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While many families will spend coming weekends shopping for holiday presents and gearing up for winter, one Hopewell Borough resident will be hitting the road to tour with her band. Mother of three Mary McIntyre Daniels is also a singer and keyboardist for the progressive Christmas rock band Wizards of Winter.

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Wizards of Winter performs Christmas rock in the spirit of the Trans Siberian Orchestra.

Based in Hunterdon County, the eleven member band performs music in the spirit of the Trans Siberian Orchestra across the East Coast during November and December. Last year, the band was joined by four original Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) members. This year, two of those four are returning and another, Guy LeMonnier, has signed on as a permanent member. LeMonnier toured with TSO for 12 years and is on several of their albums and also performed as the Phantom of the Opera in the Broadway touring company, and Dracula in the Broadway musical.

The group also recently recorded and released an album featuring twelve original songs. The album art was done by Ioannis, the same artist who has created album covers for bands like Styx, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.

Wizards of Winter kicks off their tour in Rhode Island this coming weekend and plays throughout the Northeast, including a gig at Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh, before culminating in a show at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square.

Trained in classical music and with experience performing a spectrum of music including rock and bluegrass, Daniels was a full-time stay at home mom for seven years. Familiar with the life of a touring musician, she answered an audition call in 2012 for the Wizards of Winter because of the family-friendly nature of the group.

“I wanted to see if I could get back into the music business in a way that was appropriate for me,” she says. “Most paying jobs require late nights, long tours or gigs every weekend in noisy nightclubs.”

Mary Daniels, far left, performs with Wizards of Winter.
Mary Daniels, far left, performs with Wizards of Winter.

Daniels rehearses with the band every Sunday, year-round, except for January and February, and fits in practice at home whenever she can. Her family has been supportive during the band’s holiday touring season, chipping in with housework and errands. They also come to rehearsals and shows, and her children enjoy seeing her as a performer.

Once the tour begins, Daniels travels with the band on weekends, pulling late nights performing and early-morning departures en route to other shows. Daniels tries to get all her Christmas shopping done before Halloween because there is no time for anything else once the Wizards’ tour kicks off.

“It’s very exhausting, but wonderful too,” she says. “I always miss the kids on tour but it’s also nice to be with adults all weekend.”

Fans of the band are devoted, and often line up for autographs after performances. “I get a kick out of that,” she says.

Daniels also says being part of the band fulfills a part of her that was missing when she wasn’t singing. Noting that she is shy by nature, Daniels says singing propels her personality into a new comfort zone.

“Motherhood has been my greatest joy in life, but I do feel a completeness now that was missing before,” she says. “Once it’s in your blood, making music is something you must do, or you feel incomplete.”

Ultimately, Daniels hopes to sing or work in music full-time when her children are older. She has even toyed with the idea of opening a local karaoke café where teenagers can drop in to jam, sing, hang out and support each other.

In the meantime, catch Mary on tour with the Wizards beginning November 22. For more information and to hear a clip of their music, visit www.wizardsofwinter.com.

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