Romantic Warriors-A Progressive Music Saga, takes a close look at the modern progressive rock scene, specifically the 'festival' scene here on the East Coast of the US. Focusing on the Orion Sound Studios concert series in Maryland, NEARfest in Pennsylvania, ROSFEST in Pennsylvania, and Progday in North Carolina, this DVD also takes a look at some of the band's who either frequent the live prog scene in this area of the country or who have played at some of the festivals in recent years. Live clips and interviews with Cheer-Accident, D.F.A., Cabezas De Cera, Oblivion Sun, La Mashera Di Cera, Karmakanic (with Roine Stolt, also of The Flower Kings and Transatlantic), Qui, Deluge Grander, Phideux, Gary Green of Gentle Giant & Three Friends, Paul Sears of The Muffins, and Rob Martino are all featured, as well as many other important figures & record label folks in prog.
From start to finish, Adele Schmidt & Zegarra Holder have obviously put a lot of love into this project, and it really shows. The presentation of the film is well put together, and the interview segments are nicely separated by various live clips of the bands being featured, including some from NEARfest and Progday. Great to see Mexico's Cabezas De Cera and Italy's La Mashera Di Cera strutting their stuff on stage, as these are two bands we just don't get to see enough of here, whether it be live or on DVD. As I was in attendance for D.F.A.'s first ever appearance in the US at NEARfest a decade ago, it was heartwarming to watch the band talk about that experience, as well as coming back recently for a second triumph at the festival. Another emotional moment was seeing Happy the Man/Oblivion Sun guitarist Stan Whitaker in an interview segment as well as in some live footage. With all the recent health problems he has had, just watching him playing and talking about music will no doubt be inspiring to many. Kudos also to Deluge Grander and mainman Dan Britton, who overcame some stiff odds to make their set at Progday happen in 2009. It cant be easy delivering music as uncommercial and complex as theirs in a live setting, so to hear about them finding out their new bass player could not make the gig less than 2 weeks prior to the festival, and then having to re-arrange the set and play without him (no easy feat for most musicians), only to deliver a solid show that was well received by the crowd, that's a priceless moment.
Of course, no DVD of this nature would be complete without some words of wisdom from the legendary Gary Green of Gentle Giant/Three Friends (one of the nicest guys in prog), Roine Stolt, and Paul Sears from The Muffins. Roine, and Paul especially, have some interesting opinions on the current state of popular music, of which I'm in total agreement on. I'm sure the casual prog fan who happens to stumble upon this DVD will no doubt get turned on to some bands he/she might not have heard of before, like perhaps the avant-garde Cheer-Accident (now there's a bunch of guys whose music knows no boundaries!), the ethnic sounds of Cabezas De Cera, or the more symphonic Phideux, so hats off to the directors for making this a varied documentary with a wide range of styles featured. Let's also not forget Mike Potter of Orion Sound Studios, who has plenty of stories to tell of his years running the studio and the concert series (love the couch story Mike!)-Mike has been an important part of the East Coast prog scene for many years and it's about time he gets some of the attention and acclaim that he so deserves. I could go on and on here about some of the other folks who appear in the film (the Cuneiform team, NEARfest staff, etc), many of whom I know personally or have dealt with from time to time over the years, but it's great to see them all finally get some recognition through this documentary for their important contributions to the scene over the years.
A well done and very enjoyable film on the underground prog scene here on the East Coast, and a DVD that anyone with a passing interest in the genre needs to check out.