Wizards Of Winter Founder Scott Kelly Talks ‘The Christmas Dream’ With Phil’s Picks

Courtesy: Adrenaline PR

Wizards of Winter’s tour in support of its new album The Christmas Dream has made headlines nationwide ever since its launch last month. The tour rolls into Roanoke Rapids next Saturday with lots of music planned for the intimate venue.

With the band’s stop in Halifax County, North Carolina’s hub, founding member and Musical Director Scott Kelly took a moment to talk with Phil’s Picks about the band’s upcoming show and the band’s new album Tuesday.  His conversation is transcribed in full below.

PP: Wizards of Winter is an extremely popular band, to say the least. The band has developed fans around the world with just three albums. To that end, the band could have its pick of performance venues, so what was it about the Roanoke Rapids Theatre that attracted the group to the venue?

SK: The Wizards have only performed in North Carolina once before. Despite the large number of venues in the State, few are the right size for a band like ours. They are either arenas or smaller. The RRT provides the exact mix that works best for our show. Intimate, yet large enough to allow us to do our whole production.

PP: Was the writing process for your latest album any different from that of your previous two albums?  If so, what made it different?  Was it easier or harder this time around?

SK: Our writing process usually takes the same path. Scott develops the melodies and lyrics. He then brings them to Fred and Sharon for review and tweaking. Fred provides the powerful guitar components to all the arrangements at the point. Then the rest of the band comes into the studio and we build the actual song that people get to hear.  The recording process was a little different this time having both Greg Smith and John O’Reilly in the band. They are a powerful rhythm section that made things flow very smoothly.


PP:All three of the band’s have received critical acclaim from fans and critics alike. Keeping that in mind, what does that support mean to you and to the rest of the band’s members?

SK: The Wizards don’t have a record label or corporate sponsors behind them. The group started as small idea to help others in need and have blossomed from there.  Building what has become a national legion of fans along with acclaim from critics across the globe has been very heartwarming for everyone involved. It just goes to show that if you work hard and keep dreams alive, wonderful things can happen.

PP: Which song from The Christmas Dream is your favorite and why?

SK: There are actually two songs that are most important to me. The first is Secrets of the Snow Globe. I wrote that with Sharon’s voice in mind to totally showcase her magnificent vocal range. She absolutely delivers on it and it makes me proud. Also the guitar work that Fred Gorhau provides is nothing short of stellar.

The second song is A Toast to Time. It is a simple reflection on life, the search for happiness and relationships. It closes our show every evening and always draws a wonderful reaction from the audience.

PP: Was it difficult establishing a set list for the show, what with not only the band’s own catalog, but that of the band’s members, some being from Trans Siberian Orchestra, others from the Irish Tenors and others being from Blue Oyster Cult?

SK: Since the storyline is an original Holiday rock opera defining the set list is relatively easy. We board the Arctic Flyer and journey inside a snow globe in search of the true meaning of Christmas  The story is told through our original compositions.. The story changes a little every year, depending on where the Arctic Flyer journeys but still easy for us to create.

PP:Staying on the note of the set list, can audiences expect to hear mainly music from WOW’s three albums, or perhaps some music from TSO?

SK: There isn’t music from the other mentioned groups in the show other than a small section of one cover song.

PP:What are some of your personal favorite bands/groups?  I know it has to get tiresome to play the same stuff night after night, day after day, so when you’re not on stage, what do you listen to?

SK:  My personal favorite bands of all time are Styx, Queen, ELP , Deep Purple, and Kansas.  Lately I listen to a lot of Nightwish.


PP:  What is your personal favorite part of Christmas?

SK:  Christmas at our house has changed over the years as the band and tour have grown. Anyone that follows us knows that our family is very closely knit.  We are always together and truly enjoy it. Spending time relaxing after coming off  the road and just “ being” is my personal favorite part.  As we all know, life is short and it moments like that that mean the most and should be treasured.

