The Music Of Cirrus Bay: A Trick Of The Wind, A Wuthering Tail

Cirrus Bay are a U.S. based band with its musical heart firmly rooted in 1970s progressive rock. One of the great things about this band is that they do not sound retro. They may be playing 1970’s styled progressive rock, but their sound is throughly modern.

The band’s predominant influence is 1970’s Genesis, with a huge emphasis on the keyboard stylings of Tony Banks. The overall sound of Cirrus Bay is a laid back, slightly folksy, take on the sounds of the classic Genesis albums A Trick Of The Tail and Wind And Wuthering. The big point of difference with Cirrus Bay is the band’s use of female vocalists. While the music heavily draws on the sounds of Genesis the female vocals help to give the band a different sound. The influence of Genesis looms largely on all of Cirrus Bay’s albums. The band utilizes that influence to create a progressive rock sound that is their own.

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To date Cirrus Bay have released five albums. With each new release the band continues to hone their craft. The first album, The Slipping Of The Day (2008), is a mixed bag. It features a male and a female vocalist. I am sorry to say that the male vocalist is not a very good singer. As a result about half of the album is good. On subsequent albums female singers have handled the vocals quite effectively. The band’s second album, A Step Into Elsewhere (2009), firmly establishes the Cirrus Bay sound. The band delivers melodic, keyboard driven prog accented by acoustic and electric guitars. Overall the music may not be as flashy as other prog bands. That said, there are plenty of long, well played instrumental passages present. Whimsical Weather (2012) and The Search For Joy (2014) continue the band’s evolution and subtle refinements. With their latest album, Places Unseen (2016), the band delivers their best album.

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Bill Gillham is the band’s main songwriter and he handles multiple instruments on the albums. It is quite obvious that he is heavily influenced by Tony Banks. Whether playing keyboards or piano he proves to be quite a skilled disciple of the unique keyboard styling of Tony Banks.

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Gillham also handles most of the guitar playing on the albums. He is quite adept at acoustic and electric guitar. Strummed acoustic guitars feature prominently throughout the music of Cirrus Bay. On the electric guitar Gillham does, at times, produce some Steve Hackett-like guitar sounds and riffs.  Keyboards may be the primary instrument on Cirrus Bay’s albums, but there is plenty of tasteful guitar throughout.

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For the bulk of the albums Sharra Acle and Anisha Gillham handle the lead vocals. On the band’s most recent album, Places Unseen, the lead vocals are handled by Tai Shan. All three singers have similar sounding voices that would not be out of place singing folk songs or ballads.

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Mark Blasco handles the drums and bass. Cirrus Bay’s intention is not to showcase over the top virtuosity. This is reflected in Blasco’s handling of the drums and bass. A skilled player, he lays down the song’s foundation, playing what each song requires. When he needs to step it up for the more involved instrumental breaks he does so quite well. There are plenty of opportunities for the band to showcase their instrumental prowess.  Over the course of their albums some songs routinely extend pass the ten minute mark.

Although the main influence is A Trick Of The Tail and Wind And Wuthering the sounds of other Genesis album do crop up as well. Listening to Cirrus Bay’s catalog one can hear small musical traces of the Genesis albums Foxtrot, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, And Then There Were Three and Selling England By The Pound.

Another great aspect of Cirrus Bay are their beautiful album covers. There is a running theme of painterly landscapes on the band’s album covers. Some of these pictures are so good you want to hang them on your wall. Of the five albums The Search For Joy contains my favorite album cover.

With four solid albums under their collective belts Cirrus Bay has a lot going for them. I am really enjoying their modern take on 1970’s progressive rock. Their future appears to be very bright. If you like well written, melodic progressive rock with long instrumentals this might be a band for you. I highly recommend Cirrus Bay to fans of Genesis and 1970’s progressive rock.

Troy T.

Is It Time For Steve Hackett To Stop Revisiting Genesis?

I love the music of Genesis immensely, they have been one of my favorite bands since the early 1980’s. Their music was my introduction to progressive rock. To this day they remain my favorite progressive rock band.

