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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Review: Scythian - Immigrant Road Show

Scythian – Immigrant Road Show
2007, Imagramaphone

If you’re looking for first class Celtic music then we’ve got an album (and band) for you. Scythian, a band of Ukrainian descent based out of Washington, D.C., may just be the hottest thing going on the Celtic circuit. With three vocalists, two fiddlers and more spirit than entire jug of punch could provide, Scythian storm the stage or the studio; wherever they happen to be playing. Classical musicians who started busking for fun, brothers Danylo (guitar/accordion/vox) and Alexander Fedoryka (violin/mandolin/bass/vox/harmonica) teamed up with Josef Crosby (violin/bass/vox) and Mike Ounallah to form one of the most dynamic Celtic outfits going. Scythian’s latest effort (their third) is Immigrant Road Show. You won’t be able to put it down.

Immigrant Road Show opens with Immigrant Stomp, a lively Irish Jig featuring some of best fiddle playing I’ve heard in a long time. Try to sit still through this song. Just try it. Hills of Donegal is a great listen; very lively and full of energy. It’s a bit of a modern take on a classic Celtic song; talking about wanting to turn Donegal into a Vegas-style fortress. This would not be a popular idea with traditional Celtic fans but is still a great listen. Jacobites is done in a dynamic arrangement that is full of tension and life. It’s a great rendition. One of my personal favorites on the album is Highway 81. There is a very 1930’s or 1940’s cabaret style to the arrangement that is endearing. The violin fills and complementary lines are well done to the point of brilliance. Vocalist Danylo Fedoryka’s easy style is perfect for this song.

Boyko Dream is done in a gypsy style that invokes dark and daunting images. There are also elements of a middle-eastern sound here that are very intriguing. Boyko Dream ends up as a huge jam with each member trading solos and egging the others on. Tuesday Morning is a Celtic themed rock song with real legs. This will get your feet moving and would have real commercial potential with the right placement. Final Reel is a master class in Celtic ensemble playing. You’ll dance, you’ll laugh, you’ll call for another pint. Classic. Technoccordian is a stab at Celtic hip-hop; complete with MC.

Kesh Jigs is a wonderful opportunity for some Irish dancing. Great for a dance hall or a kitchen party, just make sure to keep the Grog flowing. I Will Go dips into the Scottish songbook for a revolutionary song from the era of William Wallace (or thereabouts). Stop The Show throws you violently back into one of the most frenetic jigs I’ve heard; I got dizzy just listening to the dueling fiddles of Josef Crosby and Alexander Fedoryka. Make sure you check out Follow Me Up To Carlow and Fields of Athenry, but put aside some time to appreciate Gypsy Fiddle. We got an idea of what the two fiddlers were capable of on Stop The Show, but this piece is amazing.

Scythian is the real deal: an old school, grab your shillelagh Celtic band. So many bands mix Irish musical heritage with Bluegrass, Rock or World Music these days that it is a pleasure to hear a band going the old school route. The sound is sweet. Another pint or two while you listen; Immigrant Road Show is a treat for the ears. It’s a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc and a must for your collection.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Scythian at or, where you can purchase a copy of Immigrant Road Show.

1 comment:

Kirsten said...

I agree wholeheartedly!! Scythian is the most original, talented, energetic and fun band that I've ever heard! Everyone should check them out! If you'd like to hear a number of the songs referred to in this post, please visit