Anyone who is interested in coming to the Roanoke Rapids Theatre Dec. 21 to experience Wizards of Winter live can go online to the band’s website wizardsofwinter.com and to rrtlive.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Drew Zaragoza Debuts New Holiday Tune ‘Gypsy Christmas’

Independent singer-songwriter Drew Zaragoza is giving audiences a new way to celebrate the holidays.

Zaragoza released his new single ‘Gypsy Christmas’ Dec. 1. The song boasts a gentle, flowing musical arrangement that will appeal easily to fans of acts, such as Jack Johnson and Bon Iver.  Its lyrical content is just as simple as its musical content.

Zaragosa talked about that content in a recent interview.

“Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and the modern commercialism of it can make it stressful, which is the opposite of what it is about,” he said.  “This song is about getting away from that modern commercialism.”

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

‘Gypsy Christmas’ originally premiered online at mxdwn and is the first new music from the Los Angeles-based musical artist since the release of his EP Child of the Sun.  ‘Audiences can download ‘Gypsy Christmas’ here.

More information on Drew Zaragoza is available online now at:


Website: http://zaragozamusician.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/drewzmusic


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Remember The Monsters Debuts New Single, ‘Close Encounters’

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Independent melodic hard rock band Remember The Monsters has some more new music for audiences to enjoy.

The band debuted the video for its latest single ‘Close Encounters‘ Oct. 18.  the video’s premiere came almost five months after the band debuted the video for its then latest single ‘Sink.’

The musical arrangement at the center of ‘Close Encounters’ is, as noted, a melodic hard rock composition that will appeal to fans of the emo/pop-punk realm.  The comparison to Silverstein is easily made here to name just one similar act.

In terms of the song’s lyrical content, it clearly focuses on the oft-visited topic of a broken relationship, with front man Julian Comeau singing in the song’s lead verse, “Met her in the fire/Without her in the rain/Push me closer to the edge/Maybe I’m a liar/Maybe I’m insane/Hanging from this ledge/Really need to make this work/Even though it f****** hurts/Tell me what you see/I’m running on empty/Just trying to be me/Can’t be what you need/Stop trying to save me/Or you’ll be on empty, too.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Falling even faster/Don’t wanna find my grip/I’m just trying to lose my senses/Believe me I’m trying/But baby, it’s your chains/they tore down my defenses/Really need to make this work/Even though it f****** hurts.”

More information on Remember The Monsters’ latest single is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:


Website: http://www.rememberthemonsters.net

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RememberTheMonstersBand

Twitter: http://twitter.com/rtmbandofficial


To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Porn Announces Release Date For New LP, ‘No Monsters In God’s Eyes — Act III’

Courtesy: FM Music Management

Goth-rock band Porn will release its new album next year.

The is scheduled to release its new album No Monsters In god’s Eyes — Act III March 20, 2020.  The album is the third in a trilogy, which started with The Ogre Inside — Act I in 2017.

A trailer for No Monster’s In God’s Eyes — Act III is streaming online now here. The album’s track listing is noted below.


20 – Dead in every eyes
21 – High summer sun – Part 1
22 – A lovely day
23 – Low winter hope – Part 1
24 – In an endless dream
25 – Low winter hope – Part 2
26 – Sky outside
27 – High summer sun – Part 2
28 – Some happy moments
29 – God’s creatures
30 – Low winter hope – Part 3
31 – Among dark red roses
32 – Mr Strangler’s last words
Digipack – 13 tracks – 59 minutes

Porn, which has shared the stage with acts, such as Murderdolls, Front Line Assembly and Hanoi Rocks, got its name from The Cure’s 1982 album Pornography.  The band claims as influences, bands, such as Type O Negative, Nine Inch Nails and Tool.

More information on Porn’s new album is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:


Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PORNtheband

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PORNtheband


To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks.wordpress.com.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Angeles Announces New Live Dates

Courtesy: Dark Star Records

Rock band Angeles will open the new year with a new slate of live dates.

