All posts by bradbirzer

By day, I'm a father of seven and husband of one. By night, I'm an author, a biographer, and a prog rocker. Interests: Rush, progressive rock, cultural criticisms, the Rocky Mountains, individual liberty, history, hiking, and science fiction.

Neal Morse Band–Do It All Again


NMB – release video for “Do It All Again” the first single from the upcoming album ‘Innocence & Danger’
Pre-order starts today

Tour Dates revealed for US and EuropeNMB recently announced their much-anticipated fourth studio album ‘Innocence & Danger’, to be released on August 27th, 2021. Today, the band are sharing the first single and video from the album for the opening track “Do It All Again.” 
 
Watch the video for “Do It All Again,” created by Christian Rios, here
https://youtu.be/PiNt_kQvoagMike Portnoy says this about the track, “This was the first song we wrote when we reconvened for the sessions for this album. It rooted from an idea Bill Hubauer brought in and we built off it from there. Like most NMB songs, I love the sharing of lead vocals…Neal Morse on the verses, Bill on the B section and an amazingly catchy 3-part harmony chorus with Eric Gillette taking the lead.”
 
‘Innocence & Danger’, featuring artwork by Thomas Ewerhard (Transatlantic), will be available as:
• Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak (featuring a Making Of documentary)
• 3LP+2CD Boxset
• Standard 2CD Jewelcase
• Digital Album

Pre-order now here:
https://thenealmorseband.lnk.to/InnocenceAndDanger 
 NMB are also happy to announce tour dates for ‘An Evening of Innocence & Danger’ across US and Europe.
  
USA 2021Oct 8th & 9th – Cross Plains, TN – Morsefest 2021
Oct 12th – Seattle, WA – The Triple Door
Oct 14th – St Charles, IL – The Arcada
Oct 15th – Pontiac, MI – The Crofoot Ballroom
Oct 16th – Ft Wayne, IN – Pieres
Oct 17th – Cleveland, OH – The Beachland Ballroom
Oct 19th – Glenside, PA – The Keswick Theater
Oct 20th – Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
Oct 21st – Boston, MA – The Sinclair
Oct 22nd – New York City, NY – The Sony Theater Europe 2022May 28th – Madrid, Spain – Teatro Kapital
May 29th – Barcelona, Spain – Apolo
May 30th – Milan, Italy – Live Club
May 31st – Pratteln, Switzerland – Z7
June 2nd – Tilburg, Netherlands – 013
June 3rd – London, England – Shepherds Bush Empire
June 4th – Paris, France – Trianon
June 5th – Esch Sur Alzette, Luxembourg – Rockhal
June 7th – Cologne, Germany – Live Music Hall
June 9th – Brno, Czech Republic – Sono
June 10th – Krakow, Poland – Studio Club
June 11th – Warsaw, Poland – Progresja
June 13th – Hamburg, Germany – Markthalle
June 15th – Copenhagen, Denmark – Amager Bio
June 16th – Gothenburg, Sweden – Pustervik
June 17th – Oslo, Norway – Cosmopolite
June 18th – Stockholm, Sweden – Lilla Cirkus***
With NMB’s previous two releases being concept albums, it’s perhaps remarkable that Innocence & Danger is a series of unrelated songs, but drummer Mike Portnoy says “After two sprawling back to back double concept albums in a row, it was refreshing to get back to writing a collection of unrelated individual songs in the vein of our first album.”
 
Indeed, making this album came easy to the band; while the initial inspiration came particularly from Bill Hubauer (keyboards) and Randy George (bass), the ideas flowed from everybody from there on, as George recalls: “I am excited about the level of collaboration that we achieved on this one. We even went in with a lot of ideas that weren’t necessarily developed, and I think in the end we have something that represents the best of everybody in the band.”
 
In fact – like its two acclaimed predecessors – Innocence & Danger is a double album by inspiration, rather than design, as Portnoy explains: “As much as we wanted to try and keep it to a single album after having just done two double albums, we wrote so much material that we found ourselves with our third double album in a row! That’s pretty prog!”
 
There is also plenty in Innocence & Danger to excite those prog fans who have a thirst for epics, as Neal Morse explains: “There’s one half hour epic and another that’s about 20 minutes long. I really didn’t realize that they were that long when we were recording them, which I guess is great because if a movie is really good, you don’t realize that it’s three hours long! But there are also some shorter songs: some have poppier elements, some are heavier and some have three part acoustic sections. I’m excited about all of it, really.”
 
