Tuesday, December 17, 2019

'Tis the Season to Celebrate All Things Prog

Season's Greetings fellow progheads!  I am absolutely dumbfounded with how fast the sands of  2019 fell through the hourglass.  This is the time of year the Concert Closet takes a look back at everything discovered these past 12 months, thanks you my faithful followers for coming back week after week, and posts some holiday music to keep it festive.

Before I begin with words...I think a joyful musical opening from Jon Anderson is appropriate; a perfect Christmas singing voice if there ever was one...

                             

If you've been following this blog for any length of time, and I certainly appreciate all of you who do, you know I am not one to post a best of, top releases of, favorite albums of, or any other subjective list that arbitrarily ranks 2019 prog music releases.  I started this blog more years ago than I can believe to help promote the new and up and coming prog bands and artists looking to stake out their acreage in the prog garden.  I also enjoy those that have been around the Concert Closet a while, managing to somehow stay low under the radar.  So to that end I prefer to shine a brighter light across all the wonderful music the prog garden has to offer and let you the listener decide.

However; a slight twist this year as I take a look back at the music that filled the Concert Closet these past 12 months and look ahead to what 2020 has in store...so much good prog and so little time...

I opened 2019 with a review of Kaleidoreal, a hard charging eclectic group from Sweden.  This is the type of band that challenges the naysayers who claim prog is dying a slow miserable death.  If you truly are a proghead then you live for the next incarnation of the genre..."Prog Yet to Come" if I am allowed to paraphrase another Christmas classic...

What followed was some fun music; Shineback, Kinetic Element, The Inner Road, The Steve Bonino Project, and Sproingg to name but a few.  These are bands and musicians that truly enjoy their craft, don't take themselves too seriously, and yet are able to bring quality prog to the listener.



Of course the prog garden also has those that are quite meticulous; Lonely Robot, Deep Energy Orchestra, Abstract Aprils, and Coma Rossi come to mind.  Serious in craft but not so much that emotion and feeling are lost in translation.

Still others fall somewhere on either side of the prog garden divide; Crocodile, Sir Chronicles, Oceanica, Machines Dream, Pattern-Seeking Animals, Apostles of Chaos, Nad Sylvan, and The Emerald Dawn take up acreage here.  Prog that can get under your skin, flow over your consciousness, or just relax you after a long day.

And so we reach another break in the deluge of words for a second holiday treat for the ears...Trans Siberian Orchestra is masterful at taking timeless classics and bringing them into the modern world...enjoy...


                       

As 2019 draws the curtain for the final time I want to first thank all of you for immersing yourself in my world.  Progressive music is so much more than a respite from reality--it's an alternate universe that allows the listener to get lost in a world of sound that fills the mind and spirit with a soothing balm...

One last holiday clip, an updated version of a personal fave.  It just isn't Christmas without King Crimson and some Frippertronics...
 
                   

As 2020 draws closer, I hope to bring you more new bands, new releases, and (hopefully) interviews with some of the up and coming prog musicians of today.  Look for new music from Seconds Before Landing, Scarlet INside, Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, Different Light, Happy Graveyard Orchestra, and more.

So celebrate the holiday season however you choose.  Relish the time with family and friends, and please come back when the curtain rises on the continued search for all things prog 2020...

Happy Holidays...until next time...

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Mark Rowen "Radiance"

Glad to have you back fellow progheads!  The search for all things prog is quickly honing in on 2020 yet there is still so much of the 2019 crop waiting to be harvested.  Wandering across the prog garden I am awash in so many great artists and bands offering their sound for your listening pleasure, I almost don't know where to begin.  However; I did stumble upon an independent artist with a great debut album; join me in checking out Mark Rowen and "Radiance," released in September.


Getting right to it, I begin with "My Shadow Walks Alone."  Strong guitar opening bleeding right into crisp female vocals, a pleasant surprise.  A solid percussion foundation keeps the song balanced with top notes of Animal Logic echoing through my headphones...an excellent way to start the week...

Moving down the playlist I notice an interesting song title; "Lure of the Siren."  As the washing up on shore intro fades to a beautiful acoustic guitar, I am once again mesmerized by Lisa's vocals; they are quite alluring.  The canvas darkens; the mood changes while the tension rises.  The atmosphere goes from sultry dark to the brighter colors of the night as drums and guitar once again fill out a song reminiscent of Gandalf's Fist with a good healthy pour of early Kansas added for effect.  The name on the album cover may be Mark Rowen, but he has surrounded himself with quite the supporting cast, which leads me to...