According to a news release, the band will open 2020 with a performance Jan. 2 at the famed Whisky A Go-Go. Rough Riot will join the band for that show. The band will follow up that performance with a concert Jan. 17 at the Universal Bar & Grill and another Feb. 14 at Sunshine Studio in Colorado Springs, CO.

After taking off some time to rest and recharge, the band will perform live March 7 at Petie’s Place in Los Angeles, CA. A return date March 27 at the Whisky A Go-Go is also scheduled along with a show April 19 at the Rainbow Bar & Grill in Hollywood, CA.

Before it launches its new year’s dates, the band will close out 2019 with performances Dec. 29 and Dec. 31 at the Whisky A Go-Go and Wood Music Studios respectively.

Angeles’ current tour schedule is in support of the band’s latest album Fire It Up. The album is scheduled for release Dec. 13 through Dark Star Records.  More information on Angeles’ upcoming tour dates, news and more at:


Website: http://angelesband.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheAngelesBand

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Angelestheband


To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Disney Announces ‘Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil’ Release Date, Specs

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

Walt Disney Studios’ MaleficentMistress of Evil next month.

The follow-up to the studio’s 2014 movie Maleficent, it is scheduled for release on Jan. 14.  It will be available online Dec. 31.

This time, Maleficent and her Goddaughter Aurora find themselves navigating difficult family waters as Aurora is set to marry Prince Phillip.  After years of growing together, the pair’s relationship starts to strain.  Making things even more difficult is the ongoing strain between humans and fairies.

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

The upcoming home release of MaleficentMistress of Evil features a variety of bonuses, such as behind the scenes interviews with the cast and crew, visual effects profile and extended scenes.  The full list of bonus features is noted below.

  • Lickspittle – Fantasy-film veteran Warwick Davis considers how every aspect of the film’s design inspired his tragic character.
  • Extended Scenes
    • The Queen Comforts Aurora – Queen Ingrith takes advantage of Aurora’s fragile state to gain her confidence and accelerate the wedding plans.
    • Philip and Aurora Dance – Aurora struggles to gain Queen Ingrith’s approval when she realizes how she is viewed among aristocracy.
  • Featurettes
    • Origins of the Fey – Angelina Jolie discusses Maleficent’s lore, her newly discovered origins, and the diversity of the cast who portray the Fey.
    • Aurora’s Wedding – Elle Fanning gushes over Aurora’s fairytale wedding; plus, hear from some special guests as they give their best to the bride and groom.
    • If You Had Wings – Get a glimpse of the elaborate visual effects that allow the Fey to take to the skies.
    • “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” VFX Reel – Discover how a perfect blend of practical and visual effects were used to create the stunning landscapes in “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.”
  • Outtakes – Uncooperative cats, a serious case of the giggles and even the “floss dance” found their way into Ulstead.
  • “You Can’t Stop The Girl” – Music video performed by Bebe Rexha

More information on MaleficentMistress of Evil is available online now at:


Website: http://movies.disney.com/maleficent-mistress-of-evil

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DisneyMaleficent

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Maleficent


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‘Good Omens’ Is Its Own Good Omen For The Future Of Television, Streaming Programming

Courtesy: BBC Studios

Salvation comes in strange and unexpected fashions.  Author Neil Gaiman spoke those words in one of the bonus features included in the recently released home release of Amazon Studios and BBC’s Good Omens.  It is also the central theme of the mini-series, adapted from the novel of the same name, which was co-written by Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett.  The mini-series created quite a stir among audiences when it made its streaming debut through Amazon in May.  Some loved it while others alleged it promoted something other than Christian beliefs and values.  Those who claimed it promoted anti-Christian beliefs clearly did not watch the six-hour mini-series.  Had those naysayers watched the program, they would have seen that if anything, it in fact presents some very positive messages, some of which are actually very pro-Christian.  Those noted messages incorporated into the story, go a long way toward making the program well worth watching. They will be discussed a little later.  The story at the center of the program forms the program’s foundation.  The noted bonus content that is featured with the program’s home release adds to the set’s presentation slightly.  The cast’s on-camera work also adds a certain element of enjoyment to the program.  When it is considered alongside the program’s primary content and messages, the whole of those elements makes Good Omens a presentation that is one of this year’s top new box sets for grown-ups.