I also love the music of former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. He has established himself as a forward thinking solo artist since leaving Genesis in 1977. During his career he has put together  a discography that is quite impressive. He has explored various genres including progressive rock, classical guitar, world music, blues, pop, hard rock and classical music.

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As a solo artist he has always been one to be in touch with his past. Genesis music has always had a presence in his live shows. For many years Horizons, and sections of Firth Of Fifth, Los Endos and In That Quiet Earth have been pretty constant in his live set lists. Over various tours other Genesis songs have been included as well. Songs such as I Know What I Like, Hairless Heart, Carpet Crawlers, Watcher of the Skies, Fly On A Windshield and Blood On The Rooftops. The latter song was a treat because it was never performed live by Genesis. Steve Hackett’s touring drummer Gary O’Toole does a fantastic job putting his own spin on the lead vocals. From tour to tour there was a nice balance of Genesis songs intermingled with his solo material.

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In 2013 Steve Hackett began his highly successful Genesis Revisited tour. This was a tour that featured a set list that was 99% – 100% Genesis songs. Some shows featured the Steve Hackett song Shadow Of The Hierophant. I believe that the popularity of this tour surprised all involved. What was initially intended to be a one off tour has spilled over two tours later. I understand the reason for the show and I understand it’s popularity. However, I now feel that the music of Genesis Is taking up far too much room in his setlist.

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His last tour was titled Acolyte to Wolflight With Genesis Revisited. It was a tour meant to celebrate the forty year anniversary of his first solo album, Voyage Of The Acolyte. He also had an incredible new album out to promote, Wolflight. He played about five songs from each album and a few highlights from the earlier part of his career. This tour could have been an incredible retrospective of his solo career. Unfortunately the Genesis Revisited section of the show ate up half the set list. Do not misunderstand me, the Genesis Revisited set was absolutely great. The opportunity to hear his incredible band expertly play songs like Get ‘Em Out By Friday, The Cinema Show and Can-Utility And The Coastliners was quite an experience. But as great as it was part of me was imaging a two and a half hour set list spanning Steve Hackett’s solo career.

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His recent tour just started and the timing seems a little odd. He has a new album set for release in March, so I am curious as to why the tour started now. That said, I had the great privilege of seeing one the early shows of the new tour. Steve Hackett and his touring band were incredible as always. But I must say that I left the show slightly disappointed. This was a first for me. I have seen Steve Hackett live several times over the years. I know what a full live set of his solo material sounds like. This most recent show featured too much Genesis! Once again please do not misunderstand me, I love the music of Genesis a great deal. But I also love Steve Hackett’s solo music and I wanted to hear more of it.

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At this point it may be time to leave some of the Genesis songs in the past. This new tour is billed as celebrating the forty year anniversary of the Genesis album Wind And Wuthering. So I was aware of that going in. Hearing a few songs from that classic album was great, along with the song Inside And Out. Inside And Out was recorded during the Wind And Wuthering sessions but it was not released on the album. It was later released on the Spot The Pigeon EP in 1977. I was pleased with the Wind and Wuthering set list, especially Inside And Out. When that portion of the show was over I thought for sure that he would return to playing his solo material. To my surprise the set continued with Dance On A Volcano, The Musical Box, Firth Of Fifth, Dancing With The Moonlit Knight and Los Endos. The band did play sections of Steve Hackett’s songs Myopia and Slogans during Los Endos, but that was it.

I know that there are many fans who will strongly disagree with me. I feel that it is time for Steve Hackett to leave Genesis Revisited in the rearview mirror. This Steve Hackett fan wants to hear more Steve Hackett songs on the next Steve Hackett tour. He left Genesis in 1977 and he has not looked back musically. He has proven himself to be a vital artist who continually pushes himself and his music forward. He proves that with each new album that he releases.  I do not have an issue with Genesis songs in his set list, just the amount. Going forward I would love less Genesis and more Steve Hackett.

Troy T.

