Of all the bands I have been involved in over the years, one of the more influential would be my years with the prog-rock group Crimson Fable. What I’ve learned during my time with these guys shaped my music and its approach.
The band had come together through the combining of essentially two groups, New Jerusalem, (Dave and I), and Fair Exchange, (Marc, and Gary). The two groups would soon work under the name Fair Exchange. The new Fair Exchange line up consisted of Marc Miller (Bass), Gary Zdenek (Drums, Percussion), Dave Perrigan (Guitar) and myself on (Keyboards/Vocals). Dave Perrigan would eventually leave that group which would open the door for something even more epic.
It was 1993. Marc, Gary and I had already invested an incredible amount of time and energy into our new incarnation of Fair Exchange. So just walking away from the band after Dave’s departure did not seem like a practical option. Luckily for us, there was something even better waiting for us over the horizon.
Now trying to replace a band member is always a difficult prospect. There are so many things to consider. Situations like this have stopped many bands in their tracks and have broken up many more.
Marc had mentioned to us that he might have someone in mind. A friend of his, a guitar player name, Art Bromage.
At the time the band was getting together at Marc’s place in the City of Orange. It was decided to have Art come down for a jam.
Marc had converted his garage into a pretty nifty recording/rehearsal space. It was a great place to just get together for music rehearsals. It had also been used to shoot a couple of music videos for our band.
I don’t really remember what the expectations were. Marc and Gary were both already seasoned players, but the moment Art walked in, something just felt right. Art didn’t walk in with an ego. He didn’t half to. The moment he hit the strings on his guitar all doubt left the room.
As I mentioned earlier replacing a member of a band who had been an integral part of the group, is always difficult. But all of that disappeared and was replaced with, “What can we do now”?
Art graciously accepted our invitation to join. There would also be one more change. That being the name of the band. This would happen over a pizza. We would settle on the name, “Crimson Fable”.
Our new group immediately started working on new tunes. A number of these new songs came from a chunk of improvised jam sessions. Three of which came from a single rehearsal. That one single session produced the songs, “Find Your Way”, “Prelude Overture”, and “On The Run”.
There was much potential in both our abilities as performers and as a band and in writing some interesting songs. We, of course, would play anywhere, anytime. Mostly for nothing. Ok, truth be told. No one would pay us.
One other element of the band that never seemed to surface in any negative way was the fact that in the group’s earlier incarnation as Fair Exchange, we were all Christians. So the band worked under the title of being a ‘Christian band’. Yet, Art was not a Christian.
Our focus had always been on the music. This isn’t to say that we stopped being Christians as individuals. Or that we didn’t try and witness to nonbelievers, Or witness to Art for that matter. We were certainly in the world, just not of it.
We, of course, would also do our best to share with Art. Never doubt that God’s timing is always perfect. Art to his credit would always be respectful.
So we went into the studio to put together our first album. We had written a number of new tunes, and Art would put his signature touch on a few of the old Fair Exchange songs. Taking them to the next level.
But with all the potential music and the friendships that were built, being a prog-rock band in the 90′s wasn’t the hippest thing. The performing at venues that, “just didn’t get our music”, was beginning to weigh on all of us.
Unfortunately, I believe the band had only scratched the surface. Although we had gone into the studio to record what some might consider a more ‘prog-sound’, we had actually been experimenting with a much more alternative style. This new sound was minus the heavy synth keyboards and odd meters. But was a more thoughtful organic sound. The music was still intricate but seemed to have more potential at being approachable.
But it would be too late for the band. In the middle of our studio recording, Crimson Fable would see it’s demise. This time though, the option for finding a replacement and moving forward wasn’t really a consideration.
Fortunately, the breakup of the band did not break up our friendship. We would still stay close and would talk from time to time and even proposed a reunion. Marc would move to Seattle, Washington, and Art would soon follow. It would be there in Seattle that Jesus would call Art to salvation and Art would finally answer that call. See, God’s timing is always perfect.
Seattle would also be where Marc and Art would become some of the most sought after and respected session players around. Gary and I would find ourselves working together again on and off. Writing music, designing, and creating some of the best cover groups in Orange County.
So this week’s Flashback Friday features a couple of guys who tried their hand at a prog-rock experiment.
This Flashback includes a couple of songs that have never been heard outside of the band. The first three are in the progressive vein. The last two are in a style that just might have taken the band from their prog-rock phase to something a little more alternative. But that we will never know.
- Intro To A Prelude Crimson Fable 2:26
- Overture Crimson Fable 3:33
- On The Run Crimson Fable 5:36
- I Can’t Change Your Mind Crimson Fable 7:30
- That’s What I Said Crimson Fable 4:59