Night of Prog. Hey, I remember I like prog!

I'm not supposed to like prog. When I was in college, and discovered punk, I kind of had to keep my prog albums hidden, and in fact, got rid of a bunch of them. The first records that went to the used record store to cover the rent and pay for beer (in that order, honestly), were my prog albums. Buh-bye, ELP. Ciao, Yes. (Well, I kept my three-album set of Yessongs. I still have it, and my copy of Todd Rundgren's Utopia.) Even the Court of the Crimson King had to go. (But I did pick up a copy of Discipline my senior year). But to an emerging new waver punk like 19-year-old me, prog was the Anti-Johnny-Rotten. It was supposedly everything that was wrong with rock and roll. It was the thing that had to be totally deconstructed and flattened out so that we could make room for some I-IV-Vs and two chord antiestablishment anthems again. The first amendment junkie in me was loathe to actually burn my prog albums, but I had to get them out of my dorm room before the cute punk boy across the hall would see them and write me off as a boring suburban stoolie who didn't know who Patti Smith was. Thank god for Record Service.

Julie B
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
So when I moved to Milwaukee, one of my first musician friends was Julie (then Niedjiecko, and god help me remember how it was spelled) Brandenburg. She played keyboards in the Trance and Dance Band, and one fine day I approached her and we hit it off instantly, despite the fact that I was a garage-band loving, three chord singing, punk. She was in my first band, Fistfull of Bimbos, and she got it. Maybe that's why I like her prog. Unlike a lot of progs, she understands the value in others' music, doesn't look down on it, but at the same time holds herself to the exacting standards of the classically-trained musician that she is. This is a woman who wasn't too good to play an unbalanced bass in a three chord joke band led by me, who'd been playing guitar for a grand total of three months, but yet is always good enough to attract top musicians to play with. That's why I always enjoy going to see her, rather than thumb my nose at her, the way I thumbed my nose at those Keith Emerson albums Record Service traded for beer money.

Thursday night she debuted her latest pair of top notch musicians as accompanists: Micah Olsan and Eric Lundgren. I wasn't aware that they hadn't rehearsed together, she just handed them sheet music and they sightread their parts. (That old joke about "how do you get a guitar play to turn down his amp" "put sheet music in front of him" was flashing in my head). Afterwards they were kvetching about how "this part wasn't right here" and such, but I just butted in and said, in all honesty, "I heard no mistakes." But they're progs, and part of being prog is being meticulously exacting about one's music, so I let them go. Julie's tunes are still melancholy as ever, but her voice, over the past five years, has caught up to her instrumental virtuosity. (Julie, honestly, your voice used to get drowned out by your band).The songs themselves are on the level of Tori Amos introspectiveness, but without the annoying shrill. No, Julie's voice is capable of belting out some emo blues: it's full and expressive, and is doing justice to her work. She's ready to rock should she decide that someday, she just wants to strap on this awful bass I know she still has and just blast out some three chord anthems. She has the leather pants for it!

Type and Gelting
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Also on the bill were Dan Type, with guest Dave "the Danglers" Gelting. Type started out by himself, with a cover of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" which, while ambitious, (and he gets points for such ambition) just didn't work. I think he was trying to change some parts for the sake of change. Frankly, that song just barely worked for the Beatles at it is, (and Elton John butchered it). I clapped politely, and didn't know what to do. I really wanted to get a beer, but then Gelting joined him for Type's originals and I'm glad I stayed. Dan, stick to your originals: they're great. They're full of dynamic and rhythmic changes, almost dirg-ey, but eight bars in and I put off getting that beer. I suppose when you've got a Dangler on stage everybody's going to just think "Danglers" but that's not a bad thing. And Type shines on his own. His voice is in the upper register of men's voices, but he stretches it and bends it every which way: he's not a blues singer, but he has that kind of expressive range. I'll be keeping an eye out for more of his work, that's for sure.


truejulie said…
Hey, thanks for the great review, and more importantly, thanks for coming out, it was really great to see you. Keep me posted on your activities, and one of these days we gotta jam!

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