Photos: Chris Besaw
Review: Kelly Besaw
The Wizards of Winter kicked off their 2016 “Magic of Winter” tour at the Crouse Hinds Theater in Syracuse, NY on November 23rd. The performance was the night before Thanksgiving and while I can think of no better way to get into the holiday spirit than by listening to some rocking Christmas music, the crowd was very light. I guess people were busy prepping turkeys, welcoming out of town guests or traveling to their holiday destinations. It is a shame though because they missed an amazing show.
The Wizards of Winter is a massive ensemble that started as a Trans-Siberian Orchestra tribute band in 2009. The band quickly gained popularity and decided to write their own music and have since released two albums. The twelve member band is made up of Scott Kelly, the musical director and amazing keyboardist, Scott’s wife Sharon Kelly on flute and vocals, Greg Smith from Ted Nugent on the bass, Fred Gorhau on lead guitar, Steve Ratchen on the bass, TW Durfy on guitar, Mary McIntyre, vocals and keyboard, Shawna Marie, vocals, Vinny Jiovino, vocals, Jenn Hamilton rocking the electric violin and former members of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Tony Gaynor as the narrator, Guy LeMonnier, vocals and Tommy Ference on the drums. The massive sound that this talented collaborative produces is extraordinary.
My five year old son had the pleasure of joining my husband and I for this performance and he loved it. He was on the edge of his seat the entire time and despite it being way past his bedtime, he refused to leave early. He loved the narrator, Tony Gaynor, who took the stage in between songs to tell a quick tale about where the audience was traveling to next. He loved the epic guitar solos, Mrs. Claus popping through the crowd and gifting him a candy cane and of course the flying beach balls toward the end of the set. Despite a few opening night technical difficulties, the band smiled and kept playing. The vocals were powerful and awe inspiring, the violin and flute melded flawlessly, the guitars were fierce and the drums held everything together in perfect rhythm. This is Christmas music with backbone and I loved it.
Notable favorites of the almost three hour set included: “Flight of the Snow Angels,” “Special Feeling,” “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) (Savatage cover),” “March of the Metal Soldiers” and “Gales of December.” Thank you to the band who took the time to meet the fans and sign a poster for my son after the show. Thank you Fred Gorhau for giving my son his first guitar pick. The Wizards of Winter created a memory that will last a lifetime for my family and especially for our son.