NMB (Neal Morse Band) is
Neal Morse (vocals, keyboards and guitars)
Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals)
Randy George (bass)
Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals)
Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals)NMB ONLINE:www.facebook.com/The-Neal-Morse-Band
www.instagram.com/thenealmorsebandofficial
www.twitter.com/nealmorseband1

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
InsideOutMusic.Store
Spotify: Prog Metal Playlist
Spotify: Prog Rock Playlist

Big Big Train’s Apollo

Big Big Train release new instrumental single ‘Apollo’
Track taken from forthcoming album Common Ground due out July 30th
“Apollo” is the second track to be taken from Big Big Train’s forthcoming album ‘Common Ground’ due out on July 30th, 2021 on English Electric Recordings. The new album, recorded during the worldwide pandemic, sees the band continue their tradition of dramatic narratives but also tackles issues much closer to home, such as the Covid lockdowns, the separation of loved ones, the passage of time, deaths of people close to the band and the hope that springs from a new love.  “Apollo” is a seven-minute plus instrumental written by Big Big Train drummer Nick D’Virgilio and will be an undoubted highlight when the band tour in 2022. “When the time came to start coming up with ideas for the next BBT album, I felt very strongly that we should include a quintessential instrumental track. I wanted to write the band’s version of Genesis’s Los Endos and to make a track that really showed off the talent of all the amazing musicians in this band. I knew that the team could totally play anything I threw at them, and boy, did they prove me right! I thought about the unique instrumentation of BBT. We have so many wonderful ‘voices’ to play with and I wanted every one of them in this song. In the big end bit, I can totally envisage the crowd with their hands in the air going back n forth, all of the lights and haze on the stage, the band just absolutely slamming, the crowd singing along with the melody the BBT brass ensemble is playing, until we reach a glorious end.” 
Watch the video for “Apollo” here:
https://youtu.be/88HHhbD1vFE
Tracklisting:1. The Strangest Times
2. All The Love We Can Give
3. Black With Ink
4. Dandelion Clock
5. Headwaters
6. Apollo
7. Common Ground
8. Atlantic Cable
9. Endnotes
‘Common Ground’ is available for pre-order now as Double Vinyl, CD, and Bandcamp Download at these sites:
https://burningshed.com/store/bigbigtrain
https://bigbigtrain.bandcamp.com

‘Common Ground’ sees the band taking in wider musical and lyrical inspiration from artists such as Elbow, Pete Townshend, Tears For Fears, Elton John and XTC, as well as acknowledging their more progressive roots. As ever, Big Big Train will take listeners on a journey, be it waiting for the UK 5pm pandemic press conferences (’The Strangest Times’) to the library of Alexandria (‘Black With Ink’) to the bottom of the ocean (‘Atlantic Cable’).
 
For the ‘Common Ground’ tour, which will be their most extensive to date and which will culminate in the UK with a show at the prestigious London Palladium, Greg Spawton (bass), David Longdon (lead vocals, flute), Nick D’Virgilio (drums, vocals) and Rikard Sjöblom (guitars, keyboards, vocals) will be joined by Carly Bryant (keyboards, guitars, vocals), who contributes vocals to ‘Common Ground’, Dave Foster (guitars), who plays on two tracks on the new album, Clare Lindley (violin, vocals) and by a five piece brass ensemble. The band expect to announce North American tour dates shortly.
 
BIG BIG TRAIN UK TOUR 2022
 
TUE, MARCH 15TH – YORK, BARBICAN
WED, MARCH 16TH – CAMBRIDGE, CORN EXCHANGE
FRI, MARCH 18TH – BIRMINGHAM, SYMPHONY HALL
SAT, MARCH 19TH – BATH, FORUM
MON, MARCH 21ST – GLASGOW, ROYAL CONCERT HALL
TUE, MARCH 22ND – MANCHESTER, BRIDGEWATER HALL
WED, MARCH 23RD – LONDON, PALLADIUM
 
TICKETS ON SALE HERE:
https://myticket.co.uk/artists/big-big-train
 

Big Big Train was initially founded in 1990 and went through several line-up changes, but in 2009 the band decided on a fresh start, and the core of the current version of the band was born. Since then, they have gone on to win four Progressive Music Awards, played sold out shows and seen their last album, 2019’s ‘Grand Tour’, reach #1 in the Official UK rock charts and break into the top 40 in the Official UK album charts. The band toured the UK for the first time in 2019, culminating in a sold out show at London’s Hackney Empire, subsequently released as the critically acclaimed Blu-ray ‘Empire’, and 2022 will see the band performing their largest UK tour to date along with their first ever dates in North America. 
 
