penning and with each release I can hear the improvement. Time will only tell if this song is a winner but it makes me hopeful that one day that hit will come. It will be long overdue.

‘Take Me Now’ is more of the ‘naff’ pop Chris is exploring like his previous release of ‘Summer’s Child’. “I keep hearing these retro-like grooves with a Steely Dan like vocal line over it. I’m probably going to go to my grave taking chances like this song.” Jazzy guitar work over a bluesy mode wins out on this song. This one always perks my ears up for new things every time I hear it.

Almost every album that Chris has put out with Mike Varney, there’s always been a minor blues and a slow major blues on the album. Normally I would really grow tired of the repetition but Chris challenges himself to tweak and twist the songs arrangement so that no two are going to sound like the last. His latest minor offering, “A Dollar Down and Feeling Low’, stays low and evocative with what I think is his best minor work to date. The phrasing is more moving and flowing with its subtle nuances achingly played. Chris’s touch on the guitar is definitely much improved and the notes actually touch the inner core. Then on the flip-side there’s ‘Lazy Afternoon’ with its true reach at a crooner standard style. The lyrics are lyrical and time dated and the guitar work is first rate jazzy with a touch of BB here and there. If we were to stop here with the album I would consider it a success.

We can’t deny Hendrix is a big muse for Chris and it’s plainly stated in this album. ‘Outta My Way’ is a spot on Hendrixian nod but obviously with Chris’s style thrown in the mix. Starting off with a hard driving riff but then it opens up with the patented Hendrix 7th chord accents that propel this rocket of a song on its way. The guitar accents are vocal like and at times a frenzy. The quirky lead in to the middle solo is typical of the twists and turns for originality and lends to it that ‘turn-on-a-dime’ wildness that should be present in songs like this; Hendrixian. The next Jimi offering is ‘Can’t Shut Me Out’. First the riff at the top and in comes the effects drenched guitar. With an almost vocal like quality to the guitar the phrasing is no doubt from Jimi and the driving rhythm underneath enables all the elements to come together when the vocals start. The interlude at the top of the chorus is the only departure from the Hendrix mode but it plays well with the chorus hook shouted out. Another adrenalin driving guitar vehicle and I wouldn’t expect anything less on this album. This is the CDG we’ve come to know and love.

Jumping back on the blues side of the album, because if there’s one thing that put Chris Duarte on the international stage; it is his blues playing. ‘Being known and referred to as a blues player is not a hindrance to me. If there’s anything that makes it easier for people to relate to me or if it’s easier to gain access to me than it’s all for the better’, Chris remarks. “I don’t shrink behind it or cringe from it because I love playing the blues.” I agree. It’s Chris’s prowess and originality in the blues field that has always made him an interest to me. So when I heard ‘Sweet Little Girl’ I knew Chris was drawing from one of his favorite blues masters; Howling Wolf. Back in the day when Chris was just a sideman in Bobby Mack and Night Train, Howling for My Darling was in every day rotation with the band when they played. It’s no surprise that the infectious rhythm and drive the song has would be inspiration down the years in his career. Written for his daughter, the vocal phrasing isn’t the same as Wolf but the ‘sweet’ sentiments he gives to his little girl is heartwarming. Then Chris quickly takes over when the solo romps and rolls along this jumping number. “Keeping this rhythm going isn’t as easy as it sounds” quips Duarte, “You always find out your studio limitations when you’ve got to track your rhythm tracks.” On the heels of Sweet Little Girl you’ve also got the Party swing song, ‘Bucked It Up’. “The male anthem for some of us” as Duarte claims as he has not been without his foibles in life. Why not poke fun with it and put your troubles in song. This song is just classic with the Hubert Summlin like tone on the lead and the rhythm guitar borrowing from piano phrasing and horn section kicks on the chorus. Later the solo tone turns towards a Buddy Guy styling and this party just rocks and rolls. Not to be forgotten is the ‘Stripper’ like tom-tom beats on the verses. Really like this song.

The title cut, ‘Leave My Soul Alone’ is Chris giving a nod towards the Black Keys. “I was first exposed to those guys when I did the Romp album.” “Our producer at the time, Dennis Herring, brought that song in, the Romp that is, and it was the Black Keys version of it.” It definitely has that stripped down sound with the classic vocal and guitar unison lines in it. With the verse rolling along like a tire with a bump on it, the song then blows wide open with the chorus and a rock and roll scream to “Leave My Soul Alone!” The guitars thicken up and the drums pound out the booms and the solo is an all-out assault on the instrument itself. Bending and twisting through sonic blasts and high vertical bends it settles back for another verse and then blows up again. Emotionally stirring this song deserves to be the title cut for its shear ferocity that it wields.

