Think progressive art-rock is all about castles and fairies? The Pittsburgh-based band Persephone's Dream, lurking in the background since musical mastermind Rowen Poole hatched it in 1993, isn't going to smash that preconception. Instead, this band -- named after the Greek goddess who annually ascended from the underworld to turn winter into spring -- will make your fondest midsummer night's dreams come true, in a show it's mounting this weekend called "Mysteries, Myths and Magic."
"We've rented the hall for four days," explains drummer John Tallent, whose huge percussion arsenal is the largest you'll ever see for a local band. "It's going to take three trips in 24-foot box trucks with six people to get everything in -- light trusses, PA gear, stage pieces, bubble machine, confetti cannons, fog machine. And the stage is going to be King Arthur's Camelot. The backdrop will be a gray sky to set off the gold and white castle with its battlements, and the drum riser will be the center tower." The band's also bringing in a well-known storyteller and a professional fairy to add to the atmosphere.
PD's theatricality is also augmented by the breathtaking, gothic ethereality of frontwoman Heidi Engle, the latest in the band's line of female vocalists. According to Tallent, Poole hatched the female-vocal concept in the '80s, well before current prog-goth-metal acts such as Lacuna Coil and The Gathering. "At that time, you had Renaissance and Kate Bush, there was nobody else -- the field was wide open," recalls Tallent.
Moonspell, the band's second album, received glowing reviews on prog and metal Web sites and airplay on specialty radio shows, garnering it fans and correspondence from as far away as Poland, Japan and Chile. Since then, PD has appeared at festivals such as Baltimore's Powermad and Atlanta's DragonCon. The band's huge amount of equipment prevents it from touring, but Tallent thinks it would be difficult even with financial backing, due to the extremely wide dispersal of its fanbase.
So the new album, Pyre of Dreams, will have to suffice for those living in a galaxy far away. "We suspect we're popular around the world in small pockets," Tallent says. "If we were lucky enough to get everyone in one place at one time, we'd probably have 10,000 people."
Sounds like it's time to call on a bit of powerful woods-folk magic: Wiggle your nose a few times, and end up in the enchanted land of Springdale.
Persephone's Dream with Temujin the Storyteller. 7 p.m. Sat., May 12. Veteran's Association Banquet Hall, 1151 Pittsburgh St., Springdale. $10. 724-274-9342