When Scythian returns to Jamestown Community College's Scharmann Theater Saturday night, concert goers will hear a mix of at least four musical genres and about a dozen instruments. The Washington, D.C., band will headline the musical portion of the college's winter ArtParty for the second straight year.
Scythian started out as a Celtic band, but its sound has evolved over time. Alexander Fedoryka, who sings and plays a handful of instruments for the band, said the complexity of Scythian's music happened by accident. The band began when Fedoryka, his brother Dan and Josef Crosby started playing together for fun.
"We weren't an assembled band where we had a list of instruments we wanted to fill," Fedoryka said. "We started adding instruments over the years and trying things out. When we first started out, the band didn't have a bass player but we had two fiddlers. Each of the fiddlers learned to play bass. We were switching back and forth. There would be times where we'd pick up a mandolin and say, 'Hey, how would this sound in a song?' In the early days, we were sort of free-spirited. We'd just pick up an instrument and see what we could make happen."
Scythian will play its second consecutive winter ArtParty at Jamestown Community College on Saturday night. The band will perform at the Scharmann Theatre, beginning at 7.
That mindset led to five musicians - Ben-David Warner, Andrew Toy, the Fedoryka brothers and Crosby - who combine to play guitars, drums, violins, mandolins, basses, accordions, fiddles and more. The band members will switch up instruments throughout the show Saturday.
"On stage, I think it's visually interesting for people," Fedoryka said of changing instruments. "It visually reflects what we do musically when we switch between the genres. I think it all kind of ties in together. It has been kind of an identity of the band."
Scythian plays a mix of Celtic, Gypsy and Appalachian music in its shows. The Fedorykas' parents are from Ukraine, and the band's sound incorporates their eastern European roots.
When: Saturday at 7 p.m.
Where: Jamestown Community College, Scharmann Theatre
How much: $15 for general public, $10 for area students and senior citizens, $8 for JCC FSA members, $5 for children 12 and under
For more info: 338-1187
"We're crossing over between genres, but also time eras," Fedoryka said. "It's a little bit of a different show than people might be used to, but we had a great time with the people last year."
In an effort to describe Scythian's eclectic music, Jim Colby, the college's director of exhibitions and galleries, compared the band to a few other artists, including Flogging Molly. Fedoryka took the comparison as a compliment, noting the specific area where the bands line up.
"We really respect (Flogging Molly)," he said. "I can see that comparison being valid. There's a certain approachability that Flogging Molly has. They're accessible to their fans. That's something that we've always put a premium on. If there's any gap between us and the listener, we work very hard to fill that gap."
Fedoryka believes Scythian differs from Flogging Molly in the diversity of genres the bands utilize, describing Scythian as a "world music band."
RETURNING TO JAMESTOWN
Scythian enjoyed its first ArtParty experience and the interaction with the Jamestown crowd in particular. Once again this year, the band will mingle with fans in the Scharmann lobby and Weeks Reception Hall following the performance.
"The people who came last year were really interested in the music," Fedoryka said. "You could tell that the college did so much work to bring arts into the Jamestown community. We walked away feeling really impressed with a small town like Jamestown that we had not really heard of before."
The band tried out some new songs for the people of Jamestown last year and plans to do the same Saturday. Scythian's set will begin at 7 after the opening of the Weeks Gallery for "Material/Ethereal Constructs: Judith Olson Gregory and Dianne Baker" at 6:15 and a brief artist talk at 6:30.
General admission tickets for the ArtParty are $15 for the general public, $10 for area students and senior citizens, $8 for JCC Faculty Student Association members, and $5 for children 12 and under. Tickets for the ArtParty event are available through JCC's FSA bookstore box office or at the door. Call 338-1187 to place an order.
Scythian has played 1,200 shows during the past eight years, including recent gigs on Larry Groce's NPR Mountain Stage at West Virginia University and at the Mad, Mad Masquerade Ball at the Stout in New York City on New Year's Eve. The band also has performed in arts centers and at festivals throughout the past several years and plans to continue doing so in the future.
However, Scythian will reduce its number of shows in 2012 in hopes of maximizing creativity and finding inspiration. With the goal of keeping its creative roots in mind, Scythian doesn't plan to sign any record deals in the near future. The band would rather stick with what it knows.
"In the long run, I think we'll see ourselves on a slow-growth model, doing some of these rewarding performing-arts theater shows," Fedoryka said. "There are so many of these venues across the country where audiences are looking for original takes on music. I think we want to stay true to that."