Amazon Studios and BBC’s recent small-screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchatt’s novel Good Omens is one of the most surprisingly enjoyable television offerings to come along so far this year.  While perhaps not necessarily memorable long timer, it is still quite the enjoyable program to watch at least once.  That is due in part to the program’s primary content – its story and related messages.  The story in question follows the angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley as the duo partners to prevent Armageddon from happening.  The angel and his fallen angel friend are not the only ones trying to stop an 11 year-old antichrist.  Anathema Device (Adrai Arjona – True Detective, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Life of the Party) also wants to stop the antichrist.  Not to give away too much for those who have yet to watch the series, but it isn’t the group that stops Armageddon from happening, but rather a much more unexpected group.  That group will be left for the noted audiences to discover for themselves.  Getting back on topic, the idea of the good guys and bad guys teaming up to stop the ultimate evil is anything but new in the literary, cinematic and television realm.  It is an oft-used trope that spans the entertainment spectrum.  Even with that in mind, the way in which the topic was approached in this case is still original, giving audiences reason enough to watch the program.

The story itself gives audiences reason to watch, clearly.  Looking deeper within the story, it actually boasts its own share of interesting content to add to its presentation.  Right from the start of the story, Adam and Eve are dark-skinned rather than white.  It is good to see someone buck the trend of white-washing everything, instead opting for something more realistic.  At another point, Aziraphale tells Crowley that the flood was actually localized, rather than global.  It is a subtle statement, but one that is certain to create its own share of discussion since it, in its own way, argues that we should not take the bible verbatim.  On another level, Adam’s admonishment of both sides that they want to have their war just to see who is better, at the cost of mankind, is sure to generate even more discussion among viewers.  These and other plot elements tied into the story make the story in whole well worth the watch.  They are just a portion of what makes it so intriguing.  The messages that are tied into the story add their own interest to the mini-series’ presentation.

One of the most notable of the series’ messages is raised through Crowley’s personal growth.  Crowley is a fallen angel, but over time, he realizes that he is not as evil as he would like to think he is.  He, like Aziraphale, starts to think more for himself, rather than just giving in blindly to “the infallible plan.”  He proves that even those who are bad likely are actually good deep down.  This certainly doesn’t sound like something evil.  Rather, it is the exact opposite, proving again that the mini-series’ naysayers clearly did not watch the program.  It is just one of the key messages incorporated into the six-hour run of Good Omens.  The program presents plenty of other positive messages that audiences will appreciate.

One of the other notable messages incorporated into the whole of Good Omens is that of looking past our differences and accepting others.  Crowley and Aziraphale are polar opposites.  Crowley is a demon and Aziraphale is an angel.  On a deeper level though, both figures are still angels.  One of the duo is just a fallen angel, so in reality the two are still more alike than they are unalike.  The pair realizes this over the eons and learns to look past the differences, in turn becoming longtime friends.

Yet another key message incorporated into Good Omens is that we are the masters of our own fates.  Adam might have been prophesied to have been the catalyst for Armageddon, but he ends up making his own choice, leading to the story’s unexpected ending.  Whether this message (like the others noted) was intended is anyone’s guess.  That is because nowhere in any of the bonus commentary is this discussed.  This will be addressed a little later.  Either way, the message is there.  Just because someone says that we are this or we are that does not mean we have to abide by what they say.  We make our own choices about our lives.  It is up to us what we do in our lives. Between this message, that of thinking for ourselves rather than blindly following, and that of overlooking cultural differences, the messages that are incorporated into the story of Good Omens, the obvious allegorical nature of the novel (and its TV adaptation) makes for more than enough reason to watch this mini-series.  When the messages noted here are considered with the show’s overall story and its plot elements, the whole of that content makes even clearer why this program is worth the watch.  They are just a part of what makes the set worth viewing.  The bonus content featured with the set adds its own touch to the mini-series’ presentation.

