While not as well known as Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Wizards of Winter have been around nearly as long, celebrating their tenth anniversary this year.
Led by music director Scott Kelly and fronted by his wife Sharon, The Wizards of Winter have four albums under their belts, including the ten-song The Christmas Dream, released earlier this year.
Blazing their own trail
The band currently has two former members of TSO in it and has actually counted six former members at one time or another through the years.
It would be really easy to describe The Wizards of Winter as a TSO clone or, at least, a similar band that does similar things, but that would be doing Gorhau’s band a disservice. The Wizards of Winter are blazing their own trail in the Christmas music world by leaning more toward a fully focused Christmas show as opposed to the show that TSO typically puts on featuring half a show with a Christmas story line and half a show of other stuff.
“Obviously we don’t have $50 million worth of lights or anything like that, so it’s a little more intimate with us,” said guitarist Fred Gorhau in an interview with Whatzup. “But they kind of have to stay with telling Christmas Eve and Other Stories every year because that’s basically what they were founded on and what they are all about. The cool thing about our show and our storyline is that it takes place inside of a snow globe, so the places and locations and times can change every year based on where our imagination happens to be and what songs we like. We have a narrator that was the narrator for TSO for 12 years and we use him to weave the songs in a way that makes sense and helps us tell our tale. “
Album runs from rock to jazz
The Christmas Dream was released in September and has gotten great reviews. As you can imagine with former members of Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult, and Ted Nugent’s band laying down tracks, the album has its fair share of rock moments. But the album also ventures into straightforward pop/rock and even jazz and blues on occasion.
Gorhau says the song variety was a conscious decision made by the band, not only because the storyline of the album dictated it, but also because they want to have something on the album that appeals to everyone, regardless of musical taste.
“We kind of run the gamut on this album because Christmas can be a happy time for a lot of people, but it isn’t for everyone,” Gorhau said.
“Some people are really desperate this time of year and some people can get really depressed, so we touch on all those things throughout the album and we mix up the sound to fit the emotions we are trying to convey.”
The addition of Trixter’s Steve Brown to the band added a new songwriting perspective, helping them create what is possibly their most complete album yet.
“Steve was quite involved with it,” Gorhau said. “I’ve known him for thirty something years and I’m excited to have him. He obviously brings a huge pedigree to the band and he’s a great guy. When we were kids in our teens or early twenties, Trixter got signed and I was so excited for him going out with Scorpions and Poison and Kiss. And then when he started doing gigs with Def Leppard, to see him play at Wembley Stadium, I said, ‘Look at that, man, there’s my pal.’ We’re so excited to have him with us now.”
Get filled up with Christmas Spirit
Gorhau wants you to know you’re going to have a great time with The Wizards of Winter and will absolutely leave the venue with plenty of Christmas Spirit in your heart.
“It’s a very family-oriented show,” he said. “Our audience typically ranges from 8-80, so it’s part rock concert, part Christmas show, and part Broadway show. We’ll make it snow inside the venue, throw out some beach balls and have a lot of audience participation. It’s really a good time and it goes by pretty quickly, even though it’s about a two-hour show.
“I’m always surprised at the end of the show when it’s like, ‘Oh wow, we’re done already.’ And since we’re in more intimate theaters, it definitely feels like you are part of the show. I think that’s kind of been the key to our success. I really enjoy it. I wouldn’t be doing it this long if I didn’t.”
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Late Nite Catechism
February 8 • Paramount Theatre, Anderson, IN