The Sault's Prog Rock Scene???

Posted: Saturday, November 20, 2010 by •»¶hê ƒRëq»•-)•–––– in

First, what is Prog Rock?  Well, it's short for "progressive rock" and quite simply it's music that in most cases incorporates songs with odd time signatures, technical structures with many parts, extended lyrical story lines, extended instrumentation just for starters.  Of course, that is not always the case and there are prog songs that are short.  Some prog rock music is based on concepts like for example Rush's 2112, or Queensryches Operation Mind Crimes.  Bands that you may or may not know as prog rock are "Yes, Rush, Saga, The Jelly Jam, Platypus, Marillion, Dream Theater and many more.  My favourite band Porcupine Tree has introduced prog rock to a new generation and is amazingly popular at this point in time.

So, what does the Sault have to offer in prog rock music?  Well, to be quite honest, not much, HOWEVER, there are a few bands that have ventured into the prog rock arena locally.  Recently I came across the band  "Machines Dream" that will be making their live debut November 27 at Lop Lops. The members of this band are as follows, Keith Conway: Guitar, Vocals, Ken Coulter: Drums Brian Holmes: Keyboards, Bass, Craig West: Bass, Guitar, Vocals.  Machines Dream has invaded Facebook and here is a bio snippet from their site.

 "Three of the four members had played together before, in 2008 at a one-off Christmas show, performing a bunch of covers by bands such as Roxy Music, Pink Floyd, Gary Numan, and others.

In early 2009, bass player and vocalist, Craig West recruited the other band members to work on a nice little solo album.
Craig, along with drummer Ken Coulter, keyboard player and bassist Brian Holmes, and guitarist Keith Conway began free-jamming, writing material together, and having a rather fun time in doing so. They put out an EP as Craig West Band. But it wasn't prog enough!  So screw the solo album! They renamed the band 'Machines Dream', feeling that it reflected both their sound, and their collaborative process. The group perform songs they have written, in addition to dedicating time in each performance for pure improv, creating new prog as they go."

On their Facebook site they have a song preview for a song called "Mad For All Seasons" from what appears to be an EP they have set to release.  The problem folks is that Facebook does not allow linking to videos and some music audio files you post on it so promoting these types of media are useless with Facebook.  So, I can't post a preview of the song here.  I have sent a message to one of the band members about a possible link to the song from another source.  With that said, always consider the option like Youtube for video and audio in addition to Facebook or better yet, just use MySpace for your bands main page.  It allows everything to be linked.   The song posted is quite good and the sound is also on the money.  Style wise, there is a flavour of Porcupine Tree but only a taste.  They have PT as an influence which is how I became interested in this local band.  Here's a link to their Facebook page but if you're not a member, you won't be able to view much.  Actually, there isn't much to see on their site yet anyways. Facebook is very limited at this point in time.
Another prog rock band is the duo of Mike Cliffe and yours truly, ME!  I won't go into a long bio of the band but I will simply say that Mike and I have a common love for technical music and we always like thinking outside the box of mainstream music.   Our song "Dog's Breakfast" (preview video below) has odd time signatures and a little over the top musical expression with a little edge thrown in for good measure.  Cliff and I and a few others will be involved in a project in the near future that involves a Disney connection. ;-)  No details yet but when things are set to go, you can be sure I'll post about it here.   In the meantime, Mike and I have another song called "Evil Tuba" that will be released to the public soon.  As always, free for your hearing consumption.

For me progressive rock, jazz and jazz fusion have always influenced my own playing and musical tastes. I will be honest in saying that basic rock, metal and country, although enjoyable to listen to, is not what I want to do creativity wise or playing wise on drums.  It bores me in a lot of ways.  Prog rock stretches your imagination and most of this type of music has a depth that modern radio friendly music just doesn't have.  My own solo music also has a prog vibe to it just because it's what I grew up listening to.  It kind of gets in your blood. :-)  When writing prog music the challenge is merging the parts to make it sound smooth and somewhat seemless.  Progressive rock kinda died in the late 70's because some bands just started to stick whatever parts they could together to make these epic songs
and it just failed.   The idea of prog rock in my opinion is to take you on a journey but there has to be some type of depth.  In my own case, I like to throw a little humour in for good measure.

My own songs "The Drones" has that sarcastic humour.  An instrumental tune I wrote called "Crab Apple Orchard" was also written with prog intent.

    Mike Cliffe & Glen Thomas - Dog's Breakfast (Video)

I'm just touching the surface of the local progressive rock underground scene.  If you have any info on prog rock bands hiding in Sault Ste. Marie, drop me a line.  I'd love to hear about you and your music.


  1. Hey ... thanks for the mention. For years prog seemed to be a dirty word, and perhaps it still is. However, I'm just plain sick of the blasé state of music these days, and don't like having limits on music. So ... prog on!

    Craig from Machines Dream

  1. No problem Craig. I hope this project enjoys some local success. The scene is definitely stagnant around here but there is a ray of hope with a few new bands launching lately. I always considered "prog rock" the thinking person's music. Most just want to enjoy dance music which is fine, but prog has so many levels that in my own case, I just love to try and figure out how these bands come up these epic songs and how they put their music together.