Scythian on ‘a mission to keep music alive’

Northern Virginia-based Celtic group Scythian, (left to right) Danylo Fedoryka, Alexander Fedoryka, Johnny Rees and Ethan Dean, brings its “Roots and Stones” tour to The Brightside in Dayton on Thursday and Friday, July 22 and 23. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Northern Virginia-based Celtic group Scythian, (left to right) Danylo Fedoryka, Alexander Fedoryka, Johnny Rees and Ethan Dean, brings its “Roots and Stones” tour to The Brightside in Dayton on Thursday and Friday, July 22 and 23. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: BRENDAN MCLEAN

Credit: BRENDAN MCLEAN

Celtic group to play at The Brightside on July 22, 23

Scythian, performing at The Brightside in Dayton on Thursday and Friday, July 22 and 23, was gearing up for an evening performance last March when word came in that something called COVID-19 was shutting down much of the world. Venues around the world quickly shuttered. Tours were canceled and musicians suddenly had unplanned free time as they sheltered at home. Rather than hinder Scythian, the members of the Celtic group got creative and began to connect with fans in a new, meaningful way.

ExplorePHOTOS: The Dayton Blues Festival returns to Levitt Pavilion

“Oh, man, we were clocking in during the COVID lockdowns,” said founding member Danylo Fedoryka. “I don’t think we’ve worked this hard since the beginning of the band. Three days after the lockdown, everyone was so panicked or just freaked out, and that’s when I got this idea to do a St. Patrick’s Day livestream. I felt like we had to do something so people feel like the music is still alive and we had 60,000 people view it. I was just really thankful for the response.”

Quaranstream connection

The northern Virginia-based group, which formed in 2002, features Fedoryka (rhythm guitar, accordion, vocals), his brother, Alexander (fiddle, mandolin, bass, vocals), Ethan Dean (vocals, bass) and Johnny Rees (drums, percussion, vocals). The members of Scythian were so inspired by the response to the livestream, they began doing regular virtual performances they dubbed Quaranstreams.

“The response and the sheer number of comments we got showed us this was the right thing to do,” Fedoryka said. “After that, we were like, ‘Oh, my gosh, we’ve got to keep it going.’ So, every two weeks we did a Quaranstream. We did 30 of them out of my living room and we had over 600,000 views in a year. We had a seven-camera shoot with smoke machines and lights.

ExploreDayton Masonic Center announces more shows to concert lineup

“We had a different theme for every show,” he continued. “We had like a pirate theme, a gypsy theme and a ’70s theme. We really had a lot of fun. Over the year, our average was close to 3,000 comments per stream and a lot of the people were Dayton friends.”

Dayton Celtic Fest staple Scythian, (left to right) Johnny Rees, Ethan Dean, Alexander Fedoryka and Danylo Fedoryka, perform at The Brightside in Dayton on Thursday and Friday, July 22 and 23 CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Dayton Celtic Fest staple Scythian, (left to right) Johnny Rees, Ethan Dean, Alexander Fedoryka and Danylo Fedoryka, perform at The Brightside in Dayton on Thursday and Friday, July 22 and 23 CONTRIBUTED

Listener-supported music

Scythian has been a frequent headliner at Dayton Celtic Fest for more than a decade and in recent years has booked at least one other show in town at venues such as Victoria Theatre, the Masonic Center and The Brightside. For a band that prided itself on its close interaction with fans, this was a new kind of personal engagement with fans from the Gem City and beyond.

“When the world stopped, we were right here in our hometown, gearing up to play this huge festival and everything got yanked,” Fedoryka said. “We were looking at losing our entire income so it was really interesting and really humbling to basically be supported by our fans. We’d get these care packages showing up at our door with whiskey and little knickknacks. Franklin Hicks, a friend of ours from Dayton, mailed us a fog machine for my living room.”

That devotion was energizing for Fedoryka and his bandmates.

ExploreSummer Concert Guide: Here’s your look at upcoming acts across Dayton

“It was neat for us to experience that during an election year, with COVID and so much negativity every time you turn the news on,” he said. “We were just blown away by the goodness of people. Our fans bought T-shirts and merch. They were basically our record label this past year. Our fans kept us alive.

“All the news wants you to see is division,” Fedoryka continued. “It’s true that people have different opinions, but when everybody saw we were down and out, they rallied. What we realized is, nothing else made a difference. We were all family every time we went live. To me, that was the feel good story of 2020.”

Northern Virginia-based Celtic group Scythian, (left to right) Ethan Dean, Danylo Fedoryka, Alexander Fedoryka and Johnny Rees, brings its “Roots and Stones” tour to The Brightside in Dayton on Thursday and Friday, July 22 and 23. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Northern Virginia-based Celtic group Scythian, (left to right) Ethan Dean, Danylo Fedoryka, Alexander Fedoryka and Johnny Rees, brings its “Roots and Stones” tour to The Brightside in Dayton on Thursday and Friday, July 22 and 23. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: BRENDAN MCLEAN

Credit: BRENDAN MCLEAN

Productivity explosion

Three weeks before the COVID-19 shutdowns, Scythian finished, “Roots and Stones,” the follow-up to the 2015 LP, Old Tin Can.” The musicians recorded another album during quarantine.

“COVID was kind of the worst case scenario,” Fedoryka said. “We were the first industry to get shutdown and the last industry to open back up. Musicians are the people-gatherers, so it doesn’t get worse than what happened but it was really kind of a phoenix moment. What rose out of the ashes was we got super creative.

“We started making music videos,” he continued. “We even came out with a second album. Because we were getting together to make content for the livestream we were able to made this quirky B-sides album to ‘Roots and Stones.’ We’ve been kind of locked up for a year-and-a-half but we’re sitting on the best album we’ve ever had.”

On the road again

After a few socially distanced live performances earlier in the year, Scythian returned to performing in earnest in June with the “Roots and Stones” release tour.

“We’re shot out of a cannon,” Fedoryka said. “We’re doing windsprints across the U.S. until December but we feel very nourished. During this last year, we played over 1,000 hours so we are tighter than ever. We feel very connected to our fanbase so we’re going to be all over. We have over 50 shows booked in half a year and I’m adding more. We’re doing more than 30,000-miles of touring this year.

“There’s a mission to keep music alive,” Fedoryka added. “We’re very committed to getting out there and we’re having it so people can feel safe. This year, of all years, that’s super important. If you get in a car accident, you have to get behind the wheel again or you’ll be frozen in that fear forever. That’s what we’re facing with this pandemic. We have to get back to live music and doing cultural things that nourish the soul or it could be we just get permanently afraid.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.

HOW TO GO

Who: Scythian with the Repeating Arms (Thursday) and Arbo (Friday)

Where: The Brightside, 905 E. Third St., Dayton

When: 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 22 and 23. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Cost: $25 in advance, $30 the day of the show. $50 limited edition VIP with reserved seating and meet and greet

More info: 937-410-0450 or www.thebrightsidedayton.com

Artist info: www.scythianmusic.com