“I’m the writer, I play drums, I pay for everything,” states Derek Ferguson, the Wizard who leads the progressive rock studio ensemble known as Refestramus. Named after a word his mother made up to mean “rearrange,” Derek and his producer – Colouratura’s Ian Beabout – liked it because it wasn’t a legitimate word, “A web search will only turn up our band!,” which means the latest search for “Refestramus” will show their new album, Intourist (Melodic Revolution Records)!

As the bearer of this music, Derek’s powers are rooted in inspiration through his writing and finding musicians. He discovered many on the Internet gig site, Induction lead singer Craig Cairns, Brazilian keyboardist maestro Rogelio Desouza, and rock vocalists NIDA, Denisse Ferrara, and Vedrana Lina.

Derek writes from the depth of emotion. The album’s first video, “Smiling,” he says, “delves into the complexity of concealing one’s sadness to maintain others’ happiness, offering a poignant reflection on the masks we wear in society.”

Refestramus was born May 2020 as Derek’s home studio project during the COVID pandemic. Having been in a variety of progressive rock bands in his native Chicago and an avid listener of Ian Beabout’s Internet radio program “Prog Rock Deep Cuts,” he reached out to Ian to mix and master the recordings. Ian, who plays flute and sings on some tracks on Intourist, introduced Derek to Colouratura bandmates Derek Pavlic and Nathan James, Saxophonist Mitch Lawrence and Wisconsin multi-instrumentalist Jerry King, who plays bass on Intourist. Adding prog multi-instrumentalist Dave Newhouse, who contributed accordion, helped Derek Ferguson guide the album to completion.

Favorite songs on Intourist include “The Red Apple” based on Maxim Gorkiy’s story about a gypsy horse thief and themes of rejection and longing. “Asunción” is a heartfelt tribute to the city of Asunción, “You know how bands used to say ‘we’re big in Japan’? We’re big in Paraguay – they even play us on their national radio station there from time to time!” “Side Hustle” is a Jethro Tull inspired song. “‘Mr. Darwin’ offers a lighthearted take on human survival and natural selection.” The album’s title track is a 3-part epic that combines themes of resilience with the supernatural realms on earth including “zombie love” in the third part of the track, “Intourist.”

In addition to acoustic versions of “Asunción” and “The Red Apple,” the physical CD features a cover of Spirit’s “Mr. Skin.” Spirit is one of Derek’s favorite bands, and he points out, “the songwriter here also has the last name Ferguson.”

Refestramus’ debut album, Decoupage, was released in December of 2021. Expose’s Peter Thelen, who has reviewed thousands of Progressive Rock albums over the years, declared it a “Solid opening move.” In 2022, Refestramus released the EP, From the Sublime to the Ridiculous, which featured possibly the “Prog-iest” track on the album “The Devil Returns” – drawing inspiration heavily from Bulgakov’s famous novel “The Master and Margarita.”