Liner Notes...Calling Harrogate UK home, Mark Rowen has spent years playing guitar and building his reputation.  All that hard work paid off in September with the release of this debut.  Mark plays guitar along with keyboard programming and providing backing vocals.  Joining him on this endeavor are Lisa Box with those superb lead and backing vocals, Leigh Perkins on keyboards and backing vocals, Paul Teasdale on bass and backing vocals, and Barry Cassells on drums.  Mark came to play music the way most do--the sound of a guitar hero pulling him in.  For Mark it was Robert Fripp at first then Django Reinhardt and Pat Metheny.  Go big or go home as they say...

You can purchase the album at Bandcamp and follow Mark on Facebook and MarkRowen.

One last drop of the laser, this time on a cut called "Trick of the Light."  The percussion stands front and center here, balanced perfectly with Lisa's vocal work.  The top notes are The Inner Road and
I Am The Morning.  This song is so simple yet so deep; as it pours through the headphones you just want to fall into the sound.

The clip below is "Carousel" and it is the perfect piece to close out with...the curtain falls slowly as the piano plays gently, once again allowing Lisa's haunting vocals to echo on.  When the album ends you will want to start it again and let it  play on a continuous loop while you sink deeper still...

                         

So fellow progheads, a new entry to the Concert Closet that defies a hard label.  Staying mainly in the experimental and symphonic sections of the prog garden with hints of AOR and jazz, Mark Rowen appears to be an artist who avoids being defined absolute and forced into a pigeonhole.

Now once again the search for all things prog continues...until next time...

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Nad Sylvan "The Regal Bastard"

Hello fellow progheads!  Extremely grateful to find you back here in the Concert Closet; with all the holiday chaos and mayhem starting to take up your time I appreciate the  inclusion.  This week the search for all things prog took me once again to Inside Out Music and the latest release from Nad Sylvan.  Back in 2017 I reviewed "The Bride Said No," the second part of a vampirate concept trilogy.  This past July, Nad completed the set with album #3, "The Regal Bastard."  Remembering the pleasure derived from his previous work, I am very eager to dive into his latest creation...
Timing a vampirate concept album review to coincide with the holidays is atypical for some perhaps, but it fits right in with my "don't follow the crowd" way doing things.  First song to pulse through the headphones is the title cut.  Not an ominous outpouring as you might expect; this is a much more eloquent piece.  The keyboards flow like billowing satin, wrapping themselves around strings that are as relaxing as they are intoxicating.  As Nad's vocals fill your mind, the guitars and percussion come from below and envelope the entire piece.  The tempo picks up as does your pulse...just ride it out... 

Now the mood is set--this is not a commonplace album dealing with the world of vampirates...not at all.  Going farther along the playlist I discover "Oahu."  Here is that dark, "walk through the haunted woods" song I was anticipating--but nothing on this album is as it seems.  Nad confounds your senses as he continually builds a tension that threatens to tear the veil between two worlds, only to calmly settle back into a solemn, restful serenity...

Liner Notes...Nad kept "the family" together for this album; just about everyone from "The Bride Said No" turns up on one or more tracks on "The Regal Bastard."  Steve Hackett, Tony Levin, Guthrie Govan, Nick D'Virgilio, Jonas Reingold, Nick Beggs, Sheona Urquhart, Jade Ell, and Tania Doko and more make this not only a crowded studio, but an A-List one as well.

For this album Nad not only played guitars, keyboards, percussion, and laid down the vocals--he also wrote, arranged, produced, and mixed the record.  Even the album art was his inspiration brought to life.  When you know what you want...

Nad Sylvan also has quite the resume; in addition to his solo work, he has performed with Unifaun, Agents of Mercy, Karmakanic, and Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited. 

The final selection for review this week is "Honey I'm Home."  Quite the ornate piece; I'm reminded of Spock's Beard and (ironically enough) early Genesis. For an album whose concept is the world of vampirates--the final chapter in the trilogy--it is extremely upbeat.  Perhaps that's the point; the final song in this three album set brings you home, and isn't home supposed to be your sanctuary?  Hackett's guitar work on this cut is absolutely brilliant.  Wrap yourself in this instrumental send-off and feel the grime of the world wash away...    


To purchase this latest release and more go to NadSylvan or InsideOutMusic.  You can also follow Nad on Facebook and Twitter @SylvanOfficial.     

Your ear worm this week is  "I Am the Sea."  Fittingly, the song opens as if you're in the attic of an old Victorian mansion and the light of the full moon fills the room, accented by a flickering candle.  This is that eerie, obsessive song you want from a vampirate trilogy.  Nad is a master at making each song--even on a concept album--entirely unique unto itself.  Guthrie Govan is the guitar virtuoso on this cut, and he works with the drums to create an atmosphere that strikes you from all around.  Let this song creep into your head and melt your subconscious... 

           
                

Another seven days, another great prog garden discovery.  As a fan of the concept album, I was especially intrigued by this "concept trilogy."  Nad had a vision and carried it all the way through; the fact that it took four years to complete while he was involved with other projects just speaks to his desire and determination.

Much of prog music dives deep, getting into one's soul and finding the nerve that drives you.  Sometimes it's just a relaxing stroll through the inner workings of the mind; other times the music just explodes all over the inside of your head.  Regardless of the reason why you came to the prog garden, it is the pleasure and joy you find that keeps you coming back.  Nad Sylvan seems to get that; even when he goes deep he still seems to absolutely enjoy what he's doing.  When the artist exudes positive energy--even on a vampirate concept album--the music can't help but be good.

And now the part of the blog where I tell you the search for all things prog continues on...until next time...

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Rise Twain

Welcome once again fellow progheads!  I have been trying to keep up with all the prog garden has to offer, but with so much new music out there I may never get ahead of the curve--not that I'm complaining.  The Concert Closet has been open 24/7 lately and it seems the new crop of music continues to fill all the available space.  This week I dove headlong into an album released in September by Rise Twain. 



Recording on the Inside Out Records label, Rise Twain brought two prog greats together to create something uniquely their own.  Not exactly a new practice in the prog garden, but it does usually result in some great prog music...

The Concert Closet opens with "Death of Summer," a song that starts out quite poignant; floating on a serene lake reflecting moonlight in early autumn.  The guitar sits just outside the perimeter and tugs at your inner ear while the drums underscore full vocals that penetrate deep.  This is the type of song you leave on a loop and let wash over you repeatedly all night...a soothing balm for all the ails the day manages to hurl at you.

Moving along the disc I found "Into a Dream."  The solitude that pours from this song is striking.  Vocals harmonize beautifully in front of a guitar pulling emotions from every note.  Rise Twain take up acreage in the thought provoking section of the prog garden; I sense top notes of Echolyn (no surprise) lolling about on this cut.  The music enters your soul via the headphones and quietly permeates your entire being, slowly flowing out through your pores...let it flow...


Liner Notes...hailing from the metropolis known as Philadelphia PA, Rise Twain is the duo of Brett William Kull on guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion and vocals, and Jeremy David Beck on piano and lead and backing vocals.  Having worked together previously, they both knew that a joint project was inevitable and bound to be something special.  Both artists have extensive solo and group work in their respective catalogs; this debut is but another feather in two well defined caps.  They remind me of Eno and Byrne in that their sound draws from each of their careers yet takes a somewhat  different trajectory.

One more song in the queue; "Falling Skies" is the right elixir to end the evening on.  Jeremy's vocals are smooth like corduroy and soothing like a single malt.  The canvas displays an ever-so-genteel colorscape of moods; the bright lights fade to subtle hues before washing into soft pastels.  There is an intimacy on this album that echoes Jonny Lang and Atlas Volt.

You can find this album and more releases under the Inside Out label at Inside Out Music.  The band also has Facebook  and Twitter @RiseTwain for those so inclined.

Please enjoy this week's musical interlude, "Golden."  The guitar opening here is a bit racier than other cuts on the album; just another example of the vast range Rise Twain has.  The tempo reins itself in quickly and the mood settles into an AOR experience.  There are hints of latter-day Peter Gabriel; thought-provoking music that the prog garden never gets too much of.  A brooding throughout rises deliberately and with just enough force to fill your spirit with positive energy.  Dim the lights, settle in, and fuel your mind...


