Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sounds: Scythian

Good music cannot wait 7 days. Or even 2 days.

Scythian, from right here in DC, was the very first band I saw at ShamrockFest 2012.  Before I saw them play, I saw them set up. There were the usual instruments; a drum kit, an assortment of guitars, but then it got interesting, out came a banjo, a mandolin, an accordion, then not one, not two, but three fiddles. Seeing this instrumentation I knew that this could either be really good or really really bad.  Verdict: not just really good, but face melting good. Scythian’s energy was immediate and explosive the minute they started playing their beautiful musical hybrid of Celtic, Gypsy, and American folk, with a side of rock n’roll.

You read that right, Celtic and Gypsy, a band after my own heart and East vs. West (European) bloodlines. Music that illustrates, in surround sound, that polkas and jigs have a lot more in common than not.  Dueling fiddles, button boxes, stomping, clapping,  rhythm that starts in your toes and explodes out of the hairs on your head, elements of a deeper, older, common music that part of me wants to believe was the way people communicate before we settled for spoken language.  
One of the key elements of folk music, whether it American, world, or whatever, is that it is, well, FOLK music. The audience is another member of the band. No need to quietly sit in your chairs here. Clapping, hooting and hollering, and dancing are not only encouraged, but vital to success of the music. Wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care. The boys of Scythian with their contagious smiles and absorbing music welcomed and embraced each and every member of the crowd as one of their own.
At the helm of the band are the Fedoryka brothers: Alexander (violin, mandolin) and Danylo (guitar/accordion), sons of Ukrainian immigrants and both classically trained musicians with impressive and established individual musical resumes. Alexander also spent time busking in Ireland intertwining the music of his Eastern European heritage with the intoxicating music of the Celts. I know that I have mentioned the street musicians in Ireland ad nauseum, but over there, street performing is almost an art form, a rite of passage if you will. 
Joining the brothers on their roadshow is Josef Crosby (violin,bass), Ben-David Warner (banjo, violin, guitar), and Andrew Toy on drums.

It was hard to find a video clip of their current line-up, the one I saw, but after all these words, you need to hear them for yourself:

Scythian is currently working on a new album and playing at every Irish Festival this side of the Mississippi. The next time they will be in area is at the Annapolis Irish Festival on July 14th. You should probably put that on your calendar now. In pen. To see their full tour schedule or learn how to help with their new album, dance on over to their website.

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