Merry Metal Christmas: Wizards Of Winter Celebrate Christmas Hard Rock Style At Roanoke Rapids Theatre

Copyright: Philip Sayblack

Wizards of Winter gave audiences an early Christmas gift Saturday night with a performance at the Roanoke Rapids Theatre.

The world-renowned holiday hard rock super group performed at the theater as part of its tour in support of its latest album “The Christmas Dream.” The band released the album — its third overall — independently Sept. 27.

Copies of “The Christmas Dream” were available for sale in the lobby throughout the evening. Band founder and keyboardist Scott Kelly informed the audience during the show that any active duty military personnel in attendance would receive copies of the album for free while proceeds from the sales of other copies would benefit the Wounded Warrior project. The Wounded Warrior Project is a charity and veterans service organization that helps military service members transition from military service life to civilian life.


Copyright: Philip Sayblack

The amped up sounds of the season echoed through the theater’s main hall over the course of more than two hours, as the band performed its own take on songs, such as ‘Jingle Bells,’ ‘The First Noel’ and ‘We Three Kings.’ The songs were taken from the band’s new album. Announcer Tony Gaynor came in between songs to help the band take the audience on their musical journey to the North Pole and beyond aboard the “Arctic Flyer.”

The nearly three hour show featured two separate sets, each one full of holiday-themed songs, lots of lights and holiday cheer. Band founder and keyboardist Scott Kelly even took a moment to offer his own inspiring words to the audience during a break in the show’s second set.

“If you pay it forward, good things can happen.”

Kelly recently spoke with Phil’s Picks ahead of the band’s decision to play at the theater. He said the venue’s size played into the band’s decision to perform at the facility.

“The Wizards have only performed in North Carolina once before,” he said. “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.”


Copyright: Philip Sayblack

The performance hall inside the Roanoke Rapids Theatre was packed with people clapping their hands and tapping their feet along with the music throughout the night. Among the dozens who attended was Roanoke Rapids couple Betsy and Neil Rumford. The couple said before the concert, they moved to town last year from Richmond, Virginia, adding they are glad the city and county have the theater.

“It is really important for this theater to be here,” Betsy said. “It draws a lot of people. We’ve got friends in Richmond who came down recently just to see the Elvis show.”

Neil expanded on her comments.

“This theater being here helps to promote the city and the county,” he said. “It promotes community. It really puts the city and the county on the map. It really makes me think of the theater in Branson, Missouri because of its layout.”

Roanoke Rapids Theatre Security Officer Joel Motley had similar sentiments to those of the Rumfords as he talked about the theater before the concert.

“I love seeing everyone here,” he said. “The citizens of Halifax and Northampton counties need somewhere to go, and the theater gives them that place to go. We are growing here at this theater, and it feels good to know that.”


Copyright: Philip Sayblack

While the first set of Saturday night’s concert focused mainly on Wizards of Winter’s latest album, the second set presented a more diverse lineup of songs. The band, whose members have performed and recorded with other famous acts, such as Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, performed two songs from TSO in the Wizards’ own style, as well as some of its own older songs. The set also featured a powerful rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ that saw the concert hall fill with lights from the audience’s cell phones.

As the show ended, announcer Tony Gaynor told the audience the he hoped the theater officials will make the band’s performance an annual event. Gaynor’s statement brought applause and cheers from the entire audience. From there, some made their way to the building’s lobby, waiting for a free meet-and-greet with the band while others made their way back to their vehicles to make their return home.

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 and to

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The Wizards of Winter’s New LP Is An Enjoyable Musical Gift For Classic Rock, Holiday Lovers Alike

Courtesy: Adrenaline PR

The countdown to Christmas is officially on, and in anticipation of its return, The Wizards of Winter has released its new holiday-themed album The Christmas Dream.  Released Friday through BMI, the 10-song, 44-minute record is a gift in itself for fans of the band and those whole enjoy the holiday season.  That is due in part to the record’s musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  It is also thanks to the album’s lyrical content, which will be addressed a little later.  The album’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation and will also be discussed later.  Each item does its own part to make the album an enjoyable addition to any holiday lover’s music library.  All things considered, they make the album a work that audiences will enjoy every Christmas season.

