Tonight (September 12) marks the return of the Prog Magazine Awards 2019.
The event is set to take place at the Underglobe in London, on the site of Shakespeare’s iconic Globe Theatre and there are 15 awards up for grabs.
Last year, Steven Wilson was the big winner, claiming two gongs.Elsewhere, legendary Italian prog rockers PFM won the coveted Best International Band award, while other notable winners included Kilimanjaro Live, Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera, Canterbury legends Caravan, and Gary Brooker, the iconic singer with Procol Harum.
Here, Music Week speaks to Prog Magazine editor Jerry Ewing about what to expect from tonight’s ceremony….
In the wider music event calendar, what have the Prog Awards come to represent?
Jerry Ewing: “A great night for people whose hair was (and is) long and their music longer! It’s a night when prog rockers old and new get some recognition from an industry that can sometimes overlook them. And we have a great big tree in the middle of The Underglobe as well. If that doesn’t make your Awards ceremony stand out I don’t know what does!”
How do you reflect on last year's ceremony and how has it grown?
“Last year’s host Al Murray brought the house down with a brilliantly funny performance and he’s back this year – be warned if you’re on one of the front tables. We started the Awards at Kew Gardens, but since moving to central London I think there’s been a shift upwards in the way people perceive the night.”
A lot of execs and bands have told Music Week that it’s not an easy time to be a rock band in the age of streaming, and yet we see prog acts consistently do well with huge tours and even some high chart positions. Do prog acts get the respect they deserve from the wider industry?
“Well the old ‘punk killed prog’ tag that hung over the genre hasn’t helped. But that’s just not true these days. It’s not easy music for a label to market, but surely marketing is all about imagination isn’t it? There’s plenty of imagination in prog!”
The Prog Awards also recognises industry talent as well – why was that category introduced?
“Some of the bigger prog acts have sold upwards of a quarter of a billion albums. If sales were judged on talent alone there’d be a lot of millionaires out there. The reality is there’s been an astute business brain behind that as well as great music. And those who get honoured tell me they’re very proud to get the Award.”
Looking across the nominees this year – what portrait of rock music do you think it paints?
“A very broad picture. It’s the most imaginative and restlessly creative music there is to my mind. It’s always challenging and asking questions. We’re honouring the best from the last 12 months and a load of legends as well. It shows how healthy the progressive music scene is.”
On a broader note, we’ve seen a lot of change in print music media lately. Where does Prog mag fit in the wider constellation of music magazines in 2019?
“Prog Magazine is a constant, steady seller, of which we’re very proud. For a niche music magazine to hold its own in the current climate speaks volumees for the prog genre as a whole.”