The Wizards of Winter at the Lerner Theatre
The Wizards of Winter was originally formed in the winter of 2009 as a way to give back to their hometown community. The local town’s food pantry was in severe financial straits and in response, band leader Scott Kelly was looking to hold a holiday concert event to support the cause. Kelly, multi-talented keyboardist took it upon himself to create a Trans-Siberian Orchestra tribute project, one that featured world-class musicians to emphasize his deep love for the arena-level prog-rock. He approached his wife Sharon Kelly (Lead Vocal/ Flutist) and Bassist, Steve Ratchen regarding the concept, and both liked the idea. With the three of them as a nucleus, they built a team of stellar musicians from seasoned professionals to well-respected locals whose capability for excellence filled the projects needs. Under the banner Wizards of Winter, the ensemble was able to give back to the community with several performances of holiday music of TSO in late 2010.
As expected, the events were a success and the Wizards were able to help the struggling food bank. In 2011 the band embarked on writing their own holiday rock opera, “Tales Beneath a Northern Star”. What was once a tribute group created solely to call attention to a charity in need has now turned into a musical force of its own design. In 2013, Kelly became friends with original TSO member Tommy Farese (“The face of TSO”), who introduced him to several other former members of that ensemble, Guy LeMonnier, Michael Lanning, and Tony Gaynor. Tommy and the others listened to The Wizards original material and really liked what they heard. The Wizards and former TSO members decided to join forces and tour together that holiday season.
Indeed, the 12-strong Wizards are starting to make heads swivel with their synergy of the symphonic and the serendipitous, touching hearts and raising a psychic goblet to the roots of progressive rock. The Wizards of Winter are simultaneously recalling a heyday of classically tinged rock that’s part and parcel of older listeners’ mythology, while also amping it up in aggressive ways appealing to young rock fans.