Song Spotlight: Cul-De-Sac By Genesis

Cul-De-Sac is the ninth song on the Genesis album Duke, released in 1980. This very dramatic track could have been right at home on the band’s Wind And Wuthering album, released in 1976. I will forever argue that Duke is a progressive rock album and this great track helps to illustrate that point.

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The song opens quietly with just keyboards and a brief vocal. The band then spend nearly one minute setting the mood of the song instrumentally. The bulk of the music coming from Tony Banks’ lavish keyboard play. When the main vocal begins the bass and drums drive the song musically, with the keyboards complimenting. Mike Rutherford plays some fantastic bass lines that, along with Phil Collins’ drums, really propel the song. Aside from a wonderfully melodic, but brief, guitar solo the guitars really take a back seat.

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At the 2:54 mark the band slows the pace and brings the drama down a notch. They than slowly rebuild the tension and drama. That drama comes to a head as Phil belts out, “No, not even one!” This leads to Mike’s guitar solo and one last chorus before it all ends in a very dramatic instrumental flourish.

I must say that Cul-De-Sac features one of my favorite vocal performances from Phil Collins. It’s a very serious vocal that perfectly compliments the dramatic feel of the music and the lyrics. Phil takes a slightly different approach to the vocals. His delivery is restrained, but strong, controlled but forceful.

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Overall Cul-De-Sac is a great example of three man Genesis. The song is drenched in keyboards, but all five instruments, (keyboards, bass, drums, guitars and vocals) are important to the music. The three band members play for the song, there is not a need for any over the top playing here.

Duke is my favorite album by Genesis. I feel that everything came together for this album. All aspects are top notch, from the songwriting to the production to the energetic performances. For me it is a near perfect album.  Kudos to David Hentschel who co-produced  the album with the band.

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Cul-De-Sac is a song that the band never played live. Unfortunately this great song tends to get overlooked. I feel that it is a very special song that deserves a bit more attention.

Troy T.

The Genesis Show: A Tribute Band With Their Own Special Way

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The Genesis Show are a New Jersey based Genesis tribute band. I just had the great pleasure of seeing the band live at The Newton Theatre, in Newton New Jersey.  Their show is billed as The Wind And Wuthering Tour Live. After seeing the show all I can say is WOW!!!  What an experience, this band is phenomenal!  If you consider yourself a Genesis fan and The Genesis Show is playing in your area, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket.

Tribute bands can be hit or miss. Some look a bit silly trying to resemble the band that they are celebrating. Others just do not have the talent to adequately  reproduce the music. Some others may be talented musically but lack any kind stage presence. None of these scenarios apply to The Genesis Show. Musically they are phenomenal. The light show is great and they are a band that you will enjoy watching. In Jeff Giulanni the band have a charismatic and extremely talented singer/second drummer. The fact that he is very funny is an added bonus.

There are quite a few Genesis tribute bands floating around, and that’s a good thing. What sets The Genesis Show apart from others is that their singer is not trying to sound like Phil Collins or Peter Gabriel. He is not dressing up in costumes or trying to replicate the movements and mannerisms  of Gabriel or Collins. There is nothing wrong with these things, but there seem to be quite a few tribute bands in this vein.

During the show Giulanni stated that he and his band mates are Genesis fans trying to play the music of Genesis  to the best of their abilities. Overall they were quite successful.  Aside from a few minor sound and technical issues the band’s presentation  of  the Wind And Wuthering tour was progtastic. The band played for about two and a half hours and never seemed to tire. Some of the night’s highlights included Your Own Special Way, Supper’s Ready, Firth Of Fifth, The Musical Box (closing section) and Blood On The Rooftops (an added bonus since Genesis never played it live).  The band really excelled when playing many of the long  instrumental sections.  Giulanni joined main drummer Vince Corda for a thunderous double drum assault. The rest of  the band includes Steve McQuaid on electric and classical  guitars, Andre De Champlain on bass, 12 string guitar and bass pedal and Matt Thomas on keyboards.

In conclusion, I can not recommend this great tribute band enough. Take a little trip back and go see The Genesis Show.

Troy T.