The last two cuts are more experimental and artistic reaches. “I just wanted to tell a story in one of the songs and this western motif I settled on was a lot of fun.” Telling the story of a young man that takes up and life of crime to feed his family is scattered among this country’s western lore. “I just wish I could write like Dylan” The guitar is playing this almost hypnotic folk type melody and the solo comes in mirroring the vocal line and then soaring on high as if it’s flying in the vast open Big Sky of the Midwestern plains. This song kind of hung with me after it was over. Then we have the most different of all the songs; Carelessness. “This is the name of a lodge that I met the violin player at during a jam we did in Northern California; Careless. The first song we jammed on was Freedom Jazz Dance and it was a blast.” Then when Mike Varney thought the collaboration between the two; violin and guitar, could yield some potential fireworks, Mike wanted to get Madz Tolling on one song with the upcoming album. So it was up to Chris to write one for the occasion and with that he drew on their first time together as inspiration. “Since it was Freedom Jazz Dance that brought us together then why not come up with a melody that’s angular and quirky like Jazz Dance.” Add a bit more spice with the solo section being in 7/8 time and then give a nod to one of Chris’s favorites John McGlaughlin and you’ve got the vehicle for a fusion tour de force. Madz violin just soars throughout the song with the agility and ease of a master conjuring up the voice of Jean Luc Ponty. Chris then answers in his unbounded energetic style that you can’t help but bop your head and smile while the drums lay down a furious barrage and the bass acts as the glue that brings it all together. One of the most adventurous songs Chris has put down so far in his career. I hope there are more like this one in the future

My opinion is that this is a level up in Chris’s all around skills. His songwriting is getting better, vocals phrasing and lyrics are better and his tone is still a marvel at how dexterous he can be with the varying styles he continues to display time and time again. Watching Chris grow has not been meteoric but it’s been steady and he’s still getting better on the guitar. In a time when most of our legends have been content to rest on their laurels and continue to mine familiar ground, it’s both a pleasure and refreshing to see that Chris always wants to expand and grow even after over 20 years of being on the road. Not many have the energy in them to do that and not many have the soul to pull it off.

For more info about Chris Duarte please visit: http://www.thechrisduartegroup.com/home.html


Neal Morse Sings “Momentum” on Live From Music City

 

Neal Morse sings his single “Momentum” in a live acoustic performance on Live From Music City in Bitchstraps studio in Nashville, TN.

You can find out more about Neal at:

www.nealmorse.com

www.twitter.com/nealmorse

https://www.facebook.com/nealmorse

 

 


Live From Music City Interview with Neal Morse

NealMorse

Note: This interview was originally filmed to be a live in studio video but due to complications we can only bring you the audio. Stay tuned for a video of the song “Momentum” as we were able to retrieve that. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused Neal’s and our fans.

Click the link here to listen the to interview:  Live From Music City w/Neal Morse Interview

Progressive rock legend Neal Morse dropped by Live From Music City to talk about the upcoming “Live Momentum” tour, the music business and his other projects.

NEAL MORSE BIO

As a young musician, Neal’s dream was like many others—to find success in the pop music world. But after years of struggling in the Los Angeles singer-songwriter scene, he realized that this dream would not materialize. Rejecting conventional wisdom, Morse took a courageous step: He about-faced and devoted himself to progressive rock, the music truly in his heart. The obscure and fiercely competitive genre held little chance of commercial success.

Undaunted, he formed the quirkily-named Spock’s Beard with his brother, Alan. They recorded The Light with what money they could scrape together. Against all odds, it was a breakout success, sending shockwaves through the small genre’s community.

Over the next 10 years, Spock’s Beard released 10 critically acclaimed CDs and 2 DVDs, ascending to the top of the prog world. Neal also released 6 CDs and 3 DVDs with Transatlantic, the heralded prog supergroup comprised of the genre’s best musicians.

The proverbial wayward son, Neal had finally found the success he sought. On the outside he seemed to have it all. On the inside, however, something was missing.