The bonus content spread across Good Omens’ two discs is worth noting because of the background that it adds to the show’s presentation.  The feature-length commentary featured with each of the show’s six episodes features discussions on topics, such as the program’s set and costume design, its adaptation from its literary source material and its symbolism.  Viewers learn through the commentary in the show’s fourth episode, that star Michael Sheen was very particular about his character’s attire and that the wings on the delivery man’s uniform were related not just to angels, but to a certain mythological figure.  There is also a discussion in Episode Four’s commentary about the use of Adam’s friends as their own “four horsemen.”  Of course even without that note, it was obvious in watching the episode that they were representative of the horsemen in their own  right.

In the commentary for Episode Three, viewers learn that the half-hour opening segment used for the episode was not actually included in Gaiman and Pratchett’s novel.  Speaking of sequences, viewers learn from Gaiman himself that the mini-series’ very opening sequence, which features Frances McDormand as the voice of God, was a direct transfer from the novel, but almost ended up in a different portion of the episode than where it ended up.  Late in the mini-series’ final episode, there is mention of a possible second season, but Gaiman never does confirm if a second season was even in the planning.  Considering that there were protests by some groups against this program, those protests apparently did not succeed, taking Gaiman’s statements into consideration.  It sounds like odds are there was little to no chance of a second season for the show.

The feature-length audio commentaries featured with each of the show’s episodes add their own share of engagement and entertainment for viewers, as noted here.  The items discussed here are but a portion of the content featured in the commentaries.  Each commentary included in this mini-series features far more than what is shown here, but for all that they offer, none of the commentaries features discussion on theology or anything related to it.  The closest that any discussion comes is in the first episode’s commentary in which a brief comment is made about Adam and Eve being dark-skinned.  Other than that, there is barely any talk by anyone involved, about the show’s religious roots.  It would have been nice to have received some discussion on that item.  It doesn’t make the commentaries unwatchable, but does detract from their enjoyment.  Of course, considering the messages and plot elements tied in to the story, viewers are sure to create their own discussions anyway.  To that end, the lack of any talks on theology doesn’t detract from the program too much.

The commentaries featured with each of Good Omens’ add their own touch to the whole of the mini-series’ presentation, and are just a portion of the key bonus content featured with the show’s home release.  The “Page To Screen” bonus, which is essentially just a “making of” featurette features interviews with Sheen and co-star David Tenant, along with appearances by Jon Hamm and others.  Audiences learn from Hamm that he worked to make Gabriel unlikeable, just for comedy’s sake. He jokes about making Gabriel that workplace boss figure that everyone hates.  He does an outstanding job of his performance, too.  Tenant and Sheen offer their own insights into working on the program.  Each actor’s commentary on that aspect adds its own share of appreciation for the show.  When it is considered along with Hamm’s discussions and those of the show’s other cast members, the whole of everything here makes this yet another key addition to Good Omens’ presentation.  All of that bonus content, considered with the show’s story, plot elements and messages, makes the program in whole that much more entertaining and engaging for everyone.  They make Good Omens in whole one of the year’s most surprising new shows and most surprisingly entertaining.

BBC and Amazon Studios’ Good Omens is a presentation that viewers looking for an alternative to everything on broadcast television will appreciate.  That is due in part to its story, which is original in a variety of ways.  The plot elements and messages that are tied into the story add even more engagement and entertainment for viewers.  The bonus content adds its own touch to the mini-series in its home release.  That is despite a clear lack of any talks on theology, that could and would have added even more to the whole of the show’s home release.  Even with that in mind, the whole of the items discussed here makes Good Omens its own good omen for the future of television.  More information on this and other titles from BBC is available online at:




Website: http://www.bbcstudios.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BBCWW

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBCStudios




To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.