3RDegree, Dreadnaught, Half Past Four

3RDegree

“You’re Fooling Yourselves!”, wails 3RDegree lead singer/keyboardist George Dobbs on the band’s lead-off single from the new CD THE LONG DIVISION-their first since 2008. This song-as well as a few others on the first half of the album-flesh out the band’s 2012 political treatise: that America’s political parties (and probably those in other countries) have long divided it’s populous on the basis of color, salary, sex, age and much else, have played on their fears, and have used their accumulated powers to build up largesse to keep their supporters in the fold. Ok, it’s not always that heavy, but the album was penned in the shadow of the 2008 economic collapse that was happening right as 3RDegree were releasing their first album in 12 years: NARROW-CASTER. While that third album was a combination of fresh songs and resurrected ideas from the period just before the band’s original breakup in 1997, THE LONG DIVISION is in the shared vintage of Tea Parties, Occupy Movements, shovel-ready jobs and banks and car companies “too big to fail”.

As with the last album, Los Angeles-based Pat Kliesch (guitarist/backing vocalist) would share ideas back and forth with his two New Jersey band mates: band leader Robert James Pashman(bassist/keyboardist /backing vocalist), and the aforementioned Dobbs. Using online tools to share and with all three proficient with digital audio workstations such as ProTools, demos were created and shared with new band mates Eric Pseja (guitarist/backing vocalist who had been working with the band since their 2007 The Reunion Concerts DVD/Blu-ray) and Aaron Nobel(drummer who was added just in time for the Live At ProgDay 2009 DVD/Blu-ray-replacing the departed Rob Durham) before going into the studio to record the foundation drum tracks. Songs like the Dobbs-penned “The Socio-Economic Petri Dish” and “Memetic Pandemic” would be shared with North Carolina’s ProgDay audience in their embryonic states, but all else except the live favorite “A Work Of Art” featuring Pashman on piano with Dobbs singing beside him-and the only track resurrected from the 90’s incarnation of the band-would be arranged later on.

After the big splash in small progressive rock ponds worldwide that NARROW-CASTER had made throughout 2009 with the Dutch Progressive Rock Page (DPRP.net) reveling: “It’s not often an album as refreshing as this comes along, and we should treasure it when it does...an album that demands repeated spins, and rewards every listen with some new revelation”, 3RDegree tried writing/demoing and performing occasional shows in Brooklyn (alongside Phideaux), Connecticut’s Marprog (with Holding Pattern), outside Washington D.C and Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s ProgDay (with Ozric Tentacles), but found that doing live shows once in a while was really slowing down the process of getting another studio album together. Stretching things even further, 3RDegree found that they were working on some tracks with another theme that weren’t going to work in this collection. Good news though: perhaps the wait for a fifth album will be a shorter one than ever before!

THE LONG DIVISION carries on the mission statement created 20 years earlier by Pashman andKliesch in the infancy of the band when they would try mixing accessible melodies with the conventions of progressive rock to a pre-internet, cover-band loving New Jersey: no need to wax poetic here. Releasing a debut cassette THE WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE in 1993 (with Pashmanon lead vocals), 3RDegree then decided to step up their game in 1995, adding a world class lead vocalist in George Dobbs and releasing their first CD-1996’s HUMAN INTEREST STORY. After playing many live shows in the NYC area gaining little traction, the band hung it up, leaving much of a nascent NARROW-CASTER sitting on the cutting room floor. Dobbs would continue musical endeavors including solo albums, Pashman and Kliesch would work on projects together and a solo album each apart, but talk of 3RDegree was couched in the past tense until Pashman would make a video collection in 2005, putting together all the band’s music videos and performances onto DVD and arranging demo cassettes onto CDs. Discussion of the songs left behind bubbled under throughout that year until all original members met at a NYC bar after Christmas where it was agreed upon that the band would record again.

So while NARROW-CASTER felt more like a “comeback” album, THE LONG DIVISION is possibly a more impressive feat for the band: a fresh helping of tracks illustrating the band’s 20 year old formula need not be tinkered with for any perceived audiences’ expectations.

Dreadnaught

Over the course of over 17 years, half a dozen albums, and more metric shifts than you can shake a stick at, the ever-evolving DREADNAUGHT has carved out a musical niche unlike any other. This is because, very simply, we're totally and utterly deranged.

In May of 2013, the perpetually idiosyncratic DREADNAUGHT – bassist BOB LORD (the guy writing this), drummer RICK HABIB , and guitarist JUSTIN WALTON – finally released the first studio recordings from our HARD CHARGIN' project. It's been a while (6 years to be precise) but in that time we continued to perform, compose, and create without pause, in the words that the late great JOHN UPDIKE uttered about us, “the sound of terror.” Utterly uncompromising multi-movement prog-rock opuses, gritty bar-band Americana, experimental electronic music, even music for orchestra... we’ve done just about everything a band can do, and stuck to our guns the whole way.

