Greg Kampf, Prog Rock Relayer, Pt 2: The Internet Effect

My interview with Greg Kampf was both enlightening and wide-ranging, covering a lot of unexpected topics and taking off on a few tangents.  Part 1 can be found here, in which we talked about the history of Greg Kampf’s radio show, La Villa Strangiato, and the roots of what we now call prog rock.

In Part 3, we talk about how to define prog rock in the 2010s and prog rock’s effect on pop culture.

Part 2: Prog rock in the Internet Age

So without getting you in any legal trouble, how did the internet age help with your discovery of new prog rock?

I’m still very much a believer in purchasing physical products. I’m not a huge downloader. I have downloaded materials that were either out of print or almost impossible to find.  There are some albums from the Québec scene from the 1970s that have never seen a CD release, and there are some aficionados in Québec who were making these great LP blogs these long-lost prog recordings and they were making them downloadable, so I did download them, heard them, and now some of these albums have been given an official release through great organizations such as Prog Québec.

La Villa Strangiato - CD Collection
A sampling of Greg’s CD collection.

Since then, I’ve actually been able to purchase them. They’re all cleaned up, they’re beautiful. And so if you were to see the size of my CD collection, you would probably be a little bit alarmed. I know my wife constantly reminds me that from time to time it’s maybe not a bad idea to cull a little bit. But I’m still very much about the physical medium and making sure that the artists are compensated for their efforts. A lot of artists actually reach out to the program, too, and they’re happy to send along promo items to the station and sometimes in person at concerts, as well.

I guess that really helps since you have a lot of contemporary artists on your show.

A lot, and I’m finding now as we’re moving through the 2010s with the rise of Bandcamp, a lot of bands are just putting their material up on Bandcamp for free downloads. They’re not expecting to be paid for it, for better or for worse.

If they’re expecting any kind of remuneration at all, it would be through merchandise sales, at gigs, through the gigs themselves, via gate receipts, and they may or may not even produce a physical CD/LP for sale.

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Greg Kampf, Prog Rock Relayer, Pt 1: History

With the imminent arrival of Pink Floyd’s The Endless River — either a collection of outtakes from The Division Bell sessions or an idea of what the band would have been like had Richard Wright had a chance to lead the band — prog rock is at the top of the news cycle.

And what better way to become reacquainted with prog rock than by listening to La Villa Strangiato, CHUO FM 89.1’s dedicated timeslot to celebrate the past, present, and the future of progressive rock? I had some time in June of this year to sit down and talk with the erudite DJ of that show, Gregory Kampf, and it was fantastic. As someone who appreciates prog rock, but is not a fanatic, it was fascinating to listen to Greg expound on the history of prog rock, what prog rock means in the digital age, and what prog rock means for the present and the future.

Full disclosure

I went to school with Greg’s wife Helen and I have been friends with her and Greg since those days. Even though Greg and I had not had an in-person conversation with each other in about 14 years, we still knew what we were up to through our regular Facebook updates. So this interview was really more of a friendly conversation, and it shows. I hope you enjoy it.

Part 1: Where did La Villa Strangiato come from?

Can you give me some background on La Villa Strangiato. When did you start?

Hmmm. I’ll even go back prior to that. I’ve long enjoyed progressive rock music. It was introduced to me by my mother Lynn back in the early 90s. She basically pulled out her King Crimson, her Yes, her Jethro Tull LPs from back in the day and said, “Listen to these,” because at the time I was just getting into Rush, the great Canadian progressive-rock power trio.

La Villa Strangiato - The Big 6
The great English “Big 6” of Prog Rock

Then I went off to university and I was spinning the dial one night on the FM band in the fall of 1997. I stumbled upon 89.1 FM, which is the community radio station at the University of Ottawa, CHUO, and I heard something that sounded very familiar. I think it was something by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, or Jethro Tull — one of the great English “Big 6” bands. I was like, “Oh my god, this is prog rock and it’s actually being played on the radio! What is this?”

And I just kept listening. And lo and behold, it was actually a radio broadcast on a Sunday evening by a francophone host who was doing a show called La Villa Strangiato. His name was Yann Grenier and he was working with a fellow by the name of François Laflamme. The two of them were hosting this program that they founded in 1996 and that I kind of found by chance one night on the FM dial.

By 1999 François had left and Yann was looking to move onto other things. He offered me a chance to actually host it and that’s where I came into the mix. I became a volunteer at CHUO that April.

Now when you did that, what was the format of the show? Was it any different than it is now?

It was a little bit different. Today it’s an hour and a half show. Back then, it was also an hour and a half show, but one thing that those guys liked to do, a tradition that they had established and that I continued was having an album of the week, which they called L’albume vedette.  So the first sixty minutes of the 90 minute program would be basically a melange, a hodgepodge of different tracks, but the last thirty minutes would be dedicated to featuring a number of tracks, or a suite of songs from one album in particular that was highlighted, so that’s something that I continued. But that fell by the wayside as I passed the torch on to another host when I left for Japan, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

Continue reading Greg Kampf, Prog Rock Relayer, Pt 1: History

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The dangers of complacency – A followup

So there’s this.

Yes, I could not foresee failure, so I kinda had it coming anyways.

But, back at the failure point, history is repeating itself with the same faces and someone else in my place.

That definitely lessens the self-doubt and self-loathing I’ve been feeling over the last six months.

Maybe I was confident for a reason.

Maybe I have to trust myself a little more, as I did before it all went down.

And maybe it’s time to start winning again.

So let’s get this show on the road! See you guys out on the road somewhere, sometime!

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