I was chatting with Jonny Zazula a few weeks ago. (Yes, thee Jonny Z, who brought us Metallica and Anthrax. If you ask me, he’s the real Godfather of thrash metal.) Anyway, I was chatting with Jonny Z on the phone and he mentioned The Wizards Of Winter. I told him that I knew guitarist Fred Gorhau and we both commented about what an amazing guitar player Fred was. The last time I saw Fred play, he was playing guitar for the reunion of one my favorite local Jersey bands, Push. I told Jon that I would mention The Wizards Of Winter here in North Jersey Notes when the band announced their upcoming season’s dates. Guess what? They announced their dates and it looks like they’re hitting the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ on Nov. 28 and at the Scottish Rite in Collingswood, NJ on Dec. 4.
According to their bio, The Wizards Of Winter was originally formed in the “winter” of 2009. They were formed as a way to give back to their hometown community. Their hometown’s food pantry was in dire financial straits and to help out, bandleader Scott Kelly sought to organize a holiday concert event to support the cause and raise some money. It’s no secret that Kelly was well-aware of the success Trans-Siberian Orchestra had with their perennial Christmas pageantry. So, the multi-talented keyboardist, Kelly took it upon himself to create a TSO tribute project. He wanted to put a project together that featured world-class musicians to emphasize his deep love for the arena-level prog rock legends who inspired him as a player. Kelly approached his wife, singer and flutist Sharon Kelly, and bassist Steve Ratchen about his project, and both loved the idea so much they quickly jumped onboard. After scouring their phonebooks and rolodexes for musicians to fill out the project, the ensemble was ready to give back to the community, under the name The Wizards Of Winter. They would perform several shows covering the holiday music of Trans-Siberian Orchestra in late 2010. As expected, the events were a huge success and the Wizards were able to help the struggling food bank. But then something else happened in the process. Fans wanted to buy CDs from the Wizards. In 2011, the band stopped covering TSO and started writing their very own holiday rock opera, Tales Beneath A Northern Star. After much success and some support from former TSO members, Kelly and Ratchen knew eventually they were going to have to finalize their lineup. The Wizards Of Winter lineup now consists of singer Vinny Jiovino, lead guitarists Fred Gorhau and TW Durfy, drummer Tommy Ference, pianist/vocalist Mary McIntyre, violinist Natalia Nierezka, as well as former TSO members, singer Guy LeMonnier and narrator Tony Gaynor.
In 2014, The Wizards Of Winter released their self-titled debut CD, which can be purchased online or at each venue the Wizards perform at. Kelly enthuses, “It’s a Christmas rock opera! 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 rollercoaster, from ballads to prog metal.” This is definitely something you need to witness live just like TSO. Get your tickets now for the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ on Nov. 28 and at the Scottish Rite in Collingswood, NJ on Dec. 4. These shows will surely sell out, so don’t wait! By the way, the Wizards are still giving back to their community, as they are huge supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project. For more info on The Wizards Of Winter, visit thewizardsofwinter.com.
NORTH JERSEY NOTES UPDATES:
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my girl Dawn Botti and her band, New Day Dawn, will be taking a break to head back into the studio to record their new CD, but before they do so, New Day Dawn will be playing one last show at The Stanhope House in Stanhope, NJ next Thursday night (8/27) before their break. Don’t worry! This last show is worth it! Dawn and crew will be supporting their friends from Saving Abel. Also performing next Thursday will be One Hundred Thousand, Roulette and Crash NY. This is a show you won’t want to miss, especially if it’s New Day Dawn’s last show for a while. For more on New Day Dawn and ticket info, visit newdaydawn.info.
My bud Mike Bino sent me some videos of a few songs off of his latest Mike Bino Project’s CD, Dawn Of A New Day. (I know, right? I just mentioned a band named New Day Dawn. It’s almost like a literary tongue twister.) Anyway, I checked out the songs “Undercover,” “How Long” and “Misguided Ones,” and I have to admit, these tracks were pretty trippy. I know some of Mike’s earlier stuff and it was much heavier. I almost had to listen twice to make sure it was the same band. The best part is that Mike Lepond from Symphony X is holding down the bottom end on these songs. It’s so uncharacteristic of these musicians’ heavy metal background. I was kind of blown away. I mean that in a good way. Check out the Mike Bino Project now at mikebino.com.
And finally, I want to send a huge congrats to my brother Pat Piegari, singer and guitarist from Caustic Audio, and his wife Molly on the birth of their baby girl, Julie Rose, on July 21. See, Pat? I guess we all have to grow up some time! Congrats again to the Piegari family! For more on Caustic Audio featuring my brother Scotty O’Ferrall on the drums, visit facebook.com/causticaudiomusic.
That’s all for now! If your band is from North Jersey, and you want some exposure, send your press kits to Arts Weekly, c/o Tim Louie P.O. Box 1140, Little Falls, NJ 07424, or you can email me at email@example.com, where you can also let me know where you’re performing next!
Just remember….We’re all in the same boat, so every little bit of exposure counts!
Tim Louie is the Author of S**t Happens.
NJN Concert Calendar:
8/20—Nightmare on Elmo’s Street—Dingbatz, Clifton NJ
8/20—SHIFT/Ascending From Ashes/A Midnight Tragedy/Chevonne and The Fuzz—Mexicali Live, Teaneck, NJ
8/21—Gears/Nine Planets—Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ
8/21—Crescent Ave./Shattered Skin/Octobrists/Sun and Flesh/Know Your Enemy—The Backstage at Championship Bar, Trenton, NJ
8/22—Stagger/Negative Sky/VSSLS/MASS PUNISHMENT/Hawkasian/AMERICAN ANGER—The Brighton Bar, Long Branch, NJ
8/22—Rock Against Dystrophy All-Star Edition/Lower The Veil/Brand of Julez—Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ
8/27—Silent on Fifth Street/I, Ventriloquist/Robots and Monsters—The Meat Locker, Montclair, NJ
8/27—New Day Dawn/Saving Abel/One Hundred Thousand/Roulette/Crash NY—The Stanhope House, Stanhope, NJ
8/29—Flowers to Flames—Blackthorn 51, Elmhurst, NY
8/29—Atom Strange—Arlene’s Grocery, NYC
8/29—Raven—Tenth Street Live, Kenilworth, NJ
9/3—Darrow Chemical Co./Children of October/Graveyard Tree—Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ
9/6—Mikell’s Plot—Pompton Lakes Day Festival, Pompton Lakes, NJ
9/9—Gothic Knights/Angra—B.B. King’s Blues Club, NYC
9/10—TOTH—Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ
9/11—Unearthly/KroW—Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ
9/12—Sworn Enemy/Robots and Monsters/Moon Tooth/Unkempt Herald—Maxwell’s Tavern, Hoboken, NJ
9/12—Aurin—Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ
9/13—Battlecross/Ashes of Your Enemy/Monument of a Memory/That of a Lion—Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ
9/25—Rahway/Ace Frehley/Brand of Julez/Knucklebone—Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