Morse came to realize that for him, embracing the Christian faith was the fulfillment of his spiritual quest. His walk was at once gradual and sudden—and as with so many, completely unexpected. As he continued, his path increasingly revealed more of what his heart had sought all along. Yet he also began to find his career growing at odds  with his faith. The rising spiritual tension and increasing commercial success finally came to a head with the release of Snow (2002), the group’s magnum opus…and swan song with Morse.

The extraordinary 2-CD rock opera, composed by Morse, was widely acclaimed as the group’s finest. But it was the end of the era. Neal felt God calling him out of his former musical life and into the unknown. He made the agonizing decision to leave both Spock’s Beard and Transatlantic. Despite having finally achieved the success he had long sought, Morse had to begin all over again; musically, emotionally and spiritually.

Neal then embarked upon the most ambitious musical project of his career. Entitled Testimony (2003), it chronicles his spiritual and musical journey in words and music.  The 2 CD set spans over two hours as one continuous piece of music. In genre, it ranges from a gospel choir to hard rock; from symphony orchestra to contemporary pop. Testimony was also Neal’s first of many albums with drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater). A deftly woven musical tapestry, Testimony takes the listener on a fascinating journey as unique as the man behind it.

The ensuing world tour was captured on one unforgettable night for the 2-DVD set, Testimony Live (2004). Morse was recognized as a remarkably passionate and engaging performer by Britain’s Classic Rock Magazine, who included him in their “100 Greatest Frontmen of Rock” listing. The tour was awarded “Best Rock Tour” from the popular Dutch website, DPRP, besting nominees Peter Gabriel, Radiohead, RUSH and others.

Morse’s next studio album was a conceptual, progressive rock album entitled One. Mike Portnoy returned to perform on drums (in what is regarded as perhaps his finest performance), with up-and-coming bassist Randy George. They were joined by legendary guitarist Phil Keaggy. The result was a band-focused sound, harkening back to Neal’s Transatlantic work. Continuing in the tradition of Snow and Testimony, One proved epic in scope and sublime in nature.

For Morse’s third progressive rock album, he took a new approach, artistically. On Question (2005), Morse weaves a compelling storyline that owes as much to C.S. Lewis as Indiana Jones. His journey is a timeless quest—to find the biblical dwelling place of God. Joining Neal are more of prog’s brightest stars, including Mike Portnoy and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Roine Stolt (Flower Kings, Transatlantic) and Steve Hackett (Genesis).

Bringing Question to the stage required an outstanding tour band. Fusing technical wizardry with musical nuance, a young band of unknowns proved themselves in the fire of Question’s musical roller-coaster. The audience responded with energy and passion, with the experience captured on CD. Unrestrained, raw, and magnificent, the resulting 2 CD set Question: Live (2007) was fitting as Neal’s first live album.

Neal’s next prog epic was his most daring, stirring passions and controversy. On Sola Scriptura (2007), Morse tells a compelling and sometimes macabre tale of the darkness that inevitably falls when humankind tries to elevate itself to God. Focusing on the Church in the Middle Ages, Morse is unflinching in his description of its abuses. Neal frames the issue as just one example of faith separated from its true foundations. The album closes not with an end but a beginning—for us to consider our world, and feel called to illuminate it.

Question and Sola Scriptura were received as Neal’s best to date, and the ensuing tours were captured on film. The ensuing release, Sola Scriptura & Beyond (2008) was an extraordinary live concert 2-DVD set that brought both albums to life. Also included were generous selections from One and Testimony, a Transatlantic selection, five songs from Spock’s Beard, and an hour of behind-the-scenes tour footage.

Less than three months later, Neal completed Lifeline (2008), his next studio album. Unlike his other releases, Lifeline wasn’t a concept album. Free from this constraint, Neal stretched out in all directions. He revisited early Spock’s Beard, Snow, Transatlantic, his solo releases, and launched into new territory. Joining him once again were Mike Portnoy and Randy George.

A Transatlantic reunion had been the dream of many fans, and after ten years, a seemingly quixotic one. On April 16 of 2009, though, they were surprised to hear of a new album from the prog supergroup. The album began with Neal’s work a 45 minute composition, “The Whirlwind”. As he progressed, Neal, who felt it was taking on the attributes of a Transatlantic piece. He shared it with the band, and they agreed. Each band member brought material to the eight days of writing/recording sessions; by the end, they’d written a completely new album. Retaining Neal’s original title, The Whirlwind went on to be the group’s highest charting album to date.

Meanwhile, Neal had been touring in North America and Europe. Several shows from the end of 2008 were recorded to multitrack, and saved for future release. On November 16, 2010, the 3-CD set So Many Roads was released, presenting an astonishing 3.5 hours of new live music. Featuring 29 tracks spanning Neal’s entire 20 year career, So Many Roads is the definitive live Neal Morse release.

Later in 2010, Transatlantic embarked on their biggest tour yet, with dates in 11 nations across Europe and North America. The London, UK show was immortalized for the double-live DVD, Whirld Tour 2010: Live in London.

Neal begins 2011 with completion of his forthcoming progressive rock studio release, Testimony II. Mike Portnoy and Randy George returned to revisit the trio’s unique and powerful chemistry, and as usual, special guests and surprises await.

Neal’s largest ever tour will follow, over the summer, with his international live band led by Collin Leijenaar. Meanwhile, Neal continues development on his unnamed rock opera and a new collaborative mainstream rock project. In 2012, Neal shines brighter than ever with the next remarkable chapter in his musical and spiritual journey.

http://www.nealmorse.com/

 

 

 

 


Night Ranger/Trans-Siberian Orchestra Guitarist Joel Hoekstra Joins Us On Live From Music City!

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New York guitarist Joel Hoekstra plays for Night Ranger, the Broadway hit ‘Rock of Ages’ and Trans Siberian Orchestra. Most recently, Joel can be heard on Night Ranger’s new release ’24 Strings & a Drummer (live & acoustic), Jack Blades’ new cd ‘Rock ‘n Roll Ride’, Trans Siberian Orchestra’s new cd ‘Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night) and Jeff Scott Soto’s release ‘Damage Control’. In 2011, he had the pleasure of filling in for Mick Jones of Foreigner. Joel’s cd’s ‘undefined’, ‘The Moon is Falling’ and ’13 acoustic songs’ have found a strong cult following and critical acclaim. Keep an eye out for Joel in the Warner Bros. movie ‘Rock of Ages’!

Joel has worked on/with the following….

ARTISTS/MUSICANS (LIVE & RECORDING):

Night Ranger

Trans Siberian Orchestra

Foreigner

The Turtles

Big Brother and the Holding Company

Scrap Metal

Dee Snider

Jeff Scott Soto

Eric Martin (Mr Big)

Alan Parsons

Rik Emmett (Triumph)

Tommy Shaw (Styx)

Robin Zander (Cheap Trick)

Wyclef Jean

John Waite

Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls)

Beth Hart

Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple)

Ted Nugent

Sebastian Bach

Donnie & Johnny Van Zant

Don Barnes (38 Special)

Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon)

Gunnar and Matthew Nelson (Nelson)

Mike Reno (Loverboy)

Jimi Jamison (Survivor)

David Pack (Ambrosia)

Martha Davis (The Motels)

Mickey Thomas (Starship)

Constantine Maroulis (American Idol)

Dave Bickler (Survivor)

Mark Slaughter (Slaughter)

Hugh Jackman

Nuno Bettencourt

Chan Marshall (Kat Power)

Henry Paul (The Outlaws, Blackhawk)

Ray Parker Jr.

Debbie Gibson

Jim Peterik (Ides of March, Survivor)

Tom Keifer (Cinderella)

Kip Winger

THEATRE:

Rock of Ages (Broadway, off-Broadway)

Love, Janis (New York, San Francisco, Phoenix, Cleveland, Louisville, Cincinnati, Tucson, Sag Harbor)

The Boy From Oz (Broadway)

Tarzan (Broadway)

La Cage Aux Folles (Broadway)

It Ain’t Nothin But the Blues (Tucson, Phoenix, Kansas City, Seattle, Chicago*)

A Chorus Line (Broadway Cast Recording 2006)

Lovely Day (off-Broadway)

* nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for ‘Best Musical Direction’

TV

The Tonight Show starring Jay Leno

America’s Got Talent

Celebrity Apprentice

Late Night with Conan O’Brien

Bachelor Pad

Last Call with Carson Daly

Live with Regis and Kelly

Tony Awards (2009)

Visa Signature Tony Preview Concert

The Sandra Bernhard Experience (A&E)

M3 Festival (HDNet)

Imus in the Morning (Fox Business)

20/20 (ABC)

Nick Cannon (Nickolodeon)

Rock Star Kitchen (Comcast/NBC)

FOX Morning news (New York, Chicago, Tucson, Kansas City, Atlanta, Louisville, Cincinnati)

WGN Morning News (Chicago)

ABC’s View From the Bay (San Francisco)

The Loose Leaf Report (LA)

WB Morning News (New York)

The New York Today Show

ABC’s New Years Eve Countdown (Chicago)

NBC “Good Company” (Cleveland)

UPN: Live at the Taste (Chicago)

I-90 North (Chicago)

NBC Morning News (Louisville)

Barry Z Show (New York)

Guitar Talk (Chicago)

NBC’s ‘The Bay Area Today’ (San Francisco)

NBC’s ‘Arizona Midday’

NY1

FILM:

Rock of Ages (the movie)

Resurrection Mary

The Last Winter

May the Best Man Win

OTHER:

Played the national anthem for a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden

Guitar Player magazine feature (May ’09 issue)

Guitar World magazine feature (30th anniversary issue-Fall ’09)

Guitar Player magazine article (May ’11 issue)

Guitar World Playlist article (November ’11 issue)

Jeff Scott Soto video – Look Inside You Heart

Dee Snider video – Mack the Knife

ENDORSEMENTS:

Gibson guitars

Suhr amps & guitars

EVH amps

Taylor acoustic guitars

DBZ guitars

Atomic guitars

Nady wireless systems

Ernie Ball strings

Monster Cable

Big Bends Nut Sauce

Seymour Duncan pick-ups

Schecter guitars

Star Access picks

Fernandes Sustainers

Mono Cases

Fractal Audio Systems

Head straps

Morpheus Drop Tune pedal

Tech 21 midi pedals

G7 Capos

www.joelhoekstra.com


Prog Rock Legend Neal Morse Drops by Live From Music City!

NealMorse

Progressive rock legend Neal Morse will be dropping by Live From Music City to talk about the upcoming “Live Momentum” tour, the music business and his other projects. Stay tuned!

NEAL MORSE BIO

As a young musician, Neal’s dream was like many others—to find success in the pop music world. But after years of struggling in the Los Angeles singer-songwriter scene, he realized that this dream would not materialize. Rejecting conventional wisdom, Morse took a courageous step: He about-faced and devoted himself to progressive rock, the music truly in his heart. The obscure and fiercely competitive genre held little chance of commercial success.

Undaunted, he formed the quirkily-named Spock’s Beard with his brother, Alan. They recorded The Light with what money they could scrape together. Against all odds, it was a breakout success, sending shockwaves through the small genre’s community.

Over the next 10 years, Spock’s Beard released 10 critically acclaimed CDs and 2 DVDs, ascending to the top of the prog world. Neal also released 6 CDs and 3 DVDs with Transatlantic, the heralded prog supergroup comprised of the genre’s best musicians.

The proverbial wayward son, Neal had finally found the success he sought. On the outside he seemed to have it all. On the inside, however, something was missing.

Morse came to realize that for him, embracing the Christian faith was the fulfillment of his spiritual quest. His walk was at once gradual and sudden—and as with so many, completely unexpected. As he continued, his path increasingly revealed more of what his heart had sought all along. Yet he also began to find his career growing at odds  with his faith. The rising spiritual tension and increasing commercial success finally came to a head with the release of Snow (2002), the group’s magnum opus…and swan song with Morse.

The extraordinary 2-CD rock opera, composed by Morse, was widely acclaimed as the group’s finest. But it was the end of the era. Neal felt God calling him out of his former musical life and into the unknown. He made the agonizing decision to leave both Spock’s Beard and Transatlantic. Despite having finally achieved the success he had long sought, Morse had to begin all over again; musically, emotionally and spiritually.

Neal then embarked upon the most ambitious musical project of his career. Entitled Testimony (2003), it chronicles his spiritual and musical journey in words and music.  The 2 CD set spans over two hours as one continuous piece of music. In genre, it ranges from a gospel choir to hard rock; from symphony orchestra to contemporary pop. Testimony was also Neal’s first of many albums with drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater). A deftly woven musical tapestry, Testimony takes the listener on a fascinating journey as unique as the man behind it.