                          

Alas my fellow progheads, we have reached the end of another incredible week one ore time.  Rise Twain is a wonderful blend of two stellar artists, each that much better for the collaboration.  There are many great bands and artists in the prog garden, but it is a select few that inspire the way this album has...at least for me.  Rise Twain is music to get lost in, much the way Robert Fripp's soundscapes just take you away.

Of course the Concert Closet is always happy to keep the search for all things prog on the move, so the journey continues...until next time...

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Oceanica "One Dark"

Hello once again fellow progheads, and welcome to another leg of the journey on the search for all things prog!  This week the Concert Closet took the intensity up a notch or two as I decided to spend time with my friends over at Progressive Gears Records.   Recently, Ben Harris-Hayes, who many of you will recognize from Enochian Theory, released his debut solo album "One Dark" under the name Oceanica.  There is always something afoot over there at Progressive Gears, so I was very eager to give this a spin...

Being somewhat familiar with Enochian Theory, I am expecting nothing short of a wild ride through emotions, tempos, time changes; just another day in the prog garden you might say...

I open things up with "Start From The Start" and the  immediate imagery is striking; a carnival ride to chaos perhaps.  The guitars start out slow but quickly pick up the tempo as drums fill the song out and lead the listener across the many emotions of the prog garden.  Ben's vocals are strong enough to ride the current, but his guitar work shines the brightest on this cut...stings you right at the base of your auditory canals.  I get the feeling Will Geraldo has his fingerprints on this album somewhere...

Next up is "The Rose, Abloom." Right away the canvas bursts with bright colors that run pale as emotions pour through the headphones...guarded for a split second--then leaving nothing behind.  The "leaping all over the prog garden" style reminds me of Gentle GiantOceanica takes you crazy high and gloomy low; it is an extreme mood elevator ride--an experience you will relish. The keyboards on this cut are like a veil between two worlds; delicate and soft as you ride a gentle wave of serenity, then screeching through the headphones as you fall into a boisterous abyss...

Liner Notes...Oceanica is Ben Harris-Hayes, hailing from Brighton UK.  This really is a one-man show; Ben wrote the songs, played the instruments, laid down the vocal tracks, and even did the mixing and mastering.  I believe the only thing Ben didn't do was design the album cover...but I could be wrong...

When he isn't setting the standard for what it takes to make a solo album, Ben also plays guitar and keyboards for Enochian Theory.  He even handled vocals and song  writing for the band's swan song album in 2013, after which  Enochian Theory took an indefinite hiatus.  Following that, Ben put all his effort into creating this solo album.  You can follow Ben on
Facebook and Twitter @BenHarrisHayes and find the link to purchase his music at the Progressive Gears Records website PGR Oceanica.


Third in line for review this week is another song that fills your head with wonder, "Oubliette."  There are aromatics of Opeth laying atop this song, blending nicely with hints of Porcupine Tree  and New Order.  Ben is very good at leading the listener down a path lined with so many alternate routes and allowing you to lose yourself deep in the music...enjoy the free fall...

The ear worm this week is "The Oblivion Tree," a song that opens with a dark canvas gently bleeding.  The keyboards and strings flow so delicately, like ribbons of sound floating though your head.  There are top notes of Under the Psycamore in this piece...let them caress your spirit...


                             

Once again fellow progheads we've reached the other side of the rainbow.  Oceanica was seven days awash in abundant waves of emotion.  Ben Harris-Hayes crossed so much of the prog garden with this album; striking a gentle chord one minute and snapping a guitar string with ferocious intensity the next, all the while keeping the listener enthralled with music that runs miles deep.

If Enochian Theory returns from hiatus I will be very intrigued as to the journey their sound takes...if not, Oceanica is sure to keep Ben busy for the foreseeable future.  The ability and desire to strike out on another path made this album--at least for me--a must listen.  Having allowed the music to wash over me, I am grateful for the opportunity.

And once again the Concert Closet takes the search for all things prog onward.  The journey (hopefully) never ends...until next time...



Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Sir Chronicles "Who?"

