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 his favorite groups, Kansas, while McGinnis was a longtime drummer with a style reminiscent of Rush's Neal 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 son-in-law, 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. 2014 saw the band return to the World Cafe Live and to be on the bill at the international progressive rock festival, RoSfest, in Gettysburg.
Shadow Merchant describe themselves as a classic progressive rock band with a modern twist. Their unique style also has elements that echo some of their most important influences such as Rush, Kansas, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, Yes, Genesis, and ELP.