BIG BIG TRAIN online:
www.bigbigtrain.com
https://www.facebook.com/bigbigtrain/
https://twitter.com/bigbigtrain

Calvin Coolidge on the Finality of the Declaration

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

The full speech (courtesy of Teaching American History . Org):

New Neal Morse Band Announced

NMB ANNOUNCES “INNOCENCE & DANGER”
image
Hey, everyone!We’re delighted to announce details of the eagerly-anticipated new NMB album! Some incredible new music is coming your way. We will be starting pre-orders at www.radiantrecords.com on Friday, June 18th. Watch for our updates as we reveal some amazing exclusives relating to this release, plus another release only available from our website!
** OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE **NMB are pleased to announce the release of their much-anticipated fourth studio album Innocence & Danger on August 27th, 2021.With NMB’s previous two releases being concept albums, it’s perhaps remarkable that Innocence & Danger is a series of unrelated songs, but drummer Mike Portnoy says “After two sprawling back to back double concept albums in a row, it was refreshing to get back to writing a collection of unrelated individual songs in the vein of our first album.”Indeed, making this album came easy to the band; while the initial inspiration came particularly from Bill Hubauer (keyboards) and Randy George (bass), the ideas flowed from everybody from there on, as George recalls: “I am excited about the level of collaboration that we achieved on this one. We even went in with a lot of ideas that weren’t necessarily developed, and I think in the end we have something that represents the best of everybody in the band.”In fact – like its two acclaimed predecessors – Innocence & Danger is a double-album by inspiration, rather than design, as Portnoy explains: “As much as we wanted to try and keep it to a single album after having just done two double albums, we wrote so much material that we found ourselves with our third double album in a row! That’s pretty prog!”There is also plenty: “There’s one half hour epic and another that’s about 20 minutes long. I really didn’t realise that they were that long when we were recording them, which I guess is great because if a movie is really good, you don’t realise that it’s three hours long! But there are also some shorter songs: some have poppier elements, some are heavier and some have three part acoustic sections. I’m excited about all of it, really.”The album will be released as a Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak (featuring a Making Of documentary), 3LP+2CD Boxset, Standard 2CD Jewelcase & Digital Album, featuring artwork by Thomas Ewerhard (Transatlantic). Pre-orders start on the 18th June, and the full track-listing is below:CD 1 (Innocence):1. Do It All Again 08:552. Bird On A Wire 07:223. Your Place In The Sun 04:124. Another Story To Tell 04:505. The Way It Had To Be 07:146. Emergence 03:127. Not Afraid Pt. 1 04:538. Bridge Over Troubled Water 08:08CD 2 (Danger):1. Not Afraid Pt. 2 19:322. Beyond The Years 31:22The Neal Morse Band (now NMB) was formed in 2012, featuring long-time collaborators Neal Morse (vocals, keyboards and guitars), Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals) and Randy George (bass), as well as Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals) and Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals). The band’s first album, The Grand Experiment, showed both a freshness and maturity that was further developed in 2016’s The Similitude Of A Dream, 2019’s The Great Adventure and 2021’s Innocence & Danger.Look for NMB on tour in North America in October 2021 and in Europe throughout May/June 2022. Tour dates coming soon!

Barfield’s Romantic Logos ~ The Imaginative Conservative

For Barfield, Steiner became—and remained for the rest of his long life—“the master of those who know.” Following the work of the German Romantics—especially that of Goethe—Steiner had identified the true German spirit. Not the nihilistic spirit of Nietzsche or the totalitarian spirit of the National Socialists (the “septic disease of Europe,” Barfield noted), but rather a humane spirit that gave to the German people a dramatic and assured purpose within existence itself. Through its efforts, it came to provide a sort of “spiritual voluptuousness” that the English missed. To defeat the Nazis, Barfield wrote in 1944, the English must not only regain such a spirit, but they must pursue it throughout the post-war period of reconstruction. “I firmly believe that the question whether our own Commonwealth is to stand for something more in the history of human consciousness or is to become a hollow political shell and go the way of Nineveh and Tyre, will depend largely on the candour with which the spirit of this Island learns to open its arms to that spirit and its gifts,” Barfield warned.

