First Snow Baptizes Renovated Robins Theatre

WARREN – The official grand opening of the Robins Theatre is still a month away, but residents will get their first glimpse of the renovated venue on Dec. 7 when First Snow takes the stage.

The concert by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra tribute act will be a shakedown cruise for the Robins, which is opening its doors after a two-year, $5 million makeover.

By making the special effects-heavy First Snow the first band, the theater hopes to discover any flaws and iron out the bugs in time for the Jan. 9 grand opening with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

For those who didn’t catch TSO at Covelli Centre in November, First Snow offers a taste of what they missed. It would be impossible to match TSO in the laser beams and fire pots department, but First Snow does manage a small-scale facsimile with lighting, LED backdrops, gleaming guitar riffs and five singers with big voices.

The northeastern Ohio-based act is led by Kevin Bennett of Kent, who views First Snow as an affordable option for family holiday entertainment.The act is in its third consecutive year of holiday touring.

“We do this so that a family of four can see a nice Christmas show for under $100,” Bennett says. “We are big supporters of Trans-Siberian Orchestra and if you can go, they are amazing. But if you can’t, come see us.”

First Snow has 11 members, a few of which are also in Bennett’s other band, Straight On, a Heart tribute act.

The idea started small but, like a rolling snowball, got bigger.

“When we started First Snow in 2008, we didn’t have all of the equipment we have now,” Bennett says. “We were also in a Pink Floyd tribute band in 2010 and used its lighting rig,” he continues.

After discontinuing First Snow a few years later, Bennett restarted it out of necessity.

“A friend was going to [start a TSO tribute act] and he was going after one of our singers, so Monique, my wife, said it’s time to get the band back together. … I threw a line out there to see if anyone would bite and within a month we had a band.”

First Snow’s bass player, Dr. Brian Briggs of the Alliance area, is also in a Green Day tribute band and has been amassing a collection of lighting and other special-effects equipment.

“He loves doing this,” Bennett say. The equipment is now a key part of every First Snow performance.

In addition to Briggs and Bennett, who handles guitar and vocals, the remaining members of First Snow are vocalists Monique Bennett, Michelle McDowell, Chris Emig, Terry Johnson and Dan Cameron; guitarist Dave Jennings, drummer Drew Sodee, and keyboardists Kitrael Chin and Chris Jennings. 

Ticket Information

  • What: First Snow
  • When: 8 p.m. Dec. 7
  • Where: Robins Theatre, 160 E. Market St., Warren
  • Tickets: $19, $29 and $39; available at, by phone at 234 430 0005 and at the box office

Pictured: Dave Jennings and Kevin Bennett of First Snow perform in concert. (Image: Joe Kleon Photography)

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.