Welcome back fellow progheads! After setting the clock back one hour, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that summer is over--but the campfire is still burning strong in the Concert Closet.  This week I took the search for all things prog to one my favorite places in the prog garden...that section where fusion meets jazz meets contemporary prog; Italy.

No photo description available.
It seems there is a never-ending export of great experimental  and cutting edge sound emanating from the Italian section of the prog garden.  This makes visit #3 with Sir Chronicles for me as I check out their new release, "Who?"  Here's hoping the third time is at least half the charm the first two were...
                                               
I feel the need to post a disclaimer here; first for Sir Chronicles fans familiar with their sound...this is not a "rank and file" album.  By that I mean the band really stretched themselves--so be ready.  For those of you hearing Sir Chronicles for the first time, leave your preconceived notions at the door because you are in for a treat.


 I begin with "What," a piece of music that puts the focus on fusion.  As the song opens I immediately hearken back to Can and their freestyle approach to prog.  Sir Chronicles leans a lot more on some incredible sax than Can ever did, but the vibe is there.  I pick up a touch of Flim & the BB's also; perhaps a bit more energy here but again, that sultry vibe.  This is the song you'd play in your '59 Cadillac Eldorado with the rag top down, gliding down the interstate...good times...

This album moves across the prog garden as smooth as  single malt in a dark, smoke filled nightclub.  And to set that mood my next choice is "When."  Once again Gabriele haunts you with his masterful sax playing; this time some wily keyboards slither in and wrap themselves around each note.  I sense aromatics of Eno in his ambient days with Moebius melding into his later work with David Byrne.  There is a hint of Happy Graveyard Orchestra  wandering through as well...

Liner Notes...still calling Italy home, for this project Sir Chronicles is a quartet comprised of founder Alessandro Bordino on electric bass and keyboards, Andrea Sartore on keyboards, Gabriele Borgogno handling that amazing saxophone, and Efrem Nota on drums.  Ettore Coraglia does the mixing and mastering.

Showing signs of maturity, Sir Chronicles seems to have grown up with this recording.  Their music always had a dark edge, that raging storm just on the perimeter that teases you with it's alternating fury and beauty.  To me this is a coming of age album for the band; their moment not so much in the sun but rather under the silver hue of a full moon.  Call it prog fusion, experimental, ambient,
avant-garde, jazz fusion...this album is a lesson in blazing your own trail.

Third time around I chose "Why." There is an amazing simplicity to the music streaming through the headphones.  Not to say it's basic--quite the opposite.  Sir Chronicles lays out simplicity quite beautifully, in an intricate kind of way...like how da Vinci painted a simple Mona Lisa...

Image result for sir chroniclesThe percussion work is refreshingly gentle.  There's the scat-like jazz lead-in you get while sitting in that smoke filled nightclub I mentioned earlier,  a hot spotlight illuminating the stage.  Once again Gabriele's sax mesmerizes like a siren at sea as keyboards ride the undercurrent.  I am reminded of Dave Brubeck throughout the entire album; it's almost a throwback to an era when music was appreciated for the bare bones, stripped down elegance that permeated the room.

Purchase the music of Sir Chronicles at Amazon and follow the band at Facebook and Twitter @AlessandroRiche.  The music can also be found on YouTube and Spotify, but the sound is so much better when you purchase the music and support the band... 

The sounds emerging from the clip below are the song "Where," and Alessandro's opening bass line is a groove even Tony Levin would be proud of...then Gabriele opens his saxophone case and once again magic flows through the headphones.  This cut is a bit funkier as Sir Chronicles shows their ability to fill the canvas by going back to basics.  Splashes of bright color intermingled with the grays you expect from a jazz fusion project.  Think Weather Report having an informal jam session in studio with Pat Metheny and David Sanborn, and off to the side Jaco Pastorius is just doing his thing...enjoy...


                        

Once again fellow progheads, we have reached the other end of the tunnel--and the focus is on the music.  Sir Chronicles took a minimalist approach to their latest project and the result is an album to truly appreciate; allow yourself to marinate in sound.  The music is clean and the images take you all over the fusion section of the prog garden.  What the album lacks in flash and glitter it more than makes up for with dedication to the art of making great music; and isn't that the objective after all?

Now the journey begins anew as the search for all things prog explores another untrod road...until next time...