What then, one must naturally ask, went wrong with English Romanticism?
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2021/05/barfield-romantic-logos-bradley-birzer.html

Big Big Train announce new album and single ‘Common Ground’

July 30th, 2021 sees the release of ‘Common Ground’, the self-produced new album from Big Big Train on their own label, English Electric Recordings. The new album, recorded during the worldwide pandemic, sees the band continue their tradition of dramatic narratives but also tackles issues much closer to home, such as the Covid lockdowns, the separation of loved ones, the passage of time, deaths of people close to the band and the hope that springs from a new love.

Watch the new video for the title track, created by Christian Rios, here:

“This is unashamedly a love song. It is about finding things that we share and have in common with other people. When my partner and I first came together as a couple, we lived not far from Avebury in Wiltshire, a very Big Big Train kind of place. The chalk hills and standing stones were part of the imagery of our ‘Folklore’ album, and once again I was writing what was literally happening in the location in which we found ourselves. I remember seeing my white chalk dust footprints upon the black of the car mats after we’d been walking around Avebury.  I’m pleased that we both get to have this time with each other and ‘Common Ground’ is about finding out the things that we have in common with each other and deciding what we want to do in life together.” – David Longdon
— Read on mailchi.mp/dc6b181db799/big-big-train-announce-new-album-and-single-common-ground

Ten Imaginative Conservative Questions ~ The Imaginative Conservative

When Winston Elliott and I first started talking about what a proper online conservative journal might look like, way back in the spring and summer of 2010, we decided on a few things. Most importantly, we wanted real diversity of opinion, not the parroting of some ideological drudgeries. As such, we wanted all schools of non-ideological thought to be able to express their views, but we were most taken with the more traditionalist forms of conservatism—especially as represented by Irving Babbitt, Paul Elmer More, T.S. Eliot, Willa Cather, Russell Kirk, and Robert Nisbet. We also desired for there to be real conversation, and, thus, we hoped for longish, thoughtful essays. As The Imaginative Conservative developed, the idea of an imaginative conservatism became, appropriately enough, a school of questions—all of them difficult to answer with any quick summation or hasty thinking. In an attempt, however, to provide something of a catechetical summa, here are the ten most important questions that linger to varying degrees behind every essay published over the last eleven years.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2021/05/ten-imaginative-conservative-questions-bradley-birzer.html

10 Ancient Books That Influenced Stoicism ~ The Imaginative Conservative

“A book is a word spoken into creation. Its message goes out into the world. It cannot be taken back,” Michael O’Brien warned as well as assured in his magisterial novel, Sophia House. Just as each word is a reflection of The Word (Logos), so each book is a reflection of The Book. While Christians have come to have a sort of monopoly on The Word and its greatest meaning and exemplar, others—such as the Stoics—embraced the Logos as well. And, while Christians have also come to have a sort of monopoly on The Book, others—such as the Stoics—embraced a variety of works. Here are ten books written by non-Stoics that greatly influenced Stoicism.

At the beginning of Stoic philosophy stands the first great work of philosophy itself, Heraclitus’ Fragments. In them, Heraclitus recognized and embraced (or perhaps even truly created) the notion of the Logos, the thing common to all. “For this reason it is necessary to follow what is common,” he lamented. “But although the logos is common, most people live as if they had their own private understanding.” Further, he continued, “Those who speak with understanding must rely firmly on what is common to all as a city must rely on law, and much more firmly. For all human laws are nourished by one law, the divine law; for it has as much power as it wishes and is sufficient for all and is still left over.” These ideas form the basis of Stoicism.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2021/05/10-ancient-books-influenced-stoicism-bradley-birzer.html

robert E. Howard/Conan Sources

I’m thrilled to have my article, “The Dark Virtues of Robert E. Howard,” in the latest issue of MODERN AGE (Spring 2021). A huge thanks to Daniel McCarthy for inviting me to write this, and to Anthony Sacramone for editing it so perfectly. It’s a really excellent issue, despite my contribution!

