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Bringing international sound to C’Ville

Ukrainian musician Dan Fedoryka and band Scythian to play The Southern


Dan Fedoryka will return to The Southern Friday night with his band, Scythian, giving Charlottesville’s concert-going community a welcome taste of Eastern European and Celtic folk music.

Arts & Entertainment sat down with Fedoryka to talk about his rich heritage and how it influences the music he loves and performs.

Arts & Entertainment: You performed in Charlottesville last fall, fresh off the release of album “Jump at the Sun.” Has anything changed since then?

Dan Fedoryka: Since last fall we've restructured the band with one member leaving to go to school at U.Va … Since there are less instruments (and more space) on stage, the energy of our shows has shot through the roof. We've also completed a new album, “Old Tin Can,” which has made us better as a unit. You always get better every time you do an album.

A&E: This current tour, fittingly named the Old Tin Can Tour, is in support of your new album “Old Tin Can.” Can you tell us a little about what inspired it?

DF: “Old Tin Can” is a companion album to “Jump at the Sun,” which we released in Charlottesville last fall. That entire album was funded by our fans, but our fans gave [us] way too much money. So we decided to make this second album — “Old Tin Can” — as a thank you to our fans. It is a roots album where we do our versions of songs that have inspired us to become the band we are today … So “Jump at the Sun” and “Old Tin Can” are an A and B side of an album effort.

A&E: Your parents both hail from the Ukraine. Is this where you found your affinity for this kind of string and folk music?

DF: Definitely. My brother and I founded the band along with our buddy Josef Crosby and both our parents immigrated [from] Ukraine in the 40s just before [t]he Iron Curtain came down. They were so grateful to find asylum in the United States, but they always made sure we remembered our heritage and so we grew up speaking and listening to Ukrainian music. It naturally came to the surface once we became a band.

A&E: Both you and your brother play regularly in the band and your sister, Larissa, occasionally joins you all onstage. Would you say music is a family affair for the Fedoryka clan?

DF: You could definitely say that. All 10 of us kids play musical instruments and each of us has a different way of expressing the gift we've been given. [Sometimes we] have another sister, Melanie, jump in with us on the fiddle.

A&E: Your band’s name, Scythian, has roots in your heritage. Can you talk a little about what the term means? What does it have to do with your band?

DF: The Scythians were a group of nomads who figured prominently in the ancient world. They were unstoppable because they invented the stirrup and moved quickly and became a melting pot. The Celts were the only people ever to defeat them and so we figured that this name fit a pair of Ukrainian brothers playing Celtic music. And now that we've matured we feel we are a musical melting pot and so the name fits better than we had imagined.

A&E: Scythian has a large repertoire of Celtic tunes, in addition to Americana, Bulgarian and of course, Ukrainian styles and songs. How do you make these varying world styles relevant to American audiences when you perform in the United States?

DF: We've done about 1,500 [shows] and what's been interesting is learning to read a crowd and to see what it is they desire. I think that every person out there has a need to forget; a need to forget their "to do lists," their worries [and] the day-to-day. Every culture has a way of expressing this need through music and we select songs that get people dancing, laughing and involved so they get sucked into the musical experience and become part of the music. The end result is people swinging around and hoisting glasses. Its really been one of the most rewarding elements of being on the road all these years — seeing sweaty smiling people at the end of a night of dancing.

Scythian brings their bountiful sound to The Southern Mar. 20.