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Crocodile "Howling Mad Black Music Under Hot Stars"

Thanks for coming back to the Concert Closet fellow progheads!  The prog garden continues to produce an abundance of great music and this week's feature bears that out.  As autumn continues to produce bright colors in nature, so to does the prog canvas explode with vibrant hues that cover the spectrum.  This week the search for all things prog takes me back to Austin TX, to visit a band I have enjoyed since first hearing their sound.

                                           Howling Mad Black Music Under Hot Stars. The new album by Crocodile. Out now.

www.crocodileatx.com

#Austin #AustinMusic #AustinProg #album #release #howling #mad #black #music #under #hot #stars #love #rock #secondalbum #crocodile

Crocodile just released their second album, "Howling Mad Black Music Under Hot Stars." About twenty months removed from their debut release, the band describes this latest addition to their catalog as a "prog album comprised of love songs."  Seems a trifle odd...a bit like describing the federal government as a nurturing entity.  As the saying goes however; the proof is in the pudding.  So let's grab a bowl of custard and drop a laser on that disc...

The festivities begin with "Dark Inverted Jubilee."  The upbeat tempo as the curtain peels back is reminiscent of Transatlantic with top notes of Steely Dan.  Vocals blend smoothly with guitars that throw a velvet punch and keyboards that tease just enough to pique your interest.  Crocodile has picked up where they left off; time to take this listening party a bit deeper...

   "The Genie (in full flower)" is the next serving, and the mood continues to be upbeat--despite the macabre tension lurking in the background.  Crocodile makes music that makes me feel safe, unaware that Pennywise the clown is lurking behind the not-quite-closed-tight closet door...
There is an ELO meets Gentle Giant vibe coursing through this tune...here come those bright colors splattered on a frayed canvas...

Liner Notes...making their home in Austin TX, the current line-up of Crocodile is Kevin Sims on guitar and vocals, Ted Thomas on bass and vocals, Thomas Shaw on keyboards and vocals, and Greg Seale on drums.

Album Cover
Their first album, "His Name Is Stan And He's A Bad Motherf**cker" was released in February 2018.  This, their second release, hit the Internet just weeks ago.  One personnel change between albums isn't bad; some bands never survive the rush of the first release and the madness and mayhem that causes egos to explode.  Still others melt down because album #1 was the dream and there was no long-term plan or focus.

Crocodile is different...their path seems well defined, and combined with the talent coming through the headphones, I expect the prog garden will be filled with more music from this quartet.  Despite their penchant for long album titles, the music cuts right to the chase.  Soft grooves on one cut bootlegging into hard driving guitar on the next make Crocodile a challenge to categorize and a joy to listen to.

You can purchase both of the band's albums at their website Crocodile and at Bandcamp.  They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter @crocodileatx

Logo (back cover)
The final song for review this week is the first cut on the album,
"(Arrival) Small Eden."  The opening takes me back to Spirit and their fresh approach to the prog garden at the time.  Sounding like an "in the moment" improv jam session, this is a song to simply fall headlong into.  Kevin's guitar leads the keyboards  masterfully across the gentler acreage of the prog garden until the song wraps up and he decides to make statement of his own...and all the while Greg is the drum major, keeping everyone focused and on point.

Your ear worm this week is "Avis Ender," the final cut on the album.  This one starts out clean and crisp, a bit like latter-day Jethro Tull.  Tom's keyboards sit back from the crowd on this piece but are oh, so essential--like the all the nutrients hiding in that power bar...you don't taste 'em but you do feel a surge of energy.  Turn this one up a bit and be glad there are bands that refuse to be categorized...    


                  

One of the many reasons I continue the search for all things prog and bring new music to you is the fun of finding bands that make it.  Hundreds, if not thousands of bands release a demo, EP, or a first album.  The challenge is getting your sound heard and appreciated--and then putting out album number two.  Here I am already looking forward to album number three from these guys.  How big the Crocodile catalog gets depends on how long the desire to keep doing what they're doing lasts...hopefully the fire burns for quite a while.

So once again fellow progheads the sand has fallen through the hourglass.  The search for all things prog found a true gem this week and I hope you enjoy this album as much as I have.  Getting into the prog garden requires a bit of luck and an adult dose of determination; staying requires grit, thick skin, a strong will, and a little thing called talent.  The journey continues...until next time...