Our first 10 years were wild ones, morphing from a too-out-there-to-be-enjoyable group of young musicians at the University of New Hampshire in 1996 into an avant-rock battering ram with release of the award-winning, genre-nuking The American Standard in 2001. When I found myself overdubbing flamenco-style clapping onto a track with dance-style drum loops, nylon-string guitar, bass (intentionally, of course) distorted so badly that the actual notes were hard to hear, keyboards that sounded like KERRY MINNEAR busted something in his amp in a satin-laden haze and kept playing, all presented like a 1957-era doo-wop group sucked into 2057 via a heretofore unknown wormhole… that’s when I knew it was magic.

Our subsequent releases were no more normal and just as logically bizarre. From the fully instrumental, fusioned-up Americana- and electronic-inspired Musica En Flagrante to the spastic, unadorned trio-only musical explosions of Live At Mojo to the more vocally-based yet no less outlandish new material on the double-disc semi-retrospective hybrid High heat & Chin Music, we’ve explored every nook and cranny that our collective hearts desired.

In between were some unusual and enjoyable gigs, like a commissioned cover of THE WHO’s “Going Mobile” for an advertising campaign, some music for independent films, a recording of a newly-arranged and orchestrated version of a track from The American Standard by the MORAVIAN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA, and the theme song for New Hampshire Public Radio's flagship program The Exchange. If nothing else, we know how to have our cake and eat it too.

Since 2005, DREADNAUGHT has been the house band for The Music Hall/New Hampshire Public radio series Writers On A New England Stage, and we've composed and arranged music for authors such as DAN BROWN (who sat in on piano with us for a ripping rendition of “Birthday” by the BEATLES), the aforementioned John Updike, STEPHEN KING, MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, KEN BURNS, ALAN ALDA, E.L DOCTOROW, ELMORE LEONARD, BARBARA WALTERS, and NEIL GAIMAN, among others. The program is heard by hundreds of thousands of listeners across New England and has earned us a reputation as a fun, nice, audience-friendly musical group… and how we’ve pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes is way, way beyond me.

Sure, we’ve done our own things over the years too, but the gravitational pull of this project simply will not let us out of its orbit. We've played in more than half the states of the union and along the way have been privileged to share the stage with artists (and deep band influences) like JOHN ENTWISTLE, TONY LEVIN, NRBQ, and a ton of others. Our records have won awards and we've won acclaim, but nothing interests us as much as just doing what we love to do: make music that confounds every single expectation one could possibly have.

Really – what is the point of doing what has already been done? We'll leave that to the other folks. Duck for cover... head for the hills... here comes DREADNAUGHT.

Half Past Four

Please, sit at the kitchen table and here, help yourself to a piece of freshly baked bread while I tell you the story of how this band came to be....

The story of Half Past Four’s current line-up starts with the guitar player, Constantin , and bassist, Dmitry, who formed a band in 1999, playing rock and folk music to mainly russian crowds. Igor, the keyboard player then joined and so did Kyree shortly after in 2005, completing the metamorphosis into a progressive rock quartet with english lyrics, original sound.... and a disappearing drummer problem a la Spinal Tap.

The first album was born in 2008. They named it Rabbit in the Vestibule after many collectively strange brainstorms and they promoted it relentlessly, playing many gigs and festivals and sharing many slightly awkward hotel rooms. When they finally joined forces with amazing PR dynamo Yana Tsipkin, their schedules filled up with interviews and their press kits saw many impressive and complimentary reviews around the world. They played to an enthusiastic crowd at Prog Day in North Carolina that September to a crowd that could sing along with their lyrics. Life was good and the cotton was high.

Then their drummer left. Once again lost without a kit-master, but armed with many new songs and the intense flame of hope eternal, they set out to renew their vows with the next percussive contender. They were introduced to Marcello in early 2012 by a good friend and comrade in music, Maurizio Guarini. Marcello was a magically perfect fit. Indeed their instantaneous connection was so smooth and organic, they began writing more songs and planning the next recording immediately. The kitchen was built. The chefs, trained and ready, the ingredients, wholesome and fresh. Their new album is due on April 13th 2013 and they couldn’t be more ready to deliver it to you, fresh from the oven.

This original music was made for the most loyal of progressive music fans but also for the newly initiated listeners hoping to find a new kind of music to fall in love with. We hope you love it right away or we hope it grows on you. Either way, we hope we created a good thing. Seconds?

$10.00

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3RDegree, Dreadnaught, Half Past Four

Friday, August 30 · Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Local 506