The Wizards of Winter is a Yuletide collaboration (and non Yuletide ensemble) on tour with original members of Trans Siberian Orchestra. Check out this interview Q&A with Scott Kelly!
Lisa Kart : Q – How did the formation of The Wizards of Winter assemble and why?
Scott Kelly: A – 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 was keenly aware of the success that symphonic-rock monolith Trans-Siberian Orchestra had acquired with their perennial Christmas pageantry. Kelly, multi-talented keyboardist took it upon himself to create a TSO tribute project, one that featured world-class musicians to emphasize his deep love for the arena-level prog-rock avatars that inspired him as a player. 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 scoured their personal address books and convened 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 The Trans- Siberian Orchestra in late 2010.
As expected, the events were a success and the Wizards were able to help the struggling food bank. But in the process, something else happened. “We did a couple of shows that first year and people wanted to buy our album,” says Kelly. “We didn’t have one.” The seed was planted. 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. “For many, Christmas rock music is associated with TSO or even Mannheim Steamroller” says Founder, Scott Kelly. “There is room for something in between the extravagant production of TSO and more reserved presentation of Mannheim.” Kelly continues. “It is “here” that I see the Wizards fit”.
LK: Q – What is the history behind the name of The Wizards of Winter?
SK: A – The band originally formed as a tribute group to The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The name is a modified version of one of their song titles, Wizards in Winter. The name “Wizards of Winter” is now a federally registered trademark of The Wizards of Winter LLC.
LK: Q – Would you say this is a Yuletide/Christmas formation?
SK: A – It started out that way but the band now has plans for developing non-holiday music and to tour in what has traditionally been our off-season as well.
LK: Q – How many tours have you traveled on with The Wizards of Winter?
SK: A – The Wizards of Winter are in our 6th year touring.
LK: Q – What are your favorite cities to play in?
SK: A – Historically we have most enjoyed performing in Portland Maine and Harrisburg Pa. but maybe that will change since we are coming to Florida for the first time. We are greatly looking forward to it.
LK: Q – What is your favorite venue to play in?
SK: A – Strand Capitol Theater, York Pa
LK: Q – Where can your fans pick up your music?
SK: A – Amazon, CD Baby, and our website—www.thewizardsofwinter.com
LK: Q – What are the current tour dates for The Wizards of Winter?
November 19, 2015
Fort Lauderdale, FL
November 20, 2015
November 21, 2015
The Plaza Live
November 22, 2015
November 27, 2015
F.M. Kirby Center for Performing Arts
November 28, 2015
Count Basie Theatre
Red Bank, NJ
December 3, 2015
Capitol Center for the Arts
December 4, 2015
Collingswood Scottish Rite Theatre
December 5, 2015
State Theatre Center for the Arts
December 9, 2015
December 11, 2015
Agora Theatre and Ballroom
December 12, 2015
Kalamazoo State Theatre
December 13, 2015
Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall
December 16, 2015
The Orange Peel
December 17, 2015
Marathon Music Works
December 18, 2015
Effingham Performing Arts Center
December 20, 2015
December 26, 2015
December 27, 2015
Crouse Hinds Theater
December 29, 2015
LK: Q – Where will you be performing in Florida for your fans to see?
November 19, 2015
Fort Lauderdale, FL
November 20, 2015
November 21, 2015
The Plaza Live
LK: Q – Who are you managed and signed by?
SK: A – We are managed by Breaking Bands LLC. www.breakingbands.com Our booking representatives are United Talent Agency www.unitedtalent.com
LK: Q – What are your inspirations behind the music of Wizards of Winter and your own musical endeavors?
SK: A – The inspirations for the music are quite varied.
Wizards of Winter’s 2014 self-titled debut was a startling holiday prog-rock throwback that simultaneously conveyed optimism and wonderment (“Just Believe”) and flooring metal crunch (“The Journey”). “It’s a Christmas rock opera,” Kelly enthuses. “You travel on a musical journey aboard the metaphysical Arctic Flyer in search of the meaning of Christmas. If you’re a science-fiction fan, it’s like Dr. Who, where you board his Tardis and travel anywhere in space and time. Some spaces are happy, some are melancholy; our music encompasses the vast range of feelings people experience during the holidays. We take you on a two-and-a-half-hour emotional roller coaster, from ballads to prog-metal.”
Co-founder, Lead Vocalist/ Flutist, Sharon Kelly states, “I never anticipated writing and performing our own songs would be so emotional. They are like one of your own children. You create it, nurture it, protect it and then when ready, you let it fly on its own. People in the audience, feeling the same raw emotion that inspired us to write the songs is very moving.”
Sharon adds, “The whole experience of bringing music to people is very rewarding. Especially since we see such a wide range of age in the people that attend our shows.. Our music crosses generational boundaries. “I personally find our young audience so inspiring. Reaching out their hand to me when I am singing in the audience, seeing them smile, it’s very humbling. I have had countless school age children come up to me after the show, excited to share with me that they play the flute too. “It’s not just a concert/marching band instrument” I joke with them. They usually leave saying they hope to get the opportunity to play flute in a “cool” band like the Wizards some day. Those young people are why this is so meaningful and rewarding to me. “
LK: Q – What are the craziest/funniest tour stories you can share.
SK: A – The evening before our very first performance as a group we spoke to the manager of the small theater we were to be performing in the next day. We asked her how many tickets had been sold to our event. She said 3. Of course we were all in shock. Here we had rehearsed for many months, had a whole crew, trucks, sound system, lighting, all in place for our first “ big show” . It looked like it was going to be a disaster. We talked and decided not to cancel it and just do it as a dress rehearsal. We were going to give those 3 people a real show! We got to the theater early and started setting up. About an hour before the doors were going to open one of the band members wandered outside. He then came running back in and said. … You are not going to believe it but there is a line around the block! ”. We all just laughed and said sure….no one believed him. Then a couple of us agreed to go look and sure enough, he wasn’t lying. There was a line literally around the block. People filled all the seats. It was at total sellout. As we performed everyone was clapping along. They gave us 5 standing ovations. We thought we were being “punked”. At intermission we mingled and talked to a few of the people. It turns out that many of them thought they were coming to see a magic show! The name Wizards of Winter threw them off. J They loved the music just the same. Many of the people from that first night are still our fans today.
LK: Q – Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans?
SK: A – Everyone in the band is very excited to bring our show to the people of Florida for the first time. Christmas is a magical time of year full of joy and spent with family and friends. We hope that our concert helps to get all that attend our shows kick the Spirit of the season into high gear.
Wizards of Winter is:
- Scott Kelly – Director/Keyboards
- Steve Ratchen – Bass
- Tommy Ference – Percussion
- Sharon Kelly – Vocals/Flute
- Fred Gorhau – Guitar
- TW Durfy – Guitar
- Mary McIntyre – Vocals/Keys
- Natalia Nierezka – Violin/Vocals
- Vinny Jiovino – Vocals
- Featuring members of Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Guy LeMonnier, Tony Gaynor.
Check out The Wizards of Winter: