SHADOW MERCHANT ANNOUNCES NEW LINEUP FEATURING NEW DRUMMER AND KEYBOARDIST, RETURNING BASSIST/VOCALIST
Veteran progressive rock band Shadow Merchant is proud to announce drummer David Lee and keyboardist Michael LaBuono as new members. In addition, original bassist/vocalist Howard Whitman has rejoined the band following his departure in 2015. Lee, LaBuono and Whitman join guitarist Sean Reiter, who co-founded the band in 2007, and vocalist Yvonne Blackwell, who joined in 2015, to complete the new five-piece lineup as the band commences the recording of its second album, the successor to its critically acclaimed 2014 debut CD, “The Tunnel.”
Lee is a versatile drummer who is also currently drumming for the original alternative rock band Six Years Later. His past experience includes stints with original post-hardcore band Come Alive, and, more recently, Philadelphia-area party-cover band The Roguez. He has performed at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center and Madison Square Garden. “I’m looking forward to making and performing some great music with Shadow Merchant,” Lee said. “Although I enjoy various genres of music, the complexity and musicality of progressive music has always been my passion.”
LaBuono played keyboards for 14 years up and down the U.S. East Coast with popular classic/progressive rock band Witness. But he may be best known to progressive rock fans as the keyboardist in acclaimed tribute band Trespass, which performs the early music of legendary prog band Genesis. “I am having a blast with Shadow Merchant,” LaBuono said. “I’m looking forward to putting together some great music that I am certain our audience will enjoy.”
Lee replaces original drummer Paul McGinnis, who co-founded the band with Reiter in 2007. McGinnis departed the band in 2016 due to his relocation to California. LaBuono replaces Donald Henney, Jr., who joined Shadow Merchant in 2010, and left in 2016 to focus on his solo project, Neutron Moon.
Whitman, who joined Shadow Merchant in 2008, decided to step aside in 2015 to pursue other projects, but came back into the fold this year to play a charity benefit. “We are involved in an annual event, Rockin’ Docs for Diabetes Cure,” Whitman stated. “As the band hadn’t found a new bass player by that point, I was delighted when they asked me to come back, at least for one night. I realized I truly missed the band, and, thankfully, we made my return permanent. I’m thrilled to be back in Shadow Merchant, and look forward to working with David and Michael, along with Sean and Yvonne, in this fantastic new lineup.”
Among Shadow Merchant’s accomplishments are three performances at Philadelphia’s Keswick Theatre as finalists in classic rock station WMGK’s Rock MD competition, as well as four appearances at World Cafe Live in the aforementioned Rockin’ Docs event, and a show at NJ Proghouse. The band has also performed on bills with such acclaimed progressive bands as JOLLY and Thank You Scientist.
But the pinnacle of Shadow Merchant’s career was when it was selected to be the Friday night after-party band for the 2014 Rites of Spring Festival (RoSfest), an international progressive rock event held each year in Gettysburg, Pa. This appearance also celebrated the release of “The Tunnel” CD. (Interestingly, LaBuono’s band Trespass was the RoSfest Friday After-Party band in 2012.)
“We are all very excited to have David and Michael with us,” Reiter said. “We think they will be great additions, and we are looking forward to writing and performing some great music together. With Howard back in the band, we are very excited to see what the future holds for this next iteration of Shadow Merchant.”
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Donald A Henney Jr
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Shadow Merchant got its start in 2007 when radiologists Dr. Sean Reiter and Dr. Paul McGinnis, while working in the same practice, discovered that they shared an affinity for prog rock. Both were experienced musicians; guitarist Reiter had been in a band that opened for one of his favorite groups, Kansas, while McGinnis was a longtime drummer with a style reminiscent of Rush's Neil Peart and Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy. The two radiologists began to rehearse together and, before long, Reiter had composed an album's worth of material for the teaming - a concept album he called "The Tunnel".
Still, they needed some more members to turn their duo into a full band.
Reiter asked a friend who was involved with music if he knew anyone who:
a) played bass
c) wanted to be in a progressive rock band
It turns out his friend did know someone- his friend, Howard Whitman, who had an extensive background as a professional musician, playing bass and singing in a variety of local cover bands. It just so happened that Whitman was also a lifelong devotee of the prog, and had longed to be in a band in which he could play bass with the aggressive style of Chris Squire. Another friend of Reiter and McGinnis joined on keyboards and, by 2008, the first incarnation of Shadow Merchant was born.
After a set at a private party (which was a resounding success), the quartet began to develop Reiter's songs to turn them into an album. But over time, the original keyboardist decided to move on. The now-trio set about finding a new fourth member and, after a series of auditions, met up with New Jersey-based keyboardist Donald A. Henney, Jr. Don was the perfect missing link the band was looking for, bringing sturdy musicianship, and composing/arranging skills, as well as advanced keyboard technology to the group.
By 2011, Shadow Merchant v2.0 was playing professional gigs, starting at Northeast Philly's famed Whisky Tango nightclub. In November of that year, they were invited by NYC-based InsideOut recording artists JOLLY to be on the bill of a night of prog rock at The Legendary Dobbs in South Philly.
While continuing work on its CD, Shadow Merchant further developed as a live band, playing gigs at the North Star Bar and other locations in 2012. That year, Philadelphia classic rock radio station WMGK introduced a new contest, Rock MD, a "battle of the bands" competition for local groups that featured at least one physician as a member. Based on the strenth of a video for its original song "Noah", Shadow Merchant was named a finalist in Rock MD 2012 and played at the Keswick Theatre (former site of RoSfest) on 10/11/12.
2013 saw the band return to The Legendary Dobbs, and play other shows including the Rockin' Docs benefit held in May at Philadelphia's World Cafe Live. As recording of "The Tunnel" CD neared completion, Shadow Merchant was again named a finalist in the 2013 Rock MD competition and returned to the Keswick on 10/09/13.
On May 2, 2014, Shadow Merchant had the honor of playing the Friday night after-party at RoSfest- the annual 3-day international progressive rock festival held in Gettysburg, PA. The show was a tremendous success and helped to spread the word about their debut album, "the tunnel", released the same day.
2014 also brought a new addition to the band. After performing with the band as a guest singer on stage at the World Cafe Live, Yvonne Blackwell was asked to join the band as a permanent member. Yvonne's soaring vocals bring a new dimension to the band, with a broader vocal palette now possible with an additional lead vocalist.
2016 was a year of significant changes. Paul McGinnis relocated to California, and Don Henney left the band to dedicate time to his solo project, Neutron Moon. After several months of auditions, Shadow Merchant welcomed two new members. David Lee joined the group on drums, and Michael LaBuono joined the group on keyboards. The two are excellent additions, both bringing enthusiasm, experience, and great chops. The band is currently deep into working on their next album, which looks to have even more energy and dynamics given the band's continued growth.
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