THROUGH THE LENS: Scythian Keeps Fans Rocking with Quaranstreams and a New Album
Scythian - SteelStacks, Bethlehem, PA 2020 - Photo by Jim Gavenus
As we near the end of the year, the opening line of William Shakespeare’s Richard III rings true, and could easily have been written in 2020: “Now is the winter of our discontent.” The acknowledgement that the world has weathered a long season of isolation and fear is a theme that resonates with us all. Many artists have navigated unique paths to maintain connection to fans during this “winter,” including Scythian, which has successfully fostered a heartening community during these tough times and, as per the other line in Richard III, has “made glorious summer by this sun of York,” bringing hope to those who adore them and their music.
This week I turn over the column to Kelly Shipe, who’s not only a fan of the band, but also chatted with band member Danylo Fedoryka about their music, the upcoming album, and weathering the current “winter.” Kelly last guested in this column in September, reporting on two socially distanced shows. Also featured is the photography of Jim Gavenus, who shot Scythian’s socially distanced show last month in Pennsylvania.
Scythian Connects Online and On Stage
When I think of the band Scythian, a word that comes to mind — alongside “joyous,” “rowdy,” and “exuberant” — is “resilient.” The rough swell of a pandemic ocean has rocked us all in 2020, and not in the way we music lovers like to rock. However, in this most unusual time, I’ve witnessed and delighted in the way this four-man crew has found increasingly creative ways to reach their fans.
Scythian nomads were known for their strength, adaptability, and innovative nature. Much like their namesake, the Celtic folk-rock group has charged into the uncharted territory of lockdowns, social distancing, and quarantines by fostering an inclusive space for fans to join in community, listen to new music, and connect virtually in a meaningful way.
The band created a unique cyberspace environment, cleverly coined Quaranstreams, that is more than just a concert viewed via your computer screen. Quaranstreams are full-on celebratory events resembling a jubilant reunion where your favorite band suddenly shows up to play!
“Stream it and they will come.” Maybe that’s the whisper heard by Danylo Fedoryka, brother Alexander, and Ethan Dean and Johnny Rees that spurred the band to launch the maiden Quaranstream in March, just four days after the shutdowns began. Could it have been the voice of St. Patrick?
“People were scared and needed something to hold on to,” says Danylo about the initial virtual show. “It was a three-hour stream from our bass player’s kitchen on one old iPhone.”
Loyal fans tuned in that night. Word quickly spread, and the Quaranstreams gained sizable viewership, with “Scythianites” joining subsequent broadcasts in numbers that could sell out a good-sized concert hall.
“I think people experienced how they could still feel close to others and connect with us,” Danylo continues. “We were [for them] such a concrete memory of times before the pandemic. We have the best fans in the world – they were carrying us in these crazy times too!”
Last month at the SteelStacks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Scythian returned to the stage as part of the Town Square Concert Series at ArtsQuest SteelStacks. Fans enjoyed the show from socially distanced spaces on the lawn or at tables that accommodated four-person pods. The band was exhilarated to play, once again, to a live audience. Fans echoed the feeling by dancing and singing to favorites like “Hey Mama Ya” and new tunes like “Best Friend Song.” One fan remarked, “For those few hours, the world was back to normal … smiles, song, dancing in the grass and drinks on the table. It was a beautiful night.”
This Saturday, Scythian releases their new album, Roots and Stones (available exclusively at www.scythianmusic.com). Showcasing the next era of Scythian’s musical evolution, the album incorporates the band’s Celtic/Ukrainian soul with a spoonful of Nashville and a dash of alt-pop.
“Galway City” is the album’s first single. If you fused the spirited Celtic sounds pouring from an Irish pub with the raucous, country-western swing blasting from the jukebox at Robert’s Western World, you’ve got “Galway City.” Reminiscent of Mel McDaniel’s “Louisiana Saturday Night,” the song will have you slapping your knee and spinning around the kitchen table.
A release party will be held on Saturday during Scythian’s 15th Quaranstream, viewable on the band’s Facebook page.
Resilient is Scythian, as they earnestly continue to extend a lifeline of hope for a future of live music and community beyond a pandemic. May our “summer” come soon.
Now, Jim Gavenus’ photos from the Town Square Concert Series at ArtsQuest SteelStack performance.