Scythian is a favorite of Celtic rock fans, but "Cake for Dinner," their family show coming to the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage Sunday, reveals more of their broad talents and compatibility with folks of all ages. The ensemble consists of Fedoryka brothers Danylo (guitar and accordion) and Alexander (fiddle, bass, mandolin), Josef Crosby on fiddle and bass and drummer Michael Ounallah on drums and percussion. All four provide the vocals and energetic conversation between numbers.
|IF YOU GO|
|Where: Kennedy Center Millennium Stage|
|When: 6 p.m. Sunday|
|Info: Free; 202-467-4600; kennedy-center.org|
"In 'Cake For Dinner,' we take kids on a musical ride around the world," Dan said. "We introduce them to waltzes, polkas, tangos, campfire songs, sea chanteys, gypsy music, Irish jigs and just about every style there is. Alex and I are two of ten siblings and we're also close to 25 nephews and nieces, so we have natural rapport with children.
"We recorded the album 'Cake for Dinner' after one of our fans, a teacher, invited us to perform at her school for 600 children from kindergarten to fourth grade. It was so much fun entertaining the kids that we wanted to do something to give other children a good time. We wrote the show keeping our sisters in mind. Two of them will be on stage with us and five of our nephews and nieces will sing in the chorus, just as they did in the recording studio. It's fun entertaining the audience by switching instruments and encouraging crowd participation. Mike will be on hand, too, with lots of percussion instruments to excite the kids."
The Fedoryka brothers were taught their instruments by their mother, a graduate of the Juilliard School. Both she and their father are first-generation immigrants from Ukraine, hence the name Scythian which refers to the people who once roamed the area adjacent to the Black Sea. After meeting Joe Crosby, they started a band and began playing on street corners around Washington. It soon became apparent that Old Town Alexandria was the best place to ply their trade because of the families walking around each evening eager to be entertained.
Encouragement from the local busker community and success at interacting with the crowds propelled them to go full-time in 2004 as a Celtic-Ukrainian band. They tour the East Coast extensively and appear at such events as the Dublin Irish Fest in Ohio, the Grassroots Festival in Trumansburg, N.Y., and the Magnolia Fest in Live Oak, Fla.
For several years, they played ethnic music and covered songs from the 1970s, waiting to write their original songs until creativity took hold and songs began flowing out. Their fourth album, "Scythian Live," Vol. 2, contains a few covers like "Folsom Prison Blues," "Orange Blossom Special," and "Dark Eyes." Alex retained the traditional Ukrainian lyrics to "Hutsulka Ksenia," but set it to new music. The other numbers in the album are their own.
"Bedlam," their fifth album due out in February, is the first with all-original music. Early in December, they tested a few numbers at the 9:30 Club to enthusiastic response. They recently settled in Philadelphia, but return to the area March 12 for a main stage performance at the 2011 ShamrockFest to be held at RFK Stadium.
"We first performed on the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage when we were kids," Dan said. "Although we've been back there since with Scythian, we especially look forward to this show because we love performing for and with children. The families attending will have a wonderful time and we know they'll share in the fun by joining us in song and dance."