By Lorraine Kay
Santa Rosa, CA – Jon Anderson, lead singer and guitarist of the legendary progressive rock band “Yes” will be just one of the featured music headliners at the 27th Annual Harmony Festival being held Sat. June 11 and Sun. June 12 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA. Also featured throughout the weekend will be electronic-music icon Kitaro, The Family Stone Experience (original members of Sly and the Family Stone), the Yoshida Brothers, the Nu Ladies of Funk featuring members of P-Funk with a guest appearance by George Clinton, and Afro Reggae artist Majek Fashek, in addition to a host of other music guests.
Anderson is probably best known to the public at large as front man for the perennial progressive-rock entity Yes. Longtime Vangelis collaborator, Vangelis fans know him from a series of collaborative albums that were issued under the masthead Jon and Vangelis.
Yes grew from its inauspicious beginnings to become the quintessential progressive-rock powerhouse; Anderson was its leader and spiritual torchbearer. During his period with Yes, Anderson collaborated with precious few other musicians (notably King Crimson and Vangelis), and put out a number of solo albums, including “Olias of Sunhillow” in 1976; which is widely regarded as a masterpiece. He has been with Yes through more personnel changes, break-ups and reformations than any one dares to remember.
Anderson never goes idle during the times Yes is saying no or on hiatus. Over the years he has kept busy collaborating with long-time friend (a brief Yes keyboardist) Vangelis, on Jon and Vangelis projects and solo projects, including 1995’s new age instrumental album “Angel’s Embrace” on which he played all the instruments – a hearkening back to “Olias”.
His ability to craft exciting music is virtually unequaled, and his energy seems to have no end. In an exclusive interview Anderson spoke about his non-stop creativity, “Yeah, it’s just a constant evolving. You have this amazing opportunity to make music in your life. I’m in the studio now; I’ve just been working for 4 hours tweaking some computer sounds that I’m working on for this project. It’s a living, breathing experience you go through. You always think that you’ve got something really amazing to find and do. And some of the great artists, if you read anything about people, they start to really create around 70 for some reason. They do incredible work around 70 and 80 years old. Well, I’m heading in that direction now. So, I have a great feeling about what I want to do and what I want to still achieve.”
Anderson has been around awhile with Yes and on his own. And fans continue to come out to hear what he has to sing and say. “I’m always constantly surprised.” Said Anderson. “You know you wake up everyday and thank God that you are in music, and that you’ve survived all these years. I am always very appreciative of people that have followed not only Yes but my whole career over the years. And I’m still trying to work it and get it right. It’s an ongoing experience.”
Fans at this concert will be treated to a collage of music spanning his 35-year career. “I’m doing this one-man show where I just go up there and play guitar and piano and midi guitar and stuff. Just me singing and playing. No back-up band. It’s not that Yes is my back-up band but I’ve been in a band, so I always dreamed of doing solo work, which I’ve seen James Taylor and Bruce Springsteen and one or two other people and I’ve always felt very sort of ‘gosh I’d love to do that. It would be so cool just to be on stage and you ‘re sort of semi-naked in a way. You’re just there with your guitar and you’ve got to entertain people and it’s a challenge more than anything.’
“So I did it last year.” He continued, “and toured the east coast and South America and it was a treat. And the audiences loved it so I thought I should do more of that. So that’s what I’m doing. I’ll probably just feel my way through it. It will be a combination of what I do. We’ll see what happens. I’ll sing a couple of Yes songs and a couple of Jon and Vangelis songs.”
Playing and creating music has a deeper purpose for Anderson. At 60 years old he finds joy in singing about more meaningful topics. Focused on a higher purpose he continues to surprise and please his fans worldwide with well produced, beautifully conceived albums that speak to the spirit and not to the flesh. “We all are spiritual,” he offers. “ We all are exactly the same. Our souls are pure and that’s everybody. But we cloud it with confusion and fear and doubt and worry, etc. That’s normal.”
“Like I say sometimes in my show. ‘Why do we live?’” he asks. And he answers, “The only reason we live is to find the creator. So to be spiritual is to be aware that you are only alive in this world to find the divine. And ain’t that a good thing?”
To Anderson the answer, the solution, is simply simple and the essence of his music, “That’s all. It’s a simple process of finding the divine. It’s part of my life and part of my experience and I am fortunate that I sort of write it into my songs.”
He rarely descends to the baser lyric level of most of his contemporaries, preferring instead to show the way to a higher spiritual plane, “So here I am 60 years old and I’m not singing about the girl next door. I’m singing about ‘the search’ or ‘the seeking’ and ‘the road’ and ‘the path’ and ‘I’ll find my way home’ – all these kinds of songs. But I feel very, very lucky. See I’m current all the time because I’m not really singing about blue suede shoes – which is cool, I wish I had written that song, of course, but you know what I am saying. It’s a nice place to be.”
He is once again making challenging and inspiring music. “At the moment I’m working with the California Guitar Trio on a guitar concerto. And for the last four months I’ve been writing this next project that will come out next year. So the music I want to do next year I’m just finishing it off now and then it will come out next summer. I’ll tour with that idea and keep doing that over the next ten years, every year – you know – and keep progressing. They’re all stories and musical events – you know – musical stories. Like a musical jigsaw puzzle. That’s what I’m trying to do. It will be fun.”
Seemingly tireless, Anderson’s creative powers continue to grow, and fans worldwide know that whatever musical path Jon may lead them down next, it will surely find them in a destination well worth visiting.
Formerly known as the “Health & Harmony Music and Arts Festival” the name was changed this year to simply, “Harmony Festival.” Previously health and alternative healing has been the focus of the festival and will remain as important as ever, but it is only one component of a mosaic of activities the Harmony Festival is all about. The Harmony Festival embodies many activities, which include leading-edge artistic and musical expression, environmental trends, new social ideas, emerging sustainable business models, and progressive cultural movements to name a few.
With five stages of continuous music, the Harmony Festival is well known for its live music and entertainment for the whole family. Renowned musical artists and tremendous Bay Area groups perform rock, Jam Band, Americana, reggae, jazz, funk, folk, world music and more. As the region’s premier musical event, the Harmony Festival is rooted in the quality and artistic diversity of its musical performers and entertainers. Selected for both their talent and alignment with socially progressive values, the entertainers perform before enthusiastic audiences on beautifully decorated, alternative energy powered stages. This year’s list of performers in addition to the headliners includes Patrice Pike, Holly Near, Midival Punditz, Karsh Kale, the Yoshida Brothers, Kali’s Angels, Riffat Sultana and Party, Marla Leigh, Copper Wimmin’, Shimshai and The Natural Mystique, to name a few.
Check the website, www.harmonyfestival.com to find out more about the New North Bay Music Awards being held Friday, June 10, the Alternately-Fueled Vehicle Expo, the Free Lectures and Workshops, the Beer and Wine Gardens, and the International Food Court.
A complete schedule of events is available online, as well as ticket information, lodging suggestions and directions and other contact information,