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In Prog We Trust

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Byron Nemeth of the Byron Nemeth Group offers this tip to those who've never heard the five bands jamming at tonight's Cleveland Progressive Rock Fusion Fest 2: "Have an open mind to sitting down and enjoying music that has a lot of elements, expands the mind, and takes you to the next level," he says. "It's music that takes you on a symphonic journey."

A follow-up its inaugural concert in 2004, the fest will be hosted by WCSB-FM 89.3 jock Randy Allar, who'll explain the history of prog rock between 45-minute sets by the veteran groups, including INTRA, Venn Diagram, Rare Blend, EGO, and Nemeth's quintet.

As they play, a "solar-fire light show" will spew kaleidoscopic colors, black lights, and smoke. "It's a psychedelic feast for the eyes," says Nemeth. "It brings that Pink Floyd type of light-show to add to the feel of the music. People who aren't musicians sometimes listen to the music with their eyes and not just their ears. So the light show is for the nonmusician."

Nemeth resurrected the festival after Howard Stern's move last month from commercial radio to the censor-free Sirius satellite network. The shift, he says, shows just how open the airwaves — albeit satellite airwaves — are becoming. If an ass-slapping, trash-talking DJ can get airtime, he reasons, then there are certainly opportunities for epic-playing prog-rockers, who rarely catch the ears of traditional FM-radio programmers. "At what point do you stop playing Lynyrd Skynyrd or Led Zeppelin for the thousandth time?" asks Nemeth. "Some people are tired of hearing those songs over and over again. No one wants to put us on corporate radio, and that's really a disaster. With satellite, that's about to change, because it's looser and more open to something new."
Sat., Feb. 4, 8 p.m.

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