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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.
Donald A Henney Jr
Copyright © Shadow Merchant