The Christmas Dream is a positive new offering from The Wizards of Winter, and a presentation that will appeal to fans of WOW just as much as lovers of the holiday season and its musical offerings.  That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements are in part, familiar compositions to which the band’s longtime fans have come to expect from the group.  Along with featuring its own familiar sound, the album also features more comparisons to works from fellow holiday band Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  That should come as no surprise, either, considering that some of the band’s members are also directly associated with TSO.  One could even argue that there is even a hint of a Mannheim Steamroller influence incorporated into the album’s arrangements, with its keyboard and flute lines.  The album’s lead single ‘Handel’s Torch’ combines the noted influences through its heavy guitar riffs and the use of the flute.  ‘The Four Kings’ is a direct link back to TSO’s works with its bluesy arrangement that almost exactly mirrors the arrangement in that band’s song, ‘The Three Kings (What Really Happened.’  Lyrically, the two songs are a little different, but stylistically, there is a quite close similarity in the two arrangements.  The arrangement at the heart of the album’s title track, which comes late in the album’s run, is another example of the influences from the aforementioned holiday bands.  Again that is due to the combination of the guitars and more traditional musical elements.  What’s more, the song’s title may be ‘Christmas Dream,’ but it actually presents a full-on rock take on the beloved song ‘All Of My Favorite Things.’  That is crossed with the group’s take on the equally beloved song ‘Carol of the Bells,’ with the end result being one of the album’s strongest compositions.  It is just one of the album’s most notable compositions, too.  The old school power metal approach of ‘Polar Eve,’ the orchestral vibe of ‘The Happy Song’ and ‘Secrets of the Snow Globe’ offer their own notoriety, too.  Between those arrangements, the others noted here and the rest of the album’s arrangements, the whole of the album proves to be a presentation that is well worth the listen if only for its musical elements.  It musical elements are not its only notable elements, of course.  Its lyrical content is just as notable as its musical elements.

The lyrical content featured in this record is notable because while it does take listeners on a new ride through some old holiday songs, there are also some more original works featured in the record.  Among the more familiar holiday tunes featured in the record are the aforementioned ‘My Favorite Things’ and also ‘Jingle Bells,’ Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and ‘The First Noel.’  Those songs are given a new life in each of their presentations through the already discussed arrangements that form the album’s foundation.  The noted familiar song choices are complimented by more original works, such as ‘The Secrets of the Snowglobe,’ ‘In Plain Sight’ and the stirring, emotional finale that is ‘A Toast To Time (Farewell).’  The combination of the traditional holiday songs and the band’s original works – and their original new arrangements – strengthen the album even more, and shows that much more, why The Christmas Dream is its own dream come true for fans of WOW and lovers of the holiday season in general.  They are just a pair of the album’s most notable elements.  Keeping in mind the importance of that whole, the album’s sequencing is just as important to examine as its overall content.

The Christmas Dream’s sequencing is important to note because of its impact on the album’s general effect.  As already noted, this record features a mix of original content and new takes on a handful of traditional holiday songs.  The record never sticks too long to one or the other.  It opens with one of the band’s original works before changing things up both stylistically and in general with ‘Handel’s Torch.’  The song’s arrangement takes the power rock sound featured in the album’s opener and steps it up slightly while also presenting the band’s own fresh take on Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and at least one other traditional holiday song.  ‘Gonna Snow’ keeps the album’s energy stable with another 80s hair metal style arrangement that also gives a new take on ‘Jingle Bells’ while giving listeners something new at the same time.  Again, here listeners get that mixing of old and new, this time in one, keeping the album engaging and entertaining.  ‘The Polar Eve’ is slightly slower than the album’s first three works, but is still heavy in its own right while also giving listeners something original from the band once more.  ‘Midnight Noel’ is another example of the band taking a traditional holiday tune and giving it a new life (though there is the very close similarity to works from TSO) here.  The variances in styles and old and new holiday songs continue from this point, and still manage to keep listeners engaged and entertained right to the album’s finale without fail.  By the record’s end, listeners are left fulfilled and agreeing that this album is its own special musical gift from The Wizards of Winter to listeners everywhere.

The Wizards of Winter’s new album The Christmas Dream is a positive new album from the classic rock collective, which is made up of members of Blue Oyster Cult, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Ted Nugent’s backing band.  It is a piece that gives audiences another welcome option away from all of the standard holiday musical fare that hits stores every year.  That is due in part to its arrangements, which bring together the influences of the members’ own bands.  The varied musical choices in general, which are new takes on traditional holiday tunes and new original works, add even more interest to the album’s presentation.  The album’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to the album’s whole.  Each item is important in its own right to the whole of its presentation.  All things considered, they make the album in whole, its own enjoyable gift for the band’s fans and lovers of the holiday season alike.  The band will launch a tour in support of the record in November.  Its schedule is noted below.

