The term "prog rock" became almost an epithet after the post-Zappa excesses of the 1980s, when the misguided pursued intricacy for its own sake and soul was squeezed out of the musical fabric. Prog-rock bands never went away, just as liberals never went away in the 2000s. They were just avoiding a label that had accrued regrettable connotations.
But the term has been reclaimed by younger musicians who never had to live through the genre's bleak era. Prog rock, at least in its Rocky Mountain form, has evolved to emphasize its rock, funk and jam dimensions.
Eminence Ensemble, from Boulder, embodies this progression. You can hear Rush as a deep inspiration, but you also can hear the Allman Brothers and Phish, and it's on the jam and festival circuit that they seem most at home.
A defining element of any self-respecting prog-rock act is musicianship, and the members of Eminence Ensemble deliver on their instrumental skills. With Justin Neely on guitar, Solomon Goldbas on keys, Zac Flynn on bass, Nick Baum on percussion and Tanner Bardin on drums, the band played "Queen Bee," "Mouse Hunt" and "Here's Your Sine" during their visit to the Garage. Then they sat down with Quentin, and the conversation took an unusual turn as they pondered different ways of breaking up.
What they brought us: An Eminence Ensemble baseball cap and a copy of the band's first CD, Mouse Hunt.
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