News Update (May 2017):
Part 1: Rosfest, Chicago and Rhode Island (UPF studio Steve)
Part 2: UPF, U.N.I.T.dB, “The Romantic”, Samurai of Prog and Karibow
Part 1: Rosfest, Chicago and Rhode Island (In the studio with Steve)
As some of you know I have been in the USA for the past 3 weeks playing a few gigs and recording new tracks for the upcoming Planetary Overload album. Here is an overview of the USA trip and the upcoming projects:
From UPF to U.N.I.T.dB – Back in 2015 my good friends Mark and Rayna Monforti invited UPF to Chicago to play some intimate gigs at their very special home. Not knowing what some of the other members were up to, I continued to communicate with Mark throughout the year. Matt Williams and David Hopgood showed some interest, but after the debacle on the last UK tour were a little bit reluctant to commit. However, in March 2016, after the live CoffeeHouse gig it was talked about a little more.
As the year progressed Mark was still trying to secure a live performance commitment from us. In August 2016 it was decided that we needed some fresh blood; Matt was busy hopping from OZ to the USA with his new blues band and David was pursuing other interests as well.
The other members from the last UPF tour – Marek Arnold, Dan Mash, and Guy Manning all lived overseas so the only remaining members were Tim Irrgang (OZ) and Steve Unruh (USA), who were ready to go. As Marek, Dan and Guy are still participating on the next project, Planetary Overload, I still needed a new live band to perform with. (TBA)
In September 2016 I had a call from my old pal Sean Timms, who was requesting assistance to help resolve a tenant issue (we share ownership of a studio building). So over the next month or so we started talking about finishing the last Unitopia project (The Dream Complete) and during this time I mentioned the opportunity of playing a gig in Chicago and would he be interested in joining Steve, Tim, and I. As Sean was heading to the UK to play the debut gig for DAMANEK, I arranged for Mark to meet with Sean at the Summer’s End concert.
One Saturday morning I got this call from Sean saying, “Amanda (Sean’s Wife) has come up with a brilliant name which represents all of the members: U.N.I.T.dB”, Unfortunately Tim Irrgang had other comittments and could not attend. So the band U.N.I.T.db is comprised of Sean Timms, Danny Lopresto and Brody Thomas Green (Southern Empire), Steve Unruh and Mark Truey Trueack.
We both agreed that this would be a one-off project for this gig. Meanwhile both Sean and I separately were negotiating gigs for 2019 with George Rolden (ROSFEST) and within days our good friend Melanie Shiffman was pushing George for us to play the 2017 festival! So finally we locked in Chicago with the Monforti’s as well as a surprise appearance at Rosfest 2017.
Feb 2017 – U.N.I.T.dB was born and our good friend Ed Unitsky designed a new logo to help promote the Chicago gigs. Meanwhile in Gettysburg, George decided that we would be the secret VIP band at the 5.00pm time slot and we could not reveal ourselves until we were in the country.
4th and 6th May: The journey begins! We arrive at the Majestic Theatre fresh and ready to go. The theatre blew me away, in fact it was overwhelming when we stepped on the stage and apart from my “Adel moment” (lost train of thought as mouth dried up on the opening song ONE DAY), the performance was fantastic! The audience embraced us and some were very emotional, to the point that tears were shed, certainly one of the best gigs I have done. I loved singing with Danny and Brody – these were certainly highlights of the tour, but my good friend Mr. Steve Unruh (now known as THE SWISS ARMY KNIFE) due to his ability to play many instruments on stage, was amazing. Sean was the backbone as he always has showed why he is one of the best in the business. The fans who came to see us certainly were surprised as they had no idea who U.N.I.T.dB were. Everyone had a great time!
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12 and 13th May: Monforti Manor was more than I expected. Our hosts Mark and Rayna Monforti were amazing, they were the ones that got us here, two years in the making. The shows were tight and intimate, some of the fans had travelled very long distances from other states, even Canada!
My new Canadian friends – Pascale Arbour, Karine Villeneuve, Céline Charbonnier and Gilles Trottier. The only issue we had was Sean’s continued sickness, he should have gone to the doctors as we constantly suggested, but fortunately survived the last gig.
14th May: Steve and I headed to Rhode Island to start our recording sessions while Sean headed to Canada to catch up with Patsy, and Danny and Brody headed home to Adelaide. So good to see Angela, Reshme and Marion again.
15th May: Started work on Heroes (David Bowie cover for the next Samurai of Prog project). This was an amazing session; Steve and I discovering that we had great harmony and vocal ideas. We think we have made a nice tribute to the great man. We also shot some video footage for the song, had lots of coffee, and lots of fun.