THE WIZARDS OF WINTER 2019 Holiday Tour Dates:
11/13 – Key West, FL @ Key West Theatre
11/14 – Melbourne, FL @ Melbourne Auditorium
11/15 – Clearwater, FL @ Ruth Eckerd Hall
11/16 – Stuart, FL @ Lyric Theater
11/21 – Pueblo, CO @ Pueblo Memorial Hall
11/22 – Alto, NM @ Spencer Theatre
11/23 – Gilbert, AZ @ Higley PAC
11/24 – Wickenburg, AZ @ Del E. Webb PAC
11/29 – Patchogue, NY @ Patchogue Theatre
11/30 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Paramount Theatre
12/1 – Englewood, NJ @ Bergen PAC
12/5 – Angola, IN @ T. Furth PAC
12/6 – Pontiac, MI @ Flagstar Strand Theatre
12/7 – Johnson Creek, WI @ Gobbler Theatre
12/8 – St. Charles, IL @ Arcada Theatre
12/12 – Wisconsin Rapids, WI @ Wisconsin Rapids PAC
12/13 – Harris, MI @ Island Resort Casino
12/14 – Harris, MI @ Island Resort Casino
12/15 – Wabash, IN @ Honeywell Theatre
12/17 – Canton, OH @ Canton Palace
12/19 – Derry, NH @ Tupelo Music Hall
12/20 – Jim Thorpe, PA @ Penns Peak
12/21 – Roanoke Rapids, NC @ Roanoke Rapids Theatre
+More dates TBA!

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










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The Rock Carnival Returns This Summer

Courtesy:  Stan Levinstone Presents/Game Loud

Courtesy: Stan Levinstone Presents/Game Loud

The Rock Carnival is officially returning.

The Rock Carnival, the Northeast’s only classic carnival + Rock ‘N Roll experience returns this year for its second year.  And headlining this year’s festival is none other than one of the great legends of rock, Alice Cooper.  The second annual Rock Carnival will be held Friday, September 30th – Sunday, October 2nd.  It is produced by Stan Levinstone Presents and Game Loud.  It will take place at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood New Jersey.  It is the home of the Lakewood Blue Claws minor league baseball team.  The team is a minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.  This year marks the first time that it will take place at FirstEnergy Park.  General Admission tickets for single day and weekend access are available now along with Reserved Seat Weekend passes VIP packages, and Skybox Meet and Greets.  The General admission passes and Reserved Seat Weekend Passes can be purchased online here now.  The VIP and Skybox packages are available here.

While Alice Cooper will headline this year’s festival he will not be the only big name on the bill.  Also on this year’s bill are the likes of: Kyng, Overkill, Texas Hippie Coalition, Jackyl, Ace Frehley, Clutch, Blue Oyster Cult, Zakk Sabbath, Monster Magnet, Fuel and many others. Twisted Sister will also be on hand for the festival in its final tri-state appearance.  The performance is part of the band’s official farewell tour.  Performances will take place across a number of stages including two side-by-side main stages.

Along with the major acts scheduled to perform, a special “Classic” Friday night celebration has been added to this year’s festivities.  The celebration will feature performances by a number of cover bands including: Voyage (Journey tribute band), Almost Queen (Queen tribute band), and Zakk Zabbath.  Zac Sabbath’s lineup features Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society Ozzy Osbourne) on vocals and guitar, Blasko (Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie) on bass, and Joey Castillo (Queens of the Stone Age) on drums.

More information on the second annual Rock Carnival will be announced in the weeks to come.  Audiences can keep up with all of those updates online now at:









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Carmine Appice Announces New Summer Fan Camp

Carmine Appice Metal Fan Camp Logo

Veteran musician Carmine Appice is one of the rock world’s most well known drummers.  He has played with the likes of Vanilla Fudge and Cactus among many others.  Now this famed drummer is offering fans the chance to meet him and some of his equally famous musicians thanks to Carmine Appice’s Rockaholics Metal Fan Camp. 

Carmine Appice’s Metal Fan Camp is scheduled to run August 26th – 30th at Full Moon Resort in the heart of the “Forever Wild” Catskill Forest Preserve.  The preserve is just one hour west of Woodstock, New York.  Appice will be joined at the camp by fellow famed musicians, singer/guitarist Eric Bloom (Blue Oyster Cult), drummer James Kottak (Scorpions), guitarist Eddie Ojeda (Twisted Sister), and famed shredder Michael Angelo Baito.  The quartet will serve as “camp counselors” during the course of the fan camp.  While at the camp, fans will take in special performances by the “counselors” and take part in Q&A sessions.  The camp will even include an in person event taken from Appice’s YouTube series, “Cooking With Carmen” called “Carmine Cookoff.” Fans can check out “Cooking With Carmen” segments online at  Each night will end with special jam sessions by the camp’s celebrity counselors.

The fan camp offers a number of pricing options based on available accommodations.  Packages are available online now at  Packages start at $795.  They include lodging, access to all gourmet meals, performances, and camp activities.  Fans who take part in the camp will get to take in all of this and more.  The more includes: a spring-fed swimming pool, a number of hiking trails through the Catskill Mountains, an on-site access to the Esopus Creek.  Fans can keep up with the latest details on Carmine Appice’s Metal Fan Camp on its official website and Facebook page, and

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