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RiverRoots Festival

Friday Night Headliner

Scythian band offers Celtic sound with an edge

(May 2015) – True to their name, Scythian storms the stage with its thunderous energy and enthusiasm. The band keeps the crowd on its feet, always screaming for more.
Scythian is a band known for playing “Celtic with an edge.” Members live in the Washington, D.C., metro area and formed in 2002.Their sound encompasses everything from traditional jigs and reels to contemporary covers.
Scythian will serve as the Friday night headliner band for the 10th annual RiverRoots Music & Folk Art Festival, set for May 15-16 in Madison, Ind. The band will take the Main Stage at 9:30 p.m. and close out the festival for the night.

Photo provided

Scythian will be the Friday night headliner act at the RiverRoots Festival on May 15 in Madison, Ind.

The Washington Post has written about the band, saying, “Scythian’s enthusiasm is contagious, and shows seem to end with everyone dancing, jumping around or hoisting glasses.”
Members and siblings, Alex and Danylo Fedoryka, studied violin and piano, respectively, at age 3. Their entire family, comprised of 10 kids, learned to play an instrument. Irene, their mother, graduated from The Julliard School.
Josef Crosby picked up the violin at age 5 and has studied at Duquesne University. He has performed in such venues as the Benedum Center but switched to Celtic fiddling when he discovered spirited Celtic music.
From the age of 5, Tim Hepburn has been a monster on the drums. Originally from Connecticut, Hepburn was heavily influenced by jazz.
Alex, Danylo and Josef practically grew up together. The Fedoryka brother’s father was an immigrant from the Ukraine, while Crosby’s father hailed from Austria. They were friends who earned doctorates together.
When together on stage, Scythian has become known for its heart-pounding live shows. “We started out as street performers and then we became a pub band,” said member Danylo Fedoryka. Along with his brother and Crosby, the three worked as street musicians for a time, setting up outside the Torpedo Factor Art Center in Alexandria, Va.
After having been classically trained at a young age, Alex Fedoryka seemed to become burnt out on the genre. He was influenced by Celtic music when a friend gave him some CDs featuring fiddlers. “I’d never heard anything like it. I’d only heard the sing-song Irish pub music, but as soon as I heard (the fiddlers), I went home and learned everything off the CD.”
Alex spent four months in Ireland to learn more about the music in 2002. He spent most of his time playing in the streets, a stint he was already accustomed to doing. From this experience, he picked up the Celtic spirit and combined it with the gypsy soul of his Ukrainian ancestry to produce a sound like no other.
Greg Ziesemer, in his fifth year as the RiverRoots event coordinator, described Scythian as a “Celtic bluegrass band that plays real foot-stomping music. They’re a hot ticket.” He said bands like Scythian “are major draws for us.”
Danylo has said of Scythian’s unique sound, “There’s something about the Irish music that people gravitated towards, and we gravitated towards, and eventually it became our own sound.”
Together now for more than a decade, the band branched out from the Washington area and began playing in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City. They continued on this circuit for five years before landing their first music festival.
“I really love the kind of community that comes with festivals,” said Crosby. “There’s something palpable in the air.”
Alex is the primary songwriter for the group. He has written 75 percent of their songs. Subject matter ranges from hoedowns to ballads to a very personal song, “A Song of Sacrifice,” dedicated to the Fedoryka brothers’ grandparents who had escaped the Communists and Nazis during World War II.
Faith and family are important to the Fedorykas, who credit their mother with being one of the biggest influences on them and their musical careers. They went from being street performers to winning the 2009 Washington City Paper’s Best of D.C. “Best Local Band” competition.
“It’s been a big struggle for us,” said Danylo. “We’ve played 40 bars in one year and got a lot of experience, but the first thing we’re asked is, ‘Can you play the typical covers?’ We say, ‘No, we want to present something that’s different.’ ”
In 2007 Scythian released its third album, “Immigrant Road Show.” CelticRadio.net said of it, “Once you start listening, you just can’t get enough and suddenly you find yourself dancing across the floor, the walls, the furniture and then right out of the door.”
The band derives its name from Ukrainian nomads known as Scythians. This is due to the ancestry of Alexander, Danylo and younger sister, Larissa, who occasionally joins them on tour in the summer.
Larissa Fedoryka began her cello career at age 3 as a member of the Fedoryka family Players. She also appeared on their latest album, “Jump at the Sun,” released in 2014. When not with her brothers’ band, Larissa tours with Latin recording artist Marco Antonio Solis.
“Jump at the Sun” is the band’s sixth album. Ed Helms from The Bluegrass Situation has called one single, “Paint This Town,” a “shine-fueled, fiddle-flying hoedown.” Helm labeled “Built These Walls” as a “blue-collar ballad we can all get behind.”
Scythian premiered these tracks at Merlefest 2014, held on the Wilkes Community College campus in Wilkesboro, N.C. The band has performed for former President George Bush, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the Prime Minister of Ireland and for more than 300,000 people at the World Youth Day Festival in Sydney, Australia.
In July 2011, Ben-David Warner began touring with the band, strengthening their live sound.

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