The ensuing world tour was captured on one unforgettable night for the 2-DVD set, Testimony Live (2004). Morse was recognized as a remarkably passionate and engaging performer by Britain’s Classic Rock Magazine, who included him in their “100 Greatest Frontmen of Rock” listing. The tour was awarded “Best Rock Tour” from the popular Dutch website, DPRP, besting nominees Peter Gabriel, Radiohead, RUSH and others.

Morse’s next studio album was a conceptual, progressive rock album entitled One. Mike Portnoy returned to perform on drums (in what is regarded as perhaps his finest performance), with up-and-coming bassist Randy George. They were joined by legendary guitarist Phil Keaggy. The result was a band-focused sound, harkening back to Neal’s Transatlantic work. Continuing in the tradition of Snow and Testimony, One proved epic in scope and sublime in nature.

For Morse’s third progressive rock album, he took a new approach, artistically. On Question (2005), Morse weaves a compelling storyline that owes as much to C.S. Lewis as Indiana Jones. His journey is a timeless quest—to find the biblical dwelling place of God. Joining Neal are more of prog’s brightest stars, including Mike Portnoy and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Roine Stolt (Flower Kings, Transatlantic) and Steve Hackett (Genesis).

Bringing Question to the stage required an outstanding tour band. Fusing technical wizardry with musical nuance, a young band of unknowns proved themselves in the fire of Question’s musical roller-coaster. The audience responded with energy and passion, with the experience captured on CD. Unrestrained, raw, and magnificent, the resulting 2 CD set Question: Live (2007) was fitting as Neal’s first live album.

Neal’s next prog epic was his most daring, stirring passions and controversy. On Sola Scriptura (2007), Morse tells a compelling and sometimes macabre tale of the darkness that inevitably falls when humankind tries to elevate itself to God. Focusing on the Church in the Middle Ages, Morse is unflinching in his description of its abuses. Neal frames the issue as just one example of faith separated from its true foundations. The album closes not with an end but a beginning—for us to consider our world, and feel called to illuminate it.

Question and Sola Scriptura were received as Neal’s best to date, and the ensuing tours were captured on film. The ensuing release, Sola Scriptura & Beyond (2008) was an extraordinary live concert 2-DVD set that brought both albums to life. Also included were generous selections from One and Testimony, a Transatlantic selection, five songs from Spock’s Beard, and an hour of behind-the-scenes tour footage.

Less than three months later, Neal completed Lifeline (2008), his next studio album. Unlike his other releases, Lifeline wasn’t a concept album. Free from this constraint, Neal stretched out in all directions. He revisited early Spock’s Beard, Snow, Transatlantic, his solo releases, and launched into new territory. Joining him once again were Mike Portnoy and Randy George.

A Transatlantic reunion had been the dream of many fans, and after ten years, a seemingly quixotic one. On April 16 of 2009, though, they were surprised to hear of a new album from the prog supergroup. The album began with Neal’s work a 45 minute composition, “The Whirlwind”. As he progressed, Neal, who felt it was taking on the attributes of a Transatlantic piece. He shared it with the band, and they agreed. Each band member brought material to the eight days of writing/recording sessions; by the end, they’d written a completely new album. Retaining Neal’s original title, The Whirlwind went on to be the group’s highest charting album to date.

Meanwhile, Neal had been touring in North America and Europe. Several shows from the end of 2008 were recorded to multitrack, and saved for future release. On November 16, 2010, the 3-CD set So Many Roads was released, presenting an astonishing 3.5 hours of new live music. Featuring 29 tracks spanning Neal’s entire 20 year career, So Many Roads is the definitive live Neal Morse release.

Later in 2010, Transatlantic embarked on their biggest tour yet, with dates in 11 nations across Europe and North America. The London, UK show was immortalized for the double-live DVD, Whirld Tour 2010: Live in London.

Neal begins 2011 with completion of his forthcoming progressive rock studio release, Testimony II. Mike Portnoy and Randy George returned to revisit the trio’s unique and powerful chemistry, and as usual, special guests and surprises await.

Neal’s largest ever tour will follow, over the summer, with his international live band led by Collin Leijenaar. Meanwhile, Neal continues development on his unnamed rock opera and a new collaborative mainstream rock project. In 2012, Neal shines brighter than ever with the next remarkable chapter in his musical and spiritual journey.

http://www.nealmorse.com/

 


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