NEARfest Article

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The North East Art Rock Festival, or NEARfest for short, was a multi-day event celebrating the resurgence of progressive and eclectic music in the United States and around the world. The event was held annually in early summer in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, approximately one hour north of Philadelphia and less than two hours west of New York City. The festival was founded in the spring of 1998 by Robert LaDuca and Chad Hutchinson, with the first event occurring in 1999. NEARfest quickly grew to become "the most prestigious progressive music festival in the world."[ citation needed]

On October 17, 2011, founders Hutchinson and LaDuca, and production manager Kevin Feeley announced that the final edition of the festival, entitled NEARfest Apocalypse, would take place on the weekend of June 22, 23, and 24, 2012 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. [1] The lineup for NEARfest Apocalypse was announced live on the long-running Gagliarchives Radio Program on Saturday, October 29, 2011. [2] On May 24, 2012, it was announced [3] that Eloy had to cancel due to medical issues. On May 29, 2012, it was revealed that U.K. would take their place as the Sunday night headliner.

The May 2008 issue of SPIN Magazine listed NEARfest as one of the top 72 festivals in the United States.

NEARfest was operated as a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The name "NEARfest" is a registered trademark held by co-founder Chad Hutchinson.


NEARfest was held in Baker Hall, at the Zoellner Arts Center which is located on the campus of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (2000–2001, 2004–2012). Baker Hall has a capacity of 1,002 seats in acoustically superior conditions. However, in its inaugural year, NEARfest was held in Foy Hall at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania which has a capacity of 428 seats. In 2002 and 2003, NEARfest was held in Trenton, New Jersey at the Patriots Theater in the Trenton War Memorial, which has a capacity of 1,850 seats. All NEARfests were complete sellouts, outside of the 2011 cancellation.


In 2008, the festival celebrated its 10th anniversary with NEARfest X and marked the last event organized by Hutchinson and LaDuca. NEARfest and New Jersey ProgHouse veterans Jim Robinson, Ray Loboda and Kevin Feeley were their successors.

On March 25, 2011, due to insufficient ticket sales, the management announced that 2011 edition had been cancelled.

On October 13, 2011, Hutchinson and LaDuca returned to the helm and, along with Feeley, announced that NEARfest would return in 2012. [4] Additionally, on October 17, 2011, a subsequent announcement indicated that NEARfest Apocalypse, held the weekend of June 22, 23, and 24th, 2012, would be the final edition of the festival.


NEARfest Records was launched in 2003 to release select live performances from NEARfest. The first compilation DVD, "NEARfest 2005: Rising to the Surface," was released on April 10, 2007. Other releases includes live CDs of Steve Hackett, Djam Karet, Nathan Mahl, Thinking Plague, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Glass Hammer, Steve Roach, Pure Reason Revolution (out of print) and Hidria Spacefolk (out of print). NEARfest Recorded officially ceased operations in January 2017.

List of all performers by year

NEARfest Apocalypse (2012)

U.K., Renaissance, Van der Graaf Generator, Änglagård, Mike Keneally Band, Twelfth Night, Il Tempio delle Clessidre, Gösta Berlings Saga, Helmet of Gnats, and Aranis

NEARfest 2011 (cancelled)

NEARfest 2010

Steve Hackett, Eddie Jobson's Ultimate Zero Project, Three Friends, The Enid, Riverside, Pineapple Thief, Iona, Forgas Band Phenomena, Astra, and Moraine

NEARfest 2009

PFM, Gong, Van der Graaf Generator, Steve Hillage Band, Trettioåriga Kriget, Beardfish, DFA, Cabezas de Cera, Oblivion Sun, Quantum Fantay

NEARfest X (2008)

Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Liquid Tension Experiment, Fish, Peter Hammill, Synergy, echolyn, Discipline, Radio Massacre International, Mörglbl, and Koenji Hyakkei

NEARfest 2007

Magma, Hawkwind, Pure Reason Revolution, Magenta, La Maschera di Cera, NeBeLNeST, Indukti, IZZ, Robert Rich, and Bob Drake
(Progressive Arts Preshow: Allan Holdsworth, Secret Oyster and One Shot)

NEARfest 2006

Keith Emerson, Ozric Tentacles, Ange, FM, Michael Manring, Richard Leo Johnson, Niacin, Riverside, Guapo, and KBB
(Progressive Arts Preshow: Hatfield and the North and The Tony Levin Band)

NEARfest 2005

Le Orme, IQ, Present, Kenso, Steve Roach, Matthew Parmenter, The Muffins, Frogg Cafe, Wobbler, and Knight Area
(Progressive Arts Preshow: PFM and Proto-Kaw)

NEARfest 2004

Strawbs, Univers Zero, Mike Keneally Band, Planet X, Richard Pinhas, Sean Malone, Metamorfosi, Pallas, Yezda Urfa, and Hidria Spacefolk
( Progressive Arts Preshow: The Musical Box)

NEARfest 2003

Camel, Magma, The Flower Kings, Änglagård, Kraan, Tunnels, Glass Hammer, Alamaailman Vasarat, High Wheel, and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
( The Laser's Edge/ Cuneiform Records Preshow: Miriodor, Woodenhead, and IZZ)

NEARfest 2002

Steve Hackett, Nektar, echolyn, Caravan, Isildurs Bane, Enchant, Miriodor, Gerard, La Torre dell'Alchimista, and Spaced Out
( The Laser's Edge/ Cuneiform Records Preshow: McGill/Manring/Stevens, Doctor Nerve, and Dysrhythmia)

NEARfest 2001

Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Porcupine Tree, Deus Ex Machina, After Crying, White Willow, California Guitar Trio with Tony Levin, Djam Karet, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, The Underground Railroad, and Under the Sun
(Independently organized preshow: Land of Chocolate, The Red Masque, Electric Sheepdog and Wine of Nails)

NEARfest 2000

Transatlantic, Happy the Man, Anekdoten, Pär Lindh Project, Iluvatar, Il Balletto di Bronzo, DFA, Thinking Plague, North Star, and Nexus
(Official Preshow: echolyn and Priam)

NEARfest 1999

Spock's Beard, IQ, Solaris, Mastermind, Larry Fast, Crucible, Scott McGill's Hand Farm, Ice Age, Alaska, and Nathan Mahl

(Setlists and personnel can be found on the NEARfest Facebook page.)

From 2001 to 2008, the ever-changing festival logo was designed by British artist Roger Dean, famous for his work with Yes and Asia. Starting in 2009, Mark Wilkinson ( Marillion and Fish album covers) took over the logo duties for the show. For the final edition of the festival in 2012, NEARfest Apocalypse, both Roger Dean and Mark Wilkinson provided artwork. Both artists also attended the show.

Prior to Roger's and Mark's involvement, there were two other logos for the show. The NEARfest 2000 logo was designed by Paul Whitehead, who is known for his album artwork for Van der Graaf Generator, Genesis, and Italian prog-rock band Le Orme. The inaugural NEARfest logo was designed by co-founder Chad Hutchinson in 1999.

In addition to Roger Dean and Mark Wilkinson, Annie Haslam of Renaissance has attended several NEARfests to display her oil paintings. Annie was in attendance at NEARfest 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2012.


  1. ^ "NEARfest Apocalypse to be the final edition of the festival". NEARfest Apocalypse to be the final edition of the festival. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  2. ^ "NEARfest Apocalypse Lineup Announced". NEARfest Apocalypse Lineup Announced. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  3. ^ "Eloy has medical exigency, must pull out of NEARfest Apocalypse lineup".
  4. ^ "NEARfest to Return in 2012". NEARfest to Return in 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2011.

External links