If you’re interested, here are the sources I used (plus a few excellent articles by John J. Miller):

“Mother, Son to Be Buried.” Abilene (TX) Morning Reporter News, June 14 1936, 7.

“Death Ends Young Texas Writer’s Vigil,” Brownsville (TX) Herald, June 11, 1936, 8.

Busiek, Kurt. Conan the Barbarian. New York: Marvel, 2020.

Cassell, Dewey. “Conan the Syndicated Barbarian.” Backissue 121, no. 1 (September 2020): 40-46.

de Camp, Catherine Crook, and L. Sprague de Camp. Science Fiction Handbook, Revised. Philadelphia, PA: Owlswick, 1975.

de Camp, Catherine Crook, L. Sprague de Camp, and Jane Whittington Griffin. Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard, the Creator of Conan. New York: Bluejay Books, 1983.

Derie, Bobby. “Fragments from the Lost Letters of H.P. Lovecraft to Robert E. Howard.” Lovecraft Annual  (2016): 199-204.

Dowd, Christopher. “The Irish-American Identities of Robert E. Howard and Conan the Barbarian.” New Hibernia Review 20, no. 2 (Summer 2016): 15-34.

Ellis, Novalyne Price. Day of the Stranger: Further Memories of Robert E. Howard. Edited by Rusty Burke. West Warick, RI: Necronomicon Press, 1989.

———. One Who Walked Alone, Robert E. Howard: The Final Years. Hampton Falls, NH: Donald M. Grant, 1996.

Finn, Mark. Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard. Robert E. Howard Foundation Press, 2013.

Gruber, Frank. The Pulp Jungle. Los Angeles, CA: Sherbourne Press, 1967.

Howard, Robert E. The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard. New York: Ballentine, 2008.

———. Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Cimmerian Barbarian. Corvalis, OR: Pulp-Lit Productions, 2017.

Howard, Robert E., and H.P. Lovecraft. A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, 1930-1932. Edited by S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz and Rusty Burke. New York: Hippocampus Press, 2017.

———. A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, 1933-1936. Edited by S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz and Rusty Burke. New York: Hippocampus Press, 2017.

Joshi, S.T. Sixty Years of Arkham House. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1999.

King, Stephen. Danse Macabre. New York: Gallery Books, 2010.

Lord, Glenn. The Last Celt: A Bio-Bibliography of Robert Ervin Howard. West Kingston, RI: Donald M. Grant, 1976.

Lovecraft, H.P. “Robert Ervin Howard: A Memoriam.” In Skull-Face and Others, edited by August Derleth, xiii-xvi. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1946. Reprint, Jersey, ENG: Neville Spearman, 1974.

———. “Letters to Farnsworth Wright.” Lovecraft Annual, no. 8 (2014): 5-59.

Lovecraft, H.P., and August Derleth. Essential Solitude: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth: 1932-1937. Edited by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz. New York: Hippocampus Press, 2013.

———. Essential Solitude: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth: 1926-1931. Edited by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz. New York: Hippocampus Press, 2013.

Lovecraft, H.P. and Divers Hands. Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1990.

Moskowitz, Sam. Seekers of Tomorrow: Masters of Modern Science Fiction. New York: Ballantine, 1967.

Price, E. Hoffman. “A Memory of R.E. Howard.” In Skull-Face and Others, edited by August Derleth, xvii-xxvi. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1946. Reprint, Jersey, ENG: Neville Spearman, 1974.

Thompson, Steven. “Conan Goes to Adventure Town.” Backissue 121, no. 1 (September 2020): 3-14.

Vick, Todd B. Renegades and Rogues: The Life and Legacy of Robert E. Howard. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2021.

Battling Dragons With Joy And Hope ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Those of us who seek to preserve the Good, the True, and the Beautiful are aware, as the old saying goes, that “there be dragons” in the world who seek to destroy the invaluable inheritance that is Western Civilization.

Perhaps this has never been truer than it is today in our hyper-polarized world, where conservatives are now often branded “haters” and even “traitors” and “insurrectionists” by those who want to throw overboard the Permanent Things and build a progressive utopia.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2021/04/there-be-dragons-support-the-imaginative-conservative.html