Windham – Pleasant surprises come from all places. Mine started in the form a flyer in the Nelson town hall for the “First Snow” concert. I figured that if they weren’t that good, it was still only $6 and for a good cause. Then I found that low price sometimes is no indicator of quality.
“First Snow” is a Trans-Siberian Orchestra cover band, and the age “eight-to-eighty” audience at the Renaissance Family Center reflected their classical-to-rock range of style. By the groups third song, they had included all three T-S O Christmas CDs. Keyboardist/singer Beth Salisbury gave an interesting interpretation of “Prince of Peace”. She then added a traditional version of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”. Most of the night showcased their rock side, as guitarist/singer Kevin Bennett perfectly reproduced the T-S O vocals on “This Christmas Day”. Their self-titled song “First Snow” included a “snow machine” that chased away the photographer that was blocking the middle aisle up front. Drummer Scott Weiner even contributed a rousing drum solo. The band branched out into a blues song, and then young Ethan Long soloed on acoustic guitar with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. “Christmas Jam” was especially amazing, with Bennett, Salisbury, Long and multi-talented Brian Briggs each taking turns with impressive guitar solos. Bennett then contributed a heartfelt song that he had written about his father after his passing. The keyboardists also delighted the crowd with “Flight of the Bumblebee”.
Some of the band returned as Division Bell, an impressive Pink Floyd tribute band with only three instrumentalists. Both bands battled sound system problems throughout the night; I would have loved to hear Monique Orban’s vocal gymnastics on “Great Gig in the Sky”. The members were also a tribute band to the group Heart, as the crowd got one last treat with the song “Barracuda”.
In one night these talented musicians had three established bands “looking over their shoulders”. Windham was really fortunate to host such a team of incredible musical talent December 4th, and it won’t be too soon if they can be persuaded to return.