Holiday ‘rock opera’ shows will benefit BackPack Friends

Wizards of Winter will put on two performances of its holiday rock opera “A Christmas Dream” in Morehead City to benefit BackPack Friends. (Contributed photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — Rock band Wizards of Winter will put on two shows of its holiday rock opera “The Christmas Dream” at the Crystal Coast Civic Center with 100% of the proceeds going to BackPack Friends.

The 7 p.m. shows will be Tuesday, Nov. 30 and Wednesday, Dec. 1 at the civic center in Morehead City, according to Emerald Isle resident Danielle Abraham of Backpack Friends and Michelle Hicks of RE/MAX Ocean Properties, one of the sponsors of the benefits

 Swansboro-based BackPack Friends provides nutritious, nonperishable and easy-to-open food students can take home each weekend. It’s inconspicuous because the backpacks look just like the bags other students use. School counselors identify the students in need, and parents must approve participation. A Texas teacher started the program, known there as Backpack Buddies, and it has spread across the country. All programs are volunteer-operated and locally run.

The volunteer organization started in this area at White Oak Elementary School in Cape Carteret 11 years ago. The organization feeds about 650 kids per week in 18 schools in Carteret, Craven, Jones and Onslow counties.

The opera is based on Wizards of Winter’s albums “The Magic of Winter” and “A Christmas Dream.” The touring band features lead singer Manny Cabo, a finalist on season 15 of “The Voice.” Other musicians involved include former members of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Def Leopard, Blue Oyster Cult and Rainbow.

According to a press release from the group, “This 11 member ensemble boasts soaring vocal harmonies, precision string instrumentation, powerful percussion and stunning keyboard work, layered around a rich storyboard that evokes Decembers past.”

The New Jersey-based Wizards of Winter, founded by and led by Scott Kelly (composer/keyboardist) and Sharon Kelly (flute/vocals), was originally formed in the winter of 2010 as a way to give back to the band’s hometown community food pantry, which was in dire need of assistance, according to the band’s official biography.

“It truly is a Christmas rock opera comprised of music from our 3 original albums,” Mr. Kelly said in the press release. “We take the audience on a musical journey inside a snow globe in search of the meaning of Christmas.

“Some parts of the story are happy, some are melancholy; our music encompasses the vast range of feelings people experience during the holiday season,” he continued. “It is an emotional roller coaster ride, told through original compositions that range from ballads to prog-metal. There is something in the show for everyone in the family.”

Most of the performances this holiday season are in the northeastern United States.

“We are so grateful for Scott and Sharon Kelly, the Band Founders/Directors from Wizards of Winter Band for putting on these amazing show for two nights and donating their time,” Ms. Hicks said in an email.

Tickets are $25 and $40 and are available online at

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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