South Carolina's Farpoint is a third wave progressive rock outfit in the modern
idiom of a Salem Hill or a Neal Morse. But they've always had an eye firmly
locked on the genre's history, and you'll hear more than a hint of Yes, The
Strawbs and Jethro Tull in their music.
In a conversation with various former and present band members, Duncan Glenday discussed the band's past – and why
Farpoint is busy reinventing itself.
After eight years of growing recognition in prog arenas and in the musical
activities of America's South, the band tells me they "took a break in late 2005
for the members to reassess their future goals". And the result of their
self-analysis? Farpoint was disbanded in mid December of that year and there
would be no more of Clark's sincere-gritty vocals traded with Dana's elegant
soprano. No more Mike Avins laying down blistering solos with his Strat. Rick
Walker's new drum kit would no longer blend with Frank Tyson's bass lines to
provide the complex but rock-solid foundation for the music that had built a
small but dedicated fanbase.
And that was a great pity because I described the band's latest CD From
Dreaming To Dreaming as "...pure progressive rock in every sense of the word, with
all the melody, musical complexity and high-order musicianship entailed in that
genre. More than that – it is also a wonderfully rewarding listen."
So it was with interest that I learned that Jarvis and Walker – in their
words – elected to "continue their musical partnership, uncertain as to the
final direction it would take, but never ruling out the possibility of reforming
Farpoint if the opportunity arose and conditions were right." Well apparently
the conditions were just-so because Farpoint is now officially back. The band
has re-formed around the Jarvis/Walker partnership and songwriting and recording
are underway. In February, new vocalist Dean Hallal and vocalis/flautist
Jennifer Meeks were brought on for recording purposes, and Farpoint guitarist
Mike Avins and former bass man Frank Tyson expressed interest in playing on the
CD – tentatively called Cold Star Quiet Star.
"We really want to reach a whole new level musically and it's going to take
some serious dedication from each member to really do their own work and treat
each performance as a chance to shoot for perfection" explained Walker with his
characteristic intensity, and he adds that with the new band members, "we're
striving to keep our sound consistent … I think the changes will result in a
high level of performance in the studio and on the stage. I think we're going to
really impress our current fans with the direction we're taking and the level of
musicianship we're working toward."
Cover art will again be supplied by David Frain – whose excellent work on
From Dreaming To Dreaming drew critical acclaim. In a separate conversation Frain told me "As a kid, I used to buy Yes albums primarily for the cover art.
I'd just stare at Dean's work and think 'That's for me. Ironic thing," he
laughs, "Farpoint could have Roger Dean illustrating their covers. They
could have the keys to the topographic prog scene with a Dean cover. So I
consider myself absolutely honored ... to have the artistic association that we
have." In separate conversations with Frain, I've been lucky enough to see the early drafts of an upcoming project
he is working on, which features Farpoint's music - among others. "I was
delightfully floored by 'Lux Universum' from From Dreaming To Dreaming - to
the point where I had to transcribe my visual interpretations into moving
pictures which will be featured on a music-video compilation DVD which I hope to
release this autumn." Speaking of the new Farpoint album, Frain adds "I've heard
a few samples from their latest project, and all I can say is, I'm pulling out
every trick on this one! Musically, it's their best ...and I'm working with
their webmaster-genius on some fine web-based eye-candy to accompany the new
Live gigs have been secured, capped by a booking to play Georgia's premier
progressive rock event, the Rogue Independent Music Festival – or Roguefest. And
to keep the musical muscles flexed, the band is excited about its recent release
of s Moody Blues tribute called Higher and Higher, recently released by Mellow
Records. "It's a 3 disc set with over 30 covers of Moodies songs," explains
Jarvis. "Quite a cool compilation!"
Jarvis and Walker speak favorably of the two key members of the previous
incarnation of Farpoint and wanted to "thank Clark Boone and Dana Oxendine
Edmunds for their years of commitment to the band". In a separate conversation
with Boone, I learned that he and another artist have launched a project called
Verchiel Reality. It's pronounced something like 'virtual reality' but "We're
both Leo's," explains Boone. "When Christianity came to Europe, they changed the
signs of the zodiac to names of angels. Leo was changed to Verchiel instead of
the lion or Leo. I thought Verchiel was cool, then later the reality of it hit
me. Pardon the pun!"
Recording is underway in Boone's project as well – so watch this space for a
flurry of new activity from the new incarnation of Farpoint, and from its new
The New Farpoint Line-Up