16th May: Laid down the lead and backing vocals for “Seeds for Life”, extending it from 13 min to 15 ½ min. We put together some great harmonies and it’s sounding really cool. Nick Magnus will play keyboards, Steve Hackett Spanish Guitar, Dan Mash bass guitar as part of our extraordinary team.
17th May: Laid down lead and backing vocals for “Cruel Times” – this song has so much emotion. I wrote the lyrics way back in 2011 with a great instrumental band called Redzen, since then we’ve had it and we will add much more, but in its early stages it’s sounding wonderful. Once again we found ourselves entrenched in vocal ideas. We also worked on several linking songs which we will name soon.
18th May: Laid down vocals for the title track for Oliver Rüsing’s The Impossible, had a lot of fun doing this, and we were both happy with the result.
19th May: My final day with Steve and Angela was to do the video for Ghost Written which is a brand new song that Sean Timms and Steve Unruh wrote for the album ‘On We Sail’ for the Samurai of Prog. (released 15 May 2017 on www.SeacrestOy.com)
Part 2: UPF, U.N.I.T.dB, “The Romantic”, Samurai of Prog and Karibow
Overall, this little visit to USA was an uplifting time, meeting with Nick Katona, Rebecca Avelar, Mike Visaggio, Laxmi Sandoe, Krista Phillips, Simon Godfrey, John Collinge and many more that I can’t remember right now. I would like to pay special tribute to Mark and Rayna Monforti for believing in us and sharing our music with their friends. Thanks to the great George Rolden for his professional and outstanding festival. To my bandmates Sean, Danny, Brody and Steve for sharing this special journey and to all who came to see us – thank you so much! We were humbled by your overwhelming support.
UPF Planetary Overload and The Romantic
We have nearly completed the arrangements for Part 1: LOSS, of Planetary Overload, soon we will be sending them to the various musicians that are guesting on the album. Steve and I are very happy with what we achieved so far.
While I was in LA waiting for my plane I chatted with keyboardist and Producer Igor Khoroshev with regards to mixing and engineering the album. He wants to hear what we have so that he can work his magic in the album. Igor has a lot of success working with many rock and pop artists including success on the Billboard charts.
My good friend Guy Manning is also working on some ideas for several tracks that may be on Part 2: HOPE.
The other project I have been working on is The Romantic with Frenchman Chris Lebled and Steve Unruh – we have already experimented with songs from the Unitopia and UPF catalogue with great results, and songs like This Time, The Great Reward and Fall in Love with the World have totally new soundscapes and presentation. Two new songs, New Beginnings, and Avalon of Love are also being written. The First Kiss will follow. A total of 12 songs will make up this album.
Meet Octavia Brown, the new manager of United Progressive Fraternity
Octavia Brown is one of the 80 or so volunteers who every year put together Italy’s biggest progressive rock event, the 2Days Prog + 1 Festival held every September in Veruno, Piedmont. She became a familiar face and name on the Italian Prog scene in 2014 when she was asked to step in at the very last minute as the festival’s co-presenter where, for the benefit of the non-Italian speaking members of the audience, she introduced the bands in English alongside her Italian speaking counterpart. It was here that the seeds were sown for what was to become a lasting friendship with Swedish band, Änglagård and a working relationship with Italian band, Barock Project with whom, amongst other things, she collaborated as language consultant on their latest album, ‘Detachment’. The following year she was invited back to become the Festival’s sole presenter, introducing the bands in both Italian and English. It was at the 2015 edition of the festival that she met and subsequently ‘adopted’ Italian band Syncage, recently signed to Bad Elephant Music, with whom she works constantly as advisor and PR.
In 2016 she launched the festival’s official Facebook page and actively began promoting the festival and all participating bands on social media. “Being the festival’s presenter was a great privilege but it never felt quite right to just turn up on the day and walk on stage, so spreading the word and making sure the world knew what we were doing became an everyday challenge. It’s great to be part of the organization process, there’s an amazing team behind this Festival and I’m so incredibly proud to be a part of it”. Earlier this year she began another working relationship with Italian band, Syndone, again thanks to her Festival work.
“The best thing about festivals is the people you meet, both musicians and members of the public. It’s quite an incredible community we operate in. It was at another festival, this year’s edition of RoSFest to be precise, that I met Mark Trueack. We immediately hit it off as we discussed music, life and other things over a beverage purporting to be coffee in the hotel we were both staying at. Sometimes you just know when you’re on the same page as someone. Having said that I was still surprised when he invited me to become a part of the UPF project but hey, when you get asked to be part of something this exciting who am I to say no? I did hesitate for a moment but only a moment, on the whole I’m pretty impulsive so if it feels right, I tend to do it first and think about it second! I’m really looking forward to seeing where this will take us”.